|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:12-20 Some among the Corinthians seem to have been ready to say, All things are lawful for me. This dangerous conceit St. Paul opposes. There is a liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, in which we must stand fast. But surely a Christian would never put himself into the power of any bodily appetite. The body is for the Lord; is to be an instrument of righteousness to holiness, therefore is never to be made an instrument of sin. It is an honour to the body, that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead; and it will be an honour to our bodies, that they will be raised. The hope of a resurrection to glory, should keep Christians from dishonouring their bodies by fleshly lusts. And if the soul be united to Christ by faith, the whole man is become a member of his spiritual body. Other vices may be conquered in fight; that here cautioned against, only by flight. And vast multitudes are cut off by this vice in its various forms and consequences. Its effects fall not only directly upon the body, but often upon the mind. Our bodies have been redeemed from deserved condemnation and hopeless slavery by the atoning sacrifice of Christ. We are to be clean, as vessels fitted for our Master's use. Being united to Christ as one spirit, and bought with a price of unspeakable value, the believer should consider himself as wholly the Lord's, by the strongest ties. May we make it our business, to the latest day and hour of our lives, to glorify God with our bodies, and with our spirits which are his.
Verses 12-20. - The inexcusable sin and shame of fornication. Verse 12. - All things are lawful unto me. The abruptness with which the phrase is introduced perhaps shows that, in the letter of the Corinthians to St. Paul, they had used some such expression by way of palliating their lax tolerance of violations of the law of purity. By "all things," of course, is only meant "all things which are indifferent in themselves." They erroneously applied this maxim of Christian liberty to that which was inherently sinful, and thus were tempted to "make their liberty a cloak of viciousness." St. Paul, as Bengel observes, often, and especially in this Epistle, uses the first person generally in gnomic or semi-proverbial sentences (1 Corinthians 6:15; 1 Corinthians 7:7; 1 Corinthians 10:23, 29, 30; 1 Corinthians 14:11). But. This is St. Paul's correction of too broad a formula. Are not expedient. St. Paul illustrates this in 1 Corinthians 8:8-10. We have no right to do even that which is innocent, if it be disadvantageous to the highest interests of ourselves or others. "He alone," says St. Augustine, "does not fall into unlawful things who sometimes abstains by way of caution even from lawful ones." Will not be brought under the power. The play of words in the original might be imitated by saying, "All things are in my power, but I will not be brought under the power of any." In other words, "boundless intemperance" may become a tyranny. The pretence of moral freedom may end in a moral bondage.
"Obedience is better than freedom? What's free?
The vexed foam on the wave, the tossed straw on the sea;
The ocean itself, as it rages and swells,
In the bonds of a boundless obedience dwells." I will be master even over my liberty by keeping it under the beneficent control of law and of charity.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
All things are lawful unto me,.... That is, which are of an indifferent nature; otherwise everything is not lawful to be done:
but all things are not expedient; when the doing of them destroys the peace, comfort, and edification of others; when it stumbles and grieves weak minds, and causes offence to them; see 1 Corinthians 10:23
all things are lawful for me; which is repeated for the sake of saying the following words:
but I will not be brought under the power of any; which would be very inexpedient, should any by the use of liberty in things indifferent, on the one hand, offend his brethren, and, on the other, bring himself into bondage to those very things he has the free use of; and therefore the apostle determines, that these shall not have the mastery over him, that he will use them, or not use them, at his pleasure. It is somewhat difficult to know what in particular he has respect unto, whether to what he had been treating of before, concerning going to law before unbelievers; and his sense be, that however lawful this might be in itself, yet it was not expedient, since it was exposing of themselves to ungodly persons, and a putting themselves under their power to judge and determine as they pleased; or whether to the use of meats forbidden under the law, or offered to idols; which though in themselves lawful to be eaten, every creature of God being good, and not to be refused and accounted common and unclean; yet it was not expedient to use this liberty, if a weak brother should be grieved, or a man himself become a slave to his appetite.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
1Co 6:12-20. Refutation of the Antinomian Defense of Fornication as if It Was Lawful Because Meats Are So.
12. All things are lawful unto me—These, which were Paul's own words on a former occasion (to the Corinthians, compare 1Co 10:23, and Ga 5:23), were made a pretext for excusing the eating of meats offered to idols, and so of what was generally connected with idolatry (Ac 15:29), "fornication" (perhaps in the letter of the Corinthians to Paul, 1Co 7:1). Paul's remark had referred only to things indifferent: but they wished to treat fornication as such, on the ground that the existence of bodily appetites proved the lawfulness of their gratification.
me—Paul giving himself as a sample of Christians in general.
but I—whatever others do, I will not, &c.
lawful … brought under the power—The Greek words are from the same root, whence there is a play on the words: All things are in my power, but I will not be brought under the power of any of them (the "all things"). He who commits "fornication," steps aside from his own legitimate power or liberty, and is "brought under the power" of an harlot (1Co 6:15; compare 1Co 7:4). The "power" ought to be in the hands of the believer, not in the things which he uses [Bengel]; else his liberty is forfeited; he ceases to be his own master (Joh 8:34-36; Ga 5:13; 1Pe 2:16; 2Pe 2:19). Unlawful things ruin thousands; "lawful" things (unlawfully used), ten thousands.
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