Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is to be judged by you, are you not competent to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? 4 So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you anyone wise who will be able to decide between his brothers and sisters, 6 but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather suffer the wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 On the contrary, you yourselves do wrong and defraud. And this to your brothers and sisters! (1Cor6:1-8)
Examining commentaries on this passage it appears most “conventional” commentators dismiss the idea that Paul is indicating that God’s elect (the “saints”) shall share in the judgement of the world and angels in any literal sense. Rather, they believe, the apostle is speaking metaphorically such as the idea of Christians being vindicated for their having “accepted Jesus as Saviour” putting to shame and “judging” the rest of the world who failed to do so. But such a view makes a nonsense of Paul’s reasoning and rebuke of the Corinthians in this passage. The point he is trying to get across pertains to personal assessorship, i.e. who is right and who is wrong in the various disputes that were occurring in the Church, and that the matter should be dealt with by the brethren rather than being subjected to the arbitration of unbelievers in the civil law courts. Why? because God’s chosen people are destined to judge people and angels – how much more should they be able to judge the relatively mundane matters of everyday life (v3). It therefore has to be referring to judgement in a literal sense otherwise Paul’s argument simply does not hold.
The saints to judge the world
It is no wonder so many have difficulty with the concept of the saints ruling and judging, for the same people understand that everyone who is not a saint, and in Paul’s words has been “predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son” (Rom8:29) is appointed to Hell. In which case there will be no one left for anyone to rule nor any meaningful role for human assessorship. Thankfully, as I am in the process of demonstrating from Scripture, such a traditional reading of the “Good News” greatly demeans the Creator’s munificent providential purposes for the people created in His image (cf. Rev 10:10) – the matter is more multifaceted, not to mention wondrous and glorious.
The saints themselves shall be judged by Christ but they shall accompany Him when He comes to put the world to rights (1Thes3:13; Acts3:21). That shall encompass the “Day” of Judgement which Christ Himself has indicated shall be both fair and comprehensive (cf. Mt7:2). And given that it is the role of Leaders to delegate it should be no surprise that those who are to rule and reign with Christ, indeed be regarded as His corporate Spouse should have a role in the gargantuan task of assessing every word and action of all who have ever lived (Mt12:36). For returning to Paul’s description (Rom8:29), God’s elect are in the process of being transformed into the image of His Son, not so that they might eternally “rest in peace” but to consort and participate with the Divine Glory.
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