1 Corinthians Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern

chapter 5
1. It is actually being reported that there is sexual sin among you, and it is sexual sin of a kind that is condemned even by pagans — a man is living with his stepmother!
Stepmother. More literally, "the wife of his father"; there is no reason for Sha'ul to use this roundabout expression to refer to the person's own mother. From 2C 7:12 ("the one wronged") some conclude that the man's father was still alive at the time. Reuben, the firstborn son of Jacob, committed this sin with his father's concubine Bilhah (Genesis 35:22); therefore, although he had some good characteristics, he was deprived of significant blessing in Jacob's final prophecies (Genesis 49:3-4). 

2. And you stay proud? Shouldn’t you rather have felt some sadness that would have led you to remove from your company the man who has done this thing?
3. For I myself, even though I am absent physically, am with you spiritually; and I have already judged the man who has done this as if I were present.
4. In the name of the Lord Yeshua, when you are assembled, with me present spiritually and the power of our Lord Yeshua among us,
5. hand over such a person to the Adversary for his old nature to be destroyed, so that his spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord.
The Adversary, Greek Satanas, transliterating Hebrew Satan. English-speakers use the words "Satan" and "Devil" interchangeably; in the Bible Satan, though always depicted as inferior to God, is adversary to both God and humanity (as in Job 1-2). See Mt 4: IN. His old nature, literally, "the flesh," which in the New Testament does not refer to the body only but to the entire physical, emotional, mental and spiritual nature that a person has acquired in his years of attachment to the things of this world, apart from God (see Ro 7:5N).

Hand over such a person to the Adversary for his old nature to be destroyed.
"The nakedness of your father's wife you shall not uncover; it is your father's nakedness" (Leviticus 18:8). In Sanhedrin 7:4 the Mishna prescribes stoning as the penalty for this sin: K'ritot 1:1 says, "There are thirty-six who are to be cut off from Israel:... he who lies with his mother or with the wife of his father." (Also see Yn 9:22N on excommunication in Judaism.) Thus it may be that Sha'ul was recommending to the Corinthians that they apply the traditional Jewish punishment for this sin.

Critics who find his prescription too severe should note that the excommunication is not permanent (see below), and that it has two positive purposes. The first is that his spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord (even if he only "escapes through the fire," 3:15). The object of depriving the offender of fellowship with other believers (v. 11) and exposing him to the afflictions that God will permit Satan to cause him because of his sin is to bring him to his senses, so that he will repent. When he does, giving up his immoral behavior, he should be accepted again, as can be seen from 2C 2:5-10, where the believers are urged to welcome him back into their company, in order not to discourage him beyond measure. The second purpose is to protect others in the Messianic community from being drawn into sin; v. 13 cites the Tanakh as ground for using excommunication in this way. 

6. Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know the saying, “It takes only a little hametz to leaven a whole batch of dough?”
7. Get rid of the old hametz, so that you can be a new batch of dough, because in reality you are unleavened. For our Pesach lamb, the Messiah, has been sacrificed.
8. So let us celebrate the Seder not with leftover hametz, the hametz of wickedness and evil, but with the matzah of purity and truth.
I question the common assumption that Sha'ul's Passover language here is entirely figurative. 1 see no compelling reason in the context to excise the plain sense (p'shat) from the phrase, "Let us celebrate the Seder'' Instead, it seems that the early believers. Gentiles included, observed the Jewish feast of Pesach. As we will see, their service combined traditional Jewish Passover symbolism with new symbolism relating to Yeshua the Messiah's central role in Jewish and world history. Evidently the Corinthian congregation observed Passover without supposing that, as many of today's Christians might think, they were "going back under the Law."

Chametz, Hebrew for "leavening agent." The evening before Pesach, Jews must get rid of the old chametz (found in bread, flour products of all kinds, and grain liquor). The last bits of bread containing chametz must be burned the following morning (the Hebrew for "getting rid of leaven" and "burning leaven" is the same, "bi'ur-chametz"). That evening, after sundown, the family will celebrate the Seder (see Mt 26:17N), eating the special meal during which the Haggadah (the liturgy recalling the Exodus from Egypt) is read. At this meal and throughout the week of Pesach the only kind of bread that may be ealen is matzah (unleavened bread; see Ml 26:17N), in obedience to Exodus 12:15-20, 13:3-7; Deuteronomy 16:3. It may be significant that the prescribed punishment for violating this ordinance is the same as thai for sexual misbehavior with one's stepmother, being cut off from one's people (Exodus 12:19; compare vv. 1-5&NN). Even today, many Jews who consider themselves rather religiously unobservant nevertheless oat only matzah during Passover or at least at the Seder on the first night of Passover.

In the New Testament, chametz often symbolizes wickedness and evil (Mt 16:6-12, Mk 8:15, Lk 12:1), with matzah representing purity and truth. This accords with the Tanakh and Jewish tradition as well and is thus explained by a Jewish writer:

"Matzah was used in the sacrificial system of the Temple. Offerings had to be absolutely pure, and anything leavened (chametz) was considered impure because it had fermented, or soured. (The word chametz literally means 'sour'.) Matzah — unleavened bread — on the other hand, was a symbol of purity. The Talmud says, 'leaven represents the evil impulse of the heart'" (Alfred J. Kolatch, The Jewish Book ofWhv, Middle Village, NY: Jonathan David Publishers, Inc., 1981, p. 187)

Leviticus 2:4-11 spells out the requirement that baked goods offered in the Temple had to be unleavened. The passage in the Talmud to which Kolatch refers is:

"After reciting the Amidah Rabbi Alexandri used to add the following: 'Sovereign of the Universe, you are well aware that our will is to perform your will. What keeps us from doing it? The yeast in the dough....'"(B rakhot 17a)

In the Soncino translation a note explains that "the yeast in the dough" is "the evil impulse, which causes a ferment in the heart." Another Jewish writer puts it this way:

"Some Jewish thinkers see chametz. that which rises and becomes leaven, as symbolically representing those tendencies in a man which arouse him to evil. They see the whole process of searching for the chametz and eliminating it as a reminder to man that he should search through his deeds and purify his actions. Mere renunciation of the imperfect past, one's own chametz* is not sufficient; it must be destroyed. The pieces of chametz that are placed around the house before the ritual search should then remind a person of the fact that 'there is not a person in the world who does only good and never sins.' [Ecclesiastes 7:201" (Mordell Klein, ed., Passover, Jerusalem: Keter Books, 1973. p. 38)

However, The saying, "It takes only a little chametz to leaven a whole batch of dough," quoted in a similar context at Ga 5:9, here tells the Corinthians not only that each individual should guard against personal sin, but also that permitting a promiscuous sinner who professes to be a fellow-believer (see vv. 9-10) to remain in their midst is a sure way to infect the entire Messianic community with sin.

And leftover chametz, left over after the search should have removed it — not the search of the house for physical chametz but the symbolic introspective search for sinful passions and behavior patterns left over from one's former life in the world apart from God — is inappropriate for people who in reality... are unleavened, already purified by the Messiah, our Pesach lamb. Such passing back and forth between the literal and the figurative, the seen and the unseen, is of the essence in celebrating Jewish holidays; this is how spiritual realities become individually and communally real.

For our Pesach lamb, the Messiah, has been sacrificed. In the New Testament Yeshua the Messiah is portrayed frequently both as a lamb and as a sacrifice. At Yn 1:29, 36 he is called "the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world." At Ac 8:32, Luke quotes Isaiah 53:7-8. which speaks of the Messiah as a slaughtered lamb, and explicitly connects it with Yeshua. And the book of Revelation is full of passages about the Lamb that was slaughtered (Rv 5:6-13; 6:1, 16; 7:9-17; 12:11; 13:8, 11; 14:1-10; 15:3; 17:14; 19:7-9; 21:14, 22-23; 22:1-3). Messianic Jews 9:1-10:20 says that Yeshua's death effectively replaces the sacrifices for sin. (Romans 3:25 implicitly connects Yeshua's sacrificial death with a different Jewish holiday, Yom-Kippur, for there he is called the "kapparah," the covering, or atonement, "for sin." And this is not inconsistent with his also being the Passover lamb; in fact, he gives new meaning to all the Jewish holidays.)

But here Yeshua's death is understood as that of the Passover lamb, as at Yn 19:33, 36: "But when they got to Yeshua and saw that he was already dead, they didn't break his legs.... For these things happened in order to fulfill this passage of the Tanakh: 'Not one bone of his will be broken" [Exodus 12:46, which refers to the Passover lamb]." Likewise, at the Last Supper, which is generally understood to have been a Passover meal, Yeshua referred to the broken matzah as his body and the wine as his shed blood which establishes the New Covenant (11:23-26; Mt 26:26-29). And 1 Ke 1:19 should be considered an allusion to Yeshua as the Passover lamb, because it speaks of "the costly bloody sacrificial death of the Messiah, as of a lamb without defect or spot"; whereas the Passover lamb too was to be "without blemish" (Exodus 12:5).

On the night of the Exodus from Egypt, at the original Passover, each family sacrificed and ate a lamb, after smearing its blood on the doorposts of the house, so that the angel of death would "pass over" that house and not kill that family's firstborn son when he killed the firstborn sons of the families of Egypt (Exodus 11:4-7; 12:3-13, 21-23, 29-30). Thus, the most straightforward significance of the Messiah's being our Passover lamb is that because of his death, the angel of death will pass over us at the final judgment and instead we will have everlasting life. "For God so loved the world that he gave his uniquely-born Son, so that everyone trusting in him may have eternal life instead of being utterly destroyed" (Yn 3:16). The Greek of our passage does not have in it the word for "lamb" but says, literally, "For the Messiah, our Pesach, has been sacrificed." This echoes Exodus 12:11 ("It isAdonai's Pesach") and 12:21 ("...and kill the Pesach"), where the absence of the word "lamb" from the Hebrew calls attention to the total identification between the Passover event and the Passover lamb — neither exists without the other. Likewise, there is no escape from the utter destruction of eternal death at the Last Judgment apart from trust in the Messiah, who is our Passover.

At the original Passover, an annual feast was prescribed in which each family would slaughter and eat a lamb as a remembrance of the Exodus (Exodus 12:3-14,21-28). In Yeshua's time the central event of Passover was the slaughter of the lamb for each household in the Temple court; and when Sha'ul wrote, this was still the custom. At a modern Ashkenazic Seder there is no Passover lamb, because the rabbis decreed that if the lamb could not be slaughtered at the Temple (impossible after its destruction in 70 C.E.), lamb should not be eaten during Passover at all. Instead, a lamb shankbone is placed on the "Seder plate," along with the other ceremonial items needed for the meal, as a reminder that these sacrifices did once take place. (Sephardic Jews, however, do eat lamb at Passover.) Today, when a Messianic Jew observes Pesach, his identification of Yeshua the Messiah with the Passover lamb gives him a rich treasure of new significance to add to the traditional layers of meaning for this festival. 

9. In my earlier letter I wrote you not to associate with people who engage in sexual immorality.
My earlier letter. This letter has not survived except in the reference to it here. From this we learn that not everything Sha'ul wrote became Holy Scripture. 

10. I didn’t mean the sexually immoral people outside your community, or the greedy, or the thieves or the idol-worshippers — for then you would have to leave the world altogether!
11. No, what I wrote you was not to associate with anyone who is supposedly a brother but who also engages in sexual immorality, is greedy, worships idols, is abusive, gets drunk or steals. With such a person you shouldn’t even eat!
With such a person you shouldn't even eat. But you should eat with persons inquiring into the faith (Ac 10:1-11:I8&NN) and with fellow-believers in good standing (Ga 2:11-16&NN). 

12. For what business is it of mine to judge outsiders? Isn’t it those who are part of the community that you should be judging?
13. God will judge those who are outside. Just expel the evildoer from among yourselves (Deuteronomy 13:6(5); 17:7,12; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21, 24; 24:7)

next chapter...