|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.
Verse 4. - If then ye have, etc. The verse implies that civil disputes might naturally occur among them. What he is here reprobating is their objectionable method of settling them. Set them to judge who are least esteemed in the Church. This implies an utter scorn of trivial quarrels about personal rights. Surely the lowliest, the most unregarded members of the Church - those of no account - have wisdom enough to decide in such small matters. Thus when there arose a murmuring between Hebrews and Hellenists about the daily distribution to widows, the apostles, thinking that they had much more important work in hand than the adjustment of such jealousies, left the whole matter in the hands of the seven deacons. Some understand "those held of no account in the Church" to mean heathens; but he is here forbidding them to bring their quarrels before the heathens. Of course, ideally, none ought to be "despised" or "held of no account" in the Church; but St. Paul is here speaking relatively, and with reference to the views of the Corinthians themselves, and not without irony. The perfect participle, "those who have been set at nought," perhaps means persons of proved inferiority of judgment.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life,.... Not judgements relating to life and death, for these were not in the power of a Jewish sanhedrim now, and much less of a Christian community, but were wholly in the power of the Roman magistrates; but judgments relating to the common affairs of life, or what the Jews call , "pecuniary judgments" (b), in distinction from , "judgments of souls", or capital ones. The Jews say (c),
"that forty years before the destruction of the temple, capital judgments were taken from Israel; and in the days of R. Simeon ben Jochai, pecuniary judgments were taken away from Israel.''
Now this Rabbi lived many years after the times of the apostles, so that as yet the Jews had a power of exercising such judgments; and no doubt the Christian's also, who as yet were very little, if at all, distinguished from the Jews by the Romans: and therefore since such judgments were within the compass of their authority, the apostle advises
to set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church; meaning, not those of the lowest circumstances of life, and of the meanest abilities and capacities; for in the next verse he requires a wise man for such a business; but private persons, laymen, who were not in any office and authority in the church, in distinction from pastors, elders, and rulers, that were in office, power, and high esteem, whom he would not have troubled with cases of this nature; but should rather choose out from among the laity persons of the best judgment and capacity, to be umpires and arbitrators in such worldly matters, which do not so properly come under the notice and cognizance of spiritual guides. The phrase, "to judge", is not in the original text, where it is only "set", or "put in the chair"; but is added in the Vulgate Latin version; and to which agree both the Syriac and Arabic versions; the former reading the words, "they that are despised in the church, set for you in judgment"; and the latter, "make them to sit judges". The Jews, as Dr. Lightfoot observes, besides their great sanhedrim of seventy one persons, and that other of twenty three in their cities of note, and their triumvirate in every synagogue, had also two sorts of benches, who judged of lesser matters; the one was called , "the bench of authorized persons", experienced men, that were approved of, and had their authority from the sanhedrim; and the other was called , "the bench of idiots" (d), or private persons, or , "the bench of those who were not authorized" (e), or had not their authority, from the higher courts; but being judged proper persons, were chosen by the people to arbitrate matters in difference between them; and these are the men the apostle means, at least alludes to, before whom he would have the causes brought.
(b) Misn Sanhedrin, c. 1. sect. 1.((c) T. Hieros. Sanhedrin. fol. 24. 2.((d) T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 32. 1.((e) Maimon. Hilch. Ishot, c. 17. sect. 13. T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 88. 2. Gloss. in. ib.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. judgments—that is, cases for judgment.
least esteemed—literally, "those of no esteem." Any, however low in the Church, rather than the heathen (1Co 1:28). Questions of earthly property are of secondary consequence in the eyes of true Christians, and are therefore delegated to those in a secondary position in the Church.
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