The conversation was wrapped around a challenge from the local university students who asked my friend what he thought of the idea that angels are superior to humans, God’s creation. I suppose this challenge emanated from some liberal professor who suggested the idea. While my friend offered a reasonable response to the students, who asked, it opened the door to more questions in my friend’s mind. That led him to open the mornings Bible study with the following verse, an aspect of his response to the students.
1 Corinthians 6:2-3 ISV You know that the saints will rule the world, don’t you? And if the world is going to be ruled by you, can’t you handle insignificant cases? (3) You know that we will rule angels, not to mention things in this life, don’t you?
The premise is that “we,” those of us who are in Christ, from the millennial reign forward, will rule angels. The KJV has a much harsher tone.
1 Corinthians 6:3 KJV Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?
If I had nothing else to work with, I suppose I could make an argument against the idea that we, those who are in Christ, not just humankind, are the people who are engrafted into the vine shall judge the angels (A huge but legitimate assumption here is that these are the fallen angels. I am not sure what role we might play in that decision-making process seeing as they have already been judged.) I do not think that a general population should or would be able to judge angels. I certainly don’t remember a moment in time when I felt like I was capable of judging any angelic being. If I thought I could apply this to Satan, there is this verse that puts me in my place.
Jude 1:9 NLT But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses’ body.)
What this tells me is that my words, without the power of the Holy Spirit and the name of Jesus, are pointless and ineffectual against an angel created by God – regardless of whether the angel is fallen or not. Ah, but we who are in Christ are not impotent against Satan and the uncountable number of fallen angels/demons who fell with him; however, the name of Jesus is the only effective weapon we have. Since Satan has proven that he too knows the Words of God, then you should know that he will challenge everything you do and say – it is his nature.
In a sense, I suppose that I have judged Satan merely by speaking against his actions in Jesus name, but not really. Satan has already been judged, although his final fate is yet to come in its entirety. What I am doing when I stand against him in Jesus name, is little more than taking advantage of a right given to me as a Son and an heir.
By the way: in Hebrews 1:7 the writer is talking about angels and the context is adequately laid out when he refers to angels as ministering spirits. Now moving forward to a few verses in Hebrews 1:14 we see that these same angels are working and on behalf of those who are heirs of salvation. We, who are followers of Christ are those heirs.
Having covered the topic of judging an angelic being let’s move on to the context of Paul’s thoughts – the judgment of a person within the church body/community of believers.
1 Corinthians 5:1 CJB It is actually being reported that there is sexual sin among you, and it is sexual sin of a kind that is condemned even by pagans—a man is living with his stepmother!
Having spent some time around “pagans” I find they are fairly accepting of most anything that can be deemed fun, that is until it comes to someone messing with their woman or wife.
Ask yourself this question. How would anybody have known this kind of nonsense was going on unless the man was telling far too many people about his actions?
- The offender is taking pictures of his lewd acts with this participating woman and sharing them with people. Actions like this are nothing less than bragging about what he has done. And, you must assume that he has shared this information at church. I know many of you think I am preposterous thinking that this would never happen, but I am telling you this because I worked with such a man; a man who claimed to be a Christian just because he was a Catholic, who during his working hours on the customer service floor, would share pictures of partially clothed women with his fellow employees. These were pictures of women with whom he claimed he had committed adultery.
- What kind of father would not have a clue about this activity?
For the most part, I have no idea what kind of massive failures you are involved in unless you share that information with the wrong people or you speak too freely.
Watch Paul’s response.
“And you stay proud? Shouldn’t you rather have felt some sadness that would have led you to remove from your company the man who has done this thing?” 1 Corinthians 5:2 CJB
Think about this for a moment; under ideal circumstances, which rarely happens in church communities, we are supposed to be able to share, or confess, if you will, our shortcomings and struggles. Assuming we feel safe enough to share the worst of it, and the group reacts poorly to what you say, and removes you from the entire church community, where else do you go? If you were serious about wanting some change in your life, what then becomes of you if they excommunicate you? It all seems a bit short-sighted, unless, your sin (missing the mark – or moral standard set up by the community,) is something intentional, blatant, forward, and little more than bragging.
Another example that may help us all understand.
Many years ago, there was a television pastor by the name of Dr. Gene Scott. He was an intense man, who had done his homework and taught with a passion I rarely see. But, Dr. Scott also understood this grace that Paul preached, to the point of taking it much too far. He seemed to ignore Paul’s words, which tell us that we are not to offend our weaker brothers. Dr. Scott’s attitude was more of buckle up, shut up, and hang on. I stopped watching him when he began to sip scotch and smoke cigars while he taught.
Perhaps this brother in Christ we see in 1 Cor 5:1 had a much broader vision of grace than I have. I find myself struggling with the grace some people live in; not because they are “sinning” but because my childhood and early church indoctrination pushed me toward a life of restrictions, and therefore I struggle with the personal freedoms of others when I want to have a little freedom myself.
Paul’s solution to a horrendous sin problem within the church.
1 Corinthians 5:3-5 CJB For I myself, even though I am absent physically, am with you spiritually; and I have already judged the man who has done this as if I were present. (4) In the name of the Lord Yeshua, when you are assembled, with me present spiritually and the power of our Lord Yeshua among us, (5) hand over such a person to the Adversary for his old nature to be destroyed, so that his spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord.
This scenario wasn’t just about the man sleeping with his father’s wife; the whole church, by their lack of action, seems to have played some sick role in this.
1 Corinthians 5:6 NLT Your boasting about this is terrible. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough?
Who is Paul talking to when he says, “your boasting about this is terrible.”? He is talking about the congregation.
We have such a twisted idea of manhood if we feel that we have to smile, laugh, and condone garbage like this. I see this type of activity as high school jock mentality, and sadly it emanates from broken father-son relationships.
1 Corinthians 5:9-11 NLT When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. (10) But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. (11) I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.
The idea of sexual sin seems so disgusting, especially when you think about how you might come to know this information. If it is shared in small groups, it is supposed to stay private within the group, unless it is harmful or illegal; even then, let management handle it. But what of this terminology which we find so much easier to accept, like people who are: greedy, abusive, or one who cheats people. These individuals are people within the church body, and apparently, they are bragging about what they do.
So, if we deal with problems aren’t we then judging? Again, watch what Paul says,
1 Corinthians 5:12-13 NLT It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. (13) God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.”
- It is NOT my responsibility to judge outsiders, Why not? Because Jesus took all wrath and judgment upon himself on the cross. The only thing left to be judged would be, what did you do with Jesus?
- “but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.” Paul already spelled out what that looks like, and it doesn’t have to be a colossal waste of words, although I can almost guarantee you that the offender will believe they deserve punishment.
“In the name of the Lord Yeshua, when you are assembled, with me present spiritually and the power of our Lord Yeshua among us, hand over such a person to the Adversary for his old nature to be destroyed, so that his spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord.”
So, it is not merely sending the person to hell, as many seem to desire, but the eventual preservation of the soul in the Day of the Lord.
How can that be? Because Jesus NEVER lost one that was His. Imagine what this does to Judas?
- “ God will judge those on the outside.”
In Deuteronomy 17 God lays out the details for dealing with anything God finds detestable. Here is the Complete Jewish Bible version on this.
“If there is found among you, within any of your gates [in any city] that Adonai your God gives you, a man or woman who does what Adonai your God sees as wicked, transgressing his covenant by going and serving other gods and worshiping them, the sun, the moon, or anything in the sky—something I have forbidden— and it is told to you, or you hear about it; then you are to investigate the matter diligently. If it is true; if it is confirmed that such detestable things are being done in Israel; then you are to bring the man or woman who has done this wicked thing to your city gates, and stone that man or woman to death. The death sentence is to be carried out only if there was testimony from two or three witnesses; he may not be sentenced to death on the testimony of only one witness. The witnesses are to be the first to stone him to death; afterward, all the people are to stone him. Thus you will put an end to this wickedness among you. (Deuteronomy 17:2-7 CJB)
All of this leads to 1 Corinthians 6:1-3 and the question that was presented to me, as the result of this challenge by the university students, when they asked if angels were superior to humans?
Since my friend typically barrages me with several random questions each evening, this was no different. In this case, he gave them a reasonable answer and was looking to validate his response to them.
1 Corinthians 6:1-3 CJB How dare one of you with a complaint against another go to court before pagan judges and not before God’s people? (2) Don’t you know that God’s people are going to judge the universe? If you are going to judge the universe, are you incompetent to judge these minor matters? (3) Don’t you know that we will judge angels, not to mention affairs of everyday life?
From the information we obtain in verse three, one might reasonably assume that we are superior to the angels. Since we know that Satan and his band of fallen angels have already been judged, then why should God need us to do any further judging? It is preposterous to think that we should judge Michael or Gabriel for not moving quick enough, when they are typically busy, on our behalf, fighting what seems like a life or death struggle with demons bent on our destruction. So the obvious conclusion is that there is something here that goes beyond merely judging, the answer to which might require us to look at the original words that constitute the sentence.
To judge is the Greek word kékrika, and it means to separate, distinguish, discriminate between good and evil, select, choose out the good. In the NT, it means to judge, to form or give an opinion after separating and considering the particulars of a case. Word Study Dictionary
If we are to separate, then I can easily associate this Jesus separating the wheat from the tares. You do realize that wheat and tares (weeds such as foxtails,) have similar properties. For some, telling them apart could be difficult. Perhaps what we should be concerned with is the idea that the angels are not so dissimilar. But angels are not the only thing we will judge.
We will judge the universe, but what does that look like?
The universe or the world is the Greek word kosmos and means the orderly arrangement, that is, decoration; by implication the world (in a wide or narrow sense, including its inhabitants.) Strong’s concordance
Since Isaiah 45:18 tells us that the earth was made to be lived in, then we can only assume that the “orderly arrangement,” was right or perfect. Genesis 1:2 speaks in opposition of this orderly arrangement. The obvious point here is that something horrendous happened. We know that God made a garden called Eden and put it in the center, but that doesn’t speak to the extremities, and this may play a role in this restoration of orderly arrangement.
Again, how or why would we do that? We wouldn’t unless we are in Christ (integrated) as we are, and because of this integrated relationship however Christ judges we judge, and His judgments are true and right. While angels are created beings, we are created in God’s image, and because we are in Christ, then we are also God’s sons and will one day rule over the angels.
Someone said a conclusion is the point where one stops thinking, And I’m sure this discussion is necessary in todays sound bite society. But for anyone that reads God’s word with any regularity the position of standing between “Men” and angels is a forgone conclusion.
I attempt to talk to people about things of the Lord, almost daily, and it is rare to find someone that has a grasp on the character and nature of God. The Thursday group, a group you would assume to know God deeply, demonstrated that every couple and individual had varied responses to the simplest of questions. No, we the church have lost contact and the reality of who God is, therefore, I, like Paul, find it necessary to preach and teach the simplest of concepts.
There is a great need for realistic Bible teaching and no one is doing that; instead, we teach from some book, like Warren Wiersbe’s BE series, where we are led by conjecture.