Now here’s an interesting if. There is an actual if, and an implied if in this one. And that implied if could create some sticky situations within a church or congregation. It’s not a pleasant one, and it is one that many try to avoid. Honestly, it’s a very uncomfortable one and one that we as Christians try hard not to look at. It’s one that many pastors hope they do not have to exercise. Let’s take a look.
First, how many have heard Christians tell other Christians, “You shouldn’t hang out with them because they are not Christians and they ______.” Fill in the blank with the sin buzz word of the day. Anyone who professes to be a Christian has used this line at one time or another. And yes, it is not wise to keep frequent company with people who make sinning a part of their life. That would be another blog and I’ve written a few on that very subject. We are quite comfortable with cleaning our friends list out and deleting those who are “guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler.” It’s easy to just click – DELETE, REMOVE, UNFRIEND. We feel very justified in doing so. But let’s look at the implied if in 1 Corinthians 5:11.
But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother … (1Co 5:11)
Did you see it? Here the implied if is right between the words ‘associate with’ and ‘who’. It’s saying that IF someone bears the name of brother not to associate with them IF blah blah blah. So who are we not to associate with? What this passage of scripture is referring to with the use of brother is a Christian. So this is saying, do not associate with anyone within the church, or who says they are a Christian, or professes to love Jesus IF …
It’s so much easier when it’s people outside of our comfortable circle but this is striking right at the heart of our circle. Not as easy to hit that delete key, remove as friend button, when it’s someone within our church or congregation now is it? This is an if, although implied, that we would all like to over look. But now we can’t. So let’s see just what Christians we are NOT to associate with. Wait, associate … what does that mean? Well, the original word is ‘sunanamignumi,’ now that’s an interesting word isn’t it? Say it three times fast if you can say it once. lol It means “to mix up together, that is, (figuratively) associate with: – (have, keep) company (with).” It’s safe to say that if you look up the modern day meaning of associate, you’ll get what this is saying here. Don’t keep time with, hang out with, mix it up with, be friends with, connect with, etc.
So we know now that there are actually people within our church that we shouldn’t hang out with. O.O Oy vey!! Ok, let’s see just what this person has to do that would make it so that I couldn’t associate with them anymore. *holds breath*
… if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler … (1Co 5:11)
Oh, ok. Well, before I start cleaning out my friends list, I want to know what all those words really mean, don’t you? I mean, I can’t remember the last time I heard the word reviler used. And drunkard? Who is a drunkard – I know a lot of people who drink. Let’s find out.
Sexual immorality – pronos – someone who “prostitutes his body to another’s lust for hire,” or “who indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse.” For further study, unlawful sexual intercourse was laid out in Leviticus (19 & 20), Deuteronomy (22 & 23), and Exodus (22).
Greed – pleonektēs – “one eager to have more, especially what belongs to others,” “holding (desiring) more, that is, eager for gain (avaricious, hence a defrauder)”
Idolater – eidōlolatrēs – “an image (servant or) worshipper (literally or figuratively): – idolater.” Websters defines this as: “1. A worshiper of idols; one who pays divine honors to images, statues, or representations of any thing made by hands; one who worships as a deity that which is not God; a pagan. 2. An adorer; a great admirer.”
Reviler – loidoros – “(mischief); abusive, that is, a black guard: – railer, reviler.” Hmmm, don’t know about you but I’m not sure I know what this is yet. Let’s look a little further. Vincents word study suggests, “vehement [Showing strong feeling; forceful, passionate, or intense] abuse, scolding, berating.” Albert Barnes writes:
Or a railer – A reproachful man; a man of coarse, harsh, and bitter words; a man whose characteristic it was to abuse others; to vilify their character, and wound their feelings. It is needless to say how much this is contrary to the spirit of Christianity, and to the example of the Master, “who when he was reviled, reviled not again.”
Drunkard – methusos – “From G3184; tipsy, that is, (as noun) a sot: – drunkard. The root of this word G3184 means: to drink to intoxication, that is, get drunk: – drink well, make (be) drunk (-en).” We know what ‘tipsy‘ means now. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for tipsy is shâkar – “A primitive root; to become tipsy; in a qualified sense, to satiate with a stimulating drink or (figuratively) influence. (Superlative of H8248.): ” The superlative H8248 means “A primitive root; to quaff, that is, (causatively) to irrigate or furnish a potion to: – cause to (give, give to, let, make to) drink, drown, moisten, water.”
Swindler – harpax – “rapacious [Taking by force; plundering]: – extortion, ravening.”
Ooookay then. Now we know what Christians not to associate with. There are a few more words in this verse – here’s the Amplified version:
But now I write to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of [Christian] brother if he is known to be guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater [whose soul is devoted to any object that usurps the place of God], or is a person with a foul tongue [railing, abusing, reviling, slandering], or is a drunkard or a swindler or a robber. [No] you must not so much as eat with such a person.
WHOA! It says here not to even EAT with such a person.
The whole point to 1 Corinthians 5 is addressing an issue going on within the church and how to handle it. It’s a good read as it can also pertain to how you, as a part of the church, should conduct your own life. It seems kind of harsh but the last line of this chapter is, “God alone sits in judgment on those who are outside. Drive out that wicked one from among you [expel him from your church].”
Now, the hard part. Are there any Christian friends that you are hanging out with, connecting with, or eating with that fits in any of these categories that you may need to disassociate with? Yep, this is a hard IF to handle.