Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) wrote about why he felt that pride was the most grievous of all sins, “In order to overcome their pride, God punishes certain men by allowing them to fall into sins of the flesh, which though they be less grievous are more evidently shameful. … From this indeed the gravity of pride is made manifest. For just as a wise physician, in order to cure a worse disease, allows the patient to contract one that is less dangerous, so the sin of pride is shown to be more grievous by the very fact that, as a remedy, God allows men to fall into other sins.”[i]In this chapter we see Sha’ul dealing with the congregation in Corinth concerning their pride and the sin that it had allowed.[Read 1 Cor. 5][ii]
What is pride? “Pride [superbia] is so called because a man thereby aims higher [supra] than he is….A man is said to be proud, because he wishes to appear above (super) what he really is; for he who wishes to overstep beyond what he is, is proud.”[iii] The passage we just read, deals not only with the sin of an individual, but also the sinful response of the congregation toward that unrepentant sin.
(Vs. 1-2) Sexual immorality was rampant in Corinth[iv] but even they had their unwritten code of ethics. And here was body of believers allowing a man who broke even the pagan’s standards! What is interesting is that, while Sha’ul addresses what this individual has done, he is more concerned with the response of the rest of the congregation. Un repentant sin should always break our hearts and cause us to mourn. The prophet Ezekiel, when seeing of the glory of the God of Israel leaving the Temple, heard Adonai say, “Go throughout the city, through the midst of Jerusalem. Make a mark on the foreheads of the people who sigh and moan over all the abominations that are committed in it.” (Eze. 9:4) Adonai then brought judgement on all who did not have this mark. The congregation in Corinth, however, did not mourn over this sin.
(Vs 3-5) Sha’ul states that he has already passed judgement on this individual, as though he was right there. These three verses are a single sentence in Greek, making it very difficult to translate. But just because something is hard to translate, does not mean that the meaning is hard to understand. Sha’ul passes judgement upon this man, and sentences him to be “turned over to HaSatan for the destruction of his flesh.” The best way to understand this phrase is to remember the man Job.[Read Job 2:1-10]
While we see that Job was innocent of any wrong doing, we see that Adonai allows hasatan to afflict Job’s body. Sha’ul is stating that the congregation should not just expel the person involved in this horrendous sexual immorality, but they should deliberately give this individual over to satan. Just as all of Adonai’s judgements are redemptive, this man should be turned over with the hope that he will eventually repent or teshuvah.
(Vs. 6-8) Sha’ul now returns to the incorrect response of the congregation in allow this individual to be a part of their community. Sha’ul was writing this letter near the time of Pesach (Passover) and reminds the congregation that just like hametz (leaven) effects the entire dough, so also, sin affects the entire community. But do you remember which sin is usually synonymous with hametz? Pride. Here Sha’ul is more concerned with the pride that has come into the community, then he is of the individual living in a sinful relationship. As followers of Yeshua, we must have sincerity and truth as foundations of our lives.
(Vs. 9-10) I mentioned to you before that 1 Corinthians, is not the first letter that Sha’ul wrote to that congregation. Here we see that in a previous letter he had written something concerning sexually immoral people. But it would appear that they had deliberately misunderstood what Sha’ul had meant. Sha’ul clarifies that we are not called to isolated ourselves from the world However we are not to socialise or even eat with an individual who claims to be a follower of Yeshua, and lives in unrepentant sin, whether that sin is sexual immorality as discussed previously, or greed, idolatry, slander, drunkenness or theft.
As a balance, we remember that Yeshua often sat and ate with sinners like in [Mark 2:13-17]. So what is the difference? Well in this case in Mark, Levi, who is better known as Matthew, repented and followed Yeshua. The same was the case for Zacchaeus (Lk. 19:1-10). In fact that is the only difference. While Yeshua demonstrated love toward those who were lost, He always required them to change and empowered them to change as well.
(Vs 11-13) Sha’ul is making a
similar point. As believers, and followers of Yeshua, we have no business
passing judgement on unbelievers outside the kingdom of Messiah. Adonai will
bring judgement upon them as we mentioned in Ezekiel. However, within the
community of God, we are required to bring correction. I will close by saying
that when we bring correction, it must be done in a spirit of humility. [Gal.
[ii] All Scripture quotations are taken from the Tree of Life (TLV) version unless otherwise noted.
[iv] The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Rev. Ed., Vol 11 pg. 300.