Ver. 1. Go to law before the unjust. S. Paul here dissuades the new Christians from carrying their differences and causes about their temporal concerns before judges who were infidels, especially seeing the saints and the elect shall one day judge, that is, condemn all the wicked, and even the apostate angels, by approving the sentence which Christ shall pronounce against them at the day of judgment. Wi.
--- It was not unusual in the primitive ages, and even under Christian emperors, for the Catholics to refer their disputes to the bishop, and to abide by his decision, as Possidius informs us, in the life of S. Augustin. Est.
Ver. 3. Judge angels? That is, the wicked angels, the devils. S. Tho. Aqui.
Ver. 4-7. Set them to judge, who are the most despised in the Church. Rather make choice of Christians of lesser parts and talents, than have recourse to infidels, who will be scandalized at the injuries and injustice done by Christians to each other. Besides you cannot but have some wise men among you to decide such matters. Wi.
--- S. Paul does not here mean to tell the Corinthians that they must choose the most despised and the most ignorant, but he wishes to inform them that if there were none but men of this description in the Church, it would still be much more preferable to appoint these judges than to go to law before idolatrous judges. Estius.
--- It is plainly a fault,† weakness in you to run to such heathen judges: you should rather bear, and put up with the injuries done to you.
--- A fault. Law-suits can hardly ever be without a fault, on one side or the other; and oftentimes on both sides. Ch.
[†] V. 7. Omnino delictum est, htthma, a diminutive, from htton, minus, a failing, a weakness, a fault.
Ver. 8-11. Defraud . . . your brethren. That is, you still make yourselves much more guilty by the injustices done to one another: for the unjust, and all they who are guilty of such crimes as I have mentioned, shall not possess the kingdom of God. And some of you were guilty of part of them, which have been washed off by your conversion, and your baptism, when you were justified. Wi.
--- And such some of you were. It is probable that this was added by the apostle, to soften his preceding words, lest he might seem to accuse all the Corinthians of each of these sins, and he likewise adds, such indeed you were, but now you are washed, &c. &c. Estius, S. Tho. Aq.
Ver. 12. All things are lawful to me. We cannot take the words in the obvious sense, S. Paul having just before declared, that unjust dealers, fornicators, drunkards, shall not possess the kingdom of God. Some expound the words, as if he said, I have free-will and liberty to do what I will. Others think that the apostle speaks not of all things in general, but with this or the like limitation, all things that are indifferent of their own nature, or all things that are not forbidden by the law of God, and this seems agreeable enough to what he had said of going to judges that were infidels, which, though not a thing unlawful in itself, was not expedient. It may also be connected with what follows of meats, to signify that in the new law any meats may be eaten; (see c. viii.) but it may be expedient to abstain, when it would be a scandal to the weak.
--- But I will not be brought under the power of any. It does not appear by the Latin or Greek text, whether the construction be under the power of any person or of any thing. There are divers interpretations; the most probable seems to be, that these words are again to be taken as connected with what went before, and with what follows, to wit, that though it be not unlawful in itself to go before judges that are infidels, or to eat any kind of meats, yet I will not permit my love of money, nor my sensual appetite, to make me a slave to such passions, so as to do things that are not convenient, much less to do things unlawful. Wi.
--- All things are lawful, &c. That is, all indifferent things are indeed lawful, inasmuch as they are not prohibited; but oftentimes they are not expedient; as in the case of law-suits, &c. And much less would it be expedient to be enslaved by an irregular affection to any thing, how indifferent soever. Ch.
Ver. 13. &c. Meat for the belly. That is, meat is necessary for the support of nature, though this or that kind of meat be indifferent: and we ought to reflect, that God in a short time will destroy both the meats, and the appetite of eating, and the body shall shortly die, but it shall rise again.
--- Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ . . . and the temple of the Holy Ghost. Man consists of soul and body; by baptism he is made a member of that same mystical body, the Church, of which Christ is the head: In baptism both the soul and body are consecrated to God: they are made the temple of the Holy Ghost, inasmuch as the spirit and grace of God inhabits in men, who are sanctified. Christ redeemed both our souls and bodies, both which he designs to sanctify, and to glorify hereafter in heaven; so that we must look upon both body and soul as belonging to Christ, and not as our own.
--- Shall I, then, taking the members of Christ, make them the members of an harlot, by a shameful and unlawful commerce?
--- Fly fornication. Such sins are chiefly to be avoided by flight, and by avoiding the occasions and temptations. Other sins are not committed by such an injury done to the body, but by an abuse of something else, that is different from the body, but by fornication and sins of uncleanness, the body itself is defiled and dishonoured, whereas the body ought to be considered as if it were not our own, being redeemed by our Saviour Christ, consecrated to him, with an expectation of a happy resurrection, and of being glorified in heaven. Endeavour, therefore, to glorify God in your body, by employing it in his service, and bear him in your body by being obedient to his will. Wi.
--- We know and we believe that we carry about Jesus Christ in our bodies, but it is the shame and condemnation of a Christian to live as if he neither knew or believed it. If fornication is a great crime in a pagan, in a Christian it is a species of sacrilege, accompanied with injustice and ingratitude. Whoever yields to impurity, converts his body into the temple of Satan, glorifies and carries him about, tearing away the members of Jesus Christ, to make them the members of a harlot.