1 Corinthians 6:1-11
In keeping with the rhetorical tradition of the city of Corinth, this particular text is loaded with rhetorical questions- ten of them to be precise. Paul’s underlying assumption here is that those who have been transformed by the gospel possess enough wisdom to make moral and ethical assessments of godly and ungodly behavior in the church. Furthermore, the Corinthians should have clearly seen the difference between right and wrong- their folly was exceedingly frustrating to Paul.
So here is Paul’s flow of consciousness from ch. 5: in 5:1-13, he explains that the church has the moral, legal, and spiritual authority to judge moral failing within the church; in 6:1-8, he explains that the church has the moral, legal, and spiritual authority to judge legal failings in the church that society will not or should not judge.
As we wrestle with this text, we understand that the Roman law may very likely have dealt with some of these legal issues such as defrauding or robbery; but the conundrum for the Christian is that when the Christian goes to secular court against another Christian, it actually devalues the gospel tremendously and gives non-Christians legitimate reason to reject and even blaspheme the gospel. Thus we compare Paul’s teaching with Jesus’ teaching on the sermon on the mount- there is great vulnerability to being a Christian, because we have cast ourselves helplessly in the hands of God, and God makes no promise of earthly health and wealth. We see this in Matthew 5:38-42 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’[f] 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. Those whose primary focus is on the materialistic goods of this life demonstrate a lack of true saving grace; for the ultimate gaze of the Christian is fixed squarely on heaven and the Savior who resides there. Thus we hold our worldly goods rather loosely.
As we saw previously in ch. 5, even going back to the beginning of the epistle, and carried forward throughout the epistle, Paul is exceedingly concerned with our testimony and reputation regarding how we represent the gospel. The gospel is paramount to the Christian, and other concerns in our life must be surrendered for the sake of the gospel.