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Bible Commentaries

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
1 Corinthians 5

 

 

Verses 1-13

3. Corinthian Failures. Chapters 5-6.

CHAPTER 5

1. The Tolerated Case of Gross Immorality. (1 Corinthians 5:1-5).

2. The Call to Separation. (1 Corinthians 5:6-13).

The spiritual declension, the carnal spirit which prevailed among them, had brought forth fruit. One of their members had committed an act of the grossest immorality, which was an unspeakable outrage, such as was not even named in a licentious city like Corinth, where licentiousness of life was a broadly marked feature of society. It was a case of lawlessness and vileness, which was unknown among the heathen. And this case was tolerated in their midst. Instead of mourning over their sin they were puffed up and did not put away the evil doer from the assembly. If they lacked the personal instruction of the Apostle what to do in such a case, they should have turned to the Lord in sorrow of heart and asked Him for guidance. But they were indifferent. The Apostle now tells them what had to be done. He was among them in spirit, and exercises his apostolic authority in the name and power of the Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

“If the enemy had succeeded in drawing aside by the flesh a member of Christ, so that he dishonors the Lord by walking after the flesh as men of the world do, he is put outside, and by the power of the Spirit, as then exercised in their midst by the Apostle, delivered up to the enemy, who is in spite of himself the servant of the purposes of God (as in the case of Job), in order that the flesh of the Christian (which, from his failure to reckon himself dead to sin, had brought him morally under the power of Satan) should be physically destroyed and broken down. Thus would he be set free from the illusions in which the flesh held him captive. His mind would learn how to discern the difference between good and evil, to know what sin is. The judgment of God would be realized within him, and would not be executed upon him at that day when it would be definitely for the condemnation of those who should undergo it. This was a great blessing! although its form was terrible. Marvelous example of the government of God, which uses the adversary’s enmity against the saints as an instrument for their spiritual blessing! We have such a case fully set before us in the history of Job. Only we have here, in addition, the proof that in its normal state, apostolic power being there, the assembly exercised this judgment itself, having discernment by the Spirit and the authority of Christ to do it. Moreover, whatever may be the spiritual capacity of the assembly to wield this sword of the Lord (for this is power), her positive and ordinary duty is stated at the end of the chapter.” (Synopsis of the Bible)

The second epistle will show us how this discipline was greatly blessed to this wicked person upon whom this sentence was pronounced and who was put out of fellowship with God’s people. But not only was there individual evil, but the sin affected the whole Corinthian assembly. As Achan’s sin was a curse to Israel (Joshua 7:1-26), so the leaven of this wickedness was corrupting the whole church. Leaven is seen here once more as a type of evil. A little leaven, a little evil allowed, leavens the whole lump both individually and collectively. The Apostle demands that no evil in any form, whether moral or doctrinal, is to be tolerated among those who are Christ’s. Christ is our passover Lamb sacrificed for us. In Him all believers are constituted holy. With the passover there was inseparably linked the feast of unleavened bread, showing that redemption is holiness. As the Jew had to put away all leaven in eating the passover, so the Christian must purge out all leaven and be in an unleavened condition, in sincerity and in truth before God. Even the smallest bit of leaven, the least deviation from the truth of God, in holding some unscriptural doctrine, or any other evil, will, if not purged, ultimately leaven the whole lump. Christendom today is a solemn witness to this truth. The whole professing church is leavened by the leaven of the Pharisees (Ritualism); the leaven of the Sadducees (Higher Criticism or infidelity); the Corinthian leaven (vain glory and worldliness) and the Galatian leaven (Legalism). Then follows the command, “therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” Such discipline demanded by the Holy Spirit is almost unknown today in that which professes to be the church of God. It has been said that it is uncharitable and harsh to deal in this way with those who are evil in doctrine or practice. It is not that, but rather a gracious measure, to humble such an one and bring him back to the place of blessing.

 


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Bibliography Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 5:4". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gab/1-corinthians-5.html. 1913-1922.

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