October 25, 2012

Commentary on First Corinthians
By: Tom Lowe
Topic #2: The Problem of Immoral Church Members, 1 Corinthians 5.1-5.13



Lesson 3.0: The Problem With Immoral Church Members
 Scripture: 1 Corinthians 5.1-5.13

1 Cor 5.1-13 (KJV)
Section 3.0-A: The incestuous person among them (vv. 1-6)

1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.
2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
3 For I verily, 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.
6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?


Section 3.0-B: The Christian church must be purged of the contamination of sinners, and separated from pagan influences (vv.7-13)

 Part 1: Celebration

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.


Part 2: Isolation

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, 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.



This chapter is divided into two sections, 3.0-A and 3.0-B, and section 3.0-B is split into two parts; Celebration and Isolation.

Section 3.0-A

Separation (1–6). The background of the chapter is the Passover Feast (Exod. 12). The presence of the immoral man should have turned the feast into a funeral (v. 2), but the church was boasting about the sinner instead of weeping over him. Tolerating known sin in the church is like putting leaven into the Passover Feast: it does not belong.

Section 3.0-B

Celebration (7 & 8). Paul saw the Christian life as “keeping the feast” (v. 8), that is, feeding on Christ, and being sure we are not defiled by sin (leaven, yeast). The Lamb has set us free, and we are on our way to our promised inheritance!

Isolation (9–13). Sin in the life of the believer is far worse than sin in the life of an unbeliever. We cannot isolate ourselves from the world, but we can separate ourselves from disobedient believers so that God can discipline them.


Section 3.0-A: The incestuous person among them (vv. 1-6)

1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you
The apostle had taken them to task over the divisions within the Church due to the members aligning themselves with certain ministers, and now he proceeds to accuse them of immoral acts within the ranks of the membership; one of these was notorious, since the offender was not just a hearer, but was a member of the Church. What made it so aggravating to the apostle was that the people talked about the affair, but they did not do anything about it—it was still going on. Now it was a full blown scandal, people outside the church were aware of the goings on, and it was damaging the reputation of the Church.

“It is reported commonly…” or, “It is actually reported.” This particular sin that existed in the church seemed to be known by everyone; and is “commonly reported”—that is, several people reported it to him. The Greek wording suggests that it was not only reported to Paul, but that the whole assembly was buzzing with the story, particularly those who loved to gossip. At any rate, it was well known that fornication by one of the members was taking place in the church at Corinth, and it was the subject of conversation among the believers. This type of activity should not be allowed in the Church. “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints” (Eph 5:3; KJV). Not only fornication but everything of the same nature, or whatever leads to it, should be avoided—and not only avoided, but it should not even be mentioned by believers. These types of sins, in fact, all sins,  are inconsistent with the character of Christians, who as saints, people selected out of the world and consecrated to God, should forbid the very mention of them in Christian society.

and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife;
This appears to be a case where a man had sexual relations with his father’s wife; which was an unnatural act practiced by Indians, Moors, Bactrians, Ethiopians, Medes, and Persians, as reported by various writers; and among the Arabians, before it was prohibited by Mohammad; but such actions and relationships were not allowed among the Greeks and Romans, whose nations were more civil and cultivated. And where it was not permitted, it was detested and a disgrace to mention it: and if this man was a Jew, his sin was even worse, since he was not only guilty of a crime condemned by the Gentiles, but it was also a violation of a known law of God given to the Jews in Leviticus 18:7, 8—“The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness.” What is forbidden in verse 7 is marriage to one’s mother, but it shames the honor of the father because of the one flesh relationship he has had with that wife. A stepmother is in view in verse 8, because it mentions the father’s wife, not the mother. According to the Jewish writers, a man that lies with his father’s wife was doubly guilty, on account of her being his father's wife, and on account of her being another man's wife, whether in his father's life time, or after his death, and whether engaged or married; and such a one was to be stoned. This was a crime charged to a man; he had sex with his father's wife, not his own mother, but his stepmother; because a distinction is made between a mother and a father's wife. Both are to be stoned, he that lies with his mother, or with his father's wife.

This was the case that was up before the church. This was not gossip. It could be translated: “It is reported actually and factually.” This was not just a rumor that was going around. This case was common knowledge. It was fornication, a sin that was not even mentioned by the Gentiles. It was the sordid story of a man who had sex with his father’s wife, his own stepmother. Whether this man had married his father's wife, or kept her as his concubine, continuing in an incestuous cohabitation with her, is not certain, and whether his father was dead or living; which the latter seems to be the case from 2 Corinthians 7:12—“Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you”—his sin was detestable and intolerable, and by no means should it have been winked at in the church of Christ.

The fact that the word fornication is used here, instead of adultery suggests that there had been a separation or divorce. Paul does not mention the woman involved; he speaks only of the man. Evidently the woman was not a member of the congregation, but was one of “those without, whom God judgeth” (v. 13). Note, the scandalous sins of professed Christians are quickly taken notice of and noised abroad. We should walk circumspectly, for many eyes are upon us, and many mouths will be opened against us if we fall into any scandalous practice.


2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

And ye are puffed up,
The church at Corinth was in a sad spiritual state.  They were complacent and proud, they were wise in their own eyes, headstrong and conceited; and these factors had created such carnality in their thinking that the scandal in their midst had not only caused terrible damage among outsiders, but it had also damaged the entire assembly. But it was apparent that it did not bother them. They were “puffed up,” they were not bothered by the scandal, their consciences were calloused and scorched and they could not comprehend the seriousness of the sin that was going on in their midst; but it had the effect of destroying God’s glory in the church. They were “puffed up” either with the gifts, learning, and eloquence of their preachers, and particularly of this man, who, is thought by some to be one of their teachers; and though he was guilty of such a disgusting crime, yet they still respected him, and bragged that he was a wonderful preacher—or the other parties were puffed up against the party that this man belonged to, boasting that they were free from the scandal that was exposed—or the party of this man was puffed up with their own leniency and tolerance, boasting of it as an act of humanity and an example of charity, showing that they were not harsh with one another, for mistakes they make—or else they were puffed up over the thing itself, saying it was an instance of Christian liberty, and their freedom from the law—or it was a sad mistake, but one by which they might be strengthened, according to a notion by the Jews, that it was lawful for proselyte Gentiles to do such things. Maimonides says, “The sentence of the law is, that it is free for a Gentile, ‘to marry his mother’, or his sister that are made proselytes; but the wise men forbid this thing, that they may not say we are come from a holiness that is heavy, to one that is light.” I have concluded that a proselyte might marry his father's brother's wife, and his father's wife; this was the opinion of R. Akiba, who was a Rabbi contemporary with the Apostle Paul: so this notion must have prevailed in his days, and does in some measure account for the commission of such a sin by a church member, and the church's negligence about it.

When this type of sin is discovered, but not condemned and corrected, it is apparent that the Holy Ghost is either ignored or forgotten; because a believer will not deliberately say that he approves of and is a partner to sin; however, this must be the case if wickedness is known and uncondemned in the church where the Lord abides.

At that time the Corinthians had the same spirit of self-satisfaction that was prevalent in the church at Laodicea—“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev 3.17; KJV). On the spiritual side of the ledger, the Laodicean church is “the wretched one.” It is worse off than any of the seven churches. It should be pitied because of its spiritual poverty. In this church, there is no study of the Word, no love of Christ, and no witnessing of His saving grace; yet it is blind to its own true condition. It lacks the covering of the robe of righteousness.

and have not rather mourned,
This phrase is aimed at the entire body of believers, and not just the one who committed the infraction, because Paul has not detected either outrage or sadness over the affair; personally or as a body; they should have met together as a church, and humbled themselves before God for this scandalous sin perpetrated in the midst of them. We ought to mourn over the transgressions of others, and repent of our own—“And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed” (2 Cor 12:21; KJV).

that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
The sin in question was a form of incest: a professed Christian (and a member of the church) was living with his stepmother in a permanent alliance (marriage). Since Paul does not pass judgment on the woman (see vv. 9-13), we assume the woman was not a member of the church, and probably not even a Christian. This kind of sin was condemned by the Old Testament Law—“None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the LORD. The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. The nakedness of thy father's wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father's nakedness” (Lev 18:6-8; KJV). Also, “And the man that lieth with his father's wife hath uncovered his father's nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them” (Lev 20:11; KJV)—as well as the laws of the Gentile nations.

It is suggested here that if the assembly had judged this evil as they should have done, if they had mourned as they should have and had the proper attitude toward this sin, the person perpetrating this evil might have been removed by divine judgment; by the immediate hand of God, inflicting some visible punishment, and taking him away by an untimely death, which the Jews call (tyrk) , "cutting off", by the hand of God; and they say, this crime deserved such a punishment;—and if not by divine judgment, then they themselves would certainly have removed him from among their congregation. But because of the laxity of their attitude in this matter, the Corinthians did nothing to end the affair, and seemed to ignore it entirely, except for the gossip that erupted within the church and in the community outside the church. According to the Jews, there were thirty-six cuttings off in the law, or there were thirty-six things which deserved death by the hand of God; and the first two mentioned are these; he that lies with his mother or he that lies with his father's wife.

3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,

For I verily, as absent in body,
The best manuscripts read, "being absent." The apostle mentions that he is not with them, though he wishes he was. When he wrote this epistle he was at Ephesus, but by the time the letter reached the believers at Corinth he may have gone on to Philippi; however, whether he was at Ephesus or Philippi, it is certain he was not at Corinth. Paul was deeply concerned about the “goings on” within the Corinthian church, but he could not be there bodily, but in the next clause he informs them that he was present in spirit. Neither was Paul's capacity to judge, his authority to judge, or his power to execute his judgment, dependent on his bodily presence. “Since I am not personally present with you, I express my opinion in this manner—with the epistle he wrote to them. I am absent in body from you, and cannot, therefore, take those steps in regard to it which I could were I present.”

but present in spirit,
By this he means that he was with them in his affection for them, in the burden he carried for them, and in the concern he had for their well-being, and the glory of God in that church. When we put the parts of this verse together, we can hear the apostle say “My heart is with you; my feelings are with you; I have a deep and tender interest in the case of this one who is living in sin; and I judge this case as if I were personally present.” Many suppose that Paul is referring to a power which was given to the apostles, that made it possible for them, though they might be a great distance away, to discern the real circumstances of a case by the awesome power of the Holy Spirit—“For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ” (Col 2:5; KJV). He was either present in spirit by having them in mind, being fully informed of their state by Epaphras, or he was enabled by divine power to see them and observe them. The latter is the view of most commentators. I agree with this interpretation since Jesus certainly demonstrated this ability and the apostles also, on occasion. But the phrase does not demand this interpretation. Paul may have meant, that though he was absent, yet his mind and attention had been given to this subject; he felt as deeply as though he were present, and he would act in the same way. He had, in some way, been fully apprized of all the circumstances of the case, and he felt it was his duty to express his views on the subject.

Certainly the situation should have been dealt with in the very beginning. Any minister who knowingly covers up and condones sin in his congregation is not doing what the Lord would have him do, as spelled out in the Word of God.
have judged already,
Paul had considered the matter, and now his mind was made up; he knew what to do about it. When he said he was present in spirit, he does not mean simply that he was thinking of them and  the sordid details pertaining to this individual and he knew the situation within the church, since he possesses the gift of the discernment of spirits, which it is very likely the apostles in general possessed on extraordinary occasions. He had already seen this matter so clearly, that he had determined the sort of punishment which should be inflicted for this crime.

From here to the end of verse 5 we have a trial, presided over by Paul, where he passes judgment on this sinner as if he was present with them.

as though I were present,
Ideally, he would have been in Corinth to pass judgment personally and to repair the damage to this Church that the affair had caused. But since that was not possible, this letter would have to do, because it contained his judgment after having complete knowledge of the incident.  What he instructs them to do in the letter is exactly the same thing he would say to them if he were there.

concerning him that hath so done this deed;
We have here the apostle’s instructions to them on how they should now proceed with this scandalous sinner. He would have him excommunicated and delivered to Satan (v. 3-5); as absent in body, yet present in spirit, he had judged already as if he had been present; that is, he had, by revelation and the miraculous gift of discerning bestowed on him by the Holy Spirit, perfect knowledge of the case, and having all the facts of the case he had come to the following decision, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. He says this to let them know that, although he was at a distance, he did not pass an unrighteous sentence, or judge the man without having as complete an understanding of the case as if he had been on the spot. Note, those who want to appear as righteous judges to the world, will be sure to inform them that they do not pass sentence without having all the evidence. The apostle adds him that hath so done this deed. The actions of this man were not only heinously evil in itself, and horrible to the heathens, but there were some particular circumstances that greatly aggravated the offence. He had committed this evil in such a way that the shame of it was made worse. Perhaps he was a minister, a teacher, or an important man among them. This would bring the church and their profession even more criticism. Note, in dealing with scandalous sinners, not only are they to be charged with the crime, but the aggravating circumstances it creates.

What the apostle determined to do with this wicked man is expressed in verse 5 (to deliver him to Satan) which should be connected with this verse; the whole fourth verse should be read as a parenthesis.

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,

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Not in the name of the Lord, or in the name of Jesus, but in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. When the Son of God is called by this name it alludes to his character. For instance, John 17.6 speaks about rank, Hebrews 1.4 speaks of His power, John 17.11, 12 speaks of His authority, and the same is true of this present verse.
• I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. (John 17:6; KJV)
• Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. (Heb 1:4; KJV)
• And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. (John 17:11-12; KJV)
In this verse, the Lord Jesus is associated with both the gathering together of the Saints in the assembly, and with the delivery of the guilty person unto Satan. Paul is instructing the church at Corinth to call a meeting—and personally, I think the suggestion is that they immediately call a special meeting to deal with this matter.

In what follows, Paul will describe an official church meeting at which the offender was delt with in accordance with divine instructions. Public sin must be publicly judged and condemned. For our Lord’s instructions about discipline see Matthew 18.15-20—“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. The sin of this man was not going to be “swept under the rug”; because, after all, it was known far and wide even among the unsaved who were outside the church.

The solemn act of excommunication must be in the name, that is, by the authority of the Lord; who is the head of the Church; and under whose authority every act is to be performed.

when ye are gathered together,
The act is to be administered in front of the whole church—“Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many” (2 Cor 2:6; KJV). Inflicted of many means literally, “by the majority.” This shows that the whole church took action, and implies that there were dissenters. The command of Paul was endorsed by the action of the church. Therefore, the decision of the officers of a congregation should always be submitted for approval.

We are allowed to be witnesses of this wonderful operation as it is described in the Word of God, and to acknowledge the justice of God in it, and like the Corinthian believers, we might fear and take warning because of it: In the case of this bold sinner, the church was to gather together and expel him. Note the strong words that Paul used to instruct them: “taken away from among you” (1 Co 5.2), “deliver such a one unto Satan” (1 Co 5.5), “purge out” (1 C0 5.7), and “put away” (1 Co 5.13). Paul did not suggest that they handle the offender gently. Of course, we assume that first the spiritual leaders of the church sought to restore the man to their fellowship.

“In verses 3–5 we have an interesting indication of the manner in which discipline was administered in the early church. The congregation would be called together, with an apostle presiding if available, and the person accused would be arraigned before them. After the evidence had been heard, and the accused had said what he had to say in defense of himself, the judgment of the congregation would be pronounced by the president. Paul, though absent in person, yet pictures himself present and presiding in spirit, and he leaves them in no doubt concerning the verdict which ought to be pronounced: the offense should be condemned and the offender excommunicated.”

and my spirit,
By this he means that although he was absent in body, he would be present in spirit; and that the extraordinary gift of the Spirit of God bestowed on him would be visibly exercised upon this man who stands before them all, as if Paul himself was in the midst of them; and this would not occur by any power of his own, but by the authority and power of the Lord Jesus Christ. Neither Paul’s capacity nor his authority to judge, or his power to execute his judgment, depended on his bodily presence. He was present in spirit. This does not mean simply that he was present in mind, thinking of them and interested in their welfare; but it was a presence of knowledge, authority, and power. Paul will give his opinion in the form of a command in the next verse, but a majority of the congregation must concur, and then they were to proceed to exercise discipline by his authority.

with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
This statement indicates that the apostle Paul, in his capacity of the anointed minister of the Lord Jesus Christ is endowed with special authority in such a matter; but the one essential idea was that it must be done both on the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, and also by His power. (Notice that the verse begins, “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and ends with “the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.”)

Paul was the founder of this church, and he was used by God to bring these people into the knowledge of Salvation. He had the authority to send the urgent declaration that this matter must be settled immediately—but only in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and through the power of the Lord Jesus Christ—and not simply on the authority of the local church.

Note, Church-censures are Christ’s ordinances, and should be dispensed in his name. It was to be done also when they were gathered together, in full assembly. The more public, the more solemn, and the more solemn, the more likely to have a good effect on the offender. Note, Church-censures on notorious and incorrigible sinners should be passed with great solemnity. Those who sin in this manner are to be rebuked before all—“Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear” (1 Tim 5:20; KJV). The act of excommunication for misdeeds, when administered according to the will of the Lord, is not merely man's decision, but will be executed by the power of the Lord.

The phrase “With the power”, is to be connected with the following verse. “I have determined what ought to be done. The sentence which I have passed is this: You are to be assembled in the name and authority of Christ. I shall be virtually present. And you are to deliver such a one to Satan, by the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That is, it is to be done by you; and the miraculous power which will be revealed in this case will proceed from the Lord Jesus. The word power (δυναμει) is used commonly in the New Testament to denote some miraculous and extraordinary power; and here evidently means that the Lord Jesus would put forth such a power by inflicting pain, and for the preservation of the purity of his church.

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.

To deliver such an one unto Satan
The statement “to deliver such an one unto Satan” does not mean to deprive him of salvation, since it is not the church that grants salvation, to begin with. When a Christian is in fellowship with the Lord, and the local church, he enjoys a special protection from Satan. But when he is out of fellowship and excommunicated from the local CHURCH, he is “fair game” for the enemy. God could permit Satan to attack the offender’s body so that the sinning believer would repent and return to the Lord.

There is no evidence that delivering to Satan was any form of excommunication known either among the Jews or the Christians. Lightfoot, Selden, and Schoettgen, who have searched all the Jewish records, have found nothing like this: it was a species of punishment administered in extraordinary cases, in which the body and the mind of a habitual transgressor were delivered by the authority of God into the power of Satan, to be tortured with diseases and fear as a warning to all; but while the body and mind were tormented, the immortal spirit was under the influence of the Divine mercy; and the affliction, in all probability, was permitted only for a season; though sometimes it led to death, as the destruction of the flesh seems to imply. But the soul found mercy at the hand of God; because such an extraordinary interference of God's power and justice, and of Satan's influence, could not fail to bring the person to a state of the deepest humiliation and repentance; and thus, while the flesh was destroyed, the spirit was saved to the glory of the Lord Jesus. No such power as this remains in the Church of God today; no one should presume to have such power; those who make such pretense are as wicked as they are vain. It was the same power by which Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead, and Elymas the sorcerer struck blind. Apostles alone were entrusted with it.

It seems clear that in the day of the apostle Paul these men who had been especially appointed by God during the transition period did have such gifts of apostolic authority, to deliver the offender to Satan—“Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Tim 1:20;KJV). There is no difficulty in supposing him to be the Hymenæus of 2 Ti 2:17—“And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus.”  Though "delivered over to Satan" [the lord of all outside the Church—“To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:18; KJV); and the executor of wrath, when wisely allowed by God, on the disobedient—“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” (1 Cor 5:5; KJV)]. He was probably restored to the Church, and again caused trouble. Paul, as an apostle, though he was far away at Rome pronounced the sentence to be executed at Ephesus, involving, probably, the excommunication of the offenders (Mt 18:17, 18). The sentence operated not only spiritually, but also physically; sickness or some such visitation of God, falling on the person excommunicated, in order to bring him to repentance and salvation. Here Alexander is probably "the coppersmith" who did Paul "much evil" when the latter visited Ephesus—he organized the Jews against Paul, at the riot in Ephesus—“And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people” (Acts 19:33; KJV). The "delivering him to Satan" was probably the consequence of his withstanding the apostle—“Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words” (2 Tim 4:14-15; KJV); as the same sentence was passed on Hymenæus for saying that the resurrection is past already—“Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some” (2 Tim 2:18; KJV).

I have often said that the number-one desire of Satan is to damn every individual he possibly can; but if that individual is born again, then the adversary will do all he can to destroy the testimony of that Child of God. He does this by tempting the believer to turn aside from the right ways of the Lord, and embrace the things of the flesh. The devil is a master craftsman in the art of laying snares for believers.
• Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Tim 3:7; KJV).
• And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. (2 Tim 2:26; KJV).

I Just Like To Kill People

On March 31, 1998, Daniel Remeta was executed in the Florida electric chair for killing five people in 1985. In an interview not long before his death, Remeta exclaimed, “I just like to kill people.” That chilling declaration is reminiscent of another calculated killer who “prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Stated briefly, Satan just likes to kill; and if it was not for the special protection the Lord provides every believer, Satan would surely kill all of us.

for the destruction of the flesh,
The Corinthian assembly was to deliver the person guilty of fornication to Satan, “FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF THE FLESH.” The Greek word used here is olethros, which means “ruin”—not destruction or total annihilation. The word means the ruin of well-being, ruin insofar as the purpose of what is referred to is concerned. Such ruin and destruction is definitely the work of Satan, but in a case such as that under discussion here, God permits it as an act of destruction upon the unfaithful believer.

There are some who teach that this verse has to do with the destruction of the soul and spirit, and therefore such a person would be lost forever: but it is very clear that the destruction referred to here has nothing to do with eternal life or with the spiritual part of the believer.

that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus;
Jesus said to Nicodemus, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6; KJV). Such a person as the young man described here, who is guilty of taking his father’s wife, can be turned over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (the body), but the soul and spirit is not affected; and in the resurrection such a person will have a glorified body, as will all believers. Satan is never allowed to touch the soul of a born again, blood-washed believer.

“… The day of the Lord Jesus” is the period immediately after the Rapture of the Church. Each believer will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to receive a reward for the things done in the body: “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12; KJV). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor 5:10; KJV).

“If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it” (1 John 5:16; KJV).

The sin unto death is committed by believers. (This is the death of the body, not of the soul.) The unpardonable sin is committed by unbelievers—“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matt 12:31-32; KJV). Any person who blasphemes the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven—either in this life or the life to come; but a believer who commits the sin unto death will be destroyed physically and saved spiritually. He will, of course, suffer great loss of reward, but his spirit will be saved “in the day of the Lord Jesus.” There are well-meaning born again people who refuse to accept this Bible fact. Nevertheless, it is clearly set forth in our present verse—and anyone who refuses to receive this truth does so simply because he has a closed mind and is married to a denomination or religion, instead of obeying the Spirit, rightly dividing the Word, and allowing the Word of God to speak while man keeps silent.
6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

Your glorying is not good.
This points back to verse 2, where Paul reminds the Corinthians that they are “puffed up.” They have no right to glory (brag); they have nothing to glory about. With the Corinthian church in the shape it was in at the time of the writing of this epistle, the believers there should have been weeping, they should have been on their faces before God, repenting in sackcloth and ashes, instead of living like kings, promoting their own wisdom and glorying in their own ability.

Know ye not….” This statement is used in 1 Corinthians 3.16; it is used five times in chapter 6 and twice in chapter 9. These believers had advertised their wisdom, but by their actions they advertised gross ignorance concerning spiritual matters, and an utter lack of the wisdom that comes from God.

Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
The stress is on “little.” A very small amount of leaven (yeast) spreads through a very large lump. In the same way, a seemingly small sin will continue to grow until it becomes very great; and that is what happened in the assembly at Corinth. They had allowed little things to go unjudged—things such as jealousy, envy, conceit, and a partisan spirit—until now the leaven had grown into the gross immoral sin of fornication.

When he wrote to the Galatians, Paul used the same statement: “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Gal 5:9; KJV). In the Old Testament leaven is referred to many times. In the New Testament we are told that leaven is symbolic of the power of evil: “Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matt 16:12; KJV). The first reference to leaven in the Bible is found in Genesis 19.3, where lot served unleavened bread to his heavenly guests.

Section 3-B: The Christian church must be purged of the contamination of sinners, and separated from pagan influences (vv.7-13)


Part 1: Celebration

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:

Purge out therefore the old leaven,
What does leaven do to the bread? Well, you put it in the dough, set it in a warm place, and the bread begins to puff up. When it gets to a certain height, the bread is put into the hot oven. Why? To stop the leavening process. If the bread did not get into the oven, that leavening process would go on and the bread would rise higher and higher. Finally the whole loaf would be corrupt and rotten. Now that is exactly what happens with evil in the church if it is not dealt with. Finally the whole thing will blow up and will destroy the effectiveness of the church. A little leaven will leaven the whole lump; so it must be purged out.

The reference here is to the Jewish household that was commanded to remove all leaven from the house in order to prepare for the Passover—“In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread” (Ex 12:18-20; KJV). To meet the letter of this instruction in the fullest manner possible, the Jews, on the eve of this festival, institute the most rigorous search through every part of their houses, not only removing all leavened bread, but sweeping every part clean, so that no crumb of bread will be left that had any leaven in it. And they were so strict in the observance of the letter of this law, that if even a mouse was seen running across the floor with a crumb of bread in its mouth, they considered the whole house as polluted, and began their purification anew. We have already seen that leaven was an emblem of sin, because it proceeded from corruption; and the putting away of this implied the turning to God with simplicity and uprightness of heart.

Removing all leaven from Jewish homes in preparation for the Passover signified that they had completely broken with the old manner of life in Egypt, and that their entrance upon the new life was designed for them to enjoy the fellowship that only God could give. The Jewish family who refused to obey that command and refused to remove all leaven from the home could not enjoy the fellowship with God that could be theirs, if they obeyed His command.

Here Paul is attempting to show the believers at Corinth that if they refused to remove the leaven from the assembly, they could not expect the blessing of God upon either the fellowship or the testimony of the church there. The assembly at Corinth was NOT an unleavened assembly; evil existed there, and evil must be put away if they hoped to experience the blessings of God and enjoy fellowship with God—blessings and fellowship that was theirs if only they would humble their hearts, repent of their carnality, and deal with the fornicator within their membership.

That ye may be a new lump,
The reason for removing the leaven from their lives is this: that they might appear to be what they professed to be, new men, new creatures in Christ, by their walking in newness of life; and by removing that wicked person, they would be like the apostles were, when Judas was taken from them by death, all clean through the word of Christ.

as ye are unleavened.
“As ye are unleavened” means “as ye are bound by your Christian profession to be unleavened, or to be pure.” "You are not contaminated with sin." Despite the sinful lapses visible in the church, the action of their being cleansed in the blood of Christ was constant and effective. This purity did not come from anything they had done themselves, but it was due to their position; they continued to be “in Christ.”

Your very profession implies this, and you ought, therefore, to remove all impurity, and to become holy. Let there be no impurity or anything in your life that is inconsistent with that holiness which the gospel teaches and requires. Here the apostle does not refer merely to the case of the incestuous person, but he uses this occasion to exhort them to put away all sin. Not only to remove this incestuous person, but to remove all impurity, so that they might become entirely holy. The doctrine the apostle is asserting here is that Christians are made holy by their profession, and therefore they ought to do all that is within their power to remove everything that is impure.

The Corinthian believers professed to be holy, and they were without the leaven of sin; but not without sin in their hearts, and not without committing sinful acts, more or less, in their lives; but they were justified by the righteousness of Christ, and they had the new creature formed in their souls, or that which was born of God within them, that does not sin. The apostle compares the true believers of this church to the unleavened bread eaten at the Passover, for the benevolence of their hearts, and the simplicity of their lives; as he does the incestuous man to the old leaven that was to be searched for, and cast out at the feast.

For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
In the Old Testament, after the Feast of the Passover there followed immediately the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Paul says that Christ, the true Passover Lamb, has now been sacrificed for us. This should be followed by lives that are free from the leaven of sin. Instead, this Corinthian congregation was allowing leaven—that is, evil—to come right into their church. These were the very ones who were talking about the death of Christ and the crucifixion of Christ, and yet they permitted leaven to enter into the church.

Just like the Jews, when their sacrificial lamb was slain, were careful to remove all leaven from their homes, so we Christians, since our Passover is slain, ought likewise to remove all that is impure and corrupting from our hearts. There can be no doubt here that the sacrificial lamb was a type of the Messiah; and that the leaven was understood to represent impurity and sin, and that their being required to remove it was intended to be a symbolic act designed to signify that all sin was to be removed and disposed of. On the whole, the sacrifice of our Redeemer is the strongest argument for purity and sincerity. How sincere a regard did he show for our welfare, in dying for us! And how terrible a proof was His death of the detestable nature of sin, and God’s hatred of it! Heinous evil that could not be compensated for, except by the shed blood of the Son of God! And shall a Christian love the murderer of his Lord? God forbid.

“Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” is the great doctrine of the gospel. The Jews, after they had killed the Passover, kept the feast of unleavened bread. So must we; not for seven days only, but all our lives. We should die to sin with our Savior, be planted into the likeness of his death by shameful sin, and into the likeness of his resurrection by rising again to newness of life, both internally and externally. We must have new hearts and new lives. Note, the whole life of a Christian must be a feast of unleavened bread. His common conversation and his religious performances must be holy.



In this verse, Paul declared that Christ is our Passover; but, as in most analogies, there are points of likeness and unlikeness.
1) Points of likeness:
a) In both the Jewish Passover and the Passover of Christians (who is Christ), there is the death of a sinless, blameless victim—“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15; KJV).
b) In both, there is the purpose of deliverance from the wrath of God; in the Jewish Passover, it was from the destruction of the death angel, and for Christians it is from God's eternal wrath—“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (Romans 1:8; KJV).
c) In both, deliverance came through a substitutionary death, in their case, that of the lamb, in our case, that of Christ who died for us—“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18; KJV).
d) In both, the slain victim became the food of the redeemed. The Jews actually ate the Passover lamb; and Christians partake of Christ who is their spiritual food—“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you” (John 6:53; KJV).
e) In both, a personal participation on the part of the redeemed was an absolute requirement. The lamb had to be slain for every family; each member had to eat; the blood was sprinkled on every door. Every man must be "in Christ" to be saved—“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:13; KJV).
f) In both, the line of demarcation between the saved and lost is clear and emphatic. Egyptians did not partake of the Passover. The evil men of the world do not partake of Christ.
g) In both, there is a pledge of fellowship. Eating together is one of the oldest bonds of fellowship; and, in both dispensations, God made use of this instrument to cement the bonds of fellowship among his people.
2) Points of unlikeness:
a. There is a contrast in the redemptions procured, one being temporary and earthly, the other being heavenly and eternal.
b. There is a contrast in the victims provided. Is not a man of more value than a sheep?
c. There is a contrast in the usefulness of the blood offered, that of animals being unable to take away sin—“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Heb 10:4; KJV). But the blood of Christ providing remission of sins—“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb 9:14; KJV).
d. There is a contrast in that which was purged out; in the case of the Jews it is the old leaven of actual bread, but in the case of Christians the purging of sin from the hearts of those saved.
3) The entire institution of the Passover was typical of the entire institution of Christianity:
a. The Passover lamb, sacrificed the first day, was fulfilled by the crucifixion of Christ at the very hours the lambs were slain.
b. The lamb was a type of the person of Christ in that it was innocent and died as a substitution for another, was a male of the flock, and without blemish, and not a bone of it was broken—“He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken” (Psalms 34:20; KJV).
c. Just as the Passover was slain and eaten in Jerusalem so Christ suffered, died, and rose again in the same city.
d. The Passover was typical of the Lord's supper in some ways, though not in others. Both were divinely instituted, both were commemorative, both were continuative, moving for millenniums through history; both began a new kingdom, the Passover that of the Jews; the Lord's Supper distinguished the kingdom of Christ; and in both cases the actual beginning of the kingdom was a little later than the institution of the rite. Who but God could have designed the religious system of Israel, so that all of it would have served to typify and identify the Christ who would come into the world?

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.

Therefore let us keep the feast,
This is a reference to the keeping of a feast (holy day) or festival, and it is the only place in the New Testament where the word that is designated here as “feast,” is found. It does not refer to the Lord’s Supper and neither does it refer to the Passover feast, since that feast was no longer observed by Christians; but the sense of it is, "As the Jews when they celebrated the Passover supper by killing and sacrificing the Passover lamb, removed all leaven from their homes because it was emblematic of sin, so let us, in the slaying of our sacrifice, and in all the duties, institutions, and events resulting from it, put away all wickedness from our hearts and from our societies and churches. Let us engage in the service of God by putting away all evil."

It is all about the consistent life of the born again believer, spent in spiritual joy and faith in Jesus Christ. (The tense here is present; reliable, steady, unswerving.) It is important to realize that this does not mean only at the Lord’s Table on Sunday, but every day of the week. The seven days of the Jewish feast take into account every day of the week, and represent our entire Christian life here on earth—“All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast” (Prov 15:15; KJV). A person with a merry heart, a believer, more than anyone else in the world, has reason to, "hath a continual feast", of spiritual mirth and pleasure, rejoicing always in Christ, as he ought to do.

The reason for which the apostle has given this advice is found in verse seven—“For Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.” This is the grand doctrine of the gospel. The Jews, after they had killed the passover, kept the feast of unleavened bread. So must we; not for seven days only, but every day of our lives. We should die to sin with our Savior, be planted into the likeness of his death by crushing sin, and into the likeness of his resurrection by rising again, internally and externally to newness of life. We must have new hearts and new lives. Note, The whole life of a Christian must be a feast of unleavened bread. His ordinary conversation and his religious activities must be holy.

not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness;
The statement “old leaven” is repeated from verse 7 and emphasizes the importance of purging ourselves free from moral and spiritual corruption. There might be new forms of evil besides those of old habits and associations. “Leaven” also symbolizes malice and wickedness. Under the Christian dispensation we must be saved equally from Judaism, heathenism, and from sin of every kind; malice and wickedness must be destroyed; and sincerity and truth, inward purity and outward holiness, take their place.

“Malace” means badness, or anything that is viscious and injurious; unkindness and evil—which would diffuse itself, and invade the mass of Christians. The word malice also denotes evil in general; unkindness and evil which would diffuse itself, and invade the mass of Christians.

“Wickedness” is sin; evil. There is a particular reference here to the case of the incestuous person. Paul means that all wickedness should be put away from those who had been saved by the sacrifice of their Passover, Christ; and, therefore, this sin of fornication must be dealt with by the Corinthians.

Malice and wickedness together embrace anything that is displeasing to God, anything that pollutes the spirit and the soul, or blinds the spiritual mind and intelligence and proves to be detrimental to our stewardship and service to the Lord. The remedy for malice and wickedness says, He must purge out (It is a continuous act; therefore we must “go on” purging out.) the old leaven, and keep the feast of unleavened bread of “sincerity and truth.” He must be without guilt in his conduct towards God and man. And the more sincerity we have in our own profession, the less we are to criticize the profession of others. Every Christian carries a Passover Lamb in his heart; therefore it is always our duty to keep the festival by casting out all leaven; either the old leaven of heathen vice, or of malice and wickedness, or any sin.


but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

The Greek word used here for “sincerity” means “unalloyed, pure.” It is used to describe an unmixed, singular substance without a trace of anything added. The Greek word used here for “truth” means “that which is consistent with reality.” Therefore the exhortation here having to do with our manner of life is based on two facts:
1. That sin, like leaven, will impart its nature to all with which it comes in contact. Therefore we must not allow it to come into contact with our lives. We must totally abstain from leaven in the spiritual sense.
2. That the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, without spot or blemish, demands and commands the believer to put away evil out of his life and have no part of anything that is evil.

The clear teaching of the apostle is this: regardless of how little or insignificant sin may seem, if it is allowed to come into our lives it will grow and continue to grow until it “leavens the whole lump.” If we are born again and Jesus Christ is our Lord, the very fact that He has saved us and has become Lord of our lives demands that we put away all evil. We are commanded to abstain from the very appearance of evil, and to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather rebuke them. We are commanded to not love the world, or the things that are IN the world. We are admonished to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, to present our bodies a living sacrifice, and whatsoever we do, we are to do it ALL to the glory of God! Since Jesus purchased us at the tremendous price of His own blood, and since He is Lord of our lives, He has a right to command us. It is ours to obey—and if we refuse, we will suffer loss.

Paul is not talking about how a person is saved. He is talking about the walk of the believer after he has been saved. Sincerity never saved anyone. But if you are a child of God, you will be sincere. The world today needs to see sincerity among believers and needs truth among believers. Paul says, “Let’s have sincerity and truth in the church there in Corinth.” You see, the church there was really insincere. They had gross immorality in their midst. They thought they could get by with this, and they pretended that everything was all right. They were pretending that they were telling the truth and living the truth when actually they were not.

The sacrifice of our Redeemer is the strongest argument for purity, sincerity, and a gracious heart. How sincere a regard did Jesus show for our welfare, by dying for us! And how terrible a proof was his death, of the detestable nature of sin, and God’s displeasure against it! It is a detestable evil that could not be compensated for, except with the blood of the Son of God! And shall a Christian love the murderer of his Lord? God forbid.

Sincerity and truth are those qualities on which the believer is to feed. It is not surprising that the apostle uses the Passover as an illustration here. I Corinthians was written just before the Passover and the celebration of the feast is on Paul’s mind. This is a good example of how God used the experiences of the biblical authors in the writing of Scripture.

But with the unleavened bread…” That is, with sincerity and truth. Let us be sincere, and true, and faithful; like the Jews who ate the bread that was unleavened, which was emblematic of purity, so let us be sincere and true. It is implied here that this could not be done unless they would put away the incestuous person. No Christians can have or give evidence of sincerity, unless they are willing to put away all sin.

Part 2: Isolation

9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:

I wrote unto you in an epistle
Paul is not referring to this epistle, as some think; that he is alluding to 1 Corinthians 5.2—“And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you,” and to 1 Corinthians 5.7—“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.” It is clear that what is contained in this verse is not present in either of these verses, but in some other epistle he had sent them previously, which is apparent from 1 Corinthians 5:11—“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, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” The correspondence he is referring to here was either never delivered, or else was ignored by them; and so what he says here may be considered as a reprimand to them, for ignoring his advice, while continuing to fellowship with this incestuous person, though he in a former epistle had advised them to the contrary. No doubt the apostle wrote other epistles to the Corinthians, besides those that we are aware of—“For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present” (2 Cor 10:10-11; KJV). The supposition that the apostle wrote some letters that have NOT been included in the canon of scripture does not detract from the perfection of scripture; because not everything written by him was given to him by divine inspiration. The Holy Spirit has seen to it that every epistle necessary for the perfection of the canon of scripture, and to instruct us in the whole counsel of God, has been preserved. This is not a contradiction of the suggestion that this epistle was the first written to this church; because though it might not be the first letter he wrote to them, yet it is the earliest existing epistle in our possession, and therefore it is called “The First Epistle To The Corinthians”: and what he wrote to them in another epistle was not included.

Paul had previously written to them and had condemned sexual sins. Corinth was a city given over to immorality. There were a thousand priestesses at the temple of Venus or Aphrodite who were nothing in the world but harlots. They were prostitutes, and the whole city was given over to this immorality in the name of religion. Now here they are permitting this immoral man to come into their fellowship and to eat with them. They patted him on the back and accepted him as one of their own when they knew he was living in sin. The church in Corinth thought they could drop down to the level of the world.

not to company with fornicators:
It is further proof that Paul does not refer to the present letter when he says, “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators,” since "not to company with fornicators" does not occur in the previous part of this epistle; also the words, "in an epistle," could not have been added if he meant, "I have just written." “For his letters, say they…” (2 Cor 10:10; KJV): "His letters" (plural; not applying to merely one) confirm this. 2 Corinthians 7:8 also refers to a first Epistle—“For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season” (2 Cor 7:8; KJV)—just as here a former letter is referred to by the same phrase. Paul probably wrote an earlier brief reply to inquiries made by the Corinthians: our first Epistle has superseded the former, which the Holy Spirit did not intend for the guidance of the Church in general, and which therefore has not been preserved.

The apostle, to this point, had NOT specifically identified the fornicator in their midst, or what he meant by keeping company with them; therefore he identifies the guilty party and expands upon how they are to deal with him. He declares that they were not to eat with such persons; which shows, that this prohibition is not restricted to unclean copulation, or to joining with them in the sin of fornication. They had taken part in such activities while in an unregenerate state, and some sort of companying with fornicators is allowed in the next verse; whereas no degree of a sinful mixing with them would ever be tolerated: the reason being that although a civil society might permit it; it might bring criticism to bear upon religion, be a stumblingblock to weak Christians, and have dangerous consequence to themselves and others; who might be drawn by their example to commit the same sinful practices. The apostle seems to allude to the custom of the Jews, who abstained from becoming acquaintances with unbelievers. They say, “that everyone that does not study in the law, it is forbidden to come near him, and to exercise merchandise with him, and much less to walk with him in the way, because there is no faith in him.''

Note, Christians are to avoid a familiar association with fellow-Christians that are notoriously wicked, and under just censure for their scandalous practices. Such involvements disgrace the Christian name. They may call themselves brethren in Christ, but they are not Christian brethren. They are only fit companions for the brethren in sin; and Christians should avoid such company until they mend their ways. “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed” (2 Thess 3:14; KJV).

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.

Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world,
Verse 10 sets some limits on the prohibition given in verse 9; but he does not forbid the Christians from doing business with scandalously wicked heathens. He does not forbid their eating with or conversing with the fornicators of this world, because they already know this is to be avoided, if possible. However, the heathen do not know better. The gods they serve and worship promote such wickedness. When considering depraved Corinth, “to company with NO fornicators," would be almost the same as to company with none in the (unbelieving) world.
• “If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake” (1 Cor 10:27; KJV).
• “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:15; KJV).
• “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:18-19; KJV).

By "the fornicators of this world" the apostle indicates those who are guilty of the sin of fornication; worldly, carnal men who never professed to follow Jesus Christ.   These men are distinct from those that were members of the church at Corinth that had committed this sin. The apostle's former instruction was a prohibition not to keep company with fornicators ("The impure"); but it is not to be applied to those who were outside of the church, as if no sort of civil conversation and business were to be carried out with men of this sort, and likewise with characters he labels as the covetous, extortioners, and idolaters; according to the next clause.

“Of this world” refers to those who are outside of the church; or who are not professed Christians. “In my instruction NOT "to company" with them, I did not mean that you should refuse all kinds of interaction with them; that you should not treat them with civility, or be engaged with them in any of the transactions of life, or in the ordinary associations of society between man and man, because this would be impossible. On the other hand, you should not associate with them to the extent that you appear to be their buddy, or so that you become corrupted by their example. You are NOT to make them companions and friends.” The prohibition, such as it was, was not limited to any one sort of immoral people; it included all sorts, as the rest of the verse proves. There is a well-known saying that fits this prohibition, “You are known by the company you keep.”

The fornicator in the church must be shunned as an outcast, for the sake of discipline. This was what he meant. He did not give directions concerning their conduct towards the heathen; although most heathen were fornicators, and particularly those at Corinth. Note: Fornicators sin against themselves.

or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters;
Or with the covetous. “The greedy.” By the “covetous” are meant, either those who are devoted to excessive lusts, who practice uncleanness along with greediness, and yet, they can never be satisfied with their filthy pleasure; or those who are greedy and devoted to having riches and wealth, and of increasing their worldly worth by any and all methods, right or wrong; and who withhold that which is meant for others.

Or extortioners. The “oppressors.”  Also the greedy; those who want more, and especially those who commit fraud for the sake of gaining more. In the Scriptures the controlling love of gain is spoken of as an especially dreadful sin in God's sight. It is called idolatry in Ephesians 5:5—“For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph 5:5; KJV)—because wealth becomes the object supremely loved and sought after. Therefore someone who sacrifices duty to the acquisition of wealth, who makes gain the great object of his life, is a greedy person. He cannot be a Christian, and should not, according to the apostle, be recognized as such. Predatory persons are greedy for obtaining more, but they do it by oppressing the poor, the needy, and the fatherless, to obtain money. They are also called "ravishers": such men use force to violate the chastity of others, youths or virgins; or “robbers,” who, by violence and rape, take away that which is the right and property of others; and there are those who oppress the poor, keep their wages by fraud, or reduce them, and extort what they can unlawfully gain.
Or with idolaters. All the Corinthians worshipped idols, before the gospel was preached there. Idolaters are those who worship the false deities of the Heathens, or any idol, graven image, or picture of God, or men, or any creature whatsoever, or anything but the one Lord God.

Under these characteristics or labels, the apostle could put all manner of sin against a man's self, against his neighbor, and against God; against himself, fornication; against his neighbour, covetousness and extortion; and against God, idolatry: and since the world abounded with guilty men who held these vices, all kinds of civil correspondence with them could not be avoided.

for then must you needs go out of the world.
This does not mean that men should leave Greece, or move to other parts of that country, but  that they should go out of the world itself; to do so, they must either destroy themselves, or seek out a new world: it is a pretentious way of speaking, showing that the thing is impracticable and impossible, since men of this sort are everywhere; and if all trade and conversation with them is forbidden, the families of God's people could never be supported, and the significance of religion could not be maintained; all worldly business would soon grind to a halt, and the saints would have little or nothing to do in the world; therefore, as the Arabic version reads it, "business would compel you to go out of the world".

"You must needs go out of the world if you do not want any conversation with such men. Your Gentile neighbours are generally vicious and profane; and it is impossible, as long as you are in the world, and have any worldly business to conduct, that you can avoid their company for very long. They cannot be completely avoided. Note, Christians may show more respect for the worldly with loose morals, than for Christians with loose morals. This seems a paradox. Why should we shun the company of a profane or loose Christian, rather than that of a profane or loose heathen? Of course Paul does not intend to say that they are not to have any association with vile and sinful men. In order to do this, one would have to go out of the world. As long as the believer is “in” the world, it will be necessary to rub shoulders with sinners. A parallel idea is contained in the words of our Lord in John 17:15–18: “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.”

Since the entire heathen world was addicted to the vices named above, applying this rule would require that the church have nothing to do with the unconverted. It would be necessary to leave the world. The world is full of such persons. You meet them everywhere. You cannot avoid them in the ordinary transactions of life, unless you either destroy yourselves, or withdraw entirely from society. This passage shows,
1. That that society was full of the immoral and the covetous, of idolaters and extortioners.  “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1; KJV). The attempt to get "out of the world," in violation of God's will that believers should remain in it but keep themselves from its evil, led to monasticism and its consequent evils.
2. That it is not right either to take our own lives to avoid them, or to withdraw from society and become monks; and, therefore, that the whole monastic system is contrary to Christianity.
3. That it is needful we should have some interaction with the men of the world; and to have dealings with them as neighbours, and as members of the community. To what extent we are to have intercourse with them is not settled here. The general principles may be,
4. That it is only so far as is necessary for the purposes of good society, or to show kindness to them as neighbours and as members of the community.
5. We are to deal justly with them in all our transactions.
6. We may be connected with them in regard to the things which we have in common—such as public improvements, the business of education, etc.
7. We are to endeavour to do them good, and for that purpose we are not to shun their society. But,
8. We are not to make them our companions; or to associate with them in their wickedness, or as idolaters, or covetous, or immoral; we are not to be known as partakers with them in these things. And for the same reason we are not to associate with the gay in their effeminateness; with the proud in their pride; with the fashionable in their regard to fashion; with the friends of the theatre, the ball-room, or the party goers, in their attachment to these amusements. In all these things we are to be separate; and are to be connected with them only in those things which we may have in common with them, and which are not inconsistent with the holy rules of the Christian religion.
9.  We are not to associate with them to the point of being corrupted by their example; or so as to be led by that example to neglect prayer and church, and the deeds of charity, and the effort to do good to the souls of men. We are to make it a great point that our piety is not to suffer by that association; and we are never to do anything, or conform to any custom, or to have any such interaction with them that would lessen our growth in grace; divert our attention from the humble duties of religion; or mar our Christian enjoyment.

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, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

But now have I written unto you
We have the same statement in verse 9. Paul may be referring to a letter he had written at another time, and in another epistle, or it is possible he is referring to statements made in earlier chapters of this letter. It is not that what he was writing now was different from what he wrote before, only now he names the persons he is talking about, and explains more fully the thing about which he had written to them before.

The apostle adds to what he has been communicating to the Corinthian believers: if any one who is called a brother, that is, anyone who professes the Christian religion, is a bad person; a fornicator, covetous, idolater, railer, drunkard, or extortioner, do not even eat with them—have no association with such a person, in either sacred things or civil things. You may transact business and have personal dealings with a person that does not know God, and makes no profession of Christianity, whatever his moral character may be; but you must NOT even acknowledge a man who professes Christianity, while his conduct is scandalous. Let him know you are aware of his immorality and that you detest all sin; and let the world see that the Church of God does not tolerate evil. Church members must not have social interaction with any member who is guilty of the grievous sins named below.

not to keep company,
No one should misunderstand Paul’s instructions here. What he is saying is simply this: “Anyone who professes to be a believer and yet does not bear the fruit of the Spirit, disqualifies himself as a Christian brother by the ungodly character of his life.” Sin in the life of the believer is far worse than sin in the life of an unbeliever. We cannot isolate ourselves from the world, but we can separate ourselves from disobedient believers so that God can discipline them.

The key to Paul’s thought is here. The term translated “to keep company” (Gr synanameignymi) is found only here and in II Thessalonians 3:14—“And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed” (2 Thess 3:14; KJV). It is a compound of three Greek terms, and means “to mingle together with.” It has the idea of close, habitual association. We who are Christians are Not to keep company with these types; instead, we are to be entirely separated and withdrawn from such a person, and we are NOT to associate with him in any manner.

if any man that is called a brother, be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater; or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner;
The apostle's meaning is that Christians should not associate with men who have one or more of the bad character traits listed above, if such persons are considered brethren, since they have been received into the church, accepted as Christians and professed to be such. These men are well known to the congregation and might be mentioned by name of being guilty of fornication, covetousness, idolatry, and extortion, as mentioned in the previous verse; to which he has added two other sins which any of them might be addicted to: "railing;" either at their fellow brethren and Christians, or others accusing and demeaning them: and "drunkenness"; living by frequently committing that sin. The persons committing these sins remain unrepentant and incorrigible, and are still carrying on such a vicious course of life; and therefore they are not to be included in fellowship—“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17; KJV).

Fornicator(impure)—See verse 1o. “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife” (1 Cor 5:1; KJV).

Covetous. A greedy person, who is under the influence of his passions; not only greedy for monetary gain, but to indulge his selfish desires.

Idolater. This must mean those persons who while they professed Christianity still attended the idol feasts, and worshipped there. Perhaps a few of them may have adopted the Christian profession hypocritically.

Railer (reviler). A judgmental man: a man of foul-mouthed, harsh, and bitter words; a man who constantly abused others by maligning their character and wounding their feelings. It is not necessary to say how much this is contrary to the spirit of Christianity, and to the example of the Master, "who when he was reviled, reviled not again."

Drunkard. Perhaps there might have been some in this church, as there are now, who were addicted to this vice. It has been the source of incalculable evils to the church; and the apostle, therefore, solemnly prohibits Christians from having fellowship with a man who drinks excessively. Today, we could add another category, which is “drug addiction,” which leads to all sorts of crime and self-abuse.

There is less danger in associating with openly worldly men than with carnal Christians. The Corinthians did not fall into open idolatry, but ate things offered to idols, thereby making a compromise with the heathen; just as they conspired to fornicate.
with such an one, no, not to eat.
Paul is emphasizing here the warning given in previous verses. It is not the Lord’s Supper that he is referring to, because it was never designated as a meal. The meaning is that we are not to recognize such a person in any way as a Christian, even by eating with him. The Corinthian Christians were not to invite these people into their home for fellowship around the table, and they were not to accept social invitations from those who behaved in this manner. Such fellowship would serve as a practical acknowledgement of one who has made a mere profession of faith in Christ—a condoning of the evil life—and would make it appear that the believer was in agreement with the immorality. Paul’s instruction to the Corinthian believers was to have no fellowship with these so called Christians; not to do anything that would seem to acknowledge him as a brother; and never to eat at the same table with such a person. A similar instruction is given by the apostle John—“If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 1:10-11; KJV).  This refers to the common interactions of life. The true Christian was to completely disown such a person, and not to do anything that would seem to imply that he regarded him as a Christian brother. It will be seen here that the rule was much stricter in regard to one who professed to be a Christian than to those who were known and acknowledged heathens. The reasons may have been:
1. The necessity of keeping the church pure and of not doing anything that would seem to imply that Christians were the clientele and friends of the outlandish and the wicked.
2.  In respect to the heathen, there could be no danger of its being supposed that Christians regarded them as brethren, or showed to them any more than the ordinary civilities of life; but in regard to those who professed to be Christians, but who were drunkards, or immoral, if a man was on friendly terms with them, it would seem as if he acknowledged them as brethren, and recognized them as Christians.
3. This entire separation and withdrawing from all association with them was necessary in these times to save the church from scandal, and from the injurious reports which were circulated. The heathen accused Christians of all manner of crime and abominations. These reports were very damaging to the church. But it was evident that remuneration and credibility would be given to them if it was known that Christians were on intimate terms and had good fellowship with heathens and immoral persons. For this reason it became necessary to withdraw entirely from them; to withhold even the ordinary courtesies of life; and to draw a line of total and entire separation. Whether this rule in its utmost strictness is demanded now, since the nature of Christianity is known, and since religion cannot be in so much danger from such reports, may be a question to address in another commentary. I am inclined to the opinion that the ordinary civilities of life may be shown to such persons; though certainly nothing that would seem to recognize them as Christians. But as neighbors and relatives; as well as those who may be in misery and want, we are certainly not forbidden to show them kindness and compassion.

If a spiritually minded person visited an idolater for the specific purpose of witnessing to him, that would be different from inviting the person to dinner in the home or for a social visit. Trying to win such people to Jesus through witnessing to them is not the point under consideration here, but simply fellowshipping socially, either in the home or in the assembly. Certainly Christians should do anything and all things honorably possibly, in an effort to win even the most wicked person to Jesus. Paul said, “I become as all men are, that I might win some.” He did not mean that he compromised by participating in their evil ways, but rather that he was willing to make any sacrifice in order to point people to Christ.

12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?

For what have I to do to judge
By this, Paul means that we are not to admonish, reprove, censure, condemn and punish. This is not meant to be a general statement, because we must make certain judgments every day, because we are responsible human beings. For example; “Should I admit this stranger into my home to make a repair,” or “Is this doctor qualified to treat my ailment.” You could easily compile a similar list and it would probably be quite long, because this is how we must live in the world today.

Paul has been talking about making judgments concerning those who are outside the church (unbelievers) and church members (believers); and he says, “You might have easily understood that my concern is not with unbelievers outside the Church, but that I referred to those within it. I have no authority over those outside the church; and can exercise no jurisdiction over them. All my rules, therefore, must have reference only to those who are within the church.”

What have I. Although this is an admonition meant for the Corinthians and all of us, the apostle may have chosen to soften his words by making himself the object of a question: “What right do I have to judge unbelievers?”

them also that are without?
Those outside of the church, means persons who are NOT church members; heathens; men of the world; those who did not profess to be Christians—“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time” (Col 4:5; KJV); and “That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing” (1 Thess 4:12; KJV). The command of the apostle had reference only to those who were in the church, but it was not his prerogative to judge those outside of the church (nonmembers). That is not his business. He is to judge those inside the church (members)— Those within give me enough to do without including those outside. God will judge those who are on the outside. It is the business of the church to judge evil which is in the church. The Corinthians should have understood this.

Through this statement Paul makes it clear to the unbelievers at Corinth that he did not mean for them to avoid unbelievers to such an extent that they should refuse to even be in their company, because it would be utterly impossible to live in this world and NOT come into contact with unsaved people—in some instances even the vilest of them; but we should not fellowship with them at their social events, or take part in their activities, in the home or any other place. Christians should go out of their way to associate with unbelievers only to the extent that they are pointing them to Jesus and through living holy lives influence them to become believers.

do not ye judge them that are within?
This speaks of believers—children of God—as distinct and separate from the world. The assembly is responsible for those it receives, and if fellowship needs to be withdrawn from one of those members, the assembly is responsible for taking the appropriate action and excluding that person from fellowship. Paul is simply pointing out the believers’ responsibility in such cases.

We are interested to know how things worked out in Corinth. To find the answer we need only to turn to 2 Corinthians 2:4–8: “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.” This immoral man had come under conviction and profoundly repented of his sin of fornication after Paul put it in writing in this epistle. Today we need a great deal of courage—not compromise—in the church to point out these things and say, “This is sin.” I think that when this is done, the believer who is in sin will confess, like this man in Corinth and like David did, and will repent and change his ways. The Corinthian church handled this very nicely. Why? Because Paul had the courage to write this kind of letter. In 2 Corinthians Paul explains why he had done it: “Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you” (2 Cor. 7:12). Paul evidently means to say that he did not write his stern charge, because of his concern for the incestuous person, or on account of the person he had injured (his father), but because he loved this church and was concerned for its welfare.

We must bear in mind that the apostle has instructed them to censure this fornicator, and that he does NOT instruct them to discipline wrongdoers, and remove from the fellowship scandalous and unrepentant offenders, and forbid them to be in the company of those who were in the world. It is a matter of degree, and the apostle knew if he excommunicated every member that sinned, the pews would be empty. He will deal with many sins in his epistles, but the case involving this fornicator was especially serious and was damaging the credibility and testimony of The Corinthian Church, and that is why he devoted so much space to dealing with it.

Sin in the life of the believer is far worse than sin in the life of an unbeliever. We cannot isolate ourselves from the world, but we can separate ourselves from disobedient believers so that God can discipline them.

Paul wrote about the whole creation groaning over the curse of sin—“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22; KJV). Japanese researchers may have literally discovered what he meant. In the summer of 1999, Naoki Suda and Kaqunari Nawa revealed the results of their study concerning a mysterious hum emitted by the earth. They dredged through a mass of seismic data to discover our planet produces fifty notes that are about sixteen octaves below middle C. These notes are impossible to hear without the proper instruments and are so subtle that an earthquake anywhere on the planet will blot them out. The two researchers said the earth’s hum is like “an endless banging on a trash can.” Sin leaves us, and our world, with a song as unsettling as thugs beating on a garbage can.

13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

But them that are without God judgeth.
Those that are without (the unbelievers) are beyond the jurisdiction of church judgment. God will deal with them in due time. The church is responsible for the conduct of only those who are members of the church. If one member lives his life in such a manner that he brings reproach on the name of Jesus and upon the Gospel, the entire assembly will suffer, and if there is such a person in the church (like the young man who was guilty of fornication), it is the grave responsibility of the assembly to deal with the individual; and if they do not fulfill their duty, God will hold them accountable for that very fact. Note, Though the church has nothing to do with those without, it must endeavor to keep clear of the guilt and reproach of those within. All actions taken against wrongdoers within the church should be for the purpose of reclaiming them for Jesus and returning them to fellowship with their brothers and sisters in Christ.

God judges the unbeliever. We know that “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” We know that “the wages of sin is death.” (The final and complete wages of sin is eternal death.) This is clearly pointed out in the account of the Great White Throne Judgment when unbelievers will be judged, as recorded in Revelation 20. On the great day of judgment it will be evident to all  that those persons who did not fall under the censures and punishment of the apostle, nor of a church of Christ, shall not go unpunished; God will call them to an account for their fornication, covetousness, idolatry, extortion and will judge, condemn, and punish them, according to their works; and therefore since they do not fall under the authority of the churches of Christ, they are to be left to the tribunal of God; and all that the saints have to do is to watch over one another, and reprimand and censure, as cases require, and as the church did in this case. We are to judge these; and these alone. All others we are to leave entirely in the hands of God.


Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
The Greek word translated “wicked” is poneros. It not only signifies that the person has bad character, but that he is also having a bad influence on others. The case in question here is a sad one, because the young man guilty of fornication is not only destroying his own testimony—he is also destroying the testimony of the entire assembly insofar as “those who are without” are concerned.  They would eventually lose all respect for the Church if this fornicator were allowed to continue in the fellowship while he still lived in gross sin; therefore, Paul says excommunicate him; expel him from your society. This is the utmost power which the church has; and the church is bound to exercise this power on all those who have openly offended against the laws of Jesus Christ.

This sentence is a quotation from Deuteronomy 17.7, which commanded the sentence of death for idolatry and disobedience to parents: “The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.” In Deuteronomy 21.21 we read, “And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.”  In the local church a born again believer is not only a member of that assembly—he is also a member of the body of Christ; and his fellowship with God’s people depends upon his fellowship with God. Those outside the Church—unbelievers, unregenerate—are referred to throughout the Bible as spiritually dead. Therefore, the believer who is excommunicated through true Bible discipline is placed in the company of the spiritually dead—until he repents or until the Lord removes him through physical death.

In the days when Israel was under Law, a person could not be put to death except on the testimony of two or three witnesses: “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death” (Deut 17:6; KJV). This indicates that in such cases, those who are responsible for chastening a person guilty of sin must be extremely careful. Those in authority in the assembly—the pastor, the deacons—must be careful when disciplining because the believer who has erred and brought reproach upon the Church is still a believer; he is still a child of God, and a member of the body of Christ. Therefore discipline should be carried out with only one aim in view: To restore the erring one to fellowship—not to destroy him!

Grave responsibility rests upon the shoulders of a pastor. If he condones evil in the church, he will suffer and the cause of Christ will suffer; but if he mistreats a believer—either for a selfish reason or in the spirit of “getting even”—that minister will suffer for his ugly, unChristian actions. The pastor should never knowingly allow sin to remain in the assembly.

Evil detected in the assembly calls for deep humiliation before God, on the part of the pastor and the entire church. Every member should seek God’s face, and know His will in the matter. We have the solemn warning that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump,” and when evil is recognized in the assembly it is extremely important that corrective steps be taken immediately.
Paul was very concerned about the church at Corinth. These were his children in the faith and he loved them; but he could not allow the ugly sin that was in the church to continue. He wrote in love—but he was also stern. He demanded that something be done immediately to put a stop to this terrible thing that was going on in the assembly; even though he was absent. Today we hear this flimsy, hypocritical attitude: “Well, we don’t want to air this thing. We don’t want to cause trouble. We’ll just sweep it under the rug.” My friend, God cannot bless a church or an individual that does this. If God did bless, God would be a liar. And you know that God is no liar. He will judge inaction in a case like this.

THERE are a couple of important subjects in this chapter which intimately concern the Christian Church in general.
1. If evil is tolerated in religious societies, the work of God cannot prosper there.
2. Discipline must be exercised in the Christian Church; without it the Church will soon be little different from the wilderness of this world.


This chapter has a tremendous lesson for us. And it is very practical, is it not?


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