1 Corinthians 5:1-13 CSI: Sin City

Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 1 Cor 5:12

Beginning in chapter 5 through chapter 6 of 1 Corinthians, Paul begins to deal with other concerns that were raised by the oral reports he received from members of Chloe’s household. In these two chapters we see the Corinthians’ pride continue to be manifested – no longer in their preference for personality and rhetoric, but now in their tolerance for sin. Paul writes to the Corinthian Christian community urging them to be involved in the forensic process within their community, rather than taking internal matters to worldly courts, which was precisely what they were doing. In chapter 5, Paul reports what he had heard about the case of an incestuous man in their church; and in chapter 6, he reports on other legal matters that were being taken outside the community to the world’s court systems for settlement. In both cases Paul admonishes that these matter be handled in house – by the church community. It is likely that the Corinthians’ view of the church and their place in the kingdom as well as their pride, kept them from admitting that there were any sinful problems in their midst. Certainly taking a sin as hideous as incest before the entire church community was out of the question! Better to cover up the problem – put them away secretly – or have them dealt with it outside the church – than to admit that sin might yet exist in their mature, spiritual kingdom-community.

In order to understand these two chapters it requires a biblical view of the Christian church as a sub-culture with its own judicial procedures. It requires that we understand church membership, church discipline, and the well- defined boundaries as to who is in, and who is outside, the community. In the case of judging the incestuous man, one verse is dedicated to the sin of incest, compared to twelve verses dealing with the congregation’s responsibility to him and toward one another. Without wasting any time, Paul deals strictly with the church for permitting such heinous a crime to be left unpunished in the church. The Corinthian church was so puffed-up in their supposed superior standing and spiritual maturity, that a decent Christian response did not ensue. Even though the entirety of the Christian church was staunchly uncompromising when it came to the area of fornication and adultery in their midst, the Corinthians did not think it was that important a matter to deal with. Perhaps they believed their freedom in Christ gave them license to fornicate – whatever the case, they were condoning a serious sin, when they should have been filled with grief over it!

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