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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 5

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Verse 1

1Co 5:1

1 Corinthians 5:1

It is actually reported[It was a matter of common noto­riety, talked among the people generally and caused great scandal.]

that there is fornication among you,—With the confluence of strangers and of commerce, were associated the luxury and licentiousness which gave the name of Corinth an infamous notoriety, and which connected in the case of the Temple of Aphrodite with religious rites, requiring licentious acts in its devotees, it is not surprising that such sins would be commit­ted by some of those who professed to be followers of Christ. For sins that are common and popular in a community will trouble a church in that community.

and such fornication as is not even among the Gentiles,— Here is a type of licentiousness in the church that was not tol­erated among the heathen. [It was held in detestation by them as a shameful and abominable monstrosity.]

that one of you hath his fathers wife.—It is probable that the father had been guilty of the folly of marrying a woman better suited in age for his son. But it was a gross outrage upon chastity and virtue, and yet the church was tolerating it and glorying over it. [The marriage of a son to his step­mother was forbidden among the Jews under the penalty of death (Leviticus 18:8; Leviticus 20:11; Deuteronomy 22:30; Deuteronomy 27:20); and it was a violation of the Roman law and held in abhorrence by them. From the complete silence as to the crime of the woman, it is inferred that she was a heathen.]

Verses 1-5

1Co 5:1-5

A SCANDALOUS IMMORALITY

1 Corinthians 5:1-5

1 Corinthians 5:1 It is reported commonly - It is actually reported (ASV). Altogether reported, probably repeated everywhere and by many tongues But perhaps Paul had heard it from those of Chloe’s house, who had also reported the divi­ sion (1:11). that there is fornication - That there is sexual immorality (NIV). Fornication is the general term which covers the whole range of sexual impurities. Here its specific connotation is incest. Thus incest, whether the cou­ ple are married or living in concubinage, is the sin condemned, among you-- Among the Corinthian Christians. They had knowledge of it. and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, - Immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles (NASV). The church, which was trying to convert the heathen, was tolerating a sin within its own members which was not even practiced with approval by the pagans, neither Greeks nor Romans. They had become so morally insensitive that they were more tolerant of moral corruption than the world around them. What a shameful rebuke to Christians, either then or now. that one should have his father’s wife.-- His stepmother. There are some things we do not know about this case, e.g.: Was the father a polygamist, having more than one living wife? If not, was the son’s mother divorced or deceased? Was the father living or dead? (It seems likely from 1 Corinthians 7:12 that he was living.) Had he divorced his incestuous wife? Or had she abandoned him for his son? Were she and the son married or just living together? It seems to me that it is more likely that the father is still living, that he had married a younger woman (the son’s mother either being dead or divorced), that (if he was living) he had either divorced this woman or separated from her, and that the son had taken her to himself as a wife (even though there would have been some legal questions about it if the father had put her away). It seems incredible to me that the Corinthian church would have tolerated a situation where the two were just living together, especially if she was still married to the father. By what rationalization could they have justified tolerating such a practice? But even if any or all of these opinions are wrong, we still know that their relationship was scandalously sinful, repulsively wrong they were committing such an abominable evil that it was unacceptable even to the immoral pagan Corinthians, who had given their name to immorality. Not only did heathen law and sentiment prohibit such, the OT forbade a son taking his father’s wife, even a concubine, upon the penalty of death (Leviticus 18:8; Leviticus 20:11; Deuteronomy 22:30; Deuteronomy 27:20; 2 Samuel 16:21-22; Genesis 35:22; Genesis 49:4), and to do so would still be considered, by Greek, Roman, and Hebrew, incest under all circumstances, whether the father was living, divorced, or dead. She would remain his stepmother, his father’s wife, and neither divorce nor death would change this relationship. Thus it was an unthinkable sin, but here it was openly tolerated by the church of God, which was supposed to be heaven’s citadel of truth and purity.

1 Corinthians 5:2 And ye are puffed up, And you are proud! (NIV). There is a scandalous sin among you, and yet you are puffed up. At the very time you should be humbled and embarrassed you are exulting in arrogance and self-conceit. I doubt that the arrogance had any connection with the fornicator (and surely their pride was not in the fact of the brother’s shameful conduct), but rather refers back to 1 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 4:18-19. It is a contrast between what was and what should have been. They were puffed up when by all means they should have been mourning. and have not rather mourned, Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief (NIV). They should be mourning the loss of a member rather than being puffed up their pride should have given way to grief. This may give us some insight as to why they were full of pride. They may have seen themselves as aloof from the guilty in such a way as to suggest, "We are sexually pure; the fornicator can do us no harm. Therefore we live and let live." That is, while not condemning him, they were rejoicing, in a boastful way, that they were not sinners (Luke 18:10-14). that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you, from fellowship, or delivered to Satan (1 Corinthians 5:5).

1 Corinthians 5:3 For I verily, As for me (BV) or for my part (Williams). Unlike those who were puffed up (1 Corinthians 5:2), he had already passed judgment or made a decision in this case. as absent in body, but present in spirit, - Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit (NIV). Bodily he was absent from Corinth, but he was with the church in heart, mind, and judgment. have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,--I have already, as if present, passed sentence on the one who thus behaved (BV). Although Paul was bodily absent from them, he had taken the necessary action (made determination as to the proper action that should be taken) in his own mind - that is, he had taken the action they should have taken against the immoral man, namely, to deliver him to Satan (v. 5). As he had made the judgment in his mind, they should make it in theirs and then carry it out in practice.

1 Corinthians 5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,--By His authority, exercised by the HS working through the apostles (1 Corinthians 14:37). It is not certain whether this should be connected with "when ye are gathered together" or "To deliver such an one to Satan" (1 Corinthians 5:5), but it seems more natural, in keeping with Scriptural terminology, to connect it with the assembly (Matthew 18:20), and when they are gathered together in the name of Christ they could administer discipline by His power and thus deliver the evil one to Satan, not by their own power or right, but by His. But in the final analysis, it makes little or no difference be­ cause the Christian religion is a religion of authority - that is, everything must be done in the name of Christ (Colossians 3:17), which means that it must be done by His instructions, directions, or authority. Discipline is no exception to this rule. when ye are gathered together, - Ye being gathered together (ASV). When you assemble together (d. Matthew 18:20) for the purpose of taking action against this man. Discipline is an action of the whole congregation, not just of one or a few. That is, the action is to be taken publicly, as in a court of law, even though disciplinary measures must be carried out on an individual level (1 Corinthians 5:11). and my spirit, - With my spirit with you, as in 1 Corinthians 5:3. with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, - Christ would be with them in their actions (Matthew 18:15-20). Thus when they administered the necessary discipline, they would not be standing alone or acting by their own authority: Christ would be working through them (d. 2 Corinthians 2:10).

1 Corinthians 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan -Hand such a person over to the devil (Beck). There are only two spiritual domains: the kingdom of Christ and the rule of Satan. Everyone is in one or the other. Thus to be delivered to Satan must mean to be excluded from the blessings of Christ’s kingdom, that is, the fellowship or company (1 Corinthians 5:2; 1 Corinthians 5:11) of the church and placed back under the rule or control of Satan (d. 1 Timothy 1:20) to live in spiritual darkness, from which we are delivered by the gospel (Colossians 1:13). In this exclusion all spiritual and social association were to be withdrawn (1 Corinthians 5:11) to the point that one was to be counted as a heathen (for fellowship purposes) (Matthew 18:15-17), not in the sense of being an enemy to him but for the purpose of admonishing him to repentance (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15). In such exclusions, the purpose must always be to save the soul of the guilty. In this case, the Corinthians evidently followed Paul’s in­ structions and the desired end resulted (2 Corinthians 2:6-7). for the destruction of the flesh, - To destroy his sinful ways (Beck). The purpose of the discipline was remedial, that is, to awaken him to the sin he was committing (in the flesh) and thus induce him to repent of it. His repentance would destroy his fleshly action destroy this work of the flesh in him. In my judgment, this has no reference whatsoever (as many commentators think) to physical death or punishment beyond that suffered by the withdrawal of fellowship. that the spirit The eternal part of man, sometimes called the soul--may be saved--May be brought to eternal salvation rather than eternal damnation (to which his fatal sin is leading him). The necessary implication here is that if he does not repent he will be lost. The purpose of discipline is therefore to save the man from his sin so that he may be saved from everlasting destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9), in the day of the Lord Jesus. - The day when Christ will come in judgment, the day when all will be called to account for the deeds done in their body (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Verse 2

1Co 5:2

1 Corinthians 5:2

And ye are puffed up,—Looseness in faith, heresy, divi­sion and strife breed indifference to morality and virtue, and open the way for all shames and sins to follow. So these peo­ple in their departures from the faith had admitted all types of immorality. This case was probably among the wealthy and influential, or belonged to an influential party, and instead of condemning him for the sin, they were arrogant, defied criti­cism, and did not feel that his course was a source of sorrow and shame for the persons sinning and for the church so dis­graced and humiliated by the crime. [It does not mean that they were puffed up because of this outrage, but in spite of it. It ought to have humbled them to the dust, and yet they re­tained their self-satisfied complacency. Their morbid self-im­portance, which made them so intolerant of petty wrongs (1 Corinthians 6:7), made them tolerant of deep disgrace.]

and did not rather mourn,—[The church should have risen as one man, and gone into a common act of humiliation and mourning, like a family for the death of one of its members. It should have been a day of repentance, on which the whole church before the Lord deplored the scandal committed, and cried to him to lead them to expel the guilty person from the fellowship in irrepressible horror at his conduct.]

that he that had done this deed might be taken away from among you.—That he should be refused fellowship or recogni­tion in the church. Loss of fellowship involved loss of recog­nition and association among Christians. It should be consid­ered a great disgrace and shame yet to be excluded from the membership of the church of Christ. It is noteworthy that God always holds the man the more guilty party in such sins. It is to the shame of society that this order has been reversed in modern times.

Verse 3

1Co 5:3

1 Corinthians 5:3

For I verily, being absent in body but present in spirit,— [Paul was fully informed by the Spirit of God in all the cir­cumstances, and instructed by him in the way he should act.] have already as though I were present judged him that hath so wrought this thing,—His spirit was present with them and he had already decided as to the guilt and condemnation of him who had done the deed. [This is a remarkable assertion of apostolic power. After reading this letter, they would know that he who had wrought miracles with such power among them was spiritually and effectually present, and weak though he was in personal appearance and speech, was able to exercise sharp discipline on the whole body, unless they sub­mitted to the voice of God through his mouth.]

Verse 4

1Co 5:4

1 Corinthians 5:4

in the name of our Lord Jesus,—Acting for and in the stead of the Lord Jesus. [The phrase includes, on the one hand, the denial that the thing was done by virtue of his own authority; and on the other, the claim of the right to act as the representative of Christ.]

ye being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus,—When they were gathered together, Paul himself present in spirit gave his decision in this letter, with the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. When the church acts ac­cording to his directions, its action is clothed with the power of Christ. The act of the body in such case is the act of Christ. [A question of much importance is, Does the apostle by the words, “ye being gathered together,” mean that he waits for their assent to his ruling in this matter? Most as­suredly not. The whole tone, not only the passage which is now before us, but of the whole epistle up to this point, is that he would have them look upon him as the apostle—the special messenger of Christ—standing towards them in the place of Christ. There is not the faintest hint of making the pronounc­ing of the sentence dependent on the vote of the assembly which is to be held, as if the apostle’s decision could be an­nulled by the contrary opinion of a majority. For his part ev­erything is decided, and with his apostolic competency he has judged to deliver over the offender. There will be joined to Paul, in the assembly which he convokes, “the whole church” (Acts 15:22), to take part in this act.]

Verse 5

1Co 5:5

1 Corinthians 5:5

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.—What the deliverance of the body to Satan may mean, how the flesh is destroyed, and what the day of the Lord Jesus is, are questions of doubt and have produced much dis­cussion. It probably means that he was separated from the fel­lowship of the church, from all association with the brethren in Christ, regarded and treated as a heathen; that by these in­fluences he might be brought to realize the enormity of his sin, and turn from fleshly lusts, and be restored to a life of ho­liness, and to the fellowship of the church that he might at last be saved. The church by the direction of Paul put him away from among them (2 Corinthians 2:10), and at a later period he directs them to forgive and comfort the one who had been separated from the fellowship, supposed to be the same per­son, “lest by any means such a one should be swallowed up with his overmuch sorrow.” (2 Corinthians 2:7). The exclusion from the fellowship of the saints and the privileges of the house of God is a serious and awful matter. When one has been excluded from the fellowship of the church, Christians should make him feel that he forfeits the esteem and associa­tion of all the members of the church, yet he should be warned and admonished as a brother. (2 Thessalonians 3:15).

[Disorderly conduct must be dealt with by the church in the way the Lord appoints. Immorality is not to be tolerated among the followers of Christ. The whole action of the church is moral and spiritual, and the extremest infliction it can impose in any case is exclusion from the fellowship. The necessity for exercising such discipline is for the following reasons:

(1) The honor of Christ, which is sadly impeached when open sin is allowed among those who profess to be his follow­ers. To make Christ a minister of sin is a grievous offense.

(2) The welfare of the offender himself is never to be lost sight of. The wise, kindly, deliberate action of the church may save the erring one. And hence, however humiliating and terrible the exclusion may have been, the door is always left open for return. Its object, so far as the offender is con­cerned, is his recovery, and if he repents and comes to a right state of mind, nothing stands in the way of his restoration to the fellowship.

(3) The welfare of the church requires that the transgres­sors shall be dealt with. For sin is a spreading leprosy. It may begin in a small obscure place, but unless speedily ar­rested will increase and diffuse itself till the whole body is in­fected. A moral gangrene must be cut out.]

Verse 6

1Co 5:6

1 Corinthians 5:6

Your glorying is not good.—The glorying and self-justifi­cation were not good. If not put away from among them, it would soon work the corruption of the whole body.

Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? As a small quantity of leaven pervades the entire mass of dough and communicates its nature to the whole of that with which it comes in contact, so the least sin tolerated affects the whole church, and communicates its nature to the whole of that with which it comes in contact. It is therefore applied to all sin voluntarily tolerated by the individual or the church. To be indifferent to grave misbehavior is to become partly re­sponsible for it, and to lower the standard of Christian living. [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 mis­behavior 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.]

Verses 6-8

1Co 5:6-8

PURGING THE OLD LEAVEN

1 Corinthians 5:6-9

1 Corinthians 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Your boasting is no credit to you (Moffett). That is, the thing about which they were boasting brought no credit to their honor. Their pride in being able to tolerate such a condition in the church (see note on 1 Corinthians 5:2) was far from admirable. Such is not becoming to Christians ... either then or now. Know ye not - Don’t you know (NIV). It would be to their shame if they did not know. that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? That a little yeast leavens the whole batch? (BV). This adds weight to the note on 1 Corinthians 5:2 where it is conjectured that their pride was not in the man’s unthinkable sin but rather in their concept that another’s sin would not affect them - that it would do no harm to the church. But in this they were wrong: sin, uncorrected, can pervade the whole body, just as leaven permeates a whole batch of dough (see Matthew 13:33). A church can no more tolerate sin in its members without becoming contaminated than one can take fire into his bosom without his dothes being burned (Proverbs 6:27).

1 Corinthians 5:7 Purge out Get rid of (NIV), dean out, or remove as Moses in­ structed Israel to remove all leaven from their houses on the eve of Passover (Exodus 12:15; Exodus 12:20; Exodus 13:6-7). therefore - Purge it because a little leaven will permeate the whole batch (v. 6). the old leaven, - Leaven here is a metaphor for evil corruption. The old leaven, specifically the shameful affair of the in­ cestuous man who had his father’s wife (v. 1), was the evil among them. that ye may be a new lump, - A new batch of dough with the corruption re­ moved. as ye are unleavened. - Even as ye are unleavened (ASV). They had been made pure when they were baptized into Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27), but this purity was being threatened by permitting the sin to remain among them. For - Introduces the reason why they were to purge out the old leaven. even Christ our passover is sacrificed - Our Passover Lamb, Christ, has already been sacrificed (Williams). Christ had already died as the Paschal Lamb (1 Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 5:6; Revelation 5:12) to take away the leaven of sin (John 1:29) and yet the church at Corinth was still tolerating it right in its bosom. Jesus had already died as the Passover Lamb, to save men from sin, and yet here it was openly displayed in the church of God, and that after the Lamb had been offered. As all leaven was to be put away before the offering of the Passover lamb, so no immoral pollution should remain in the church. Sin in the church is an insult to the death of Christ. Why then do they (and we) harbor it in their fellowship? for us: The evidence indicates this was not in the original manuscript.

1 Corinthians 5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast, - The metaphor of 1 Corinthians 5:7 is continued. The OT feast of Passover is in view. And since Christ is our Passover, we are to continue the feast perpetually, and that without the leaven of sin. All wickedness therefore is to be put away, not just for seven days, but forever. not with old leaven, - The old leaven of evil and corruption, which characterized all before the offering of the Lamb. neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; - That is, not with the old way of life. Malice is an ill disposition of the heart; wickedness is the overt action that springs from a malicious heart (Proverbs 23:7; Matthew 12:35; Matthew 15:17-20). but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Sincerity and truth are here contrasted with malice and wickedness. The old bread was malice with its overt actions of wickedness; the new bread is the practice of truth from a sincere (pure) heart. Sincerity is the subjective convictions or motivations; truth is the overt practice, as in "walk in truth" (3 John 1:4). Here Paul states metaphorically practically the same concept as Jesus had in view when He said that true worship must be in spirit (from the heart) and in truth (according to the directions of truth) (John 4:23-24).

Verse 7

1Co 5:7

1 Corinthians 5:7

Purge out the old leaven,—Here is an allusion to the order given by Moses (Exodus 12:15; Exodus 12:20; Exodus 13:7) to remove all leaven from the Jewish house before the Passover, and carried out with such scrupulous care that on the fourteenth day of the month they searched with lighted candles even the darkest places in their houses to see whether any remained.

that ye may be a new lump,—The position of Christians is analogous to that of Israel, and they should put away the evil and purge out the leaven of sin that is among them that they may be a pure unleavened lump of holiness.

even as ye are unleavened.—They were purged of the leaven of evil in coming into Christ.

For our passover also hath been sacrificed, even Christ:—As when the passover lamb was sacrificed they must put away the leaven, so Christ is our passover, a perpetual sacrifice for us, so we must put from us the leaven of evil as the children of God.

Verse 8

1Co 5:8

1 Corinthians 5:8

wherefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven,—Since Christ is our passover, sanctified for us, let us keep the feast perpetually. That is, live holily. The whole life of the Christian should be a joyous and pure feast of services to God in sincerity and truth, none of the old leaven of heathenism being retained in the body, the church. [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.] neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness,—[Malice is ill will in the mind; wickedness is ill will expressed in ac­tion.]

but with the unleavened bread of sincerity[The word “sincere” sets forth before the mind the material image from which the spiritual quality takes its name. The honey free from the smallest particle of wax, pure and transparent. The word used here conveys a similar idea. It is derived from the custom of judging the purity of liquids or the texture of cloths by holding them between the eye and the sun. What is here set forth as necessary to the Christian character is a quality which can stand this extreme test, and does not need to be seen only in an artificial light. It brings before us a pure transparent sincerity which is genuine; and acceptance of Christ which is real, and which is rich in real results.] and truth.—[This means far more than veracity. In its sub­jective sense, it means the inward state which answers to truth; fullness, straightforwardness, integrity of purpose; that moral and spiritual condition which conforms to the law and character of God. All corresponds to an unsullied, uncontam­inated, and genuine Christian character.]

Verse 9

1Co 5:9

1 Corinthians 5:9

I wrote unto you in my epistleSome think he means that he had so written them in this letter. This the expres­sion would not allow, for he intends to modify now directions hitherto given. So Paul had doubtless written a letter to them before this, in which he had given the directions here noted.

to have no company with fornicators;—A fornicator is one who has sexual intercourse with an unmarried person, but the word is frequently used to denote all unlawful intercourse. (Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9). To have company with is to associate with and treat one as worthy of companionship and associa­tion. The Christian is not to treat the guilty person as such. The object, no doubt, is to make the fornicator feel the dis­grace and shame of his course and bring him to repentance.

Verses 9-13

1Co 5:9-13

WITHDRAWAL OF FELLOWSHIP

1 Corinthians 5:9-13

1 Corinthians 5:9 I wrote unto you in an epistle - Undoubtedly an earlier epistle not preserved for us. What it contained beyond the matter mentioned here, and why it was not preserved by the providence of God (as were the other two let­ ters to the Corinthians) are beyond our knowledge. Speculation and conjectures would be useless. One thing it does reveal, however, is that the written ministry of the apostles may have extended (we know it extended at least by one other epistle) far beyond the 27 books of the NT (Colossians 4:16; Philippians 3; Philippians 1). Another thing; we believe strongly that regardless of how much they may have written that is unpreserved, the NT contains everything the HS intended to reveal to all mankind - that is, we have all that is necessary to guide us into the forgiveness of sins, living the Christian life, and into the inheritance that is reserved for us in heaven (2 Timothy 3:14-17; 1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:17-21). We would no more need every word the apostles wrote to know the full will of God for us than we would need the text of every sermon they preached or everything that Jesus did or said in His personal ministry (In. 20:30-31; 21:25). not to company with fornicators:-- Not to associate with immoral people (Goodspeed) or not to mix with those who live in sexual sin (Beck). That is, they were to withdraw all close and habitual relationship with the morally impure (vv. 11-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:14). He now (vv. 10-13) places some limitations on his previous instructions. These modifications make it all but certain that Paul had in mind another letter, not this one, as many commentators think.

1 Corinthians 5:10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, - I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world (NASV). He meant their own brethren (v. 11), not non-Christians or the immoral outside the church. or with the covetous, - Greedy (RSV) or selfishly grasping for gain; especially this attitude toward that which belongs to another. It is called idolatry in Ephesians 5:5 and Colossians 3:5. Cf. 1 Timothy 6:10. or extortioners, - Swindlers (NASV) or robbers. Those who cheat in trade or practice fraud, even if it is in the open market place and considered as good business. The extortioner buys for less than an item is worth and sells it for more than it is worth. Solomon describes him in Pry. 20:14. or with idolaters; - Early in the Bible this meant those who worshipped idols. But it came to be used of anything that replaced God in one’s heart and devotion. Thus covetousness is called idolatry (Colossians 3:5) and the covetous man is called an idolater (Ephesians 5:5). Hence greed becomes a god to the greedy. for then must ye needs go out of the world. - In that case you would have to leave this world (NIV). If they withdrew all association and com­ merce with the wicked of this world (as they were to do with the wicked in the church), it would be impossible for them to live in the world (John 17:15-18). Discipline is a corrective action taken by a church toward its own members, not toward people in the world. It is not designed to separate Christians (in a cluster, such as monasticism) from all association with wicked people but rather to bring the sinful church member to repentance.

1 Corinthians 5:11 But now - In this epistle in contrast with the former one mentioned in v. 9. I have written unto you - I write you now (BV). That is, I am now writing you. not to keep company, Not to associate or have fellowship or social intercourse with him (2 Thessalonians 3:14). This obviously means any kind of association with him which would tend to leave the impression that one did not approve the action of the church or that he condones the evil practice of the dis-fellowshipped. if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator,--­ Anyone who bears the name of brother (RSV). Only a brother in Christ was to be excluded from their association in the sense of the action here commanded, and that only after all other measures have been taken to bring the sinner to repentance (Matthew 18:15-17). or covetous, or an idolater, - See note on v. 10. or a railer, - One who reviles by abusive blasphemous speech, that is, one who has not learned to bridle his tongue (James 3:2-12). or a drunkard, One who drugs his mind with alcohol. Contrary to popular opinion, drunken­ ness comes in degrees, and there is no such thing as drinking alcoholic beverages without becoming drunk to one degree or another. All will admit that the Bible condemns drunkenness (Galatians 5:19-21). What degree does it condemn? I believe any degree when the drink is taken for the purpose of intoxication. Why would any reasonable person conclude that it is a virtue to get one drink drunk but a vice to get nine or ten drinks drunk? God’s sober old Book knows no such foolish distinctions. It condemns drunkenness ... in any extortioner; - See note on v. 10. with such an one no not to eat. With such a man do not even eat (NIV). When the church withdraws fellowship from a sinful brother, whether he be a fornicator, covetous man, idolater, railer, drunkard, extortioner, or any other sin in this category, spiritual association, commerce, and social intercourse from other Christians must cease until he has repented. This has reference to any meal. At that time, and to some extent even today, to eat with a person was to acknowledge equality and friendship with him ( Matthew 9:10-11; John 4:9). Thus to eat with a brother from whom the church had withdrawn would be to recognize him as equally faithful or to bid him God speed (2 John 1:9-11). While this has no primary reference to the Lord’s Supper, it would be included in principle. The church could not, of course, prevent him from assembling and taking the elements of the Supper any more than it could prevent him from singing in the assembly, but communion could not be ex­ tended to him in such a fashion as to imply fellowship.

1 Corinthians 5:12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? (NIV). Those out­ side the pale of the church were not under the jurisdiction of either Paul or the church, in the sense that discipline could be administered to them. They were already under the power of Satan (v. 5) and their condition was terrible to contemplate (Ephesians 2:12). Paul was willing to leave their punishment to God (v. 13). do not ye judge them that are within? - Do you not have those within the church to judge? (By). This is a rhetorical question and an affirmative answer. That is, if any man is called a brother (v. 11), were to judge him. And if he would not repent of his sin they were to put him away from them (v. 13), that is, withdraw fellowship from him. This form of discipline is possible, practical, and profitable with a brother in Christ, but impossible, im­ practical, and unprofitable with those in the world (vv. 9-11). The church’s power of discipline is limited to its own membership.

1 Corinthians 5:13 But them that are without - But outsiders (By). Those outside the church; the unsaved. God judgeth. - Christians have the divine obligation to administer discipline to sinful church members, but they must leave those in the world for God to judge. This is said in view of vv. where the command not to keep company with the sinful is limited to a brother who is being disciplined. Discipline of those in the world is not the prerogative of the church. God will take care of that (now through the instrument of civil govern­ ment and then through His own righteous judgment). Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. Expel that wicked per­ son from your own company (BV). That is, withdraw your fellowship, social and spiritual, from the fornicator mentioned in v. 1. The principle here would apply to any of the sins in the category mentioned in v. 11. This may be adapted from Deuteronomy 17:7, where the Israelites were to put evil away from among them by putting idolaters to death. By connecting the two incidents, Paul emphasizes the seriousness of withdrawing fellowship. It meant that the one withdrawn from was recognized as spiritually dead.

Verse 10

1Co 5:10

1 Corinthians 5:10

not at all meaning with the fornicators of this world,— He now modifies the command so as to apply to fornicators in the church and not to those in the world.

or with the covetousThe covetous are those who seek to obtain what is another’s in an unlawful way. The man who sacrifices honesty to the acquisition of wealth is heinous in the sight of God. He cannot be a Christian and should not be recognized as such.

and extortioners,—An extortioner is one who by power or threats takes what is not his own or more than is right. The man who takes advantage of another’s poverty, or his necessi­ties, to obtain exorbitant gain, is an extortioner.

or with idolaters;—Prior to the preaching of the gospel in Corinth, by Paul, all the inhabitants therein, with the excep­tion of a few Jews, were idolaters.

for then must ye needs go out of the world:—He did not mean to so treat those guilty of the sins just mentioned. They were so common among the people that if they refused to associate with them it would be like going out of the world, withdrawing as a recluse, having no association or dealing with mankind.

Verse 11

1Co 5:11

1 Corinthians 5:11

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, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no, not to eat.—Personal association with those claiming to be Christians guilty of these sins is prohib­ited. [Christians must tolerate no such sins among them­selves; they must exclude from the social circle any one who, bearing the name of Christ, indulges in these vices of the heathen world. The church is to be the light of the world and not the recipient of the world’s darkness.]

The question is sometimes raised as to whether the eating means the Lord’s Supper or a common meal. The context plainly shows that it means the latter. The association here forbidden with the sinner calling himself a Christian is per­mitted to men of the world guilty of the same sins. But we are not permitted to eat the Lord’s Supper with the sinners without. Therefore, this cannot refer to the Lord’s Supper, but must refer to an ordinary meal. Then, too, to eat a com­mon meal with a man was to acknowledge him as a worthy equal. The Jews would not eat with the publicans and sin­ners, and strongly condemned Jesus for doing so.

Verse 12

1Co 5:12

1 Corinthians 5:12

For what have I to do with judging them that are with­out?—[They should have easily understood his meaning, for it was well known to them that] he had nothing to do with judging those not members of the church. [The phrase “them that are without” is frequently used by Paul (1 Thessalonians 4:12; Colossians 4:5), and their awful condition he graphically describes as follows: “Ye were at that time separate from Christ, alien­ated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12).]

Do not ye judge them that are within?—As churches they were to look after and deal with those within that they might be kept from evil influences. [Their own practice should have saved them from misunderstanding him. It is possible that his meaning had been purposely wrested by interested persons to bring discredit upon his teaching concerning fornicators.]

Verse 13

1Co 5:13

1 Corinthians 5:13

But them that are without God judgeth.—They were to leave those without to the judgment of God.

Put away the wicked man from among yourselves.—In pur­suance of the truth set forth here, he commands them to put from them this wicked person, who had taken his own father’s wife. There was no choice left the church. It must do just what Paul under the guidance of the Spirit directed them to do. There was no voting, but obedience to plain directions in carrying out the case.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 Corinthians 5". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/1-corinthians-5.html.
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