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Verse 13. But them, etc. They who are unconnected with the church are under the direct and peculiar government of God. They are, indeed sinners, and they deserve punishment for their crimes. But it is not ours to pronounce sentence upon them, or to inflict punishment. God will do that. Our province is in regard to the church. We are to judge these; and these alone. All others we are to leave entirely in the hands of God.

Therefore. Greek, Andkai. "Since it is yours to judge the members of your own society, do you exercise discipline on the offender, and put him away."

Put away from among yourselves. Excommunicate him; expel him from your society. This is the utmost power which the church has; and this the church is bound to exercise on all those who have openly offended against the laws of Jesus Christ.

{c} "away from" Mt 18:17 ————————————————————————————————————-


(1.) A public rumour with regard to the existence of an offence in the church should lead to discipline. This is due to the church itself, that it may be pure and uninjured; to the cause, that religion may not suffer by the offence; and to the individual, that he may have justice done him, and his character vindicated if he is unjustly accused; or that if guilty he may be reclaimed and reformed. Offences should not be allowed to grow until they become scandalous; but when they do, every consideration demands that the matter should be investigated, 1 Co 5:1.

(2.) Men are often filled with pride when they have least occasion for it, 1 Co 5:2. This is the case with individuals—who are often elated when their hearts are full of sin—when they are indulging in iniquity; and it is true of churches also, that they are most proud when the reins of discipline are relaxed, and their members are cold in the service of God, or when they are even living so as to bring scandal and disgrace on the gospel.

(3.) We see in what way the Christian church should proceed in administering discipline, 1 Co 5:2. It should not be with harshness, bitterness, revenge, or persecution. It should be with mourning that there is necessity for it; with tenderness toward the offender; with deep grief that the cause of religion has been injured; and with such grief at the existence of the offence as to lead them to prompt and decided measures to remove it.

(4.) The exercise of discipline belongs to the church itself, 1 Co 5:4. The church at Corinth was to be assembled with reference to this offence, and was to remove the offender. Even Paul, an apostle, and the spiritual father of the church, did not claim the authority to remove an offender except through the church. The church was to take up the case; to act on it; to pass the sentence; to excommunicate the man. There could scarcely be a stronger proof that the power of discipline is in the church, and is not to be exercised by any independent individual, or body of men, foreign to the church, or claiming an: independent right of discipline. If Paul would not presume to exercise such discipline independently of the church, assuredly no. minister, and no body of ministers, have any such right now. Either by themselves in a collective congregational capacity, or through their representatives in a body of elders, or in a committee appointed by them; every church is itself to originate and execute all the acts of Christian discipline over its members.

(5.) We see the object of Christian discipline, 1 Co 5:5. It is not revenge, hatred, malice, or the mere exercise of power that is to lead to it; it is the good of the individual that is to be pursued and sought. While the church endeavours to remain pure, its aim and object should be mainly to correct and reform the offender, that his spirit may be saved. When discipline is undertaken from any other motive than this; when it is pursued from private pique, or rivalship, or ambition, or the love of power; when it seeks to overthrow the influence or standing of another, it is wrong. The salvation of the offender and the glory of God should prompt to all the measures which should be taken in the case.

(6.) We see the danger of indulging in any sin—both in reference to ourselves as individuals, or to the church, 1 Co 5:6. The smallest sin indulged in will spread pollution through the whole body, as a little leaven will affect the largest mass.

(7.) Christians should be pure, 1 Co 5:7,8. Their Saviour, their paschal lamb, was pure; and he died that they might be pure. He gave himself that his people might be holy; and by all the purity of his character—by all the labours and self-denials of his life—by all his sufferings and groans in our behalf, are we called on to be holy.

(8.) We are here presented with directions in regard to our intercourse with those who are not members of the church, 1 Co 5:10. There is nothing that is more difficult to be understood than the duty of Christians respecting such intercourse. Christians often feel that they are in danger from it, and are disposed to withdraw almost entirely from the world. And they ask with deep solicitude often, what course they are to pursue? Where shall the line be drawn? How far shall they go? And where shall they deem the intercourse with the world unlawful or dangerous? A few remarks here as rules may aid us in answering these questions: 1st. Christians are not wholly to withdraw from intercourse with the people of this world. This was the error of the monastic system, and this error has been the occasion of innumerable corruptions and abominations in the papal church. They are not to do this, because

(a.) it is impossible. They must needs then, says Paul, go out of the world.

(b.) Because religion is not to be regarded as dissocial, and gloomy, and unkind.

(c.) Because they have many interests in common with those who are unconnected with the church, and they are not to abandon them. The interests of justice, and liberty, and science, and morals, and public improvements, and education, are all interests in which they share in common with others.

(d) Many of their best friends—a father, a mother, a son, a daughter—may be out of the church, and religion does not sever those ties, but binds them more tenderly and closely.

(e) Christians are inevitably connected in commercial dealings with those who are not members of the church; and to cease to have any connexion with them would be to destroy their own business, and to throw themselves out of employment, and to break up society.

(f) It would prevent the possibility of doing much good either to the bodies or the souls of men. The poor, the needy, and the afflicted, are, many of them, out of the church; and they have a claim on the friends of Christ, and on their active beneficence.

(g) It would break up and destroy the church altogether. Its numbers are to be increased and replenished from age to age by the efforts of Christians; and this demands that Christians should have some intercourse with the men of the world, whom they hope to benefit.

(h) An effort to withdraw wholly from the world injures religion. It conveys the impression that religion is morose, severe, misanthropic; and all such impressions do immense injury to the cause of God and truth.

2nd. The principles on which Christians should regulate their intercourse with the world, are these:

(a) They are not to be conformed to the world; they are not to do anything that shall countenance the views, feelings, principles of the world as such, or as distinguished from religion. They are not to do anything that would show that they approve of the peculiar fashions, amusements, opinions of the people of the world; or to leave the impression that they belong to the world.

(b) They are to do justice and righteousness to every man, whatever may be his rank, character, or views. They are not to do anything that will be calculated to give an unfavourable view of the religion which they profess to the men of the world.

(c) They are to discharge with fidelity all the duties of a father, husband, son, brother, friend, benefactor, or recipient of favours, towards those who are out of the church, or with whom they may be connected.

(d) They are to do good to all men—to the poor, the afflicted, the needy, the widow, the fatherless.

(e) They are to endeavour so to live and act, so to converse, and so to form their plans, as to promote the salvation of all others. They are to seek their spiritual welfare; and to endeavour by example and by conversation, by exhortation and by all the means in their power, to bring them to the knowledge of Christ. For this purpose they are kept on the earth instead of being removed to heaven; and to this object they should devote their lives.

(9.) We see from this chapter who are not to be regarded as Christians, whatever may be their professions, 1 Co 5:11. A man who is

(1) a fornicator, or

(2) COVETOUS, or

(3) an idolater, or

(4) a railer, or

(5) a drunkard, or

(6) an extortioner, is not to be owned as a Christian brother.

Paul has placed the covetous man, and the railer, and extortioners, in most undesirable company. They are ranked with fornicators and drunkards. And yet how many such persons there are in the Christian church—and many, too, who would regard it as a special insult to be ranked with a drunkard or an adulterer. But in the eye of God both are alike unfit for his kingdom, and are to be regarded as having no claims to the character of Christians.

(10.) God will judge the world, 1 Co 5:12,13. The world that is without the church—the mass of men that make no profession of piety—must give an account to God. They are travelling to his bar; and judgment in regard to them is taken into God's own hands, and he will pronounce their doom. It is a solemn thing to be judged by a holy God; and they who have no evidence that they are Christians should tremble at the prospect of being soon arraigned at his bar.

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