1 Corinthians 6:9-11
9. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
9. An nescitis, quod iniusti regenum Dei hereditate non obtinebunt? Ne erretis, neque scortatores, neque idololatrae, neque moechi, neque molles, neque paederastse.
10. Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
10. Neque fures, neque avari, neque ebriosi, neque maledici, neque rapaces regnum Dei hereditate obtinebunt.
11. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
11. Et haec fuistis,1 sed abluti estis, sed sanctificati estis, sed iustificati estis in nomine Domini Jesu, et in Spiritu Dei nostri.
9. Know ye not, etc. By unrighteousness here you may understand what is opposed to strict integrity. The unrighteous, then, that is, those who inflict injury on their brethren, who defraud or circumvent others, who, in short, are intent upon their own advantage at the expense of injuring others, will not inherit the kingdom of God. That by the unrighteous here, as for example adulterers, and thieves and covetous, and revilers, he means those who do not, repent of their sins, but obstinately persist in them, is too manifest to require that it should be stated. The Apostle himself, too, afterwards expresses this in the words employed by him, when he says that the Corinthians formerly were such. The wicked, then, do inherit the kingdom of God, but it is only in the event of their having been first converted to the Lord in true repentance, and having in this way ceased to be wicked. For although conversion is not the ground of pardon, yet we know that none are reconciled to God but those who repent. The interrogation, however, is emphatic, for it intimates that he states nothing but what they themselves know, and is matter of common remark among all pious persons.
Be not deceived. He takes occasion from one vice to speak of many. I am of opinion, however, that he has pointed out those vices chiefly which prevailed among the Corinthians. He makes use of three terms for reproving those lascivious passions which, as all historical accounts testify, reigned, nay raged, to an extraordinary height in that city. For it was a city that abounded in wealth, (as has been stated elsewhere.) It was a celebrated mart, which was frequented by merchants from many nations. Wealth has luxury as its attendant -- the mother of unchastity and all kinds of lasciviousness. In addition to this, a nation which was of itself prone to wantonness, was prompted to it by many other corruptions.
The difference between fornicators and adulterers is sufficiently well known. By effeminate persons I understand those who, although they do not openly abandon themselves to impurity, discover, nevertheless, their unchastity by blandishments of speech, by lightness of gesture and apparel, and other allurements. The fourth description of crime is the most abominable of all -- that monstrous pollution which was but too prevalent in Greece.
He employs three terms in reproving injustice and injuries. He gives the name of thieves to those who take the advantage of their brethren by any kind of fraud or secret artifice. By extortioners, he means those that violently seize on another's wealth, or like harpies2 drew to themselves from every quarter, and devour. With the view of giving his discourse a wider range, he afterwards adds all covetous persons too. Under the term drunkards you are to understand him as including those who go to excess in eating. He more particularly reproves revilers, because, in all probability, that city was full of gossip and slanders. In short, he makes mention chiefly of those vices to which, he saw, that city was addicted.
Farther, that his threatening may have more weight, he says, be not deceived; by which expression he admonishes them not to flatter themselves with a vain hope, as persons are accustomed, by extenuating their offenses, to inure themselves to contempt of God. No poison, therefore, is more dangerous than those allurements which encourage us in our sins. Let us, therefore, shun, not as the songs of the Sirens,3 but as the deadly bites of Satan, the talk of profane persons, when turning the judgment of God and reproofs of sins into matter of jest. Lastly, we must also notice here the propriety of the word klhronomein -- to inherit; which shows that the kingdom of heaven is the inheritance of sons, and therefore comes to us through the privilege of adoption.
11. And such were ye. Some add a term of speciality: Such were some of you, as in Greek the word tine<v is added; but I am rather of opinion that the Apostle speaks in a general way. I consider that term to be redundant, in accordance with the practice of the Greeks, who frequently make use of it for the sake of ornament, not by way of restriction. We must not, however, understand him as putting all in one bundle, so as to attribute all these vices to each of them, but he simply means to intimate, that no one is altogether free from these vices, until he has been renewed by the Spirit. For we must hold this, that man's nature universally contains the seed of all evils, but that some vices prevail and discover themselves more in some than in others, according as the Lord brings out to view the depravity of the flesh by its fruits.
Thus Paul, in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, piles up many different kinds of vices and crimes, which flow from ignorance of God, and that ingratitude, of which he had shown all unbelievers to be guilty, (Romans 1:21-32) -- not that every unbeliever is infected with all these vices, but that all are liable to them, and no one is exempt from them all. For he who is not an adulterer, sins in some other way. So also in the third chapter he brings forward as applicable to the sons of Adam universally those declarations --
their throat is an open sepulcher: their feet are swift to shed blood: their tongue is deceitful or poisonous, (Romans 3:13-15)
-- not that all are sanguinary and cruel, or that all are treacherous or revilers; but that, previously to our being formed anew by God, one is inclined to cruelty, another to treachery, another to impurity, another to deceit; so that there is no one in whom there does not exist some trace of the corruption common to all; and we are all of us, to a man, by an internal and secret affection of the mind, liable to all diseases, unless in so far as the Lord inwardly restrains them from breaking forth openly.4 The simple meaning, therefore, is this, that prior to their being regenerated by grace, some of the Corinthians were covetous, others adulterers, others extortioners, others effeminate, others revilers, but now, being made free by Christ, they were such no longer.
The design of the Apostle, however, is to humble them, by calling to their remembrance their former condition; and, farther, to stir them up to acknowledge the grace of God towards them. For the greater the misery is acknowledged to be, from which we have escaped through the Lord's kindness, so much the more does the magnitude of his grace shine forth. Now the commendation of grace is a fountain5 of exhortations, because we ought to take diligent heed, that we may not make void the kindness of God, which ought to be so highly esteemed. It is as though he had said: "It is enough that God has drawn you out of that mire in which you were formerly sunk;" as Peter also says,
"The time past is sufficient to have fulfilled the lusts
of the Gentiles." (1 Peter 4:3.)
But ye are washed. He makes use of three terms to express one and the same thing, that he may the more effectually deter them from rolling back into the condition from which they had escaped. Hence, though these three terms have the same general meaning, there is, nevertheless, great force in their very variety. For there is an implied contrast between washing and defilement -- sanctification and pollution -- justification and guilt. His meaning is, that having been once justified, they must not draw down upon themselves a new condemnation -- that, having been sanctified, they must not pollute themselves anew -- that, having been washed, they must not disgrace themselves with new defilements, but, on the contrary, aim at purity, persevere in true holiness, and abominate their former pollutions. And hence we infer what is the purpose for which God reconciles us to himself by the free pardon of our sins. While I have said that one thing is expressed by three terms, I do not mean that there is no difference whatever in their import, for, properly speaking, God justifies us when he frees us from condemnation, by not imputing to us our sins; he cleanses us, when he blots out the remembrance of our sins. Thus these two terms differ only in this respect, that the one is simple, while the other is figurative; for the term washing is metaphorical, Christ's blood being likened to water. On the other hand, he sanctifies by renewing our depraved nature by his Spirit. Thus sanctification is connected with regeneration. In this passage, however, the Apostle had simply in view to extol, with many commendations, the grace of God, which has delivered us from the bondage of sin, that we may learn from this how much it becomes us to hold in abhorrence everything that stirs up against us God's anger and vengeance.
In the name of the Lord Jesus, etc. With propriety and elegance he distinguishes between different offices. For the blood of Christ is the procuring cause of our cleansing: righteousness and sanctification come to us through his death and resurrection. But, as the cleansing effected by Christ, and the attainment of righteousness, are of no avail except to those who have been made partakers of those blessings by the influence of the Holy Spirit, it is with propriety that he makes mention of the Spirit in connection with Christ. Christ, then, is the source of all blessings to us from him we obtain all things; but Christ himself, with all his blessings, is communicated to us by the Spirit. For it is by faith that we receive Christ, and have his graces applied to us. The Author of faith is the Spirit.