1 Corinthians 6:1-3 (We were saved to become kings)


(1Co 6:1-3 ESV) When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!

The primary question Paul is addressing here is whether a Christian may take another Christian before a secular court. That’s a challenging enough question, but perhaps even tougher is the logic by which he attacks the problem.

In v. 2, he asks what he surely intends to be a rhetorical question: “Do you not know that saints will judge the world?” Well, no, Paul, we did not. Where on earth are you coming from?

(Dan 7:22 ESV) until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.

In this apocalyptic prophecy, Daniel described a battle among various kingdoms — beasts — culminating in the saints (“holy ones”) possessing the kingdom and having “judgment” — translating the Hebrew word for the function of a judge.

Paul’s logic is hardly transparent, until you realize that, in the ancient world, kings were judges. Paul appealed, not to the Roman Supreme Court, but to Caesar — the Roman king of kings, the emperor.

And the scriptures are clear that the children of God will be kings in the Kingdom. This line of though begins in Genesis 1 —

(Gen 1:26-28 ESV) 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Man was created to have dominion — to be monarchs over — the Creation. To the same effect is —

(Psa 8:5-8 ESV) 5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, 7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

(1Pe 2:9 ESV) 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

The idea is that by been restored to the image of God, we will rule the Creation on his behalf, as his surrogates. We will become kings, but kings like Jesus — humble servant-kings.

And in the ancient world, kings are also judges. Indeed, we’ll share the throne of Jesus because we’ve been baptized into Jesus and have become a part of him —

(Eph 1:22-23 ESV) 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

You have to see Paul’s picture. Jesus is the king. All thing are under his feet — except the church. The church is his body, meaning the church is also over all things.

(Eph 2:4-7 ESV) 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

In v. 6, Paul continues to paint. We’ve been raised with Jesus from the dead, and like Jesus, called up into heaven to be seated at God’s right hand. We — the church — have been “seated … with him in the heavenly places” because we’re “in Christ Jesus.”

We sit on the throne as a part of Jesus! And this fits well with (are you ready?) Daniel —

(Dan 7:13-14 ESV) 13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”

The Ancient of Days is, of course, God Almighty, YHWH, God of the Jews. And we see someone “like a son of man” presented and given “dominion and glory and a kingdom.” Obviously, this is Jesus.

(Dan 7:18 ESV) 18 “‘But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.'”

But the very same thing is said about the saints! They too receive the kingdom. Which only makes sense if you think the way Paul thinks.

(Dan 7:21-22 ESV) 21 As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.

Which brings us back to where we began. The saints have judgment and the kingdom — along with the one like a Son of Man. Just like in Ephesians.

In short, there is this often-ignored theme in the Scriptures about God rescuing humanity to restore us to become the people we were also meant to be — the very images of God, ruling the Creation on behalf of God because we were supposed to be so close to God that we could be trusted with his most precious possession.

But we fell, broke, and became corrupted. And so Jesus came, lifted us up, and healed us by the power of the cross and the gift of the Spirit — so that we could become like Jesus — which makes us like God — and worthy to be kings.

Got it? And if that makes any sense at all, you can see Paul’s point, even though he was speaking to a bunch of incredibly sinful, broken, immature Corinthians. The church of the Almighty God should aspire to the wisdom and justice of God himself, and so has no business seeking justice from pagans. Pagans!!

As far removed from the image of God as the Corinthians were, they had the Spirit and were on the road toward becoming royalty. Even they — for their many failings — would make better judges than someone who is a stranger to God.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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7 Responses to 1 Corinthians 6:1-3 (We were saved to become kings)

  1. Ray Downen says:

    I think ruling others and judging others should be the last thing we seek to do rather than a first priority. But we are called to judge, meaning we MUST judge such people as Obama and his dreams of a changed nation. As judges we needed to oppose Obama’s dreams from the first time we heard of them. Some Christians still support Obama. They judge him guiltless when he is very guilty indeed.

  2. Dwight says:

    I don’t place Obabma above others. It is possible the most perfect looking and less obviuos person is trying to do mor harm than Obama. Jesus didn’t go around talking about the rulers, Herod, Pontius, etc., but He did talk of the rulers of mens heart, Satan. In regards to what I must do as a Chrsitian, Obama is very low on the list of threats. There are and have been worse leaders, even during the time of Jesus and the apostles, and they were told to respect them as authority, even if they didn’t recognize them as good. To focus our attention on Obama as the point of evil is take our attention off of Satan as the point of evil. Whatever may happen to us physically cannot compare to what Satan can do to us spritually if we let him.

  3. Larry Cheek says:

    Obama is in a position to harm our physical lives, BUT it is impossible for him to harm our spiritual life unless we allow it to happen. As we allow this physical environment to displace our faith and hope by becoming our number one concern, we allow ourselves to become slaves of physical with NO future.

  4. Dwight says:

    Larry I think that is the case. We can allow Pres. Obama to be a distraction or not and then if a distraction it distracts from the things we ought to be focusing on. I know people that all they do is talk negative about Pres. Obama, but it hard to talk good about God, when you are talking bad about someone else. The hardest thing is to love our enemies and do good to those that would harm us.

  5. R.J. says:

    I don’t know. What on Earth do we need billions of kings for? Then again this Universe is soo vast, not even time(nor light) can catch-up to it’s fringes!

  6. R.J. says:

    Just for the sake of it, I wonder if Jay has ever done a post on theistic extraterrestrials(the belief that God has created other physical intelligent beings on other planets).

  7. Pingback: 1 Corinthians 11:2 – 16 (“Head” in Ephesians) | One In Jesus

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