Church Discipline
1 Corinthians 5:1-7
It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles…

I. FLAGRANT SIN IS NOT TO BE TOLERATED IN THE CHURCH. Though the precepts of Christianity are most pure, professors are sometimes impure. The Corinthian Church furnished a deplorable example. The sin of one of its members was a sin which was "not even among the Gentiles." Occasionally occurring among them, but exceptional even in such debased communities; held in general reprobation, not countenanced by their laws. Into the purest society a great impurity may creep. But in the Church of Christ no such iniquity must be winked at. To permit its continuance would be:

1. To imperil the spiritual life of the whole community. "Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump ?" Sin has great spreading power; it is marvellously aggressive.

2. To bring contempt upon the Church. The Church has often to endure contempt, but she should never deserve it.

3. To annihilate the Church's influence for good. How can she fight against evils without, if she tolerates them within.

4. To grieve the Head of the Church. What an anomaly for the Church to foster or be indifferent to the sins which pierced her Lord!

5. To invite the judgment of God. For transgression the ancient Church was cast away, and shall the Church of the new dispensation escape if she gives herself to folly and sin ?


1. By the Church.

2. The flagrant offender to be excluded. For slight offences warning may suffice, but serious lapses call for serious remedies. Sufficient recognition of the sin (as in excommunication) may be well, not only for the Church, but for the transgressor. If the Church think lightly of his misdemeanour, he will probably think lightly of it also. Inferentially we gather that the social position, wealth, influence, of the offender do not come into the account. The law of the Church is the same for rich and poor, high and low.

3. With hope of the offender's reclamation. In the case at Corinth the guilty one is, in Paul's language, to be delivered "unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh." The meaning probably is that Satan shall have power to deal with him somewhat as he did with Job (Job 2:4-7) and with Paul himself (2 Corinthians 7:7); that the sin shall be followed by suffering; the evil doer, outside the Church, being placed in the hands of Satan, "the god of this world," not absolutely, but largely, so far as bodily affliction is concerned. Satan is represented in Scripture as causing bodily pain (see Luke 13:16). This deliverance to Satan was a power delegated to the Corinthian Church by Paul, who, as an inspired apostle, possessed it. The object of the deliverance to Satan was that "the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." The means, "the destruction of the flesh," not the destruction of the body, which is to have a place in the resurrection, but by affliction of the body the destruction of that "flesh," that carnality, that corrupt nature, which cannot inherit the kingdom of God. It is charitable to hope that affliction may fall, even heavily, upon flagrant transgressors in the Church. This may lead them to repentance and to a holier life. Exclusion from Church fellowship is to have this object in view. The severance is with a view to reunion, either below or above. We give up fellowship, but not hope. Our expectation and prayer should be that those excluded may be found in a saved condition in the day of the Lord Jesus. We should not exclude out of vindictiveness, nor with spirit of final judgment, nor in despair of God's grace. Note: It is a very solemn thing to be excluded from the visible Church of Christ. This places us visibly in the kingdom of Satan, and we know not how much more fully under Satanic influence. The Church is a shelter and refuge appointed by God; we should be careful how we forfeit our place in it. But, however sad our severance from the Christian Church may be, the real sadness is in the sin which causes that severance.


1. Incompatible with boast fulness. A cause of humiliation. Whilst we are vainly glorying, the devil is doing his work diligently, and the result will presently appear. Those who are "puffed up" are preparing for a great abasement. Corinthian joy is the herald of sorrow:

2. Grief for the excluded one. Once a brother - a brother greatly beloved, perhaps - and now?

3. Grief tending to self examination on the part of those still in fellowship.

(1) Possibly the lapsed one was not cared for as he should have been.

(2) The evil was not checked, perhaps, when it was in the bud. There may have been opportunities to save from actual ann open transgression.

(3) The evil, perhaps, was rather fostered; indirectly, at all events, by too light an estimate of its heinousness. This may have been so at Corinth; in a city so notoriously corrupt some believers may have entertained lax views of profligacy. If we have in any way helped a brother to fall, how keen should be our regret!

(4) The offender may have been led away by the careless living of some in the Church. Or

(5) may have been influenced by the general tone of the Church. At Corinth, no doubt, the many divisions and the much glorying in men bred an unhealthy Church atmosphere. - H.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles, that one has his father's wife.

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