You Can Provide Clean Water to Persecuted Christians

1 Corinthians 5:1

Sexual Immorality Defiles the Church

1 It is actually reported that there is 1sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, 2for a man has his father's wife.

1 Corinthians 5:1 Meaning and Commentary

1 Corinthians 5:1

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among
The apostle having reproved the Corinthians for their schisms and divisions about their ministers, proceeds to charge them with immoralities committed among them, and which were connived at, and took no notice of by them; and particularly a very notorious one, which he here mentions with its aggravated circumstances. It was done among them; not only by one of their citizens, nor merely by one of their hearers, but by one of their members, and so was cognizable by them as a church; for though they had nothing to do with them that were without, yet they were concerned with them that were within: this was a public offence; it was known by everyone, and it was in everybody's mouth; it was heard in all companies; it was "commonly", (olwv) , "universally" talked of, and reported; it was generally known at Corinth, and in all Achaia, so that the church could not plead ignorance, nor could they be excused from blame in not as publicly declaring their abhorrence of the fact, as it was committed, which was fornication: fornication, (olwv) , "generally" taken, might be committed among them in all the branches of it, as that may include simple fornication, adultery, incest, and all acts of uncleanness; wherefore the apostle proceeds to describe that particular instance of fornication, that one of their members was guilty of:

and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles,
that one should have his father's wife;
not but that such unnatural copulations were practised, as among the Indians, Moors, Bactrians, Ethiopians, Medes, and Persians, as reported by sundry writers F25; and among the Arabians, before prohibited by Mahomet F26; but then such marriages and mixtures were not allowed of among the more civil and cultivated nations, as the Grecians and Romans, and never mentioned but with detestation and abhorrence: and if this man was a Jew, it was an aggravation of his sin, that he should be guilty of a crime decried by the Gentiles, as well as it was a violation of a known law of God given to the Jews, ( Leviticus 18:7 ) and, according to the Jewish writers F1, such a man was doubly guilty: their canon is,

``(ba tva le abh) he that lies with his father's wife is guilty, on account of her being his father's wife, and on account of her being another man's wife, whether in his father's life time, or after his death, and whether espoused or married;''

and such an one was to be stoned. Of this kind was this man's crime; he had his father's wife, not his own mother, but his stepmother; for there is a distinction between a mother and a father's wife, as in the above canon.

``These are to be stoned, he that lies with his mother, or with his father's wife.''

Whether this man had married his father's wife, or kept her as his concubine, continuing in an incestuous cohabitation with her, is not certain, and whether his father was dead or living; which latter seems to be the case from ( 2 Corinthians 7:12 ) his iniquity was abominable and intolerable, and by no means to be winked at in church of Christ.


F25 Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 1. c. 24. Curtius, l. 8. c. 2. Philo, de special. leg. p. 77. 8. Tertul. Apolog. c. 9. Min. Foelix, p. 34. Clement. Alex. Paedagog. p. 109. Origen. contr. Cels. l. 6. p. 331. Hieron. adv. Jovin. l. 2. fol. 26.
F26 Koran, c. 4. Vid. Pocock. spec, Arab. Hist p. 337, 338.
F1 Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 7. sect. 4.

1 Corinthians 5:1 In-Context

1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife.
2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.
4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus,
5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

Cross References 2

  • 1. 2 Corinthians 12:21
  • 2. Leviticus 18:8; Deuteronomy 22:30; Deuteronomy 27:20
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.