This chapter forms a large chiastic structure which spans back to the beginning of the letter, and also a smaller structure with 1 Cor 5. Here is the smaller structure:
1 Cor 5:1-6:20
1a) 1 Cor 5:1-11, It is reported that there is sexual immorality among you … put him away from you;
1b) 1 Cor 5:12-13, Not we but God judges those outside, we judge those inside;
central axis) 1 Cor 6:1-8, Three point theme repeated twice:
— 1.1) 1 Cor 6:1-4, Dare any of you go to law before the unrighteous, having a matter against another;
— 1.2) 1 Cor 6:5, Is there not a wise man among you able to judge between his brethren;
— 1.3) 1 Cor 6:6, But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers;
— 2.1) 1 Cor 6:7a, It is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another;
— 2.2) 1 Cor 6:7b, Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated;
— 2.3) 1 Cor 6:8, No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and this to your own brothers;
2b) 1 Cor 6:9-13a, The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom / washed, sanctified, justified in Jesus’ name;
2a) 1 Cor 6:13b-20, Flee sexual immorality, the only sin committed against the body.
The B pair, on the front side, explains that those outside the church are judged by God. We are to judge those inside the church, who call themselves brothers, but who practice immorality or unrighteousness contrary to the Word of God. By judge, Paul does not mean, condemn their souls, for that would contradict his instruction given in Romans. He means, look at the fruit being produced, and do not be apples in a barrel with a rotten apple, so that the rottenness spreads to all the apples. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
Jesus said the same. If any man be caught in a sin, the one being sinned against should try to resolve it between himself and his brother (Mat 18:15-17). What is the resolution being sought? The repentance of the one who is sinning! Jesus’ expectation was, for those inside the church, to live their lives according to the standard of righteousness already defined in Scripture. The Old Testament was the only Scripture they had, and Torah is the dictionary of the Old Testament.
But if the brother will not listen, he should take two or three witnesses with him, and try to resolve it. And if the brother will not repent, the matter should be brought before the whole church. And if the brother will not listen to even the church, “Let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” Paul and Jesus completely agree.
Now, those outside, are the unrighteous (2b). They practice without repentance (not a one- time lapse, but as a way of life) idolatry or immorality or the sins listed here, which are first defined as sin in the Old Testament and Torah. But those inside the church have been washed, sanctified, and justified in Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
What if someone is inside the church, but he lives like the world? If he will not repent, as Jesus taught, he is to be set outside the church, because he is outside. He is to be treated as an unbeliever (i.e., a person in need of love, prayer, and witness for salvation) because he is an unbeliever — believers do not live in such a manner! Unbelievers (the unrighteous) do not inherit the kingdom of God.
The central axis is a single theme repeated twice. Each repeat forms its own mini chiastic structure. The central axis is amazing. Paul is saying it is far better, as followers of Christ, to suffer wrong from a brother inside the church than to take him to court to get what is coming to you. Paul is not teaching that we abandon justice. He is defining how those inside the church differ from those outside. Those who walk in Jesus’ footsteps, first of all, do not wrong and cheat their brothers!
But if someone should be wronged by a brother, those inside resolve it within the church according to Mat 18, and not outside before unbelievers. If Mat 18 is not possible for some reason, those inside turn the other cheek rather than go to law in the world, because Jesus turned the other cheek. Jesus could have had legions of angels to enforce justice for Himself when He was arrested, but instead, He gave all He had to give, in order to benefit and bless someone other than Himself — yes, even those who were cursing and reviling Him.
Disciples of Jesus Christ are not on this earth to be served or to live the most comfortable life possible. We are on this earth to live life according to the righteous standard of Scripture to be a light shining in a dark place. We are to serve even at cost to ourselves, and to do good, and to heal all who are being oppressed by the evil one! Moreover, it is our joy to do so, from the Holy Spirit of God dwelling inside of us!
God loves a cheerful giver, because He is One!