Having rebuked the Corinthians for the divisions and factions among them, the apostle gives another reason why they had no right to be proud and arrogant. They allowed members of the congregation to live in sin and open transgression without condemning or disciplining them.
(Vs. 1.) "It is common knowledge in and around Corinth that there is sexual immorality among you. The church cannot plead ignorance in the matter, for it is known by all." This particular incident was a man living in open incest with his father's wife. Almost all writers agree that it was his stepmother, for there is a distinction between a mother and a father's wife (Deut. 22:30; 27:20-23). Such conduct was not even permitted among pagan Gentiles.
(Vs. 2.) Equally shocking to the apostle was the fact that the church was not grieved by this man's actions but rather held him in esteem and overlooked his way of life. He may have been a teacher, preacher, or gifted man, and the church applauded him, rather than praying that he be removed from their midst.
(Vs. 3-5.) Paul declared that though he was absent from them in body, yet certainly with them in spirit, he had already decided what should be done about this situation.
When the church is met together in the Spirit of Christ, with the power and authority of Christ, this man is to be delivered into the hands of Satan for the destruction of his body that his soul may yet be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus (1 Tim. 1:20). Let us exercise care here because this is apostolic authority and power, not to be played with by just anyone. Paul said in verse 3, "I have judged this case." And in verse 4 he said, 'When you are gathered together, and my spirit, with authority of Christ". The "destruction of his flesh" is the shaking, afflicting and buffeting of his flesh that he might be brought to repentance and restoration.
(Vs. 6.) They gloried in their prosperity, in their riches and wealth, in their ministers and in their wisdom and gifts. Even in the midst of such immorality, they gloried! This is not good! You know that a little leaven, permitted, let alone and uncorrected, will affect the whole body. Whether this be false doctrine, a carnal spirit, immorality or ungodliness, if a stop is not put to it, it increases to more evil and ungodliness. We are to be compassionate, understanding and forgiving, but known sin is to be judged, condemned and put away.
(Vs. 7.) "Purge out the incestuous person as the Jews of old purged their houses of leaven just before the Passover" (Exod. 23:18; 34:25). (Leaven is a small piece of fermenting dough and is typical of corruption and decay. It was forbidden in all sacrifices.) "Rid yourselves of this open evil that you may appear to be what you profess to be new creatures in Christ, walking in newness of life, keeping the true and spiritual passover, for Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed for us."
(Vs. 8.) "Therefore, let us keep the Lord's Table, worship our Lord, fellowship in the blessings and benefits of his grace and preach his gospel, not in the old, sinful, worldly manner of life as before conversion (with malice, division, strife and immorality), but in godliness, holiness, sincerity and truth (2 Cor. 5:17).
(Vs. 9-11.) "I wrote you in another epistle not to associate closely and habitually with wicked men who openly compromise the principles of righteousness." Evidently the apostle wrote other epistles that are not included in the Scriptures. "I do not mean that you are to have no dealings commercially or in conversation with fornicators and evil men who make no profession of religion. In order to obey such a command, you would have to get out of the world altogether. But if a man professes to know Christ, is a member of the body of Christ and is known to be guilty of immorality, greed, idolatry, has a foul tongue, is a drunkard or a thief and remains impenitent, you are to separate him from your company."
(Vs. 12, 13.) "It is neither my business nor yours to judge people outside the church. We have no power over them. God is their judge. But it is the business of the church not only to exhort, encourage and edify one another, but to rebuke, reprove and correct the things that are contrary to the Word of God. Therefore, this man who lives in incest is to be put out of the church."