1 Corinthians Chapter Five
I. Content of the Chapter
The Church Should Keep the Nature of Holiness
A. The church should not accept sexual immorality (v.1-8):
1. He who has done this deed might be taken away from among the church (v.1-3).
2. The purpose is that his spirit may be saved (v.4-5).
3. The church is a new lump and should keep the unleavened nature (v.6-8).
B. How to maintain the nature of holiness of the church (v.9-13):
1. The church should not keep company with six kinds of people (v.9-11).
2. The church has the power of judgment (v.12-13).
II. Verse by Verse Commentary
1Cor. 5:1 “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles--that a man has his father's wife!”
YLT: “Whoredom is actually heard of among you, and such whoredom as is not even named among the nations -- as that one hath the wife of the father! --”
Meaning of Words: “actually reported”: be universally known; “sexual immorality”: improper sexual relationship;
is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you”, “it is
actually reported”, it is not a rumor that is not true, but an actual public
fact that is known by all. “Among you”: among the church at
“And such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—”, it means that even the fallen Gentiles dare not to brazenly commit such shameless sin.
“That a man has his father's wife!” ---- Very possibly, the father of the man might have been dead. However, such sin was not only be forbidden in the law of Moses (see Lev. 18:8; Deut. 22:30; 27:20) but also could not be borne among men in the world.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The discipline or chastisement cannot be based on rumors, but on certain proof (see Matt. 18:16). Otherwise, it should cause severe opposite effect.
2) Christians have higher moral standards than the Gentiles, let alone to do what is condemned by the Gentiles.
3) Every sin which a Christian may practice is without the body, but he that commits fornication sins against his own body. And our body is temple of the Holy Spirit, so sexual immorality directly sins against the Holy Spirit (see 1Cor. 6:18-19).
1Cor. 5:2 “And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.”
YLT: “and ye are having been puffed up, and did not rather mourn, that he may be removed out of the midst of you who did this work,”
Literal Meaning: “and you are puffed up”, possibly, there are three kinds of meanings of it:
such serious thing happened in the church at
in the church at
3) They thought Christians enjoyed the liberty of being not controlled by anything in the Lord and were proud of such liberty. Actually, they had distorted the truth of liberty in Christ.
“And have not rather mourned”, “mourned”, this word in the original was used when someone was grievous and mournful because his close kin had passed away. Here, it pointed that it was indeed unimaginable that they even did not feel lamentable or mournful when they saw such corrupted conditions.
“That he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you”, “he who has done this deed” referred to that brother who committed this sin; “be taken away from among you”: to cut off the fellowship of the church with him and let him be to them as one of the nations (see Matt. 18:17).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) If the private life of believers has affected the testimony of the holiness of the church, it will be no longer personal affairs and the church should have proper reactions.
2) The church should mourn for the fall of believers’ spiritual life. If any member in the body has some illness, others shall also be affected (see 1Cor. 12:26).
3) One who really loves the Lord and the church will surely care about the condition of other believers, and will mourn for the fall of others.
4) When a believer has become fully carnal and is unwilling to repent at all, the church shall cut off the fellowship with him, thus making him shamed (see 1Thess. 3:14) as well as preventing the testimony of the church from being suffered loss.
5) A faithful servant of the Lord dares to express his idea received from the Lord, even though the feelings of all the believers in the church are different from that of him. He dares not offend men, but dare offend the Lord.
1Cor. 5:3 “For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.”
YLT: “for I indeed, as being absent as to the body, and present as to the spirit, have already judged, as being present, him who so wrought this thing:”
I indeed, as absent in body”, the word “I” showed that Paul was closely linked
to the church and refused to keep him out of it. Actually, Paul at that time
“But present in spirit”: all those who are united with Christ are of the same spirit (see Eph. 4:3). Therefore, they have not gathered physically, but are close in spirit. “Present”, when believers come back into the inner spirits from the outer physical bodies, they will enjoy the fellowship in spirit.
“Have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed”, Paul had already judged that man who committed the sexual immorality and had decided how to deal with him.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Though we believers are not physically gathered all the time, we are one in spirit. Therefore, we can also have spiritual fellowship through prayers with believers who are far away from us.
2) We Christians in spirit are not limited by space, for we are “supernatural”, and even all things are ours (see 1Cor. 3:21). Therefore, we should enlarge our capacity rather than see “ourselves” or “things before us” only.
1Cor. 5:4 “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,”
YLT: “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ -- ye being gathered together, also my spirit -- with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,”
Literal Meaning: “when you are gathered together, along with my spirit”, this verse points the steps of dealing with the brother who has sinned.
If one brother or two or three brothers can not make him repent, the church should come to deal with it (see Matt. 18:15-18). And the church appears in bodily form when believers are gathered together, so Paul here especially mentions the “gathering”.
“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”, it means be united with the Lord Jesus into one. It is in the very first of this verse, so it may have two kinds of meanings:
1) It means that those who are gathered together in the name of the Lord shall have the presence of the Lord (see Matt. 18:20).
2) It also means that he who judges in the name of the Lord judges with the Lord in the presence of the Lord (see Acts 16:18; 2Thess. 3:6). If here “being in the name of the Lord” is of the second kind of meaning, this is the second step.
“With the power of our Lord Jesus Christ”, the third step is through the “power” of the Lord Jesus. The power of the Lord Jesus has overcome all the power of darkness and is manifested by His words and the Holy Spirit (see Luke 4:14, 36).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) It is inappropriate to deal with many serious cases of sins in private. Instead, such cases should be declared to all in order to protect many ignorant believers and that the rest also may have fear (1Tim. 5:20).
2) The presence and power of the Lord are crucially important in any action of the church. Otherwise, it should be only done apparently without receiving any actual spiritual effect. Therefore, all the fellow workers of the overseers and ministers of the church should have sufficient prayers before any action.
3) The prosperity of the church is of the Lord’s presence and the works of the Holy Spirit.
1Cor. 5:5 “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
YLT: “to deliver up such a one to the Adversary for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
Literal Meaning: “deliver such a one to Satan”, “such a one” refers to the one who has committed the sexual immorality; “deliver … to Satan”, it means expelling him from the church so that he shall not be spiritually protected by the church and that he will fall into the hands of Satan (see 1John 5:19).
“For the destruction of the flesh”, it is different from putting the flesh to death by the cross. Putting the flesh to death by the cross is to increase the measure of Christ. “The destruction of the flesh”, it is to give up the flesh that is controlled by lusts so that his flesh will be controlled and ruled and ruined by Satan (see Mark 5:5), thus consequently causing diseases (see 2Cor. 12:7; Luke 13:16) and even death. It has two aspects of effect:
1) It is a warning to other believers (see 1Cor. 10:5-11).
2) It may make the one who has sinned repent completely (see 2Cor. 2:6-8).
“That his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”, “the day of the Lord Jesus” refers to the day when the Lord comes again. “May be saved”, it proves again that once a believer is saved, he will be saved forever (see John 10:28-29). The flesh of believers may be destroyed by Satan, but his spiritual life is still of God. That is a holy seed that sin can not destroy (see 1John 5:9). However, it is being saved only and man will be disciplined by the Lord.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) This verse shows us a principle: when our inner condition is normal, God also protects our outer condition. When our inner condition is abnormal, God does not hesitate to sacrifice our physical body and let Satan destroy in order to protect the inner condition. No matter the history of the Israel ---- the ark’s being taken, the tent’s being abandoned, the temple’s being destroyed, the holy city’s being burnt, or the condition of the church today ---- the disorder or desolation, both of them are the same principle. What attitude shall we have here?
2) The church should not give the flesh unlimited protection and shield so as not to pollute or infect other members. Therefore, in order to protect the whole body, the church should have to do “amputation” if necessary.
3) Actually, many “negative” dealing with may bring about “positive” effect. Many Christians today try their best to avoid talking about or touching negative things, thinking that as long as providing Christ and life positively, all the troubles will pass away. However, this is the sagacity of “ostrich” ---- once it meets the enemy, it hides its head into sands but its huge body is still exposed outside. About one third length of the Scriptures at least mention negative things, we believers should not ignore them.
4) To a certain degree, even Satan can be used to “profit” the church and eliminate what should be cast away ---- the destruction of his flesh, not his spirit. It has indirectly help the church to maintain her holiness, so finally “evil cannot overcome uprightness”.
1Cor. 5:6 “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? ”
YLT: “Not good your glorying; have ye not known that a little leaven the whole lump doth leaven?”
Literal Meaning: “your glorying is not good”, it indicates that Corinthians do not care for such problem at all (see the commentary of verse two), for this problems may destroy the testimony of the church.
“Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” ---- “Leaven” refers to sin. “The whole lump” is the whole church. “Leaven”: to destroy the holy nature of the church. A little sin may ruin the testimony of the holiness of the church.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) A little hidden sin may destroy the whole man and affect even the whole church. Therefore, we should not bear any sin, and should not ignore any sin that we regard as insignificant.
2) Sin has the feature of diffusion and infection. We should not think Christians have immunity to it. Otherwise, we should not take heed to sin. The examples of the failure of many Christians remind us to take heed of sin.
1Cor. 5:7 “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. ”
YLT: “cleanse out, therefore, the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, according as ye are unleavened, for also our passover for us was sacrificed -- Christ,”
the Book of Exodus, chapter twelve,
it recorded that the people of
Spiritual Meaning: “our Passover” typifies Jesus Christ, who shed His blood for us on the cross and paid the cost of redemption so that we would be saved. The Feast of Unleavened Bread typifies that believers should deal with sin after their being saved. Seven days show that believer should lead a life that sin should be purged out in all their life. Therefore, “leaven” typifies sin. “Unleavened” indicates that the new life of believers is pure without any sin. “A new lump”, a holy church without any blemish can be presented to Christ to Be His satisfaction (see Eph. 5:25-27).
you truly are unleavened”, “you” refers to believers at
“Therefore purge out the old leaven”, believers should deal with the sin in the flesh.
“That you may be a new lump”, “new”: perfectly fresh, without anything that is of the old; it is opposite to “old”. It unveils that if believers have really dealt with the sin, the whole church should be a new and holy body before God.
“For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us”, the word “for” reveals that why we should purge out the old leaven and become a new lump. “Christ, our Passover”, Christ has become our Passover, for it is Christ that makes us receive our reconciliation with God. “Be sacrificed for us”, Christ has accomplished the great salvation of redemption.
The whole verse means that if we believers have enjoyed the salvation that Christ has fulfilled and take Him as our Passover, we should purge out the sin, for Christ cannot coexist with sin.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) We believers should deal with sin as well as enjoy the life of Christ that is of no sin so that we should keep ourselves and the church from sins.
2) He who governs the church should keep the holiness of the whole church ---- “therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump” according to the principle of Christ and the cross ----“Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us”. He should not connive at or indulge any sinful things according to his natural kindness.
1Cor. 5:8 “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
YLT: “so that we may keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of evil and wickedness, but with unleavened food of sincerity and truth.”
Literal Meaning: “therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven”, “keep the feast” (see v.7), it signifies that Christians deal with their sins all their life. “Not with old leaven”, one should not keep the feast (spend all their life) in sins.
“Nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness”, “malice” means that one is filled with depravity without any goodness or uprightness. It is the source of all sins. “Wickedness” refers to the evil that one hurts others deliberately. The merely two words that Paul here mentions have nearly the same meanings, including all sins.
“But with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”, “sincerity”: purity without any blemish; “truth”: reality;
The whole verse means that the whole life of Christians should lead a life without leaven. We should not keep any sin in the old flesh, but seek holiness and truth.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The church should replace “malice” and “wickedness” with “purity” and “holiness”.
2) Only Christ is the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. The more we enjoy Him, the more we shall be in holiness with sobriety and the farther we shall be away from sins.
1Cor. 5:9 “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people.”
YLT: “I did write to you in the epistle, not to keep company with whoremongers --”
Meaning of Words: “keep company with”: associate with, mix up together;
wrote to you in my epistle”, we can know from this verse that Paul had written
another epistle to the church at
“Not to keep company with sexually immoral people”, not to associate with those who have committed sexual immorality.
Enlightenment in the Word: believers should not have evil communications, for they corrupt good manners (1Cor. 15:33) and make men come to ruin (Pro. 18:24).
1Cor. 5:10 “Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.”
YLT: “and not certainly with the whoremongers of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, seeing ye ought then to go forth out of the world --”
Literal Meaning: “yet I certainly did not mean with…people of the world”, the words that Paul exhort above are not spoken as to those who do not believe the Lord in the world.
“With the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters”, the world is filled with those who commit sexually immorality, covetousness, extortion and idolatry.
“Since then you would need to go out of the world”, if believers want to avoid touching with them, they should depart from the world and live alone.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Normal Christians are neither those who uphold the concept of celibacy nor those who advocate for the corporate life of Christians by organizing the village of the gospel or the house of Jesus.
2) Christians have the responsibility of being in touch with the world in order to bring men to the Lord. And we should not be influenced by the world, but should influence the world (see Matt. 5:13-16).
1Cor. 5:11 “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner--not even to eat with such a person. ”
YLT: “and now, I did write to you not to keep company with , if any one, being named a brother, may be a whoremonger, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner -- with such a one not even to eat together;”
Literal Meaning: “but now I have written to you… anyone named a brother”, now this epistle is written to clarify the previous one and is spoken to believers in the church.
“Who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—”, “sexually immoral”: to commit sin in sexual relationship; “covetous”: improper request beside what one has already possessed, which even destroy the benefit of others; “idolater”: apostate; “reviler”: he who attacks others with words; “drunkard”: he who often drinks excessively and becomes dead drunk; “extortioner”: he who robs the possessions of others by force;
Note that these six kinds of men are not those who are overtaken in a fault (Gal. 6:1), but those who have refused to mend their ways despite of repeated admonition and become just accustomed to such conditions and formed a fixed expression in the eyes of others. Therefore, we should not quote this verse to deal with brothers or sisters flippantly.
“Not to keep company with anyone named a brother”, “anyone named a brother” refers to such believer who has become such man.
“Not even to eat with such a person”, it means we should not receive him nor being received by him.
1Cor. 5:12 “For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? ”
YLT: “for what have I also those without to judge? those within do ye not judge?”
Literal Meaning: “for what have I to do with judging those also who are outside?” ---- “Those also who are outside” refer to men of the world outside of the church. Today, the responsibility of judging the world has not been entrusted to believers or the church. The world has its nations and rules of organizations, so the church need not go beyond her duties.
“Do you not judge those who are
inside? ” ---- “Those who are inside” refer to believers in the church. Here,
the “judgment” does not mean general criticism (see 1Cor. 4:3-5;
Enlightenment in the Word: Christians should clearly know their responsibilities for things inside and outside the church. Many preachers and Christians today neither provide for his own (see 1Tim. 5:8) nor for brothers or sisters in the church, but take part in various activities of politics and social welfare outside of the church. Such deeds are out of the measure of the rule which the God of measure has apportioned to us (see 2Cor. 10:13).
1Cor. 5:13 “But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person." ”
YLT: “and those without God doth judge; and put ye away the evil from among yourselves.”
Literal Meaning: “but those who are outside God judges”, “those who are outside” refer to men of the world who do not believe the Lord, and here especially refer to men in the world who commit sins and do iniquities. As for these men, the power of God will surely judge them.
“Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person”, “the evil person” is the one who has committed sexual immorality (see v.1-2). Someone infers that he is a false Christians according to the word “evil”. Such inference is wrong, and there are at least two reasons:
1) His spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (see v.5).
later exhorts believers in the church at
“Put away from yourselves”, it means expelling him from the church. And the purpose is: a) to maintain the testimony of the church; b) to guarantee the benefit of the man himself and the church.
III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons
The Responsibility of the Church for Sins
A. The church should verify the fact of sin (v.1);
B. The church should not be puffed up, but mourn for sin (v.2);
C. The church should judge those who have sinned in spirit (v.3);
D. The church should use the spiritual power when it is necessary (v.4);
E. The church should deliver those who have sinned to Satan (v.5);
F. The church should know that sin can blemish the whole church (v.6);
G. The church should purge out sins (v.7);
H. The church should keep the feast ---- keep the nature of sincerity and truth (v.8);
I. The church should keep company with believers who commit sins (v.9, 11);
J. Sins of the world shall be judged by God (v.10, 12-13);
K. If believers have committed severe sins and are unwilling to repent, the church should expel them from the church after judgment (v.12-13);
The Possible Results of Believer’s Deliberate Sin
A. He should be delivered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (v.5).
B. Brothers and sisters should not keep company with him (v.9, 11).
C. He should be expelled by the church ---- put him away (v.13).
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Mary Zhou