NIV Study Bible notes on 1 Cor. 6:12-20

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

New International Version

Sexual Immorality

12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”[a] 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.[b]

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

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  1. 1 Corinthians 6:16 Gen. 2:24
  2. 1 Corinthians 6:17 Or in the Spirit

NIV Study Bible notes:

6:12 “I have the right to do anything.” Paul is quoting some in the Corinthian congregation who boasted that they had had a right to do anything they pleased (see v. 13; 7:1; 10:23 […]). The apostle counters by observing that such “freedom” of action may not benefit the Christian. not be mastered by anything. One may become enslaved by those actions in which one “freely” chooses to indulge.

6:13 “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” Paul quotes some Corinthians again who were claiming that as the physical acts of eating and digesting food have no bearing on one’s inner spiritual life, so the physical act of promiscuous sexual activity does not affect one’s spiritual life. The body … is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord. Some Corinthians claimed that there was no resurrection of the body (15:12), so it did not matter what one did with it. Paul here declares the dignity of the human body: It is intended for the Lord and will be raised. Although granting that food and the stomach are transitory, Paul denies that what one does with one’s body is unimportant. This is particularly true of the use of sex, which the Lord has appointed for use in the man-woman relationship in marriage (see 7:2 – 5; cf. Heb. 13:4).

6:14 God raised the Lord … us also. As an illustration of God’s high regard for the body, Paul cites the resurrection of Christ’s body and, eventually, of the believer’s body (see 15: 51 – 53; 1 Th 4:16 – 17). A body destined for resurrection should not be used for immorality.

6:15 members of Christ. See 12:27. It is not merely the spirit that is a member of Christ’s body; it is the whole person, consisting of spirit and body. This fact gives dignity to the human body.

6:16 one with her in body. In a sexual relationship the two bodies become one (cf. Ge 2:24; Mt 19:4 – 5), and a new human being may emerge from the sexual union. Sexual relations outside the marriage bond are a gross perversion of the divinely established marriage union.

6:17 one with him in spirit. There is a higher union than the marriage bond: the believer’s spiritual union with Christ, which is the perfect model for the kind of unity that should mark the marriage relationship (cf. Eph 5:21 – 33 […])

6:18 Flee. The Greek for this imperative may suggest that one must continually run from sexual sinning (advice particularly needed in Corinth). Cf. Ge 39:12; 2 Ti 2:22. whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. The body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (v. 19); thus to use it in prostitution (see notes on Ge 20:9; Ex 34:15) disgraces God’s temple.

6:19 your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Cf. note on 3:16. Their bodies are therefore sacred and are to be treated as sacred (holy). Christians should also realize that by the Spirit’s presence and power they can be helped against such sins as sexual immorality (Ro 8:9). not your own. Cf. 1 Pe 2:9 […].

6:20 bought at a price. See 7:23 […]. honor God with your bodies. Cf. 10:31; Ro 6:12 – 13 […].

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