The metaphor of inheritance in 1 Cor 6:9 has not been the subject of much interest, despite the intense focus of scholarship on that verse. The opening question of that verse, “Don't you know that wrongdoers will not inherit God's kingdom?,” is worth close consideration for two reasons: first, because of the relative rarity of the metaphors “inheritance” and “kingdom of God” in the Pauline corpus; second, because the connection between this verse and the preceding section about lawsuits (6:1–8) remains still to be clarified. This article offers a presentation of fraternal lawsuits and inheritance disputes in Roman society—based primarily on the corpus of extant controversiae (“legal case studies”)—as a way of explaining Paul's rhetorical move from vv. 1–8 to vv. 9–11 in its social context. The ubiquity of actual fraternal lawsuits in the πόλις gave Paul an opportunity to comment on the social reality in Corinth by means of a favorite ecclesial metaphor— the ἐϰϰλησία as a new family under God. That is to say, the crucial unstated premise that connects vv. 1–8 with vv. 9–11 is the fact that fraternal lawsuits were often inheritance disputes. This understanding of what normally happened when legally defined brothers went to court against one another thus allows Paul to draw from social reality in order to reorient the focus of the discussion: Paul wants to emphasize the new family of “brothers” and their “inheritance” in the Spirit.

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