Lawsuits in Pauls theological ethics : a historical and literary interpretation of 1 Corinthians 6:1-11

Oh, JungHwan (2014-04)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: As human society develops, people often face unpleasant affairs in their daily lives. However, when they do not solve matters, they might resort to solving such matters through lawsuits. In the same way, serious problems sometimes appear in the church, so that Christians are forced to rely upon lawsuits. Different opinions can be suggested regarding going to the court to solve problems in Christian communities. Many people use 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 to support that Christians should not have lawsuits against fellow Christians. The question this dissertation investigates is, did Paul really say that Christians should not have lawsuits and should not go to the secular court? In the first century C.E. a situation occurred in the Corinthian community where believers tried to solve trivial matters among themselves in a secular court, rather than within the community (1 Corinthians 6:1-11). In chapter 2, a general understanding of litigation in the first century C.E. is treated in different categories, focusing on the first century Roman society. This chapter sketches the Roman legal context for understanding civil lawsuits that happened in the Corinthian community. Chapter 3 concentrates on the interpretation of 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 as the text in focus in this study, in the light of its historical context. In particular, this chapter investigates various factors pertaining to the nature of lawsuits in Corinth with regard to the historical context. In chapter 4, 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 is examined in a literary analysis and subjected to an exegetical study. These literary devices allow for in depth investigation of the text, and structural and hermeneutical findings regarding Paul’s argument is presented. In chapter 5 the lawsuit is investigated in the light of two theological aspects, namely eschatology and ethics. Paul uses these two important notions to instruct the Corinthian believers regarding their new identity as God’s people and suggest the significant principle how to live as Jesus followers in their lives. In sum, according to 1 Corinthians 6:1-11, Paul argues that lawsuits are not appropriate in the community of the faithful because it is harmful to the unity and the purity of the community. However, Paul’s concern is not for the lawsuits as such, but for how believers should behave and live ethically as Jesus followers before God. Believers as God’s people have to reveal the love of God through their behaviour and in their daily lives.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In gemeenskappe, word mense soms gekonfronteer met onaangename ervarings in interaksie met andere in hulle daaglikse lewens. Wanneer hulle sulke sake nie self kan bylê nie, mag hulle besluit om hulle tot geregshowe te wend vir 'n oplossing. Op soortgelyke wyse ontstaan daar soms ernstige probleme in die kerk, wat Christene noop om hulle te wend tot onderlinge hofsake. Verskillende opinies word aangevoer oor die toepaslikheid van hofsake onder Christene. In werklikheid vind vele mense in 1 Korintiërs 6:1-11 ondersteuning vir die siening dat Christene nie hofsake behoort te hê teen mede-Christene nie. Hierdie proefskrif loods ‘n ondersoek na die aard en omvang van Paulus se opdrag tov hofsake tussen gelowiges in 1 Korintiërs 6:1-11. Tydens die eerste eeu A.J. het 'n situasie in die Korintiese gemeenskap ontstaan, waar gelowiges 'n nietige saak wat onder hulle opgeduik het, probeer oplos het deur hulle tot 'n sekulêre hof te wend, eerder as om dit binne hulle eie gemeenskap op te los (1 Korintiërs 6:1- 11). Om Paulus se denke oor hofsake te begryp, word verskeie aspekte rondom hofsake vervolgens ondersoek. In hoofstuk 2 word 'n breë uiteensetting gegee van litigasie in die eerste eeu A.J., in verskillende kategorieë, met die fokus op die eerste-eeuse Romeinse samelewing. Hierdie hoofstuk bespreek die breër Romeinse Regskonteks waarbinne hofsake in die Korintiese gemeenskap verstaan kan word. Hoofstuk 3 konsentreer op die interpretasie van 1 Korintiërs 6:1-11 as die hoofteks in die lig van die historiese konteks en met besondere fokus op regsgedinge. In hoofstuk 4 word 'n literêre analise en eksegetiese studie van 1 Korintiërs 6:1-11 gedoen, met klem op die strukturele aspekte en hermeneutiese belang van die perikoop. In hoofstuk 5 word die hofsake ondersoek teen die agtergrond van twee teologiese aspekte, naamlik eskatologie en etiek, en binne 'n breër perspektief word besin oor hoe Christene, as navolgers van Jesus, behoort op te tree in die huidige tydsgewrig. Paulus se perspektief op regsgedinge in 1 Korintiërs 6:1-11 beklemtoon Paulus se bekommernis oor die eenheid en die suiwerheid van die gemeenskap. Dit blyk dat Paulus se besorgdheid nie soseer oor die regsgedinge self is nie, maar oor hoe gelowiges eties moet optree en leef soos Jesus se volgelinge. Gelowiges as God se mense moet die liefde van God openbaar deur hulle gedrag en in hulle daaglikse lewens.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/86407
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