1 Cor. 6 and Rom. 13 - civil magistrate

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chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
In 1 Cor. 6, the justification for insisting lawsuits between two believers be judged before the church and not the secular state is "Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?" and the state has "no standing in the church."

How does this not also apply to criminal matters? i.e. if believers will judge the world and angels, how about criminal matters "in this life" (1 Cor 6:3)?

These two passages seem to divide the jurisdiction of the civil magistrate - civil and criminal. The state may judge criminal cases (Rom. 13:4), but as "unrighteous" (1 Cor. 6:1) does not have the "competence" (1 Cor. 6:2) to try civil cases between two believers.
 

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
It does have that power given by God. Do you think 1 Cor 6 says that the church should have the power of the sword? To kill and punish evil?
Clearly not. It says the church has the competence to try civil matters (lawsuits) because they will judge the world. Why wouldn't they then have the competence to try criminal matters because they will judge the world?
 

Jonathan95

Puritan Board Freshman
Clearly not. It says the church has the competence to try civil matters (lawsuits) because they will judge the world. Why wouldn't they then have the competence to try criminal matters because they will judge the world?
I don't think the text is saying that the church doesn't have the competence. If I murder someone then the church will judge that as something deserving death. And I will be handed over to the State for (hopefully) Biblical punishment. I think the Church works with the State in that way.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Since the church's competency is wholly spiritual, it is not in the business of meting out retributive justice. The church engages in disciplinary justice in a manner that is (hopefully, even to the last measure) restorative.

Incidentally, the state does a generally poor job at anything like restorative justice. The state is a terrible "guardian" in that sense, for that is not its competency. It is a minister of the Law, and the law is meant to set standards and punish failure to comply.

So, a comparison between the state's criminal justice and the church's disciplinary justice is a study in contrast. On the other hand, the church is competent in a parallel manner to the state when it comes to mediation.

Civil matters in general society are situations where two people with a dispute between them come to a judge, as an agent of or within the state, with authority, and preferably wisdom, and possibly power to force a settlement; to ask for a ruling on the dispute based on the law. The judge is a referee of sorts. Arbitration is another way of settling disputes, avoiding the state's legal courts and rulings.

Paul in 1Cor.6 is calling parties who are in the church, and under the primary dominion of Christ and his administrators, to take their person-to-person disputes to the church, and not to the powers outside the church. The government to which they look for help first, is the government in which they believe in most. An OT parallel would be, when the kings of Israel (or the divided kingdom) looked to external alliances for help, rather than to their God for aid. It is to Christians' shame if they argue and squabble before the world, one side or the other or both unable or unwilling to treat one another with respect.

So, think of the church's disciplinary power as competent to 1) judge the unrepentant, even to threatening them with eternal and spiritual death sentence if they do not amend--a comparison to the world's criminal justice; and competent to 2) judge in controversies between members--a comparison to civil cases.
 
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