My Thoughts. . .
Thursday, November 21, 2019
Paul established the Corinthian congregation and spent eighteen months with them. Then he traveled to Ephesus. About a year later he wrote his first letter to them. In that short period, they have digressed into all the error he addresses. Apparently their denominating into four parties is the foundation upon which most of their errors find their origin (Chapters 1 – 4). After dealing with these four divisions, he begins with one member who is living with his father’s wife. He refers to this individual as a “fornicator” (v.9). He commands them to withdraw from this “wicked person” (v.13). The Corinthian pagan population has not descended into the immorality practiced by this one individual (v.1).
In chapter 6 Paul begins enumerating the other sins the assembly is engaged in. What is unique about this letter and the congregation’s behavior is that this one individual is the only one they are commanded to withdraw from! You have an error practicing assembly withdrawing from one member who is in error. Wouldn’t human nature motivate the one to remind the majority that four of their fingers are pointing at them? Only one is pointed at him! Doesn’t that sound hypocritical?
If the Corinthian congregation existed today, wouldn’t the pointing fingers belong to those who label themselves as “sound”? Words such as “apostate, unsound, unscriptural, or leaving the old paths” would be the message broadcasted by those condemning fingers. Condemnation would be heaped upon their eldership, deacons, and ministers. Appeals would be made to the members to flee and fill their roll books because they are safe havens of truth. Wouldn’t Paul’s admonitions be extolled as a pattern badly needed to prove the soundness of today’s congregations?
If chapter 5 is a pattern for us today, few would experience a member living with his father’s wife. Yet, how many disciples in each congregation might be guilty of the following actions described by Paul? What about folks who are being greedy or making money, influence, fame, or power as their idol? What about those who slander or are abusive? What about a person who is a drunkard or involved in drugs? Is there any member who cheats or swindles others? These activities are listed with fornication (v. 11). Are we guilty of ignoring such, failing to be grieved over such, fellowshipping such, boasting about such, or eating the Lord’s supper with such? If so, are we not more like Corinth than we think?
Didn’t Corinth believe in immersion (12:13, 27)? Didn’t they partake of the Lord’s supper (11:20)? Weren’t they addressed by an inspired apostle as “the church of God,” “brethren,” “members of ,” and “the body of Christ”? (1:2, 10; 6:15; 12:27)? Weren’t they included within the “churches of the saints” (14:33)? Weren’t they the “temple of God” as well as the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (3:16; 6:19)? Wasn’t the Holy Spirit dwelling within them (3:16)? Didn’t they have inspired prophets, language speakers, and interpreters (12:27-28)? Didn’t they give each Sunday (16:1-3). Didn’t they practice scriptural withdrawing (2 Corinthians 2:7-8)? Weren’t they in fellowship with other congregations (16:19)? Weren’t they “bought with a price” (6:20)? If a congregation had God referring to them as such in all of those actions, wouldn’t we refer to it as a sound church! Since they were all of that, did Paul refer to them as an apostate congregation? Is there a single verse where Paul states that they are no long the true body or church of Christ? Did Paul suggest that the elders, or preachers be withdrawn from? Did he warn members moving into Corinth to NOT place membership with them until they repented and pray for forgiveness?
If practicing “church discipline” is a factor in being a restored first century church, would your choices cause you to accomplish that goal or fail at it? If today’s congregations needed to practice scriptural withdrawal, and it was between a man who was living with his father’s wife or a preacher or elder who rejected Paul apostolic authority, which one would you withdraw from? If it was between a man who was guilty of slander or one who espoused that the dead were not resurrected, which one would you chose to put out? If it was between a member who was covetous or one who convinced others to be “of Cephas,” who would you withdraw from?
Was Paul in error himself by not withdrawing from the entire Corinthian congregation until each repented and asked for forgiveness for their specific sins? Perhaps chapter five is a binding pattern where some sins are to be dealt with immediately by other sinning members. Isn’t Paul’s pattern allowing those other sinners to put off their repentance for months before it is necessary to threaten them with the same disciplining? They continued to be the church of God in their sins. They continued to be temple of the Holy Spirit in their sins. They retained their spiritual gifts. They continued to be denominated as the assemble of Paul, the assembly of Cephas, the assemble of Apollos, and the assembly of Christ while they disciplined that one individual. They are involved in doctrinal error, have not yet repented, yet God is still dwelling in them.
What are your thoughts?