corner graphic   Hi,    
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to

Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
1 Corinthians 5



Verse 1

Actually (ολωςholōs). Literally, wholly, altogether, like Latin omnino and Greek παντωςpantōs (1 Corinthians 9:22). So papyri have it for “really” and also for “generally” or “everywhere” as is possible here. See also 1 Corinthians 6:7. With a negative it has the sense of “not at all” as in 1 Corinthians 15:29; Matthew 5:34 the only N.T. examples, though a common word.

It is reported (ακουεταιakouetai). Present passive indicative of ακουωakouō to hear; so literally, it is heard. “Fornication is heard of among you.” Probably the household of Chloe (1 Corinthians 1:11) brought this sad news (Ellicott).

And such (και τοιαυτηkai toiautē). Climactic qualitative pronoun showing the revolting character of this particular case of illicit sexual intercourse. ΠορνειαPorneia is sometimes used (Acts 15:20, Acts 15:29) of such sin in general and not merely of the unmarried whereas μοιχειαmoicheia is technically adultery on the part of the married (Mark 7:21).

As is not even among the Gentiles (ητις ουδε εν τοις ετνεσινhētis oude en tois ethnesin). Height of scorn. The Corinthian Christians were actually trying to win pagans to Christ and living more loosely than the Corinthian heathen among whom the very word “Corinthianize” meant to live in sexual wantonness and license. See Cicero pro Cluentio, v. 14.

That one of you hath his father‘s wife (ωστε γυναικα τινα του πατρος εχεινhōste gunaika tina tou patros echein). “So as (usual force of ωστεhōste) for one to go on having (εχεινechein present infinitive) a wife of the (his) father.” It was probably a permanent union (concubine or mistress) of some kind without formal marriage like John 4:8. The woman probably was not the offender‘s mother (step-mother) and the father may have been dead or divorced. The Jewish law prescribed stoning for this crime (Leviticus 18:8; Leviticus 22:11; Deuteronomy 22:30). But the rabbis (Rabbi Akibah) invented a subterfuge in the case of a proselyte to permit such a relation. Perhaps the Corinthians had also learned how to split hairs over moral matters in such an evil atmosphere and so to condone this crime in one of their own members. Expulsion Paul had urged in 2 Thessalonians 3:6 for such offenders.

Verse 2

And ye are puffed up (και υμεις πεπυσιωμενοι εστεkai humeis pephusiōmenoi este). Emphatic position of υμειςhumeis (you). It may be understood as a question. Perfect passive periphrastic indicative of the same verb πυσιοωphusioō used already of the partisans in Corinth (1 Corinthians 4:6, 1 Corinthians 4:19, 1 Corinthians 4:20). Those of the same faction with this scoundrel justified his rascality.

Did not rather mourn (και ουχι μαλλον επεντησατεkai ouchi mallon epenthēsate). Possibly question also and note strong negative form ουχιouchi which favours it. The very least that they could have done (μαλλονmallon rather than be puffed up) was to mourn for shame (πεντεωpentheō old verb for lamentation) as if for one dead.

That he might be taken away (ινα αρτηιhina arthēi). The sub-final use of ιναhina of desired result (1 Corinthians 1:15) so common in the Koiné. First aorist passive subjunctive of αιρωairō to lift up, to carry off. Decent self-respect should have compelled the instant expulsion of the man instead of pride in his rascality.

Verse 3

For I verily (εγω μεν γαρegō men gar). Emphatic statement of Paul‘s own attitude of indignation, εγωegō in contrast with υμειςhumeis He justifies his demand for the expulsion of the man.

Being absent (απωνapōn) Although absent (concessive participle) and so of παρωνparōn though present. Each with locative case (τωι σωματι τωι πνευματιtōi sōmatiηδη κεκρικαtōi pneumati).

Have already judged (κρινωēdē kekrika). Perfect active indicative of ως παρωνkrinō I have already decided or judged, as though present (συναχτεντων υμωνhōs parōn). Paul felt compelled to reach a conclusion about the case and in a sentence of much difficulty seems to conceive an imaginary church court where the culprit has been tried and condemned. There are various ways of punctuating the clauses in this sentence in 1 Corinthians 5:3-5. It is not merely Paul‘s individual judgment. The genitive absolute clause in 1 Corinthians 5:4, ye being gathered together (συναγωsunachthentōn humōn first aorist passive participle of και του εμου πνευματοςsunagō in regular assembly) and my spirit (εν τωι ονοματι του Κυριου ημων Ιησουkai tou emou pneumatos) with the assembly (he means) and meeting in the name of our Lord Jesus (συν τηι δυναμει του Κυριου ημων Ιησουen tōi onomati tou Kuriou ̣hēmōň Iēsou) with the power of the Lord Jesus (παραδουναιsun tēi dunamei tou Kuriou hēmōn Iēsou), though this clause can be taken with the infinitive to deliver (συναχτεντωνparadounai). It makes good syntax and sense taken either way. The chief difference is that, if taken with “gathered together” (sunachthentōn) Paul assumes less apostolic prerogative to himself. But he did have such power and used it against Elymas (Acts 13:8.) as Peter did against Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1.).

Verse 5

To deliver such an one unto Satan (παραδουναι τον τοιουτον τωι Σαταναιparadounai ton toiouton tōi Satanāi). We have the same idiom in 1 Timothy 1:20 used of Hymenius and Alexander. In 2 Corinthians 12:7 Paul speaks of his own physical suffering as a messenger (αγγελοςaggelos) of Satan. Paul certainly means expulsion from the church (1 Corinthians 5:2) and regarding him as outside of the commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:11.). But we are not to infer that expulsion from the local church means the damnation of the offender. The wilful offenders have to be expelled and not regarded as enemies, but admonished as brothers (2 Thessalonians 3:14.).

For the destruction of the flesh (εις ολετρον της σαρκοςeis olethron tēs sarkos). Both for physical suffering as in the case of Job (Job 2:6) and for conquest of the fleshly sins, remedial punishment.

That the spirit may be saved (ινα το πνευμα σωτηιhina to pneuma sōthēi). The ultimate purpose of the expulsion as discipline. Note the use of το πνευμαto pneuma in contrast with σαρχsarx as the seat of personality (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:15). Paul‘s motive is not merely vindictive, but the reformation of the offender who is not named here nor in 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 if the same man is meant, which is very doubtful. The final salvation of the man in the day of Christ is the goal and this is to be attained not by condoning his sin.

Verse 6

Not good (ου καλονou kalon). Not beautiful, not seemly, in view of this plague spot, this cancer on the church. They needed a surgical operation at once instead of boasting and pride (puffed up). ΚαυχημαKauchēma is the thing gloried in.

A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (μικρα ζυμη ολον το πυραμα ζυμοιmikra zumē holon to phurama zumoi). This proverb occurs verbatim in Galatians 5:9. υμηZumē (leaven) is a late word from ζεωzeō to boil, as is ζυμοωzumoō to leaven. The contraction is regular (οειοι̇oeîoi) for the third person singular present indicative. See the parables of Jesus for the pervasive power of leaven (Matthew 13:33). Some of the members may have argued that one such case did not affect the church as a whole, a specious excuse for negligence that Paul here answers. The emphasis is on the “little” (μικραmikra note position). Lump (πυραμαphurama from πυραωphuraō to mix, late word, in the papyri mixing a medical prescription) is a substance mixed with water and kneaded like dough. Compare the pervasive power of germs of disease in the body as they spread through the body.

Verse 7

Purge out (εκκαταρατεekkatharate). First aorist (effective) active imperative of εκκαταιρωekkathairō old verb to cleanse out (εκek), to clean completely. Aorist tense of urgency, do it now and do it effectively before the whole church is contaminated. This turn to the metaphor is from the command to purge out the old (παλαιανpalaian now old and decayed) leaven before the passover feast (Exodus 12:15.; Exodus 13:7; Zephaniah 1:12). Cf. modern methods of disinfection after a contagious disease.

A new lump (νεον πυραμαneon phurama). Make a fresh start as a new community with the contamination removed. ΝεοςNeos is the root for νεανισκοςneaniskos a young man, not yet old (γηραιοςgēraios). So new wine (οινον νεονoinon neon Matthew 9:17). ΚαινοςKainos is fresh as compared with the ancient (παλαιοςpalaios). See the distinction in Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:22.; 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Unleavened (αζυμοιazumoi). Without (αa privative) leaven, the normal and ideal state of Christians. Rare word among the ancients (once in Plato). They are a new creation (καινη κτισιςkainē ktisis), “exemplifying Kant‘s maxim that you should treat a man as if he were what you would wish him to be” (Robertson and Plummer).

For our passover also hath been sacrificed, even Christ (και γαρ το πασχα ημων ετυτη Χριστοςkai gar to pascha hēmōn etuthē Christos). First aorist passive indicative of τυωthuō old verb to sacrifice. Euphony of consonants, τth to τt because of τη̇thē Reference to the death of Christ on the Cross as the Paschal Lamb (common use of πασχαpascha as Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7), the figure used long before by the Baptist of Jesus (John 1:29). Paul means that the Lamb was already slain on Calvary and yet you have not gotten rid of the leaven.

Verse 8

Wherefore let us keep the feast (ωστε εορταζωμενhōste heortazōmen). Present active subjunctive (volitive). Let us keep on keeping the feast, a perpetual feast (Lightfoot), and keep the leaven out. It is quite possible that Paul was writing about the time of the Jewish passover, since it was before pentecost (1 Corinthians 16:8). But, if so, that is merely incidental, and his language here is not a plea for the observance of Easter by Christians.

With the leaven of malice and wickedness (εν ζυμηι κακιας και πονηριαςen zumēi kakias kai ponērias). Vicious disposition and evil deed.

With the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (εν αζυμοις ειλικρινιας και αλητειαςen azumois eilikrinias kai alētheias). No word for “bread.” The plural of αζυμοιςazumois may suggest “elements” or “loaves.” ΕιλικρινιαEilikrinia (sincerity) does not occur in the ancient Greek and is rare in the later Greek. In the papyri it means probity in one example. The etymology is uncertain. Boisacq inclines to the notion of ειληheilē or εληhelē sunlight, and κρινωkrinō to judge by the light of the sun, holding up to the light. ΑλητειαAlētheia (truth) is a common word from αλητηςalēthēs (true) and this from αa privative and λητωlēthō (λατειν λαντανωlatheinlanthanō to conceal or hide) and so unconcealed, not hidden. The Greek idea of truth is out in the open. Note Romans 1:18 where Paul pictures those who are holding down the truth in unrighteousness.

Verse 9

I wrote unto you in my epistle (εγραπσα υμιν εν τηι επιστοληιegrapsa humin en tēi epistolēi). Not the epistolary aorist, but a reference to an epistle to the Corinthians earlier than this one (our First Corinthians), one not preserved to us. What a “find” it would be if a bundle of papyri in Egypt should give it back to us?

To have no company with fornicators (μη συναναμιγνυσται πορνοιςmē sunanamignusthai pornois). Present middle infinitive with μηmē in an indirect command of a late double compound verb used in the papyri to mix up with (συναναμιγνυσταιsuṅanȧmignusthai a μιmi verb). It is in the N.T. only here and 1 Corinthians 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:14 which see. It is used here with the associative instrumental case (πορνοιςpornois from περαω περνημιperaōpernēmi to sell, men and women who sell their bodies for lust). It is a pertinent question today how far modern views try to put a veneer over the vice in men and women.

Verse 10

Not altogether (ου παντωςou pantōs). Not absolutely, not in all circumstances. Paul thus puts a limitation on his prohibition and confines it to members of the church. He has no jurisdiction over the outsiders (this world, του κοσμου τουτουtou kosmou toutou).

The covetous (τοις πλεονεκταιςtois pleonektais). Old word for the over-reachers, those avaricious for more and more (πλεον εχωpleonαρπαχινechō to have more). In N.T. only here, 1 Corinthians 6:10; Ephesians 5:5. It always comes in bad company (the licentious and the idolaters) like the modern gangsters who form a combination of liquor, lewdness, lawlessness for money and power.

Extortioners (ειδωλολατραιςharpaxin). An old adjective with only one gender, rapacious (Matthew 7:15; Luke 18:11), and as a substantive robber or extortioner (here and 1 Corinthians 6:10). Bandits, hijackers, grafters they would be called today.

Idolaters (λατριςeidōlolatrais). Late word for hirelings (ειδωλονlatris) of the idols (επει ωπειλετε ουνeidōlon), so our very word idolater. See 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 10:7; Ephesians 5:5; Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15. Nageli regards this word as a Christian formation.

For then must ye needs (επειepei ōpheilete oun). This neat Greek idiom of ωπειλετεepei with the imperfect indicative (οπειλωōpheilete from ανopheilō to be under obligation) is really the conclusion of a second-class condition with the condition unexpressed (Robertson, Grammar, p. 965). Sometimes ανan is used also as in Hebrews 10:2, but with verbs of obligation or necessity Αραan is usually absent as here (cf. Hebrews 9:20). The unexpressed condition here would be, “if that were true” (including fornicators, the covetous, extortioners, idolaters of the outside world). Ara means in that case.

Verse 11

But now I write unto you (νυν δε εγραπσα υμινnun de egrapsa humin). This is the epistolary aorist referring to this same epistle and not to a previous one as in 1 Corinthians 5:9. As it is (when you read it) I did write unto you.

If any man that is named a brother be (εαν τις αδελπος ονομαζομενος ηιean tis adelphos onomazomenos ēi). Condition of the third class, a supposable case.

Or a reviler or a drunkard (η λοιδορος η μετυσοςē loidoros ē methusos). ΛοιδοροςLoidoros occurs in Euripides as an adjective and in later writings. In N.T. only here and 1 Corinthians 6:10. For the verb see note on 1 Corinthians 4:12. ΜετυσοςMethusos is an old Greek word for women and even men (cf. παροινοςparoinos of men, 1 Timothy 3:3). In N.T. only here and 1 Corinthians 6:10. Cf. Romans 13:13. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, p. 316) gives a list of virtues and vices on counters for Roman games that correspond remarkably with Paul‘s list of vices here and in 1 Corinthians 6:10. Chrysostom noted that people in his day complained of the bad company given by Paul for revilers and drunkards as being men with more “respectable” vices!

With such a one, no, not to eat (τωι τοιουτωι μηδε συνεστιεινtōi toioutōi mēde sunesthiein). Associative instrumental case of τοιουτωιtoioutōi after συνεστιεινsunesthiein “not even to eat with such a one.” Social contacts with such “a brother” are forbidden

Verse 12

For what have I to do? (τι γαρ μοιti gar moi̱). “For what is it to me (dative) to judge those without (τους εχοtous exo)?” They are outside the church and not within Paul‘s jurisdiction. God passes judgment on them.

Verse 13

Put away the wicked man (εχαρατε τον πονηρονexarate ton ponēron). By this quotation from Deuteronomy 17:7 Paul clinches the case for the expulsion of the offender (1 Corinthians 5:2). Note εχex twice and effective aorist tense.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 5:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, October 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology