on 1-corinthians 6 :7
There is utterly a fault among you - There is a most manifest defect among you,
1. Of peaceableness;
2. Of brotherly love;
3. Of mutual confidence; and
4. Of reverence for God, and concern for the honor of his cause.
Why do ye not rather take wrong? - Better suffer an injury than take a method of redressing yourselves which must injure your own peace, and greatly dishonor the cause of God.
on 1-corinthians 6 :7
There is utterly a fault - There is ALtogether a fault; or you are entirely wrong in this thing.
That ye go to law ... - That is, in the sense under discussion, or before pagan magistrates. This was the point under discussion, and the interpretation should be limited to this. Whatever may be the propriety or impropriety of going to law before Christian magistrates, yet the point which the apostle refers to was that of going to law before pagans. The passage, therefore, should not be interpreted as referring to all litigation, but only of that which was the subject of discussion. The apostle says that that was wholly wrong; that they ought by no means to go with their causes against their fellow Christians before pagan magistrates; that whoever had the right side of the question, and whatever might be the decision, "the thing itself" was unChristian and wrong; and that rather than dishonor religion by a trial or suit of this kind they ought to be willing to take wrong, and to suffer any personal and private injustice. The argument is, that greater evil would be done to the cause of Christ by the fact of Christians appearing before a pagan tribunal with their disputes than could result to either party from the injury done by the other - And this is probably always the case; so that although the apostle refers here to pagan tribunals the same reasoning, on the principle, would apply to Christians carrying their causes into the courts at all.
Why do ye not rather take wrong? - Why do ye not suffer yourself to be injured rather than to dishonor the cause of religion by your litigations? They should do this:
(1) Because religion requires its friends to be willing to suffer wrong patiently; Proverbs 20:22; Matthew 5:39-40; Romans 12:17, Romans 12:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:15.
(2) because great injury results to the cause of religion from such trials. The private wrong which an individual would suffer, in perhaps all cases, would be a less evil on the whole than the public injury which is done to the cause of piety by the litigations and strifes of Christian brethren before a civil court.
(3) the differences among Christians could be adjusted among themselves, by a reference to their brethren. In 99 cases out of 100, the decision would be more likely to be just and satisfactory to all parties from an amicable reference, than from the decisions of a civil court. In "the very few" cases where it would be otherwise, it would be better for the individual to suffer, than for the cause of religion to suffer. Christians ought to love the cause of their Master more than their own individual interest. They ought to be more afraid that the cause of Jesus Christ would be injured than that they should be a few pounds poorer from the conduct of others, or than that they should individually suffer in their character from the injustice of others.
To be defrauded? - Receive injury; or suffer a loss of property. Grotius thinks that the word "take wrong" refers to personal insult; and the word "defrauded" refers to injury in property. Together, they are probably designed to refer to all kinds of injury and injustice. And the apostle means to say, that they had better submit to any kind of injustice than carry the cause against a Christian brother before a pagan tribunal. The doctrine here taught is that Christians ought by no means to go to law with each other before a pagan tribunal; that they ought to be willing to suffer any injury from a Christian brother rather than do it. And by implication the same thing is taught in regard to the duty of all Christians, "that they ought to suffer any injury to their persons and property rather than dishonor religion by litigations before civil magistrates." It may be asked then whether law suits are never proper; or whether courts of justice are never to be resorted to by Christians to secure their rights? To this question we may reply, that the discussion of Paul relates only to Christians, when both parties are Christians, and that it is designed to prohibit such an appeal to courts by them. If ever lawful for Christians to depart from this rule, or for Christians to appear before a civil tribunal, it is conceived that it can be only in circumstances like the following:
(1) Where two or more Christians may have a difference, and where they know not what is right, and what the law is in a case. In such instances there may be a reference to a civil court to determine it - to have what is called "an amicable suit," to ascertain from the proper authority what the law is, and what is justice in the case.
(2) when there are causes of difference between Christians and the people of the world. As the people of the world do not acknowledge the propriety of submitting the matter to the church, it may be proper for a Christian to carry the matter before a civil tribunal. Evidently, there is no other way, in such cases, of settling a cause; and this mode may be resorted to not with a spirit of revenge, but with a spirit of love and kindness. Courts are instituted for the settlement of the rights of citizens, and people by becoming Christians do not alienate their rights as citizens. Even these cases, however, might commonly be adjusted by a reference to impartial people. better than by the slow, and expensive, and tedious, and often irritating process of carrying a cause through the courts.
(3) Where a Christian is injured in his person, character, or property, he has a right to seek redress. Courts, are instituted for the protection and defense of the innocent and the peaceable against the fraudulent, the wicked, and the violent. And a Christian owes it to his country, to his family, and to himself, that the man who has injured him should receive the proper punishment. The peace and welfare of the community demand it. If a man murders my wife or child, I owe it to the laws and to my country, to justice and to God, to endeavor to have the law enforced. So if a man robs my property, or injures my character, I may owe it to others as well as to myself that the law in such a case should be executed, and the rights of others also be secured. But in all these cases, a Christian should engage in such prosecutions not with a desire of revenge, not with the love of litigation, but with the love of justice, and of God, and with a mild, tender, candid and forgiving temper, with a real desire that the opponent may be benefited, and that all his rights also should be secured; compare the notes on Romans 13.
on 1-corinthians 6 :7
6:7 Indeed there is a fault, that ye quarrel with each other at all, whether ye go to law or no. Why do ye not rather suffer wrong - All men cannot or will not receive this saying. Many aim only at this, I will neither do wrong, nor suffer it. These are honest heathens, but no Christians.