Full Text for An Exegetical Study of I Corinthians 5:7b (Text)

THE SPRINGFIELDER April 1974 Volume 38, Number 2 An Exegetical Study of I Corinthians 5:7b P iiLll,'S USE OF THE 13111EF S'TATEMENT-I:ai gar to ynschn J ELIIZO~L 7.. e~z.lthZ Christos, "for, our Passo\:el: 1an111, Christ, has al- ~:e:tcly been sacrificed"--in 1 Corinthians 5 : 7b elicits the exegete's interest for several reasons. First, siilce this is the only appearance of ~IIC 1cr111 ~~CISCI'I~, "Passover I:~mb," in thc Pauline corpus, one ~vonders ~\;h;~t possible factors led the apostle to employ it here.' Secondly, the contribt~tion of this particular stateme~lt to the ivl~ole of Paul's argu- I nlcnt in. T Corinthians 5 must be explored. Finally, thc l7recisc con- nolation whicl.1 the ttlrli~s had for Paul's readers nlust l)e sought. 'rhis brief stilcl\~ \vill endeavor to provide probablc answers to tliesc cjucstions and, in doing so, will aclclrcss related matters. Our ;I~>~N:O;IC~I lvill strive to be inducti\~e (in so. far as is 17ossible); to tllis end we ~vjll bcgin with an cxa~l~in:~tion of thc phrase itself in relation to its context, then now to a perusal of scl~olarly conl~nentary I on tl~c ]~;~ss;~ge, and, fiall, strive to cv;~luate thc 'i~arioiis l~ossible ~~)sitio~~s ill \/Jew of our own stud!.. ,- 7 I hc opening kai gar, "for," of 5 : 7b should be noted bccausc it lilllis \vI~at P~ILIJ is about to sav with [he contcxt ancl intertwines the t\\o."Thc apostlc, far from vie\\;ing 7b as :I hiatus or interruption in his tl~ouglit, ;lppcals (via the gal., "for") for support, i.c., what is to I'ollo\\ j~l.o\/i(lcs rcason and substantiation for the points he has made in t-11c irl~nletliate contcxt. 7'0 pnschrr (possible translation g.iven in I~otl!- of n~anuscript), a lassover (held on the eve of the 15th Nisan). (3) 11s ill thc Old Testanlent, the New Tcstainent uses this ~CTIII for the Passover Lanlb, slain at mid-dav on the 14th Nisan in the forecourt of thc temple at f&rusalenl anc1 th~13 caten after sundown. (4) 111 sonic Clllristian usage, I'aster is called llnschn (John 2: 13).'{ Tllc conbinahon of pcrscha \\ith et~ith? is 21 \,cry strong in(1ication t11CiTTZlis .hcrt. using the tcrni in the sensc of (3), pasihii as cl~b~n~~lion for thc l'nsso_ver Lamb. In fact, his usage al>lx-cZimates - -__ \el-\ closcl) the Septuagint phrase to ynscha th~~sntc, "sacrilice the ~,asso\~er lr~nlb," in Ex. 12 : 2 1 and to paschn thuseis, "you will sacri- ficc the passover lninb," in Dt. 16 : 2. ' An ilnportal~t grammatical note in this case is the tentfencv of the substantive to express the thought uhiclr hrars emphasis.' A: T. Robertson notes that it is normal for tllc si11)stantivc to come itftcr thc subject, but cites I Cor. 5 : 7 as an er;al~lpjc of tlie rcvcrsal of this order." This writer, aware that HebrejV puts thost: words first r.vhich it: wishes to stress, .rvonders whether tile "abnormal" position of to 7~nscAn, "passo\;er lamb," inight not adtl at1clition;ll er-nphasis. Ncn.~fi~.i, ''our,'' is also siguificnnt in tllat it ties I'aul to his rcatlcrs and in turn joins them both to to l)nsclzrr, "passover lamb." I0 9, It also joins wit11 the hni gar., for, in intert~vining this statement \vith the su~:rounding context. Et~ithc, "he has becn sacrif-iced," the aorist passivc of thzio, "to sacrifice," is, as we noted, the ~~ornlal word for the s;~c.rificc! of the 13assover One point of interest is tllat tllc oreat ~naio~:ity of thc occurances of this word, in conjunction wit], b yasck'r, "passor-cr 1;1rnb," are in the active voice (e.g. thusnte, tharseis, "sacrifice,'! "you ~vill sacrifice"). Here, however, Paul puts it in the ;iorist 17assiivh. 'The writcr would like to suggest that what ruc may 1lar.c licre is llehrow circunllocution to avoid usc of God's name along the lines of the aorist passive egerthc, "he rvas rnisecl" (Matt. 28 :6, 7)) i.c., it was God the Father who sacrjficecl etutlzc, just as it was JHc who rajscc.l I--Iiln (Jesus) from the dead.$ Chr-istc;s, cim, I believe, without extended discussion, bc re-. gnrtled here as carrying with it Messianic overtones. ']The Old 'Testa- ~nent m.ilieu of tlic contcxt and the fact that Paul chooses it ~:atlicr than ICsow, "Jesus," iis in 5 :4 ~voul(l strong!!: suggest t1i:lt it is not employed llerc only as a rr.olrr.en, though this di~nension is perliaps prese~~t to a lesser degrecr.!' In turning to a more thorough examination of the meaning of Paul's statciiicnt as a whole, we must note that the context (the wholc of chapter 5') deals with n very real practical problem for Paul as pastola, ni~liiely, thc well-ltno.cvn presence of an incestuous rclationshil~ in thc cor~gregation. In chapter 5, the apostle in vv. 1-5, quicltly comes to the point, expresses his clisma). that the Corintliians arc "puffecl up" (pq77~7.~"i"rrze7zoi) rather than "mourl~ing" (elleri..thcsatk) under silcll ciicumstances, and then renders his apostolic verdict that such a man should be handed over to Satan (u. 5). Then, in vv. 6-8, hc uses language fro111 the Passover or Feast of Uilleave~led Bread to underscore the total incongruity of an incestuous relationship in ;l Christian congregation. Finally, in rlv. 9-13, the apostle again exhorts to n abstinellce froni ilnmoral ones (2.1or1zois), urges that it is indeed necessary to judge those who arc inside (cso), and concl.udes by restating his apostolic decision-cxarate ton pol.zc!roir cx humiin awtsn, "cast out the wicked one from anlong you." - Now in this division of the chapter, we turn specifically to vv. 6-8, and, of course, especially to the role played by verse 7."' In .i7erse 6 Paul begins by noting that boasting. is the most inappropriate response conceivable in the present state of affairs. To pinpoint the danger which 11c perceives in this attitude, he quotes \{.hat must ]lave been a well-known aphorism-hoti ntilzrn zumE holon to phuratnn 61 zzrrrzoi, a little leaven leavens the whole l~inp.)'~' Clearly in the context the incestuous person=zumd, "leaven," and the congre- (6 gation==phurama, lun~p." The kc11 point here is that the readers status, their identity, if you wiH, is such that it stands over against ancl in sharp antithesis to the presence of an incestuous person and relationship. At this pivotal point in his exhortation :l'aul introdnces wit11 thc kai gar, "for," the tho~ight wI1icI1 serves to underline both the iiiapl~ropriatencss of thc presence of the ~2.~71~2, "lcavcn," alld the l~eopIc"sun.ique status-to pnsc:ha ~EII.L~JZ etut7zZ Ch~istos, "Christ, our Paschal Iamb, has alreacl! been sacrificed." This is followed quicltly in verse 8 by the exhortation to celebrate the feast, not: with the 010 leaven, but &ith the unleavened loaves of sincerity and truth. Returning to our opening queries, we now wish to explore for those l,ossil)le factors which may have reconlmended to the apostle the employ lnent of 5 : 7 b in exhortation on this p~.actical, but also theological, problem. The language of leaven, dough, the Passover l',arnb, and the verb heortaz6men, "celebrate," in 11. 8a surely suggest tl~at l'aul is here drawjng his language from the feast of the Passover or Unleavenetl It3read.l' This general conclusion is supported by the ~najol-it): of commentators.':' Morc specifically, then, we \\?ant to cxploretl~e nature of this feast and its constituent elements so as to clisccl-n its pi-escnt applicability. 'T'he extensive study by 1. 13. Scgal on 'l'he Hehrc!~v Z'ass~ver contains n discussion of the l>assover its it was celebrateti throughout Isr:~elitc history.'.' The section which treats the Passover's celebration it) the first. century-that practice undoul~tedly lc. 111 COIIJIIII~~~~~I~~ \\lit11 this cl~lplogmen t of the l'assover motif, So111c II~VC pointctl to ~.>ossihlc cultic ~locabularv in 1' <:or. 5:6-8. Wcncc \Vindisll: Thc h)lk,wing phrases mil! t)c singled out as Fonnulac of p1-icstly and ci~lt~c admonition : clckathar-ntc? ten . . . z~,~rlzclr . . ., kiri gnr to, piscl~n et~tth? . . . Iliistc J~clortrzziirne~z 11.1p C~L ZZITI~L' . . . 011 '~~71 ~l~21.711 (;is.:; I Also ~~otc;:ir.ol-tll>. is the fact that the sanie ;.1~1tll0~ views this pcricope I r as :I cl.assic cxamplc of how cultic concepts can be translated into ctl~ical exhortation."' From this writer's perspective, the presence of SLIC~ c~lltic i!oc;ibtila~:y n~oulcl be quite natural in view of Paul's use of ;I I'asso\:c'~- t\/polog!;. belie\!e our i~i\~estig;ition of the text and scholarly coml.l~entary on it: I~as provitled supl~ort for the follo\ving conclusions concerning I.'ai~I's use of tlic statement kcri gar to ynschtr hL'nzij7~ ctz,ithc Christos, "fol o~ir I'assovcr li11111>, Christ, has a1rt:adv been sacrificed": ( 1 ) l'i1~11 11cl-e poirlts to thc indicative of God's action (the -1u~nb has been slain) as reason for obedience, i.c., hc grounds J~is ctliical exhortation in God's prior action for the Corinthians. This interpretation is consonant with n \.icw ~vhich would summarize thc l'auline cthic in the phrase "bccome what you are!" The fact that the lamb has I~ecn slain transports Paul's r?Zlers into n -1%~ state of affairs, into a new identitv; they are now celebrants in thc fe5tival; therefore they should conduct themsel\~cs with :in cyc to their status. (2) 13y linlti~~g this statement to the "old leaven-lump" imagery, Paul certainly unclerscores the urgency of having the offending incestuous party dealt m~ith and removed. In a word, the apostle brings out and rightIy stresses the obedience dimension of the Passover state of affairs. (3) 4s far as authenticity goes, we have seen that though this ,is the only occurence of paschu in the Pauline corpus, there is no need to posit an insertion by a later redactor. Rather, Paul is using material which had wide distribu- tion ill thc primitive ch1irc2.1 and which was hen\:ily frcjghte(1 with theologicnI meaning that most would readily understand. Though. thc brevity of this study prevents further pn)bing,, we have sougl~t to indicate at least the outline of the si(~nifica11ce of vcrsc 7b '? fo~: the tlevclopmcnt of Paul's exhortation in I Corinthians 5. FOOTNOTES 1. W. 1:. Illoulton ailtl A. S. Gcden, 11 Colzcoi.da~?cc to thc Gi-cr,l: 'T'cstcr~ire~~t (Edinl)urgh, 1897), 11. 778. 2. Ilobert W. Funk, A Gramnztri of tlzc New 7cstti~rii:~zt rmtl Otho- Enrly Christirrn J,itc~-atz~~~c (Chicago, 1961 ), 17. 236. 3. Jeremias, pclsclzti, "passover lamh," Theological l)icrio~znry of t17c A'c~v Tcstrrlrtcnt, vol. V (Grand ljapids, 1967), p. 897. -+. Alfrctl Rilhlfs, Scptz~ngintn, vol. I (Stuttgart, 1935), pp. 105 ;~nd 316. j. A. 1". Ijol~crtson, A Gm~nnrnr of the Creel: Nc~v ?'cst(r~~erit 111 tJic .T,ight of I-listoricnl Rcscnrch (Ncn~ Pork, 19 14), p. 398. 6. Ibitl., p. 399. 7. It is noteworthy, Ilo117cvcr, that thuo is usecl to translate scvcral I-1cbrct.v vcrljs, namely zbh, thlz, /zt,r, sht, and shtifz. Cf. 1:. I-Iatch and H. llcdp;~tli, A Coitcordtr~zce to the Septz~~lgiltt, vo1. I (Oxford, 1897), p. 659. 8. i o~vc this insight concerning cgcrtho to Dr. Victor Pfitzncr, ;l New Testal~lcnt I'rofessol. from Adclaidc, Australia. Though one. rnust not beconle too tlogn~i~tic, 1 do 1)clicve this i11terprct;ltjon to 111: ;I rri11 possi- 1)ilit.y. 9. Grundnlall, "CJzristos," TDA7?', vol. IX (Grand H.apids, 19'74)) s~lpports this viewpoint. Sce especially the pertinent passages on pp. 511-516 and 1'. 579. 10. \Ye follow Barrett and othcrs in considering chapter 1ii.c to I)c :I unit (:IS thought and vv. 6-8 an appropriate subsection within that unit. Cf. C. K. Ijarrctt, A Com,~ncntary On the First Epistle to tl~c Cori7-1fliit7ns (New York, 1968), pp. 119ff'. 11. Windish, "zzir-nc," TDNT, vol. I1 (Grand Rapids, 1964), 1). 905, cillls it R "proverbial saying" ancl points to Gal. 5 :9 as n parallel. 12. Though originally scparntc i'cstivals, by Paul's time thc t\vo 11i1cl lilergctl into onc. Cf. Jeremias, op. cit., p. 898. 13. A. Robertson and A. l'lummer, First Epistle of St. I'nrrl to tlzc llo~rzntrs (Etlinl~urgh, 19 11 ), pp. 10 1-1 02. All comn~cntarics consulted toolc this position. 14. J. B. Scgal, Tlze Hchrcw Z'nssover (London, 1963), passim. 15. I.bid, p. 178. 16. H. L. Strack and P. Billexbecl;, I(ommentar zuln Alczte~z Testujl-tent rizis Tulmud und Midmslz, vol. 111, Miinchen, 1951), p. 360. This quote is but reprcscntative of extensive material which sought to fcncc i~l~out passover practice so as not to be contaminated ~vith 1ea\.cn. 17. Segal, op. cit., p. 259. "The animal was, howc.c:cr, specially designated ;IS l'essah victim, and it received thereby a certain sanctity. (Mesh Pcs 5, 2) . . . No leavcn was permitted to come into contact with the victim." 18. Ibid. ". . . but the significance of the association at the Pcsah began, not with the meal, but with the actual sacrifice of the victim which was the central feature of the whole Pesah." Even mere intcrcsting is thc foot- note: Mish Pes. 8:3 'Others may al\vays be rcccivcd . . . within the number and withdraw from it, until sucll time as (the victim) is slaughtered.' 19. David Dauhe, Tho Exodus Pattern in the Biblc (I.,ondon, 1963), 12. 45. 1. 11;rns C;onzelrn;u~n, 1)ci. J:i..str Ijr.icf 1172 ~Eir liorirlthi~!- (C+ijt:.i~zgc~, ]969), 1). 119. This point is made succinctly: "Dcr 1mprroti1- \r.i,:d d1.lrch dcn Inclikati\7 bcgruutict: Die I-lciligltc!'t ist nicht Zcil, sonticrn Vol:aussctz,~~llg des Vcrhilltcns." ':I'~:ansiation : "Tl~c impcr:lti\ c p~.cs~~p- poscls tlic: indici~ti\.c: holincss is not thc goal, l,ut tllc ~~rior ass~l~llption of 1.11~ con~mantl." 1, l:hc fiilct that l'a~il sccs n 1nori11 clinicnsion ilnj)licit ill thc: l';)sso\-cr cclc- ),r:ltjon js supported 1))'. .5 : 8 n.hrrc he uscs tl~e tcrlns Knhic~s /:ni ponc;.ias, "ma]jcc iln(] .i~,ickctlncss," in antithcsjs to cililzi.i7?citrs 1:ai nlctheir!~, "si11- ccrity ant1 truth." 2. Jcrcmias, op. cit., p. 900. :3. Harc,ltl Sah.lin maltcs this point in "'l'l~c Ncu. Exodus of' Siilvation Ac- cording to St. Pnl~l," Z'hc floot of tl~c VZ'ILC (eclitcd 1)y Anton Fricl- rjc11sc.n) (Wcstminjstcr 1953), 13. 85. "Herc St. Paui clistinct1~- alludes to the cclc1)ration of thc l'csach. Thc purging out of all that co~rld 1lc dcsignatcd 1cavc.11, i111d the s;lcrificc of the l'esach lamb, were the p~:in- cipal clcmcnts of the fcast." l.4. 1::. i:~:lj.lc J!llis, Paul's Use of the Old 'T'csta7nc~~t (Grand linical training."