1Corinthians 5 - Outline of 1Corinthians (MENU page)
In the previous chapters (ch. 1-4), Paul has addressed the cause and cure for divisions within the church. Believers will be perfectly joined together in one mind, where they serve in humble submission to the Lord Jesus Christ (1Cor 1:10).
     Now in ch. 5-6, Paul addresses the Corinthian church concerning specific disorders, which had come to his attention.
1. It is reported commonly [that there is] fornication {sexual immorality} among you,
and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles,
that one should have
{ie., that one of you has} his father's wife.
2 And ye are puffed up
{ie., inflated with pride}, and have not rather mourned,
that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
This was not a rumor concerning possible immorality. It was a fact which was widely known.
     Rather than grieving over this brother's sin, the local believers were proud of their tolerant attitude, for they had not considered removing him from the congregation. It seems that all of their various factions (1Cor 1:12) were united in this error, in demonstration of their spiritual immaturity. Whereas they thought their tolerance was a demonstration of freedom in Christ, in fact it demonstrated their ignorance of Scripture (eg., Lev 18:8; 20:11) and their insensitivity to the mind of Christ (1Pet 1:15,16; 1Joh 3:1-3).
3 For I verily {ie., indeed, even though}, as absent in body, but present in spirit,
have judged already, as though I were present,
[concerning] him that hath so done this deed,
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,
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.
Although physically distant, Paul was with them in his heart, due to his care for the well-being of the local church and its members (cp. Col 2:5-8).
I... have judged {GK=krino, discerned, decided, given sentence} already... him...
The man was guilty of public sin. The sin must not be ignored.
The apostle prescribed the course of action:
  1. Its Basis: "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
    This action was necessary lest the Lord's character be dishonored. Col 3:17
  2. Its Method: "...when ye are gathered together."
    Discipline of a brother is the responsibility of the congregation. See Mat 18:16-18.
  3. Its Authority: "...with my spirit, and the power of the Lord Jesus Christ."
    This action would not be easy. But it would be initiated at the apostle's command, and enabled by the power {GK=dunamis, dynamic force} of the Lord Himself. Mat 18:20
  4. Its Purpose: "...the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved..."
    The goal of church discipline is restoration of the fallen brother.
    • Exclusion from the visible body of Christ (the church congregation),
      should make the sinner aware that departure from Christ means a return to Satan's dominion (cp. Acts 26:18). God is able to use Satan as an instrument of discipline (eg., Job 2:4-7; Luk 22:31,32; 2Cor 12:7; 1Tim 1:19,20).
    • Repentance - If then, the sinner judges himself, confesses and turns from his sin,
      the Lord will forgive and restore him. 1Cor 11:31,32; 1Joh 1:8-10
    • Restoration - Rather than being condemned with the world, a restored brother
      will be among those found blameless at Christ's return. 1Cor 1:8
6 Your glorying {ie., boasting} [is] not good.
Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
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:
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.
In Scripture, 'leaven' is symbolic of evil and corruption. Just as a little leaven soon permeates the whole lump of bread dough (eg., Mat 13:33), when sin is allowed to fester in a local church, it will soon corrupt the entire congregation.
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:
The corrupting influence must be removed (v.13), to maintain the purity of the church, which Christ purified by His own blood. 1Cor 11:25
     At the original Passover, the blood of the lamb protected all, who were under it, from God's wrath (see Ex 12:3-13). The feast of unleavened bread followed immediately from this sacrifice, symbolizing the purity of the people who God had purchased for Himself (Ex 12:14,15). Likewise, Christ shed His blood to take away our sin and purify us as His own people (Joh 1:29; Titus 2:14).
Therefore let us keep the feast...
Believers are to celebrate what Christ has done for us, by living pure lives, free of malice {malicious evil} and wickedness {depraved evil}, and characterized by sincerity and truth (1Pet 2:1,2; Psa 32:2; 1Joh 3:18-21).
9. I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
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.
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
{a verbally abusive person, a slanderer},
or a drunkard, or an extortioner;
with such an one no not to eat.
12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without?
do not ye judge them that are within?
13 But them that are without God judgeth.
Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
The epistle mentioned in v.9 has been lost.
The letter mentioned in v.11, is the epistle we know as 1Corinthians.
I wrote... [in the previous epistle] not to company with fornicators.
Somehow, they failed to apply that counsel in regard to the situation addressed in the present chapter (v.1,2). Perhaps they had read that earlier message as a call to separation from the unsaved world (eg., 2Cor 6:17), without realizing the danger of worldliness within the church. Now, Paul clarifies that although believers must interact with the unsaved, as long as we remain 'in' the world, our lives are to reflect the holiness of our Lord, for being in Him, we are not 'of' the world. (See Joh 17:6,9,15-16.)
But now I have written unto you not to keep company,
if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or... with such an one no not to eat.
If a man calls himself a brother, but lives in a manner that dishonors Christ, believers are to avoid him. Rom 16:17; 2The 3:6,14
...what have I to do to judge them... that are without?...
God will judge 'them that are without' (ie., the unsaved, who are outside of Christ and His church). eg., Acts 17:31; Rom 2:16; 2Pet 2:9
     As believers proclaim God's Word, it is the Holy Spirit who convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (Joh 16:7,8). It is not the role of believers to sit in judgment of unbelievers. Yet, our way of life should confirm the Gospel message. Col 4:5; 1Thes 4:12; 1Pet 2:12; 3:16
...do not ye judge them that are within?
In many matters, believers are not to judge other believers (those who are 'within' the body of Christ). As Christ's servants, we are each accountable to Him, who alone sees our hearts. 1Cor 4:5
     Yet, where blatant sin threatens to corrupt the body of believers and bring dishonor upon our Lord, church discipline must be exercised (v.3-8). With this, Paul closes this case, by re-iterating the prescribed course of action:
Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
How did they respond to the apostle's command? See 2Cor 2:4-8.

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