Sunday, September 19, 2010

1 Corinthians 5:1 Interpretation

Back in 1999, I discussed 1 Cor. 5:1ff with a couple of interlocutors on a public forum. One suggested that the Corinthians text refers to the Lord's Supper. Here is my reply:

I must admit that a reference to the Lord's supper is a possibility (1
Cor. 11:23ff). But my analysis rules out that conclusion for the
following reasons.

In 1 Cor. 5:1, Paul describes the sin of the brother in Corinth. He is
cohabiting with his father's wife, living in an incestuous relationship.
Even worse, the older men of Corinth--[part of] the EKKLESIA--are tolerating this
immoral conduct. Paul laments that the Corinthians are "puffed up"
rather than mourning over the abhorrent deeds of the immoral "brother"
in their midst.

In 1 Cor. 5:3-5, the "apostle to the nations" recommends that the one
practicing sin be "delivered up to the adversary." This act is done in
order to destroy the sinful "flesh" and preserve the spirit of the
believer "in the day of the Lord."

Next, Paul continues to expound on the reason [that] the sinning believer must
be turned over to the Devil. By allowing such a one to remain in the
midst of the congregation, the EKKLESIA will suffer corruption and will
not be able to rightly observe the antitypical passover: "for even our
Paschal Lamb, Christ, was sacrificed" (Emphatic Diaglott). Therefore,
the congregation of God must take the action prescribed in 1 Cor.
5:9-13. What is the thrust of this counsel? What action is the EKKLESIA
urged to take?

1 Cor. 5:11 says: "NUNI DE EGRAYA hUMIN MH SUNANAMIGNUSQAI EAN TIS
ADELFOS ONOMAZOMENOS hH PORNOS . . ."

The phrase that really catches my attention here is NUNI DE EGRAYA hUMIN
MH SUNANAMIGNUSQAI.

This part of the verse indicates that Paul is not simply talking about
ceasing to share "the meal" [i.e. Lord's Supper] with a brother who practices sin--although clearly the congregation should take this action as well. The present
infinitive middle SUNANAMIGNUSQAI tells me that all association should
cease with this person (not just the Lord's evening meal). Elsewhere we
are told, "do not receive him into your house nor wish him success" (2
John 10, 11). If you want to discuss the applicability/inapplicability
of 2 John 2:7, we can examine that verse too. In sum, I would say that 1
Cor. 5:11 is talking about general association (i.e., "don't even eat
lunch with this man"!).

For now, I am inclined to agree with the words of Kathleen Callow concerning 1 Cor. 5:6-8:

"In this unit Paul urges the expulsion (EKKAQARATE, v. 7a) in the light
of the effect of evil on their fellowship as a whole, and of their own
status as AZOUMOI--a purified community" (See Linguistics and NT Interpretation, edited by DA Black, page 202).

Regards,

Edgar

No comments: