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5. Expel the Immoral Brother

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

11. If he who is called a brother In the Greek there is a participle 300300     “Au texte Grec il y a de mot a mot, Si aucun frere nomme,” etc.; — “In the Greek text it literally, If any one, called a brother,” etc. without a verb. 301301     It is so according to the common reading, which is as follows: — ἐάν τις, ἀδελφὸς ὀνομαζόμενος, ἣ πόρνος, ἣ πλεονέκτης, κ. τ. λ..” If any one, called a brother — either a fornicator, or covetous,” etc.; but, as stated by Bloomfield, “seven MSS., and many versions, and Fathers, the Ed. Princ., and those of Beza, Schmid., and Beng., have , (before πόρνος,) which is approved by Wets., and Matth., and edited by Griesb., Knapp., Vat., and Tittm.;” and, in Bloomfield’s opinion, “rightly.” — Ed Those that view this as referring to what follows, bring out here a forced meaning, and at variance with Paul’s intention. I confess, indeed, that that is a just sentiment, 302302     “Qu’ils en tirent;” — “Which they draw from it.” and worthy of being particularly noticed — that no one can be punished by the decision of the Church, but one whose sin has become matter of notoriety; but these words of Paul cannot be made to bear that meaning. What he means, then, is this: “If any one is reckoned a brother among you, and at the same time leads a wicked life, and such as is unbecoming a Christian, keep aloof from his society.” In short, being called a brother, means here a false profession, which has no corresponding reality. Farther, he does not make a complete enumeration of crimes, but merely mentions five or six by way of example, and then afterwards, under the expression such an one, he sums up the whole; and he does not mention any but what fall under the knowledge of men. For inward impiety, and anything that is secret, does not fall within the judgment of the Church.

It is uncertain, however, what he means by an idolater For how can he be devoted to idolatry who has made a profession of Christ? Some are of opinion that there were among the Corinthians at that time some who received Christ but in half, and in the mean time were involved, nevertheless, in corrupt superstition, as the Israelites of old, and afterwards the Samaritans maintained a kind of worship of God, but at the same time polluted it with wicked superstitions. For my part, I rather understand it of those who, while they held idols in contempt, gave, nevertheless, a pretended homage to the idols, with the view of gratifying the wicked. Paul declares that such persons ought not to be tolerated in the society of Christians; and not without good reason, inasmuch as they made so little account of trampling God’s glory under foot. We must, however, observe the circumstances of the case — that, while they had a Church there, in which they might worship God in purity, and have the lawful use of the sacraments, they came into the Church in such a way as not to renounce the profane fellowship of the wicked. I make this observation, in order that no one may think that we ought to employ equally severe measures against those who, while at this day dispersed under the tyranny of the Pope, pollute themselves with many corrupt rites. These indeed, I maintain, sin generally in this respect, and they ought, I acknowledge, to be sharply dealt with, and diligently urged, 303303     “Il les faut redarguer auec seuerite, et les soliciter continuellement par admonitions;” — “They ought to be reproved with severity, and plied perseveringly with admonitions.” that they may learn at length to consecrate themselves wholly to Christ; but I dare not go so far as to reckon them worthy of excommunication, for their case is different. 304304     “Car leur condition n’est pas telle comme estoit celle des Corinthiens;” — “For their condition is not like that of the Corinthians.”

With such an one not even to take food. In the first place, we must ascertain whether he addresses here the whole Church, or merely individuals. I answer, that this is said, indeed, to individuals, but, at the same time, it is connected with their discipline in common; for the power of excommunicating is not allowed to any individual member, but to the entire body. When, therefore, the Church has excommunicated any one, no believer ought to receive him into terms of intimacy with him; otherwise the authority of the Church would be brought into contempt, if each individual were at liberty to admit to his table those who have been excluded from the table of the Lord. By partaking of food here, is meant either living together, or familiar association in meals. For if, on going into an inn, I see one who has been excommunicated sitting at table, there is nothing to hinder me from dining with him; for I have not authority to exclude him. What Paul means is, that, in so far as it is in our power, we are to shun the society of those whom the Church has cut off from her communion.

The Roman antichrist, not content with this severity, has burst forth into interdicts, prohibiting any one from helping one that has been excommunicated to food, or fuel, or drink, or any other of the supports of life. 305305     “Est venu furieusement jusques aux defenses et menaces, Que nul ne fust si hardi de donner a boire ou a manger, ou de feu a celuy qui seroit excommunier, ou de luy aider aucunement des choses necessaires a la vie presente;” — “Has in his fury gone so far as to issue forth prohibitions and threatenings — ‘Let no one be so daring as to give meat, or drink, or fuel, to the man who has been excommunicated, or to help him in any way with the things necessary for the present life.’” Now, that is not strictness of discipline, but tyrannical and barbarous cruelty, that is altogether at variance with Paul’s intention. For he means not that he should be counted as an enemy, but as a brother, (2 Thessalonians 3:15;) for in putting this public mark of disgrace upon him, the intention is, that he may be filled with shame, and brought to repentance. And with this dreadful cruelty, if God is pleased to permit, do they rage even against the innocent. 306306     “Et ces bourreaux encore exercent ceste cruaute extreme, mesme contre les innocens;” — “And these hangmen do, besides, exercise this extreme cruelty even against the innocent.” Now, granting that there are sometimes those who are not undeserving of this punishment, I affirm, on the other hand, that this kind of interdict 307307     “Telle facon d’excommunier;” — “Such a method of excommunication.” is altogether unsuitable to an ecclesiastical court.


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