Wednesday, 4 June 2014
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! 1 Corinthians 5:1
At the end of the previous chapter, Paul noted those who were “puffed up” in their conduct. To close out the chapter he said, “What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?” This sets the tone for chapter 5 which begins with words that are hard to imagine in any society at any time.
“It is actually reported…” indicates that Paul received word about the matter. But it also indicates that it is a known matter; something not hidden from the outside world. It was probably Chloe who reported this as she was the source of Paul’s writing in the first place as was previously seen in chapter 1 –
“For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.” 1 Corinthians 1:11
“That there is sexual immorality among you…” This is the reason for Paul’s mentioning of “a rod” as noted above. This is something which is intolerable within the body and which needs to be addressed. Bringing this up here in his epistle, which is recorded in the Bible, indicates that it is an offense for all ages, not something merely cultural within the area of Corinth. The implication then at this point, and throughout the rest of the New Testament, is that sexual immorality is not to be practiced or excused.
But there is more. This wasn’t just a case of sexual immorality which occurred through momentary passions. Instead, it was a deliberate act and one which was considered deplorable in the society at that or any time. This can be discerned from the words “and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles…” What was being practiced was reprehensible even among the Gentiles. This wasn’t a matter of merely reinserting the law of Moses (see Leviticus 18:8). Rather, it was a matter which is written on the conscience of all people (see Romans 1:28-32).
Because of the offending nature of the act, and because even the Gentiles knew the utter impropriety of the matter, how shameful it was for someone in the church to conduct his affairs in such a way. And more – how shameful it was that the church knew about it and had done nothing to correct it (as will be seen in the verses ahead).
And the offence was “that a man has his father’s wife!” This was forbidden by the Law of Moses, which arguably is set aside in Christ, but it was an act which was known to be wrong by all people instinctively. Further, it violated the edict issued by the council in Jerusalem which is recorded in Acts 15 and which stated –
“We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.” Acts 15:27-29
Life application: Doctrine for the Church Age has been given by Paul for our learning, guidance, adherence, and for our good. What is written there has been given for the sake of the church as well as individuals within the church. To flagrantly ignore mandates and exhortations which are prescriptive in nature can only cause harm to both. When one acts in such a manner, they are bringing disgrace upon the name of Jesus Christ. Be firm in your convictions that you will neither act in such a manner, nor allow it to be tolerated in your church.
Lord God, surely Your word has been given to us for our good and for the health of the entire body of saints. Help me to be firm in my convictions that I will never act in a manner contrary to what the Spirit has revealed in the pages of the Bible. And Lord, help me to also be firm in handling such matters which may arise in the church I attend as well. Timidity can only lead to tolerance; tolerance to disobedience; and disobedience to shame. Give me the strength to stand firm on Your precious word. Amen.