corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

1 Corinthians 5

 

 

Introduction

FIRST CORINTHIANS CHAPTER FIVE

OUTLINE AND COMMENTARY-MARK DUNAGAN

I. OUTLINE OF CHAPTER FIVE:

I. Condemnation of a relaxed attitude towards sin:

II. An illustration from leaven/passover:

III. Correcting a misunderstanding:

II. INTRODUCTION TO CHAPTER FIVE:

"The abruptness with which this subject is introduced suggests that the report has just reached Paul"s ears." [Note: _ F.F. Bruce p. 53]

"In this passage Paul is dealing with what, for him, was an ever recurring problem. In sexual matters the heathen did not know the meaning of chastity. The heathen took their pleasure when they wanted it and where they wanted it..it was so difficult to unlearn the practices which generations of loose-living had made part of their lives; and yet if the Church was to be kept pure they must say a final good-bye to the old heathen ways." [Note: _ Barclay pp. 48-49]

"In this chapter, Paul began his discussion of morality which he continued through chapter six...In these two chapters, we get a little deeper insight into the everyday struggle between Christianity and first-century paganism." [Note: _ Willis p. 157]

Point to Note:

So often the New Testament deals with the abuse of sex. "Fornication" is often the first sin mentioned in various sin lists. (1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:19; Colossians 3:5) And it wasn"t that first century Christians were sexually "hung up" nor because they considered this the primary sin, the "scarlet letter" as it were. Rather, fornication is so often condemned and dealt with, because the PREVAILING CULTURE didn"t see anything wrong with it! Christian"s lived in a culture that "could matter-of-factly say, "Mistresses we keep for the sake of pleasure, concubines for the daily care of the body, but wives to bear us legitimate children."" [Note: _ Fee p. 196]

III. COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER FIVE:


Verse 1

1 Corinthians 5:1 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.

"actually"-lit., wholly, altogether, generally or everywhere. (Robertson p. 111) "Indicating a common report in the Church..undoubted fact." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 807) This information has become "common" in other churches. "The word is going around", says Paul, "that fornication is going on among you!" (McGuiggan p. 61) "Everybody is talking about.."(Tay)

"reported"-they hadn"t revealed this information in their letter to him (). Paul had just written four chapters of argumentation against another problem that he had "heard" was among them (1:11). "In case any are wondering whether I might need to come with rod in hand (4:21), Paul is suggesting, "listen to what else has been reported to me about you."" [Note: _ Fee p. 199]

"fornication"-"in the Greek world simply meant "prostitution", in the sense of going to the prostitutes and paying for sexual pleasure. The Greeks were ambivalent on that matter, depending on whether one went openly to the brothels or was more discreet and went with a paramour. But the word had been picked up in Hellenistic Judaism...to cover all extramarital sexual sins and aberrations, including homosexuality." [Note: _ Fee p. 200]

"Porneia is..a quite general word for unlawful and immoral sexual intercourse and relationships..Porneia is prostitution, and porne is a prostitute...Essentially porneia is the love which is bought and sold--which is not love at all. The great and basic error of this is that the person with whom such love is gratified is not really considered as a person at all, but as a thing. He or she is a mere instrument through which the demands of lust and passion are satisfied...Porneia describes the relationship in which one of the parties can be purchased as a thing is purchased and discarded as a thing is discarded.." [Note: _ Barclay. Flesh and Spirit. p. 24]

"and such"-"immorality of a kind" (Phi)

"as is not even among the Gentiles"-"so wicked that even the heathen don"t do it." (Tay); "that even pagans condemn." (Phi); "Yes, and a fornication of such sort...as (there is) not even among the Gentiles!" (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 807)

"that one of you hath his father"s wife"-i.e. his step-mother.

"Such incest was of course condemned by the Jewish law (Leviticus 18:8; Deuteronomy 27:20). But even Corinth, moral cesspool that is was, would be scandalized by such a crime, for it was condemned alike by Greeks and Romans." [Note: _ McGarvey pp. 71-72]

"Roman attitude to a similar relationship, cf. Cicero"s Pro Cluentio 14, where a marriage between son-in-law and mother-in-law is denounced as "incredible and, apart from this one instance, unheard of."" [Note: _ F.F. Bruce p. 53]

"hath"-"the verb "to have", when used in sexual or marital contexts, is a euphemism for an enduring sexual relationship, not just a passing fancy or a "one-night stand". By his "having" her, Paul means that the brother is "living with" her sexually. What cannot be known is what had happened to the father, whether there has been divorce or death. In either case what is forbidden by all ancients, both Jewish and pagan, is the cohabiting of father and son with the same woman." [Note: _ Fee p. 200]

-"as wife..signifying to possess in marriage" (Alford p. 1000)

-"the verb (to have) can mean "to be married"; Arndt and Gingrich comment that, in this verse, it means "that someone has taken his father"s wife as his own wife." In the event that they were married, this case would prove that one can commit fornication with a marriage partner." [Note: _ Willis p. 160]

Lenski argues, "While (to have) might include marriage, we assume no marriage in this case since Roman law prohibited such unions." (p. 207) And yet such an argument falls in the face of Herod and Herodias (Mark 6:17 "because he had married her.")

The point that briefly needs to be made is: Seeing that a marriage can"t legitimize an incestuous relationship (one form of fornication), then a marriage can"t legitimize an adulterous relationship (another form of fornication). (Matthew 5:32)

"father"s wife"-Since the woman is left out of the discipline that follows, she must have been a non-Christian.


Verse 2

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

"puffed up"-"you have become arrogant" (NASV); "And you can still be proud of yourselves?" (NEB) "The word "puffed up" is a perfect verb which describes a condition which began in the past and continues." (Willis p. 161) "And are you (still) puffed up?" (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 807)

Points to Note:

Various views exist which attempt to explain how the Corinthians could of remained proud in view of such a sin being tolerated among them.

1. Many feel that the Corinthians were actually "proud" about what the man was doing. "Some have conjectured that the sinner was a rich man to whom the church showed respect of persons." (Willis p. 161) "Were they smirking about the case? At the nerve of the fellow? Were they just amused by the whole thing?." (McGuiggan p. 61) Or was this man being justified because he was the leader of one of the "I am" parties? Or did some in the church have a misunderstanding of Christian liberty? " That this was rather a fine assertion of Christian liberty, of emancipation from Jewish law and Gentile convention alike." (F.F. Bruce p. 54)

2. Or was Paul simply rebuking the "pride" of this congregation in general? The "pride" which had been manifested in their divisions. "You think you"re a great church, but just look at you!" (McGuiggan p. 61) "And in spite of this incest in your midst, you continue to hold your heads high toward me as you have been doing?"

3. Pride blinds one to reality. The book of Proverbs often warns one of the consequences of becoming arrogant, "When pride comes, then comes dishonor.."; 13:10 "Through presumption comes nothing but strife.."; 16:18 "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling"; 29:23 "A man"s pride will bring him low.."

"Whatever the actual relationship of their pride to the incest, it has blinded them both to the fallen brother"s true condition and to their own." [Note: _ Fee p. 202]

Here is a warning for us: An abundance of talented members and spiritual gifts, didn"t keep habitual sin from being practiced in the church at Corinth. The need for church discipline will never cease! Even in the most talented of congregations, with great speakers (Apollos and Paul), and excellent teaching programs, some members (since man has a free-will) will still fall into sin.

Sometimes congregations feel embarrassed when they have to withdraw from a member, they feel that they have failed, or that such sin being found among them, reflects negatively on the congregation as a whole. Paul didn"t have that view. Paul said the shameful thing, is to allow it to go on unchecked.

"and did not rather mourn"-"The verb "filled with grief" probably refers to the kind of "mourning", that deep anguish of soul frequently related to true repentance...mourning is the proper response to such sin in their midst." [Note: _ Fee pp. 202-203]

Mourning is the proper response toward sin (Matthew 5:4; James 4:9 "Be miserable and mourn and weep..")

Points to Note:

1. Why "mourn"? Because the man is spiritually dead in such sin! (Ephesians 2:1-3) Because the practice of sin sides you will the Devil (1 John 3:4-12).

2. All commanded "mourning" for sin, infers the existence of eternal punishment! Why mourn for the sinner, if there is nothing to fear after death? Why mourn for the sinner, if "God will save them anyway?"

"Rather than being tolerant of the evil or Stoic toward the loss of a brother or sister, the church should be mourning over what has happened. However, this grief is not a passive grief; it leads to a corresponding action." (Willis p. 161)

3. We forget the damage that this sin might have been doing to the influence of the Church in Corinth.

"Such..would bring the Church and the gospel into public disrepute; many people were only too ready to believe the worst about Christian morality, and this would provide them with material ground for their suspicions." [Note: _ F.F. Bruce p. 54]

When we continue in a sinful practice, or hold on to a sinful attitude, we are only giving the world "one more reason" why they shouldn"t become a Christian. (1 Timothy 5:14)

"he that had done this deed"-apparently, only the man in this incestuous relationship was a Christian.

"might be taken away from among you"-"They should have withdrawn from him! Confess that his sin was horrible. Admit that it was outrageous." (McGuiggan p. 62)

"might"-to me this infers that the church in Corinth wasn"t ignorant concerning "church discipline". They knew the truth on the subject, Paul or Apollos had taught them well. They had simply refused to act.

Point to Note:

Here is a good place to test the theory of situation ethics. Apparently some members in Corinth were trying to theologically justify this man. And that"s not hard to imagine. We can almost hear them now, "But they"re so much in love", "We just had them over last night, and they are such a darling couple", "Her mother said that she has never seen her daughter happier."

One the other hand, the church is often blasted for "assuming the worst". Christian"s who assume that an unmarried couple are involved in fornication because they are living in the same house and are sharing the same bed, are rebuked for having dirty minds. Well, what did Paul think about this situation? This same writer who later would say, "Love believes all things" () including believing the best about others, didn"t have his head in the sand. The apostle was a man, a man with all the same desires found in other men (1 Corinthians 9:27), a man who wasn"t born yesterday!

In summation, Paul"s attitude is, "Call it what you want, but it"s still fornication, and the fornication needs to be removed right now!"

"An easy-going attitude to sin is always dangerous. It has been said that our own security against sin lies in our being shocked at it..When we cease to take a serious view of sin we are in a perilous position. It is not a question of being critical and condemnatory. It is a question of being wounded and shocked and hurt. It was sin that crucified Jesus Christ." [Note: _ Barclay p. 49]


Verse 3

1 Corinthians 5:3 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,

"For I verily"-"For my part" (Nor) "Which stands in contrast to "and you are puffed up"..In contrast to the Corinthians..who..have done nothing, not even mourned the man"s sin. Paul takes decisive action." (Fee p. 203)

"being absent in body but present in spirit"-although physically absent. "This type of speech is still considered perfectly normal. Whenever someone whom we love is experiencing some kind of problem, we say, "I am thinking about you" or "I"ll be with you."" (Willis p. 162)

"have already..judged him"-"and my judgement..is already given" (NEB) "Without waiting till you should act or till I could come." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 808)

"The perfect (judged) conveys the idea that Paul judged the case and that this judgement stands..Paul intends to say that the case is so clear in every respect that he finds no reason to hesitate regarding the verdict..that is settled." (Lenski pp. 209-210)

"Paul didn"t need to be present to make a judgement on this matter...This lets us know that reliable evidence is equivalent, for assessment purposes, to personal experience. The reliable word of reliable witnesses puts the jury in possession of what the eye-witness saw." [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 62]

Paul now describes "how" such judgement is to be executed.


Verse 4

1 Corinthians 5:4 in the name of our Lord Jesus, ye being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus,

"in the name of our Lord Jesus"-The authority for this action doesn"t originate with Paul. Jesus Himself commands that the following action be taken. (2 Thessalonians 3:6) So much for those that claim withdrawal doesn"t manifest the love of Jesus. What doesn"t manifest love for Jesus is persisting in sin! Jesus commanded that such action be taken. (Matthew 18:15-17)

"ye being gathered together"-i.e. such action was to take place in the assembly. "But the action is not to be Paul"s alone; nor is it to be understood as some sort of ecclesiastical tribunal. Rather, it is to be a community action." (Fee p. 206)

"Church discipline, therefore, must be done in the full assembly of the church. Several reasons are given for this, such as (1) that the rest may fear (1 Timothy 5:19), (2) that the sinner might be publicly exposed, i.e. all the congregation knows where he stands (Romans 16:17-18), and (3) That the whole church might put forth an effort to restore him (Matthew 18:17)" (Willis p. 164)

"and my spirit"-lest someone question this action, Paul gives his full approval.

"with the power of our Lord Jesus"-"Disfellowshipping is not a man"s idea; it"s God"s idea!..But no one can call Jesus his Lord if he refuses to submit to him in any area..The decision to sever the transgressor is made in heaven and it is carried out by God"s agents on earth, the Church..and such an execution of the Lord"s command is to be honored by the whole congregation...to drink only as much of the cup God gives you as you like is hardly the way of Christ." [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 62]

"Therefore, church discipline should not be lightly scoffed at as if it were the presumptive act of a group of arrogant people." (Willis p. 164)

Church discipline rightly administered, has the full approval of heaven behind it!


Verse 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.

"deliver"-3860. paradidomi {par-ad-id"-o-mee}; from 3844 and 1325; to surrender, i.e yield up, intrust, transmit: -betray, bring forth, cast, commit, deliver (up), give (over, up), hazard, put in prison, recommend.

"unto Satan"-"What a terrifying phrase is that..the man was already in Satan"s possession. Withdrawal is simply the formal declaration by the visible community of what has already taken place in the invisible realm..withdrawal suggests our stepping back and leavingt the man alone." [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 62]

"More likely, the language means to turn him back into Satan"s sphere." (Fee p. 209)

Withdrawal is the acceptance of the "reality" of the case. This man because of his selfishness, belongs to Satan"s kingdom, and not God"s. Act like it. Treat him as such.

"for the destruction of the flesh"-"that what is sensual in him may be destroyed" (TCNT).

Points to Note:

1. Many commentators take this phrase to refer to some physical sickness or disease that Satan is allowed to inflict upon the withdrawn from. Even to the point of physical death. Job, Ananias and Sapphira and Paul"s thorn in the flesh are all cited as examples. But neither Job nor Paul were being withdrawn from. And "that the spirit may be saved", wasn"t the end result of the punishment visited upon Ananias and Sapphira, not to mention God brought that judgement, not Satan.

2. Some of the "once saved always saved" school of thinking, believe that this passage is teaching that if a child of God is going to go into sin, God will cause that person to be killed before they have a chance to forfeit their salvation. Problems: (1) How does a persons own death "save their spirit"? Or, does one"s own blood also atone for one"s own sins? I thought only the blood of Christ could atone for sins (John 1:29). (2) The man in this chapter doesn"t fit the above scenario. For he "hath" his father"s wife (he"s past the stage of merely thinking about it), this man is already "lost". (3) The only path to salvation that I find in the bible, runs directly through repentance. (2 Peter 3:9; Romans 2:4-5; Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9-10) (3) Such would also teach that God saves some people "against their will".

"It is especially difficult to see how an expected result of death can be understood as remedial." (Fee p. 210)

"The further instruction in verse 11, that they are not to associate with this man, not even to eat with him, implies that no immediate death is in purview." (Fee p. 212)

In addition, the man wasn"t killed, for he repented (2 Corinthians 2:5-11).

3. "Flesh" here must mean something different from the body. For sin doesn"t originate in the body, but in the heart. (Mark 7:20-23)

"may"-the "destruction of the flesh" and the "spirit being saved", are hoped for results. This is a key word to understanding the whole verse. Withdrawal can take place and neither result happen. Since the "spirit being saved" depends upon the attitude of the sinner, therefore, the "destruction of the flesh", must be something that the sinner being withdrawn from must allow to happen in their life.

I think Barclay has a good grasp of this verse, "it was to humiliate the man, to bring about the taming and the eradication of his lusts so that in the end his spirit should be saved. It was to bring him to his senses, to make him see the enormity of the thing that he had done." (p. 50)

"The hope is that he will feel the loneliness of isolation, recognize the heinousness of his wrong, repent and return." (McGuiggan p. 63)

Right now, the man in this chapter has a problem. His "lust" for his father"s wife. Withdrawal "tests" a persons love for a certain sin or lifestyle. Do you love it to the point that you would give up your brethren for it? Their association and encouragement? Withdrawal visibly reminds the sinner, "this sin is costing you your soul"! An eternity in hell is the price you are paying for this pleasure. How appealing does it look now? The hope is that such a withdrawal by the whole congregation will "force" the man to seriously evaluate the "price" he is paying for his pleasure. Many Christians, turned from the world in the first place, when they finally realized the "high price" of sin (Romans 6:23). Sin can lose it"s attractiveness when it really starts to demand sacrifices of us-i.e. our health, family, children, spouses, etc...Fornication loses it"s attractiveness when you catch a sexually transmitted disease, drugs and alcohol lose their appeal when they"re about to cost you your family or job. But sadly, not for everyone. You must allow such to happen.

I think Fee has some good thoughts, when he says, "was the destruction of what was "carnal" in him.."Flesh" means the whole person as oriented away from God. The "destruction" ..(of the flesh)..would thus belong to the same kind of imagery as in "crucifying" it (Galatians 5:24; Romans 7:5-6)" (p. 212)

Before we move on, Fee in his commentary gives us an insight to the frustration that the denominational world has with the application of these verses:

"In a day when the church tolerates every kind of sin ("because we who are sinners must not be judgmental"), the need for discipline..is perhaps greater than ever....Finally, the great problem with such discipline in most Christian communities in the Western world is that one can simply go down the street to another church. Not only does that say something about the fragmented condition of the church at large, but it also says something about those who would quickly welcome one who is under discipline in another community.." p. 214


Verse 6

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

"Your glorying is not good"-"Your pride in your church is lamentably out of place" (Phi); "Your boasting is unseemly" (TCNT) "It is blind and stupid of you to be rejoicing in your teachers and in your spiritual attainments while you are tolerating such shameless sin." (Erdman p. 65) "They were so wrapped up in themselves that they tolerated this immorality." (Willis p. 168) "Not the act (of boasting), but the subject of boasting; namely, the condition of the Corinthian church." (Vincent p. 211) "a church exposed to corruption would do well to sing in a lower key." (Fee p. 215)

"Know ye not" -"The Corinthians might reply that the offence, however shameful, was the sin of one man and therefore a little thing." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 809)

"a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?"-Like our, "one bad apple can spoil a whole barrel of them."

Points to Note:

Sin practiced and tolerated among members threatens to contaminate the whole church. (a) Because toleration can be seen viewed as "we are giving our approval", hence we encourage people to sin. (Romans 1:32) (b) Once one sin is tolerated, others will voice "their rights" to exist in the church. ***Remember this in the homosexual debate. Once homosexuality gains acceptance in the church, pedophiles will (and are) arguing for their "rights" to be fellowshipped.

Paul begins a figure of speech which is based on the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread.


Verse 7

1 Corinthians 5:7 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:

"Purge out the old leaven"-"On the eve of the first day of the Passover feast the Israelites were compelled to remove from their houses all leaven." (Erdman pp. 65-66) (Exodus 12:15-20; Exodus 13:6-7)

"Purge out"-to cleanse out, to clean completely. Aorist tense of urgency, do it now and do if effectively before the whole church is contaminated. (Robertson p. 114) "A most thorough cleaning." (Lenski p. 220)

"the old leaven"-in the context this would apply to the incestuous man. But this may also be an appeal to "purge" out any "leaven" in themselves. "Paul traces the Corinthian disinclination to take action against this one vicious case to its real source, the old worldly and fleshly disposition that was carried over in their hearts from their former life." (Lenski p. 220) In this sense, it would mean something like, "put off the old man" (Ephesians 4:22)

"that ye may be a new lump"-i.e. a new batch of dough. "The first batch of dough from which new bread is made is therefore completely unleavened." (F.F. Bruce p. 56) "Make a fresh start as a new community with the contamination removed." (Robertson p. 114)

"even as ye are unleavened"-an appeal to live up to what they are! "They wore the name of Christ and he"s urging them to live up to that. They have been delivered by the innocent blood of their Passover lamb, it"s about time they acted on that standing." (McGuiggan p. 63)

"for our passover also hath been sacrificed, even Christ"-Christ is the passover lamb for Christians. But before the passover lamb was to be sacrificed, all the leaven was to be purged from the house (Exodus 12:15). Paul"s point is, "Our passover lamb, Christ has already been slain, but you still have leaven in your houses! He is urging them to withdraw from the sinner now! "The passover lamb has already been killed, Paul implies, but the leaven has not yet been removed; make haste therefore and remove it!" (F.F. Bruce p. 57)


Verse 8

1 Corinthians 5:8 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.

"let us keep the feast"-The original Passover feast was followed by the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread. (Exodus 23:15; Exodus 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:3) "Let us keep on keeping the feast, a perpetual feast." (Robertson p. 114) "Continued action" (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 810)

Point to Note:

The Whole Christian life is likened to the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This demands that "joy" is found in serving God. (Philippians 3:1) But this "feast" we are to keep without "leaven" (sinful ways and attitudes).

"not with old leaven"-"leaven of former days." (TCNT) "The disposition of the person prior to regeneration..the dispositions of the old man." (Willis p. 170) "This at least includes an elimination of the kinds of sexual immorality represented by the excluded man." (Fee p. 219) An appeal to get rid of any remains from the old lifestyle in sin. (Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:5-10)

"neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness"-"Vicious disposition and evil deed." (Robertson p. 114); "the leaven which is vice and wickedness." (Alford p. 1003) "These two words are synonyms, which gather under their umbrella every form of iniquity." (Fee p. 219)

"Both appertain to the case of the man whom the Corinthians should have expelled as well as to their evil way of taking no action whatever in this case." (Lenski p. 223)

"of sincerity and truth"-"the purity of heart..to which all sympathy with evil is completely foreign." (Willis p. 171) "Purity and honesty of intent" (Phi); "of unadulterated truth" (Phi)

"truth"-"the inner desire for divine reality which tolerates and accepts no shams." (Lenski p. 223)

"In an age in which ethics is too often modified to fit one"s present cultural existence--these words need once more to be heard distinctly in the church. Christ has died for us not simply to give us passage to heaven but re-create us in his own image, so that both individually and corporately we may express the character of God by the way we live in a world whose behaviour is "polished nice" but which lacks the purity and truth of the gospel. It is extremely unfortunate when God"s own people, as in this case, look more like their surroundings than they do their Lord himself." [Note: _ Fee pp. 219-220]


Verse 9

1 Corinthians 5:9 I wrote unto you in my epistle to have no company with fornicators;

"I wrote unto you in my epistle"-"Paul mentions a letter to the Corinthians we don"t have. We don"t have it because we don"t need it. It isn"t "lost". "Lost" gives the impression we were supposed to have it and can"t because it"s "lost". The God who graciously preserved for us the 66 books we have could have preserved more had it been His will. He didn"t, therefore He decided not to. There are other books alluded to in the Scriptures but there are no "lost" books." (McGuiggan p. 64)

"to have no company with fornicators"-"to stop associating with sexually immoral people." (Wms)

"company"-"to mix up with." (Robertson p. 115) "The word is compounded of "together", and "up and down among", and "to mingle". It denotes therefore, not only close, but habitual, intercourse." (Vincent p. 211)


Verse 10

1 Corinthians 5:10 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 the world:

"not at all meaning"-"I didn"t mean of course." (Phi); "I did not at all mean" (NASV)

"with the fornicators of this world, or with.."-i.e. immoral non-Christians.

Points to Note:

1. "He urged the Corinthians in that former letter not to keep company with ungodly people. They took it to mean all ungodly people. He said: "That"s not what I meant!" This makes it clear that inspired words can be misunderstood." (McGuiggan p. 64)

2. And yet, why was Paul misunderstood? Had Paul been too vague? I am persuaded, considering the track record of Paul never to leave people in the dark on issues (Galatians 5:21), that some had deliberately misunderstood what Paul had taught on this subject.

"It is probable that this misinterpretation had been used as an excuse for inaction in reference to the guilty member." [Note: _ Erdman p. 66]

"This suggests, then, that the rather abrupt introduction of the former letter is part of the present argument. Their arrogance and boasting are probably related in part to their disregard or deliberate misinterpretation of Paul"s former instructions..." (Fee p. 221)

I can just hear some in Corinth arguing, "Paul said we can"t associate with fornicators, but if that is true, then I can"t even go shopping in the market, or even go back to my job, why, such advice would force me to leave this world, HOW UNWORKABLE! You see, we can"t depend on what this man says." Some might of been trying to justify the incestuous man by an argument that would run something like, "If we are supposed to withdraw from this fornicator, then what about our associations with "all" fornicators (Christian and non-Christian). And since withdrawing from the world is unworkable, therefore we can"t withdraw from our brother either." Solomon was right, nothing new exists under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11) A modern version of this argument is, "We can"t withdraw from anyone, seeing that everyone of us sins now and then."

3. God has an "imperfect" church () withdraw from a member. This proves that the church doesn"t have to be "spotless" to exercise church discipline.

You see, this incestuous man could of argued, "Well those brethren in Corinth aren"t exactly spotless themselves, why they are divided, carnal, full of pride and are even taking each other to court. What right do they have in withdrawing from me?" God"s answer: Heaven gave them the right! () An Apostle of God told them to do so and even gave his consent. (5:4)

A great lesson is found here, the "right" to exercise discipline doesn"t reside in the "moral perfection" of a congregation. Congregations don"t earn the right to exercise church discipline, the church is always under the command of God to execute the commands in this and other passages.

"for then must ye needs go out of the world"-"you would need to get out of ..human society altogether." (Amp)

Points to Note:

1. If Jesus or Paul were upon this earth today, neither one of them would be found in a monastery. "From Paul"s point of view, the only way they can be a VIABLE alternative to the world is for them to be "in" the world, but not "of" if (John 17:15-16)." (Fee p. 223)

"Paul would of never recommended a kind of Christianity which withdrew from the world; to him Christianity was something that had to be lived out in the world...God..knows nothing of solitary religion.." (Barclay p. 52)

2. "His Master didn"t avoid the unforgiven! How in God"s name are we going to evangelize the world for Christ if we stay away from ungodly people? Sometimes were so prissy it"s nauseating! A friend of sinners, they called Christ. He wore his purity well! He wasn"t isolated, he was insulated....We work at avoiding the unforgiven and then wonder why they aren"t coming to Christ." (McGuiggan p. 64)

Matthew 5:13-16; Matthew 9:10-13; Matthew 11:18-19; Luke 15:1-2; Philippians 2:16.

Paul even allowed Christians to eat in the homes of unbelievers. (1 Corinthians 10:27)


Verse 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.

"but as it is"-"But actually" (NASV); "Now what I really meant." (Wms) We should note that Paul doesn"t stop to apologize for lack of clarity found in his previous letter. He doesn"t say, "I"m sorry, the misunderstanding on this subject was caused by my inability to write clearly." "If any one doubted the purport of the former letter, it shall be impossible to mistake my meaning now." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 812)

"keep company"-(), and further defined at the end of this verse. "Clearly signifies not to hold fraternal, friendly commerce with." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 812)

"if any that is named a brother"-"The man professes to be a Christian but lives an ungodly life." (Willis p. 174) "Those who persist in that former way of life, not those who simply struggle with former sins." (Fee p. 224) (Luke 17:3-4) "Anyone who calls himself a Christian but lives in sexual sin." (Beck)

"fornicator"-"The root cause of sexual immorality is a wrong view of man. In the end it views men as beasts; it declares that the passions and instincts which they share with the beasts must be shamelessly gratified. It regards the other person merely as an instrument through which that gratification can be obtained..if men regarded themselves and others as the sons and daughters of God then moral laxity would automatically be banished from life." [Note: _ Barclay pp. 52-53]

"covetous"-"a miser" (Nor) "The more surprising items are "the greedy and swindlers", surprising because to our way of thinking such sins seem less egregious (yes I had to get the dictionary out on this one too, it means "remarkably bad, flagrant") than sexual immorality or idolatry...means not just to desire what is not one"s own, but often carries the sense of carrying through on the desire to the point of defrauding or taking advantage of someone else." (Fee pp. 223-224)

"If we judge things by purely material standards there is no reason why we should not judge them by the standard of self-interest, there is no reason why we should not dedicate our lives to the task of getting. But Christianity introduces the spirit into life which looks outwards and not inwards. It makes love the highest value in life and therefore service the greatest honour. When the love of God is in a man"s heart he will find his joy not in getting but in giving." (Barclay p. 53)

"an idolater"-"There was idolatry. Ancient idolatry paralleled in modern superstition...it is a basic rule of life that a man must worship something. (Romans 6:13; Romans 6:16) And unless he worships the true God he will worship the gods of luck and chance. Whenever religion grows weak superstition grows strong." (Barclay p. 53)

"It should be noted that all three of these sins--sexual immorality, idolatry, and greed--were particularly prevalent in the Corinth of the mid-fifties A.D." (Fee p. 224)

"reviler"-"a man with a foul tongue." (Phi) "Covers all forms of verbal abuse--to malign, revile, slander--and reflects the kind of coarse talk often associated with the rabble." (Fee p. 225) "the foul-mouthed abuser of others." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 812)

"drunkard"-"Notice that the New Testament does not treat drunkenness as a sickness, but as a sin." (Willis p. 175)

Considering the fact, that "the pagan world in general had very little to say in a negative way about drunkenness, except as it led to other vices--violence, public scolding of servants, unseemly sexuality." (Fee p. 225) This demonstrates that right and wrong are not determined by the culture in which one lives.

"extortioner"-"thief" (Phi); "swindler" (Nor)

Point to Note:

Since other sins, which are not mentioned here, also are said to exclude one from heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 21:8). The above specific sins, are not the only sins that one can be withdrawn from for. Any persisted in sin, can become grounds for withdrawal. (Matthew 18:15 ff)

"not to eat"-"It is arguable that limiting it to the Lord"s Table would make the "not even" unnecessary, that is, one may assume that he would not partake of the Table; they are "not even" to carry on ordinary social intercourse with him." (Fee p. 226) (2 John 1:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:14)


Verse 12

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

"what have I to do with judging them that are without?"-"Is it my business to judge those who are outside the church?" (Beck) "General moral assessments might be made on the pagan world".

(Romans 1:18 ff; Ephesians 5:11-12; 1 Peter 4:3-5). (F.F. Bruce p. 59)

"without..within"-there is no middle ground. Your either saved or lost, believer or unbeliever.

"Do not ye judge them that are within?"-"But surely it is your business to judge those who are inside the church." (Phi) "Since you yourselves only judge those who are members of the church, why do you expect me to judge beyond this limit?" (Willis p. 176)


Verse 13

1 Corinthians 5:13 But them that are without God judgeth. Put away the wicked man from among yourselves.

"God judgeth"-those who haven"t accepted Christ, are already under God"s judgement. (John 3:36; Mark 16:16)

"the wicked man"-"It is your plain duty to expel from your church this wicked man!" (Phi)

Points to Note:

1. Calling sin by it"s proper name or designation, always helps in the fight against it. (Genesis 39:9) How different is God"s view from man"s view. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

From a human viewpoint, some might of called the incestuous man, "lonely, confused, or in love." God looked at the same man, and saw nothing but "wickedness", i.e. extreme selfishness. (Note: God"s view of David after he had sinned- 2 Samuel 12:1-7)

Let"s never forget that people can act "wickedly". And people who persist in sin cannot be "excused".

2. "It does not take too much observation to note that all too often the opposites have tended to prevail in the church. On the one hand are those who advocate the strictest separation from the world, but who allow many of the sins Paul condemns in vv. 10-11 to thrive in their midst. On the other hand are many who adopt the Corinthian attitude almost totally, usually on the basis that "all are sinners, after all". Thus they live in the world as those who would also be of the world, so that the distinctions between those "inside" and those "outside" are razor-thin, if they exist at all." [Note: _ Fee p. 227]

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 5:4". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/1-corinthians-5.html. 1999-2014.

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