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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
1 Corinthians 5



Verses 1-13

Paul Passes Judgment in the Church - In 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 Paul passes judgment in the church of Corinth over an issue of a member being involved in fornication. In the following passages of this section Paul gives them their basis for judging among themselves ( 1 Corinthians 6:1-11), and then explains why fornication must be judged ( 1 Corinthians 6:12-20).

Paul's Reference to a Previous Epistle - In 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 Paul refers to an earlier letter in which he gave the Corinthians instructions about fornicators. Evidently, this epistle was misunderstood and needed further clarification. Paul had intended on warning these young converts to make a clear demarcation between their heathen neighbours and their fellow believers. Corinth was a city renowned for immorality and Paul needed them to understand that the Christian faith demanded a difference in lifestyle. However, Paul's point in this letter was to disassociate themselves with any church member who was practicing fornication. He takes time in 1 Corinthians 5:10-13 to explain that he did not tell them to disassociate with the heathen entirely, but rather, with such believers who lived like the heathen. This leads Paul to make the strong statement in 1 Corinthians 5:13 to "put away from among yourselves that wicked person" in dealing with fornication within the church.

1 Corinthians 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father"s wife.

1 Corinthians 5:1 — "It is reported commonly" - Comments- This means that it is a report that is "shared by all." It is confirmed. Paul is not speaking on something that is simply gossip hearsay. But it has been based upon many witnesses. This is a good lesson for us to learn that before we go making accusations to others. We had better be sure that our accusations are true.

1 Corinthians 5:1 — "that one should have his father"s wife" - Scripture References- Note other passages referring to this issue:

Genesis 35:22, "And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father"s concubine: and Israel heard it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve:"

Genesis 49:3-4, "Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father"s bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch."

Leviticus 18:8, "The nakedness of thy father"s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father"s nakedness."

Deuteronomy 22:30, "A man shall not take his father"s wife, nor discover his father"s skirt."

Amos 2:7, "That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane my holy name."

1 Corinthians 5:1Comments- This report of fornication within the church at Corinth came from the delegates who had come from Corinth to visit Paul. Note that he did not mention the names of these delegates when confronting the church with this bad report so as to avoid carnal church members from blaming a particular person. In fact, Paul does not even disclose how he received this report about them.

Many ancient cities were dedicated to gods or goddesses, whose people believed that they received the watchful care of their patron god. As Athens was dedicated to Minerva, and Ephesus to Diana, so was Corinth dedicated to Venus, the goddess of love. The temple of Venus was located on the northern slope of the Acrocorinth, a mountain about a half mile in height and covered with temples and houses. The temple of Aphrodite (her Roman name was now Venus) was again Revelation -staffed by hundreds of female slaves who were dedicated to her worship. Archaeologists have recovered some of their flutes which they used various forms of entertainment. Thus, we can imagine how easily this sin could make its way into the church at Corinth.

1 Corinthians 5:2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

1 Corinthians 5:3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,

1 Corinthians 5:3 — "but present in spirit" - Illustration:

2 Kings 5:26, "And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?"

Scripture Reference- Note also:

Colossians 2:5, "For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ."

1 Corinthians 5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,

1 Corinthians 5:4"when ye are gathered together" - Comments- The prayer of agreement and believing together in one accord is not limited by time nor distance as shown here. Paul came in agreement when he wrote this epistle. The Corinthians came in agreement when they heard and responded to the letter weeks later. Paul was not in the same city with them. This supports the reason why a television minister can pray in agreement with the viewers (distance) and even the rerun can touch lives (time).

1 Corinthians 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

1 Corinthians 5:5 — "To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh" - How is this done? See Matthew 18:15-20.

Matthew 18:18-20, "Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

Illustration- Compare to story of Achan's sin in Joshua 7:1-26

Joshua 7:11, "Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which 1Commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff."

The sin of Achan affected the entire "church in the wilderness."

1 Corinthians 5:5 — "that the spirit may be saved" - Comments- Note the subjunctive mood in the phrase, "that the spirit may be saved," showing that someone turned over to Satan will not always come back to Jesus in repentance. The subjunctive mood is the mood of potentiality. The person has the potential to return to the Lord, but it is not a guarantee. A person"s will to choose is always involved.

1 Corinthians 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

1 Corinthians 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

1 Corinthians 5:7 — "as ye are unleavened" - Comments- That Isaiah , just as the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is characterized as being pure…so are they to live a life of purity.

1 Corinthians 5:8 Therefore 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.

1 Corinthians 5:7-8Comments - The Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread- The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread represent Jesus' death, and the believer partaking of Him, and His shed blood. We now live lives of purity and holiness, which is represented by partaking of unleavened bread. We lay aside lives of evil, which evil is represented by eating leavened bread.

1 Corinthians 5:9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:

1 Corinthians 5:9Comments- Unfortunately, this former letter is not extant for us today.

Paul is about to explain in the next two verses that he was referring to fornicators in the church, and not those of the world.

1 Corinthians 5:10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.

1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

1 Corinthians 5:11Comments- Why deal this an individual so severely? Simply because A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." ( Galatians 5:9)

Scripture Reference- See:

Matthew 18:17, "And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican."

1 Corinthians 5:12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?

1 Corinthians 5:13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

Verses 1-40

Fornication: Sanctification of the Body to Become a Holy Vessel ( 1 Corinthians 5:1 to 1 Corinthians 7:40) - In 1 Corinthians 5:1 to 1 Corinthians 7:40 Paul deals with the topic of fornication in the church at Corinth, which emphasizes the sanctification of the flesh. The key word in this passage of Scripture is "fornication," which family of words is used twelve times in this passage of Scripture: πορνεία 5 times ( 1 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 6:13; 1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Corinthians 7:2), πορνεύω 1time ( 1 Corinthians 6:18), πόρνη 2times ( 1 Corinthians 6:15-16) πόρνος 4times ( 1 Corinthians 5:9-11; 1 Corinthians 6:9). Paul has heard about these problems within this church from reliable sources. Paul relied upon reliable sources in order to deal with these issues ( 1 Corinthians 1:11; 1 Corinthians 5:1).

1 Corinthians 1:11, "For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you."

1 Corinthians 5:1, "It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father"s wife."

Outline- Here is a proposed outline:

1. Paul Passes Judgment in the Church — 1 Corinthians 5:1-13

2. Paul Gives the Corinthians their Basis for Judging Among Themselves — 1 Corinthians 6:1-11

3. Why Fornication Must be Judged — 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

4. Marriage in the Church — 1 Corinthians 7:1-40

Comments on Section Breaks- In 1 Corinthians 7:1 to 1 Corinthians 14:40 Paul answers a number of questions that were probably handed to him by the visiting delegate from the church at Corinth. He begins his discussion on each of these topics with the same phrase, "Now concerning..." ( 1 Corinthians 7:1, 1 Corinthians 8:1, 1 Corinthians 12:1) Therefore, many scholars divide 1 Corinthians 7:1 to 1 Corinthians 14:40 into a new section because of their common introductions. However, creating such a major division at 1 Corinthians 7:1 breaks the flow of Paul's lengthy discussion on fornication, as well as the structural presentation on the sanctification of the three-fold man; spirit, soul and body.


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 5:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.

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Thursday, May 28th, 2020
the Seventh Week after Easter
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