Online Bible Commentary
1 Corinthians 6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! 7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! (NKJV)
In the previous passage Paul has commanded that Christians should judge one another but they should leave the judging of non-Christians up to the Lord. Now, in this passage he applies this principle to legal matters.
Paul is addressing a situation in the early church in Corinth, Greece whereby a Christian has brought a lawsuit against another Christian. He essentially starts with exclaiming “How dare you!” (v. 1a). He is appalled that a Christian would allow himself to be judged by a Roman judge, a non-Christian, in a dispute with another Christian.
Paul refers to the non-Christian as being “unrighteous” because he is not guided by the righteousness of the Lord but rather by the ways of the world (v. 1b). He states that Christians should not bring disputes to unrighteous judges but instead to the church, to the “Saints” (v. 1c).
Paul reminds the Corinthian believers that the Saints will “judge the world”, referring to Psalm 49:14 and Daniel 7:22 (v. 2a). Since the Saints are qualified to judge the world, Paul scoffs at the idea that they are not qualified to judge comparably trivial matters between two Christians (v. 2b).
Paul then builds on his point by asserting that Christians will even be judging angels (v. 3a) If Saints are qualified to judge the world they receive this authority from Jesus Himself. Since Jesus judges all things this would include angels. Thus Christians also would be qualified to judge angels through the authority of Jesus. This assertion was later confirmed by Jude (Jude 6) and Peter (2. Peter 2:4).
So if Christians are qualified to judge the world and angels “how much more” are they qualified to judge “things that pertain to this life” (v. 3b). Therefore, Christians should not “appoint those who are least esteemed by the church”, non-Christians, “to judge” (v. 4).
Paul contends that those Christians who sue each other through the courts should be ashamed of their behavior (v. 5a). He questions that they do not believe they can find even one “wise man” in the church to judge the dispute (v. 5b). Instead, one Christian goes against another in the courts (v.6). Paul labels this behavior as a “failure” (v. 7a).
Paul’s solution to this “failure” in the church is to just “accept wrong” (v. 7b). If you are wrong just own up to it and accept the consequences. On the other hand, if you think you are being cheated, it is better to just let yourself “be cheated” (v. 7c). No matter what, do not sue your fellow Christian.
Paul completes this passage by condemning those Christians who “do wrong” and “cheat” their fellow Christians. (v 8). There are always consequences to our actions. These consequences for our sins are eternal and always outweigh any earthly gain.
In summary, we should never sue a fellow Christian. The early Christians were communal by nature. They shared all things with one another, which meant that they likely always sought to do business with their fellow Christians rather than non- Christians.
This would be a good example for today’s Christians to follow, when possible. In this way we could do our best to avoid lawsuits.