1 Corinthians 5:9 MEANING

1 Corinthians 5:9
(9) I wrote unto you in an epistle.--These words have given rise to some controversy as to whether the Apostle here refers to some former Epistle addressed to the Corinthian Church, and which has not been preserved, or whether the reference is not to this Epistle itself. It has been suggested by some who adopt the latter view that these words may have been added as an interpolation after the completion of the Epistle, and be intended to intensify the remarks made by the Apostle on this subject in 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20. Such an interpretation, however, seems rather strained. It is more natural to suppose that the reference is to an Epistle written to the Corinthians, probably from Ephesus, after a visit paid to Corinth of which we have no record, for in 2 Corinthians 12:14; 2 Corinthians 13:1, we read of a third visit being contemplated, whereas only one previous one is recorded. (See also Introduction.) The condition of the Church which caused the Apostle that "heaviness," which he connects with this visit in 2 Corinthians 2:1, would naturally have given rise to an Epistle containing the kind of direction here referred to.

Verses 9-13. - Correction of a mistaken inference which they had deduced from a former letter of St. Paul's. Verse 9. - In an Epistle; rather, in the Epistle; in some former letter to the Church, which is no longer extant (comp. 2 Corinthians 10:10). The attempt to get rid of so plain a statement, in the supposed interests of some superstitious notion that every line which an apostle wrote to a Church must necessarily have been inspired and infallible, is at once unscriptural and grossly superstitious. The notion that "the Epistle" intended is this Epistle is an absurdity invented in the interests of the same fiction. The only hypothesis which could give the least plausibility to such a view is that which makes this paragraph a postscript or marginal addition after the letter was finished; but there is little or nothing in favour of such a view. Not to company with. The Greek word is rather stronger: not to be mingled up among (comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:14). The spirit of the injunction is repeated in Ephesians 5:11, "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."

5:9-13 Christians are to avoid familiar converse with all who disgrace the Christian name. Such are only fit companions for their brethren in sin, and to such company they should be left, whenever it is possible to do so. Alas, that there are many called Christians, whose conversation is more dangerous than that of heathens!I wrote unto you in an epistle,..... Not in this same epistle, and in 1 Corinthians 5:2 as some think; for what is here observed is not written in either of those verses, but in some other epistle he had sent them before, as is clear from 1 Corinthians 5:11 which either came not to hand, or else was neglected by them; and so what he here says may be considered as a reproof to them, for taking no notice of his advice; but continuing to show respect to the incestuous person, though he in a former epistle had advised them to the contrary: no doubt the apostle wrote other epistles to the Corinthians, besides those that are in being; see 2 Corinthians 10:10 nor does such a supposition at all detract from the perfection of Scripture; for not all that were written by him were by divine inspiration; and as many as were so, and were necessary for the perfection of the canon of Scripture, and to instruct us in the whole counsel of God, have been preserved; nor is this any contradiction to this epistle's being his first to this church; for though it might not be his first to them, yet it is the first to them extant with us, and therefore so called: what he had written to them in another epistle was not

to company with fornicators; which he had not so fully explained, neither what fornicators he meant, nor what by keeping company with them; he therefore in this distinguishes upon the former, and enlarges his sense of the latter; declaring that they were not so much as to eat with such persons; which shows, that this prohibition does not regard unclean copulation, or a joining with them in the sin of fornication, they had been used to in a state of unregeneracy, for some sort of companying with fornicators is allowed of in the next verse; whereas no degree of a sinful mixture with them would ever be tolerated: but that it is to be understood of a civil society and familiar conversation with them; which might bring a reproach upon religion, be a stumbling to weak Christians, and be of dangerous consequence to themselves and others; who hereby might be allured and drawn by their example into the commission of the same sinful practices. The apostle seems to allude to the customs and usages of the Jews, who abstained from all civil commerce and familiar acquaintance with unbelievers. They say,

"that everyone that does not study in the law, , "it is forbidden to come near him, and to exercise merchandise with him, and much less to walk with him in the way", because there is no faith in him (m).''

(m) Zohar in Lev. fol. 33. 2.

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