What does 1 Corinthians 5:6 mean?
ESV: Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?
NIV: Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?
NASB: Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?
CSB: Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little leaven leavens the whole batch of dough?
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?
KJV: Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
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.
First Corinthians 5:1–8 contains Paul's primary example of how the Corinthian's pride and self-sufficiency is hurting their community. He has just asked if they would prefer he come in gentleness, or ''with a rod,'' symbolic of harsh judgment. Here, Paul details a grievous sin: the believers in Corinth have failed to rebuke a member who is committing incest with his father's wife. They must remove him from the church and turn him over to Satan in hopes of his ultimate salvation. This is also crucial for the health of the church—just as tiny bits of leaven eventually spread to an entire batch of dough, sin left unconfronted can poison an entire church.
Paul confronts the church in Corinth for failing to respond to a self-identified believer having a sexual affair with his father's wife. He insists they must remove the man from their community—to refuse his participation in the church—referred to here as delivering him to Satan. As the Jewish people would do during Passover, they must remove the leaven of this man and his sin from among them, to prevent it from spreading to the entire church. Christian congregations should not associate with those who claim to be believers, yet flaunt their sin.
First Corinthians 5 continues Paul's confrontational tone from the previous chapter. There, he warned the arrogant that he might return to them with a rod of correction. Now he points to a specific result of their pride: They have failed to respond to one among them who is openly committing incest. Paul commands them to remove the man from their community by turning him over to Satan for destruction of his flesh, in hopes that his spirit would be saved. They must not even share a meal with a Christian continuing in unrepentant sin. Paul will distinguish between the judgment of believers with that of non-believers. In the next chapter, this will include more details on how to handle conflict, as well as the ability of God to forgive any and all sin.
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
Accessed 11/30/2023 5:46:28 AM
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