1 Corinthians 6:6-1: Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?
In keeping with the theme outsourcing government, this article aims to reflect upon the similarities between today's church and the Corinthian community.
This community had descended into disorder and chaos having cast off the responsibility of government, by not actively addressing issues among themselves. In fact I will even go as far as to say that for many believers today the state of the Corinthian community is in fact a fearful reality.
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Of all the epistles within the New Testament the letters to the Corinthians stands unique for its openness and transparency.
The epistles of AD 51/58 enable us to peer through a window into a world, revealing the relationship between Paul the apostle and the local Ekklesia he established on his second missionary journey.
Although we do not have the first letter. A letter referred to by Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:9. The spirit and the tone of the subsequent letters reveal the special place Paul had for the people of Corinth who were the living epistles and fruit of his labors. Read 1 Corinthians 4:15
Sadly both letters show the great difficulty Paul had in raising these children of God into full son ship, and on many occasions he strongly reproved them for being babes and carnal.
In fact the situation had gotten so bad that any representation of the King in their midst had become seriously undermined by the absurd behaviors taking place within the community. This peaked when believers began to take one another to Corinthian courts without considering the ramifications of their actions.
This information had been reported to Paul from a reliable source and he was alarmed in the way fellow citizens were treating each other. As a result the letters start with Paul in great pains to remind the Corinthians of their heavenly citizenship.
Paul draws them to remembrance of their standing as saints and responsibility to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Needless to say the start of this downward trend began through the following process and subsequently left the Ekklesia wide open to disrepute:
- Divisions and divisiveness undermines authority.
It is the responsibility of every citizen to at all cost protect and preserve theocratic government through their allegiance to Christ.
The breakdown of this community started with citizens allying to particular men. This opened the door for idol-ism and subsequently limited the manifold wisdom and commonwealth of God from being experienced by all local citizens.
- Factions and false ideas erode the law
Subsequently from the divisions arose factions, these groups harbored false ideas that redefined the people from being citizens under a King to groups with ideologies of limiting expression.
- False wisdom introduces dependence on foreign governance.
Flowing through these divisions and factions entered the knowledge and wisdom of the world which progressively took a hold and undermined the foundation laid by the King and his apostles and prophets.
The vision of governance and corporate commonwealth life was eroded and replaced with party politics, petty pride and arrogance.
- Superiority complex redefines righteousness and citizenship
Following this process the corporate standard of holiness which once set them apart was slowly replaced with an obnoxious stench of self righteousness. It is in this state that a deep sense of false superiority and high mindedness firmly rooted itself in the mind of the people. The people no longer governed but had become enslaved.
In fact the Corinthian Ekklesia had become a high place of religious activity rather than a strong theocratic governing community. The fruit of the spirit, a quality Paul pressed the citizens for had been replaced by the gift as a dominant trait of the leadership.
All structures of this community from leadership to households had been severely eroded and hence Paul was motivated to earnestly contend with his people using language to provoke them to return to their first love, repent and bring the house back into a state of order.
Note: Paul would have laid down teachings and instructions on how the Ekklesia were to develop policy to ensure they obeyed the Lord otherwise he would not have been able to put them in remembrance through his letters.
To correct them of their irresponsibility Paul gave the following instructions:
- Remind them who they were there to serve. Read 1st Cor 1:10
Namely that they were not called unto themselves but called unto a common salvation lead by one Lord, one faith and one baptism. In this they were to develop processes that would perfectly build the ruling house and in so doing would manifest the one will, mind and actions of the King within the territory of Corinth.
- Remind them who owned the house they belonged to. Read 1st Cor 3:1-29
As a wise master builder Paul understood the quality of the corner stone laid by his Lord and knew the nature of the foundation he was required to establish. Hence he also put the people in remembrance of the dangers of building any other type of community not consistent with the cornerstone.
He warned the people that all parts of the house would be tested by the Lord to ensure it was fit for purpose to rule through.
- Remind them who's responsibility it was to judge within the house. Read 1 Cor 5
In this Paul made it very clear that according to his teachings citizens were to actively resist and purge all sins/crimes against their authority and fellow citizens from their communities ensuring the holiness of God was kept faithfully. This was consistent with our Lord's commands stated in Matthew 18:15-17, and were to be implemented as policy in the Ekklesia by all citizens.
Paul admonished them to be patriotic and like the levites ally with the Lord rather than with men. He rebukes them for their irresponsibility and shames them for not having just one in their community wise enough to receive issues, judge and adjudicate matters.
In this Paul stresses the level of their immaturity, in that they shame the Lord by having available to them the redemptive and re-conciliatory wisdom of their king, and yet by refusing this, choose lesser authorities to resolve matters in so doing misrepresenting the house and ruling authority that bore them.
Imagine Paul's own personal pain regarding this matter having been their Elder who wasn’t even called upon to judge and hence was pressed to judge from afar. Rather they choose strangers who have no knowledge to judge matters of kingdom life.
- Remind them of the value of their citizenship and how best to protect it within the daily affairs of life.
- How to protect the status of the unmarried, married and the widows.
- How to preserve the citizen's conscience and liberty in the face of religious and secular ideologies.
- How to ensure order and the preservation of holiness for all citizens.
- How to respect who stands in their midst and how they are to serve in the administrations and gifts.
- How to demonstrate commonwealth to fellow citizens who are actively building the Lord's government.
In summary. The Corinth citizen would have understood what Paul was requiring of them. They would have to make a conscious effort to resist the status quo that had undermined their authority and government.
They would not have read this as a form of devotion as some of us do today. Rather they would have understood it as the instructions of a senior elder who had a vested interest in their corporate development and was giving them time to act responsibly.
It is unfortunate that history tells us that they did not act on Paul's instructions. As late as A.D. 95, historians record that Clement of Rome wrote to the Corinthians and cited Paul's epistle regarding their situation and the factions which still took place among them.
Nonetheless this letter was canonized by our forefathers who with hindsight knew that the issues of government and outsourcing responsibility would still continue to this day.
Fellow citizen. How will you choose to read this epistle? and how will you act having read it?
For king and for country....