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1 Corinthians 5

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Verses 1-99


There is a case of gross immorality among you, and your attitude towards it is distressing. Have no fellowship with such offenders.

1 It is actually notorious among you that there is a case of unchastity of a revolting character, a character so revolting as not to occur even among the heathen, that a man should have his step-mother as his concubine. 2 And you, with this monstrous crime among you, have gone on in your inflated self-complacency, when you ought rather to have been overwhelmed with grief, that it should have become necessary that the person who was guilty of this dreadful offence should be removed from your midst. 3 As for my view of it, there must be no uncertainty. Although absent in body yet present in spirit, I have already pronounced the sentence, which I should have pronounced had I been present, on the man who has perpetrated this enormity. 4 In the Name of our Lord Jesus, when you are all assembled in solemn congregation and my spirit is with you armed with the effectual power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have given sentence that such an offender is to be handed over to Satan for the destruction by suffering of the flesh in which he has sinned, so that his spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord. 6 Your glorying is not at all to your credit. Do you really not know that a very little leaven affects the whole lump of dough? 7 You must entirely cleanse away the old leaven, if you are to be (as, of course, as Christians you are) as free from leaven as a new lump of dough. You are bound to make this new start for many reasons; and above all, because Christ, our spotless Paschal Lamb, has been sacrificed, and therefore everything which corrupts must be put away. 8 Consequently we should keep our feast, not with leaven from our old lives, nor yet with leaven of vice and wickedness, but with bread free from all leaven, the bread of unsullied innocence and truth.

9 I said to you in my letter that you were not to keep company with fornicators. 10 I did not exactly mean that you were to shun all the fornicators of the non-Christian world, any more than all the cheats, or extortioners, or idolaters. That would mean that you would have to go out of the world altogether. 11 What I meant was, that you were not to keep company with any one who bears the sacred name of Christian and yet is given to fornication, or cheating, or idolatry, or abusive language, or hard drinking, or extortion;—with such a man you must not even share a meal. 12 Of course I did not refer to those who are not Christians; for what right have I to sit in judgment on them? I confine my judgments to those who are in the Church. 13 Do not you do the same? Those who are outside it we leave to God’s judgment. Only one practical conclusion is possible. Remove the wicked person from among you.

The Apostle now comes to the second count of his indictment. It is not merely that a particularly flagrant case of immorality has occurred. That this should happen at all is bad enough. But what makes it far worse is the way in which it is taken by the community. Their morbid and frivolous self-conceit is untroubled. They have shown no sign of proper feeling: still less have they dealt with the case, as they ought to have done, by prompt expulsion (vv. 1-5). In view of the infectiousness of such evil, they ought to eliminate it, as leaven from a Jewish house at the Passover (6, 7); for the life of the Christian community is a spiritual Passover (8). His previous warning has been misunderstood. It means that for grave and scandalous sins a Christian must be made to suffer by isolation; and this, in the case in question, must be drastically enforced (9-13).

The passage is linked to the section dealing with the σχίσματα by the spiritual disorder (τὸ φυσιωθῆναι) which, according to St Paul’s diagnosis, lies at the root of both evils. Inordinate attention to external differences, and indifference to vital questions of morality, are both of them the outcome of selfsatisfied frivolity. But the passage is more obviously linked with ch. 6., and especially with the subject of πορνεία which occupies its last portion (6:12-20).

This indictment, following upon 4:21 without any connecting particle, bursts upon the readers like a thunder-clap.

1. Ὅλως. Not ‘commonly’ (AV.), but ‘actually’ (RV.). The word means ‘altogether,’ ‘most assuredly,’ ‘incontrovertibly’; or, with a negative, ‘at all.’ Such a thing ought not to be heard of at all (exactly as in 6:7; cf. 15:29), and it is matter of common talk: ὅλως nulla debebat in vobis audiri scortatio; at auditur ὅλως (Beng.).

ἀκούεται ἐν ὕμῖν. The ἐν ὑμῖν grammatically localizes the report, but in effect it localizes the offence: it was among them that the rumour was circulating, because in their midst the sin was found: ‘unchastity is reported [as existing] among you.’ The report may have reached the Apostle through the same channel as that which brought information about the factions (1:11), or through Stephanas (16:17). The weight of the Apostle’s censure falls, not upon the talk about the crime within the community, but upon its occurrence, and the failure to deal with it.

πορνεία. Illicit sexual intercourse in general. In Revelation 19:2, as in class. Grk., it means prostitution: in Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:9 it is equivalent to μοιχεία, from which it is distinguished Matthew 15:19 and Mar 7:21: cf. Hosea 3:3; Ecclus. 23:23, where we have ἐν πορνείᾳ ἐμοιχεύθη.

καὶ τοιαύτη. ‘And of so monstrous a character as does not exist even among the heathen.’ The οὐδέ intensifies ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, and�

ὥστε γυναῖκά τινα τοῦ πατρὸς ἔχειν. The placing of τινα betwen γυναῖκα and πατρός throws emphasis on to these two words (Blass, Gr. § 80, 2). Chrysostom suggests that St Paul uses γυναῖκα του πατρός rather than μητρυιάν in order to emphasize the enormity. More probably, he chooses the language of Leviticus 18:8. The Talmud prescribes stoning for this crime. Cf. Amos 2:7; Leviticus 18:8. The woman was clearly not the mother of the offender, and probably (although the use of πορνεία rather than μοιχεία does not prove this) she was not, at the time, the wife of the offender’s father. She may have been divorced, for divorce was very common, or her husband may have been dead. There is little doubt that 2 Corinthians 7:12 refers to a different matter, and that ὁ�John 4:18. Origen speaks of it as a marriage (γάμος), and ἔχω is used of marriage in 7:2; Matthew 14:4, etc. In the lowest classes of Roman society the legal line between marriage and concubinage was not sharply defined.

After ἔθνεσιν, א 3 L P, Syrr. AV. add ὀνομάζεται: א* A B C D E F G 17, Vulg. Copt. Arm. Aeth. omit.

2. καὶ ὑμεῖς. The pronoun is emphatic; ‘you, among whom this enormity has taken place and is notorious, you are puffed up.’ He does not mean that they were puffed up because of this outrage, as if it were a fine assertion of Christian freedom, but in spite of it. It ought to have humbled them to the dust, and yet they still retained their self-satisfied complacency. WH., Tisch., Treg. and RV. marg. make this verse interrogative; ‘Are ye puffed up? Did ye not rather mourn?’ But the words are more impressive as the statement of an amazing and shocking fact: οὐχί is not always interrogative (10:29; Luke 12:51, Luke 12:13:3, Luke 12:5, Luke 12:16:30; John 9:9, John 9:13:10, John 9:11). Their morbid selfimportance, which made them so intolerant of petty wrongs (6:7), made them very tolerant of deep disgrace.

ἐπενθήσατε. ‘Mourned,’ as if for one who was dead.

ἵνα αρθῇ. The ἵνα indicates, not the purpose of the mourning, but the result of it, contemplated as its normal effect (see on 1:15). A proper Christian instinct would have led them to have expelled the guilty person in irrepressible horror at his conduct.

ὁ τὸ ἔργον τοῦτο πράξας. Qui hoc facinus patravit (Beza). The language is purposely vague, but the context suggests a bad meaning: πράξας (not ποιήσας) indicates a moral point of view. The attitude of the Corinthian Christians towards such conduct is probably to be accounted for by traditional Corinthian laxity.* It is said that the Rabbis evaded the Mosaic prohibitions of such unions (Leviticus 20:11; Deuteronomy 22:30) in the case of proselytes. A proselyte made an entirely new start in life and cut off all his former relationships; therefore incest, in his case, was impossible, for he had no relations, near or distant. It is not likely that this evasion of the Mosaic Law, if already in existence, was known to the Corinthians and had influenced them.

L has ἐξαρθῇ for ἄρθῇ (א A B C D E F G P); and B D E F G L P have ποιήσας for πράξας (א A C 17, and other cursives). It is not easy to decide in this latter case, and editors are divided. Compare 2 Corinthians 12:21; Romans 1:32, Romans 2:1-3.

3. ἐγὼ μὲν γάρ. ‘For I, ’ with much emphasis on the pronoun, which is in contrast to the preceding ὑμεῖς: ‘my feelings about it are very different from yours.’ The γάρ introduces the justification of ἵνα�1 Thessalonians 2:18; Romans 7:12, Romans 10:1, etc. See Blass, Gr. § 77. 12.

ἀπὼν τῷ σώματι. ‘Although absent in the body.’ Again a contrast: ‘you, who are on the spot, do nothing; I, who am far away, and might excuse myself on that account, take very serious action.’ Origen compares Elisha (2 Kings 5:26).

τῷ πνεύματι. ‘His own spirit,’ as in v. 4: cf. v. 5 and 2:11. In Colossians 2:5 we have a similar utterance, but there σάρξ takes the place of σῶμα. It is the highest constituent element in man’s nature, and his point of contact with the Spirit of God.

ἤδη κέκρικα ὡς παρὼν τὸν κ.τ.λ. Either, ‘have already, as if I were present, judged the man’; or, ‘have already, as if I were present, decided with regard to the man’; or, ‘have already come to a decision, as if I were present: with regard to the man,’ etc. In the last case, which is perhaps the best, τὸν … κατεργασάμενον is governed by παραδοῦναι and is repeated in τὸν τοιοῦτον.*


5. παραδοῦναι τ. τ. τῷ Σατανᾷ. This means solemn expulsion from the Church and relegation of the culprit to the region outside the commonwealth and covenant (Ephesians 2:11, Ephesians 2:12), where Satan holds away. We have the same expression 1 Timothy 1:20. It describes a severer aspect of the punishment which is termed αἴρειν ἐκ μέσου (v. 2) and ἐξαίρειν ἐξ ὑμῶν (v. 13). Satan is the ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου (John 12:31, John 16:11), and the offender is sent back to his domain; ut qui auctor fuerat ad vitium nequitiae, ipse flagellum fieret disciplinae (Herv.). St Paul calls Satan ‘the god of this age’ (2 Corinthians 4:4), an expression which occurs nowhere else; and a Christian, who through his own wickedness forfeits the security of being a member of Christ in His Church, becomes, like the heathen, exposed to the malignity of Satan (1 John 5:19) to an extent that Christians cannot be.

εἰς ὄλεθρον τῆς σαρκός. There is no need to choose between the two interpretations which have been put upon this expression, for they are not mutually exclusive and both are true. The sinner was handed over to Satan for the ‘mortification of the flesh,’ i.e. to destroy his sinful lusts; τὸ φρόνημα τῆς σαρκός is Origen’s interpretation. This meaning is right, for the punishment was inflicted with a remedial purpose, both in this case and in that of 1 Timothy 1:20: and the interpretation is in harmony with the frequent Pauline sense of σάρξ (Romans 8:13 and Colossians 3:5), as distinct from σῶμα. But so strong a word as ὄλεθρος implies more than this. ‘Unto destruction of the flesh’ includes physical suffering, such as follows spiritual judgment on sin (11:30; Acts 5:1 f., Acts 13:11).* The Apostle calls his own ‘thorn for the flesh’ an ἄγγελος Σατανᾶ (2 Corinthians 12:7; cf. Luke 13:16). We have the same idea in job, where Jehovah says to Satan, Ἰδοὺ παραδίδωμί σοι αὐτόν (2:6). And in the book of Jubilees (10:2) demons first lead astray, and then blind and kill, the grandchildren of Noah. Afterwards Noah is taught by angels how to rescue his offspring from the demons. See Thackeray, St Paul and Contemfiorary Jewish Thought, p. 171. Here the punishment is for the good, not only of the community, but also of the offender, upon whom the suffering inflicted by Satan would have a healing effect.

ἵνα τὸ πνεῦμα. The purpose of the suffering is not mere destruction; it is remedial, ἵνα σωθῇ. Cf. αὐτὸς σωθήσεται (3:15). Here τὸ πνεῦμα, as the seat of personality, is suggested by the context instead of αὐτός.* As in 2 Corinthians 7:1, τὸ πνεῦμα is used in contrast to ἡ σάρξ, and as the chief and distinctive factor in the constitution of man, but as not per se distinctive of a state of grace. Strong measures may be needed in order to secure its salvation. See Abbott, The Son of Man, pp. 482, 791.

ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τ. Κυρίου. 1:8; 2 Corinthians 1:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:2, etc.

It is sometimes assumed that, while the Corinthian Church was competent, by itself, to expel an offender (v. 2), it was by virtue of the extraordinary power given to St Paul as an Apostle that the delivery to Satan was inflicted. There is nothing in the passage to prove this; and the γάρ in v. 3 rather points the other way. Why should St Paul inflict a more severe punishment than that which the Corinthian Church ought to have inflicted?†

It is still more often assumed that the sequel of this case is referred to in 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, 2 Corinthians 7:12. It is inferred from these passages that the Corinthian Church held a meeting such as the Apostle prescribes in this chapter, and by a majority (2 Corinthians 2:6) passed the sentence of expulsion, whereupon the offender was led to repentance; and that the Corinthians then awaited the Apostle’s permission to remit the sentence, which permission he gives (2 Corinthians 2:10). This view, however, is founded on two assumptions, one of which is open to serious question, and the other to question which is so serious as to be almost fatal. The view assumes that 2 Cor. 1-9. was written soon after 1 Cor., which is very doubtful. It also assumes that 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 and 7:12 refer to this case of incest, which is very difficult to believe. 2 Corinthians 7:12 certainly refers to the same case as 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, and the language in 7:12 is so utterly unsuitable to the case of incest that it is scarcely credible that it can refer to it. See Hastings, DB. 1. p. 493, iii. p. 711, and iv. p. 768; G.H. Rendall, The Epistles to the Corinthians, pp. 63, 71; Goudge, p. 41; Plummer on 2 Corinthians 7:12.

F has αὐτόν for τὸν τοιοῦτον. After τοῦ Κυρίου, א L add Ἰησοῦ, D adds Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, A F M add ἡμῶν Ἰησοθ Χριστοῦ: B has simply τοῦ Κυρίου, which may be the original reading, but τοῦ Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ is not improbable; so AV., RV., WH. marg.

6. Οὐ καλὸν τὸ καύχημα ὑμῶν. ‘Not seemly is your boast’: it is ill-timed, and it is discreditable to all who share in it.* Where a revolting crime is bringing disgrace and peril to the community, there can be no place for boasting. St Paul does not mean that the subject of their glorying, the thing they glory in (e.g. their enlightenment, or their liberty) is not good; but that in such distressing circumstances overt glorying is very unsuitable. As Evans elaborately points out, καύχημα is not materies gloriandi, but gloriatio (Beza, Beng.), or (more accurately) gloriatio facta, boasting uttered.† So also in 2 Corinthians 5:12.

μικρὰ ζύμη. The μικρά comes first with emphasis, and hence implies an argument a fortiori: if even a little leaven is so powerful, if even one unsatisfactory feature may have a septic influence in a community, how much more must a scandal of this magnitude infect the whole life of the Church. The simile of leaven is frequent in the N.T. See Galatians 5:9. Here the stress of the argument lies less in the evil example of the offender than in the fact that toleration of this conduct implies concurrence (Romans 1:32) and debases the standard of moral judgment and instinct. To be indifferent to grave misbehaviour is to become partly responsible for it. A subtle atmosphere, in which evil readily springs up and is diffused, is the result. The leaven that was infecting the Corinthian Church was a vitiated public opinion. Cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:6; also the charge of Germanicus to his soldiers as to their treatment of insubordinate comrades: discedite a contactu, ac dividite turbidos (Tae. Ann. i.43).

Both here and in Galatians 5:9 we find the reading δολοῖ for ζυμοῖ in D with corrumpit in Vulg and other Latin texts.

7. ἐκκαθάρατε τὴν π. ζύμην. A sharp, summary appeal: ‘Rid yourselves of these infected and infectious remains of your unconverted past,’ even as a Jewish household, in preparation for the Passover, purges the house of all leaven (Exodus 12:15 f., Exodus 13:7). This was understood as a symbol of moral purification, and the search for leaven as symbolizing infectious evil was scrupulously minute, e.g. with candles to look into corners and mouse-holes for crumbs of leavened bread. Zephaniah 1:12 was supposed to imply this. The penalty for eating leavened bread during the feast was scourging. On compounds with ἐκ see on 3:18, and cf. 2 Timothy 2:21.

τὴν παλαιὰν ζύμην. It was their acquiescing in the scandal which revealed the presence of a remnant of heathen corruption. The summons to thoroughly purge away all sinful taints cuts deep into the corporate and individual conscience. Each knows the plague-spot in himself. The verb occurs again 2 Timothy 2:21, and nowhere else in N.T.; also Deuteronomy 26:13. With παλαιάν here cf. παλαιὸς ἄνθρωπος, Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9. Ignatius (Magn. 10) says, ὑπέρθεσθε οὖν τὴν κακὴν ζύμην τὴν παλαιωθεῖσαν καὶ ἐνοξίσασαν. By the evil leaven which has become stale and sour he means Judaism. Note the οὖν.

ἵνα ἦτε νέον φύραμα. ‘That you may be a new lump of dough,’ i.e. may make a new start in sanctification free from old and evil influence.* Cf. οἶνον νέον (Matthew 9:17), and see Trench, Syn. § lx. There is only one φύραμα, only one body of Christians, just as there is only one loaf (10:17). See on Luke 12:1 for the evil associations connected with leaven: γέγονεν ἐκ φθορᾶς αὐτὴ καὶ φθείρει τὸ φύραμα (Plutarch). See Hastings, DB. III. p. 90.

καθώς ἐστε ἄζυμοι. This is the proper, the ideal condition of all Christians. ‘Ye are unleavened, having been baptized and made a καινὴ κτίσις in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10), and are becoming in fact what you are in principle and by profession’ (6:11). St Paul habitually idealizes, speaking to Christians as if they were Christians in the fullest sense, thus exemplifying Kant’s maxim that you should treat a man as if he were what you would wish him to be.

It is utterly wrong to take ἄζυμοι literally; ‘ye are without leaven,’ because (it is assumed) they were at that moment keeping the Passover. (1) In the literal sense, ἄζυμος is used of things, not of persons. (2) The Corinthian Church consisted almost entirely of Gentile Christians. (3) The remark would have no point in this context. But the imagery in this passage suggests, though it does not prove, that St Paul was writing at or near the Passover season (cf. 16:8). See Deissmann, Light, p. 333.

καὶ γὰρ τὸ πάσχα ἡμῶν ἐτύθη. Directly, this is the reason for the preceding statement; ‘You are ἄζυμοι, purified from the leaven of your old self, by virtue of the death of your Saviour.’ Indirectly and more broadly, this is a reason for the practical summons at the beginning of the verse: ‘It is high time for you to purge out the old leaven; for the Lamb is already slain and your house is not yet fully cleansed: you are late!’ See Deuteronomy 16:6; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7.* The ἡμῶν serves to link the Christian antitype to the Jewish type.

Χριστός. ‘Even Christ’; last for emphasis, like ὁ κρίνων (Romans 2:1) and ὀ πατριάρχης (Hebrews 7:4). The force of the Apostle’s appeal is in any case obvious, but it gains somewhat in point if we suppose him to have in mind the tradition which is embodied in the Fourth Gospel, that Christ was crucified on the 14th Nisan, the day appointed for the slaying of the paschal lamb. We may say that the Pauline tradition, like the Johannine, makes the Death of Christ, rather than the Last Supper, the antitype of the Passover, but we can hardly claim St Paul as a definite witness for the 14th Nisan.† On this difficult subject see Sanday, Outlines of the Life of Christ, p. 146; Hastings, DB. 1. p. 411, DCG. II:5; and the literature there quoted.

Nor, again, can this passage be claimed as evidence for the Christian observance of Easter, although such observance would probably be coeval with that of the Lord’s Day. As in Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7, Luke 22:11; John 18:28, πάσχα is here used of the paschal lamb, not, as commonly, of the paschal supper or of the paschal octave.

ἐκκαθάρατε without connecting article (א A B D E F G, Vulg. Copt. RV.) rather than ἐκκαθάρατε οὖν (א 3 C L P, Aeth. AV.). On still stronger evidence, ὑπερ ὑμῶν must be omitted after τὸ πάσχα ὑμῶν. Cursives have ἑθύθη for ἐτύθη. Did Ignatius (see above) have οὖν in his text?

8. ὥστε. With cohortative subjunctive as with imperative, see on 3:21.

ἑορτάζωμεν. “Our passover-feast is not for a week, but for a life-time” (Godet), ὅτι πᾶς ὁ χρόνος ἑορτῆς ἐστι καιρὸς τοῖς Χριστιανοῖς (Chrys.). The verb occurs nowhere else in N.T., but is frequent in LXX. Ἱησοῦς ὁ Χριστός ἐστιν ἡ νέα ζύμη (Orig.).

ἐν ζύμῃ. See on 4:21 for this use of ἐν.

κακίας καὶ πονηρίας. Trench, Syn. § ii., makes κακία the vicious principle, πονηρία its outward exercise. It is doubtful whether this is correct. In LXX both words are used indifferently to translate the same Hebrew words, which shows that to Hellenists they conveyed ideas not widely distinct. In the Vulgate both malitia and nequitia are used to translate both words, malitia being used most often for κακία, and nequitia for πονηρία, for which iniquitas also is used. ‘Malice’ may translate κακία in most places in the N.T., but not in Matthew 6:34, where Vulg. has malitia (!), not in Acts 8:22, where it has nequitia. It is noteworthy that pravitas is not used for either word. Luke 11:39 shows that πονηρία may mean thoughts or purposes of wickedness; cf. Mark 7:22. The genitives are genitives of apposition.

ἀζύμοις. Perhaps ‘unleavened bread’ (AV., RV.) is right, with reference to the unleavened cakes eaten at the Passover; ἑπτὰ ἡμέρας ἄζυμα ἔδεσθε (Exodus 12:15). But ἄζυμα is very indefinite; ‘unleavened elements.’ Origen refers this to 1:2.

εἰλικρινίας. The word is a crux as regards etymology, but it seems to mean ‘transparency,’ ‘limpid purity,’ and hence ‘ingenuousness.’

ἀληθείας. In its wider sense, ‘rectitude,’ ‘integrity’; cf. 13:6; Ephesians 5:9; John 3:21.*

ἐορτάζωμεν (א B C F G L de Vulg.) rather than ἐορτάζομεν (A D E P). For πονηρίας F has πορνείας.

9. Ἔγραψα ὑμῖν ἐν τῇ ἐπιστολῇ. Pursuing the main purpose of the passage, viz. to rebuke their indifference respecting moral scandal, the Apostle corrects a possible misapprehension of his former directions; or at any rate he shows how what he said before would apply in cases more likely to occur than the one, which has just been discussed. ‘I wrote to you in my letter,’ in the letter which was well known to the Corinthians, a letter earlier than our 1 Corinthians and now lost. It is true that ἔλραψα might be an ‘epistolary aorist’ (Galatians 6:11; 1 John 2:14) referring to the letter then being written. But ἐν τῇ ἐπιστολῇ (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:8) must refer to another letter. Romans 16:22; Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27 are all retrospective, being parts of a postscript. In this letter he has not given any direction about not keeping company with fornicators; for a summons to expel a member who has contracted an incestuous union cannot be regarded as a charge not to associate with fornicators. It is evident that here, as in 2 Corinthians 10:9 f., he is making reference to an earlier letter which has not been preserved. So also Atto; non in hac epistola sed altera: and Herveius; in alia jam epistola. Some think that 2 Corinthians 6:14 may be part of the letter in question. See notes there and Introduction to 2 Corinthians in the Cambridge Greek Testament. Stanley gives two spurious letters, one from, the other to, St Paul, which are not of much interest, but which have imposed upon the Armenian Church (Appendix, p. 591 f.).*

μὴ συναναμίγνυσθαι. Lit. ‘not to mix yourselves up together with’: ne commisceamini (Vulg.). This expressive combination of two prepositions with the verb occurs again in a similar connexion 2 Thessalonians 3:14; also in the A text of Hosea 7:8. Cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:6.

10. οὐ πάντως. ‘Not altogether,’ ‘not absolutely,’ ‘not in all circumstances.’ It limits the prohibition of intercourse with fornicators, which does not apply in the case of fornicators who are outside the Christian community. The Apostle is not repeating the prohibition in another form, which would have required μή, as before. The οὐ = ‘not, I mean,’ or ‘I do not mean.’ The meaning is quite clear.

τοῦ κόσμου τούτου. ‘Of the non-Christian world.’

ἢ τοῖς πλεονέκταις. ‘Or’ here is equivalent to our ‘any more than.’

τοῖς πλεονέκταις καὶ ἅρπαξιν. These form a single class, coupled by the single article and the καί, and separated from each of the other classes by ἤ. This class is that of the absolutely selfish, who covet and sometimes seize more than their just share of things. They exhibit that amor sui which is the note of ‘this world,’ and which usurps the place of amor Dei, until πλεονεξία becomes a form of idolatry (Ephesians 5:5).

εἰδωλολάτραις. In the literal sense; 10:14; 1 John 5:21. This is the first appearance of the word (Revelation 21:8, Revelation 22:15), which may have been coined by St Paul. In Ephesians 5:5 it is used in a figurative sense of a worshipper of Mammon. The triplet of vices here consists of those which characterize non-Christian civilization; lax morality, greed, and superstition. The last, in some form or other, is the inevitable substitute for spiritual religion.

ἐπεὶ ὠφείλετε ἄρα. ‘Since in that case you would have to’; cf. 7:14. Ἑπεί implies a protasis, which is suppressed by an easy ellipse; ‘since, were it not so, then,’ etc. Ἄρα introduces a subjective sequence, while οὖν introduces an objective one. Ωφείλετε is in an apodosis, where the idiomatic imperfect marks the consequence of a state of things that is supposed not to exist; and the ἄν which is usual in such an apodosis is commonly omitted with such verbs as ὠφείλετε, ἔδει, καλὸν ἦν, etc.

ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου ἐξελθεῖν. This for most people is impossible; but at Corinth in St Paul’s day it was well for Christians to see as little of the heathen world as was possible. In 10:27 he does not forbid the presence of Christians at private entertainments given by heathen, but he implies that they ought not to wish to go to them.

οὐ πάντως (א* A B C D* E F G 17, Vulg.) rather than καὶ οὐ πάντως א 2 D 3 L P Arm. Aeth.). The ‘yet’ in AV. seems to represent καί. καὶ ἃρπαξιν (א* A B C D* F G P 17, Aeth) rather than ἢ ἅρπαξιν (א 3 D 3 E L, Vulg. Syrr. Copt. Arm.), an alteration to conform to ἤ on each side. AV. has ‘or,’ RV. ‘and.’ ὠφείλετε (א A B* C D E F G L 17, Latt,) rather than ὀφείλετε (B 3 P, Chrys. Thdrt.), another mistaken correction, the force of the imperfect not being seen.

11. νῦν δὲ ἔγραψα. ‘But, as it is, I wrote’ (RV. marg.), not ‘But now I write’ (RV.). The latter is grammatically possible and makes good sense, but it is unlikely that ἔγραψα is in v. 9 historical, of an earlier letter, and here epistolary, of the present letter. The νῦν is logical, not temporal, ‘now you see,’ ‘now you understand’ that the earlier letter meant something different. Had the Apostle meant the νῦν to be temporal and the verb to refer to the present letter, he would have written γράφω, as in 4:14. He has stated what the earlier letter did not mean (οὐ πάντως), and he now very naturally states what it did mean.*

ἐάν …ᾖ. The form of protasis covers all cases that may come to light: see on 4:15. Almost all editors prefer ᾗ to ἤ to before πόρνος.

ὀνομαζόμενος. ‘Any who bears the name of a brother,’ though he has forfeited the right to it. He is called a brother, but he really is a πόρνος or, etc. Some early interpreters take ὀνομαζόμενος with what follows; ‘if any brother be called a whoremonger,’ or ‘be a notorious whoremonger.’ The latter would require ὀνομαστός, and we should have�

πλεονέκτης. There is no good ground for supposing that, either here, or in v. 10, or anywhere else, πλεονέκτης means ‘sensual’ (see on Ephesians 4:19). The desire which it implies is the desire for possessions, greed, grasping after what does not belong to one.

εἰδωλολάτρης. Stanley would give this word also the meaning of ‘sensual.’ But there is no improbability in Corinthian converts being tainted with idolatry. Origen says that in his time the plea that idolatry was a matter of indifference was common among Christians serving in the army. Modern experience teaches that it is very difficult to extinguish idolatrous practices among converts, and Chrysostom may be right in suggesting that the Apostle inserts ‘idolater’ in his list as a preparation for what he is about to say on the subject (8:10, 10:7, 14 f.). The Corinthians were evidently very lax.

λοίδορος. Origen notes with what very evil people the λοίδορος is classed: ἡλίκοις κακοῖς τὸν λοίδορον συνηρίθμησεν. The word occurs 6:10, and in LXX in Proverbs and Ecclus., but nowhere else. Chrysostom (on 6:10) says that many in his day blamed the Apostle for putting λοίδοροι and μέθυσοι into such company. Matthew 5:21, Matthew 5:22; 1 Peter 3:9.

μέθυσος. Romans 13:13. In Attic writers applied to women, men being called μεθυστικοί, παροινικοί, or παροίνιοι. Cf. ὀργὴ μεγάλη γυνὴ μέθυσος (Ecclus. 26:8); but elsewhere in LXX it is used of men (Ecclus. 21:1; Proverbs 23:21, Proverbs 26:9). It some μέθυσος and the λοίδορος are additions to the first list.

μηδὲ συνεσθίειν. An emphatic intimation of what he means by μὴ συναναμίγνυσθαι. Cf. Luke 15:2; Galatians 2:12. The Apostle is not thinking of Holy Communion, in which case the μηδέ would be quite out of place: he is thinking of social meals; ‘Do not invite him to your house or accept his invitations.’ But, as Theodoret points out, a prohibition of this kind would lead to the exclusion of the offender from the Lord’s Table. Great caution is required in applying the Apostle’s prohibition to modern circumstances, which are commonly not parallel. The object here, as in 2 John 1:10, is twofold: to prevent the spread of evil, and to bring offenders to see the error of their ways. In any case, what St Paul adds in giving a similar injunction must not be forgotten; καὶ μὴ ὡς ἐχθρὸν ἡγεῖσθε,�2 Thessalonians 3:15). Clement of Rome (Cor. 14) says of the ringleaders of the schism, χρηστευσώμεθα αὐτοῖς κατὰ τὴν εὐσπλαγχνίαν καὶ γλυκύτητα τοῦ ποιήσαντος ἡμᾶς, perhaps in reference to Matthew 5:45, Matthew 5:48.

νῦν (א3 A B D 3 E F G L P) rather than νυνί (א* C D* D 2 ): the more emphatic form might seem to be more suitable. Vulg. Syrr. Copt. Aeth. Goth. support ᾗ against ἤ before πόρνος. For μηδέ, A has μή and F has μήτε.

12. τί γάρ μοι τοὺς ἔξω κρίνειν; ‘For what business of mine is it to judge those that are outside?’ Quid enim mhi (Vulg.); Ad quid mihi (Tert.); Quid mea interest (Beza). Gives the reason why they ought never to have supposed that he ordered them to shun the company of heathen who were fornicators: the meaning given in v. 11 is the only possible meaning. The phrase τοὺς ἔξω (1 Thessalonians 4:12; Colossians 4:5) is of Jewish origin. Jews applied it to Gentiles; our Lord applies it to Jews who are not His disciples (Mark 4:11); St Paul applies it to non-Christians, whether Jews or Gentiles. In 1 Timothy 3:7, where he speaks of non-Christians judging Christians, he uses οἱ ἔξωθεν. The expression states a fact, without any insinuation of censure. How could they suppose that he claimed jurisdiction over heathen and placed a stigma upon them for heathen behaviour? Epictetus (Enchir. 47) tells those who are continent not to be severe upon those who are not, or to claim any superiority.

οὐχὶ τοὺς ἒσω ὑμεῖς κρίνετε; τοὺς ἔσω and ὑμεῖς are in emphatic juxtaposition: ‘Is it not those that are within that you judge? They are your sphere of jurisdiction.’ The present tense is ‘axiomatic,’ stating what is normal. The proposal to put a colon at οὐχί and make κρίνετε an imperative (‘No; judge ye those who are within’) is unintelligent. Οὐχί is not an answer to τί; and the sentence is much less telling as a command than as a question. οὐκί is one of the words which are far more common in Paul and Luke than elsewhere in N.T.

13. ὁ Θεὸς κρίνει. The verb is certainly to be accented as a present: it states the normal attribute of God. And the sentence is probably categorical; ‘But them that are without God judgeth.’ This is more forcible than to bring it under the interrogative οὐχί; ‘Is it not the case that you judge those who are within, while God judges those who are without?’ But WH. and Bachmann adopt the latter.

ἐξάρατε τὸν πονηρόν. A quotation from Deuteronomy 17:7, bringing to a sharp practical conclusion the discussion about the treatment of πορνεία, and at the same time giving a final rebuke to them for their indifference about the case of incest. The offender must be at once expelled. Origen adds that we must not be content with expelling the evil man from our society; we must take care to expel the evil one (τὸν πονηρόν) from our hearts. Note the double ἐξ: the riddance must be complete. See on 3:18.

Vulg. Arm. Copt. Aeth. take κρινει as a future. ἐξάρατε (א A B C D* F G P, Vulg.) rather than καὶ ἐξαρεῖτε (D 3 E L), or καὶ ἐξάρατε (17). The verb occurs nowhere else in N.T., but is very frequent in LXX.

* There is also the case of Callias, who married his wife’s mother. Andocides (b.c. 400), in his speech on the mysteries, asks whether among the Greeks such a thing had ever been done before.

אԠא (Fourth century.) The Sinaitic MS., now at St Petersburg, the only MS. containing the whole N.T.

L L (Ninth century). Codex Angelicus; At Rome.

P P (Ninth century). Porfirianus Chiovensis. A palimpsest acquired in the East by Porphyrius Bishop of Kiew. Lacks 7:15 ὑμᾶς ὁ θεός-17 περιπάτει: 12:23 τοῦ σώματος-13:5 οὐ λογί-: 14:23 τὸ λαλεῖν μή. A good type of text in St Paul’s Epistles.

A A (Fifth century.) The Codex Alexandrinus; now at the British Museum.

B B (Fourth century.) The Vatican MS.

C C (Fifth century). The Codex Ephraem, a Palimpsest; now at Paris. Lacks 7:18 ἐν�

G G (Late ninth century). Codex Boernerianus; at Dresden. Interlined with the Latin (in minluscules). Lacks 1 Corinthians 3:8-16, 1 Corinthians 6:7-14 (F).

17 17. (Ev. 33, Acts 13:0. Ninth century.) At Paris (Nat. Gr. 14). See Westcott and Hort., Introd. §§ 211, 212.

* What Augustine says of Carthage was still more true of Corinth; circumstrepebal me undique sartago flagiiosorum amorum (Conf. iii.1).

* Evans thinks that ὡς παρών does not mean ‘as if I were present in the body,’ but ‘as being really present in the spirit.’ His spirit had at times exceptional power of insight into the state of a church at a distance: οὐκ ὡς�

* In Mark 14:12 the AV. has ‘kill the Passover,’ with ‘sacrifice’ in the margin; in Luke 22:7, ‘kill,’ without any alternative; here ‘sacrifice,’ with ‘slay’ in the margin: the R.V. has ‘sacrifice in all three places.

† On the general relation between the two traditions see J. Kaftan, Jesus u.Paulus, pp. 59-69.

* It is possible that these two words are meant to prepare for what follows. Perhaps the Apostle saw that there had been some shuffling and evasion about the injunction in the former letter. They said that they did not understand it, and made that an excuse for ignoring it. How St Paul heard of the misinterpretation of his earlier letter we are not told. Zahn suggests the Corinthians’ letter, of which he finds traces even before 7:1 (Introd. to N.T. p. 261).


There is little doubt that a number of the Apostle’s letters have perished, especially those which he wrote in the early part of his career, when his authority was less clearly established, and the value of his words less understood; 2 Thessalonians 2:2, 2 Thessalonians 3:17. See Renan, S. Paul, p. 234.

Ramsay points out the resemblance between this passage (9-13) and 2 Thessalonians, which guards against misconception of his teaching that had arisen owing to the strong emphasis which he had laid on the coming of the Kingdom (Pauline Studies, p. 36).

* Abbott, Johan. Gr. 2691, gives other examples.

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 5". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/1-corinthians-5.html. 1896-1924.
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