|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:1-8 The apostle notices a flagrant abuse, winked at by the Corinthians. Party spirit, and a false notion of Christian liberty, seem to have saved the offender from censure. Grievous indeed is it that crimes should sometimes be committed by professors of the gospel, of which even heathens would be ashamed. Spiritual pride and false doctrines tend to bring in, and to spread such scandals. How dreadful the effects of sin! The devil reigns where Christ does not. And a man is in his kingdom, and under his power, when not in Christ. The bad example of a man of influence is very mischievous; it spreads far and wide. Corrupt principles and examples, if not corrected, would hurt the whole church. Believers must have new hearts, and lead new lives. Their common conversation and religious deeds must be holy. So far is the sacrifice of Christ our Passover for us, from rendering personal and public holiness unnecessary, that it furnishes powerful reasons and motives for it. Without holiness we can neither live by faith in him, nor join in his ordinances with comfort and profit.
Verse 2. - And ye are puffed up; perhaps rather, And have ye been puffed up? The "ye," being expressed m the Greek, is emphatic - "ye, the very persons whose horror ought to have been most intense." It might seem inconceivable that any community calling itself Christian would fall so low as to be puffed up at the existence of such an offence among them. There is, indeed, a subtle and close connection between arrogance and sensuality, and beth are sometimes fatally linked to the conceit of religious knowledge without the reality. But not even a heathen community could have been "puffed up" on such grounds. Yet the Corinthians may have been "puffed up" with the conceited reasons which induced them to leave the offence unrebuked, because they boasted the possession of some spurious "knowledge." Perhaps they bad seized some deadly notion of antinomian liberty, such as has existed at times among Gnostic sects, like the Ophites in ancient and the Anabaptists in modern days. Perhaps they sheltered themselves under the arrogant Jewish rule that all a man's conditions of life were altered by becoming a proselyte - that old relationships were for him entirely abolished; for the Jews held that a prosolyte was like "a newborn child," and had begun life a second time (Bechoroth, f. 47, 1), and might marry any of his relatives. Such miserable sophisms would acquire fresh force from the universal impurity with which Corinthian society was stained, and which rendered it necessary for St. Paul in these Epistles to utter his most solemn warnings against every kind of sensuality (1 Corinthians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 6:15-18; 1 Corinthians 10:8; 1 Corinthians 15:83, 34; 2 Corinthians 5:11, etc.). But besides all this, St. Paul's remark does not necessarily mean that their "inflation" was exclusively connected with Gnostic excesses, which bore on the case of this offender. It may mean, "Here is a gross fault in the midst of you, and yet - not propter hoc, but cum hoc - the characteristic of your religious factions is pride and conceit." This was indeed Κορινθιάζεσθαι, "to play the Corinthian," in the worst sense, of that proverbial taunt. Possibly the prominence or wealth of the offender may have led to a more easy condonation of his crime. Exculpatory sophism may have been suggested by self interest. That; i.e. in order that, as a result of your godly sorrow, the offender might be removed from your midst. He that hath done this deed. The language of St. Paul, as always, is as delicate as clearness would allow. The fact that the verb is in the past aorist may perhaps allow us to hope that the offence, at any rate in its most aggravated forms, had ceased to be committed. The manner of the crime ("in such a way") seems to have been an aggravation of the crime itself. In this indignant verse we have, as Stanley says, "the burst of the storm, the mutterings of which had been heard in the earlier chapters." So intense was the effect produced by St. Paul's stern severity, that a great part of the Second Epistle had to be devoted to allaying the agitation which these words had excited (see especially 2 Corinthians 7:8-12).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And ye are puffed up,.... Either with the gifts, learning, and eloquence of their preachers, and particularly of this man, who, by some, is thought to be one of their teachers; and though he was guilty of so foul a crime, yet they still applauded him, and cried him up for a wonderful preacher: or one party was puffed up against another; that which was opposite to the party this man belonged to, boasting over the other as free from the scandal that was exposed unto; or the other were puffed up with their lenity and forbearance, boasting of it as an act of humanity and good nature, and an instance of charity, showing that they were not severe upon one another, for mistakes in life: or else were puffed up and gloried in the thing itself, as an instance of Christian liberty, and their freedom from the law, through a sad mistake of it; and in which they might be strengthened by a notion of the Jews, that it was lawful for proselyted Gentiles to do such things, for so says Maimonides (b).
"The sentence of the law is, that it is free for a Gentile , "to marry his mother", or his sister that are made proselytes; but the wise men forbid this thing, that they may not say we are come from a holiness that is heavy, to one that is light.''
But this writer concludes that a proselyte might marry his father's brother's wife, and his father's wife; and so says his commentator (c), and observes, that it was the opinion of R. Akiba, which Rabbi was contemporary with the Apostle Paul: so that this notion prevailed in his days, and does in some measure account for the commission of such a sin by a church member, and the church's negligence about it:
and have not rather mourned; not only personally, and separately, but as a body; they ought to have met together as a church, and humbled themselves before God for this scandalous iniquity done in the midst of them, and pray unto him,
that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you; not by excommunication, for that they could and ought to have done themselves; but by the immediate hand of God, inflicting some visible punishment, and taking him away by an untimely death, which the Jews call "cutting off", by the hand of God; and such a punishment, they say, this crime deserved; according to them, there were six and thirty cuttings off in the law, or so many things which deserved death by the hand of God; and the two first that are mentioned are these, he that lies with his mother or with his father's wife (d).
(b) Hilchot lssure Bia, c. 14. sect. 12, 13. (c) Auctor Ceseph Misna in ib. (d) Misn. Ceritot, c. 1. sect. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. puffed up—with your own wisdom and knowledge, and the eloquence of your favorite teachers: at a time when ye ought to be "mourning" at the scandal caused to religion by the incest. Paul mourned because they did not mourn (2Co 2:4). We ought to mourn over the transgressions of others, and repent of our own (2Co 12:21) [Bengel].
that—ye have not felt such mourning as would lead to the result that, &c.
taken away from among you—by excommunication. The incestuous person was hereby brought to bitter repentance, in the interval between the sending of the first and second Epistles (2Co 2:5-10). Excommunication in the Christian Church corresponded to that in the Jewish synagogue, in there being a lighter and heavier form: the latter an utter separation from church fellowship and the Lord's house, the former exclusion from the Lord's Supper only but not from the Church.
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