91 Does Paul believe that all is permissible? 1 Cor.6:12

91 All permissible? 1 Cor.6:12

“All permissible.”

Did Paul believe he had the right to do anything? Was it his conviction that the freedom in Christ gave a believer the right to do anything and to follow any lifestyle? And this directly after he stressed that people who followed certain lifestyles would not “inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-10) Was Paul contradicting himself?

According to the King James Version, it seems as though it surely was his conviction: “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them.” (1 Cor. 6:12-13) It seems as though many modern Christians and even pastors this see as the gap to justify certain lifestyles referred to in verse ten. “As long as one can indicate some expediency, and it doesn’t overpower one, and it satisfies some natural bodily need, anything is permissible!” But is this really what Paul proposes?

On the other hand the Good News Bible adds words that are not found in the Greek. “Someone will say, ‘I am allowed to do anything.’ Yes; but not everything is good for you. I could say that I am allowed to do anything, but I am not going to let anything make me its slave. Someone else will say, ‘Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food.’ Yes; but God will put an end to both.” The New International Version put these three statements in parentheses, though parentheses were unknown in Koine Greek, the language the New Testament had been written,

What is actually happening in verse 12?

In the first place one should remember that verses nine to twenty form one unit, though many versions make a division between verses eleven and twelve and even add a little title that makes the division that more prominent. This pericope is concerned about an ongoing sinful lifestyle, and not by coincidental sin. It especially addresses sinful sexual lifestyles. Thereupon Paul elaborates on the correct place of the sexual role in marriage. (Chapter 7) The list of sins mentioned in verse ten do not represent casual sins that unexpectedly crosses one’s way, but rather sins developing into a sinful lifestyle bearing an ongoing character. And this is exactly what these adversaries of Paul wanted to justify. Paul was not conveying his own stance on his freedom in Christ, but he was answering the false distortion of our freedom in Christ by some Corinthians. To make this clear some versions words to the Word of God. The statement: “Food for the belly and the belly for food” also does not have a diet in focus. It is an idiomatic expression concerning sexual pleasure, making it a normal bodily function, a need that should just be satisfied any way available at that moment. Is that not exactly how many people, even some pastors see and preach sexuality in our day! Words like: “The body is not meant for sexual immorality,” (Vs.13) and: “Flee from sexual immorality.’ (Vs.18) make no impression on many. We often like to make a superficial application of the answer of Paul to his adversaries: “not everything is beneficial” is put aside by indicating any benefit, and “I will not be mastered by anything” looses its important focus. It has to do with me, for the honour of God taking control of my body and dedicate it to God!

No translation of the Bible is taken up lightly. Every translator strives to represent the Word of God to its readers as understandable as possible. If then it is needed to add a few words, we should ponder it carefully and consider the reason for the addition. In this verse a few words added can be the best way to ensure that Paul is not misunderstood. And would God for such a deed bring down the plagues mentioned in Revelation upon those translators. What is your opinion?

God bless,


About Herman of bibledifferences.net

The reasons for the differences between older Bibles like the King James Version and newer Bibles like the New International Version have fascinated me ever since my studies in Theology at the University of Pretoria in the seventies. I have great respect for scribes through the ages as well as Bible translators, so there must be good reasons for the differences. With more than 5600 Greek manuscripts and more than 19000 manuscripts of ancient translations to our disposal, the original autographs of the New Testament can be established without doubt. I investigate the reasons behind the differences and publish the facts in a post on my blogs www.bibledifferences.net (Afrikaans: www.bybelverskille.wordpress.com) to enable my readers to judge for themselves. Personally I love to make an informed decision based of facts. That is why I endeavor to provide that same privilege to the readers of my blogs. Since 1973 I am married to my dear wife and greatest friend, Leah Page, founder director of Act-Up Support (www.actup.co.za) a prayer ministry for families struggling with drug-, occult- and other dependencies. We are blessed with two daughters and two sons, four grand sons and two grand daughters. God is alive and omnipotent! Glory to His Name! Herman Grobler.
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2 Responses to 91 Does Paul believe that all is permissible? 1 Cor.6:12

  1. “And would God for such a deed bring down the plagues mentioned in Revelation upon those translators. What is your opinion?”

    Of course not. The warning in Revelation is about substantially altering the text to make it say something else. I take the warning as an idiomatic expression. Translations are different and may require extra words to explain what the original means. Also, glosses placed by scribes in the biblical text are not additions to but rather explanatory devices, at least in my mind.

    If someone corrupts, falsifies, or fabricates documents that purport to be early texts then that is completely different and the Rev. warning, it seems, would apply to that kind of deception.

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