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1Co 5:1-13. THE INCESTUOUS PERSON AT CORINTH: THE CORINTHIANS REPROVED FOR CONNIVANCE, AND WARNED TO PURGE OUT THE BAD LEAVEN. QUALIFICATION OF HIS FORMER COMMAND AS TO ASSOCIATION WITH SINNERS OF THE WORLD.
1. commonly--rather, "actually" [ALFORD]. Absolutely
is reported," implies, that the Corinthians, though they "wrote"
to Paul on other points, gave him no information on those things which
bore against themselves. These latter matters reached the apostle
2. puffed up--with your own wisdom and knowledge, and the eloquence
of your favorite teachers: at a time when ye ought to be "mourning" at
the scandal caused to religion by the incest. Paul mourned because
they did not mourn
We ought to mourn over the transgressions of others, and
repent of our own
3. as absent--The best manuscripts read, "being absent."
4. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ--By His authority and as representing His person and will (2Co 2:10). Join this with "to deliver such a one unto Satan" (1Co 5:5). The clause, "When ye have been gathered together and my spirit (wherein I am 'present,' though 'absent in body,' 1Co 5:3), with the power of our Lord Jesus," stands in a parenthesis between. Paul speaking of himself uses the word "spirit"; of Christ, "power." Christ's power was promised to be present with HIS Church "gathered together in His name" (Mt 18:18-20): and here Paul by inspiration gives a special promise of his apostolic spirit, which in such cases was guided by the Holy Spirit, ratifying their decree passed according to his judgment ("I have judged," 1Co 5:3), as though he were present in person (Joh 20:21-23; 2Co 13:3-10). This power of infallible judgment was limited to the apostles; for they alone had the power of working miracles as their credentials to attest their infallibility. Their successors, to establish their claim to the latter, must produce the former (2Co 12:2). Even the apostles in ordinary cases, and where not specially and consciously inspired, were fallible (Ac 8:13, 23; Ga 2:11-14).
5. Besides excommunication (of which the Corinthians themselves had
the power), Paul delegates here to the Corinthian Church his own
special power as an apostle, of inflicting corporeal disease or death in
punishment for sin ("to deliver to Satan such an one," that is, so
heinous a sinner). For instances of this power, see
Ac 5:1-11; 13:11;
As Satan receives power at times to try the godly, as Job
compare also as to Peter,
much more the ungodly. Satan, the "accuser of the brethren"
and the "adversary"
demands the sinner for punishment on account of sin
When God lets Satan have his way, He is said to "deliver the sinner
unto Satan" (compare
Here it is not finally; but for the affliction of the body with
disease, and even death
(1Co 11:30, 32),
so as to destroy fleshly lust. He does not say, "for the
destruction of the body," for it shall share in
but of the corrupt "flesh" which "cannot inherit the kingdom of God,"
and the lusts of which had prompted this offender to incest
(Ro 7:5; 8:9, 10).
The "destruction of the flesh" answers to "mortify the deeds of
only that the latter is done by one's self, the former is effected by
chastisement from God (compare
6. Your glorying in your own attainments and those of your favorite
(1Co 3:21; 4:19; 5:2),
while all the while ye connive at such a scandal, is quite unseemly.
7. old leaven--The remnant of the "old"
heathenish and natural corruption. The image is taken from the extreme
care of the Jews in searching every corner of their houses, and
"purging out" every particle of leaven from the time of killing the
lamb before the Passover
(De 16:3, 4).
So Christians are continually to search and purify their hearts
(Ps 139:23, 24).
8. not . . . old leaven--of our unconverted state as
Jews or heathen.
9. I wrote . . . in an epistle--rather, "in the Epistle": a former one not now extant. That Paul does not refer to the present letter is proved by the fact that no direction "not to company with fornicators" occurs in the previous part of it; also the words, "in an (or, the) epistle," could not have been added if he meant, "I have just written" (2Co 10:10). "His letters" (plural; not applying to merely one) confirm this. 2Co 7:8 also refers to our first Epistle, just as here a former letter is referred to by the same phrase. Paul probably wrote a former brief reply to inquiries of the Corinthians: our first Epistle, as it enters more fully into the same subject, has superseded the former, which the Holy Spirit did not design for the guidance of the Church in general, and which therefore has not been preserved. See my Introduction.
10. Limitation of the prohibition alluded to in 1Co 5:9. As in dissolute Corinth to "company with no fornicators," &c., would be almost to company with none in the (unbelieving) world; ye need not utterly ("altogether") forego intercourse with fornicators, &c., of the unbelieving world (compare 1Co 10:27; Joh 17:15; 1Jo 5:18, 19). As "fornicators" sin against themselves, so "extortioners" against their neighbors, and "idolaters" against God. 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.
11. But now--"Now" does not express time, but
"the case being so," namely, that to avoid fornicators, &c.,
of the world, you would have to leave the world altogether, which
would be absurd. So "now" is used in
Thus we avoid making the apostle now retract a command which he
had before given.