I just received a copy of my new article in Irish Biblical Studies called ‘ “But you were acquitted…”: 1 Corinthians 6.11 and Justification and Judgment in its Socio-Literary and Theological Context’ (27.3; December 2008).
In this article I argue that the language of ‘justification’ (dikaioo) is not ‘traditional’, but intricately related to the antecedent discussion of lawsuits and justice. Thus, Paul is not just saying ‘you were justified’ as if this came from a common baptismal liturgy (as some argue), but means something closer to ‘you were acquitted’ which ties their own salvation to concepts of justice, power, judgment, wisdom, authority, and value in the letter as a whole. Also, I argue that Paul is not against lawsuits per se, but about what going to courts in the secular society in Corinth involved and meant. In a sense, the Corinthians were putting their trust and the condition of their honor status in the hands of secular rulers and magnates, but these same powers misjudged both Paul and Christ and proved to be faulty authorities. Their allegiances with the world through such court appeals could run the risk of severing their own acquittal by Christ whose court and power is nonsense to the world.
I make a comparison between this issue of law-justice in Corinth, and circumcision in Galatia. Paul was not against circumcision in and of itself, but what it meant eschatologically and socially for the Galatians. It involved going back in time and it meant making bonds and social ties that are not necessary and even destructive in the overlapping of the ages. So also lawsuits mean an eschatological reversal and social confusion as believers run the risk of over-ruling Christ’s proclamation of acquittal in favor of a status recognized by the secular powers.
The apocalyptic dimensions of this issue are most intriguing to me and my penultimate thesis chapter will deal more with these ideas. I know IBS is not widely circulated, so you will have to wait until I publish a compilation of my articles on Paul and the New Testament…