1 Corinthians 6:12

1 Corinthians 6:12

Paul uses few unusual writing styles in 1 Corinthians. Some verses in 1 Corinthians do not intend to mean what the words are said. Paul is simply quoting or repeating words, saying, and writing from other sources.

When Paul uses an interrogative mood to ask where is the wise man, scholar, and philosopher in 1:20, he does not really want an answer. What he does is simply citing the common expressions in Corinth town to teach the congregation. He wants the church members to know that the worldly teaching of the gentile wise man, Jewish scholar and Greek sophists are not to be revered as God’s teaching.

And so in reading the passage, we should not worry about what Paul asked, what we should concern is the teaching of Paul here.

Again, when Paul makes some exclaimed statements in 4:8 by saying, “Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become King!” he does not mean as the words he say. He is certainly being sarcastic, which we rarely see in Paul’s epistles, to the Corinthians here.  Paul does not ridicule or scorn them but using their own boastful saying to tell them they are wrong. 

Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 6:12 with the same writing style when he twice says, “Everything is permissible to me” in this verse. Paul is quoting some in the congregation who loosely apply the common saying of the Corinthian town to the church that it is alright to do anything they please.

This must truly be a well known saying as it is found twice in this immediate context and also in 10:23 less “for me”. Besides, the word permissible (exousia) is found 10 times in 1 Corinthian and 18 times in all other epistles.

But what see immediately after Paul quoted the saying is the big word “BUT”. Paul is in effect refuting the saying in general as a living rule to be observed by the Corinth. Then he descends to a specific sin of fornication in the coming verses. Paul is presenting and deductive reasoning from the general to the specific situation.

In other words, Paul is saying that what the antinomians Corinth’s saying of “Everything is permissible to me” is generally wrong. And this also applies to the case of our body in sexual immorality although the body is transitory.

Corinth was a rich city full of scholars and boasted their knowledge in their daily conversation. Corinthian church too was rich and arrogant. They took the worldly teachings into the church and advocated Christian liberty blindly. It is, indeed, remarkable that the Corinthian do not see it as a sin. It is even more amazing for Christians of 2000 years later not to see it.   

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6:12, is teaching that the worldly saying of “Everything is permissible to me is wrong but read on and follow my advice”.