1 Corinthians 6:12-20
New American Bible (Revised Edition)
12 “Everything is lawful for me,”[a] but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is lawful for me,” but I will not let myself be dominated by anything.(A) 13 “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food,” but God will do away with both the one and the other. The body, however, is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body; 14 God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power.(B)
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take Christ’s members and make them the members of a prostitute?[b] Of course not!(C) 16 [Or] do you not know that anyone who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For “the two,” it says, “will become one flesh.”(D) 17 But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.(E) 18 Avoid immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body.[c] 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple[d] of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?(F) 20 For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.(G)Read full chapter
- 6:12–13 Everything is lawful for me: the Corinthians may have derived this slogan from Paul’s preaching about Christian freedom, but they mean something different by it: they consider sexual satisfaction a matter as indifferent as food, and they attribute no lasting significance to bodily functions (1 Cor 6:13a). Paul begins to deal with the slogan by two qualifications, which suggest principles for judging sexual activity. Not everything is beneficial: cf. 1 Cor 10:23, and the whole argument of 1 Cor 8–10 on the finality of freedom and moral activity. Not let myself be dominated: certain apparently free actions may involve in fact a secret servitude in conflict with the lordship of Jesus.
- 6:15b–16 A prostitute: the reference may be specifically to religious prostitution, an accepted part of pagan culture at Corinth and elsewhere; but the prostitute also serves as a symbol for any sexual relationship that conflicts with Christ’s claim over us individually. The two…will become one flesh: the text of Gn 2:24 is applied positively to human marriage in Matthew and Mark, and in Eph 5:29–32: love of husband and wife reflect the love of Christ for his church. The application of the text to union with a prostitute is jarring, for such a union is a parody, an antitype of marriage, which does conflict with Christ’s claim over us. This explains the horror expressed in 1 Cor 6:15b.
- 6:18 Against his own body: expresses the intimacy and depth of sexual disorder, which violates the very orientation of our bodies.
- 6:19–20 Paul’s vision becomes trinitarian. A temple: sacred by reason of God’s gift, his indwelling Spirit. Not your own: but “for the Lord,” who acquires ownership by the act of redemption. Glorify God in your body: the argument concludes with a positive imperative to supplement the negative “avoid immorality” of 1 Cor 6:18. Far from being a terrain that is morally indifferent, the area of sexuality is one in which our relationship with God (and his Christ and his Spirit) is very intimately expressed: he is either highly glorified or deeply offended.