Bible Studies/1 Corinthians 5


Dear Rev.,

How are you doing?

I understand Paul tells the Corinthian church in 1 Cor. 5 to excommunicate a certain believer in order to keep the church pure (and deliver him to satan so that perhaps he may come to his senses, repent and one day reenter the church).  Is my understanding correct?  If yes, here are my questions:  Since we all sin, what is the percentage of sin or what kind of sins disqualify a believer to be a member of a church?  If the church has to do deliver that person to satan, then what is the role of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying a believer?


Wow!  Where have you been? I've missed you. Iam wonderful, thank you.

First of all Lenin, you are correct in your analysis of the text.  Let me scope in on this scenerio a bit. Here Paul is addressing some moral issues- the first is a case of flagrant immorality within the life of the church. I had a similiar situation in my church and I handled just as Paul did.

It seems that this situation had been going on for some time and it was common knowledge among the members in the church. It's agreed among scholars that verse one "a man has his father's wife" would mean he was having a sexual relationship with his step-mother.  The fact that Paul gives no instruction to the church as to 'how' to deal with the woman, indicates that she was not a Christian, so therefore she wasn't under the authority of the church.  Note: This type of relationship was forbidden in Jewish law (Read: Lev. 18: 7-8).  The pagan society didn't go along with it either! The Church people's problem,just like today, was how to resist the pressure of conforming to an immoral society. How to live a moral life in an immoral world is a constantly recurring problems for Christians.  So many, in our secular society, treat sex as no more than a physical appetite to be satisfied.  This attitude expresses itself in relationships that are casual, temporary (Friends with benefits),and self-fulfilling, in contrast to the Biblical mode.

Let's spend little time on Paul's attitude.
*First, he was shocked by the sin itself. Understand Lenin, when we live day after day in a world where immorality is accepted, there's a danger that you and I become so infected and influenced by that culture that nothing shocks us.  Praise God, Paul was shocked!

*Second, Paul was shocked at the attitude of the church! It grieved him! Verse 2 says they were "puffed up"! Spiritual pride has a way of blinding us to reality. I can just hear the spin, " I don't think it's anyones's business what he does in private." "We're not to judge!"
Sorta remins us of Pilate washing his hands of any responsibility. Sad.

Paul took action, in the name of the Lord. You can reread those texts to understand what kind of atmosphere Paul wanted for the meeting. Verse 4, "Gather in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ". Paul wanted them to understand that they wouldn't be able, in their own wisdom and strength, to do what was necessary. They could... if they had Christ's power.

Let's look at verse 5. "...deliver such a one to Satan."  Understand Lenin, Paul was not saying to remove him from God and give him to Satan - nor was he saying move him from the ranks of the Christians to the ranks of the non-Christians.  Understand, at the time of Paul's writings, the world was considered Satan's realm (just as we Christian's believe in the 21 Century.)  They probably understood Paul's words to mean what J.B. Phillips says, "The man who has done such a thing should certainly be expelled from your fellowship."  Understand that Paul did not see this as punishent, but as having a redemptive purpose both for the man and for the church.

Question: What kind of sins disqualify a believer to be a member of a church?  Lenin, once we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, our sins are washed away.  We are forgiven and they are scattered as far as the east is from the west.  Continuing in sin, we break fellowship with God. To choose to live in sin is to choose to live in 'open rebellion' to God.  After the 'church' comes together and reasons with the person and asks them to stop, and the person refuses, we must ask them to leave the fellowship. It's hard, but sometimes necessary. Immorality can destroy a whole church.

As long as the Christian community, and our friends, help us rationalize our sins, we're not likely to do anything to change.   But when, in love, we are confronted with what we are doing, and are forced to look at ourselves through different eyes, we're more likely to examine ourselves.  King David is a good example for us to study. We need to understand,that a church will eventually adjust to what it tolerates.

Question: Same question as above.
 I think we can draw at least three questions from Pauls experience with the Corthian Church.
1. Does the action calling for discipline threaten the life and the existence of the church?
   a)Dwell on that Lenin. To not take action, what does that say to other members - guests?
2. Is there danger that the sinful act will infect the whole church (judgment call)?
3. Will allowing a specific activity to go on lessen the distinction between the church and the world?

Lenin, the job of the Holy Spirit is to 'line up our desires with God's desires'. The Holy Spirit continuingly sanctifies the believer. Always!  I hope I have explained this to your understanding.  So good to hear from you my friend.  Be well.

In Christ's love,
Rev. Ramona Carlene Stonecipher  

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Reverend Ramona C. Stonecipher


As a Pastor,and Bible scholar, I can help you find answers to questions of faith. We can explore the power of prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. I can help you cultivate a personal relationship with Jesus, the Christ of God. While I alone, can't solve your problems, I can lead you to the One who can. I can't make you believe, or have faith, but I can plant the seeds of faith and introduce you to the One who is the Gardener. I can also tell you, and show you, that God loves you, and our God is a God of second chances. I hope you'll accept my invitation to walk the Damascus Road together__. Welcome.


35 35+ years teaching Biblical Studies 30 years preaching the Word of God 30+ years Public Speaking (Spiritual Retreats & Worship Experiences) Counselor, Suicide Prevention, Kansas City, Missouri

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Ordained Minister: United Methodist Graduate: Saint Paul School of Theology, Kansas City, Missouri *Masters Degree in Theology *Bible Scholar/Teacher/Speaker CPA Degree, Baptist Medical Hospital, Kansas City, Missouri Graduate: University of Nebraska Graduate Studies: Fairleigh Dickenson University, New Jersey (Psychology)

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Harry Denman Evangelical Award Who's Who American Colleges and Universities 1982

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