1 Cor 6:1-11 is peppered with Paul’s questions to the Corinthians, with eight questions asked in eight verses. Questions can be a valuable way of making us look at situations differently, forcing us to think about our attitudes and actions. They are a powerful teaching aid, helping to create a conversation between the teacher and learner, often making the learner focus on what he is learning, rather than simply passively sitting and absorbing what he is being told. We learn much better when we have to think through answers ourselves than simply being told what to do (though many of us, being fundamentally lazy, quite like the idea of having answers dished out to us in the same way that food is placed before us in a restaurant!)
Jesus frequently used questions when he was teaching people. Mark 8:1-23 shows us many different types of questions (some simply gathering information, open-ended questions, personal questions, rhetorical questions.) Rhetorical questions often do not require an answer because the answer is apparently obvious (eg ‘Who would not hope to stay healthy in old age?’) but by asking ‘obvious’ questions, however, we are provoked into looking for answers which are not necessarily ‘obvious.’ When Paul asks ‘Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?’ (1 Cor 6:7), we can, in the natural, think of many reasons why not! (It’s not fair; we don’t like to be cheated! We don’t want to be doormats!) But by asking these pivotal questions, Paul helps us to look at things from a different perspective; by using emotive language, he helps us to see his passion for change. He focuses on puncturing the pride of the Corinthians and on redirecting their sense of honour towards mutual service in the community, using powerful questions to help them to see the urgent need for change. We know from various passages in 2 Corinthians that they heeded the rebukes and did indeed listen to his advice; by shaking them from their arrogant complacency and misplaced sense of superiority, the questions achieved their purpose of reformed behaviour.