1 Corinthians 6:9–20 (ESV)
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?
Do not be deceived:
neither the sexually immoral,
nor men who practice homosexuality,
10 nor thieves,
nor the greedy,
nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you.
But you were washed,
you were sanctified,
you were justified
in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
and by the Spirit of our God.
Flee Sexual Immorality
12 “All things are lawful for me,”
but not all things are helpful.
“All things are lawful for me,”
but I will not be dominated by anything.
13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”
—and God will destroy both one and the other.
The body is not meant for sexual immorality,
but for the Lord,
and the Lord for the body.
14 And God raised the Lord
and will also raise us up by his power.
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?
Shall I then take the members of Christ
and make them members of a prostitute?
16 Or do you not know
that he who is joined to a prostitute
becomes one body with her?
For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”
17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
18 Flee from sexual immorality.
Every other sin a person commits is outside the body,
but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
19 Or do you not know
that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,
whom you have from God?
You are not your own,
20 for you were bought with a price.
So glorify God in your body.
Questions Verses 9-11
What is the general rule stated in the beginning of verse 9?
What is the danger which Paul addresses in the second clause of verse 9?
The explanation of the deceit (do not be deceived) is apparently discussed verses 12 – 13a. These verses will be discussed, below.
Who will be denied entrance into the Kingdom of God?
Why should the Corinthians not be discouraged by the warning of verses 9-10?
What makes a person worthy to enter the Kingdom of God (v. 11)?
1 Corinthians 6:12–20 is widely acknowledged to be one of the most difficult passages in Paul’s letters. Commentators have described the unit as “disjointed,” “obscure,” “unfinished,”1 “imprecise,” “extravagant,” and even “incoherent.”
Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), 245. In addition to what is immediately apparent in this passage, there are also questions about idolatry: food sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality as part of pagan idol worship.
Since the phrase “food for the body” is hard to understand:
As Loader notes, the ancient world regularly linked sexual appetite and appetite for food.38 Further, if we ‘read between the lines’ it is not difficult to infer the logic of the Corinthian position. The stomach39 or belly, as “the organ of nourishment” (BDAG, 1), was associated, along with food, with that which is physical and therefore transient. The Corinthians probably also believed that just as food is meant for the stomach and vice versa, so also sexual activity is meant for the body and the body for sexual activity. The stomach and the body are useless unless we eat and have sex. Such natural bodily processes have no abiding significance and are thus of no moral consequence.
In a style typical of Greek dualistic thought, the Corinthians apparently reasoned that God is concerned only with those aspects of a person that survive death, that is, their soul or spirit.40 When Paul reports that some of the Corinthians believed that God will destroy both the stomach and food, the verb “to destroy”41 has eschatological connotations,42 as elsewhere in the letter (1:28; 2:6; 13:8, 10–11; 15:24, 26). However, he interrupts their reasoning and objects that the body is not like the belly and food in this regard: The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality (as you surmise) but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
 Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), 254–255.
It was a saying of the Corinthians and it made sense in their world.
Paul gives two responses to the sayings that concerning the body and food? What are the two responses?
What will God do to the body and food?
What is the body not meant for?
What is the body meant for?
What has God done already?
What is God going to do for the body?
Can you think of any connection between the resurrection of the Lord and our resurrection?
What connection does Paul draw between the body of a believer and the body of Christ?
What happens when a member of the body of Christ defiles himself in sexual immorality?
What happens to one who is joined to Christ? In what way is he joined?
What is the command?
What is reason for this command?
Why is the body of a believer so very important?
Reflect on the fact that the temple of God is the body of a believer and the body of all believers. Why then is sexual immorality such a grave sin?
Why does God have the right to make such commands about the use of our body?
Can a believer ever say, “it’s my life and I’ll do what I want?”
What is the final command issued by Paul?
Glorify God. From this conclusion, it appears that the Corinthians took a liberty to themselves in outward things, that it was necessary to restrain and bridle. The reproof therefore is this he allows that the body is subject to God no less than the soul, and that accordingly it is reasonable that both be devoted to his glory. “As it is befitting that the mind of a believer should be pure, so there must be a corresponding outward profession also before men, inasmuch as the power of both is in the hands of God, who has redeemed both.” With the same view he declared a little ago, that not only our souls but our bodies also are temples of the Holy Spirit, that we may not think that we discharge our duty to him aright, if we do not devote ourselves wholly and entirely to his service, that he may by his word regulate even the outward actions of our life.
John Calvin, 1 Corinthians, electronic ed., Calvin’s Commentaries (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1998), 1 Co 6:20.
Rather than just say, here’s the application, it is more useful to make concrete applications. This passage means that we should avoid sexual immorality and should glorify God. The problem with just saying that is that it is easy for these things to just be a ‘fact’ like Washington crossed the Delaware or Argon is a noble gas. It might be true but also meaningless to most of life. Good application turns the passage into practice.
What verse from this passage would be useful to memorize?
Write a prayer which
1) Praises God: What reason does a believer have to praise God? Vv. 11 & 19
2) Repentance: What sins are here to repent of?
3) Prayer for deliverance: What sins here should one pray to be protected from?
4) Prayer for future life: What should we seek to do?
What is the chief end of man?
To glorify God and enjoy him forever.
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