1 Corinthians 6:12
All things are lawful to me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) All things are lawful unto me.—This was probably a statement which the Apostle had himself made; at all events, the freedom which it expresses was very dear to him, and it may have been misused by some as an argument for universal license. St. Paul, therefore, boldly repeats it, and proceeds to show that it is a maxim of Christian liberty, which does not refer to matters which are absolutely wrong, and that even in its application to indifferent matters it must be limited, and guarded by other Christian principles. “The eating of things sacrificed to idols (see Note on 1Corinthians 8:4), and the committing fornication,” were two subjects of discussion closely connected with heathen worship; and it may seem astonishing to us now that because St. Paul had maintained the right of individual liberty concerning the former, he should perhaps have been quoted as an authority for liberty regarding the latter, yet it is a matter of fact that such a mode of reasoning was not uncommon. They were both regarded as part and parcel of heathen worship, and therefore, as it were, to stand or fall together, as being matters vital or indifferent. (See Acts 15:29, and Revelation 11:14, as illustrations of the union of the two for purposes respectively of condemnation and of improper toleration.) We must not regard the use of the singular “me” as being in any sense a limitation of the principle to the Apostle personally. “Paul often speaks in the first person singular, which has the force of a moral maxim, especially in this Epistle (1Corinthians 6:15; 1Corinthians 7:7; 1Corinthians 8:13; 1Corinthians 10:23; 1Corinthians 10:29-30; 1Corinthians 14:11)” (Bengel). The words refer to all Christians.

All things are not expedient.—Better, all things are not profitable. The word “expedient” in its highest sense is a proper translation of the Greeks, but in modern use it has a somewhat lower and depreciatory meaning generally attached to it.

All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.—There is a verbal contrast in the Greek here which can scarcely be rendered fully in English. The Greek words for “unlawful” and “be brought under the power of” are cognate words. What the Apostle says is, “All things are lawful for me, but I am not the one to allow them therefore to become a law over me.” There is such a thing as becoming the very slave of liberty itself. If we sacrifice the power of choice which is implied in the thought of liberty, we cease to be free; we are brought under the power of that which should be in our power.

1 Corinthians 6:12-14. All things — That are indifferent in their own nature, and neither commanded nor forbidden; are lawful unto me — Or, as some paraphrase the clause, All things which are lawful for you are lawful for me. Since the apostle could not say, in any sense, that absolutely all things were lawful for him, the sentence must be considered as elliptical, and what is wanting to complete it must be supplied, according to the apostle’s manner, from the subsequent verse. But all things are not expedient — Proper to be used, in regard of circumstances; as when they would offend our weak brethren, or when they would enslave our own souls. Although all things — Of the above description; are lawful for me, yet I will not be brought under the power of any — So enslaved to any thing, as to be uneasy when I abstain from it, for in that case I should be under the power of it. Meats for the belly, &c. — As if he had said, I speak this chiefly with regard to meats; particularly with regard to those offered to idols, and those forbidden in the Mosaic law. These, I grant, are all indifferent, and have their use, but it is only for a time, for soon, meats, and the organs which receive them, will together moulder into dust. For God will destroy both it and them — Namely, when the earth, and the things which it contains, are burned. From this it is evident, that at the resurrection, the parts of the body which minister to its nutrition are not to be restored; or, if they are to be restored, that their use will be abolished. Now — Or rather but; the body is not for fornication — As if he had said, The case is quite otherwise with fornication; this is not a thing indifferent, but at all times evil; for the body is for the Lord — Designed only for his service: and the Lord — In an important sense; is for the body — Being the Saviour of this as well as of the soul, and consequently must rule and employ it. And as a further proof that the body was made for glorifying the Lord, God hath both raised up the body of the Lord, and will also raise up our bodies, and render them immortal like his.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.All things are lawful unto me - The apostle here evidently makes a transition to another subject from that which he had been discussing - a consideration of the propriety of using certain things which had been esteemed lawful. The expression, "all things are lawful," is to be understood as used by those who palliated certain indulgences, or who vindicated the vices here referred to, and Paul designs to reply to them. His reply follows. He had been reproving them for their vices, and had specified several. It is not to be supposed that they would indulge in them without some show of defense; and the declaration here has much the appearance of a proverb, or a common saying - that all things were lawful; that is, "God has formed all things for our use, and there can be no evil if we use them." By the phrase "all things" here, perhaps, may be meant many things; or things in general; or there is nothing in itself unlawful.

That there were many vicious persons who held this sentiment there can be no doubt; and though it cannot be supposed that there were any in the Christian church who would openly advocate it, yet the design of Paul was to "cut up" the plea altogether "wherever it might be urged," and to show that it was false and unfounded. The particular flyings which Paul here refers to, are those which have been called "adiaphoristic," or indifferent; that is, pertaining to certain meats and drinks, etc. With this Paul connects also the subject of fornication - the subject particularly under discussion. This was defended as "lawful," by many Greeks, and was practiced at Corinth; and was the vice to which the Corinthian Christians were particularly exposed. Paul designed to meet all that could be said on this subject; and to show them that these indulgences could not be proper for Christians, and could not in any way be defended - We are not to understand Paul as admitting that fornication is in any case lawful; but he designs to show that the practice cannot possibly be defended in any way, or by any of the arguments which had been or could be used. For this purpose, he observes:

(1) That admitting that all things were lawful, there were many things which ought not to be indulged;

(2) That admitting that they were lawful, yet a man ought not to be under the power of any improper indulgence, and should abandon any habit when it had the mastery.

(3) that fornication was positively wrong, and against the very nature and essence of Christianity, 1 Corinthians 6:13-20.

Are not expedient - This is the first answer to the objection. Even should we admit that the practices under discussion are lawful, yet there are many things which are not expedient; that is, which do not profit, for so the word συμφέρει sumpherei properly signifies; they are injurious and hurtful. They might injure the body; produce scandal; lead others to offend or to sin. Such was the case with regard to the use of certain meats, and even with regard to the use of wine. Paul's rule on this subject is stated in 1 Corinthians 8:13. That if these things did injury to others, he would abandon them forever; even though they were in themselves lawful; see the 1 Corinthians 8 note and Romans 14:14-23 notes. There are many customs which, perhaps, cannot be strictly proved to be unlawful or sinful, which yet do injury in some way if indulged in; and which as their indulgence can do no good, should be abandoned. Anything that does evil - however small - and no good, should be abandoned at once.

All things are lawful - Admitting this; or even on the supposition that all things are in themselves right.

But I will not be brought under the power - I will not be subdued by it; I will not become the "slave" of it.

Of any - Of any custom, or habit, no matter what it is. This was Paul's rule; the rule of an independent mind. The principle was, that even admitting that certain things were in themselves right, yet his grand purpose was "not to be the slave of habit," not to be subdued by any practice that might corrupt his mind, fetter his energies, or destroy his freedom as a man and as a Christian. We may observe:

(1) That this is a good rule to act on. It was Paul's rule 1 Corinthians 9:27, and it will do as well for us as for him.

(2) it is the true rule of an independent and noble mind. It requires a high order of virtue; and is the only way in which a man may be useful and active.

(3) it may be applied to "many things" now. Many a Christian and Christian minister "is a slave;" and is completely under the power of some habit that destroys his usefulness and happiness. He is the slave of indolence, or carelessness, or of some vile habit - as the use of tobacco, or of wine. He has not independence enough to break the cords that bind him; and the consequence is, that life is passed in indolence, or in self-indulgence, and time, and strength, and property are wasted, and religion blighted, and souls ruined.

(4) the man that has not courage and firmness enough to act on this rule should doubt his piety. If he is a voluntary slave to some idle and mischievous habit, how can he be a Christian! If he does not love his Saviour and the souls of people enough to break off from such habits which he knows are doing injury, how is he fit to be a minister of the self-denying Redeemer?

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.

The words of this text are not so difficult in themselves, as it is to make out the connection they have with, and the dependence they have upon, what went before and what followeth after. Some, thinking that they refer unto what the apostle had said before about their going to law before infidels in the first seven verses, lest any should say: Is it not then lawful for men to sue at law for their just dues and rights? The apostle answers: Admit it be, yet Christians ought not only to consider what is strictly lawful and just, but they ought to consider circumstances; for: Quicquid non expedit, in quantum non expedit non licet, is an old and good rule; An action that is in itself lawful, may be by circumstances made sinful and unlawful; and that was the case as to the Christians going to law before infidels. But others, and those the most, think that the apostle here begins a new head of discourse to dissuade from the sin of fornication, and from an intemperate use of meat and drink, as being provocative of lust, and disposing them to that sin. Now, lest they should say, Is it not lawful then to eat and drink liberally, must we eat and drink for bare necessity? He answereth:

All things are lawful for me; that is, all things which are not forbidden by the law of God may be used, may be done, under fair circumstances; but circumstances may alter the case,

all things may not be expedient to be used or done by all persons, or at all times. The Corinthians might possibly conclude too much from what he had told them, that they were washed, justified, and sanctified, viz. that now all things were lawful to them, at least all things not simply and absolutely condemned in the word of God: the apostle correcteth their mistake, by telling them they were to have a regard to expedience, and the profit of others, the neglect of which might make things that were in themselves lawful to become unlawful. Besides that, they must take heed that they did not make such a use, even of lawful things, as to

be brought under the power of them; which men are, when they become potent temptations to them to sin against God any way. 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.

{9} {g} All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the {h} power of any.

(9) Secondly, he shows that the Corinthians offend in small matters. First, because they abused them. Next, because they used indifferent things, without any discretion, seeing the use of them ought to be brought to the rule of charity. And that he does not use them correctly, who immoderately abuses them, and so becomes a slave to them.

(g) Whatever: but this general word must be restrained to things that are indifferent.

(h) He is in subjection to things that are indifferent, whoever he is that thinks he may not be without them. And this is a flattering type of slavery under a pretence of liberty, which seizes upon such men.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 6:12-14. Connection and sequence of thought. In this new condition of life (1 Corinthians 6:11) all things are allowed to us, but they must be for our good,—all things allowed, but we on our part must remain free (1 Corinthians 6:12). Among these allowed things is the use of food, as what is in accordance with nature and appointed by God merely for a time (τὰ βρώματακαταργ., 1 Corinthians 6:13). Wholly otherwise is it with the use of the body for fornication; that is anti-Christian (τὸ δὲ σῶμασώματι, 1 Corinthians 6:13), and contrary to the eternal destiny fixed by God for the body (1 Corinthians 6:14).

Not without reason did Paul, when reckoning up the different forms of ἀδικία in 1 Corinthians 6:9, place πορνεία first. Comp 1 Corinthians 5:1; 2 Corinthians 12:21. But Corinthian Epicureanism, starting from the Hellenic mode of viewing this matter, which was altogether very lax (Herm. Privatalterth., § 29. 13 ff.), easily found for itself even a certain justification of fornication, namely, in the doctrine of Christian liberty in adiaphoris, the maxim of which is: πάντα μοι ἔξεστιν. Now we may infer from the passage before us that this erroneous justification had actually been brought forward, that more than one voluptuary in the church had, as Paul was informed, actually declared that just as satisfying the desire for food was an adiaphoron, so also was satisfying the desire for sensual pleasure by fornication. Comp Baur in the theol. Jahrb. 1852, 1 and 3; Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 420 f. Olshausen, indeed, thinks that Paul would have given an absolute command to exclude all such persons from the church, and that therefore it is only the possibility of so gross an abuse of Christian liberty that is implied here. But the former is an arbitrary assumption,[953] and the latter has these two considerations against it—first, that in no other Epistle does Paul touch on this possibility, although the opinion that licentious intercourse was allowable was widely spread among the Greeks and Romans; and secondly, that the statement of the moral difference between the use of meats and whoredom is of too special a kind to be naturally accounted for in the absence of actual occasion. Neander, whose objections lose their force, if we only do not go the length of assuming that this adiaphoristic view of fornication had become universal in Corinth, or had been formally published and propagated there as a doctrinal tenet, is of opinion that Paul meant to begin here upon the theme of meat offered to idols (comp 1 Corinthians 10:23), but was led on after the first half of 1 Corinthians 6:13 to draw a contrast (perhaps in order to guard against a misunderstanding of his words, perhaps also in opposition to those who denied the resurrection) which conducted him so far away from his theme, that it was only in chap. 8 that he made his way back to it again from another point. But how arbitrary this is! And how entirely unexampled a thing, that the apostle should so far forget himself, and write in a manner so irregular and open to misconception! Chap. 1 Corinthians 10:23 lends no support to this exposition, for it is obvious that the same maxim could be made to apply in very many different directions. Rückert’s exegesis is only a little less violent; he supposes that, in the question addressed to the apostle about the sacrificial meat, the party eating it had adduced the ΠΆΝΤΑ ἜΞΕΣΤΙΝ in their favour, and that Paul had only transferred it here in order to guard against the abuse of it respecting fornication (in substance, therefore, coinciding with Olshausen). To the ordinary interpretation Rückert objects, that the Corinthians in their letter would certainly not have described the πορνεία as prevailing among them, nor would they have undertaken the defence of it to the apostle whom they knew so well. But this objection is unfounded; for from 1 Corinthians 5:1 we must assume that Paul had come to know of the state of morals at Corinth through oral reports, and consequently had not learned the abuse there made of the πάντα ἔξεστιν through expressions in the Corinthian letter (this against Hofmann also). According to Ewald, there had been doubts and debates concerning the obligation of the Jewish laws about food and marriage; Paul therefore lays down in 1 Corinthians 6:12 the principle which should decide all such cases, and then at once, in 1 Corinthians 6:13, disposes shortly of the first point in dispute, in order, at a later stage (chap. 8–10), to speak of it more at length, and hastens on in 1 Corinthians 6:13 ff. to the second point. Against this we may urge, first, that the first point was surely too important to be disposed of by so brief a hint as that in 1 Corinthians 6:13; secondly, that the two halves of 1 Corinthians 6:13 stand in an antithetic relation to each other, which gives the first half merely the position of an auxiliary clause; thirdly, that chap. 8–10 do not deal with the question of food in general, but with that of eating sacrificial flesh in particular; and lastly, that 1 Corinthians 6:13 ff. have likewise quite as their special subject that of fornication.

πάντα μοι ἔξεστιν] might be regarded as the objection of an opponent (so Pott and Flatt, with older expositors); hence also it is understood by Theodoret as a question. But this is unnecessary (for surely it is, in point of fact, a Christian, and indeed a specially Pauline principle), and arbitrary besides, since there is here no formula of objection (such as ἐρεῖς οὖν, or the like). Comp on 1 Corinthians 6:13.

It would be self-evident to the reader that ΠΆΝΤΑ meant all that was in itself indifferent (whatever was not anti-Christian).

μοι] spoken in the character of a Christian in general. Comp 1 Corinthians 6:15. Bengel says well: “Saepe Paulus primâ personâ singul. eloquitur, quae vim habent gnomes.” Comp Galatians 2:18.

ΣΥΜΦΈΡΕΙ] is profitable. This must not be arbitrarily restricted, either in the way of taking it as equivalent to οἰκοδομεῖ (Calvin, al[958], also Billroth after 1 Corinthians 10:23), or by confining it to one’s own advantage (Grotius, Heumann, Schulz, Olshausen). What is meant is moral profitableness generally in every respect, as conditioned by the special circumstances of each case as it arises. So, too, in 1 Corinthians 10:23. Theodore of Mopsuestia, it may be added, says rightly: ἐπειδὴ γὰρ οὐ πάντα συμφέρει, δῆλον ὡς οὐ πᾶσι χρηστέον, ἀλλὰ τοῖς ὠφελοῦσι μόνοις.

οὐκ ἐγώ] not I for my part. The subjection will not be on my side, but the things allowed will be what is brought into subjection. This tacit contrast is indicated both by the position of οὐκ ἐγώ and by ὙΠΌ ΤΙΝΟς. The common interpretation: “ego sub nullius redigar potestatem” (Vulgate), does not correspond to the order of the words.

ἐξουσιασθ.] purely future in force: shall be ruled by anything whate1Co 6:This result, that on my part moral freedom should be lost through anything, will not ensue! Otherwise the thing would plainly be not allowed. I shall preserve the power of moral self-determination, so as to do or leave undone, just according to the moral relations constituted by the circumstances of the case, what in itself would be allowed to me. Comp the great thought in 1 Corinthians 3:22, and Paul’s own example in Php 4:11-12. Were ΤΙΝΌς masculine (Ambrosiaster, Erasmus, Vatablus, Ewald, al[960]), the meaning would then be, that in things indifferent a man should not yield himself to be tutored and dictated to by others (Ewald). But, in point of fact, it is neuter, being in contrast to the thrice repeated and emphatic πάντα.

The paronomasia in ἔξεστιν and ἘΞΟΥΣ. was remarked by expositors as early as Chrysostom and Theophylact. All is in my power, yet it is not I who will be overpowered by anything. Regarding ἐξουσιάξειν (which is not used in this sense by Greek writers), comp Ecclesiastes 7:19; Ecclesiastes 8:8; Ecclesiastes 10:4 f.

[953] Olshausen reasons thus: Since in 1 Corinthians 6:9 unnatural vices are named with the rest, we should have to conclude that the πάντα μοι ἔξεστι was applied to these also in Corinth; now Paul would surely never have suffered persons guilty of such abominations to remain in the church. But in vv. 13 ff. the apostle is speaking quite distinctly and constantly of the πορνεία alone, not of unnatural sins.

[958] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[960] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

1 Corinthians 6:12-20. Correction of the misunderstanding of Christian liberty, as though fornication, equally with the use of meats, came under the head of things allowable (1 Corinthians 6:12-17). Admonitions against fornication (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).1 Corinthians 6:12-20. § 19. THE SANCTITY OF THE BODY, The laxity of morals distinguishing the Cor[964] Church was in some instances defended, or half-excused, by appealing to the principle of Christian liberty, which P. had himself enunciated in asserting the freedom of Gentile Christians from the Mosaic ceremonial restrictions. From his lips the libertarians took their motto, Πάντα μοι ἔξεστιν. The Ap. does not retract this sentence, but he guards it from abuse: (1) by setting over against it the balancing principle of expediency, οὐ πάντα συμφέρει; (2) by defining, in the twofold example of 1 Corinthians 6:13, the sphere within which it applies, distinguishing liberty from licence. This leads up to a reiterated prohibition of fornication, grounded on its nature as a sin against the body itself, and an act which flagrantly contradicts the sanctity of its limbs, as they belong to Christ, being purchased by Him for the service of God (1 Corinthians 6:15-20).

[964] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.12–20. The guilt of the Fornicator

12. All things are lawful unto me] In this and the next two verses the main argument of the rest of the Epistle is sketched out, though not in the order afterwards followed by the Apostle. At present he takes them in the order of their importance. First he touches on the comparatively unimportant question of the distinction of meats, treated of at length in ch. 8, 10. Then he alludes to the relations of the sexes, the subject of ch. 1 Corinthians 6:12 to 1 Corinthians 7:40. And lastly he speaks of the great doctrine of the Resurrection, which stands in a close practical relation to the two former, and which is dealt with in ch. 15. The words in this verse appear to have become a watchword with some among the Corinthian Christians. Starting from the doctrine of Christian liberty taught by Christ (St John 8:32; John 8:36), and proclaimed with one mouth by His Apostles (Romans 8:2; James 2:12; 1 Peter 2:16), they declared that the Christian was bound to a ‘service’ which was ‘perfect freedom.’ St Paul accepts the principle, but with limitations. No actions were in themselves unlawful, he was ready to admit, provided (1) that they were in accordance with God’s design in creation; (2) that they were calculated to promote the general welfare of mankind; and (3) that we were masters of our actions, not they of us. Bengel well remarks: “Sæpe Paulus prima persona eloquitur quæ vim habent gnomes in hac præsertim epistola. 1 Corinthians 6:15, 1 Corinthians 10:23; 1 Corinthians 10:29-30, 1 Corinthians 14:11,” and throughout Romans 7.

but all things are not expedient] The word expedient (profitable, margin, spedeful, Wiclif) from ex and pes, signifies originally, the condition of one who has his feet free; and hence that which frees us from entanglements, helps us on, expedites us, as we are accustomed to say. Its opposite, that which entangles us, is similarly called an impediment, Cf. the word speed. The sense “that which is advisable for the sake of some personal advantage,” “expedient” as opposed to what is based on principle, is a more modern sense of the word. Hence the meaning here is profitable: i.e. for others as well as ourselves. Cf. ch. 1 Corinthians 7:35, 1 Corinthians 10:33, where the derivative of the verb here used is translated ‘profit.’ Robertson gives a valuable practical illustration of the principle here laid down. “In the North on Sunday, men will not sound an instrument of music, or take a walk except to a place of worship. Suppose that an English Christian found himself in some Highland village, what would be his duty? ‘All things are lawful’ for him. By the law of Christian liberty he is freed from bondage to meats and drinks, to holidays or Sabbath days; but if his use of this his Christian liberty should shock his brother Christians, or become an excuse for the less conscientious among them to follow his example, against the dictates of their own conscience, then it would be his Christian duty to abridge his own liberty, because the use of it would be inexpedient,” or rather, unprofitable. Cf. 1 Corinthians 14:26-32.

brought under the power of any] Compare the use of the same Greek word in St Luke 22:25, ‘exercise authority,’ and also in ch. 1 Corinthians 7:4.1 Corinthians 6:12. Πάντα, all things) The apostle takes care that no one should abuse those remarks of his, which he was soon about to make concerning meats and the belly; comp. 1 Corinthians 10:23. The expression, all things, is to be referred to what follows; not to fornication, although this is the principal subject of his argument; but to a subject accessory and incidental, in regard to the eating of meats, on which he treats also below, 1 Corinthians 10:29. On that same point it is repeated, that all things are lawful to me, which can be lawful at all.—μοι, to me) Paul often speaks in the first person singular, which has the force of a gnome [or moral maxim], especially in this epistle, 1 Corinthians 6:15; 1 Corinthians 7:7; 1 Corinthians 8:13; 1 Corinthians 10:23; 1 Corinthians 10:29-30; 1 Corinthians 14:11. To me, i.e., the Corinthians ought to think as I do.—συμφέρει, are expedient) We must above all consider, what may be expedient.—ἔξεστινἐξουσιασθήσομαι) Conjugate words. He, who does not freely use his legitimate power and liberty, steps aside from his own power, and passes into the power of another, for example, into that of a harlot, 1 Corinthians 6:15; comp. 1 Corinthians 7:4. He would be a stupid traveller, who, though his road lay in the middle of the plain, would always walk on the bank of the river and at the very edge of the stream. And yet many so live, who pass even for godly men. The Power ought to be in the hands of the believer, not in the things, which he uses. [Liberty good in itself is destroyed by its abuse, Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 2:16.—V. g.] The very expression I will not [οὐκ ἐγώ, not I] has power, with application to the individual himself. Not I! another may venture it, so far as I am concerned. The believer establishes this principle in respect of himself: he says in respect of his neighbour, all things do not edify, 1 Corinthians 10:23.—τινὸς) any thing Neuter, the same as πάντα.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. Are lawful (ἕξεστιν)

There is a play between this word and ἐξουσιασθήσομαι be brought under the power, which can hardly be accurately conveyed to the English reader. The nearest approach to it is: "all things are in my power, but I shall not be brought under the power of any."

Will - be brought under the power (ἐξουσιασθήσομαι)

From ἐξουσία power of choice, permissive authority. See on Mark 2:10. This in turn is derived from ἔξεστι it is permitted. See above on are lawful. This kinship of the two words explains the play upon them.

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