1 Corinthians 5:6 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 5:6, NIV: Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?

1 Corinthians 5:6, ESV: Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?

1 Corinthians 5:6, KJV: Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

1 Corinthians 5:6, NASB: Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?

1 Corinthians 5:6, NLT: Your boasting about this is terrible. Don't you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough?

1 Corinthians 5:6, CSB: Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little leaven leavens the whole batch of dough?

What does 1 Corinthians 5:6 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

One of the men in the church at Corinth has been having a sexual affair with his father's wife (1 Corinthians 5:1). Though apparently everyone in the church knows this, they have not addressed the man's sin. They have allowed him to continue to come to the meetings and participate in the life of the church.

The church has been instructed to remove the man from among them and to turn him over to Satan in the name of Christ (1 Corinthians 5:5). There are many purposes behind this excommunication. First and foremost is that the man might be convicted and come to repentance for his sin (1 Corinthians 10:12; Galatians 6:1). But it's also necessary to protect the spiritual health of the other believers (Galatians 2:4) and to prevent slander from the unbelieving world (2 Peter 2:2).

Paul has also identified the cause of the Corinthians' indifference to this man's sin. They are arrogant (1 Corinthians 5:2), which is why they are boasting about how well they're doing. Instead of mourning about the presence of heinous sin in their own congregation, they focused only on their own success as people and as a church.

Paul now writes that this boasting is not good. It is causing them to ignore a sin that could end up infecting all of them. He reminds them that a little leaven leavens the entire lump of dough.

Leaven was used in making bread. A bit of risen, aged dough from the previous batch would be stored away as the starting point for the next batch of dough. Working this tiny piece into a new batch introduced leavening agents which would spread to every piece of the new material. If the leaven was bad, the bacteria in it would quickly spread to the rest of the dough, making the bread worthless.

Paul's readers would have understood this process and his meaning. Sin of this nature, left unaddressed in the church community, would eventually spread and corrupt everyone. This was why Paul told them to remove the man from among them. Leaving open, unrepentant sin unaddressed would be like carelessly throwing rotten leavening agents into a new bowl of dough.