1 Corinthians 5-7: Instructions to the Church

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 121–122


In 1 Corinthians 5–7 Paul continued to give counsel to the Saints in Corinth. He dealt with important questions like: What kind of association should Saints have with sinners? When is it all right for Saints to sue one another? Why is it better for marriage to come after a mission? Look for Paul’s counsel on these issues and think about how they relate to you.

Understanding the Scriptures

1 Corinthians 5

Fornication (v. 1)Sexual relations between unmarried persons 
A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (v. 6)A little yeast causes the loaf of bread to rise; a little sin affects the whole person or congregation 
Purge out (v. 7)Remove, repent of 
Malice (v. 8)Desire to harm others 

1 Corinthians 5:5—“Deliver Such an One unto Satan”

Members who have more knowledge and experience in the Church are subject to more serious penalties. To “deliver such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh” (1 Corinthians 5:5) was to cut them off from the blessings of the gospel. Included in this was the loss of the Holy Ghost, leaving them without the healing and protective power of God. In this state individuals were left to themselves to endure the full destructive power of the adversary.

1 Corinthians 6

Go to law (vv. 1, 6–7)To bring charges against, sue 
Utterly a fault (v. 7)Complete failure 
Defrauded (v. 7)Cheated 
Effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind (v. 9)Those involved in various sins of homosexuality 

1 Corinthians 6:9–12—Were These Deadly Sins Lawful in Paul’s Mind?

The Joseph Smith Translation provides a significant change in 1 Corinthians 6:12: “All these things are not lawful unto me, and all these things are not expedient” (JST,  1 Corinthians 6:12; italics added).

1 Corinthians 6:19–20—“Ye Are Not Your Own”

Elder LeGrand Richards, who was an Apostle, said, “There are many who think their bodies are their own and that they can do with them what they will, but Paul makes it plain that they are not their own, for they are bought with a price” (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, rev. ed. [1973], 380).

Christ on the cross

1 Corinthians 7

Due benevolence (v. 3)Proper acts of kindness 
Incontinency (v. 5)Lack of self-control 
Bondage, bound (vv. 15, 27)Under covenant 
Circumcision (vv. 18–19)See Bible Dictionary, “circumcision” (p. 646). 
Cast a snare upon you (v. 35)Restrict you 
Comely (v. 35)Proper, honorable 

1 Corinthians 7:29–33—“They That Have Wives Be as Though They Had None”

The Joseph Smith Translation clarifies that when Paul counseled “they that have wives be as though they had none” (1 Corinthians 7:29) he was speaking to “you who are called unto the ministry … for ye are called and chosen to do the Lord’s work” (JST,  1 Corinthians 7:29). In other words, those who were married would be without their wives during their missions.

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–D) as you study 1 Corinthians 5–7.

Activity A iconInterview Your Bishop

Ask your bishop to explain how a bishop’s disciplinary council helps the Church and helps the person involved to repent and come back to full fellowship. Read 1 Corinthians 5 and write about the similarities you find between those verses and what your bishop explained.

Activity B iconList the Effects of Sin

Paul chastised the Saints in Corinth for rationalizing their sins. He reminded them that the Spirit could not dwell in them if they were unrighteous. As you read 1 Corinthians 6:9–20, list at least five sins that Paul mentioned and explain how those sins affect the sinner, the sinner’s family, and the Church.

Activity C iconSummarize What Paul Taught

As you read 1 Corinthians 7:10–11, substitute the word divorce for “depart” (“put away” also means divorce), and in verses 12–13 substitute nonmember for the phrase “that believeth not.” After reading these verses with the substitutions, write a paragraph describing what you think Paul was teaching.

Activity D iconWrite a Lesson

Read 1 Corinthians 7:8–9, 29–35 as if Paul were speaking to missionaries (notice the Joseph Smith Translation changes) and answer the following questions:

  1. 1.

    How would these teachings be helpful for full-time missionaries?

  2. 2.

    How might a girlfriend or boyfriend at home distract a missionary from their calling?