As we looked at in the introduction to these letters some weeks ago, it is possible that this passage could be a section from a letter which Paul wrote to the Corinthian church before what is now termed '1 Corinthians'. We have a reference to that earlier letter in 1 Corinthians 5 v 9: ''I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men.'' It doesn't fit well with the passages either side here, for sure. Its sternness is at variance with the much more joyful and thankful tone either side of it. One of many things which it is important to remember about Paul is his extensive knowledge and understanding of the Old Testament. He was raised as a star pupil, sitting at the knee of some of the great Rabbis of his day. He was the golden boy of Judaism. It is easy to trace Paul's thoughts here to passages in Deuteronomy 22 v 10, Leviticus 19 v 19, 2 Kings 21 1-9; 2 Kings 23 v 3-8; Ezekiel 8 v 3 -18. This whole passage is a rousing summons not to hold any fellowship with unbelievers, to keep unsullied from the world. Israel was always intended to be a people set apart from every other nation and the Corinthian believers had become through their belief in Jesus Christ as Lord part of the new Israel. However, separation could cause big problems: 1. A man might well have to give up his trade as so many trades were associated with idol worship. In the Early Church a man's Christianity often meant that he had to get out from his job. 2. He might need to give up his social life. Many a feast was held in the temple of a god and even if held in a home, it would begin and end with the pouring of a libation to the gods. 3. It would often mean men and women giving up family ties. Part of the sadness and sacrifice for early believers was to see their families split through their new-found faith. A wife might become a believer and be driven out of her home by her unconverted husband. Sons and daughters might find that the homes they grew up in were no longer welcoming to them. It is true in many areas of India, Pakistan and other countries and it is generally at the point of baptism that the new convert finds themselves cast out. Think that these men and women are still willing and wanting to be baptised into the Christian faith when they know they will face trouble! It will always remain true for every Christian that there are certain things we cannot do and remain a Christian: there are certain things from which every Christian must get out.
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