I wrote unto you in an epistle
. Not in this same epistle, and in ( 1 Corinthians 5:2 1 Corinthians 5:7 ) as some think; for what is here observed is not written in either of those verses, but in some other epistle he had sent them before, as is clear from ( 1 Corinthians 5:11 ) which either came not to hand, or else was neglected by them; and so what he here says may be considered as a reproof to them, for taking no notice of his advice; but continuing to show respect to the incestuous person, though he in a former epistle had advised them to the contrary: no doubt the apostle wrote other epistles to the Corinthians, besides those that are in being; see ( 2 Corinthians 10:10 2 Corinthians 10:11 ) nor does such a supposition at all detract from the perfection of Scripture; for not all that were written by him were by divine inspiration; and as many as were so, and were necessary for the perfection of the canon of Scripture, and to instruct us in the whole counsel of God, have been preserved; nor is this any contradiction to this epistle's being his first to this church; for though it might not be his first to them, yet it is the first to them extant with us, and therefore so called: what he had written to them in another epistle was not
to company with fornicators;
which he had not so fully explained, neither what fornicators he meant, nor what by keeping company with them; he therefore in this distinguishes upon the former, and enlarges his sense of the latter; declaring that they were not so much as to eat with such persons; which shows, that this prohibition does not regard unclean copulation, or a joining with them in the sin of fornication, they had been used to in a state of unregeneracy, for some sort of companying with fornicators is allowed of in the next verse; whereas no degree of a sinful mixture with them would ever be tolerated: but that it is to be understood of a civil society and familiar conversation with them; which might bring a reproach upon religion, be a stumbling to weak Christians, and be of dangerous consequence to themselves and others; who hereby might be allured and drawn by their example into the commission of the same sinful practices. The apostle seems to allude to the customs and usages of the Jews, who abstained from all civil commerce and familiar acquaintance with unbelievers. They say,
``that everyone that does not study in the law, (axrwab hyme Khml v"kw atrwxo hyb dbemlw hybgl brqml ryoa) , "it is forbidden to come near him, and to exercise merchandise with him, and much less to walk with him in the way", because there is no faith in him F13.''
F13 Zohar in Lev. fol. 33. 2.