1 Corinthians 5

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These small group studies of 1 Corinthians contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

1 Corinthians 5 Inductive Bible Study and Discussion Questions

Outline:

  1. The report (verse 1)

  2. The problem (verse 2)

  3. The judgment (3-5)

  4. The consequences of ignoring the problem (6-8)

  5. Don’t associate with immoral believers (9-13)

Discussion Questions:

1

What is the problem in the church in this chapter?

What is the specific immorality?

2

How did the Corinthian church deal with the problem?

Is this problem prevalent these days?

What do most churches do about it?

What do most individuals do about it?

As believers living in an immoral world, what steps can we take to protect ourselves from immorality?

3-5

What is Paul’s solution/how did he decide to deal with the situation?

What does it mean in verse five to deliver such a person to Satan?

Wouldn’t the person be more likely to repent if he was allowed to stay in the church?

What are the two basic reasons willfully sinning people are excommunicated from the church?

6-8

What is the likely consequence of doing nothing (verse 6)?

What is leaven?

What does it mean to clean out the old leaven and to be unleavened?

What “feast” is Paul talking about in verse 8?

9-13

What letter is Paul talking about?

What kind of Paul should we not associate with?

Why?

Does this mean we should spend a lot of time associating with immoral people in the world?

If not, what is the balance between “going out of the world” and building many close relationships to people in the world?

How should a believer act towards people in the world? How about people in the church?

Why not even eat with an immoral person in the church? Is that being judgmental?

Cross-references by topic

Immorality

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8, Revelation 21:8, Colossians 3:5, Ephesians 5:3, Galatians 5:19, Philippians 4:8, Proverbs 4:23

Excommunication

Matthew 18:15-17, Ephesians 5:11-12

Fellowshipping or not

2 Thessalonians 3:6 (Don’t fellowship with the unruly)

Hebrews 10:23, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Proverbs 27:17 (form good relationships)

1 Corinthians 15:33, Proverbs 13:20 – Avoid bad company.

Leaven-

1.

a substance, as yeast or baking powder, that causes fermentation and expansion of dough or batter.

2.

fermented dough reserved for producing fermentation in a new batch of dough.

3.

an element that produces an altering or transforming influence.

–verb (used with object)

4.

to add leaven to (dough or batter) and cause to rise.

5.

to permeate with an altering or transforming element.

Teaching Points

Verse 1:

Paul heard a report that there was immorality among the Corinthian church. The word “actually” denotes the surprise and shock of such a report. Not only was there “common immorality”, but the immorality practiced in the Church was so bad that even the grossly immoral pagan Corinthians didn’t practice this kind of immorality. Even the pagan unbelievers knew it was wrong and didn’t engage in it. In other words this problem in the Corinthian church was even worse than what the unbelieving pagans were doing.

The specific immorality was incest. This was punishable by death (Leviticus 18:7,8,29) in the OT. The word for immorality here is the root of the English word for “pornography”. What is immorality and what is God’s view towards it? Read through cross-references.

2

We see God’s view of immorality, but how about the Corinthian church’s view? How did the Corinthian church deal with the problem?

The church wasn’t saddened by this terrible sin and terrible testimony. Rather, they were prideful and worldly. It seems they tolerated and even excused the sin. They were bordering on a cultish division between the physical and the spiritual, thinking they could do whatever they want in the flesh, but still be close to God spiritually. This is a common line of attack for Satan. He tries to convince people that spiritual life and physical life is different. We don’t need to fleshly desires, rather we can do whatever we want and God will forgive us. But this division is never seen in Scripture. Rather we are taught that if we are truly spiritual then we will serve the Lord physically.

Is this problem prevalent these days?

Immorality is extremely prevalent in the world. Fornication, adultery, pornography are fairly commonplace even among believers. We should learn from the Corinthian church that no one immune. Going to church and Bible study doesn’t guarantee that we will not fall into immorality. Many a pastor have had their lives and ministries wrecked because of it. In the world there is almost no restraint or resistance to impure behavior. It is tolerated and, like we looked at last week in Romans, in many cases encouraged. People boast about it and are lauded for it. But as believers we are called to be holy. We are called to be different.

So what do most churches do about it?

Churches know the problem; they know the Word of God. But sadly, churches are doing very little about this problem. In many cases the problem is ignored because it makes people uncomfortable. Sometimes it is mentioned from the teaching pulpit and that is good, but how about when an individual is being immoral? Most churches are forsaking their God-given responsibility to “monitor” the holiness of their members, to hold each person individually responsible for their lives. We know it is the responsibility of believers to act as a safety net for each other, but unfortunately this just isn’t happening very much. As we will discuss later, there should be church discipline handed down to immoral people. Instead they are often not confronted, not disciplined, not questioned, but tolerated.

What should churches do?

Churches should be involved in the lives of the people that go there. Let’s take Bob and Jill for example. Bob and Jill go to the church’s young adult Sunday School and main worship service. They can also be seen at many church activities. Bob and Jill have started dating. More and more they are spending time with each other and not with the church group. They can be seen getting closer and closer physically. They normally come to events together and leave together. Suddenly, they both stop coming to church. What is going on? It doesn’t take a genius to guess. What should the church do? From the beginning the believers in the church should try to keep active in Bob and Jill’s life. They should ask questions. Brothers should ask Bob about purity issues and hold him to a high standard. Sisters should ask Jill about purity issues and hold her to a high standard. If from the beginning believers held them accountable and asked tough questions, it is very likely that Bob and Jill would never have gone as far as they did and left the church.

You may say, “hey, that is violating their privacy! Just let them be. You are not their boss.” Well, firstly privacy is overrated. Believers are supposed to encourage and even rebuke each other; that is a biblical concept. If it is done in a loving and gentle way Bob should be willing to accept it, knowing that they are trying to help his spiritual walk. Secondly, sure, we are not their boss. But Christ is. We are not sharing our opinions, but Scripture. And Scripture is clear. God wants us to be holy.

3-5

Let’s move on from what the church in Corinth didn’t do about the problem to what Paul said should be done about the problem.

What is Paul’s solution/how did he decide to deal with the situation?

What does it mean in verse five to deliver such a person to Satan?

What do most individuals do about it?

As believers living in an immoral world, what steps can we take to protect ourselves from immorality?

Firstly, it is important to note that this wasn’t just Paul’s idea. The end of verse 4 says “with the power of our Lord Jesus.” This shows that it is not by human authority that such a major step can be taken. It is not based on human opinion. It is only by God’s authority and based on what He has clearly shown us in His Word. We appeal to the authority of Christ.

Next, the decision. Verse 5. What does that mean?

Most commentators agree this refers to excommunication. Christ’s domain is the church, while Satan’s domain is the world. Thus, handing over to Satan simply means to excommunicate from the church and put back into the sphere of the world, Satan’s influence. The destruction of his flesh likely refers to divine discipline, which could include trials, afflictions, sickness, even death. Let’s first look at some other biblical references to excommunication. Read cross-references.

From Matthew, the process is clear. All along, the whole point is restoration and repentance. The goal isn’t to wield power and punish people. The goal is a change of heart and repentance. This excommunication should only come as the last step after individually and with several people together approaching the individual.

Wouldn’t the person be more likely to repent if he was allowed to stay in the church?

What are the two basic reasons willfully sinning people are excommunicated from the church?

If the person is tolerated in the church it is teaching them that sin is not a serious issue. They can still and still maintain fellowship with other believers and with God. It’s the same thing with children. If children aren’t disciplined when they do wrong, they think that it is not a serious issue and will be encouraged to do more wrong. Allowing a person who is willfully sinning to stay in the church is NOT going to benefit them. It is going to make them feel secure when they are living extremely dangerously.

Excommunication has two purposes.

  1. To encourage repentance. It is a serious step, taken to address serious sin, and designed to bring about a grief towards sin and a change of heart. The purpose is correction, not condemnation.

  2. For the second reason we read from 6-8. The second reason is to keep the church pure. Discuss leaven. Imagine me when I was growing up. Let’s say Jeremy kept doing wrong things and was never disciplined by my parents. How will I react to this? Firstly, I will be exposed to a lot of temptation. As Jeremy does the wrong things it encourages me to do them also. Secondly, when I see him getting away with it, I will think that sin doesn’t really have consequences. It is indirectly teaching me that it is OK. Kids know to look at their parent’s actions more than their parent’s words. If the parents keep talking and teaching Jeremy, but never DO anything about it, we will likely ignore their words. It is the same in the church. Sinning by one member will tempt others and indirectly teach them it is OK if the church does nothing about it.

The point from verses 6-8 is that believers should be “unleavened”. That means we need to be holy before God and need to remove the bad influences from among us. He says we “are in fact unleavened”. That means that positionally we are righteous before God even if we aren’t practically. Since we are in position we need to practice that in our lives. Then we can truly celebrate Christ’s sacrifice for us through the Lord’s Supper “feast”.

9-13

What letter is Paul talking about?

What kind of people should we not associate with?

Why?

Paul had written the Corinthians another letter before 1st Corinthians. In that letter, he had already addressed associating with immoral people, but it seems that some misunderstood and thought he was referring to immoral people in the world, when he was talking about immoral people in the church.

Here we find some important principles on who not to spend time with, immoral people in the church. If we are around people in the world we should know that they are different and their behavior is different. We should be alert and not get sucked into their behavior and words. But if the people in the church are being a bad influence to us it is much less easy to resist. If they are doing it, it must be OK, right?

Does this mean we should spend a lot of time associating with immoral people in the world?

If not, what is the balance between “going out of the world” and building many close relationships to people in the world?

How should a believer act towards people in the world? How about people in the church?

Why not even eat with an immoral person in the church? Is that being judgmental?

Read cross-references and discuss balance in relationship towards those in the world. It always helps to go back to the basics. In the “wheel” illustration it shows us that the kind of relationship we have with other believers is a fellowship relationship. That is a relationship of mutually encouraging one another, a relationship of praying for one another, helping one another, even rebuking one another when necessary. The kind of relationship we should have with those in the world is a “witnessing” relationship. We can’t witness if we don’t see this kind of person. But neither is it necessary to became intimate friends with this kind of person to witness. The Bible is clear that believers need to avoid bad influences and seek out good influences. That doesn’t mean removing ourselves from the world, but it does mean taking care who we spend our time with. Don’t always accept invitations to go out with certain people or do things that are questionable. You don’t have to go just because they are your friends. You don’t have to join just because they expect you to. You can say “no”.

Study 1 Corinthians 6

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