Read 1 Corinthians 5 at Bible Gateway.
1 Cor 5:1-13 chiastic structure:
1a) 1 Cor 5:1-2, [S-x]ual immorality present and tolerated in the church;
1b) 1 Cor 5:3-5, Paul has judged him who has done this deed;
1c) 1 Cor 5:6-7a, A little leaven leavens the whole lump, therefore purge out the old leaven;
1d) 1 Cor 5:7b, That you may be a new lump since you truly are unleavened;
central axis) 1 Cor 5:7c, For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us;
2d) 1 Cor 5:8, Keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth;
2c) 1 Cor 5:9-11, Do not keep company with anyone named a brother who does these things;
2b) 1 Cor 5:12-13a, We do not judge those who are outside, but inside the church;
2a) 1 Cor 5:13b, Put away from yourselves the evil person.
From 1 Cor 4:
“But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.” 1 Cor 4:3-5
From 1 Cor 5:
“For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.” 1 Cor 5:3
The deed was immorality. So is Paul contradicting himself? No – we have to understand what we are to not judge before the time, and what we are to judge as a matter of course in our everyday lives.
What we are not to judge is the counsels of the heart (1 Cor 4:5). Motivations, intentions, lies sincerely believed to be truth as caught in a trap of deception, state of faith, salvation, and all that concerns the heart, we are not to judge before the time – before the Day of Judgment when the time for repentance will be over. The things of the heart are hidden to us, therefore we cannot judge them with just judgment, but the LORD only.
What we are to judge is the actions of the body (1 Cor 5:3). Behavior, deeds. Not the heart, not thoughts, intentions, or emotions, but deeds. And not just the deeds of everyone. The unbelievers are outside, and not only are we not to judge them, but we (adults, not children, Pro 13:10) are to associate with them, so that the world might be saved by our witness!
But the deeds of believers, we are to judge (1 Cor 5:11). Jesus says the same, when He says,
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” Mat 18:15-17
What are sins? The things already defined in Scripture as unrighteousness. Jesus, Paul, and all the apostles used Torah to define what was righteous and unrighteous deeds or sinful behavior (Mat 7:23, Titus 2:14, 1 Joh 3:4). The Torah is the dictionary of righteousness for the Scriptures. Jesus tells us the process we go through if a brother sins, before we refuse to eat with such a one. But if the brother refuses all correction, then Jesus agrees that we should avoid that brother and not eat with him. Paul left out the process of bringing the brother to correction, but it is implied of the brother in Corinth whom Paul had judged, that he had been corrected already.
What does Paul mean when he says he delivers that brother to Satan for the destruction of the flesh? (vs. 5). I have no idea. But we should not miss what is clear from this passage of Scripture and many others like it in agreement: sin is a destructive agent which we are not to take lightly, as both the Old and New Testament teaches! Would that we had the heart of the LORD on these matters, and saw these things as vitally important as Jesus and the apostles did!
But why is it so important for the unrepentant brother to be expelled from the church? Because, Paul says, a little leaven leavens the whole lump (vs. 6). Leave a little bit of sin in the church, and it spreads until the entire church is leavened with sin. This is a spiritual principle that cannot be wished away just because it isn’t politically correct in our day to judge anyone for anything!
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