5. Confronting Immorality in a Cleansed Church (5)


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Bernardino Mei, Christ Cleansing the Temple (c. 1655), oil on canvas, 41x 55.5in, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
Paul may seem dogmatic and harsh about imposing moral purity within the church. But Christ was equally as passionate about the sanctity of his Father's House. Bernardino Mei, "Christ Cleansing the Temple" (c. 1655), oil on canvas, 41"x 55.5", J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Churches are constantly ministering to people who have struggled with sexual temptations or have been victims of the lies that our culture tells about pre-marital and extramarital sex, not to mention the many victims of rape who struggle with inner pain and a sense of defilement.

We bemoan the decline in sexual morals that has taken place in the West since the 1960s, and the prevalence of sex on the Internet, and in both advertising and motion pictures. We have seen a vast change in what is considered immoral in our society.

But, believe it or not, sexual morals in first century Corinth were worse. Much worse. Paul spent three chapters of 1 Corinthians dealing with the subject. In this lesson and the next, we'll examine Paul's teaching about sexual immorality. Then in Lesson 7 we'll examine his teaching on marriage.

Sexual Morals in First Century Corinth

We need to begin by examining what the culture in Paul's day felt about sexual morality. And they did have some strong feelings! Wives must be chaste, for one thing. And for men, adultery was frowned upon with the wives of other men and with underage free-born females. It surely took place, but was considered immoral.

Beyond that, however, a married man thought nothing of sex with prostitutes or with his slave girls. It was taken for granted. Corinth was home to the Temple of Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, where 1,000 female prostitutes served, contributing to the city's reputation for immorality. In fact, the coined Greek word "to Corinthianize" meant to practice immorality, and the phrase "Corinthian girl" designated a prostitute.

Homosexuality seems to have been accepted in both Greek and Roman cultures. Among the upper classes at least, older men would mentor adolescent boys, as well as use them sexually -- a practice known as pederasty. Homosexual relations wouldn't be looked down upon -- at least for the dominant partner. An effeminate partner, however, would lose status if his role were known. There is some evidence of female homosexuality, both on the Island of Lesbos (from which we get our word "lesbian") and in Sparta, but references in ancient literature are few.

Pride over Tolerance of Immorality (5:1-2a)

Of course, Paul had taught the Corinthians about sexual purity when he was with them. But since he had left five years previously, the church had grown considerably among the pagan population of the city. Apparently, the church leadership at Corinth was lax with regard to enforcing a high moral standard among members. Paul writes,

"1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has123 his father's wife. 2 And you are proud!" (5:1-2a)

 "Sexual immorality" (NIV), "fornication" (NRSV, KJV) is porneia, from which we get our word "pornography" -- "unlawful sexual intercourse, prostitution, unchastity, fornication."124 Bruce observes, "While porneia means primarily traffic in harlots (pornai), it may denote any form of illicit sexual relationship."125 Homosexuality would also be included in this term. While we're defining terms, "chastity" in English is, "abstention from unlawful sexual intercourse," but allowing sexual intercourse within marriage. "Fornication," (the KJV translation of porneia) means in English, "consensual sexual intercourse between two persons not married to each other."126 Adultery, on the other hand, refers to extramarital affairs of individuals who are married.

But Paul isn't dealing here with "garden variety" immorality. Not even the pagans would condone sleeping with one's father's wife (probably a step-mother). Paul sees it as outrageous!

There are two problems that Paul has to deal with:

  1. The member's sexual immorality.
  2. The church's tolerance of this relationship.

They were not only tolerant, they were proud127 of their tolerance. Their reaction, when questioned about it is probably one you've met scores of times in arrogant sinners -- "What's wrong with that?" Their reaction should have been mourning128 that such a sin would occur openly among God's household!

We live in a day that tolerates sin, even in the church. In a church I once pastored, I had to bring before the governing board the situations of four individuals (two of them leaders), who were living with someone they weren't married to. That church previously had had no policy. Some on the governing board were against setting any kind of policy because it might discourage new people from joining the church. Our culture sees living together without marriage as "the new normal," but God's standards for his people are higher.

Q1. (1 Corinthians 5:1-2a) Why do you think the Corinthians were so proud of their tolerance of immorality? What does this say about their value system?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/topic/1337-q1-tolerance/

If we're going to be faithful to the spirit of Paul's teaching in chapters 5 through 7, we need to take such matters seriously in our churches. It isn't our job to set the world straight (5:9-13), but in the household of God we have been given standards of behavior.

The situation Paul addresses in Corinth, however, was so flagrant that even the culture didn't countenance sleeping with one's step-mother. Paul didn't have to deal with the objection: "Everybody's doing it" -- at least, not this time.

Excommunication of Unrepentant Sinners (5:2b-5)

Paul commands the church to disfellowship or excommunicate the man who is living with his step-mother.

"2b Shouldn't you rather have ... put out of your fellowship the man who did this?
3 Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present.
4 When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord." (5:2b-5)

Paul's instruction to Timothy has some similarities.

"Some have rejected [faith and a good conscience] and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme." (1 Timothy 1:19b‐20)

Many modern-day believers choke on these passages. In many traditions, church discipline is only rarely exercised. There is functionally no discipline, and therefore no standards concerning which the church will take a stand and say, "No!" It is not love that we have absorbed from the culture, but tolerance -- tolerance to a degree that it turns a blind eye to sin, just as our culture does.

This was exactly the problem of the Corinthian church. They were tolerant -- and prouder of their tolerance than of their desire to please the Lord. Paul commands them to take action:

"When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present...." (5:4)

Three qualifications are mentioned.

  1. "Assembled129 in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Probably this means a formal assembly, not a private or ad hoc meeting.
  2. "I am with you in spirit." This could mean, "when I am in your thoughts," as in Colossians 2:5. But it probably implies something more, perhaps, like, "when the Holy Spirit is present, the Spirit is also one with my spirit."130 Admittedly, this is difficult for us to express clearly.
  3. "The power of our Lord Jesus is present." Paul may be referring here to the power that Jesus has granted to the assembled church (Matthew 16:19; 18:16-18, 20; John 20:23).

In other words, in a formal assembly that is seeking the Lord's presence, will, and power -- not just a dry business meeting -- they are to take action, spiritual action, but also action that affects the church's relationship with the unrepentant person.

Look at several elements that are found in both our passage and 1 Timothy 1:19-20:

1. Gross, unrepented of, sin. In Corinth there was sexual immorality and pride in the church's tolerance of it. In Ephesus, where Timothy was ministering, there were people who had rejected the teachings of Jesus and his moral standards, and were blaspheming God.131 We in Christian congregations must not be picky and judgmental. Paul teaches us to "bear with" -- that is, "put up with" -- our fellow Christians with all their weaknesses, idiosyncrasies, and foibles (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13; Romans 15:1).132 Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). But what we cannot tolerate is blatant, proud, sin over which people feel no sorrow or willingness to repent. This destroys the community.

Jesus instructed his disciples about excommunication for those who are unwilling to repent of sins over which they have been confronted by the church.

"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector." (Matthew 18:15-17)

2. Excommunication is next, that is, exclusion from the Christian community. Paul tells the Corinthians that during one of their assemblies -- perhaps an occasional meeting of all the house churches in Corinth together -- that they are to "put out of your fellowship" (NIV), "remove" (NRSV), "take away" (KJV) the sinning member. The verb is exairō, "to exclude or remove someone from a group, remove, drive away."133 Our English word "excommunication" comes from two Latin words ex-, "out, out of" + communicare, "to communicate," from the root communis, "common." The Greek equivalent would be koinōnia, "fellowship, partnership, what we share in common." So excommunication means to exclude from the "community" of believers, those who hold in common their faith in Jesus and his teachings. In some traditions this is referred to as "shunning" or "disfellowshiping." Excommunication may be required for several reasons: (1) to protect the body from this pernicious influence, (2) to maintain standards of Christian behavior within the congregation, and (3) to get the attention of the sinner so that he will hopefully repent.

3. Deliverance to Satan for instruction. This one is more difficult to understand. "Hand over" (NIV, NRSV), "deliver" (KJV) is paradidōmi, "hand over, turn over, give up a person," as a technical term of police and courts, "hand over into [the] custody [of]."134 So the unrepentant person is handed over for punishment to Satan -- pretty scary. Notice that the purpose is not eternal damnation, but instruction and salvation:

"Hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord." (5:5)

"... whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught135 not to blaspheme." (1 Timothy 1:20)

What does it mean to hand someone over to Satan? The exact nature of this is debated, but it probably means to "put back out into Satan's sphere," that is, outside the church and the fellowship of God's people, based on Paul's apostolic authority. Some kind of physical harm is likely.136 But this is not vindictive. Does this person forfeit eternal life? We're not told that. Rather, the purpose is that their spirit might be saved.

How can a congregation exercise church discipline when it is necessary? Gently and lovingly -- but firmly. Paul instructed the Galatians:

"Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore137 him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." (Galatians 6:1)

We're afraid that if we exercise discipline, that person will leave the church (with his or her money) and not return. Perhaps. But the alternative is to allow that person to stay, thereby letting it be known that the church and its leaders aren't really serious about sin. Often, the appropriate discipline is a private conversation between the offender and the pastor, church leader, or another respected layperson. Most of the time, this is quite effective. Only when the person is unrepentant -- and the matter is of serious import -- does it need to come to the church.

The procedure for church discipline in the case of an unrepentant person in your congregation is probably defined in your denomination's book of order or your church's bylaws -- along with reference to the passages mentioned above.

We all want healthy congregations. For that to happen we need to decide that we will indeed be obedient to Scripture and trust God to work through his Word. Whether we're willing to exercise church discipline or not has a lot to do with our own faith in and obedience to the teachings of the New Testament -- and our fear of men.

Q2. (1 Corinthians 5:2b-5) What are levels of correction and discipline short of excommunication? Who should exercise that kind of correction? What do we do when a sinning member repents? Why is excommunication sometimes necessary? Why are we so unwilling to exercise it in our day?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/topic/1338-q2-church-discipline/

Dealing with Arrogant Tolerance of Sin (5:6-8)

As I mentioned above, the problem in Corinth wasn't just the gross sin on the part of a member, but the arrogant and proudly tolerant attitude of the leaders. Paul is direct.

"6 Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast -- as you really are." (5:6-7)

Paul is referring the working of yeast to infiltrate the entire batch of dough -- the basis of Jesus' Parable of the Yeast (Luke 13:20-21), where Jesus uses yeast as a positive illustration of how a little bit can make a big difference. But Jesus also told his disciples,

"'Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.' Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees." (Matthew 16:11-12)

On that occasion, Jesus was using yeast with a negative connotation, as Paul does here. In the West have a similar saying: "One bad apple spoils the barrel," suggesting that the rot in one bad apple can spread to all the surrounding apples if it isn't quickly spotted and removed. Paul is warning the Corinthians that if they don't remove their member who is unrepentant, that this disregard for righteousness will spread to others in the church. He says,

"Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast -- as you really are." (5:7)

In other words, the believers' true nature in Christ is a "new batch" without sin. They need to behave in accordance with what is true about them by the grace and mercy of God.

Paul is alluding to the practice of Jews during the Feast of the Unleavened Bread to get rid of yeast in their homes and bake bread without the starter lump of yeast-containing dough that they would have saved from the previous batch of bread (Exodus 12:15-20; 13:7).

Q3. (1 Corinthians 5:6-7) How does the presence of openly sinning members affect others in the body? We might use the analogy of a "bad apple." What in Paul's background might explain his use of "getting rid of yeast"?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/topic/1339-q3-a-bad-apple/

Christ, Our Passover Lamb (5:7-8)

Paul takes a momentary detour from this topic of excommunication of unrepentant people to point to Christ's role as our Passover Lamb and the implications of that for our lives in the Christian community.

"7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast -- as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb (pascha), has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth." (5:7-8)

With the same diligence that the Jews exclude yeast during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, so you are to exclude unrepentant sinners from your fellowship. In this analogy, the old leavened bread represents malice138 and wickedness139 -- the Corinthians' old way of life -- while the new unleavened bread represents the sincerity140 and truth141 that characterizes their new life in Christ as a community.

Associating with Non-Believers and Unrepentant Believers (5:9-10)

Paul mentions a previous letter (which we do not have today), in which he explained how they should relate to unrepentant Christians. Now he reiterates his teaching, since they didn't seem to get it the first time.

"9 I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people -- 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat." (5:9-11)

The topic here is who believers should associate with. "Associate with" (NIV), "keep company" (KJV) is synanamignymi, originally "to mix up together," here "to mingle, associate with,"142 "to keep company with, be intimate with."143 Western slang uses the expression "hang out with." We have dealings with all sorts of people during the day, but the people we spend our leisure time with -- that's what Paul is talking about. The same word is used in Paul's instruction to the Thessalonians.

"If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother." (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15)

Paul gives two lists of sins -- one for unbelievers and a similar, but slightly longer one for believers. These aren't the only sins one should be concerned about, but they were the ones that characterized worldly life in Corinth. (I'm also including in this list the sins mentioned in 6:9-10, since many of them are the same as those listed here.)

Sins of Unbelievers (5:10) Sins of Believers (5:11) Sins in 6:9-10
Sexually immoral144 Sexually immoral Sexually immoral
    Adulterers145
    Male prostitutes
    Homosexual offenders
Greedy146

Greedy Greedy
Swindlers147 Swindlers Swindlers
    Thieves
Idolaters148 Idolaters  
  Slanderer149 Slanderers
  Drunkard150

Drunkards

Paul is saying that sincere Christians shouldn't "hang out" with Christians who don't practice their faith. To do so is to show approval of their lifestyle.

We Christians have a problem with Paul's teaching. We've been taught that Jesus went to parties of tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners, and when criticized for it, responded:

"It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:31-32)

We've been told, "Judge not, that you not be judged" (Matthew 7:1). We've been told "not to cast the first stone" (John 8:7).

On the other hand, Jesus told his disciples that a person who refuses to repent when his sin is confirmed by the congregation is to be excluded. "Treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector" (Matthew 18:17). So which is it?

Does this mean we are to shun such a person in private dealings as well as in the church community? Perhaps not. 1 Thessalonians 2:15 says, "Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother." But it is clear that such a brother isn't welcome at the church community gatherings.

"With such a man do not even eat." (5:11b)

Perhaps the idea here is the congregation's fellowship meals and partaking of the Lord's Supper together, as expressed by Jude:

"These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm -- shepherds who feed only themselves." (Jude 12a).

Later in this letter Paul comes back to the same issue:

"Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character.' Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God -- I say this to your shame." (15:33-34)

It's not always easy to discern what God wants us to do. But here are some guidelines:

1. Love and restoration. We are to love people, even lapsed Christians. We are to seek to restore Christians who have sinned or fallen away.151

2. Spending time to minister. Sometimes, restoring those who have fallen away (or the lost) means spending time with them, enjoying their company. Jesus did this, but only with those who were open to his teaching (and their friends), not those who were hostile to his teaching. Jesus didn't join with them in their sin (Luke 5:29-32; 19:5-10). He also ate at the homes of proud Pharisees, but in each instance he took this as an opportunity to teach them (Luke 11:37-50; 14:1-14).

3. Not fellowshipping. When believers are so hardened that they reject appeals to repent from both fellow Christians and from the church body, then you are not to spend time with them -- except for regular business dealings that might be necessary.

Paul makes it clear that Christians are not to shun unbelievers.

"9 I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people -- 10 not at all meaning the people of this world.... In that case you would have to leave this world.... 12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. 'Expel the wicked man from among you.'" (5:9-10, 12-13)

We aren't called to judge unbelievers -- and tell them what bad sinners they are. However, preaching the gospel does include the good news of how a person can be transformed when he repents. The world has seen way too much judgmentalism from Christians!

So we must be careful as we live in this world. Love must be our guide -- with wisdom. Many Christians, with family members who are addicts, have had to learn what "tough love" means. In one sense, it can be similar to disfellowshipping an unrepentant member of the Christian family community. Jesus said,

"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd152 as snakes and as innocent as doves." (Matthew 10:16)

Fee concludes (on the basis of reference to 1 Thessalonians 2:15) that,

"Paul's concern throughout does not seem to be that the church as individual members disassociate from the incestuous man, but that he be excluded from the community as it gathers for worship and instruction."153

However, Fee notes that this situation in Corinth and the one in Thessalonica may not be exactly parallel, and this situation might call for sterner discipline.

Finding the appropriate balance of remaining open, but no longer in close fellowship, may be difficult to find, but it is important to help the offending brother to take seriously that he has been excluded from the Christian community -- but still loved.

Q4. (1 Corinthians 5:9-13) According to this passage, with which sinners should we be willing to associate? Why make a distinction between unbelievers and believers? What are the dangers of associating with unbelievers? What are the dangers of associating with unrepentant believers?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/topic/1340-q4-hanging-out/

1 Corinthians: Discipleship Lessons from a Troubled Church, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Available as a book in paperback, PDF, and Kindle formats.

This lesson has looked at the difficult questions of sexual immorality and the church's response to it. Dear friends, as we struggle with these issues, we must do so with compassion and humility. Our churches have absorbed from the world an unhealthy tolerance of sin. To get back to biblical standards and practices will take some careful teaching and change. And love, much love. What we don't want to become in our churches are a bunch of cold, uncaring Pharisees who are more concerned with external righteousness than the salvation of men and women who have been captured by sin.

Prayer

Father, teach us balance in this whole matter of sexual immorality and discipline. We want to please you. And we know that you came as a Physician to heal the sick, and as a Savior to die for sin-sick souls. Help us to approach this with your love for the lost and your desire for your holy people. Help us! We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Key Verses

"I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral persons-- not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since you would then need to go out of the world." (1 Corinthians 5:9-10)

"But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. Do not even eat with such a one." (1 Corinthians 5:11)

Endnotes

123. "Has" (NIV, KJV), "is living with" (NRSV) is the common verb echō, "to stand in a close relationship to someone, have, have as" -- often, "to be married," here probably of an illicit relationship (BDAG 420, 2a).

124. Porneia, BDAG 854, 1. Also Friedrich Hauck and Siegfried Schulz, pornē, ktl., TDNT 6:579-595.

125. F.F. Bruce, 1 & 2 Thessalonians (Word Biblical Commentary 45; Word, 1982), p. 82.

126. Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary.

127. "Proud" (NIV), "arrogant" (NRSV), "puffed up" (KJV) is physioō, which we saw in 4:18-19 above, literally, "to blow up, inflate" (from phyra, "bellows"), here "to cause to have an exaggerated self-conception, puff up, make proud" (BDAG 1069).

128. "Been filled with grief" (NIV), "mourned" (NRSV, KJV) is pentheō, "to experience sadness as the result of some condition or circumstance, be sad, grieve, mourn" (BDAG 795, 1).

129. "Assembled" (NIV, NRSV), "gathered together" (KJV) is synagō, "bring or call together, gather a number of persons," here in the passive voice (BDAG 962, 1b).

130. Fee, 1 Corinthians, p. 204-205.

131. Blasphēmeō, "to speak in a disrespectful way that demeans, denigrates, maligns." This could refer to slandering people in the church, but probably means to "slander, revile, defame, speak irreverently, impiously, or disrespectfully of or about" God (BDAG 178, bβ).

132. The verb is anechō, "to regard with tolerance, endure, bear with, put up with" (BDAG 78, 1a).

133. Exairō, BDAG 344.

134. Paradidōmi, BDAG 762, 1b.

135. "Be taught" (NIV, NASB), "learn" (KJV, NRSV) is paideuō, "to assist in the development of a person's ability to make appropriate choices, practice discipline," here, "with punishment" (BDAG 749, 2bα).

136. Fee, 1 Corinthians, p. 59.

137. "Restore" is katartizō, "to cause to be in a condition to function well, put in order, restore" (BDAG 526, 1a), from kata, "in succession, course" + artios, "fit, sound, complete."

138. "Malice" is kakia, means basically, "the quality or state of wickedness, baseness, depravity, wickedness, vice," but could extend here to refer to "a mean-spirited or vicious attitude or disposition, malice, ill-will, malignity," though I think Paul's context here is of depravity in general, not hatred (BDAG 500, 1 and 2).

139. "Wickedness" (NIV, KJV), "evil" (NRSV) is ponēria, "state or condition of a lack of moral or social values, wickedness, baseness, maliciousness, sinfulness" (BDAG 852).

140. "Sincerity" is eilikrineia, "the quality or state of being free of dissimulation, sincerity, purity of motive" (BDAG 282).

141. "Truth" is alētheia, literally, "hiding nothing," here, "the quality of being in accord with what is true, truthfulness, dependability, uprightness in thought and deed" (BDAG 42, 1).

142. Synanamignymi, BDAG 965.

143. Synanamignymi, Thayer 602.

144. "Immoral/sexually immoral" (NIV, NRSV), "fornicator" (KJV) is pornos (related to porneia, which we discussed above on verse 1), "one who practices sexual immorality, fornicator" (BDAG 855, 1). This word could describe one who participates in all kinds of sexual perversions.

145. We'll examine these sins more under 6:9-10 below.

146. "Greedy" (NIV, NRSV), "covetous" (KJV) is pleonektēs, "one who desires to have more than is due, a greedy person" (BDAG 824). In Western society the desire to acquire great wealth doesn't seem like a sin -- but it is! Jesus said, "You can't serve God and Money" (Matthew 6:24).

147. "Swindlers" (NIV), "robbers" (NRSV), "extortioners" (KJV) is harpax. It is used as "rapacious, ravenous" of wolves (Matthew 7:15). Here it means "robber," perhaps better, "swindler" or "rogue" (BDAG 134, 2). Liddell Scott see it as meaning "robbing, rapacious," here, "robber, peculator" (that is, "embezzler"). It refers to a person who doesn't think twice about cheating a person out of what they possess, or taking something that doesn't belong to them so long as they aren't caught. In our society, shoplifting belongs in this category.

148. "Idolators" is eidōlolatrēs, "image-worshiper/idolater" (BDAG 280). Some Christians would worship with the believers, but also be involved in pagan idol worship with their families on special occasions. They tried to do both, without being faithful to Christ only.

149. "Slanderer" (NIV), "reviler" (NRSV), "railer" (KJV) is loidoros, "reviler, abusive person" (BDAG 602). This is a person who mocks righteousness and says the most awful things to people or about people.

150. "Drunkard" is methysos, "drunkard" (BDAG 626), from meuthō, "to drink to a point of intoxication, be drunk." In our society we'd call those people alcoholics or drug addicts. People who abuse prescription drugs so they can remain "high" would also fit this category.

151. Galatians 6:1-2; Romans 14:1; 15:1; James 5:19; 1 John 5:16; Jude 1:22-23.

152. "Shrewd" (NIV), "wise" (NRSV, KJV) is phronimos, "pertaining to understanding associated w. insight and wisdom, sensible, thoughtful, prudent, wise" (BDAG 1066).

153. Fee, 1 Corinthians, p. 226.


Copyright © 1985-2017, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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