Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church deals with the necessity of rendering judgment. This epistle establishes the principle of ethical judgment as the foundation of social order.
This epistle rests on the doctrine of God’s final judgment (Ch. 15). Because God will judge all people retroactively, everyone must make judgments in history. They ought to assess their plans and the results of their actions in terms of God’s laws.
This epistle is all about government, which begins with self-government under God.
In chapter 6, Paul calls the church to avoid going into a Roman civil court. Instead, he insists, the local church should settle disputes among members. Christians should not trust pagan courts.
Paul’s hostility to Roman civil courts is obvious. Here is his message. The church is a separate jurisdiction. It should have primary authority over its members. Members should not sue other members in a Roman civil court, which is not under a covenant with God.
The doctrine of individual judgment is the foundation of the economic theory of value. Specifically, an individual imputes value to scarce resources. This is the economic application of judicial imputation, which imputes moral value to people’s specific actions.
Through competitive bidding in terms of each person’s subjective imputation of economic value, bidders establish objective prices.
Prices are objective. Economic value is subjective. Yet because God’s imputation of economic value (Genesis 1) is both subjective and objective, men’s imputations of value are both subjective and objective. Without objective value — a corporate scale of values that can be assessed by decision-makers — it would be impossible to assess the social value of any proposed corporate policy. No one could estimate whether a policy will benefit or harm groups or society as a whole.
This commentary discusses the theory of economic value.
We live in a series of covenantal hierarchies: family, church, and civil. We also face economic hierarchies. There are endless debates about who owes how much allegiance to whom.
Paul here sets forth a basic principle of law: men who break god’s civil laws are not covenant-keepers (1:9-10). Paul makes it clear that God’s Bible-revealed law is God’s standard for all civil governments.
As for church elders, they must run their homes well and be hospitable (3:1-6). What a man does in his home will be what he does in the church. If he performs poorly in his home, he is not to be allowed to become a church officer.
The church must be charitable, but the first institution of welfare is the family. Thus, no widow who has relatives to support her is to receive funds from the church (5:4).
Paul says nothing about the state as a source of charity. Neither does any other writer of a biblical text. Yet modern Christian socialists and welfare statists go on endlessly about the need for higher taxes on the rich and more money government spent to assist the poor. They take what they were taught in college by God-hating socialist professors and impose this worldview on the Bible.
I Timothy makes it clear that no poor person has a legal claim on anyone else’s money. If the church is not allowed to support a poor widow unless she is at least 60 years old, has been married only once, and has no relatives to support her, there is no way to make a New Testament case for the welfare state.
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