|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:1-8 Christians should not contend with one another, for they are brethren. This, if duly attended to, would prevent many law-suits, and end many quarrels and disputes. In matters of great damage to ourselves or families, we may use lawful means to right ourselves, but Christians should be of a forgiving temper. Refer the matters in dispute, rather than go to law about them. They are trifles, and may easily be settled, if you first conquer your own spirits. Bear and forbear, and the men of least skill among you may end your quarrels. It is a shame that little quarrels should grow to such a head among Christians, that they cannot be determined by the brethren. The peace of a man's own mind, and the calm of his neighbourhood, are worth more than victory. Lawsuits could not take place among brethren, unless there were faults among them.
Verses 1-11. - Litigation before heathen courts forbidden. Verse 1. - Dare any of you? rather, Dare any one of you? It is in St. Paul's view an audacious defiance of Christian duties to seek from the heathen the justice due from brother to brother. A matter; some ground of civil dispute. Against another; i.e. against another Christian. When one of the litigants was a heathen, Christians were allowed to go before heathen law courts, because no other remedy was possible. Go to law before the unjust. The "unjust" is here used for "Gentiles," because it at once suggests a reason against the dereliction of Christian duty involved in such a step. How "unjust" the pagans were in the special sense of the word, the Christians of that day had daily opportunities of seeing; and in a more general sense, the Gentiles were "sinners" (Matthew 26:45). Even the Jews were bound to settle their civil disputes before their own tribunals. The ideal Jew was jashar, or "the upright man," and Jews could not consistently seek integrity from those who were not upright. A fortiori, Christians ought not to do so. Before the saints. All Christians were ideally "saints," just as the heathen were normally "unjust." If Christians went to law with one another before the heathen, they belied their profession of mutual love, caused scandal, and were almost necessarily tempted into compliance with heathen customs, even to the extent of recognizing idols. Our Lord had already laid down the rule that "brothers" ought to settle their quarrels among themselves (Matthew 18:15-17).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Dare any of you, having a matter against another,...., Any thing in difference, an action, cause, or suit. The apostle having dispatched the affair of the incestuous person, and blamed this church for their conduct therein: and having given them instructions what they should do, proceeds to lay before them another evil among them he had to complain of; which was, when any difference arose among them about their worldly concerns, they would
go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints; a method of proceeding condemned by the Jews, who would not suffer any causes of theirs to be tried before Gentiles, only before Israelites; their canon runs thus (u),
"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, lo, this is an ungodly man; and it is as if he blasphemed and reproached, and lift up his hand against the law of Moses our master, as it is said, Exodus 21:1 now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them, , "and not before the Gentiles"; , "and not before idiots", private or illiterate men.''
They looked upon such an action as bad as profaning the name of God; hence they say (w),
"we must not try a cause in the courts of the Gentiles, for they come from the strength of judgment; this is Esau an hairy man, for they have no concord nor mercy--and he that comes before thee , "profanes the name of God", who is gracious and merciful, and honours the name of an idol--wherefore he that brings a cause before the Gentiles, is the occasion of spreading the property of judgment in the world----therefore let a cause be tried before the Israelites, for they are the secret of mercy, and not before the Gentiles, nor before idiots:''
they affirm (x) it to be a greater sin than murder, and that not only profanations of the name of God, but rapine and violence are comprehended in it; and that to give evidence in an Heathen court against an Israelite, deserves excommunication; for so it is said, (y).
"he that bears witness against an Israelite , "in the courts of the Gentiles", and by his testimony gets money from him, which is not according to the judgment of the Israelites, they excommunicate him until he repays it.''
"it is forbidden to order causes in the courts of (the rest of the nations) idolaters, for they have no part in the side of our faith.''
The apostle here dissuades from this practice, of going to law before Heathen magistrates, not only from its being an imprudent, but an impudent, "daring", rash and adventurous action; and seems surprised that any should attempt it, when it must unavoidably expose their weaknesses and faults to their enemies; nor could they expect justice to be done them by men of such a character, as "unjust", who neither feared God, nor regarded men; were not only destitute of righteousness, but filled with all unrighteousness, and had not so much as the principles of common justice and equity in them; when on the contrary, from the saints, men who have the principles of grace and holiness wrought in them, and live soberly, righteously, and godly, who have the fear of God before their eyes, and upon their hearts; they might reasonably conclude, were matters brought before them, they would be adjusted according to judgment and truth, without exposing the sin and weakness of any party to the world.
(u) Maimon. Hilch. Sanhedrin, c. 26. sect. 7. Vid. T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 38. 2.((w) R. Abraham Seba in Tzeror Hammor, fol. 80. 4. (x) R. Bechai in Kad Hakkemach, fol. 21. 4. apud Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. col. 1666. (y) Maimon. Talmud Tora, c. 6. sect. 14. (z) Zohar in Exod. fol. 103. 3.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
1Co 6:1-11. Litigation of Christians in Heathen Courts Censured: Its Very Existence Betrays a Wrong Spirit: Better to Bear Wrong Now, and Hereafter the Doers of Wrong Shall Be Shut Out of Heaven.
1. Dare—This word implies treason against Christian brotherhood [Bengel].
before the unjust—The Gentile judges are here so termed by an epithet appropriate to the subject in question, namely, one concerning justice. Though all Gentiles were not altogether unjust, yet in the highest view of justice which has regard to God as the Supreme Judge, they are so: Christians, on the other hand, as regarding God as the only Fountain of justice, should not expect justice from them.
before … saints—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.
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