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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 5

McGarvey's Commentaries on Selected BooksMcGarvey'S Commentaries

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Verse 1

It is actually reported that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not even among the Gentiles, that one of you hath his father’s wife. [i. e., his step-mother. She was probably a pagan, and hence is not rebuked. The offense of the Corinthians had been magnified in that they had let Paul find out their sin by public gossip. Though they had written to him seeking light on other matters (1 Corinthians 7:1), they had not even mentioned this deplorable wickedness. Such incest was of course condemned by the Jewish law (Leviticus 18:8; Deuteronomy 27:20). But even Corinth, moral cesspool that it was, would be scandalized by such a crime, for it was condemned alike by Greeks and Romans. See the Oedipus of Sophocles, the Hippolytus of Euripides, and Cicero’s Pro Cluentio, 5. As to such a case Cicero uses these words: "Oh, incredible wickedness, and--except in this woman’s case--unheard in all experience!"]

Verse 2

And ye are puffed up, and did not rather mourn, that he that had done this deed might be taken away from among you. [Our last section shows in what manner they had been puffed up. Had they been mourning over their real sinfulness, instead of priding themselves in their philosophical knowledge, this offender would have been taken away by excommunication.]

Verse 3

For I verily, being absent in body but present in spirit, have already as though I were present judged him that hath so wrought this thing [The swiftness of Paul’s judgment stands in sharp contrast with the tardiness and toleration of the Corinthians. The broken structure of this verse and the one which follows it, shows Paul’s deep emotion. "The passage is, as it were, written with sobs."--Wordsworth],

Verse 4

in the name of our Lord Jesus, ye being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus,

Verse 5

to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. [The full assembly of the church was required, for the discipline was to be administered by the entire body. The marked way in which Paul assured them of his presence, and the peculiar punishment which he directs to be administered, have led many to believe that he promises to be present in some miraculous spiritual manner (Colossians 2:5; comp. 2 Kings 5:26); so as to use his miraculous power to smite the offender with sickness, or some bodily infirmity, as the phrase "deliver . . . unto Satan" is taken to mean, Acts 5:1-11; Acts 13:11; 1 Timothy 1:20; being cited to sustain this meaning. The argument is very flimsy, and is not sustained by the facts recorded in this case. The meaning is that Paul, having commanded the condemnation of the culprit, will be spiritually present to aid the church in that condemnation. The offender, being excluded from the kingdom of God, is to be thrust back into the kingdom of Satan, that the sense of his loneliness, shame and lost condition may cause him to repent, and mortify or subdue his flesh, i. e., his lust, after which his spirit, being thus delivered, might be saved. The sequel of the case comports with this interpretation, and there is no hint that the man ever suffered any corporeal punishment. See 2 Corinthians 2:5-8]

Verse 6

Your glorying is not good. [Their glorying was sinful enough at best, but much more so when it was so inopportune.] Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

Verse 7

Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, even as ye are unleavened. For our passover also hath been sacrificed, even Christ:

Verse 8

wherefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. [Verses 6-8 form an enlargement of verse 2. The reference to the passover was probably suggested by the season of the year (1 Corinthians 16:8), and was very apropos. Leaven is a type of evil, illustrating the hidden constant way in which it spreads. To the Jew it was a symbol of the corruption of Egypt, and he was directed just before the passover to search for it diligently in every part of his house, and remove it (Exodus 12:15). But to the Christian Christ is a perpetual sacrifice, an ever-present paschal Lamb, demanding and enforcing constant vigilance and unceasing cleanliness. The individual must put away every sinful habit of the old life. The church must purge itself of all whose lives are sources of corruption.]

Verse 9

I wrote unto you in my epistle [see introduction] to have no company with fornicators;

Verse 10

not at all meaning with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous and extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of this world [In this earlier Epistle the apostle had directed that fornicators and other backsliders inside the church, should be treated as outcasts, since they were so regarded of God (Ephesians 5:5; Galatians 5:19-21). But he had been misunderstood, and had been thought to say that fornicators, etc., outside the church were to be wholly avoided; a very impractical precept, which could only be obeyed by migrating to another planet, since this world is steeped in sin--comp. John 17:15]:

Verse 11

but as it is, I wrote unto you not to keep company, if any man that is named a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater [Colossians 3:5], or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no, not to eat. [Have no interchange of hospitality which would imply brotherly recognition, lest the church should thereby not only be disgraced, but corrupted-- 1 Corinthians 15:33]

Verse 12

For what have I to do with judging them that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within?

Verse 13

But them that are without God judgeth. [These facts showed that the apostle had referred to those within the church; the discipline of those without is exclusively in the hands of God.] Put away the wicked man from among yourselves. [A summary command as to him and other wicked men.]

Bibliographical Information
McGarvey, J. W. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 5". "J. W. McGarvey's Original Commentary on Acts". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/oca/1-corinthians-5.html. Transylvania Printing and Publishing Co. Lexington, KY. 1872.
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