When one of you has a dispute with another believer, how dare you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter instead of taking it to other believers! Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, ca n’t you decide even these little things among yourselves? Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life.1 Corinthians 6:1-3
The Jews abroad were permitted to refer their disputes to Jewish arbitrators [Josephus, Antiquities, 14.10, 17]. So the Christians were allowed to have Christian arbitrators. The Jews would not allow any of their causes to be brought before the Gentile courts. Their rule was this, “He that tries a cause before the judges of the Gentiles, and before their tribunals, although their judgments are as the judgments of the Israelites, so this is an ungodly man,” But in this case Paul is saying to the Corinthians you are filing suits against fellow believers in secular courts. In that scenario the case is not going to be heard according to Christian principles. Why would you do that? The only reason can be to “stick it to your fellow brother in Christ”. By using the word “dare” Paul is indicating this is out of order; out of bounds of what is acceptable.
Don’t you realise you will judge the world // you will judge angels – there is much controversy over what this means. Basically it must refer to the future judgment, and that Christians will on that day be involved in some manner in judging the world. Just exactly in what way is this to be done is unclear although there is much debate about it. I don’t intend to get into all the debate. I think it is a red herring. You can read the commentaries in E-Sword for yourself. The concept seems to be that in whatever way we may judge the world and the angels at some future stage, we disqualify ourselves like the Corinthians if we can’t handle such simple clear cut issues as that before the Corinthians. It is not saying that the matter of incest is a light matter but it is a not hard to decide. It might be a weighty matter but the principle is clear. If they can’t get something so clear cut as this dealt with how will they take their place as judges later.
One point to note is that most see angels as meaning bad angels or demons. There is no sense that we will sit in judgement over all angels.
Before the unjust – The pagan tribunals; for the word “unjust” here evidently stands for those opposed to the saints. The apostle does not mean that they were always unjust in their decisions, or that equity could in no case be hoped from them, but that they were classed in that division of the world which was different from the saints. The heathen judges were termed δικασται from their presumed righteousness in the administration of justice; here Paul calls them αδικοι, unrighteous persons. It is very likely that at Corinth, where corruption reigned, there was a great perversion of public justice; and it is not to be supposed that matters relative to the Christians were fairly decided.
Are you unworthy – Do you disqualify yourselves over such small matters?
Smallest matters [κριτηρίων ἐλαχίστων]
κριτήριον [kritērion] – a rule of judging or “criteria”, that is the principle upon which judgments are based.
ἐλάχιστος [elachistos] The superlative of ἔλαχυς elachus (short); the sense is least (in size, amount, dignity, etc.): – least, very little (small), smallest, most trivial.
The matters of least consequence – matters of little moment, scarcely worth naming compared with the great and important realities of eternity. The “smallest matters” here mean, the causes, suits, and litigations relating to property, etc. smallest matters — The weightiest of earthly questions at issue are infinitely small compared with those to be decided on the judgment-day.
If you can’t decide issues like incestuous relationship then how on earth can you handle the weightier matters? The inference is you Corinthians have let the issues that bring division into your midst cloud the issues that are really obvious and clear and cry out for justice. As a result you disqualify yourself from taking your rightful place in making a judgement. Paul is not referring to the matter of incest here but rather is taking about the disputes over property etc. But even that is small in the light of harder matters to judge viz. end-times issues. I think Paul has a continuum or thought here divisons or disputes are seen in the light of the issue of incest and are then viewed in the light of end judgements. The Corinthians come up short on all counts.
A Man’s Character Is Defined By The Quality Of His Actions, Not The Rambling Of His Words.Robb Thompson
Compromise Is The Willingness To Accept What You Don’t Believe Because You’re Unwilling To Stand For What You Do.Robb Thompson