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Bible Commentaries

James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary

1 Corinthians 5

 

 

Verses 1-20

SANCTITY OF THE HUMAN BODY

One of the demoralizing things reported to Paul was the incest dealt with in chapter 5, and aggravated by the fact that the church instead of excommunicating the offender had become “puffed up” over it! His was an illustration of what their worldly wisdom in the Gospel had resulted in (1 Corinthians 5:1-2). Paul had already “judged” this person and directed the church to come together and solemnly deliver him “to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” This means (1) that Satan is an executioner of Divine punishment upon the saints in the present time, the saints who live in disobedience; (2) that the church, considered as the body of Christ, has the authority to deliver such an one into his hands for that purpose; (3) that the punishment is limited to the flesh, the human body, and cannot touch the soul; and (4) that the object is to affect the soul indirectly, by bringing the disobedient to repentance, confession, and the experience of that spiritual cleansing which will be the means of keeping him saved “in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ” (see Luke 13:16; 2 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Timothy 1:20). In other words, the punishment is the means of grace necessary to retain such a saint in the fellowship of God (1 Corinthians 5:3-5). Note “destruction” in 1 Corinthians 5:5, which is the Greek word used in 1 Thessalonians 5:3, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, 1 Timothy 6:9, etc., and does not mean annihilation. The bearing of this is important on the subject of the future retribution of the wicked.

But before leaving the case of incest note the warning (1 Corinthians 5:6-7), the exhortation (1 Corinthians 5:8), and the added instruction (1 Corinthians 5:9-13). To permit sin to remain in the church unrebuked would mean the spread of it. The church was “unleavened” in that all who truly belonged to it had their guilt purged away by the sacrifice of Christ, therefore let them see to it that what was true of their legal standing before God, become true in actual experience. Paul had written them an earlier epistle of which we have no further record, but in which he had warned them not to keep “company with fornicators.’ This did not mean that they could shun such in the necessary business of the world, but that they must do so in the fellowship of the church. They were not expected to act as judge in regard to the people of the world, but it was their duty to do so in the church, hence the excommunication of this “wicked person” was demanded.

The allusion to “judging” brings up the question of lawsuits in chapter 6. Saints should not bring their disputes before the world’s courts because of the incongruity of it (1 Corinthians 6:2-4). The language gives a most exalted conception to the dignity of the church when she shall be reigning with Christ in the ages to come. During the time being however, could they not find men among them competent to judge between their brethren? And if not, were it not better to suffer wrong?

There is ground for thinking that the law suit eliciting this rebuke, was linked in some way with the incest under consideration, as Paul now returns to the subject of the sanctity of the human body. The body is holy, (1) because in the sight of God it is washed, sanctified and justified. Therefore, while certain liberty in the use of it might be allowable to a Christian, it were inexpedient to press that liberty for the reason (as in Romans 14), that it would bring him under the power of carnality (1 Corinthians 6:9-12). But the body is holy, (2) because it is the Lord’s. The worldly-minded Greeks considered the law of adjustment as settling the matter. Meats were for the belly, and so the belly must have been made for meats, on which principle they would justify the gratification of any bodily passion. But meats and the physical organ to receive and assimilate them were temporary and would be destroyed, while the body in its essentiality would be raised from the dead. This was true because our bodies are the members of Christ who was raised from the dead. How could we employ the body in fornication under such circumstances (1 Corinthians 6:13-18)? Finally, the body is holy, (3) because it is the temple of the Holy Ghost, for which reason, and because we “are bought with a price” we are to glorify God in our body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). It is not the seventh commandment which the apostle invokes in this case, but the sacredness of the believer’s new relationship to Jesus Christ.

QUESTIONS

1. What is the sin dealt with in this lesson?

2. What is the teaching of 1 Corinthians 5:4-5?

3. What may be learned from the use of “destruction” in 1 Corinthians 5:5?

4. What is the meaning of “unleavened”?

5. What allusion shows the great dignity of the church?

6. Of what three grounds is the body holy?

7. What is the meaning of 1 Corinthians 6:13?

 


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Bibliography Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 5:4". The James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jgc/1-corinthians-5.html. 1897-1910.

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