Mark Cowpersmith is God Religious

Mark Cowper-Smith

1 Corinthians 5:11  But as it is, I wrote to you not to associate with anyone who is called a brother who is a sexual sinner, or covetous, or an idolater, or a slanderer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner. Don’t even eat with such a person. (see full chapter below from

This passage must be read within the context of the other passages that relate to church discipline. Jesus set out a three step procedure to deal with perceived offenses we suffer from fellow Christians. You can read the whole chapter Matthew 18 below with footnotes and cross references included. It is important to always read what comes before and after any passage you are looking at in the Bible.

Jesus’ answer to continuing, unrepentant sin is to discontinue fellowship with the sinner. The purpose of this “shunning” is not punishment but rather a radical action to bring the person to the realization of their sin. Coming to recognize unrepentant sin, on this side of the final judgment seat of Christ, is a great mercy. Paul deals with church discipline in 1 and 2 Corinthians. He was faced with very destructive sin in the Corinthian church, which the church seemed to be condoning by acquiescing. His remedy was “shunning” in a manner consistent with the teaching of Jesus.

The problem with church discipline is the way it has been enforced. Most often the emphasis has been on punishment and “keeping the church free of sin”. The first emphasis is wrongly motivated and the second is both wrongly motivated and impossible.

Church discipline should be motivated by a desire to maintain Godly, loving relationships. Unrepentant, habitual sin undermines loving relationships [just ask the families of alcoholics]. Church discipline is a radical, last resort, attempt to bring an unrepentant person to a realization of the serious destructive consequence of their sin. Done properly, it is an act of love. During any time of “shunning” communication should be maintained with the “sinner” which is loving and supportive of their repentance but not to the degree of normal fellowship.

1 Corinthians 5 New International Version (NIV)

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife.(A) And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning(B) and have put out of your fellowship(C) the man who has been doing this? For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit.(D) As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus(E) on the one who has been doing this. So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present,hand this man over(F) to Satan(G) for the destruction of the flesh,[a][b] so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.(H)

Your boasting is not good.(I) Don’t you know that a little yeast(J) leavens the whole batch of dough?(K) Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.(L) Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread(M) of sincerity and truth.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate(N) with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world(O) who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[c](P) but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater(Q) or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.(R)

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside(S) the church? Are you not to judge those inside?(T) 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”[d](U)


  1. 1 Corinthians 5:5 In contexts like this, the Greek word for flesh (sarx) refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit.
  2. 1 Corinthians 5:5 Or of his body
  3. 1 Corinthians 5:11 The Greek word for brother or sister (adelphos) refers here to a believer, whether man or woman, as part of God’s family; also in 8:11, 13.
  4. 1 Corinthians 5:13 Deut. 13:5; 17:7; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21,24; 24:7
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Matthew 18 New International Version (NIV)

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,(B) you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.(C) Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.(D) And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.(E)

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.(F) Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!(G) If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble,(H) cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble,(I) gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.(J)

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels(L) in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. [11] [a]

12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

15 “If your brother or sister[b] sins,[c] go and point out their fault,(M) just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[d](N) 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church;(O) and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.(P)

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be[e] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[f] loosed in heaven.(Q)

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them(R) by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”(S)

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?(T) Up to seven times?”(U)

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[g](V)

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like(W) a king who wanted to settle accounts(X) with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[h] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay,(Y) the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold(Z) to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him.(AA) ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”(AB)


  1. Matthew 18:11 Some manuscripts include here the words of Luke 19:10.
  2. Matthew 18:15 The Greek word for brother or sister (adelphos) refers here to a fellow disciple, whether man or woman; also in verses 21 and 35.
  3. Matthew 18:15 Some manuscripts sins against you
  4. Matthew 18:16 Deut. 19:15
  5. Matthew 18:18 Or will have been
  6. Matthew 18:18 Or will have been
  7. Matthew 18:22 Or seventy times seven
  8. Matthew 18:24 Greek ten thousand talents; a talent was worth about 20 years of a day laborer’s wages.
  9. Matthew 18:28 Greek a hundred denarii; a denarius was the usual daily wage of a day laborer (see 20:2).

Cross references:

  1. Matthew 18:1 : 18:1-5pp — Mk 9:33-37; Lk 9:46-48
  2. Matthew 18:3 : Mt 19:14; 1Pe 2:2
  3. Matthew 18:3 : S Mt 3:2
  4. Matthew 18:4 : S Mk 9:35
  5. Matthew 18:5 : Mt 10:40
  6. Matthew 18:6 : Mk 9:42; Lk 17:2
  7. Matthew 18:7 : Lk 17:1
  8. Matthew 18:8 : S Mt 5:29
  9. Matthew 18:9 : S Mt 5:29
  10. Matthew 18:9 : S Mt 5:22
  11. Matthew 18:10 : 18:12-14pp — Lk 15:4-7
  12. Matthew 18:10 : Ge 48:16; Ps 34:7; Ac 12:11, 15; Heb 1:14
  13. Matthew 18:15 : Lev 19:17; Lk 17:3; Gal 6:1; Jas 5:19, 20
  14. Matthew 18:16 : Nu 35:30; Dt 17:6; 19:15; Jn 8:17; 2Co 13:1; 1Ti 5:19; Heb 10:28
  15. Matthew 18:17 : 1Co 6:1-6
  16. Matthew 18:17 : S Ro 16:17
  17. Matthew 18:18 : Mt 16:19; Jn 20:23
  18. Matthew 18:19 : S Mt 7:7
  19. Matthew 18:20 : S Mt 28:20
  20. Matthew 18:21 : S Mt 6:14
  21. Matthew 18:21 : Lk 17:4
  22. Matthew 18:22 : Ge 4:24
  23. Matthew 18:23 : S Mt 13:24
  24. Matthew 18:23 : Mt 25:19
  25. Matthew 18:25 : Lk 7:42
  26. Matthew 18:25 : Lev 25:39; 2Ki 4:1; Ne 5:5, 8
  27. Matthew 18:26 : S Mt 8:2
  28. Matthew 18:35 : S Mt 6:14; S Jas 2:13

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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