1 Corinthians 5: On Immoral Christians

11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

Open Immorality.  Corinth is known throughout the Roman Empire for its loose sexual standards.  But one of the Christians is now involved in a sexual relationship even the pagans abhor!  Paul has “already passed judgment on this individual and demand that he be “put out of your fellowship.”

In such a case, passing judgment simply involves agreeing with God that a practice, identified in Scripture as sin, is sin.

When Paul speaks of handing the man over to Satan, he expresses the conviction that persistent sin will lead to physical death.  Satan can have his handful of dust in the dead body.  If the individual is a believer, God will take his spirit!

Meaning of 1 Cor. 5:5

5 hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh,, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

The context of 1 Cor. 5:5 deals with church discipline of an unrepentant
sinner among them.  One of their members was committing fornication with his
father’s wife, and they had done nothing about this sin in their midst (1
Cor. 5:1-2).  Instead, they had become “puffed up” (arrogant) about his
presence among them, probably thinking that his presence among them was not
affecting them and that they didn’t have to do anything about him (1 Cor.
5:2).  They had become far too casual about the presence of sin in the

Paul rebuked the Corinthian church for its inactivity in dealing with this
sinner and his sin, saying he had already judged the man to be living in sin
and unworthy of fellowship (1 Cor. 5:3).

In 1 Cor. 5:4-5 the apostle commands what they were to do:  By the authority
of Christ (“in the name of our Lord Jesus”) and in their assembly (“when you
are gathered together”) they were to “deliver” this man over to Satan in an
effort to save his soul.  That is, they were to publicly mark his present
sin (cf. Rom. 16:17; 2 Thess. 3:14).  And, they were to cease their social
contact with this man (1 Cor. 5:9-13).

The “destruction of the flesh” in 1 Cor. 5:5 is the destruction of the
carnal man (the brother was a fornicator and should be put away from them,
5:1, 13) so that his spirit would be saved (if he would repent).  As
Galatians 5:24 affirms:  “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the
flesh with its passions and desires.”  (please read Romans 8:5-8, 13, where
“flesh” refers to carnality, the carnal mind, the fleshly appetites).

The purpose of church discipline is to save the sinner:  “that his spirit
may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”  It is designed to “wake the
sinner up” to the eternal death he is facing unless he repents.  (cf. 1 Tim.

This occasion of church discipline in Corinth worked – the sinner repented
of his sin.  2 Corinthians 2:1-11 shows us that the man repented and was
forgiven by the Lord, the apostle and the church at Corinth.

Paul is greatly concerned because of the indifference of the Corinthians to sin in their fellowship.  The whole community is called to be holy.  Undisciplined, sin will spread, as yeast does in dough, to corrupt the whole congregation.

6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Immoral Nonbelievers: 5:9-13.  Christians are not to withdraw from immoral non-Christians.  That would mean isolation in our society.  We are not called to judge nonbelievers, but to share Jesus.  We are called to judge those who call themselves “brother” and yet practice sin.  Purity and holiness are to mark each community of God’s people.




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