Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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1 CORINTHIANS - Chapter 5

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1 Corinthians 5

Supplemental Commentary:

II.  MORAL DISORDERS  5, 1 -- 6, 20

1.  The Incestuous Man  5, 1-13

5, 1-8:  Action to Be Taken.    1.  His father's wife is used instead of stepmother because of the wording of the prohibition in Lev. 18, 8; Deut. 22, 30.  If 2 Cor. 7, 12 refers to this case the father is still living.  The wording implies concubinage or attempted marriage.  Such marriage was forbidden by Roman law, but the law was not always observed; the impediment was possibly concealed from the authorities.  Andocides, Cicero and Caius are indignant at similar marriages which were rare even among the pagans.  At the time of Paul most Jews felt that conversion to Judaism broke all former family ties.  Possibly some converts to Christianity made the same claim.    5.  Although some authors think that Paul pronounces here a real sentence, it seems more probably that Paul is comparing the action he has already taken in mind with the slowness to act at Corinth.  He urges at least excommunication (v.13).  To deliver such a one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh: (a) All authors take flesh at least in a moral sense.  In contrast to spirit, flesh is used  of man's evil tendencies (cf. 2, 10-16) which are to be destroyed by this punishment.  Some say that flesh is to be taken also in a physical sense so that the body suffers if this sentence is carried out (cf. Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5; Elymas, Acts 13).  (b) Deliver to Satan (cf. 1 Tim. 1, 20) refers principally to excommunication.  The offender deprived of the sacraments and other helps of the Church will find the struggle against Satan more difficult and be brought to repentance.  Many think that the sentence implies some degree of diabolical possession.  Such possession does not directly affect the soul, but can harass the body (Mark 9, 17.25).  The Apostles may have had the power of loosing devils (cf. Mark 5, 11-13), as they had that of driving them out.

5, 9-13:  Punishment by Excommunication.    V.9 refers to a lost letter.    10.  Of this world: i.e., non-Christians, those "outside" (12).    12.  Bad Christians hurt the Church in pagan eyes because they saw its teaching only in the lives of its members.  Avoidance of those leading un-Christian lives showed disapproval and prevented corrupt influence.

Confraternity Bible:

Action to Be Taken  1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and such immorality as is not found even among the Gentiles, that a man should have his father's wife.  2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned so that he who has done this deed might be put away from your midst.  3 I indeed, absent in body but present in spirit, have already, as though present, passed judgment 4 in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ on the one who has so acted---you and my spirit gathered together with the power of our Lord Jesus--- 5 to deliver such a one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  6* Your boasting is unseemly.  Do you not know that a little leaven ferments the whole lump?  7* Purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new dough, as you really are without leaven.  For Christ, our passover, has been sacrificed.  8* Therefore let us keep festival, not with the old leaven, not with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Punishment by Excommunication  9 I wrote to you in the letter not to associate with the immoral--- 10 not meaning, of course, the immoral of this world, or the covetous, or the greedy, or idolators; otherwise you would have to leave the world.  11 But now I write to you not to associate with one who is called a brother, if he is immoral, or covetous, or an idolator, or evil-tongued, or a drunkard, or greedy; with such a one not even to take food.  12 For what have I to do with judging those outside?  Is it not those inside whom you judge?  13 For those outside God will judge.  "Expel the wicked man from your midst."


6-8: Fermentation was considered as a kind of corruption.  Therefore leaven was removed from Jewish houses for the observance of the Passover to symbolize removal of sin, the corruption of the soul.  The comparison was probably suggested to St. Paul by the nearness of Easter, which replaced the Passover among Christians.