Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
COMMAND AS TO
SINNERS OF THE
1. commonly--rather, "actually" [ALFORD]. Absolutely
is reported," implies, that the Corinthians, though they "wrote"
to Paul on other points, gave him no information on those things which
bore against themselves. These latter matters reached the apostle
so much as named--The oldest manuscripts and authorities omit "named":
"Fornication of such a gross kind as (exists) not even among the
heathen, so that one (of you) hath (in concubinage) his father's wife,"
that is, his stepmother, while his father is still alive
She was perhaps a heathen, for which reason he does not direct his
rebuke against her (compare
1Co 5:12, 13).
ALFORD thinks "have" means have in
marriage: but the connection is called "fornication," and neither
Christian nor Gentile law would have sanctioned such a
marriage, however Corinth's notorious profligacy might wink at
2. puffed up--with your own wisdom and knowledge, and the eloquence
of your favorite teachers: at a time when ye ought to be "mourning" at
the scandal caused to religion by the incest. Paul mourned because
they did not mourn
We ought to mourn over the transgressions of others, and
repent of our own
that--ye have not felt such mourning as would lead to the result
taken away from among you--by excommunication. The incestuous person
was hereby brought to bitter repentance, in the interval between the
sending of the first and second Epistles
Excommunication in the Christian Church corresponded to that in the
Jewish synagogue, in there being a lighter and heavier form: the latter
an utter separation from church fellowship and the Lord's house, the
former exclusion from the Lord's Supper only but not from the
3. as absent--The best manuscripts read, "being absent."
present in spirit--
so done--rather, "perpetrated," as the Greek word here is
stronger than that for "done" in
"So," that is, so scandalously while called a brother.
4. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ--By His authority and as
representing His person and will
Join this with "to deliver such a one unto Satan"
The clause, "When ye have been gathered together and my spirit (wherein
I am 'present,' though 'absent in body,'
with the power of our Lord Jesus," stands in a parenthesis between.
Paul speaking of himself uses the word "spirit"; of Christ, "power."
Christ's power was promised to be present with HIS
Church "gathered together in His name"
and here Paul by inspiration gives a special promise of his apostolic
spirit, which in such cases was guided by the Holy Spirit, ratifying
their decree passed according to his judgment ("I have judged,"
as though he were present in person
This power of infallible judgment was limited to the apostles; for they
alone had the power of working miracles as their credentials to attest
their infallibility. Their successors, to establish their claim to the
latter, must produce the former
Even the apostles in ordinary cases, and where not specially and
consciously inspired, were fallible
(Ac 8:13, 23;
5. Besides excommunication (of which the Corinthians themselves had
the power), Paul delegates here to the Corinthian Church his own
special power as an apostle, of inflicting corporeal disease or death in
punishment for sin ("to deliver to Satan such an one," that is, so
heinous a sinner). For instances of this power, see
Ac 5:1-11; 13:11;
As Satan receives power at times to try the godly, as Job
compare also as to Peter,
much more the ungodly. Satan, the "accuser of the brethren"
and the "adversary"
demands the sinner for punishment on account of sin
When God lets Satan have his way, He is said to "deliver the sinner
unto Satan" (compare
Here it is not finally; but for the affliction of the body with
disease, and even death
(1Co 11:30, 32),
so as to destroy fleshly lust. He does not say, "for the
destruction of the body," for it shall share in
but of the corrupt "flesh" which "cannot inherit the kingdom of God,"
and the lusts of which had prompted this offender to incest
(Ro 7:5; 8:9, 10).
The "destruction of the flesh" answers to "mortify the deeds of
only that the latter is done by one's self, the former is effected by
chastisement from God (compare
the spirit . . . saved--the spiritual part of man, in the believer
the organ of the Holy Spirit. Temporary affliction often leads to
6. Your glorying in your own attainments and those of your favorite
(1Co 3:21; 4:19; 5:2),
while all the while ye connive at such a scandal, is quite unseemly.
a little leaven leaveth . . . whole lump--
namely, with present complicity in the guilt, and the danger of
7. old leaven--The remnant of the "old"
heathenish and natural corruption. The image is taken from the extreme
care of the Jews in searching every corner of their houses, and
"purging out" every particle of leaven from the time of killing the
lamb before the Passover
(De 16:3, 4).
So Christians are continually to search and purify their hearts
(Ps 139:23, 24).
as ye are unleavened--normally, and as far as your Christian calling
is concerned: free from the leaven of sin and death
Paul often grounds exhortations on the assumption of Christian
professors' normal state as realized
(Ro 6:3, 4)
[ALFORD]. Regarding the Corinthian Church as the
Passover "unleavened lump" or mass, he entreats them to correspond in
fact with this their normal state. "For Christ our Passover
(Ex 12:5-11, 21-23;
has been (English Version, "is") sacrificed for us"; that
is, as the Jews began the days of unleavened bread with the
slaying of the Passover lamb, so, Christ our Passover having been
already slain, let there be no leaven of evil in you who are the
"unleavened lump." Doubtless he alludes to the Passover which had been
two or three weeks before kept by the Jewish Christians
the Gentile Christians probably also refraining from leavened bread at
the love-feasts. Thus the Jewish Passover naturally gave place to our
Christian Easter. The time however, of keeping feast
(metaphorical; that is, leading the Christian life of joy in
Christ's finished work, compare
among us Christians, corresponding to the Jewish Passover, is not
limited, as the latter, to one season, but is ALL our time; for the
transcendent benefits of the once-for-all completed sacrifice of
our Passover Lamb extends to all the time of our lives and of
this Christian dispensation; in no part of our time is the leaven of
evil to be admitted.
For even--an additional reason, besides that in
and a more cogent one for purging out every leaven of evil; namely,
that Christ has been already sacrificed, whereas the old leaven is yet
unremoved, which ought to have been long ago purged out.
8. not . . . old leaven--of our unconverted state as
Jews or heathen.
malice--the opposite of "sincerity," which allows no leaven of evil to
be mixed up with good
wickedness--the opposite of "truth," which allows not evil to be
mistaken for good. The Greek for "malice" means the evil habit of mind; "wickedness," the outcoming of the
same in word and deed. The
Greek for "sincerity" expresses literally, a thing which, when examined
by the sun's light, is found pure and unadulterated.
9. I wrote . . . in an epistle--rather, "in the
Epistle": a former one not now extant. That Paul does not refer to the
present letter is proved by the fact that no direction "not to
company with fornicators" occurs in the previous part of it; also the
words, "in an (or, the) epistle," could not have been added if
he meant, "I have just written"
"His letters" (plural; not applying to merely one)
also refers to our first Epistle, just as here a former
letter is referred to by the same phrase. Paul probably wrote a former
brief reply to inquiries of the Corinthians: our first Epistle,
as it enters more fully into the same subject, has superseded the
former, which the Holy Spirit did not design for the guidance of the
Church in general, and which therefore has not been preserved. See my
10. Limitation of the prohibition alluded to in
As in dissolute Corinth to "company with no fornicators," &c., would be
almost to company with none in the (unbelieving) world; ye need not
utterly ("altogether") forego intercourse with fornicators, &c.,
of the unbelieving world (compare
1Jo 5:18, 19).
As "fornicators" sin against themselves, so "extortioners" against
their neighbors, and "idolaters" against God. The attempt to get "out
of the world," in violation of God's will that believers should remain
in it but keep themselves from its evil, led to monasticism and its
11. But now--"Now" does not express time, but
"the case being so," namely, that to avoid fornicators, &c.,
of the world, you would have to leave the world altogether, which
would be absurd. So "now" is used in
Thus we avoid making the apostle now retract a command which he
had before given.
I have written--that is, my meaning in the letter I wrote was "not
to keep company," &c.
a brother--contrasted with a "fornicator . . . of
There is less danger in associating with open worldlings than with
carnal professors. Here, as in
Eph 5:3, 5,
"covetousness" is joined with "fornication": the common fount of both
being "the fierce and ever fiercer longing of the creature, which has
turned from God, to fill itself with the inferior objects of sense"
[TRENCH, Greek Synonyms of the New
Testament]. Hence "idolatry" is associated with them: and the
covetous man is termed an "idolater"
(Nu 25:1, 2).
The Corinthians did not fall into open idolatry, but ate things offered
to idols, so making a compromise with the heathen; just as they
connived at fornication. Thus this verse prepares for the precepts in
&c. Compare the similar case of fornication, combined with a similar
idolatrous compromise, after the pattern of Israel with the Midianites
no not to eat--not to sit at the same table with such; whether at the
love-feasts (agapæ) or in private intercourse, much more at the
Lord's table: at the last, too often now the guests "are not as children
in one family, but like a heterogeneous crowd of strangers in an inn"
2Jo 10, 11).
12. what have I to do--You might have easily understood that my concern
is not with unbelievers outside the Church, but that I referred to
those within it.
also--Implying, Those within give me enough to do without those
do not ye, &c.--Ye judge your fellow citizens, not strangers: much
more should I [BENGEL]. Rather, Is it not your duty to judge them
that are within? God shall judge them that are without: do you look
at home [GROTIUS]. God is the Judge of the salvation of the heathen, not
Paul here gives an anticipatory censure of their going to law with
saints before heathen tribunals, instead of judging such causes among
13. put away from among yourselves that wicked--Sentence of
excommunication in language taken from