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Immorality Rebuked

It is actually reported [everywhere] that there is sexual immorality among you, a kind of immorality that is condemned even among the [unbelieving] Gentiles: that someone [a]has [an intimate relationship with] his father’s wife.(A) And you are proud and arrogant! You should have mourned in shame so that the man who has done this [disgraceful] thing would be removed from your fellowship!

For I, though absent [from you] in body but present in spirit, have already passed judgment on him who has committed this [act], as if I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I am with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to [b]hand over this man to Satan for the destruction of his body, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Your boasting [over the supposed spirituality of your church] is not good [indeed, it is vulgar and inappropriate]. [c]Do you not know that [just] a little leaven ferments the whole batch [of dough, just as a little sin corrupts a person or an entire church]? [d]Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new batch, just as you are, still unleavened. For Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with leaven of vice and malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and [untainted] truth.(B)

I wrote you in my [previous] letter not to associate with [sexually] immoral people— 10 not meaning the immoral people of this world, or the greedy ones and swindlers, or idolaters, for then you would have to get out of the world and human society altogether! 11 But actually, I have written to you not to associate with any so-called [Christian] brother if he is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater [devoted to anything that takes the place of God], or is a reviler [who insults or slanders or otherwise verbally abuses others], or is a drunkard or a swindler—you must not so much as [e]eat with such a person.(C) 12 For what business is it of mine to judge outsiders (non-believers)? Do you not judge those who are within the church [to protect the church as the situation requires]? 13 God alone sits in judgment on those who are outside [the faith]. Remove the wicked one from among you [expel him from your church].(D)

Lawsuits Discouraged

Does any one of you, when he has a [f]complaint (civil dispute) with another [believer], dare to go to law before unrighteous men (non-believers) instead of [placing the issue] before the saints (God’s people)? [g]Do you not know that the saints (God’s people) will [one day] judge the world? If the world is to be judged by you, are you not competent [h]to try trivial (insignificant, petty) cases? Do you not know that we [believers] will judge angels? How much more then [as to] matters of this life? So if you have lawsuits dealing with matters of this life, are you appointing those as judges [to hear disputes] who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is not one wise man among you who [is governed by integrity and] will be able and competent to decide [private disputes] between his fellow believers, but instead, brother goes to law against brother, and that before [judges who are] unbelievers?

Why, the very fact that you have lawsuits with one another is already a defeat. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? On the contrary, it is you who wrong and defraud, and you do this even to your brothers and sisters.

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; [i]neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [by perversion], nor [j]those who participate in homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers [whose words are used as weapons to abuse, insult, humiliate, intimidate, or slander], nor swindlers will inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you [before you believed]. But you were washed [by the atoning sacrifice of Christ], you were sanctified [set apart for God, and made holy], you were justified [declared free of guilt] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the [Holy] Spirit of our God [the source of the believer’s new life and changed behavior].

The Body Is the Lord’s

12 Everything is permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything [and brought under its power, allowing it to control me]. 13 Food is for the stomach and the stomach for food, but God will do away with both of them. The body is not intended for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body [to save, sanctify, and raise it again because of the sacrifice of the cross]. 14 And God has not only raised the Lord [to life], but will also raise us up by His power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Am I therefore to take the members of Christ and make them part of a [k]prostitute? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall be one flesh.”(E) 17 But the one who is united and joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 18 Run away from sexual immorality [in any form, whether thought or behavior, whether visual or written]. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the one who is sexually immoral sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you have [received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]? 20 You were bought with a price [you were actually purchased with the precious blood of Jesus and made His own]. So then, honor and glorify God with your body.

Teaching on Marriage

Now as to the matters of which you wrote: It is good (beneficial, advantageous) for a man not to touch a woman [outside marriage]. But because of [the temptation to participate in] sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. The husband must fulfill his [marital] duty to his wife [with good will and kindness], and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have [exclusive] authority over her own body, but the husband shares with her; and likewise the husband does not have [exclusive] authority over his body, but the wife shares with him. Do not deprive each other [of marital rights], except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, so that you may devote yourselves [unhindered] to prayer, but come together again so that Satan will not tempt you [to sin] because of your lack of self-control. But I am saying this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all the people were as I am; but each person has his own gift from God, one of this kind and one of that.

But I say to the unmarried and to the widows, [that as a practical matter] it is good if they remain [single and entirely devoted to the Lord] [l]as I am. But if they do not have [sufficient] self-control, they should marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

10 But to the [m]married [believers] I give instructions—not I, but the Lord—that the wife is not to separate from her husband, 11 (but even if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be [n]reconciled to her husband) and that the husband should not leave his wife.

12 To the [o]rest I declare—I, not the Lord [since Jesus did not discuss this]—that if any [believing] brother has a wife who does not believe [in Christ], and she consents to live with him, he must not leave her. 13 And if any [believing] woman has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not leave him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is [p]sanctified [that is, he receives the blessings granted] through his [Christian] wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be [ceremonially] [q]unclean, but as it is they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner leaves, let him leave. In such cases the [remaining] brother or sister is not [spiritually or morally] bound. But God has called us to [r]peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband [by leading him to Christ]? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife [by leading her to Christ]?

17 Only, let each one live the life which the Lord has assigned him, and to which God has called him [for each person is unique and is accountable for his choices and conduct, let him walk in this way]. This is the rule I make in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his calling [from God already] circumcised? He is not to [s]become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called while uncircumcised? [t]He is not to be circumcised.(F) 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was [when he was] called.

21 Were you a slave when you were called? Do not worry about that [since your status as a believer is [u]equal to that of a freeborn believer]; but if you are able to gain your freedom, [v]do that. 22 For he who was a slave when he was called in the Lord is a freedman of the Lord, likewise he who was free when he was called is a slave of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price [a precious price paid by Christ]; do not become slaves to men [but to Christ]. 24 Brothers, let each one remain with God in that condition in which he was [when he was] called.

25 Now concerning the virgins [of marriageable age] I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think then that because of the impending distress [that is, the pressure of the current trouble], it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you [w]unmarried? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned [in doing so]; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned [in doing so]. Yet those [who marry] will have troubles (special challenges) in this life, and I am trying to spare you that. 29 But I say this, believers: the [x]time has been shortened, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they did not; 30 and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess [anything]; 31 and those who use the world [taking advantage of its opportunities], as though they did not make full use of it. For the outward form of this world [its present social and material nature] is passing away.

32 But I want you to be free from concern. The unmarried man is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; 33 but the married man is concerned about worldly things, how he may please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. The unmarried woman or the virgin is concerned about the matters of the Lord, how to be holy and set apart both in body and in spirit; but a married woman is concerned about worldly things, how she may please her husband. 35 Now I say this for your own benefit; not to restrict you, but to promote what is appropriate and secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.

36 But if any man thinks that he is not acting properly and honorably toward his virgin daughter, [[y]by not permitting her to marry], if she is [z]past her youth, and it must be so, let him do as he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry. 37 But the man who stands firmly committed in his heart, having no compulsion [to yield to his daughter’s request], and has authority over his own will, and has decided in his own heart to keep his own virgin [daughter from being married], he will do well. 38 So then both the father who gives his virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better.

39 A wife is bound [to her husband by law] as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry whomever she wishes, only [provided that he too is] in the Lord. 40 But in my opinion a widow is happier if she stays as she is. And I think that I also have the Spirit of God [in this matter].

Take Care with Your Liberty

Now about food sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge [concerning this]. Knowledge [alone] makes [people self-righteously] arrogant, but love [that unselfishly seeks the best for others] builds up and encourages others to grow [in wisdom]. If anyone imagines that he knows and understands anything [of divine matters, without love], he has not yet known as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God [with awe-filled reverence, obedience and gratitude], he is known by Him [as His very own and is greatly loved].

In this matter, then, of eating food offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world [it has no real existence], and that there is no God but one.(G) For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, [aa]who is the source of all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things [that have been created], and we [believers exist and have life and have been redeemed] through Him.(H)

However, not all [believers] have this knowledge. But some, being accustomed [throughout their lives] to [thinking of] the idol until now [as real and living], still eat food [ab]as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and because their conscience is weak, it is defiled (guilty, ashamed). Now food will not commend us to God nor bring us close to Him; we are no worse off if we do not eat, nor are we better if we do eat. Only be careful that this liberty of yours [this power to choose] does not somehow become a stumbling block [that is, a temptation to sin] to the weak [in conscience]. 10 For if someone sees you, a person having [ac]knowledge, [ad]eating in an idol’s temple, then if he is weak, will he not be encouraged to eat things sacrificed to idols [and violate his own convictions]? 11 For through your knowledge (spiritual maturity) this weak man is ruined [that is, he suffers in his spiritual life], the brother for whom Christ died. 12 And when you sin against the brothers and sisters in this way and wound their weak conscience [by confusing them], you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if [my eating a certain] food causes my brother to stumble (sin), I will not eat [such] meat ever again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.

Footnotes

  1. 1 Corinthians 5:1 Some maintain that the man had married his stepmother. The marriage, if it occurred, was illegal and invalid by both Jewish and Roman law.
  2. 1 Corinthians 5:5 Probably a call for the man to be excommunicated and removed from the safety and blessing of the church.
  3. 1 Corinthians 5:6 See note 3:16.
  4. 1 Corinthians 5:7 Paul is using the Passover celebration as an analogy. Leading up to the Passover meal was the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Ex 12:17-20), during which the Israelites were to remove all leaven from their homes to symbolize the removal of sin from their lives. Leaven (yeast) was often used as a symbol of spiritual corruption.
  5. 1 Corinthians 5:11 In ancient times eating together was an open display of friendship and acceptance of one another.
  6. 1 Corinthians 6:1 I.e. a property or civil claim (not a criminal matter) before it goes to court.
  7. 1 Corinthians 6:2 This is the first of six “Do you not know” statements in this chapter.
  8. 1 Corinthians 6:2 Or to form the smallest courts.
  9. 1 Corinthians 6:9 This list of sinners, which continues into v 10, is used by Paul to describe various sinful lifestyles. All such lifestyles are impossible for true believers, who continue to sin but not to live lives of sin.
  10. 1 Corinthians 6:9 Lit male homosexuals.
  11. 1 Corinthians 6:15 Corinth was famous for its prostitutes, and many if not all probably practiced their trade in connection with the worship of Aphrodite. Having relations with temple or cult prostitutes was considered acceptable behavior, and Paul’s admonitions here indicate that some of the Corinthian converts were continuing the practice.
  12. 1 Corinthians 7:8 Some scholars believe Paul may have been a widower.
  13. 1 Corinthians 7:10 Couples who are both believers.
  14. 1 Corinthians 7:11 In reference to married Christians, Paul teaches that reconciliation is always preferable to separation or divorce and should be actively sought.
  15. 1 Corinthians 7:12 Christians married to non-believers. It is evident that some of the married couples in Corinth had wed before either of them had become Christians, and subsequently the believing spouses probably wondered whether their marriage was legitimate in the eyes of God.
  16. 1 Corinthians 7:14 The unbeliever is not saved by marriage to a Christian. Each person, whether spouse or child, must make a personal decision to accept and follow Christ to receive salvation and God’s promises.
  17. 1 Corinthians 7:14 The word used here seems to be borrowed from the language of OT ritual. There were many things that could render a person ceremonially unclean. All these things would disqualify a person from participating in worship, and required cleansing rituals to correct.
  18. 1 Corinthians 7:15 Probably peace between the spouses, hopefully leading to restoration and salvation (v 16).
  19. 1 Corinthians 7:18 Paul may be speaking figuratively of abandoning all of one’s Jewish heritage and culture; however, there was a procedure in ancient medicine for reversing circumcision.
  20. 1 Corinthians 7:18 A faction of Jewish Christians (often called “Judaizers”) hounded Paul and insisted that Gentile believers must be circumcised.
  21. 1 Corinthians 7:21 In practice, even if both a slave and his master became Christians, the slave would remain so unless he were freed (cf Onesimus and Philemon); he could not claim that his freedom in Christ applied to his civil status as a slave. But it would have been wrong for others to treat a slave differently from anyone else in church services.
  22. 1 Corinthians 7:21 This essentially is an exception to the rule of v 20.
  23. 1 Corinthians 7:27 Lit released from a wife.
  24. 1 Corinthians 7:29 Paul may be referring to the appointed time of the return of Christ, or he may have been focusing on the briefness of human life, or both of these.
  25. 1 Corinthians 7:36 In ancient times marriages were usually arranged by a girl’s father or the head of the family.
  26. 1 Corinthians 7:36 I.e. has reached her child-bearing years.
  27. 1 Corinthians 8:6 Lit from whom are all things.
  28. 1 Corinthians 8:7 In Paul’s viewpoint, meat sold at the market place (even if it had been used in idol worship) was permissible food because a pagan sacrifice was meaningless, and the meat itself could not be contaminated by any such ritual (cf Mark 7:19). Some who had accepted Christ worried that they were violating their new faith if they ate any meat without knowing its origin first-hand.
  29. 1 Corinthians 8:10 I.e. the knowledge that no harm can come from eating the meat, since in reality the sacrifice is meaningless (see note v 7).
  30. 1 Corinthians 8:10 Lit reclining, i.e. the position in which people dined.

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