Paul Takes a Hard line

Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 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. 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.

1 Corinthians 5:6-8

Paul continues in this unpleasant business with a metaphor of the unleavened bread of Passover, and another mention of their boasting and arrogance from the last section. They need to have an unleavened loaf, not a loaf that is full of the sins from their past, after all, Jesus has taken sin away, so they need to be a new loaf without the malice and wickedness of the past.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 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. (5:9-11)

Here Paul moves from the metaphorical into the practical, reminding them that in his previous letter of instruction, he had warned the Corinthians not to associate with people who are sexually immoral. Apparently, they had misunderstood his instruction, thinking that he was referring only to people outside of the church.

This brings all of us to a very important point, one that is the subject of a great deal of confusion in our time. We should not be surprised when people who do not have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ behave as though they do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ− that is the normal state of things. Should we associate with such people?

Well, here’s a question to ponder… If we don’t associate with such people, then who will tell them about Jesus? Will they hear the Good News from the pagans?

The man being discussed here, the man who was sleeping with his father’s wife, was supposedly a brother in Christ! A brother (or sister) in Christ has already repented of the old way of living, and if they, after turning away from immorality, have jumped back into it, that is a very different story. In such a case, the shepherd must step in to protect the flock, and ask the person to leave until such time as they can demonstrate repentance.

Notice that Paul mentions more than just sexual immorality here, adding greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler to the mix. Can you see how such people could endanger the flock− can you see how such people might bring the Gospel into disrepute in the community? Remember, these people are supposed to be followers of Christ.

Paul wraps his comments up in 5:12-13, but we should bear in mind that his response is not only to protect the congregation, but also to bring the offender to repentance for the sake of their immortal souls (5:5).

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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3 Responses to Paul Takes a Hard line

  1. I think he is also telling them that they, in the state of faith they are in, are not ready to work with those who are not behaving properly. It is different if someone, like Paul (strong in faith) works with them, but they (weak ask they are) are not ready for this much of a challenge.

  2. Pingback: Paul Takes a Hard line | A disciple's study

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