1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?
2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?
4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge?
5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?
6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!
7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?
8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!
The fifth chapter deals with judging those outside the church. The sixth chapter deals with judging those inside the church. In other words, don’t judge unbelievers, and don’t ask them to judge you.
dare (v.1) — is it possible?
matter (v.1) — unresolved issue
before the unrighteous (v.1) — The issue wasn’t that the civil courts wouldn’t give them a fair judgment (although they might not), but that they should handle the matter themselves.
judge the world (v.2) — a reminder of their high calling in Christ
are you unworthy (v.2) — Issues between believers should be judged in light of their position and calling in Christ.
Do you not know that we shall judge angels? (v.3) — The statement indicates that the saints of the Church will be called upon to be associated with the Lord in the judgment pronounced upon angels. Exactly how this passage will take place is not revealed in Scripture. The point of this passage is that members of the Church, the body of Christ, constituting as they do the highest form of created beings and thus being superior to angels should realize their eternal dignity in these respects and should regard and regulate the circumstances of this present life accordingly. — Vine, page 42.
But we, by the grace of God, are destined to judge both men and angels with righteous judgment. As the 12 apostles of the kingdom will some day reign with Christ on earth (Matthew 19:28), and as overcoming believers from the Great Tribulation will be given authority over the nations (Revelation 2:26), so we shall judge, and reign, with Christ, not on earth, but over the earth, much as the principalities and powers in heavenly places do today (Ephesians 2:2; cf. Daniel 10:12-13, 20-21; 21:1). This is why Paul could write in 2 Timothy 2:12: “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him,” and could assure Timothy: “The Lord shall preserve me … unto His heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18).
And as to believers judging angels (doubtless Satan and his fallen angels), why should there be any question about this? Ephesians 1:20-21 could not express more clearly the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead and made to sit at God’s right hand in heavenly places, “far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come,” And in Ephesians 2:6 he declares that we believers have been “raised with Christ” and made to sit “in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Thus when our Lord judges the angels we will have a part in this. — Stam, pages 114-115.
if (v.4) — implying that they shouldn’t
I say this to your shame (v.5) — to shame you
The point of verses 6 and 7 is to say that there should be no issues between them, and certainly not of a seriousness to require an unbelieving judge.
utter (v.7) — so complete that it was affecting the whole church
failure (v.7) = defect, spiritual loss
Not only were they not enduring injustice from brothers, but they were committing it on brothers (v.8).