“For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” 1 Cor. 5:12 & 13
This is yet another Old Testament passage the apostle Paul, through the Spirit, alludes to in his letter to the Corinthian church.
Again, he doesn’t specifically emphasize it as a quote by saying “it is written”, prior to referencing the statement. The apostle in chapter five is dealing with the issue of immorality in the body, and particularly with an individual that is engaged in sexual immorality with his own father’s wife. The basis for the declaration which Paul makes in the letter regarding removing the man is found in about three separate spots in the book of Deuteronomy with slight variances. Deut 13:5b, “So you shall purge the evil from among you.”; Deut 17:7, “So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”, and Deut 17:12, “..thus you shall purge the evil from Israel.” This “purging” called for in these verses meant putting to death the offender. The book of Deuteronomy derives its English name from the Greek word Deuteronomiom, which means “second law.” That is exactly what the context of the book is about, the giving of the law a second time to the generation who had survived the Exodus wilderness wanderings and were intended by the lord to take the promised land. The purpose of the law was to teach the people to understand the difference between the holy and the profane (and they were to be holy to the Lord and observe His law). God was also seeking to impress upon the citizens of the new nation the importance of obedience and learning from the negative examples of the preceding generation. Lots of folks had given up their lives by “acting presumptuously” and “not listening” (Deut. 17:12). The church is called to learn from Old Testament lessons as well, as Paul would elaborate upon later in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 10:6, 11)and as he had done with the Roman brethren (Rom. 15:4). So, you may be asking yourself, “Why didn’t the apostle Paul follow the Lord Jesus Christ’s instructions on dealing with sin as detailed in Matthew chapter 18?” (Go to your brother in person, if no repentance, then take a witness, if still no repentance, then go before the church, then toss him out if he doesn’t repent) A fair question. Let’s consider a few things. Have you ever noticed that after the Lord coalesced the seed of Jacob into a nation during the exodus and onto the conquest of the land that He zapped folks rather quickly for disobedience? Why would that be? The answer is fairly simple-it has to do with timing. As the law was delivered by Moses and understood by the people, the Almighty would insure the new nation recognized that He meant what He said with no deviation by immediately and unmercifully executing the lawbreaker or anyone who challenged his ordained hierarchy (c. f., Numbers 15:32-36 & Num 16:1-40) The “exclamation point” upon the revealed will of God and the lesson is thus provided. The teaching of the New Covenant in Christ constantly reminded Christians that they were dead to the law and now walked in faith supported by the grace of God. It would be easy for some to assume this grace translated into license. The Corinthians had come to the conclusion that there was no need to judge this heinous transgression and indeed, they were feeling pretty proud about themselves in not being judgmental. Sound familiar to today’s religious landscape, brethren? Do you see why the protocol for Matthew 18 wouldn’t work in this situation? No one was willing to even call the offender out for his offense! Secondly, like with the ancient nation of Israel, the LORD made sure a couple of times in the early history of the church that discipline was administered immediately and forcefully. Recall that Peter had to act rather severely upon two individuals who chose to lie him and to the Holy Spirit as recorded in Acts chapter five. The scripture says “great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.” You can be sure the lesson was learned there regarding dishonesty and not to act presumptuously. At the core of the New Covenant is the absolute necessity of being honest in your motives and intentions. Paul and Peter executed their divinely given authority for the benefit of the church. Let’s be grateful that we have their examples and that the Lord’s desire in disciplining the wayward is to restore them back to the faith.