1 Corinthians 5

1 Corinthians 5

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Sexual Immorality Defiles the Church

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

(ESV)


1 Corinthians 5 Commentary

by Hank Workman

It is by far some of the toughest statements Paul makes to the church.  He’s not only calling these out for allowing something to take place within the church, he’s calling them to action that is downright tough.  His words are offensive to most and in particular in this day and age of political correctness, many get their backs up.  Yes, it sounds harsh.

“I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan… Remove the wicked man from you among yourselves.”

The issue that brought such strong fatherly advice?  A man is having an incestuous relationship and is part of the congregation.  They have allowed it, winked at it if you will.  He’s a confessing Believer and yet carrying on as he is.  Not only is Paul rebuking the behavior he is concerned for the church as ‘a little leaven leavens the whole dough’ – meaning this acceptance to such blatant sin can filter through the entire church.

By no means is Paul speaking toward the people of the world who are so lost in their sin and living right out in that.  This is where many church groups have taken this concept of separating themselves from the world completely and not associating with ‘the heathen’.  How can they/we make an impact if we’ve separated ourselves from the world itself and the broken people?  We can’t.  Jesus couldn’t – which is why he focused on the ‘sinners’ and ‘least of these’ continually.  He was right there in the grime and filth of their lives and bringing hope.

No, the difference here is this man is part of the congregation.  I read in one commentary that potentially this was even a man of distinction in the community.  These thoughts are taken from some of Paul’s statements of their being puffed up and arrogant in the middle of it all.  Possibly one commentator referred, this was a person whose presence brought a ‘standing to the church’ in Corinth.  And so, this makes it even more challenging if this were to be true.  They’ve decided to allow such behavior because of his reputation rather than the reputation they are now getting as a church of compromise.

Let’s go back to Paul’s statement of handing him over to Satan.  His full statement is:  “I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

Paul’s actions are with purpose.  It is ultimately for the restoration of this man to Jesus from his sin.  As he’s not ‘paid’ for it by their acceptance, being set out of the church will bring some consequences to him.  I have a friend whose mantra always is “People get away with bad behavior because it hasn’t cost them anything.”  This is true on every level.

Paul’s actions are in the end focused on the state of the man’s soul that is lost.  He still desires the man to be saved, return to Jesus.  His second letter reveals an amazing thing.  They actually followed through with strong words toward action.  The man saw the sin that had been allowed and was repentant.  His advice was then to welcome this man back among them.  We’ll dig into that down the road.

The point or takeaway from this is as stewards and servants of Jesus Christ, we are called to not only action but also to look toward the ultimate goal of restoration.  Sometimes tough love is required.  People’s eternity is at stake.


1 Corinthians 5 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

Paul once again comes out swinging against the Corinthians for their immorality and tolerance. Interestingly, his clarification toward the end of this chapter contains a lot of insight. Paul, just like Jesus, had high expectations for those who professed to be believers.

Now I did not mean pagans who are immoral or greedy or are thieves, or who worship idols. To avoid them you would have to get out of the world completely. 11 What I meant was that you should not associate with a person who calls himself a believer but is immoral or greedy or worships idols or is a slanderer or a drunkard or a thief. Don’t even sit down to eat with such a person.

1 Corinthians 5:10-11 GNB

Many Christians apply Paul’s words to nonbelievers. They want nothing to do with the “immoral world.” The problem with this type of thinking is that it goes completely against the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations. His strongest words are for those who profess to follow Jesus but are continuing to justify their sin. In fact, he writes that we shouldn’t even sit down with such a person.

Paul’s emphasis is purity within the church, not judgment outside the church. We can expect that unbelievers will act like unbelievers. On the other hand, we can expect that believers will act like believers. When they don’t, we are told we can judge their fruit to determine if accountability is needed.

“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.  19  “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  20  “So then, you will know them by their fruits.

Matthew 7:18-20 NASB

You can certainly expect that when you confront someone who is deceived, they will make a lot of noise and refuse to listen. It is just another sign that they lack fruit in their life. A true follower of Jesus will be able to accept correction shared in love and take it into prayer. There are so many today who profess to follow Jesus but want nothing to do with accountability. I genuinely wonder how they reconcile the strong words Paul has for those who resist correction.

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