The Problem of Lawsuits Page 4 of 12 (Lessons on 1 Cor.)
by John Lowe
3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
Know ye not that we shall judge angels?
Paul is using a series of “know ye nots.” When Paul said, “Know ye not,” you can be sure that the brethren did not know. This was a polite way of saying they were ignorant of these things.
This certainly opens up a whole new vista of truth. I do not completely understand what this means; it is beyond my comprehension. All I know for certain is that man was made a little lower than the angels, and through redemption man was lifted into a place of fellowship with God, a position above the angels. Also, God permitted man to fall. He never would have permitted that if it would not work out for good. It will result in bringing man into a higher position. The old saying is not true that says that the bird with the broken wing never flies so high again. Man flies higher. We are going to be above the angels. We are going to judge them and have charge of them. May I say again, this is beyond my comprehension, but I believe it.
The apostle is not referring to the ministers of the Gospel, and pastors of churches, called "angels" in Revelation 1:20—“The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches;” whose doctrines are examined, tried, and judged by the saints, according to the word of God; or the good angels, who, even if it was possible that they could publish a Gospel contrary to what has been preached by the apostle, would be contradicted, condemned, and accursed by him—“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:8-9; KJV). But his subject matter is the evil angels, the devil and his angels. And he is not talking about the future final judgment and condemnation on the last day, when saints will lend their approve to the sentence pronounced upon them; but it is their judgment and ejection out of the Gentile world, out of their Prophets, idols, and shrines, to which Christ refers in John 12:31—“Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” Our Lord called it “the judgment of this world,” and the casting out of the “prince” of it by the ministry of his apostles; and which was now already begun by HIM, and would be fully accomplished by the preaching of the Gospel, through the power of Christ, which would drive them out of their seats of power, and strip them of their dominion. God will subdue the whole world under Christian power, so that Christian magistrates will judge men, and Christian ministers judge devils."
The meaning here may be this: The saints will set with the Lord Jesus and will be associated with him in the judgment pronounced upon angels (probably the fallen angels—Jude 6) in that day of final judgment. Exactly what part believers will play in that judgment is not revealed in the word of God. The point made here by the Holy Spirit is that members of the body of Christ are the highest form of created beings and therefore are superior to angels, and that we will set with Jesus to judge angels. We should realize our eternal dignity, not only with respect to life beyond this earth, but in relation to correctly regulating the circumstances of this present life. Believers shall, as administrators of the kingdom under Jesus, put down all rule that is hostile to God. The idea of Christians judging angels is fascinating. It does not mean we will sit in judgment of faithful angels (as if we could penalize them for letting us down or not being there!), but we will have a part in judging evil angels.
As a little first grader Jenny loved to sing. One day while driving in the car, she sang along with a tape
by Michael W. Smith. The song was “Angels Unaware.” When it got to the line, “Maybe we are entertaining angels unaware,” she sang a different version. Little Jenny belted out, “Maybe we are irritating angels unaware.” Her rendition may be more truthful than Mr. Smith’s.--Christian Reader, March/April 1997, p. 80
how much more things that pertain to this life?
A child of God ought to be able to make judgments concerning things that pertain to this life; things such as business and professional matters, financial matters, the home and worldly possessions, about which differences may arise between one saint and another.
The apostle has shown that in the afterlife the saints will have the very important work of judging and governing the world, including angels. All the angels will be judged, both good and bad. Probably the reference in this verse is to fallen angels, since there is no evidence that holy angels will undergo a trial. The sense here is that "Christians will be qualified to pronounce a just sentence on fallen angels. They will be able to embrace and comprehend the nature of law, and the interests of justice, and to see the appropriateness of their condemnation. And if they can enter into these important and eternal relations, surely they ought to be regarded as qualified to discriminate the nature of justice among men, and to settle the unimportant differences which may arise in the church." Or, perhaps, this may mean that the saints will, in the future world, be raised to a rank that in some respects will be more elevated than even the angels in heaven. (Prof. Stuart.) If this is the true interpretation, in what respects they will be elevated, can be only be a matter of conjecture. But the reason for their elevation may be assumed to be that they have been privileged to be recipients of the plan of salvation—a plan that has done so much to honor God; and all those who have been saved through faith in the Son of God, will have already received a higher honor than all the privileges which can be enjoyed by innocent angels. Salvation belongs only to mankind.
4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life,
Paul does not say “WHEN ye have judgments,” but “IF ye have judgments” (or tribunals; courts) dealing with matters of this sort; the “IF” implying that they should not need such a thing. These cannot be judgments relating to life and death, because at that time the Jewish Sanhedrim did not have the power to make such decisions, and the Christian community had even less power than they did; these types of decisions were entirely in the power of the Roman magistrates. But they could make judgments relating to the common affairs of life, or what the Jews call "pecuniary judgments", which are distinct from "judgments of souls", or capital judgments. The Jews say, “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.” This Rabbi lived many years after the times of the apostles, so during Paul’s lifetime the Jews had the power to exercise such judgments; and no doubt the Christian's did also, though they were very little and insignificant at that time: and therefore since such judgments were within the scope of their authority, the apostle advises them “to set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.” Christians were permitted to examine all civil cases among themselves, without any hindrance from the heathen governments under which they lived.
to set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
To begin with, Paul is not calling any of the believers in the church, “least esteemed.” The reference to “a wise man” in the next verse makes this clear. Neither is he making a command; he is asking a question—“Since you are abundantly qualified yourselves to settle your own differences, why do you employ the heathen magistrates, in whom the church can have little confidence in their integrity and justice?” It is a question designed to be a severe rebuke for what they had been accustomed to doing; and it implied an injunction that they should not do it anymore.