Fellowship With Sinners

Q. Can you explain what Paul meant in 1 Corinthians Chapter 5 verse 11? It seems to be suggesting that if a christian brother is having sex outside of marriage (ie living with their partner) then no other christian should eat with them. (ie socialize with them by dining with them in their home) Can you let me know how you interpret this verse? Your website is a breath of fresh air and very welcome – thank you and praise the Lord for your work. God bless.

A. Chapter 5 begins with Paul criticizing the Corinthian Church for permitting immoral behavior among them thinking they were expressing their love through tolerance. The case in point was a man involved in an intimate relationship with his father’s wife. He demands that they put this man out of the fellowship until the situation is rectified. Then in verse 11 several other types of behavior unsuited to believers are included. General sexual immorality, greed, idolatry, slander, drunkenness, and swindling are all mentioned.

Sharing a meal with someone outside the family in those days indicated that a there was covenant relationship between the parties, and believers often shared fellowship meals together following their time of worship.(1 Cor. 11:20-22)

But such behavior is a sign that the offending party has violated the covenant that exists between believers, and should result in a temporary suspension of the covenant benefits. In 2nd Corinthians, he taught them that once this had achieved the desired result of allowing the person to experience the consequences for such behavior, correct the problem and seek forgiveness, then they should welcome him back into fellowship. (2 Cor 2:5-11)

Believers are supposed to lovingly hold one another accountable for maintaining behavioral standards consistent with Biblical teachings. (Matt. 18:15-35) And Ephesians 4:25-32 contains other examples of inapopropriate behavior. But that does not extend to judgment or condemnation, the former belonging to God alone and the later eliminated at the cross. The dual objectives of such action must always be forgiveness and restoration.

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