1 Corinthians 5:1-13 — Expel the Immoral Brother!

1. In verse 5:1, why does Paul say that the Corinthians are behaving worse than the gentiles (or pagans)? (Leviticus 18:8, Deuteronomy 27:20)

A: Incest was practically unheard of in Roman society. Also, the OT strictly prohibited such relations. Lev 18:8 - Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father. Deuteronomy 27:20 - “Cursed is the man who sleeps with his father's wife, for he dishonors his father's bed.”

2. How can someone be proud of such immoral behavior? Have you ever bragged about doing something wrong? Of getting away with something?

A: Perhaps they are proud of their liberty—a distortion of grace. Or possibly they are bragging the same way someone does when he gets away with a crime or when he bullies someone else. Or when he has sex with someone he shouldn’t.

3. In verses 3 to 5, how would you paraphrase what Paul tells them to do?

1 Cor 3-5 from the Message - I'll tell you what I would do. Even though I'm not there in person, consider me right there with you, because I can fully see what's going on. I'm telling you that this is wrong. You must not simply look the other way and hope it goes away on its own. Bring it out in the open and deal with it in the authority of Jesus our Master. Assemble the community—I'll be present in spirit with you and our Master Jesus will be present in power. Hold this man's conduct up to public scrutiny. Let him defend it if he can! But if he can't, then out with him! It will be totally devastating to him, of course, and embarrassing to you. But better devastation and embarrassment than damnation. You want him on his feet and forgiven before the Master on the Day of Judgment.

4. If you were a Corinthian church member, how would you explain to your pagan neighbor why this man had been expelled from the church (verse 5)?

A: The man was given to the devil so he may afflict the man as he pleases. Moreover, the man was given to the devil not in some magical way but by deliberately expelling him from the church. To expel him is to put him in the devil’s territory, severed from any connection with God’s people, a truly horrible situation. But Paul seems confident that the man being officially ostracized from the church will cause him so much anguish that he will repent and forsake his wicked ways.

5. Paul refers to yeast in verse 6 alluding back to what law?. How is yeast frequently referred to in the Bible? (Exodus 12:15, Mark 8:15)

A: If you look ahead to the next verse, Paul refers to Christ as the Passover Lamb. So here he is probably alluding to the prohibition against the use of yeast in the bread eaten in the Passover. Exodus 12:15 - For seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. And on the first of these seven days, you must remove all yeast from your homes. If you eat anything made with yeast during this festival, you will no longer be part of Israel.

Yeast in scripture frequently (but not always) symbolizes evil or sin. Mark 8:15. Jesus warned them, "Watch out! Guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod."

6. From the yeast imagery, what is Paul’s concern if this situation is allowed to go on without discipline (i.e., expelling this man)? How is this consistent with the “new bread” they have become?

A: Paul feels that the man is like yeast in the Corinthian congregation and his evil ways will spread. For discussion: does evil spread more easily than goodness? You often hear that "one bad apple spoils the whole bushel" but you seldom hear a parable about the opposite situation of how one good something-or-other causes goodness to spread throughout the whole batch or population.

7. Sidenote: In verse 7, why is Christ called “the Passover Lamb?” (Isaiah 53:7, John 1:29)

A: First, the word lamb. Isaiah 53:7 - He was painfully abused, but he did not complain. He was silent like a lamb being led to the butcher, as quiet as a sheep having its wool cut off.

John 1:29 - The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said: Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Second, Christ was crucified on Passover day, a celebration that began the evening before, when the Passover meal was eaten.

8. Before Communion, does the pastor of your church ever refer to the bread as representing something more than the body of Christ? (See Verse 8)

9. Why is there a difference between the way Christians relate to those in the faith and the way they relate to non-believers? (Verses 9-11)

10. Why should you not associate with a person such as Paul describes in Verse 11? (Remember, he is referring to would-be Christians.)

A: Calling oneself a Christian while continuing to live an immoral life is reprehensible and degrading, and gives a false testimony to Christ. If the true Christian has intimate association with someone who does this, the non-Christian world may assume that the church approves such immoral, ungodly living, and thus the name of Christ would be dishonored. Questions could arise concerning the true character of the Christian’s own testimony.

11. Whose responsibility is it to judge believers in the church? What about unsaved people? (Matthew 15:15-18, Romans 13:1-5, Revelation 20:11-15)

A: The church is to exercise spiritual discipline over believers in the church (Matt 18:15-18) but it is not to attempt to judge the unsaved world. There are governing authorities to do that (Romans 13:1-5) and the ultimate judgement of the world is to be left to God (Rev 20:11-15).

Matthew 18:15-18 - If one of my followers sins against you, go and point out what was wrong. But do it in private, just between the two of you. If that person listens, you have won back a follower. But if that one refuses to listen, take along one or two others. The Scriptures teach that every complaint must be proven true by two or more witnesses. If the follower refuses to listen to them, report the matter to the church. Anyone who refuses to listen to the church must be treated like an unbeliever or a tax collector.

Romans 13:1-5 - Obey the rulers who have authority over you. Only God can give authority to anyone, and he puts these rulers in their places of power. People who oppose the authorities are opposing what God has done, and they will be punished. Rulers are a threat to evil people, not to good people. There is no need to be afraid of the authorities. Just do right, and they will praise you for it. After all, they are God's servants, and it is their duty to help you.
      If you do something wrong, you ought to be afraid, because these rulers have the right to punish you. They are God's servants who punish criminals to show how angry God is. But you should obey the rulers because you know it is the right thing to do, and not just because of God's anger.

Rev 20:11-15 - I saw a great white throne with someone sitting on it. Earth and heaven tried to run away, but there was no place for them to go. I also saw all the dead people standing in front of that throne. Every one of them was there, no matter who they had once been. Several books were opened, and then the book of life was opened. The dead were judged by what those books said they had done. The sea gave up the dead people who were in it, and death and its kingdom also gave up their dead. Then everyone was judged by what they had done. Afterwards, death and its kingdom were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death. Anyone whose name wasn't written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

12. In matters of discipline are you overly judgmental? Too permissive? Inconsistent? Helpful? Explain.

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