Scripture Study: 1 Corinthians 5

1 Corinthians 5  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
The apostle now changes the subject to show the necessity of judging evil that may come into a Christian assembly. God uses the evil of man to teach us a lesson needed through all the Church’s sojourn on earth. It was the subject of common report that among them was a man living in fornication, such as was not even named among the Gentiles—that one of them was living in this evil way with his father’s wife. They were puffed up, and had not mourned, that he who was guilty was not taken away from among them—the sin had not been judged. This was grievous to the Lord and to His servant, who now gives them instruction about it.
In verse 5 he emphasizes the necessity of judging the sin. “For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, determined already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 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.” This is apostolic power; the assembly could not do this. We shall see farther on, that their duty (not power) was to put away from among them the wicked person.
Their glorying in having such a man in their midst was not good. It was allowance of evil, and they were leavened by being associated with it. “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” We sometimes meet with uninstructed Christians who quote, “Let tares and wheat grow together until the harvest” (Matt. 13), but that is in the kingdom of heaven, the great profession of Christianity, which contains both true and false virgins—both tares and wheat. We cannot get out of that profession, nor put any one out of it—it will go on till the separation takes place when the Lord comes for His saints.
What we have here, pertains to Christian fellowship. Verse 7 says, “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: therefore let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Christian fellowship must be in holiness and truth, and in the unity of the Spirit.
The passover-type is fulfilled in the death and blood shedding of Christ, and we who know this finished work, are now to keep the feast, typified by the week of unleavened bread, in a life in which we are to judge sin in our ways. It means for us to walk in a path of separation, as those who are redeemed.
Verses 9-11 refer to the difference between everyday life, where we have to do with all kinds of people in our business and otherwise. We cannot avoid this, else we must needs go out of the world. “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, etc., with such an one no not to eat.” That is, that which expresses fellowship, we are not to do. This verse is not a list of those that we are not to have fellowship with, but samples. There are many others whom we must avoid, such as are mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:1717And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; (2 Timothy 2:17).
In our world path we need to sit at table often with wicked men, but that is not fellowship with them. We need to have our hearts covered, and thus kept from evil, so that our speech may be always with grace, seasoned with salt—the fear of God—that we may know how to answer every man (Numbers 19:1515And every open vessel, which hath no covering bound upon it, is unclean. (Numbers 19:15); Col. 4:66Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. (Colossians 4:6)).
Verses 12, 13. “For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge them that are, within?” So we are to judge. But Matthew 7:1515Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (Matthew 7:15) says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” and this might look, to some, like a contradiction. If we examine this text, we will discover that we are forbidden to judge each other’s motives. Whereas, in the other case, the character of the person is fully manifested. Then it is we need to judge the evil course, to put away evil from amongst us. Them that are without, God judgeth. How solemn it is to think of souls under the judgment of God. “Our God is a consuming fire.” It is true also for the believer, as for the unbeliever, that “whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.”
“Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” We are thus called on to put away. We therefore need to discern, and wait upon the Lord to help us in it. We see in Matthew 18:18-2018Verily 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. 19Again 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. 20For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:18‑20) that discipline and prayer go together with the Lord’s presence in the midst. This is important for our guidance. What is stated here is a sad and sorrowful but necessary duty to clear the Lord’s name, to which we are gathered, from association with evil, for His name is “holy” and “true” (Rev. 3:77And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; (Revelation 3:7)); and to keep the conscience of the gathering from the defilement that the allowance of evil brings.
This must not be classed with delivering to Satan. The apostle did that by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ given to him. (See also 1 Tim. 1:2020Of whom is Hymeneus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1 Timothy 1:20)).
It is the saints gathered together to the name of the Lord who are to wait on the Lord for His guidance in discipline. No number of brothers have authority to do so. They may gather evidence, and otherwise serve, the Lord in care for souls, but the whole gathering is responsible to judge where evil comes in, and there the Lord’s presence is to be counted on for guidance.