Archive for the ‘1 Corinthians 5’ Category

1 Samuel and 1 Corinthians, Part IV: Mercy and Discipline   2 comments

saul-and-david-rembrandt-van-rijn

Above:  Saul and David, by Rembrandt van Rijn

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 26:1-25

Psalm 103 (Morning)

Psalms 117 and 139 (Evening)

1 Corinthians 5:1-13

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Some Related Posts:

1 Corinthians 5:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/first-day-of-easter-easter-sunday-years-a-b-and-c-evening-service/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/week-of-proper-18-monday-year-2/

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1 Samuel 26 resembles Chapter 24 closely.  The two are probably variants of the same incident, actually.  1 Samuel and some other books of the Hebrew Bible, being composed of documentary sources edited together, contain such doublets.  Anyhow, it is good to read another account (or variant of a story) of mercy.

In contrast, we have 1 Corinthians 5, in which we read of idolatry, greed, incest, slander, drunkenness, and dishonesty–all within the Corinthian church.  Paul orders the banishment of the offenders.  Indeed, those behaviors destroy self and others, unlike sparing the life of a person who has tried to kill one.  And it is true that negative influences in a group can grow if one does not remove them, just as positive influences can spread.

Once I heard of a United Methodist congregation in Columbus, Georgia.  Membership had not increased in years because of the negative activities of a small number of people, who had been chiefly responsible for a series of short pastorates.  In the 1980s or 1990s the newly appointed minister managed to compel most of these trouble makers to leave the congregation.  Membership and attendance increased substantially and the remaining (former) trouble makers became rather quiet.

Sometimes one must remove from fellowship (for the sake of the group) those who will not reform.  Yet one must never forget the imperative of showing mercy to those who have changed their negative and destructive ways.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 16, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL CHRISTIAN MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS

THE FEAST OF HUGH LATIMER, NICHOLAS RIDLEY, AND THOMAS CRANMER, ANGLICAN MARTYRS

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/devotion-for-august-11-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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He Was Known to Them in the Breaking of the Bread   1 comment

Above:  Supper at Emmaus, by Caravaggio

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Acts 5:29a, 30-32 (New Revised Standard Version):

But Peter and the apostles answered,

…The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.  God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.  And we are witnesses to these things, as so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.

1 Corinthians 5:6b-8 (New Revised Standard Version):

Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?  Clean out the old yeast that you may be a new batch, as you really are unleavened.  For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.  Therefore, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Psalm 114 (New Revised Standard Version):

When Israel went out from Egypt,

the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,

Judah became God’s sanctuary,

Israel his dominion.

The sea looked and fled;

Jordan turned back.

The mountains skipped like rams,

the hills like lambs.

Why is it, O sea, that you flee?

O Jordan, that you turn back?

O mountains, that you skip like rams?

O hills, like lambs?

Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the LORD,

at the presence of the God of Jacob,

who turns the rock into a pool of water,

the flint into a spring of water.

Luke 24:13-35 (New Revised Standard Version):

Now on that same day, the first day of the week, two of the disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them,

What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?

They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him,

Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?

He asked them,

What things?

They replied,

The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.

Then he said to them,

Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?

Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying,

Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.

So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other,

Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?

That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying,

The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!

Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

The Collect:

Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Both services for Easter Sunday contain Gospel readings which tell of followers of Jesus encountering him and not recognizing him until he said or did something which revealed his identity.  I propose that one reason (if not the reason) people did not recognize Jesus was that they did not expect to see him, for they thought he was dead.  When they realized that he was alive, however, they told the eleven surviving Apostles and those gathered with them.

Imagine how traumatized the followers of Jesus in and around Jerusalem must have been.  The Roman Empire had just executed Jesus via a method meant to make an example of him.  Might they be next?  Then God acted and restored Jesus to life.  This was wonderful news indeed.  Who, upon encountering the resurrected Jesus, would not feel encouraged and compelled to tell others?

Ask yourself:  Where, in our daily lives, are we on a walk to Emmaus?  When does God act powerfully in our proximity and encourage us, and we do not recognize the divine action?  May we open our spiritual eyes and understand what God has done and is doing, and act according to what that demands of us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 2, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN PAYNE AND CUTHBERT MAYNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF HENRY BUDD, ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JAMES LLOYD BRECK, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JOHN PAUL II, BISHOP OF ROME

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/first-day-of-easter-easter-sunday-years-a-b-and-c-evening-service/

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Of Scandals and Church Discipline   2 comments

Above:  Jesus Healing the Man with the Withered Hand

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1 Corinthians 5:1-8 (The Jerusalem Bible):

I have been told as an undoubted fact that one of you is living with his father’s wife.  This is a case of sexual immorality among you that must be unparalleled even among pagans.  How can you be so proud of yourselves?  You should be in mourning.  A man who does a thing like that ought to have been expelled from the community.  Though I am far away in body, I am with you in spirit, and have already condemned the man who did this thing as if I were actually present.  When you are assembled together in the name of the Lord Jesus, and I am spiritually present with you, then with the power of our Lord Jesus he is to be handed over to Satan so that his sensual body may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

The pride that you take in yourselves is hardly to your credit.  You must know how even a small amount of yeast is enough to leaven all the dough, so get rid of all the old east, and make yourselves into a completely new batch of bread, unleavened as you are meant to be.  Christ, our passover, has been sacrificed; let us celebrate the feast, then, by getting rid of all the old yeast of evil and wickedness, having only the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Psalm 5 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Give ear to my words, O LORD;

consider my meditation.

2  Hearken to my cry for help, my King and my God,

for I will make my prayer to you.

3  In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice;

early in the morning I make my appeal and watch for you.

4  For you are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness,

and evil cannot dwell with you.

5  Braggarts cannot stand in your sight;

you hate all those who work wickedness.

6  You destroy those who speak lies;

the bloodthirsty and deceitful, O LORD, you abhor.

7  But as for me, through the greatness of your mercy I will go into your house;

I will bow down toward your holy temple in awe of you.

8  Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness,

because of those who lie in wait for me;

make your way straight before me.

9  For there is no truth in their mouth;

there is destruction in their heart;

10  Their throat is an open grave;

they flatter with their tongue.

11  Declare them guilty, O God;

let them fall, because of their schemes,

12  Because of their many transgressions cast them out,

for they have rebelled against you.

13  But all who take refuge in you will be glad;

they will sing out their joy for ever.

14  You will shelter them,

so that those who love your Name may exult in you.

15  For you, O LORD, will bless the righteous;

you will defend them with your favor as with a shield.

Luke 6:6-11 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Now on another sabbath he [Jesus] went into the synagogue and began to teach, and a man was there whose hand was withered.  The scribes and the Pharisees were watching him to see if he would cure a man on the sabbath, hoping to find something to use against him.  But he knew their thoughts; and he said to the man with the withered hand,

Stand up!  Come out into the middle.

And he came out and stood there.  Then Jesus said to them,

I put it to you; it is against the law on the sabbath to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to destroy it?

Then he looked round at them all and said to the man,

Stretch out your hand.

He did so, and his hand was better.  But they were furious, and began to discuss the best way of dealing with Jesus.

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The Collect:

Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Mark 3:1-6 (Parallel to Luke 6:6-11):

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/week-of-2-epiphany-wednesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/07/22/proper-4-year-b/

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Before I proceed to my text proper, I acknowledge my dependence upon the excellent commentary in The Anchor Bible volume (especially pages 184-188) on 1 Corinthians, by William F. Orr and James Arthur Walther.

The text in 1 Corinthians 5:1-8 leaves certain questions unanswered.  Was the man cohabitating with or married to his stepmother?  Was she divorced from his father?  Was the man’s father alive or dead?  May we not rush to assumptions, which are, in any event, small fries relative to what we do know:  The unmarried man was engaged in an immoral relationship with a woman (not his mother) who was also his stepmother.  Roman law forbade this practice, although it was common among many Gentiles.  Paul rejected the Corinthian church’s lax attitude and favored handing the man over to authorities, so that the offender might become aware of his error and repent of it one day.

We have freedom in Christ, but this fact does not exempt us from certain rules.  So incest, in the example from 1 Corinthians 5:1-8, is always forbidden.  And there is need for church discipline sometimes.

There can be excessive church discipline, of course.  Reading histories of old (often Protestant) congregations (in my experience, in the U.S. South) can provide many examples of this generalization.  Once, while pouring over a history of a rural Methodist congregation (founded in the 1840s) in Southwest Georgia, I came across an account of a case of church discipline in the late 1800s.  A young woman had danced in public one Saturday night.  That was all she had done.  This was a case of unjustified church discipline.  Yet we read of a case of an unjustified lack of church discipline in 1 Corinthians 5:1-8.

The reading mentions pride, a topic repeated from earlier in the epistle.  Did some in the Corinthian congregation think that their toleration for the man’s sexual relationship with his stepmother placed them on a higher spiritual plane?  They seem to have done so.  We must always guard against pride, regardless of that of which we are or might be proud.  May we also recall that, for Paul, the only acceptable boast was one in God in Christ, not in ourselves.

Social contexts change over time, and this day we read 1 Corinthians 5:1-8 in various places quite different from middle-First Century C.E. Corinth.  So, as we seek to understand and apply this text to our contemporary contexts, may we always remember two essential details:

  1. Paul’s emphasis was communal, not individualistic.  The unnamed man’s behavior affected the Corinthian church negatively.
  2. Paul advised discipline for the sake of both the community and the unnamed man.  The man might yet repent; he should have that opportunity.  And the local congregation would no longer have a scandal darkening its reputation.

Not all scandals are bad, of course.  Jesus healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath.  He created a scandal by committing a good deed.  So, if we offend and scandalize others, may we do so via our good deeds.  May the reality of the scandal speak well of us and poorly of our critics.  If, for example, we create a scandal by reaching out to the poor, the despised, and the marginalized as opportunities present themselves, we follow in the esteemed example of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  And, if we claim the label “Christian,” such activities ought to be part of our discipleship.

May good deeds proliferate and bad deeds become less common–all for the common good and the glory of God.  And, if our good deeds scandalize others, we will be in good company.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 16, 2011 COMMON ERA

PROPER 24, YEAR A–THE EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

THE FEAST OF HUGH LATIMER, NICHOLAS RIDLEY, AND THOMAS CRANMER, ANGLICAN MARTYRS

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Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on October 16, 2011

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/week-of-proper-18-monday-year-2/

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