Lawsuits in the Church of Corinth
1 Cor. 6:1-8
Paul in this chapter deals with a different type of problem that happens within the church. This time
it involves civil laws and legal matters that they themselves as Christians should be able to settle
down to avoid disputes. However, because they are still carnal and immature, they go to court
presided and judged by unbelievers. At the moment Pastors, missionaries, church officers, even
churches are going to civil courts to settle legal issues. What a shame and reproach in the name of
I. Condemned by Paul (1 Cor. 6:1)
A. Dare any of you… go to law before the unjust”. Paul rebukes the Corinthian
Christians for having lawsuits before pagan courts.
B. By doing this, they are ruining their testimony as a Christians and followers of Christ
who should show love, peacefulness, humility, consideration, understanding, and
forgiveness to his fellow believers.
C. Paul calls the unbelievers “unjust”. This does not mean that there is absolutely no
justice in this world; it means that the general characteristic of the world is unjust. It
is more likely that one will be treated unjustly than justly.
D. The brethren at Corinth are again called “saints”. They were not acting like saints,
but they were saints because of their faith in Christ and because of what Christ had
done for them.
II. How to settle Disputes (1 Cor. 6:2-5)
A. He instructs them to settle their matters among themselves before the brethren and
not to go to court before unbelievers (1 Cor. 6:2-5). Quarrels between Christians and
lawsuits in the public courts are occasions for scandals and should be avoided.
B. Note that disputes and grievances should not be ignored, but they should be dealt
with in a proper and scriptural manner.
C. This does not mean we are never to use our courts of justice. Paul “appealed unto
Caesar” (Acts 25:11), so Christians can still demand protection from the law when
the situation arises.
D. Biblical way to settle disputes:
1. Go and tell the person his fault between thee and him alone (Mt. 18:15)
2. If he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more that in the mouth
of two or three witnesses every word may be established. (Mt. 18:16).
3. If he shall neglect to hear them tell it to the church (Mt. 18:17)
4. If he neglects to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a
5. publican (Mt. 18:17). “Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a
brother (2 Thess. 3:15)
E. I would say that disputes among saints should be settled between saints, and wholly
within the confines of the church not in public judicial court.
Illustration 1: Choose Battles Carefully
The story is told of D. Bonhoeffer, who while imprisoned in a concentration camp, saluted a German
officer and said “Heil Hitler” as he walked by. Bonhoeffer noticed that another prisoner next to him
was refusing to salute, and whispered to him, “Salute, you fool. This isn’t worth dying for.” We need
to choose our battles carefully. Source unknown
III. Saints Exalted (1 Cor. 6:3-6)
A. The believers will judge the world and even angels (1 Cor. 6:2). The saints shall
return with Jesus Christ and shall rule and reign with Him. This shows how exalted
the believer in Christ will be in the next world. (Psa. 149:5-8; Dan. 7:19, 22; Mat.
19:28; Jude 14-15; Rev. 2:26; 20:4.)
B. The fact is, if one day in the future, we will be able to judge the angels, surely the
Lord can enable us to judge brotherly matters even now.
C. We see again that the idea that believers are not supposed to judge anything in this
present world is unscriptural. They are to judge “things that pertain to this life” (1
Cor. 6:3). They are to judge righteous judgment by the Word of God (Jn. 7:24).
Illustration 2: It Makes All the Difference
On a crowded street of one of our large cities, a young man was snatched from the path of a
speeding truck, his life saved by a venerable-looking man. Still breathless from fright, the youth
thanked the one who saved his life and then was lost in the crowd.
Two weeks later in a crowded courtroom, an anxious young man stood in the prisoner’s box to be
sentenced for murder.
“Young man, have you anything to say before the sentence of death is passed upon you?” “Why!
Yes! Yes, Judge,” the youth responded, “you know me.” A silence moved like a shock wave over the
courtroom. “I’m sorry. I cannot place you.”
“Yes. Surely you remember. Two weeks ago. At Main and Seventh Streets, you saved my life. Surely,
Judge, you can do something to save me now.” A silence pervaded the courtroom. “Young man, now
I do remember you. But that day I was your savior. Today I am your judge.”
Today the Lord Jesus Christ wants to be your Savior. If you refuse Him and His grace, one day He will
be your Judge. A Treasury of Bible Illustrations.
IV. Further Reproof (1 Cor. 6: 4-8)
D. When believers have some legal disputes, it is unthinkable that they would turn to
least qualified (unbelievers) to settle the issue. The most legally untrained believers
who know the Word of God and are Holy Spirit filled are far more capable to settle
the differences between believers than most experienced unbeliever who doesn’t
know the Word of God and doesn’t have the Holy Spirit.
E. Paul also tells the Corinthians who prided themselves of knowledge and wisdom that
they should be ashamed if they cannot find someone to judge their legal disputes
and misunderstanding within the church.
F. It is very shameful to the community as a whole and to the Lord if brothers in Christ
would go to unbelievers to judge them and settle their disputes while the
unbelieving world watches with amusement or amazement, even entertained.
Christians should better think twice before they do this because the damage it may
cause maybe irreparable.
G. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be
defrauded? I would like to emphasize this part of the verse for the following reason:
1. Christians are to suffer. The Lord Jesus Christ said “In the world you shall have
tribulation”. Another verse tells us “Unto you it is given to suffer. As believers in
Christ, we can suffer gladly. Matthew 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile
you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for
my sake. Matthew 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward
in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
2. We are not to avenge ourselves. God will take care of us and vindicate us in His
own perfect time and way. Even if we are defrauded, why should we go to the
court of unbelievers? It is written: Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but
rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay,
saith the Lord. (Rom. 12:19)
3. Bear in mind how the Lord suffered. He was insulted, spat upon, crowned with
thorns, scourged, nailed to the cross yet He opened not His mouth.
Illustration 3: Called to Suffer
Some believers are very surprised when they are called to suffer. They thought they would do some
great thing for God, but all God permits them to do is to suffer. Just suppose you could speak with
those who have gone to be with the Lord; everyone has a different story, yet everyone has a tale of
suffering. One was persecuted by family and friends…another was inflicted with pain and disease,
neglected by the world…another was bereaved of children…another had all these afflictions. But you
will notice that though the water was deep, they all have reached the other side. Not one of them
blames God for the road He led them; ‘Salvation’ is their only cry. Are there an of you, dear children,
murmuring at your lot? Do not sin against God. This is the way God leads all His redeemed ones.
Robert Murray McCheyne
It’s a sad thing to see believers going to court of unbelievers to settle whatsoever kind of
dispute they are having between fellow believers. Yet the truth is some disputes in fact a
lot of them are pending trials in the civil court and it destroys the testimony of believers
as a whole. May the Lord Jesus Christ grant all of those who have something against
their fellow believer to be more forgiving and settle the matters within the church