Exclusion from the People of God: An Examination of Paul’s Use of the Old Testament in 1 Corinthians 5
1 Corinthians 5:1–13 serves as a key text when speaking about the topic of church discipline. Verse 13 provides a crucial example of how the NT uses the OT. However, to understand its full significance for one’s reading of 1 Corinthians 5, one must see how the quoted text is utilized within the book of Deuteronomy on numerous occasions. The aim of this article is to demonstrate that Paul’s exhortation to the church in Corinth is intensified in a distinctive manner when one understands how Paul is seeking to use the OT in his argument. Namely, this rebuke from the apostle reveals an eschatological trajectory for excommunication, which, as a present judgment by the church, serves as a declarative sign toward the future judgment of God.
The practice of church discipline, though not exercised by many modern-day churches, has deep biblical moorings that must be clearly seen and properly adhered to in order for a local church to function properly. One biblical text that speaks unequivocally regarding discipline in the church is 1 Corinthians 5:1–13, addressing specifically the topic of exclusion or excommunication. Here the apostle Paul is dealing with a particular issue in the church at Corinth and speaks to the need for that body of believers to exclude a certain individual from their midst because of his unrepentant sin. At the end of this discourse Paul tells the church to “Purge the evil person from among you,” which is a powerful use of the OT, specifically from the book of Deuteronomy.
One crucial aspect of the subject of biblical theology is the study of the use of the OT in the NT. Rosner asserts this regarding Paul’s pronouncement to the church in 1 Corinthians 5:13 and its use of Scripture:
The use of Deut. 17:7, etc. in 1 Cor. 5:13 is one of the most impressive examples of the crucial nature of Old Testament context in the study of the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament. There is good evidence that the contexts of all six appearances of the Deuteronomic expulsion formula in their original contexts have exerted an influence on Paul’s instructions across the chapter.
The aim of this article is to demonstrate that Paul’s exhortation to the church in Corinth is intensified in a distinctive manner when one understands how Paul is seeking to use the OT in his argument. Namely, this rebuke from the apostle reveals an eschatological trajectory for excommunication, which, as a present judgment by the church, points as a declarative sign toward the future judgment of God.
This chapter from 1 Corinthians appears to contain various echoes from the OT, an allusion to the Passover celebration (5:6–8), and a quotation regarding expulsion from the people of God (5:13; Deut 13:5; 17:7; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21, 22, 24; 24:7; cf. Judges 20:13). Most of the attention in this article will be given to the quotation in verse 13. After analyzing the surrounding context of the passage being investigated in 1 Corinthians, a fourfold methodology will be employed to best understand the significance of Paul’s use of the OT. First, the citation will be established by examining textual affinities with the OT passage. Second, the OT passage will be examined in a contextual and exegetical manner. Third, the citation will be viewed in light of Second Temple Jewish literature to see whether the saying has affinities with the writings of that time period. Finally, the OT citation will be examined in the context of 1 Corinthians, highlighting its exegetical, hermeneutical, and theological significance.
Church discipline, biblical studies
Kimble, Jeremy M., "Exclusion from the People of God: An Examination of Paul’s Use of the Old Testament in 1 Corinthians 5" (2021). Biblical and Theological Studies Faculty Publications. 537.