King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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1 Corinthians 5

The apostle blames the Corinthians for connivance at an incestuous person; (1-8) and directs their behaviour towards those guilty of scandalous crimes. (9-13)

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The apostle blames the Corinthians for connivance at an incestuous person;

1 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.

2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

3 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,

4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,

5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

and directs their behaviour towards those guilty of scandalous crimes

9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:

10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.

11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?

13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. As the like is not among the heathens. This seems to have been the crime of incest, that he took the wife of his father yet living. See 2 Cor. vii. v. 12. Wi. — S. Chrys. Theod. &c. think, that this incestuous person was one of the chiefs of the schism which then reigned in Corinth. This man, say they, was a great orator, with whose eloquence the Corinthians were enchanted, and therefore dissembled a knowledge of his crime, public as it was. The apostle having proved to them the vanity of all human learning, in the preceding chapter, now attacks the incestuous man, and exposes to their view the enormity of his crime. Calm.

Ver. 2. You are puffed up, seem to be unconcerned, to take pride in it, instead of having the man separated from you. Wi.

Ver. 3. &c. Have already judged, decreed, and do decree, being present in spirit with you, and with your congregation. — In the name . . . with the power of our Lord Jesus, to deliver such a one to Satan by a sentence of excommunication, depriving him of the sacraments, the prayers, and communion, and even of the conversation of the rest of the faithful. It is likely in those times, such excommunicated persons were delivered over to Satan, so as to be corporally tormented by the devil, to strike a terror into others. See S. Chrys. hom. xv. and this is said to be done for the destruction, or punishment of the flesh, that the spirit, or soul, may be saved. Wi. — It is the opinion of most of the Greek fathers, that this man was either really possessed by the devil, or at least struck with such a complaint as a mortification, and humiliation to his body, whilst it served to purify his soul. We have seen from many instances in holy Scripture, that it was not unusual, in the origin of Christianity, for persons who had fallen into crimes of this nature, to be punished with death, some grievous sickness, or by being possessed by the devil. But most divines are of opinion that this man was delivered over to the devil, so as to be separated from the communion of the Church. Amb. Est. Just. Menoc.

Ver. 6-8. Your glorying is not good, when you suffer such a scandal among you: you have little reason to boast of your masters, or even of the gifts and graces you received. A little leaven corrupteth the whole mass; a public scandal, when not punished, is of dangerous consequence. — Purge out the old leaven. He alludes to the precept given to the Jews of having no leaven in their houses during the seven days of the Paschal feast. For our Pasch, i.e. Paschal lamb, Christ is sacrificed: and Christians, says S. Chrys. must keep this feast continually, by always abstaining from the leaven of sin. Wi.

Ver. 9. &c. I wrote to you in an epistle. If he does not mean what he has said already in this epistle, it must have been in some other, which he had written to them before, (as some conjecture) and which is not now extant. — Now to keep company with fornicators, nor with such like public scandalous sinners, not so much as to eat with them. But you must take notice, that I mean, when they are brethren, or Christians, not when they are infidels, for this cannot be avoided, especially by those who are to labour to convert them. This admonition of the apostle, shews us how much such persons are to blame, who by their carriage encourage, applaud, and are delighted with wicked company. Them who are without the pale and fold of the Church, the apostle leaves to the great judge of the living and the dead. Wi.

Ver. 12. To judge them that are without. Those who are said by the apostle to be without, are those who have never been converted to the faith, and therefore are not within the jurisdiction of the Church.

Ver. 13. Take away. This passage is differently understood by commentators. By some it is understood thus: expel the evil one from among you, that is, the incestuous man. Estius. — By others, it is understood to be spoken in a general sense, meaning, take away the evil of sin from among you. Calmet.