1 Corinthians 5 - Leprosy and Leaven

1 Corinthians 5  •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Question: 1 Cor. 5. Is there leprosy as well as “leaven” meant here? E. B. D.
Answer: There is not the most distant allusion to leprosy. The brother, who thinks those with whom he no longer walks need to revise their teaching, has now to beware of delusion. Leprosy in the O.T. (Lev. 13; 14) is typical of unremoved sin. Only divine power could meet the case. The priest was called in both to pronounce on it and see to the entire separation of the unclean from the camp of Israel; but, if it were healed, to see to his cleansing in the fullest way. This typifies a sinner brought to God with the utmost care for its completeness up to eighth-day provision. It is in no way the mere restoration of a saint defiled (which is given in Num. 19).
It is a ridiculous mistake to make out leprosy in ver. 1 and leaven in ver. 2. Both verses, indeed all the first five, relate to the same “wicked person,” as he is called in ver. 13. The apostle’s judgment in 3 and 5 is about him. “Leaven,” as figuring what was to be excluded from the Feast of unleavened bread which the Passover introduced, is applied to the case in 6 and 8. Leprosy is nowhere save in a fanciful brain. The apostle’s exhortation is to urge dealing with a so-called “brother,” and not with the world which must be left to God; but the assembly’s responsibility is to judge “those within.” “Purge out” in 7 refers indubitably to “leaven” without the least reference to the saints themselves; “put out” is the application to “the wicked” person in question. The zeal against exclusivism which forges such a weapon as this can damage only the cause which deduces from this chapter “that a leavened person is not to be put away!” If a leavened person were allowed and kept in when proved, it would defile the entire assembly.