It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is intolerable even among pagans: A man has his father's wife.
"A tide in the affairs of men, but the same representative thinker of humanity warns us that when we "mean to build," we should "survey" "The plot of the situation, and the model;
but the same representative thinker of humanity warns us that when we "mean to build," we should "survey"
"The plot of the situation, and the model;
I. TO ITSELF.
It is reported that there is fornication among you.1. May arise within the Church.
2. Occasion grievous reproach.
3. Should be instantly investigated and removed.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)
II. TO THE OFFENDER.
1. Separation from the Christian fellowship.
2. Yet in earnest hope of repentance and amendment.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)2 Corinthians 2:5-11; 2 Corinthians 7:8-13): —
I. HIS SIN.
1. He had married his stepmother. Such a marriage, though forbidden by Moses, was, under certain conditions, permitted by the Scribes. Hence it has been thought that this man was a Jew. But from the gravity of Paul's censure it is more probable that he was a Gentile who had availed himself of the easy law of divorce and the licence of Corinthian manners. In itself the sin was not so heinous as many which were committed in that wicked city every day.
2. But there were circumstances which aggravated its guilt.(1) The father of this young man was alive and keenly resented the wrong (2 Corinthians 7:12).(2) Though Roman law and manners were loose, yet throughout the Empire the act was branded as a public scandal.(3) This man was a church member and therefore bound to walk by a higher law than that of Rome; and to create such a scandal in such a city might be fatal to the Christian society.
3. Let us, however, do him bare justice, and we shall find him a man like ourselves, open to similar temptations, and falling before them as we fall. From St. Paul's references to him he appears to have been of a sensitive passionate temperament. A few weeks after his expulsion he was in danger of being "swallowed up by a swelling and excessive sorrow" (2 Corinthians 2:7), and the apostle trembled lest he should sink into despair, and vehemently urged his restoration (2 Corinthians 2:5-10). Now a man of such temperament might be led almost unwittingly into the gravest sin. His mother is dead and he is deprived of her counsel and sympathy. His father brings home a new wife — a heathen apparently, probably young and fair, given to him by her parents because he is a man of wealth and position. By and by we discover that she is divorced from him and married to his son. Does it require a novelist to suspect that behind these facts lay a romance or a tragedy? The young man may have loved this girl before his father, and while she favoured him her parents may have favoured the elder suitor. Once married, she may have taken out a divorce, as for almost any reason she was able to do, and have given herself to the man she loved. Or, having willingly married the elder man, her heart may have gone over to the younger before she knew she had lost it. Or, more probably still, she may have been one of those fascinating, fatal women with a strange power for taking men captive, and a wicked delight in using it. On any one of these hypotheses the man at once becomes human to us and alive, and while we cannot palliate his sin, it must have had a strong motive, and being a man of like passions with us he does not stand outside the pale of our sympathy.
II. HIS SENTENCE.
1. He had a terrible awaking from his brief passionate dream. One evening he leaves the fair heathen who has bewitched him and goes down to church. The brethren are at their common evening meal. An unusual animation prevails among them. Titus is there with a letter from Paul, and sits at the board with a clouded, anxious face. The meal over he unrolls the epistle and begins to read. We know how the letter opens. And then, after all this kindly weather, the storm breaks (1 Corinthians 4:21). Up to this point all may have listened with tolerable composure. No one had been singled out for blame. But here, surely more than one back must have shivered with prophetic twinge. Probably, however, the young man had no presentiment of what was coming. If so, so much the worse for him; for now the rod falls in earnest. It is impossible to describe the agony of shame with which a sensitive, impulsive man would listen to the sentences which follow.
2. There can be no doubt that St. Paul intended to supply the church with a formula of excommunication, and that they used it. After due consultation, and when the vote of the church had been taken — not an unanimous vote, as it proved (2 Corinthians 2:6) — we must suppose that the young man was summoned before the elders of the church, and that they pronounced over him the solemn words, "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we deliver thee, So-and-so, to Satan, for the destruction of thy flesh, that thy spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." And we may well believe that the sentence fell on the offender like the doom of death. Not that the apostle meant to shut him out from the common requisites and courtesies of life, or to make him a son of perdition; he meant —(1) To have this open offender against the law of Christ cast out from the communion of the church, at least for a time, and so 'brought to a knowledge of his sin and sincere repentance. St. Paul habitually conceived of the heathen world as the domain of Satan, the prince of this world, and therefore to cut a man off from the church and cast him back on the world was to "deliver such an one to the power of Satan."(2) He habitually conceived of pain, disease, loss, obstruction, &c., as the work of the evil spirit, as indeed does all Scripture. Is any good purpose crossed? Satan hindered (1 Thessalonians 2:18). Is he tormented with a disabling malady? An angel of Satan buffets him (2 Corinthians 12:7). He had the highest authority for his conclusion (Luke 13:16). Probably, therefore, just as Job was given over into the hand of Satan for a time to be tried, or just as a darkness fell upon Elymas, so also when the Corinthian was excommunicated there came on him a succession of cruel losses. Perhaps even the loss of the fair heathen woman, or some disease which purged out the fever from his blood and brought him to himself. How all this differs from the ban to which the Church has again and again exposed the heretic, and from the mystic spiritual doom which some have discovered in this formula! For —(3) The apostle expressly says that the "destruction" was intended not for damnation, but for salvation (see also 1 Corinthians 11:32; 1 Timothy 1:20).
III. HIS ABSOLUTION. If "the end crowns the work," who that has "seen the end of the Lord" with this young man can deny that even his excommunication was a work of mercy? His conscience was roused. He confessed and renounced his sin; his sorrow for it swelled till it threatened to prove fatal. And when Titus brings Paul the tidings, the heart of the apostle is profoundly moved (2 Corinthians 2:5-7). And in this passion of forgiving love to the penitent, Paul was a faithful expounder of the very spirit of the gospel. If there was mercy even for the wicked person no man need despair.
(S. Cox, D. D.)
I. THAT THE SOCIALLY IMMORAL SOMETIMES FIND THEIR WAY INTO CHRISTIAN CHURCHES. A case of fornication had been reported to Paul. One of the members had actually married his stepmother. Such a piece of immorality would be regarded with the utmost abhorrence, even in heathendom. How such a character became a church member must have been through imposition on the one hand, and the lack of scrutiny on the other. It is to be feared that the admission of the socially immoral into churches has in every age been too common. How many churches are there in England entirely free from those who every day outrage the golden rule? There are merchants that cheat their customers, lawyers their clients, doctors their patients, politicians their constituents; masters and mistresses that oppress their servants, and servants unfaithful to their employers. The Church is a field in which grows the tare as well as the wheat, a net in which there is the "unclean" as well as the "clean."
II. THAT CHURCHES IN THEIR INTERNAL RELIGIOUS DISPUTATIONS ARE IN DANGER OF OVERLOOKING THESE (ver. 21). Probably there were those who were proud of this man: perhaps he was eloquent, rich, or influential. We have known joint-stock swindlers who have been made chairmen of religious meetings, and who have been cheered to the echo. Party feeling was so strong, and religious disputation so rife, that such immoralities escaped notice. Creeds are more thought of than character, heretics dreaded more than rogues. Hence the saying, sooner trust a man of the world than a professor of religion.
III. THAT THE EXCLUSION BY THE CHURCHES OF SUCH IS AN URGENT DUTY. A true church is a community of Christly men, and the presence of such in it is an outrage.
1. Their expulsion should be practised with the utmost zeal. It would seem that no sooner did Paul hear of this abomination than he determined to put an end to it (ver. 3).
2. The expulsion should be practised not to destroy, but to save the offender (ver. 5). All punishment should be reformative (Galatians 6:1).
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
I. REPRESENTATION (ver. 4). There is but One whose condemnation is commensurate with God's. Nevertheless, as the representative of that ideal man which Christ realised, the Church condemns. As representative, human punishment is expressive of Divine indignation. "To deliver unto Satan." I cannot explain such words away. I cannot say the wrath of God and the vengeance of the law are figurative, for it is a mistake to suppose that punishment is only to reform and warn. In our own day we are accustomed to use weak words concerning sin. The Corinthians looked on at this deed of iniquity, and felt no indignation. They called it perhaps "mental disease," "error," "mistake of judgment," "irresistible passion." St. Paul did feel indignation; and if St. Paul had not been indignant could he have been the man he was? And this, if we would feel it, would correct our lax ways of viewing sin. Observe, the indignation of society is properly representative of the indignation of God. So long as the Corinthians petted this sinner, conscience slumbered; but when the voice of men was raised in condemnation conscience began its work, and then their anger became a type of coming doom. But only so far as man is Christlike can he exercise this power in a true and perfect manner. The world's excommunication is almost always unjust, and that of the nominal Church more or less so.
II. THE REFORMATION OF THE OFFENDER (ver. 5). Of all the grounds alleged for punishment, that of "an example to others" is the most unchristian. Here the peculiarly merciful character of Christianity comes forth; the Church was never to give over the hope of recovering the fallen. To shut the door of repentance upon any sin, and thus to produce despair, is altogether alien from Christ's Spirit. And so far as society does that now it is not Christianised, for Christianity never sacrifices the individual to the society. Christianity has brought out strongly the worth of the single soul. Yet it would be too much to say that example is never a part of the object of punishment. The severe judgments of society have their use. Individuals are sacrificed, but society is kept comparatively pure, for many are deterred from wrong-doing by fear who would be deterred by no other motive.
III. THE CONTAGIOUS CHARACTER OF EVIL (ver. 6). Who does not know how the tone of evil has communicated itself? Worldly, irreverent, licentious minds, leaven society. You cannot be long with persons who by innuendo or lax language show an acquaintance with evil, without feeling in sonic degree assimilated to them, nor can you easily retain enthusiasm for right amongst those who scoff at goodness.
IV. BECAUSE TO PERMIT GROSS SIN WOULD BE TO CONTRADICT THE TRUE IDEA OF THE CHURCH. Let us distinguish. The Church invisible is "the general assembly and Church of the First-born" (Hebrews 12:23). It is that idea of humanity which exists in the mind of God. But the Church visible is the actual men professing Christ, and exists to represent, and at last to realise, the Church invisible. In the first of these senses the apostle says "ye are unleavened"; i.e., that is the idea of your existence. In the second sense, he describes them as they are, "puffed up, contentious, carnal, walking as men." Now, for want of keeping these two things distinct, two grave errors may be committed.
1. Undue severity in the treatment of the lapsed. Into this the Corinthians fell, and so did the Church in the third century, when Novatian, laying down the axiom that the actual state of the Church ought to correspond with its ideal consistently, demanded the non-restoration of the lapsed. But the attempt to make the Church entirely pure must fail: it is to be left to a higher tribunal. Cf. the parable of the wheat and the tares. Only as a Church visible she must separate from her all such foreign elements as bear unmistakable marks of their alien birth.
2. An over-rigorous puritanism (vers. 9, 10). Note the dangerous results of that exclusiveness which affects the society of the religious only.(1) The habit of judging. For, if we only associate with those whom we think religious, we must decide who are religious, for which judgment we have absolutely no materials.(2) Consciousness: for we must judge those who are not religious, and then the door is opened for all the slander, &c., which make religious cliques worse than worldly ones.(3) Spiritual pride; for we must judge ourselves, and so say to others, "I am holier than thou."
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)I. THE OCCASION.
1. Common report not always reliable.
2. In this case was lamentably true.
3. Was aggravated by the conduct of the Church.
II. THE JUDGMENT was —
III. THE EXCOMMUNICATION was carried into effect —
1. By the assembled church.
2. In the name and with the power of Christ.
3. By apostolic direction.
4. Included a special penalty.
5. Left hope of recovery.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)I. WHO SHOULD EXERCISE IT — the minister in connection with the church.
II. How FAR IT EXTENDS — to exclusion from the Christian fellowship with its consequences.
III. WHAT IS ITS OBJECT?
1. The purity of the church.
2. The amendment of the individual.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned.I. THE DEPLORABLE. Self-inflation, viz., when the Church prides itself on the gifts, wealth, &c., of its members, and when the members boast of the prestige and power of their Church. This is deplorable —
1. In itself.(1) It is opposed to common sense. What has a Church which it has not received? The richer its gifts the greater its indebtedness.(2) it is a flagrant transgression of the law of Christ. "He that would be chief among you let him be your servant."(3) It is opposed to the example of Christ who "humbled Himself."
2. In its consequences.(1) A man who carries his head too high is apt to overlook matters that may bring both his head and himself to the ground. So with an inflated Church. The Corinthians, through obliviousness of the immorality practised by some, it may be, of its gifted members, have been a bye-word for nineteen centuries.(2) A man inflated by his self-conceit of health, strength, &c., may easily overlook humble facts and conditions which may easily prove fatal to the strongest and healthiest. So a Church conscious of its antiquity and connection may ignore certain little sources of weakness which in their after flow cover it with infamy. A little leaven leavened the whole lump. What is the reputation of the Church of Corinth to-day?
II. THE COMMENDABLE is set before us rather by implication.
1. Humility. "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted." The Church must stoop to conquer. Absolute subordination to and reliance on its Divine Head is the secret of its triumph.
2. Repentance for shortcomings. The manifest duty and interest of the Church is to face the facts. A fool's paradise is a desirable abode neither for the individual nor the Church. Having faced the unwelcome facts it is the duty and interest of the Church to lament and confess them.
3. Reformation. "That he that hath done this deed," &c. Without this repentance and humility will be vain. When abuses exist the Church must not think its duty is done when the members recognise and deplore existing evils. Those evils, whether they consist of customs or persons, must be rigorously expelled.
(J. W. Burn.)I. IS A SERIOUS EVIL.
1. It degrades all.
2. Indicates declension of zeal, watchfulness, love, purity.
II. IS COMMONLY ASSOCIATED WITH PRIDE.
1. The offender may be respectable; or —
2. The offence ignored.
III. IS A JUST CAUSE OF SORROW.
1. For the dishonour done to Christ.
2. The injury done to souls.
3. The discredit wrought upon God's cause.
(J. Lyth, DD.)
As absent in body, but present in spirit.
I. THE SPECIAL INSTANCE OF THIS PRINCIPLE FURNISHED HERE. In what sense could the apostle deem himself present with them "in spirit"?
1. By his teaching. He had long laboured here, and his teaching laid the foundation on which Apollos and the others had built. This teaching included many precepts and motives to holiness, and had sunk into the hearts of the spiritually susceptible. By it the apostle still summoned them to purity.
2. By his authority. He spoke by the Spirit of the Lord, and what he directed the Corinthians to do would be sanctioned by the Head of the Church. In vindicating the purity of the Christian communion, and in cleansing the stained robe of Christ's Bride they were to feel that Paul was with them inspiring and corroborating their action.
II. THE GENERAL OPERATION IN THE LIVING CHURCH.
1. Christ, its Founder and Saviour, is absent in body, but present in Spirit. He assured His disciples that it was expedient for them that He should go away, &c.
2. The action of the Church when in accordance with Christ's instructions must be recognised as prompted by His Spirit and sanctioned by His authority. His presence is promised, and should be realised, to teach, comfort, and authorise the actions of those who do His will.
(Prof. J. R. Thomson.)
InI. IS A TERRIBLE PENALTY. Enforced —
1. By Christ.
2. His ministers.
3. The Church.
II. ENTAILS SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES.
1. Loss of privilege.
2. Exposure to evil.
3. In this case possibly bodily affliction.
III. IS MERCIFUL IN ITS DESIGN.
1. To condemn the sin.
2. To save the sinner.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)I. IN THE NAME OF CHRIST. According to His command and direction.
II. BY THE CHURCH. With its knowledge and consent.
III. IN THE APOSTOLIC SPIRIT. With zeal for God's honour and love for the offender.
IV. WITH THE POWER OF CHRIST. With His authority.
V. FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF THE FLESH. Its sinful tendencies.
VI. THAT THE SPIRIT MAY BE SAVED. By timely repentance and reformation.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)1. Is reserved for notorious offenders.
2. Implies serious consequences.
3. May be mercifully overruled for good.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)
Links1 Corinthians 5:1 NIV
1 Corinthians 5:1 NLT
1 Corinthians 5:1 ESV
1 Corinthians 5:1 NASB
1 Corinthians 5:1 KJV
1 Corinthians 5:1 Bible Apps
1 Corinthians 5:1 Parallel
1 Corinthians 5:1 Biblia Paralela
1 Corinthians 5:1 Chinese Bible
1 Corinthians 5:1 French Bible
1 Corinthians 5:1 German Bible
1 Corinthians 5:1 Commentaries