The Limits of Fellowship
1 Corinthians 5:9-11
I wrote to you in an letter not to company with fornicators:…

No man liveth unto himself. Attempts have been made to build a science of human nature and a scheme of human life upon the foundation of the individual existence, but such attempts have failed. Man is born into society and lives in society, and is inexplicable apart from society. For good or for evil we are with one another. "As iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend;" "Evil communications corrupt good manners; He that walketh with wise men shall be wise."

I. CHRISTIANS ARE NOT LIMITED TO THE SOCIETY OF THEIR FELLOW CHRISTIANS. St. Paul possessed no small measure of what has been humorously called "sanctified common sense." He saw clearly and at once that if a man set out with the determination to have no intercourse with those of different principles and sentiments from himself, he would be driven in consistency to "go out of the world." So far from forbidding such intercourse, he permitted it, and even in some instances encouraged it.

1. The example of the Lord Jesus and of his apostles sanctions intercourse with general society. Jesus talked with persons of all sorts and conditions, accepted invitations to the houses of strangers, and even of enemies. And we find the apostles seeking introduction to Jews and Gentiles, to the virtuous and the vicious.

2. Such conduct exercises a power of attraction over all who are affected by it. The assumption of superior sanctity repels, whilst the kindly sympathy of neighbourhood, the good offices of social life, may lead to a desire to know and enjoy the blessings of the gospel.

3. Opportunities occur in social intercourse for introducing, either directly or indirectly, the truths of religion. It is not always the public proclamation of the truth which reaches the heart of the careless and ungodly. "A word spoken in season, how good it is!" Many have had reason for lifelong gratitude towards such as have in a casual way taken advantage of the opportunity to commend the gospel to their souls.


1. It must not be supposed that we are confined to the fellowship of those whose character is mature and blameless. This would be to set up in the Church an aristocracy of the worst kind.

2. Those whose company is forbidden are such as, by manifest and flagrant violation of the moral law, prove the utter insincerity of their profession to be followers of Christ.

3. The reasons for this prohibition are obvious.

(1) It Could scarcely be other than injurious to our own moral nature to be intimate with those whose life belies their creed, whose hypocrisy is unmistakable.

(2) Such intimacy would be interpreted by the world as meaning that in our esteem it is of little consequence what a man is, if he only professes to be Christ's.

(3) And there can be no question that to cultivate the friendship of a hypocrite would tend to encourage him in his sinful course; whilst to withdraw from his society might lead him to repentance. - T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:

WEB: I wrote to you in my letter to have no company with sexual sinners;

The Limits of Fellowship
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