Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 6:12 - 6:20

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Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 6:12 - 6:20


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XII.—AN EXHORTION TO CHRISTIAN CONTINENCE, AND A PROHIBITION OF ALL HEATHENISH LICENTIOUSNESS. THE RELATION WHICH THE BODY SUSTAINS TO CHRIST; ITS CHARACTER AS THE DWELLING-PLACE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND THE GREAT PRICE PAID FOR ITS RANSOM, DO NOT ALLOW OF OUR REGARDING SUCH A GRATIFICATION OF CARNAL APPETITE MORALLY INDIFFERENT, LIKE THE ENJOYMENT OF FOOD

12All things are lawful unto me, [are in my power], but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me [are in my power], but I will not be brought under the power of any. 13Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now [But] the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. 14And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up usby his own power. 15Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take [away ( ἄéñáò )] the members of Christ, and make them the members 16of a harlot? God forbid. What! [omit what, and read, Or] know ye not that he which is joined to a harlot is one body? for, two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 17But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 18Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 19What! [omit what, and read, Or] know ye not that your body is the temple of theHoly Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, [omit all that follows], and in your spirit, which are God’s.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1Co_6:12. [‘After speaking of the sin of covetousness, which had produced litigiousness,—and having reminded the Corinthians of what privileges they had received, and what sins renounced,—he now proceeds to examine and confute an argument raised by some of the Gentile Christians at Corinth, who in the presumptuous spirit of Greek Philosophy, pleaded, in behalf of fornication and of eating meats offered in sacrifice to idols, that man is the measure of all things ( ðÜíôùí ìÝôñïí ἄíèñùðïò ),—a principle in which both the greatest schools of Greek Philosophy, with which St. Paul had disputed at Athens, agreed, though they applied it in different ways; and that all the creatures were his, and that all things were lawful to him—a tenet which they imagined had received some countenance from the Gospel itself, which promised to them universal liberty, and even universal dominion in Christ, a doctrine which, when properly stated, and understood, with due conditions, is productive of that genuine independence which is the best security for self-control, and had therefore been placed in its proper light by St. Paul in the earlier part of his Epistle (1Co_3:21-23). This principle he here adopts with true oratorical skill, and proceeds to examine it, showing at once its truth and the falseness of its application by them.’ After Words.].

All things are in my power.—Paul here has in view that easy, tolerant view of fornication which was so common among the heathen, and to which he has already repeatedly alluded (1Co_5:1; 1Co_6:9). This view was still further vindicated on the grounds of that Christian liberty which was supposed to countenance this gratification of a natural appetite as no less proper in itself than the eating of food was to satiate hunger. But the words with which the discussion begins are not to be regarded as the objection of an opposer, here cited for the purpose of refutation [Calvin and Barnes]. Had this been so, the fact would have been indicated by some formula like ἀëë ̓ ἐñåῖò : but you say. They are rather the statement of a fundamental principle of Christianity, resting upon its own grounds, yet with a suitable limitation of its application to the actual life of a Christian ( ìïé , i.e., for me, as a Christian). Accordingly we are not to interpret these, 1Co_6:12-13, as giving us a sort of dialogue maintained between some imaginary opponent and the Apostle (Pott). The context indeed shows that the fundamental principle here laid down was actually adduced in support of fornication; but there is no ground for supposing that the Corinthian converts generally advocated this practice on such a basis, or that they so argued in their letter to him. It were better to assume this only of a few individuals, and that the Apostle had been privily informed of the fact, as intimated in the case mentioned in 1Co_5:1. Some suppose the maxim here to have a close reference to what just precedes in 1Co_6:11, q. d., ‘I being now in a state of grace, and free from all Jewish restrictions, and all outward ordinances, and being no longer in bondage to an accusing conscience and to fear of sin, have right to the largest liberty.’ But such a connection is by no means probable, since the verbs introduced by ‘but’ are chiefly designed to warn his readers against relapsing into their earlier immoralities. It were better to connect with 1Co_6:9, and to suppose that out of the catalogue of sins there mentioned, he selected the first, and referred to the efforts made for justifying it. Besser regards the phrase as one of Paul’s proverbs, [and Bengel says: “Paul often uses the first person to express those thoughts which have the force of maxims, especially in this Epistle, 1Co_6:15; 1Co_7:7; 1Co_8:13; 1Co_10:23; 1Co_10:29-30; 1Co_14:11”]. The term “all things” must of course be limited to such as were indifferent ( ἀäéÜöïñá ), i.e., to such acts as were not in themselves wrong, but only under certain circumstances and connections seemed to conflict with Chiristian morality. “All things are lawful for me which may be lawful” Bengel. [So also Hodge; but Words., well styles this explanation weak and tautological, and hardly justified by the original, and prefers Theodoret’s view: “all things are in my power, by reason of my free will; but it is not expedient in all things to use this freedom, for in doing that which is sinful thou losest thy freedom.” But is it not plain, after all, that Paul here has in view not actions, but external objects, the things in the world which were all given for man’s use, and over which he held dominion, and which, under the Christian dispensation, were all restored to him unrestricted by carnal ordinances? (The Syriac version evidently so takes it; Tyndale, on the contrary, renders “I maye do all thinges: but I will be brought under no man’s power.” So Cranmer and the Geneva Bible). In this sense it may be said with the broadest scope “all things are in my power” (Psa_8:6; Heb_2:6-11). And to this the antinomian would add ‘and I have the right to use them as I please, according to the cravings of my nature, and according as they contribute to my enjoyment.’ And it is upon this lawless inference that the Apostle proceeds to put limitations]. “The abrupt commencement of 1Co_6:12 is perhaps to be accounted for on the supposition that it alludes to a passage in their Epistle to him, and the words before us might have been used there even in reference to things indifferent; but without the proper limitations which the Apostle here supplies.” Neander.

The first of these is—but all things are not expedient.—By this he means as in 1Co_10:23, not materially advantageous, but morally fitting and useful, especially, perhaps, in its bearing upon others. [It were better, however, to take the verb óõìöÝñåé in its broadest acceptation and bearings—conduce to profit, whether to the person who uses them, or to others with whom he is connected, and whose welfare he is bound to consult. Every finite good has a special end, and must be wisely used with reference to that end, and not being absolute, is dependent on times and circumstances for the benefit it is to confer]. The second limitation is—but not will I be brought under bondage by any thing.—’ ÅîïõóéáóèÞóïìáé and ἔîåóôé are kindred words (the former being formed from åîïõóßá , which is derived from ἔîåóôé ), and they involve a paranomasia, which serves to bring out the contradiction, caused by the misuse of liberty, in a more forcible light. [We give the play on the words in English thus: ‘All things are in my power, but I will not come under power to any thing’]. “Not I” is emphatic. It exhibits the moral self of the individual (not simply that of Paul, but of Christians generally), in sharp contrast with everything, which, if yielded to passionately, or enjoyed with an accusing conscience, or fondly clung to as indispensable, acquires a despotic control over us. [The lord must preserve his lordship, and take heed that he become not the slave of any thing which is properly subject to him. Freedom must not commit suicide. The body was designed to be the organ of the Spirit for ruling over nature, not the organ of nature for ruling over the Spirit] ’ ÅîïõóéÜæåéí to be master of and it is here put in the future to express the firm inward resolve not to be mastered by any thing. Ôéíüò is neuter corresponding to ðÜíôá .

1Co_6:13-14. Meats for the belly and the belly for meats, etc.—Here we have a contrast drawn between what is in itself indifferent, and the view which cannot be brought under this category. From the fact that a mutual relation has been established between meats and the belly by an ordinance of the Creator, the former being made to be received and digested by the latter, and the latter being formed to receive the former, and from the fact that both are alike transient, being designed only for this present life, it followed, as a matter of course, that eating was a thing morally indifferent, and was allowable, in so far as it neither proved inconvenient, or brought a person under bondage. Very different, however, was it with the act of fornication, since the body, standing as it did in direct relations with the Lord, and having been received by Him into the fellowship of an immortal life, does not in such practices fulfil any Divine destination, [but is rather alienated from its proper functions, and degraded by them]. After the nominatives, ἐóôßí is to be supplied. It is altogether needless to suppose that the meats here spoken of had any special connection with the altar-feasts that were so closely associated with licentious practices. By such a supposition the force of the argument is rather hindered than helped.—And God shall destroy both it and them.—Paul refers here to that great change which is to take place in the condition of mankind at the coming of Christ—a transformation which will preclude alt need of physical nourishment, and dispense with the organs for its reception. Comp. 1Co_15:44; 1Co_15:51; and Mat_22:30. In the words, “and them,” we have the hint of a time that reaches far beyond the death of the individual—a time when the world and all things therein shall be burned up. [Comp. 2Pe_3:11.]

In contrast with the foregoing, there is presented to us, first, that truth in a negative form, the analogy of which to the eating of food it is the aim of the Apostle to dispute.—But the body is not for fornication.—That is, fornication is not the natural function of a perishable organ, but it is the perversion to illegitimate uses of the entire body—that body which belongs to the Lord, and is with him, destined to an imperishable life. And in this also there are two elements involved; 1, a connection with the Lord;—but for the Lord.—And this relation is a mutual one, since the body is destined for the Lord, to be one of His members, and His exclusive possession; and on the other hand—the Lord is for the body,—to rule it, and to use it; yea, to appropriate and assimilate it to Himself; and, as others add, to nourish it with his life. (Comp. Joh_6:33; Joh_6:53, and also 1Co_6:15, ìÝëç ). 2. The destination of the body to an immortal life, grounded on its connection with the Lord—a destination that stands in striking contrast with the destruction above alluded to, which awaits the purely material world.—And God both raised up the Lord, and will raise up us also by His strength.—This resurrection is an introduction into a life that is no more subject to death. Comp. Rom_6:9 ff. The êáß êáß , both—and, binds the two clauses together. In the second clause, however, the reading is contested, and Meyer (ed. 2d) considers ἐîÞãåéñå has raised, as the only right reading, although not so well attested. Paul, he says, never asserts the ἐãåßñåéí and ἐîåãåñéí that is, a restoration to life after death, of himself and of his cotemporaries (2Co_4:14 is to be understood spiritually); rather, in anticipation of the speedy advent of Christ, he was looking to be changed without dying (1Co_15:51 f.; 1Th_4:16 f.); so that if he had been speaking of the future, he would have been more likely to have used the word æùïðïéÞóåé shall make alive, than ἐîåãåéñåῖ , shall raise up. (Comp. 1Co_15:22; Rom_8:11). He interprets the word, however, not of the spiritual resurrection, that is, the new birth, but as in Eph_2:6; Col_2:12 f., where Christ’s resurrection is spoken of as the fact in which that of the believer is already involved, although the connection first becomes realized at the second advent, through the actual resurrection of the dead, and the transformation of the living. But if, according to this interpretation, both these ideas can be considered as included in the verb in its past tense ( ἐîÞãåéñå ), why not assume the same in its future form? In so doing, we should abide by the reading best attested—a reading which puts the verb in the same tense with êáôáñãÞóåé shall destroy—and would construe the verb ἐîåãåéñåῖ in its more comprehensive signification, as denoting the change which is to take place in the living, as well as in the dead. 2Co_4:14 might also be interpreted in the same manner. The distinctive changes awaiting the quick and the dead, although elsewhere made prominent, did not require to be alluded to here. (With this Meyer in his 3d ed. also agrees). It is hardly allowable to distinguish here between ἐãåßñåéí and ἐîåãåßñåéí (Bengel and Osiander), as though the former referred to the first fruits of the resurrection in Christ, and the latter to the work consummated at the end. The reason why he uses the word “us,” instead of ‘our bodies,’ is that he had used the personal form just before, ‘in the Lord.’ The context, in this case, allows of no misapprehension. “The body,” says Osiander, “is the vessel of our personality.” The clause, ‘by his power,’ it were better to connect with the latter verb, if by ‘his’ we understand, not Christ’s, but God’s, which is to be preferred, as God is the subject of ‘shall raise.’ Comp. 1Co_15:38; Mat_22:29; Eph_1:19. ÄéÜ here expresses the internal instrumentality.

1Co_6:15-17. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?—Here he amplifies what is said in 1Co_6:13, and “upon the ground there adduced of the immorality of fornication, he brings to their distinct consciousness the abominable character of the vice in question.” So Meyer rebuts Baur’s assertion, that Paul here makes a petitio principii. Elsewhere Christians themselves are called members of Christ’s body—the Church in its totality, the head of which is Christ. (Comp. 1Co_12:27; Eph_5:30). But here their bodies are spoken of as essential parts (the vehicles) of his personality. And this, not so much on account of his incarnation, and of His so sharing with us our nature, as on account of the indwelling of His Spirit (1Co_6:19). Whether the Apostle had in mind the figure of the marital relationship (comp. 2Co_11:2; Eph_5:26 f.; Rom_7:4) is less certain. The incongruity of making Christ the antithesis to a harlot (Meyer), would not stand in the way of our supposing this, since it makes no difference whether the other party be male or female, for Paul is here speaking of the essential contradiction which exists between a person’s belonging to Christ, and so holding vital fellowship with the Holy and Pure One, and his having intercourse with an individual who was addicted to impurity, such as a common prostitute—an intercourse which involved the surrender of the entire person to her. It was only the impure conscience of a heathen that could be blind to the immorality of such fornication. But to the Christian’s conscience this should be evident at once, and we should denounce it as a crime perpetrated against Christ—as an abominable violation of his sacred rights. Hence the Apostle directly proceeds to ask—Shall I then take away the members of Christ, and make them the members of a harlot? Áἵñåéí means not simply, to take, but, to take away, to alienate from the proper owner. Ïὖí then, or, therefore, introduces the inference: “since this is so, I will not so far forget myself, as to,’ etc. ÉÉïéÞóù may be either, Aorist subj., as in 1Co_11:22, meaning, should I; or, have I any right to make; or it may be future, shall I make? The sense will be about the same. [Jelf says that “the second and third persons of the Future often express necessity or propriety, shall, must.” Gr. Gram. § 406 3]. This query he answers with an emphatic negative— ìὴ ãÝíïéôï , let it never be,—an expression by which in Rom_6:2, and elsewhere, he repels all unhallowed inferences and suggestions and declarations.

In order to prove that fornication involves all he has stated, he next goes on to show the nature of the connection it effects between the parties concerned, and sets over against this, the nature of the union believers have with Christ, so that the utter incompatibility of the two may be the more clearly felt—Or know ye not;q. d., ‘or if this at least, appear doubtful to you, then it must be because of your ignorance’ (Meyer). that he who is joined to the harlot is one body? Êïëëᾶèáé , to be most intimately joined with. In this connection it denotes the sexual union, which involves the most intimate conjunction of the physical powers of life. The consequence of such a union is stated in a citation from Gen_2:24, found also in Matthew 19:51, and this he introduces as a Divine declaration.—For he saith—‘He,’ i. e. God, since Scripture is the oracle of God, even though communicated through human organs (comp. 1Co_15:27; Eph_5:8; Heb_8:5). To suppose God to be the subject is better than to supply either the words ‘Scripture’ or ‘Spirit,’ though the meaning would still be the same. But most unsuitable of all would it be to construe it as impersonal: it is said.—they two shall be into one flesh.—This, which was originally affirmed of the marriage union, is here applied to illicit intercourse, it being the same thing, physically considered. Secundum speciem naturæ non differunt (Thom. a. q.). And by this application of the statement he shows that the act in question is not a mere momentary enjoyment with which the whole affair is concluded, but that it involves a real union of the natural powers of life in one complex personality. The term “flesh” here denotes simply man’s physical nature, without the accessory idea of corruption. The words “they two” are not found in the Hebrew text. They occur in the LXX., and in all the quotations of this passage, even in those of the Rabbis. (Is this in the interest of monogamy?). “Into,” åἰò Hebr.

, even in classic Greek, implies a transition

into a particular state [Jelf, Gr. Gram., § 625, Obs. 4].—But he who is joined to the Lord is one Spirit.—Here we have the contrast: êïëëᾶèáé ôῷ êõñßῳ , a phrase which occurs also in Deu_10:20; 2Ki_18:6. As the result we have, not ‘one body,’ but ‘one spirit,’ denoting the element wherein this union takes place. But this unity is not a merely idea one. It is one in essential reality, the indwelling of Christ in the believer, so that His Spirit and our spirit become one. Comp. 1Co_14:23. This clause stands independently.

1Co_6:18-20. The warning implied in what precedes is now expressly given, and, although clearly an inference, is introduced abruptly without any connecting particle—Flee fornication. Öåýãåôå , flee—a striking expression. Anselm says, Alia vitia pugnando libido fugiendo-vincitur. “Other vices are conquered by fighting, lust by flying.” What follows substantiates this warning, by showing the characteristic peculiarity of that sin, which distinguishes it from every other. And this is exhibited antithetically. —Every sin which a man might commit—[ ὅ ἐὰí ðïéÞóç ἂíèñùðïò . The ἄí here belongs to the relative and not to the verb, and gives an indefiniteness to it, annexing the notion, ‘whatsoever it may be.’ Jelf, Gr. Gram. § 829, 1].—is without the body.—But how can he say this, when drunkenness and such like vices also involve an injury to the body, and indeed cannot be practised at all outside of the bodily sphere? There have been several modes of answering this question. We may either suppose that the word “every” ( ðᾶí ) is to be taken in a popular sense for ‘nearly all,’ which is arbitrary; or we may consider the whole clause hypothetical, q. d., ‘Although all other sins were without the body, yet this,’ etc. (Flatt)—which is inadmissible; others [Jerome, Origen, Aug., Bengel, Words.] take it to mean that fornication pollutes the whole body as no other vice does,—but this is not stated in the words; and others still, that no vices sever the body of the Christian from that of Christ as this does (Fritzsche), a thought neither expressed in the text, nor consistent with the view of Paul in chap. 9 f.; Rom_8:9); others again take the idea to be, that no sin imparts to the flesh such tyranny over the spirit as fornication, an idea plainly foisted into the language of Paul; others suppose that drunkenness and gluttony are here included in with fornication [Macknight]—a supposition not sufficiently established by the fact that these vices are frequently associated together. We would rather say, that all other sins affect and injure only the transient, perishable organs of the body, or that they require for their commission some means that are derived from without, and are foreign to the body.[“Drunkenness and gluttony, e. g., are sins done in and by the body, and are sins by abuse of the body; but they are still introduced from without, sinful not in their act, but in their effect, which effect it is each man’s duty to foresee and avoid. But fornication is alienating that body which is the Lord’s, and making it a harlot’s body—it is a sin against a man’s own body from its very nature, against the verity and nature of his body; not an effect on the body from participation of things without, out a contradiction of the truth of the body wrought within itself.” Alford].—but he that committeth fornication sins against his own body.—The scope of the argument is this: On the one hand the Apostle brings to view the fact that the fornicator by his sin surrenders his body to the harlot, and commingles his life with hers in such a manner that he loses the power to dispose of his body as he will, as it were yielding to another’s nature the right he has to himself, and so coming in bondage to that (analogously to 1Co_7:4); and on the other hand, he considers how the body of the Christian (who is the only one here contemplated) is desecrated by fornication as it can be desecrated by no other sin. In both these respects this vice is a sin against one’s own body in a prëminent sense. The truth, that the sin of ðïñíåýùí åἰò ôὸ ἲäéïí óῶìá fornicating against one’s own body, is chargeable upon Christians, the only persons with whom he has to do, he exhibits still more clearly by referring them to the well-known dignity which the body of the believer, as such, possessed.—Or know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?—As in 1Co_6:15 he ascribed to the bodies of believers what he elsewhere has predicated of believers themselves, so he does the same thing here in respect of their character as “the temple of God.” This designation, before applied to the Church as a whole (1Co_3:16; also 2Co_6:16), he here applies to the bodies of Christians. Primarily, the Holy Spirit dwells in the “inward man,” in the ðíåῦìá , or spirit; but the body is its vehicle, or tabernacle, and inseparable organ. If we adopt the reading to ôὸ óῶìá ὑìῶí , then it would mean: the body of each one of you. The same sense is yielded by the other reading, óþìáôá , bodies. To this thought, but especially to the clause—which ye have from God.—( ἀðü , the same as in Joh_15:26), showing how dependent they were on him, he adds this further truth—and ye are not your own.—From this it followed that they had no power over themselves, or over their own bodies, and therefore could not properly dispose of them to another, or use them for the gratification of unhallowed lusts, but were bound to employ them only in executing the holy will of God. And how they came not to be their own, he proves by referring to their redemption—for ye were bought.viz: for God, to be His peculiar possession (comp. Act_5:9, and ðåñéðïéåῖóèáé Act_20:28). The figure involved is that of a slave or body servant, over whom his master holds exclusive control. The purchase was from the servitude of sin, and from the curse of the law, and from the power of Satan (comp. Rom_6:17 ff.; Gal_3:13; Col_1:13; Act_26:18). And this purchase was—with a price—and this price was nothing less than Christ Himself, His “soul,” His “blood” (see Mat_20:28; 1Pe_1:18). Passing beyond the mere significance of the word, yet observing its import, we come to the important thought that it was a high price, and the purchase, dear. [To this Winer objects, LXIV. 5]. This expression occurs in 8:23, but where, as in Act_20:28; Tit_2:14, Christ is represented as the possessor. The practical inference from all this is—Now then, glorify God in your body. ÄïîÜæåéí here denotes the exhibition of the Divine holiness (or of God’s sacred presence, as in a temple) through a chaste, modest deportment. The praise is to be celebrated through deeds, as: ‘do all to the glory of God,’ 1Co_10:31; comp. also Joh_21:19; Joh_12:28; Joh_13:31. ‘Ev, in, to suit the figure of the temple, or, on, specifying that whereon the conduct which is to glorify God should exhibit itself. Äὴ serves to make the exhortation more pressing. ‘Act rightly, so that it shall be apparent to all that ye do it.’ See Passow 1. p. 612. [Obs.: “It is very remarkable how these verses contain the germ of three weighty sections of the Epistle about to follow, and doubtless in the Apostle’s mind when he wrote them: 1, the relation between the sexes; 2, the question of meats offered to idols; 3, the doctrine of the resurrection of the body.” Alford].

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. [Christian liberty, its nature and limitations. 1. Its nature. Through the redemption effected by Christ, the believer is restored to that supremacy over the world, which Adam had forfeited, and has a free right and title to use it and all things in it according to his ability and pleasure. No longer is he fettered by the restrictions which the elder economy imposed. To him now “every creature of God is good,” and he is at liberty to make all things in their way tributary to his interests. In the person of his Lord they are all “put under his feet,” and with his emancipation from the bondage of sin, and the restoration of his inward freedom, his lordship over himself, he is at the same time restored to his proper sovereignty over the external world, and qualified to maintain it. But 2.] This liberty has its limitations, [first, by the law of expediency; secondly, by the law of self-preservation; and thirdly, by the law of duty. All things, e. g., though in our power, do not prove in their use alike, and at all times equally, beneficial, either to ourselves or to others. Again, the use of some things in certain ways and degrees, may destroy the liberty which claims the right to use them. And, finally, we must yield to God and man what properly belongs to each, robbing neither of their rights. The liberty of the Christian is therefore not an absolute, but a restricted liberty.] Fundamentally, however, this restriction is a self-imposed restraint, an act of perfect freedom, nothing but the fulfilling of our appointed course in love. Though the Christian is made free through faith, free from all which the law imposed from without, and enforced by penalties, yet it does not follow from this that he is at liberty to assert his own sinful self-will in opposition to the revealed will of God. Rather this very freedom becomes the means of entirely cutting off all arbitrariness of conduct. For that faith, through which the believer has been liberated, is in fact an entrance into the very life of Christ. It implies such an apprehension of Christ, that the believer can say: ‘It is no more I that live, but Christ that liveth in me.’ But in taking Christ he takes into himself all that holy love of God which embraces both him and all his fellow-believers in one blessed union. Possessing this love, then, he comes to hate and shun everything which conflicts with the Divine will, everything which either tends to interrupt his fellowship with his Lord, or acts prejudicially upon his neighbors and associates in the churches; everything, also, which is calculated to weaken his power over the world, the flesh, and the devil, and bring him again under bondage. That alone he allows himself to use, in suitable modes and measures, which operates beneficially on himself and others, and advances the Gospel of Christ and promotes spiritual life, that alone which leaves his liberty perfect, and his mastery over self and the world undamaged. Thus does the truth and reality of our freedom rest in Christ, and prove to be nothing less than love freely and intelligently seeking its own proper ends.

[See this whole subject of man’s freedom and dominion discussed in Wuttke’s Handbuch der Christlichen Sittenlehre, I , p. 349, 403 f., 431 f.: “Man may and can perfect his rule over nature only when he has fully subjected himself to be ruled by the holy author and Lord of nature.”]

2. The power to purify the soul and keep one’s self from all manner of fornication and uncleanness, is to be found in Christ alone. The simple sense of shame or of self-respect, or the mere dread of weakening or deranging our physical nature, is not sufficient of itself to counteract the strong temptation to this sin, and quell the might of this the strongest of our carnal passions. The enjoyment is instant and sensitive, the injury is remote, and perchance may never be felt; and so the weak will give way.—But in our fellowship with Christ, in the clear living consciousness of His presence, we have the power to overcome the very strongest of our carnal impulses, and to resist the most seductive enticements. While He dwells in us with His holy love, He becomes the quickening power which animates and controls our whole constitution. Through this love, which consented to suffer the bitterest of deaths for our sins, sinful lust is essentially slain, and the Christian resolves that he, with his body and its members, shall belong to none other than his Lord. His body he henceforth regards as a member of Christ, an organ of His holy life. No more can he prostitute it to the control of another, or become bound in vital union to a harlot. The remembrance of Christ’s presence within him causes him to shrink with horror from everything which might defile that which has become a sanctuary consecrated to His glory. Mindful of his being purchased to God at the cost of the precious blood of His Son, he feels the weight of the mighty obligation, and is neither able nor willing to use that body, which is now God’s property, for any other purpose than for his service and glory. Being now joined to Christ in one spirit, he resolves never more to hold carnal intercourse with any, apart from the Divine ordinance of marriage (which is to be consummated in the Lord, and for the Lord), or to be guilty of aught whereby the body, which is destined to partake of the imperishable life of Christ, shall be unfitted for the heavenly communion.

[3. The true position and dignity of the body. In its doctrine concerning the body, Christianity avoids two opposite extremes. It neither disparages it as worthless and contemptible, after the fashion of some ancient philosophers, and the Manicheans; nor does idolize it into an object of supreme regard and care, as the Epicureans, ancient and modern, do. Regarding it as essential to the perfection of our humanity, and as a needful organ of the Spirit, Christianity gives, the body likewise a share in Christ’s redemption, and unites it to Him for sanctification here and for glorification hereafter. It thus makes it a member of Christ’s mystical body, to be controlled and regulated by His Spirit. At the same time it imparts to it the character of a Divine temple, and requires that we keep it from all defilement, and preserve it in a condition suited for the service and worship of God. So far, therefore, from being at liberty to despise or abuse the body, or to set up its welfare and claims in antagonism with those of the Spirit, or to make our care for it a distinct, though even a subordinate interest, our obligations to Christ demand that we unite it with the soul in one general system of spiritual edification and culture, yield its members as instruments of righteousness, and glorify God in it no less than in the spirit].

[4. The Church is God’s purchased possession. He has redeemed it unto Himself by giving His own Son as a ransom for it, thereby delivering it from the tyranny of Satan and from the merited penalties of the law, to be His in love and devotion for evermore. Not that His hold upon the persons thus ransomed had ever been lost by their sin. God’s property in man is absolute and inalienable, and His title to dispose of him according to His own pleasure and unto His glory remains unaffected, let man do what he may. But, if we may so speak, His right to love and favor them, and to treat them as His children, had been destroyed by the forfeit of sin, and instead thereof there rested on God the obligation to wrath and punishment. And this was the right which had been recovered by the purchase effected by the blood of Christ. Thus a new ground of dominion and rule has been laid, superadded to the former one, and with this a new mode of government devised, and new obligations imposed on the parties redeemed. God as Father holds the Church not only by the right of creation, but also by the right of redemption. He enforces His claims to obedience by pointing to the blood of His Son, which was shed for us: and the strongest incentive to devotion and praise on the part of the believer, both here and in eternity, is—“For Thou hast redeemed us unto God by Thy blood”].

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

[1. In the exercise of his power and liberty a Christian is bound to consult not simply the scope of his own rights and privileges, but also, 1, the bearing of his conduct upon, a. his own best interests, and b. the interests of others, 1Co_6:12; 1 Corinthians 2, its effect upon his own spiritual freedom, 1Co_6:12; 1 Corinthians 3, the intrinsic fitness of things for their special ends, 1Co_6:13; 1 Corinthians 4, the worth of objects as determined by their durability, 1Co_6:13; 1 Corinthians 5, the rights and claims of others, both God and man, 1Co_6:13; 1 Corinthians 5, the particular honor which God hath put upon the objects under our control, being careful not to desecrate what he hath taken into fellowship with Himself, 1Co_6:14-17].

[2. The sin of fornication consists, 1, in its being a violation of the Divine interest of the body, 1Co_6:13; 1 Corinthians 2, in that it is an alienation from Christ of what belongs to Him, and an appropriation of it to another, 1Co_6:15-17; 1 Corinthians 3, in that it is an abridgement of our own liberty, 1Co_6:17; 1 Corinthians 4, in that it brings a person into intimate connection and union with the vilest of characters; 6, in that it is preëminently a sin against the body, being committed in and through it, in the perverted use of the highest functions of physical life, which were designed for the purpose of raising up a holy seed that should serve God; 6, in that it is sacrilege, 1Co_6:19-20].

Luther:

1Co_6:19. A Christian may be compared with the tripartite temple of Solomon. His spirit is the Holy of holies, God’s dwelling amid the darkness of faith (he believes what he neither sees, nor feels, nor grasps); his soul is the Holy place, where are the seven lights of the golden candlesticks; his body is the forecourt, exposed to the general view, where every one can observe how he lives, and what he does. Deep within the heart is the consecration made which unites him to the Church; in the secret recesses within does the Holy Ghost affiance itself to the believing soul; but the nuptial song rings throughout the entire man, and he becomes a spiritual temple of the Lord; and in the forecourt stands the altar of burnt offerings, whereon we are to lay our bodies as living sacrifices unto God (Rom_12:1).

Starke:

1Co_6:14. Our resurrection is founded upon the resurrection of Christ; and the thought of it should restrain us from all impurity; for although the impure also will rise again at the resurrection, yet it will not be to the glorification of their bodies.

1Co_6:17. Christ and believers are united together in one mystical person; but from such union lawful marriage does not hinder believers, [for if he marries aright, he marries “in the Lord”]. Marriage is, in fact, a type of the heavenly wedlock (Hos_2:19; Ecc_4:9; Eph_5:30). 1Co_6:18. Hedinger:—Fornication is the only sin which involves the whole body in disgrace, and so defiles it more than all other sins. Drunkenness and gluttony do not affect all the members of the body; neither are the meats and drinks, wherewith a person offends, members of the body. Other sins are committed against a neighbor’s body (murder), his goods (stealing), his honor (bearing false witness), but fornication is a sin against ourselves, with our own bodies. 1Co_6:19. The inward glory of believers consists in this, that God Himself dwells in them and walks in them (Psa_132:14). 1Co_6:20 The precious and imperishable ransom paid by Christ for the human race, deserves entire consecration of body and soul to His holy service.

Berlinburger Bible:

1Co_6:12. People are apt to inquire only whether a thing is allowable, but not whether it is fitting or obligatory. Christians are allowed greater privileges than many think, but they always take themselves into consideration. Christians are not blind; they see, indeed, that in Christ they are exalted above all things, but they bear in mind also how they are to use all things, and in their dove-like simplicity are as cunning as serpents. Freedom is a Divine endowment, but it cannot be preserved without Divine art. We have power over creatures only in God, and Christians are the only kings. If thou art in bondage to nothing, then hast thou all power. Freedom is a Divine jewel, but it must remain freedom, and keep clear of all snares and entanglements. Man boasts, saying: “I am lord of the creation.” Yes, but let it only be so in fact, and become not a slave over it. We may, indeed, assert of any thing that it is good; but how art thou? May it not be holding thee in bondage?

1Co_6:13. In this statement, ‘The Lord is for the body,’ we have a noble proof that Christ has verily given Himself to us. He, therefore, who now rightly honors his own body, is joined by the Lord unto Himself. He who sunders the bonds of the Divine order, abuses his own body. Originally the body was not intended for impurity, but now, and as it is now, it beguiles. It does not, however, follow that I, like an ox, must yield to that which impels me.

1Co_6:14. Can he who expects in faith this glorification of his body at the resurrection, endanger his hope by impure lusts?

1Co_6:15. Believers themselves are Christ’s members; therefore every thing which is theirs also belongs to Him. Universally is it true that if a Christian surrenders himself to the world and to the creature, he withdraws himself from his Lord Jesus. He who sins takes that power which God has given him and offers it up to another.

1Co_6:17. One Spirit. To will what God wills, this is to be a partaker of the Divine Nature. With God, being and willing are one and the same thing (St. Bernard). This union to Christ is learned and attained in the inmost depths of the soul alone. If we delight to be with Christ, let us then cleave to the Lord and not to a harlot. Let us walk with God and follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. Let us abide in God, so that heart, disposition, sense, and all our powers, shall enter into God and come out of their selfish isolation and false freedom, and be God’s possession. In this way doth God recover the man who has forsaken Him, and dwells in him as in His own temple

1Co_6:18. This passage instructs us also how we may deliver ourselves. It is by avoiding opportunities; by not running into danger, and thinking ourselves strong; tearing ourselves loose and fleeing as Joseph did.

1Co_6:19. A believer is not his own, but is the servant of God, who looks at and executes his Lord’s behests. Where can a greater happiness be enjoyed in this life, than in the feeling that we are entirely and altogether God’s? God, as it were, is under obligation to care for, and to protect those who belong to Him and are no more their own. Be then in no respect your own, in order that God may be entirely yours.

1Co_6:20. Christ has purchased the whole man. Through His spotless offering we are enabled to sanctify the body. Originally man was the dwelling-place and peculiar possession of the Godhead, and after his fall he was purchased anew for the same purpose by the redemption of Christ so precious; therefore ought men to consecrate themselves to God; and to this end should we purify ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit. 2Co_7:1.

Rieger:

1Co_6:12 : By our misuse of freedom we are, for the most part, brought into bondage. Freedom is a condition wherein I am able both to use and also to misuse objects with ease.

1Co_6:13. He who with every morsel he eats takes into himself something of that condemnation of death under which all things lie, will deem the pleasure to be enjoyed in eating as the least possible, and will be as little inclined to boast therein as a criminal would boast over his parting meal. Through the sense of shame imprinted by the finger of God upon the human heart, and by our longing after our primeval innocence, we are powerfully admonished to employ the power furnished by Christ’s grace, for the proper preservation of the body and its members, and to bring them by means of it to the service of righteousness and fruits of sanctification; and for this reason also to rejoice that the Lord also belongs to the body, that the protection, love, and grace of God in Jesus Christ extends also over this, and works out its sanctification through His Spirit; yea, also its glorification at the resurrection.

1Co_6:14. The liberty of giving one’s body to fornication, and the hope of resurrection to life eternal, cannot co-exist in the heart. Those thorns choke this seed, and by the gross abuse of the body do we forfeit the enjoyment of the hidden manna, which is intended also for the nourishment of the bodies of the saints in eternal life.

1Co_6:15-16. Our bodies are Christ’s members, since from Christ, the Head, there flows down upon them also both life and pleasure, and power to serve God and His righteousness, and also the control of His Spirit, together with the hope and desire of making manifest the mind of Christ also in our daily walk and conversation. But when a person withdraws his members from their proper Lord and Head, and in this way interrupts that enjoyment which flows from such communion, and destroys his peace and joy in the Holy Ghost; and besides this becomes joined to a harlot or a debauchee; then does such conduct bring with it such servitude of the whole man as compels a participation of all the other members likewise, or at least infects them with its own impurities, as if these were their own. What ought to happen according to God’s ordinance only in lawful marriage, this happens also through commerce with a harlot; but it happens in such a way as to leave traces in the body and its members, which shall follow the guilty one even unto the resurrection of damnation.

1Co_6:17. By idolizing the creature and by the pleasure sought therein, man becomes carnal; by cleaving to the Creator he becomes spiritual.

1Co_6:18. The deeper the fire of lust lies in any individual, and the more the example of others and the hope that it will remain concealed and unpunished and the excuses furnished for it by man’s wit, blow upon it to inflame it, the more need have we of the faithful watchman’s alarm: “Flee fornication.”

Ver.19. A temple is consecrated to God and to His service; it is also decorated by God with many tokens of His grace. What a comfort then is it believingly to regard our body as built and furnished by God’s hand, bought by Christ’s blood, and consecrated in baptism to be a possession of God in Christ! Assaulted, indeed, and alas! too often overcome through the jealousy of the Devil, by all manner of alien powers, yet rescued again by the might of grace, and made meet to be the dwelling-place of God’s Spirit! Ah, what a glorious thing it will be to carry a celestial body in which evil lusts no more dwell!

Heubner:

1Co_6:12. The doctrine of Christian freedom cannot be more basely perverted than when employed to the gratification of fleshly lusts. The rule of its use is a consistent regard for self and for neighbor. The Christian should allow himself to be fettered by nothing. True freedom is to be bound by no lusts.

1Co_6:13. God has given us the body for holy purposes, its members and powers are, as it were, an image of the Divine Creative Power. Everything in us should be consecrated to the service of God. The Lord has become also the Saviour of the body, in that He has freed it from eternal death, and has earned for it its resurrection.

1Co_6:14. The resurrection of the body should awaken in us a certain respect for our body, constraining us to use it in a worthy manner.

1Co_6:15. Every Christian is a member of Christ. This holy union strengthens the sense of shame at all impurity.

1Co_6:16. Fornication is union with a harlot, with something impure, therefore separation from Christ. The man becomes that wherewith he unites, by assimilation.

1Co_6:18. Fornication is a direct sin against ourselves, for we desecrate our personality by it.

1Co_6:19. The body inhabited by the Spirit of God should be used in a holy manner. Christianity sanctifies even our physical life.

1Co_6:20. God has given His own Son as a ransom for us. Meditation upon the greatness of His sufferings should fill us with gratitude. Earnestness in the work of sanctification flows from a living faith in the work of redemption, alike in its precious foundation and in its importance to us.

Besser:

1Co_6:12. There is something great in the power of a Christian freeman, which Paul has so celebrated in word and deed; but no where does the devil build his little chapels more cunningly than right by the side of the temple of Christian liberty.

Because Christians are in some respects yet carnal, and are in danger of being biased by the flesh (1Co_3:3), they always need the rule of the Holy Spirit to enable them to distinguish between what is spiritual and what is carnal.

Paul himself is an illustrious example of a noble independence of all external things. He knows how to abound and to suffer need, being careful for nothing and in everything giving thanks.

1Co_6:20. He who depends on the Lord knows the meaning of that declaration (Psa_84:2), My flesh and my heart crieth out for the living God.

Footnotes:

[1Co_6:14.—The verb ἐîåãåὶñåéí appears in different codices under three forms—present, future and aorist. Tischendorf prefers the future, after C. D.3 L. Cod. Sin. Syr. Copt. Meyer prefers the aorist, which is the most feebly supported, found in B. 672. (See Exegetical and Critical). Lachmann reads ἐîåãåßñåé from A. D1. It is best to take it as future.]

1Co_6:14.—The Rec. has ὑìᾶò , which is feebly attested, and Meyer thinks an error from Rom_8:11.

1Co_6:16.—The Rec. and Lachmann [with all the critical editions] read ἢ ïὐê according to A. B. C. F. Cod. Sin.]

1Co_6:19.—The Rec. and Lach. following good authorities [nearly all: A. B. C. D. F. K. Cod. Sin.] read ôὸ óῶìá [and go also Alt, Stanley, Hodge.] But this is perhaps a correction occasioned by the singular predicate íáüò .

The clause êáὶ ἐí ôῷ , etc., is an addition apparently with a view to make the exhortation complete. The most important MSS. and other old and good authorities omit it [and so do Alf., Stanley, Words.]

[It can hardly be supposed that Paul meant to lay any such stress on the word ‘me,’ as though he meant to assert a distinction between believers and unbelievers in this respect, claiming a liberty for the former which did not belong to the latter. This would lead to some pretty dangerous inferences.]

[But have we not here the evidence that in the “all things” Paul had reference not to actions, but, to external objects? Out of these he selects one class, and shows what they were designed for, and how far they are good or expedient. But the like adaptation and utility and propriety he denies to exist in the indiscriminate use of woman, since the body of both was destined for higher uses, in the sexual relation, than mere enjoyment; and the purposes of God in reference to it, were violated by that use. The logic of the Apostle is obscured, if we consider him as having the action primarily in view. It proceeds wholly upon the rule of adaptation of things to ends].

[This is Neander’s view. He supposes that Paul “at first meant to speak only of partaking of meats offered to idols,” and “then was prompted to leave the topic and speak against those excesses at Corinth of which he had not thought at first.” The topic thus left, he supposes to be resumed again at the beginning of chap 8, but approached from a different point; and after several digressions and expositions of it, to be taken up in the same form as here in 1Co_10:23. This view, though at first seeming to involve the course of thought in needless intricacy, grows more plausible the more we meditate upon the logic of the whole section; and it is not surprising that Neander says that neither Billroth’s arguments, nor de Wette’s have sufficed to convince him of its erroneousness. The case had better he left without arguing to each person’s reflection—taking into account all the while the fact that here among the Corinthians there was probably the same connection between the eating of things offered to idols, and the sin of fornication that we find afterwards spoken of in the heresy of the Nicolaitans, Rev_2:14-15, and that consequently the two stood very closely associated in the Apostle’s mind.]