Discovering Paul’s Theological Ethic in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
This study examines 1 Cor 6:12-20, a problematic Pauline text. It is one of only two places where Paul discusses πορνεία (sexual immorality) in any depth. A thorough grammatico-historical exegesis is performed in conversation with recent scholarship. Particular attention is given to the use of metaphor. The issue of Corinthian slogans within the pericope is also discussed, with the conclusion being reached that it is not necessary to identify any part of 1 Cor 6:12-20 as a Corinthian slogan. Following the exegesis, Paul’s use of πορνεία, σῶμα (body), and his theological ethic of sex within 1 Cor 6:12-20 are considered in the wider context of the undisputed Pauline corpus. It is concluded that Paul’s statement that all sin but πορνεία is outside the body in 1 Cor 6:18 is hyperbolic, but is still indicative of a particularly severe judgement on πορνεία. It is concluded that 1 Corinthians’ unique emphasis on σῶμα is indicative of Paul’s intention to elevate the Corinthians’ esteem for the σῶμα against a Corinthian “spirituality.” Finally, Paul’s ethic in 1 Cor 6:12-20 is argued to be theological in both construction and content, concluding that Paul’s ethic is formulated in a way which is distinctly Christian against the backgrounds of both 1st cent. Judaism and Greco-Roman moralism.