1 Corinthians 5:6
Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
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(6) Your glorying is not good.—There is possibly a reference here to some boasting regarding their spiritual state contained in the letter which had reached St. Paul from Corinth, and to which part of this Epistle is a reply. (See 1Corinthians 7:1.) So long as there is that one bad person amongst you it gives a bad character to the whole community, as leaven, though it may not have pervaded the entire lump, still makes it not the unleavened bread which was necessary for the Paschal Feast. This Epistle being written shortly before Pentecost (1Corinthians 16:8), it was very likely some time about or soon after Easter, hence the leaven and the Paschal Feast naturally suggest themselves as illustrations. The Apostle passes on rapidly from the mention of the leaven to the whole scene of the feast. As with the most minute and scrupulous care the Jew would remove every atom of leaven when the Paschal lamb was to be eaten, so our Paschal Lamb having been slain, we must take care that no moral leaven remains in the sacred household of the Church while she keeps her perpetual feast of prayer and thanksgiving.

1 Corinthians 5:6-8. Your glorying — Of the flourishing state of your church, or of your gifts, at such a time as this; is not good — Is very unseasonable, your church being defiled by tolerating such vices, and thereby exposed to God’s judgments, and also in danger of infection from such an example. Know ye not — Who boast so much of your knowledge; that a little leaven — One sin or one sinner; leaveneth the whole lump — Diffuses guilt and infection perhaps through a whole religious society or congregation; that is, this single example, if tolerated, will infect others, and draw them to the like evil practices. Purge out, therefore, the old leaven — Both of sinners and of sin; that ye may be a new lump — That your whole church may be a holy society; as ye are unleavened — As, by profession, you are obliged to be saints, and separated from sin, or that, being unleavened, ye may be a new lump, holy unto the Lord. For even Christ our passover — Who was represented by the paschal lamb, John 1:29; is sacrificed for us — Has been slain to make satisfaction for our sins, 1 Corinthians 15:3. As if he had said, It concerns you to let nothing of leaven, nothing of sin, be found about you, because as Christians we are now keeping a perpetual passover, of which the Jewish passover (about the time of which this epistle was written) was only a type. What exquisite skill, both here and everywhere, conducts the zeal of the inspired writer! How surprising a transition is here! And yet how perfectly natural! The apostle, speaking of the incestuous criminal, slides into his darling topic, a crucified Saviour! Who would have expected it on such an occasion? Yet when it is thus brought in, who does not see and admire both the propriety of the subject, and the delicacy of its introduction? Therefore let us keep the feast — Let us feed on him by faith; or let the whole of our lives be like the Jewish feast of passover and unleavened bread. Here is a plain allusion to the Lord’s supper, which was instituted in the room of the passover; not with the old leaven — Of heathenism or Judaism; or with such errors and vices as we were formerly addicted to, and influenced by: neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness — Nor allowing ourselves in any unkind and corrupt affections, or sinful practices, or tolerating among us any scandalous conduct. Malice is ill-will in the mind; but wickedness is ill-will expressed by actions, especially such as are accompanied with treachery. Hence the devil is styled ο πονηρος, the wicked one. But with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth — With the most simple and sincere desire of knowing and practising every branch of our duty; which if we really have, it will keep us from all these evils, and will ensure such a uniformity of behaviour, as will be honourable to our profession, and agreeable to the design of its glorious author. The apostle gives the epithet of unleavened to the graces of sincerity and truth, in allusion to the emblematical meaning of the unleavened bread, which the Israelites were to eat during the feast of the passover; for thereby they were taught to celebrate that feast with pious and holy dispositions.

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.Your glorying - Your boasting; or confidence in your present condition, as if you were eminent in purity and piety.

Is not good - Is not well, proper, right. Boasting is never good; but it is especially wrong when, as here, there is an existing evil that is likely to corrupt the whole church. When people are disposed to boast, they should at once make the inquiry whether there is not some sin indulged in, on account of which they should be humbled and subdued. If all individual Christians, and all Christian churches, and all people of every rank and condition, would look at things as they are, they would never find occasion for boasting. It is only when we are blind to the realities of the ease, and overlook our faults, that we are disposed to boast. The reason why this was improper in Corinth, Paul states - that any sin would tend to corrupt the whole church, and that therefore they ought not to boast until that was removed.

A little leaven ... - A small quantity of leaven or yeast will pervade the entire mass of flour, or dough, and diffuse itself through it all. This is evidently a proverbial saying. It occurs also in Galatians 5:9. Compare the note at Matthew 13:33. A similar figure occurs also in the Greek classic writers - By leaven the Hebrews metaphorically understood whatever had the power of corrupting, whether doctrine, or example, or anything else. See the note at Matthew 16:6. The sense here is plain. A single sin indulged in, or allowed in the church, would act like leaven - it would pervade and corrupt the whole church, unless it was removed. On this ground, and for this reason, discipline should be administered, and the corrupt member should be removed.

6. Your glorying in your own attainments and those of your favorite teachers (1Co 3:21; 4:19; 5:2), while all the while ye connive at such a scandal, is quite unseemly.

a little leaven leaveth … whole lump—(Ga 5:9), namely, with present complicity in the guilt, and the danger of future contagion (1Co 15:33; 2Ti 2:17).

You boast and glory because you have men of parts amongst you, persons whom the world count wise;

your glorying is not good; what do you glory for, when you have such a scandalous person amongst you, and take no care to cast him out? Can you be ignorant, that as

a little leaven taken into the midst of the meal, and there kept, presently soureth the whole mass, and leaveneth the whole lump; so one notorious, scandalous sinner detained in the bosom of a church, casts a blot upon the whole church?

Your glorying is not good,.... Their glorying in their outward flourishing condition, in their riches and wealth, and in their ministers, in their wisdom and parts when under such an humbling dispensation; and especially if their glorying was in the sin itself, and their connivance at it, it was far from being good, it was very criminal, as the consequence of it was dangerous:

know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? This, in nature, is what everybody knows; and the proverb, which is much used by the Jews (f), was common in the mouths of all, and the meaning of it easy to be understood: thus, whether applied to the leaven of false doctrine, nothing is more manifest, than when this is let alone, and a stop is not put to it, it increases to more ungodliness; or to vice and immorality, as here; which if not taken notice of by a church, is not faithfully reproved and severely censured, as the case requires, will endanger the whole community; it may spread by example, and, under the connivance of the church, to the corrupting of good manners, and infecting of many.

(f) Neve Shalom apud Caphtor, fol. 41. 1.

{7} Your glorying {d} is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

(7) Another goal of excommunication is that others are not infected, and therefore it must of necessity be retained in the Church, so that one is not infected by the other.

(d) Is nothing and not grounded upon good reason, as though you were excellent, and yet there is such wickedness found among you.

1 Corinthians 5:6. In face of the necessity for such measures as these—how odious appears that of which ye make boast! Rather ought ye to consider that a little leaven, etc., and (1 Corinthians 5:7) sweep out the old leaven! Καύχημα is not the same as καύχησις, but: materies gloriandi (see on Romans 4:2); and what is meant by it is not the incestuous person (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Grotius) as a man of high repute for wisdom in Corinth, but the condition of the Corinthians as a Christian church, inasmuch as they boasted themselves of this so confidently, while morally it was foul enough and full of shameful abuses! αἰσχρὸν κλέος, Eur. Hel. 135.

οὐκ οἴδατε κ.τ.λ[801]] Basis of the admonition which follows in 1 Corinthians 5:7. The meaning of the proverbial saying (comp Galatians 5:9, and on the figure of the leaven, which is very frequently used elsewhere, and that in different senses, Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:21; Matthew 16:6; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1) is ordinarily defined to be this: that a corrupt man corrupts the whole church. But 1 Corinthians 5:8 proves that Paul was thinking not of persons, but of abstract qualities in connection with ζύμη and ἄζυμα. The meaning, therefore, must be: Know ye not that one scandal in the church robs the whole church of its moral and Christian character? Comp also Hofmann. In virtue of their relation as members of a common society, all become chargeable with guilt by the toleration among them of a single scandalous offence, and their ἁγιότης is gone!

[801] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

1 Corinthians 5:6. “Your vaunt is not good:” καύχημα, materies gloriandi (cf. αἰσχρὸν κλέος, Eurip., Helena, 135: Mr[834]), found in the state of the Church, of which the Cor[835] were proud (1 Corinthians 4:6 ff.) when they ought to have been ashamed.—καλόν, good in the sense of seemly, of fine quality; cf. 2 Corinthians 8:21, John 10:32, etc. For οὐκ οἴδατε …; see 1 Corinthians 3:16.—The Cor[836] might reply that the offence, however shameful, was the sin of one man and therefore a little thing; P. retorts, that it is “a little leaven,” enough to “leaven the whole kneading”: cf. the Parables of Matthew 13:33 and Luke 12:1. A sin so virulent held an indefinite power of corruption; it tainted the entire community. The φύραμα (φυράω, to mix) is the lump of dough kneaded for a single batch of bread: see parls.

[834] Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).

[835] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[836] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

6. Your glorying is not good] Rather, that state of things of which you glory is not good. The word here translated glorying signifies that whereof a man glories, and is so translated in Romans 4:2. Cf. ch. 1 Corinthians 9:15-16; 2 Corinthians 1:14; 2 Corinthians 5:12; 2 Corinthians 9:3, &c., where the same word is used, but is variously translated in our version. The Corinthians are once more reminded how little cause they had for self-glorification. As long as they permitted such an offender to defile their society they were in a measure partakers of his sin.

a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump] The presence of a very small amount of evil in the Christian society imparts a character to the whole—a truth only too folly exemplified in the after-history of the Christian Church. From the evil that has crept into the Christian society men have taken occasion to deny its divine origin. The student of history will remember how dexterously Gibbon contrives to throw discredit upon Christianity by enlarging upon the shortcomings of the early Church, and by evading the comparison between its moral elevation and the shocking demoralization of heathen society. The same words are to be found in Galatians 5:9.

1 Corinthians 5:6. Οὐ καλὸν, not good) The not, is directed against the careless indifference of the Corinthians.—τὸ καύχημα, glorying) This in itself is something good and becoming, 1 Corinthians 15:31; but wherever it is not anxiously watched, it is at fault, and comes very near to a puffing up of the spirit, 1 Corinthians 5:2.—μικρὰζυμοῖ) an Iambic verse of six feet [Senarius], Galatians 5:9.—ζύμη, leaven) even one sin and one sinner.—φύραμα, lump) the assembly of Christians.—ζυμοῖ, leavens) with guilt and its example creeping on to a very wide extent. [Alas! for how long a period of time, and in how great a degree, must the Christian world, if we except those portions of it which are renewed, be a lump, or collection of filth most thoroughly leavened!—V. g.]

Verse 6. - Your glorying; rather, the subject of your boasting, the point on which you glorify yourselves. The Greek word does not mean the act of boasting, but the thing of which we boast. Not good. The Greek word is not agathon, but kalon, an almost untranslatable word, which implies all moral beauty, and resembles the English word "fair" or "noble." When he says that it is "not good," he uses the figure called litotes; i.e. he employs an expression intentionally too weak, that it may be corrected into a stronger one by the involuntary indignation of the reader; as when Virgil calls the cannibal tyrant Busiris "unpraised." Hence the clause is equivalent to "the thing of which you are boasting is detestable." Know ye not. This clause is used by St. Paul in specially solemn appeals, and almost exclusively in these Epistles (1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:16, 19; 1 Corinthians 9:13, 24). A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (Galatians 5:9). The taint alluded to is not only the presence of the unpunished offender, but the general laxity and impurity displayed by their whole bearing in the matter (comp. the line of Menander quoted in ch. 15:33, and the "root of bitterness" in Hebrews 12:15). (For the word "lump," see Romans 11:16.) 1 Corinthians 5:6Glorying (καῦχημα)

Not the act, but the subject of boasting; namely, the condition of the Corinthian church.

Lump (φύραμα)

See on Romans 12:21. A significant term, suggesting the oneness of the Church, and the consequent danger from evil-doers.

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