Paul Rebukes the Immorality being overlooked and even approved in the Corinthian Church Part 1
1 Corinthians 5:1-3 “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed” KJV
Paul from the beginning of this letter has reprimanded these Corinthian believers for their envy, strife, and divisions which could lead them down a road to opening themselves up to other teachers (false teachers) who were not concerned for their souls as were Paul, Apollos, and Peter. Paul spoke from his heart to them about true unity in the truth of the Word of God when he said this, “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God. Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other” (1 Corinthians 4:5-6). Paul ends his discourse to them by exhorting them to be “imitators of him” (1 Corinthians 4:16) and warns them that his coming back to them will be according to their obedience to the will of God found in God’s Word whether it be in gentleness or with a correcting rod. Paul reminds them that their salvation was not due to any great persuasive words that he used, but instead it was all brought about by the Holy Spirit’s Power or Dunamis or Dynamite exerted upon their dead spirits/souls and their resurrection life from the dead “in Christ” was born.
Therefore, after Paul has said all of this to them his next words are spoken with the air of deep disappointment and hurt, as any earthly father would be hurt and disappointed in his son or daughter doing something or saying something to willfully injure him. Paul writes, “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife” (1 Corinthians 5:1). Paul here says that this man’s sexual conduct was not only “reported” to him, but Paul says it was “commonly” reported and this English word commonly Paul uses is translated from the Greek word holos which means to be reported or heard completely throughout everywhere in the known world at that time. Paul was not only saddened by what he had heard, but he was embarrassed for them and for our Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that our Lord’s Name was being mocked and reproached by the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles everywhere because of the indulgent immorality being overlooked and even approved by the Corinthian believers.
Paul wrote these appropriate words to the believers in Rome just for the purpose of warning those believers and all believers everywhere who would read his letters of how the Jews of long ago disparaged the Name of YAHWEH among the pagan world by their hypocrisy, Paul said this, “You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? For ‘the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,’ just as it is written” (Romans 2:21-24). Paul declares that even the rest of the Gentile world (still dead in trespasses and sins) does not even approve or practice this particular act of sexual immorality. Whether Paul had written the first letter to the Thessalonians or not is not clear, but this first letter written to these Corinthians and that first letter written to the Thessalonians were completed about the same time and which one was done first or not does not matter that much because Paul informs us that the letters he wrote were circulated around to all the churches to read, as it is written, “When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea” (Colossians 4:16).
With this fact being affirmed by these words written from Paul’s own hands, we must conclude that these Corinthians had access to some of Paul’s other letters written to the other believers where he specifically and clearly gave this command from our Lord Jesus that they should abstain from fornication (Acts 21:25) and not indulge it as if it were “in the will of God” and not outside His Will. Paul declares them to be boasting in their spiritual gifts and other things and arrogantly either ignoring or approving of this sexual conduct and behavior of this man “having sex with his father’s wife” when they should have been “mourning” or “lamenting” over this destructive Christ dishonoring behavior as if they had lost a first born son to physical death. Paul wants their consciousness awakened to the severity of this man’s sinful rebellion whether it is being done in willful rebellion or ignorance of the truth does not matter. The man was allowed to continue in fellowship in whatever role he had in the church without any cause or concern on his behalf that his actions and lifestyle would be reprimanded as being the works of darkness. Paul says this to them of where he stands with the reports of this conduct that has come to him, “For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed” (1 Corinthians 5:3).
Paul has already earlier in this same letter told these Corinthians to “do not go on passing judgment” (1 Corinthians 4:5), but now he says here that he himself “has judged already” and this sounds like Paul is contradicting himself, but instead what he is doing is showing them what true love looks like as Dr. McGee so commonly says, “in shoe leather” or “where the rubber meets the road” for Paul wants to see “Christ formed in them” and he knows certainly that the indulgence of sexual immorality is not our Lord’s will, for it was Paul who wrote these words, “Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but God who gives His Holy Spirit to you” (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8).
The English phrase “have judged” Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 5:3 is translated by the Greek word krino which means to distinguish or to decide judicially or to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong. This is what Paul is here lovingly doing on behalf of this “one man” and for the good and benefit of the whole body of believers to prevent contamination as we see in the natural of physical world when one “rotten apple” is left in a barrel of good apples before long the whole barrel full of apples are all rotten. This is why Paul is here judicially judging (even in his physical absence) between what is right and wrong according to the will of God.
“God never approves sexual union outside of marriage.” Max Lucado
“The first characteristic of sexual sin is deceit. It never delivers what it promises. It offers great satisfaction but gives great disappointment. It claims to be real living but is really the way to death.” John MacArthur
“The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union.” C. S. Lewis
“Paul shows us here in this incident with the Corinthian believers what he meant when he wrote these words, ‘As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love’ (Ephesians 4:14-16).” Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing healing power, pray this from your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ (you speaking directly to Him), Dear Lord Jesus, I confess to You that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You shed Your Blood and died for my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead proving that You alone are God. I repent of my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I ask You Dear Lord Jesus to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want You to be my Lord, Savior, and my God. Amen...
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author of “Silent Assassins of the Soul - Are you Broken by Pornography and Masturbation? You can be Restored by the Lord Jesus Christ and brought into Deliverance, Freedom, and Victory! A Guide for Men and Women in the Enemy’s Crosshairs” e-book available now @ Amazon Kindle, @ Apple I Bookstore for IPod, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Reader Store for Sony Reade, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker and Taylor, and eBookPie…