The Problem of Lawsuits Page 2 of 12 (series: Lessons on 1 Cor.)
by John Lowe
McGarvey stated that "By going to law before the pagan tribunals, they were not only disobeying the Lord but committing treason against their own brotherhood." As DeHoff noted, however, "It is sometimes necessary for Christians to appear in courts for justice; Paul himself appealed to Caesar." "The Rabbis taught the Jews never to take a case before the Gentiles"; and there were enough excellent reasons why the Christians should have likewise stayed out of pagan courts, except through the utmost necessity. Not only were the Christians more competent in an ethical sense, but the use of pagan courts would involve oath-taking in the names of pagan deities and other practices abhorrent to Christians. You can settle your differences among yourselves as Christians, by putting the matter in the hands of your brethren, as arbitrators, instead of going before heathen magistrates? The Jews would not allow any of their causes to be brought before the Gentile courts. Their rule was this: "He that tries a cause before the judges of the Gentiles, and before their tribunals, although their judgments are as the judgments of the Israelites, so this is an ungodly man.” They even looked on such an action as bad as profaning the name of God.
The apostle does not say that Christians are not to go to law. If Christians did not use the benefit of the law, they would suffer great loss at the hands of the unsaved. He is saying that Christians should not go to law against each other—Christian against Christian. The differences between believers are not to be taken to a secular court. They should be settled by believers. This is something which churches and believers in general ignore today.
My favorite preacher is J. Vernon McGee, and he made this comment. “After I had come to Southern California as a pastor, I was rather amazed one day when a man came in quite excitedly and wanted to bring a charge against an officer of the church. He claimed this man had beaten him out of a sum of money in a business deal. He said, “Now I want you to bring him up before the board and to make him settle with me.” I told him, “I think you are approaching this the right way. When can you appear before the board and make your charges?” “Oh,” he said, “I’ve told you about it. That is all that is necessary.” I pointed out to him that I had no way to verify the charge. It would be necessary for both men to appear before the board. Then I asked him, “Would you be willing to accept the verdict of the board?” “Well,” he said, “it all depends on how they decided it. If they decided in my favor, I would accept it.” So then I asked him if he would accept the verdict if it were against him, and he assured me that he would not. Of course, I told him that we might as well forget the whole matter. I said, “You are not really willing to turn this issue over to other believers for a verdict.”
Church fights should not be aired in state courts before unbelievers. Individual differences among Christians should be adjudicated by believers. Why should two believers bring their differences to be settled by other believers? Paul gives a threefold reason (in the next three verses) regarding the capabilities of believers to judge.
It is believed that Julius Caesar was the first notable person to decide an issue by flipping a coin. His methodology prevailed once again as recently as 1998. In a runoff election for the Chambers County commissioner’s position in Southeast Texas, a coin toss was used to determine the winner. Judge Mark Davidson evaluated the evidence surrounding the tabulations of votes garnered on April 21, 1998, and saw no signs of fraud. David Abernathy and Judy Edmonds tied the race with 669 votes. So on May 21, 1998, Judge Davidson tossed a coin into the air and Edmonds became the new Precinct 2 commissioner. Aren’t you glad our eternal destiny isn’t decided like that? Thirty silver coins were tossed two millennia ago to secure the certainty of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.—San Antonio Express-News, Feb. 18, 1997, p. 9E; Houston Chronicle, May 22, 1998, p. 40A
2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?
In this verse the apostle pleads with them, and to us also, to consider the high calling of believers with regard to this issue of “judging the world,” which the Corinthians had failed to recognize. It was a concept that was well known to them, because it was a traditional notion among the Jews, many
of whom were in this church, that good men would judge the world. If they had known it previously, they had become so carnal and so careless that they had forgotten that they were sons of God, possessors of the Holy Spirit, members of the body of Christ, and that they possessed the mind of Christ. “That the saints shall judge the world” is the thought behind Daniel 7.17, 27, which says: “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth… And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” These verses refer to the eternal Kingdom which appears first at the beginning of the Millennium (see Rev. 20) and then opens up into eternity. Those who find fault with the premillennial position say that the Millennium is not an accurate interpretation but that the Kingdom is an eternal Kingdom. However, the Millennium is simply a thousand-year period of testing such as we are in today, and it leads into the eternal Kingdom.
The apostle makes a clear, understandable statement, “the saints shall judge the world;” they will set on thrones and rein with Him during the time when the church will rein with Christ in the Millennium—“And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt 19:28; KJV). The saints will judge, that is, "rule," including judgment: as assistants of Christ; "judging," that is, "ruling over"—“And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations” (Rev 2:26; KJV). There is a distinction drawn by able Bible students between the saints who judge or rule, and the world which is ruled by them: as there is between the elected twelve apostles who sit on thrones judging—“And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father” (Matt 20:23; KJV)—and the twelve tribes of Israel that are judged by them. To reign, and to be saved, are not necessarily synonymous. Just as Jehovah employed angels to put the law into effect when He descended on Sinai to establish His throne in Israel, so at His coming the saints will administer the kingdom for, and under, Him. The nations of the earth will be the subjects of the rule of the Lord and His saints. The "world" seems to be the unbelieving world that is to be "condemned," rather than the whole world, including the subject nations which are to be brought under Christ's control; however, it may include both those to be condemned, with the bad angels, and those about to be brought into obedience to the influence of Christ with His saints—“And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats” (Matt 25:32; KJV). But the saints will NOT judge anyone, since all judgment is committed exclusively to Him. But in our capacity of reining with Christ, Christian men and women will have important work to do, because they will be governors and have dominion over the world, and as saints of the most HIGH they shall be given all the great kingdoms under heaven. My friend, if you are a believer in Christ, you will participate along with the Lord Jesus in ruling the earth someday. This is not talking about the judgment at the Great White Throne, which will be the judgment when the lost appear before Christ. No, this has to do with the governing of the affairs of the universe down through eternity. Such glorious promises should stimulate and inspire us, and cause us to rejoice even in the face of temptation and persecution, “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”
The phrase “Do ye not know” is the key to understanding this passage, because this question is repeated six times in this chapter; in 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3, 9, 15, 16 and 19. Locke thinks it was intended as a rebuke to the Corinthians, who boasted of the knowledge they received from the false teacher, but were extremely ignorant in religious matters. This student believes that the words are a sarcastic reference by Paul to the conceited arrogance of the Corinthians who professed to "know" so much.