Notes And Comments -- By: Jack Fish

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 01:2 (Summer 1992)
Article: Notes And Comments
Author: Jack Fish

Notes And Comments

Jack Fish1

Lawsuits - 1 Corinthians 6:1–11

Christians are not perfect. There are times when we have differences that are difficult to resolve. How we resolve them is important if we are to live in a manner which is pleasing to God. How far can we go and what can we legitimately do if we feel that we have been wronged or have suffered loss at the hands of another Christian? The apostle Paul dealt with these questions in 1 Corinthians 6, particularly in relation to the issue of whether it is ever permissible for a Christian who has been wronged to seek redress in a court of law. The answer he gives is a resounding no! What then can be done? Here the apostle suggests two alternatives.

Lawsuits forbidden

For Christians to sue one another is a disgrace and a shame to the church. “Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints” (v. 1)? Modern practice has accustomed us to lawsuits, and the consciences of Christians have become insensitive so that we are not shocked if one believer files a suit against another. The Scriptures, however, are clear that this is an outrage to God and can have no place in the life of a Christian who wants to please Him. This passage shows that such a practice is forbidden to Christians no matter how great the injustice.

The case at Corinth is easy to reconstruct. In verse 4 the issue is said to be a “matter of this life.” These were non-criminal disputes that dealt with the concerns of

everyday life, particularly with matters that related to capital and property. Verse 1 indicates that one believer felt he was wronged and took legal action before the civil magistrate by filing a suit. Whether other alternatives had been tried without success in resolving the issue is not mentioned and is not really pertinent. The very fact that “brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers” (v. 6) means “utter defeat” for both parties involved as well as for the church as a whole (v. 7).

This, of course, is not saying that it is wrong for Christians to use the legal system. It is not a disparagement of the judicial system itself. It is simply saying that it is wrong for believers to settle their ...

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