Ye are puffed up - Ye are full of strife and contention relative to your parties and favourite teachers, and neglect the discipline of the Church. Had you considered the greatness of this crime, ye would have rather mourned, and have put away this flagrant transgressor from among you.
Taken away from among you - Ἱνα εξαρθη εκ μεσου υμων . This is supposed by some to refer to the punishment of death, by others to excommunication. The Christian Church was at this time too young to have those forms of excommunication which were practised in succeeding centuries. Probably no more is meant than a simple disowning of the person, accompanied with the refusal to admit him to the sacred ordinances, or to have any intercourse or connection with him.
And ye are puffed up - See the note at 1 Corinthians 4:18. You are filled with pride, and with a vain conceit of your own wisdom and purity, notwithstanding the existence of this enormous wickedness in your church. This does not mean that they were puffed up, or proud on account of the existence of this wickedness, but they were filled with pride notwithstanding, or in spite of it. They ought to have been a humbled people. They should have mourned; and should have given their first attention to the removal of the evil. But instead of this, they had given indulgence to proud feeling, and had become elated with a vain confidence in their spiritual purity. People are always elated and proud when they have the least occasion for it.
And have not rather mourned - Have not rather been so afflicted and troubled as to take the proper means for removing the offence. The word “mourn” here is taken in that large sense. Ye have not been “so much” afflicted - so troubled with the existence of this wickedness, as to take the proper measures to remove the offender - Acts of discipline in the church should always commence with mourning that there is occasion for it. It should not be anger, or pride, or revenge, or party feeling, which prompt to it. It should be deep grief that there is occasion for it; and tender compassion for the offender.
Might be taken away - By excommunication. He should not, while he continues in this state, be allowed to remain in your communion.
The apostle made no mention of the false teachers who were seeking to destroy the fruit of his labor. Because of the darkness and division in the church, he wisely forbore to irritate them by such references, for fear of turning some entirely from the truth. He called attention to his own work among them as that of “a wise masterbuilder,” who had laid the foundation upon which others had built. But he did not thereby exalt himself; for he declared, “We are laborers together with God.” He claimed no wisdom of his own, but acknowledged that divine power alone had enabled him to present the truth in a manner pleasing to God. United with Christ, the greatest of all teachers, Paul had been enabled to communicate lessons of divine wisdom, which met the necessities of all classes, and which were to apply at all times, in all places, and under all conditions. AA 303.1
Among the more serious of the evils that had developed among the Corinthian believers, was that of a return to many of the debasing customs of heathenism. One former convert had so far backslidden that his licentious course was a violation of even the low standard of morality held by the Gentile world. The apostle pleaded with the church to put away from among them “that wicked person.” “Know ye not,” he admonished them, “that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.” AA 303.2
Another grave evil that had arisen in the church was that of brethren going to law against one another. Abundant provision had been made for the settlement of difficulties among believers. Christ Himself had given plain instruction as to how such matters were to be adjusted. “If thy brother shall trespass against thee,” the Saviour had counseled, “go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 18:15-18. AA 304.1Read in context »