The Berean Expositor
Volume 45 - Page 78 of 251
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pp. 131 - 135
We have seen, in the section of the epistle we are dealing with, that the Apostle Paul
was concerned not only with the sinning member of the Corinthian assembly, but also
with the effect on the church as a whole. He tells them that their boasting (glorying) is
not good, and that sin is like an infection--it can spread:
"Your boasting (glorying) is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the
whole lump? Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, even as ye are
unleavened" (5: 6, 7 R.V.).
We have before noted that leaven or yeast in Scripture is always used in a bad sense,
and is a picture of sin. The Apostle makes the same quotation in Gal. 5: 9. Here he is
about to introduce the illustration of the O.T. Passover feast, where leaven was not
only prohibited in the bread, but had to be removed even from their houses (Exod. 12: 8,
15-20).  In Matt. 16: 6, 11, 12 the Lord Himself uses leaven to represent evil doctrine.
In view of this, such popular phrases as the `leaven of the gospel' used by some
Christians must be avoided. It needs only a small amount of yeast to permeate a large
lump of dough, and from this we can gather that the Corinthian believers were taking a
light view of the sin in their midst. Just as the O.T. Israelite had to remove or purge out
any yeast that had been introduced into the house before Passover, so the believers at
Corinth must deal with this sin and remove the erring brother. They would then be like a
fresh lump of dough without leaven and would approximate more nearly in practice to
their `unleavened' position in Christ. This could only be experienced because the true
Passover Lamb had been sacrificed:
"For besides, our Passover lamb, Christ, has already been sacrificed.  So let us
celebrate the feast not with old leaven, not with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but
with the unleavened loaves of sincerity and truth" (5: 7, 8 100: K. Barrett).
There is no doubt that, primarily, man cannot atone for, or deliver himself from the
bondage of sin. Still less can he do it for someone else (Psa. 49: 7). God Himself must
bear the burden of His people's guilt and He does so in the Person of Christ. All the
believer in Christ can do is to give continual thanksgiving to God for this mighty act of
deliverance from sin's slavery and penalty, and must express it not only in words, but in
everyday life. It is quite likely that Paul was writing at Passover time, in which case his
illustration would be more pointed.
From the next verse we can see that the Apostle had already written to the Corinthian
church on the subject of immorality, but some there had misunderstood him. We need
have no misgiving that part of inspired Scripture has been lost. It is not necessary to
assume that every letter Paul wrote in his lifetime was "God-breathed" or inspired by the
Holy Spirit. But every one that had this hall-mark has certainly been preserved by God in
the N.T. He had previously written to them that they should not keep company with
fornicators. This, in the absolute sense, would be impossible in a place like Corinth. To