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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 5 - Verse 11

Verse 11. But now. In this epistle. This shows that he had written a former letter.

I have written unto you. Above. I have designed to give this injunction that you are to be entirely separated from one who is a professor of religion, and who is guilty of these things.

Not to keep company. To be wholly separated and withdrawn from such a person. Not to associate with him in any manner.

If any man that is called a brother. Any professing Christian; any member of the church.

Be a fornicator, etc. Like him who is mentioned, 1 Co 5:1.

Or an idolater. This must mean those persons who while they professed Christianity still attended the idol feasts, and worshipped there. Perhaps a few such may have been found who had adopted the Christian profession hypocritically.

Or a railer. A reproachful man; a man of coarse, harsh, and bitter words; a man whose characteristic it was to abuse others; to vilify their character, and wound their feelings. It is needless to say how much this is contrary to the spirit of Christianity, and to the example of the Master, "who when he was reviled, reviled not again."

Or a drunkard. Perhaps there might have been some then in the church, as there are now, who were addicted to this vice. It has been the source of incalculable evils to the church; and the apostle, therefore, solemnly enjoins on Christians to have no fellowship with a man who is intemperate.

With such an one no not to eat. To have no intercourse or fellowship with him of any kind; not to do anything that would seem to acknowledge him as a brother; with such an one not even to eat at the same table. A similar course is enjoined by John, 2 Jo 1:10,11. This refers to the intercourse of common life, and not particularly to the communion. The true Christian was wholly to disown such a person, and not to do anything that would seem to imply that he regarded him as a Christian brother. It will be seen here that the rule was much more strict in regard to one who professed to be a Christian than to those who were known and acknowledged heathens. The reasons may have been:

(1.) The necessity of keeping the church pure, and of not doing anything that would seem to imply that Christians were the patrons and friends of the intemperate and the wicked.

(2.) In respect to the heathen, there could be no danger of its being supposed that Christians regarded them as brethren, or showed to them any more than the ordinary civilities of life; but in regard to those who professed to be Christians, but who were drunkards, or licentious, if a man was on terms of intimacy with them, it would seem as if he acknowledged them as brethren, and recognised them as Christians.

(3.) This entire separation and withdrawing from all communion was necessary in these times to save the church from scandal, and from the injurious reports which were circulated. The heathen accused Christians of all manner of crime and abominations. These reports were greatly injurious to the church. But it was evident that currency and plausibility would be given to them if it was known that Christians were on terms of intimacy and good fellowship with heathens and intemperate persons. Hence it became necessary to withdraw wholly from them; to withhold even the ordinary courtesies of life; and to draw a line of total and entire separation. Whether this rule in its utmost strictness is demanded now, since the nature of Christianity is known, and since religion cannot be in so much danger from such reports, may be made a question. I am inclined to the opinion that the ordinary civilities of life may be shown to such persons; though certainly nothing that would seem to recognise them as Christians. But as neighbours and relatives; as those who may be in distress and want, we are assuredly not for bidden to show towards them the offices of kindness and compassion. Whitby and some others, however, understand this of the communion of the Lord's Supper, and of that only.

{a} "if any man" Ro 16:17; 2 Jo 1:10 {*} "fornicator" "impure" {+} "railer" "reviler" {+} "extortioner" "Oppressor"

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