The Problem of Lawsuits Page 8 of 12 (series: Lessons on 1 Cor.)
by John Lowe
8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.
Nay, ye do wrong and defraud,
It is not only that they were unwilling to take the advice they were given, but instead of enduring wrong, they did wrong; and instead of tolerating being defrauded, they defrauded others—“ That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified” (1 Thess 4:6;KJV). It seems there were some in the Corinthian congregation who made a habit of defrauding their brethren by using sinful methods to manipulate the pagan system of justice. Such persons would have been experienced in lawsuits, or through some circumstance they might have enjoyed preferential treatment in the pagan courts. In any case, some of the Christians were being defrauded by other members of the church, because they submitted to the wrong rather than take those methods of redress which the spirit of Christianity forbids.
and that your brethren.
“Brethren” refers to other members of the congregation, fellow believers. There is emphasis on “ye” and “brethren.” The unChristlike attitude of individual believers not only did injury and spiritual hurt to those who were acting in this manner; it also caused injury to their fellow believers. It was as if they had injured those of their own family—those to whom they ought to be attached by the most tender ties. The offence committed in such cases is aggravated, not because it is in itself any worse to injure a Christian than another man, but because it shows a deeper depravity, when a man overcomes all the ties of kindness and love, and injures those who are near and dear to him, than it does where no such ties exist. It is for this reason that parenticide, infanticide, etc., are regarded everywhere as atrocious crimes, because a child or a parent must have blocked out all the tender cords of virtue before it could be done.
It was not only the individual that suffered loss, but the entire Church—and why? Because the Church of the living God is one body, made up of born again individuals that were of the same faith, of the same religion, and in the same church and family; and when one member suffers, ALL members suffer: in short, neither party, not the plaintiff, nor the defendant, sought anything more or less than to wrong, trick, and defraud each other. Such a sad corruption and degeneracy prevailed among them; therefore, the apostle sought to deal plainly and closely with them, as in the following verses. We will see that this is clearly taught later in this epistle. Those who were going to court with each other were not willing to be defrauded, they were not willing to suffer injustice individually, but because of their unChristlike actions they had defrauded the brethren and caused them to suffer. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God”(v.9).
Note, It is absolutely a fault to wrong and defraud any; but it is an aggravation of this fault to defraud our Christian brethren. The ties of mutual love ought to be stronger between them than between others. And “love worketh no ill to his neighbor” (Romans 13:10). Those who love the brotherhood can never, under the influence of this principle, hurt or injure them.
Section 4-B: The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God
9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?
There are many Christians today who cannot tell you what is meant by the “kingdom of God.” It can refer
either to the kingdom of God in heaven, or to the church on earth--most probably the former is meant here. But the sense is essentially the same, whichever is meant. The man, who is not fit to enter into the one, is not fit to enter into the other. The man, who is fit to enter the kingdom of God on earth, shall also enter into that kingdom in heaven. It is a kingdom of righteousness, according to Romans 14:17—“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” The church is God's glorious kingdom on earth, and its faithful members "inherit" the heavenly kingdom—“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt 25:34; KJV).
The apostle introduces this fairly long declaration with the phrase “Know ye not." It is a question meant to show the evil of their conduct, and especially the injustice which they did to one another, and their attempt to enforce and maintain the evil by an appeal to the heathen courts; “Don’t you know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? If the believers did not know that these men who were guilty of the sins named and individually pointed out will not enter into the kingdom of God it was due to willing ignorance on their part. Surely Paul had preached the pure, unadulterated Gospel to them when they were saved, and even the humblest of them could not be ignorant of the plain truth that such sinners could not inherit the kingdom of God.
The term “unrighteous” is used here to mean all who are not born again; there is no middle ground. We are either believers, or unbelievers. We are either sons of God, or sons of the devil. We are righteous, or unrighteous, holy or unholy. God is light—He is never twilight; and we are either for Him or against Him. We are saved, or we are lost: there can be no neutrality here. The apostle has been pointing out that the unrighteous in their midst did injustice to others, and attempted to do it under the sanction of the courts. It was a lack of righteousness that cast the angels down from heaven, and turned Adam out of paradise; and whoever of his lineage: are destitute of righteousness, cannot enter the kingdom of God, because unrighteousness is not agreeable to the holy nature of God. Therefore, God will erect a judgment seat, before which all must stand; and those that will be found without righteousness, will be eternally excluded from the kingdom of heaven.
Now this is said, partly to dissuade the Corinthians from going to court with each other before unrighteous persons, who have no right to the kingdom of God; and therefore, since they are not to be fellow heirs and companions with them in Paradise, they should not bring their causes before them; and partly to scold them for their injurious and unrighteous actions against their Christian brothers, along with other sins they were guilty of; which, if not repented of, would show, that in spite of their profession, they lacked the grace of God, and were unfit to be in the kingdom of God. He who is not a child of God has no right to the family inheritance, for that inheritance is for the children. If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ—“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:17; KJV).
A vast proportion of the whole Corinthian population participated in sins such as those that are mentioned in this passage; and the prevalence of such wickedness throughout the ancient empire resulted in its total destruction; but it was not the destruction of an empire that Paul had in view here; it was the loss of souls. The various actions mentioned in this passage are designated as unrighteousness. The people who continue in such wickedness "shall not inherit the kingdom of God."