From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri May 02 1997 - 08:33:33 EDT

At 9:10 AM -0500 5/2/97, T & J Peterson wrote:
>Part of the question which arises in the discussion over Paul's mention
>of delivering someone to Satan in 1 Cor 5:5 is whether this is an action
>taken by the church or by Paul's apostolic authority. Whatever the
>action might be, is it something that can be performed today (if we no
>longer have apostles)?

There are two questions here:

(1) By my construction of the elements of the genitive absolute phrase, I
would deem this action one taken by the church as "the body of
Christ"--especially as this is the key metaphor for Paul of the nature of
the church and is repeatedly employed in 1 Cor; I don't see any claim of
apostolic authority as such indicated here, but Paul is the evangelizer and
founder of this community and therefore, I would think, one member of it,
whether he is present in the flesh or absent from it. His words in 1 Cor
1:10-17 seem to me to differentiate his function as an evangelist from any
authority that is efficacious in its own right; this congregation and its
members, including Paul, are EN CRISTWi, and it seems to me that this bond
is precisely what is pointed to in the genitive absolute phrase,
IHSOU: not Paul's apostolic authority but rather the power of the Lord
Jesus in union with the congregation of which Paul claims to be a member
spiritually present, enables the congregation to carry out this act of
excommunication. Perhaps there are other ways of construing the phrase, but
that is what it seems to me to mean.

(2) Can the action be performed today--if we no longer have apostles? (a)
authorization: Without getting into the theological and ecclesiastical
merits of the question, I would note that several, if not most or all,
churches in Christendom hold to a doctrine of apostolic succession, whether
they see that authority as residing in the successors of Peter (etc.) or in
the community as a whole or in its elected officers; so in that regard I
don't see an impediment to performing the action today. But as I interpret
the genitive absolute, the action doesn't depend upon apostolic authority
but upon the empowering of the community to act by Christ. (b) possibility:
once again, I believe it to be the case that, however constituted, most or
all churches in Christendom have some institutional procedure for admitting
and excluding persons from their membership;I don't know whether any base
their authority to do so upon this passage or whether (as I think more
likely) they base it upon the gift of the risen Christ to the apostles to
"bind and loose" with assurance that they act with heavenly authority (Mt
16 and 18, Jn 20). I'd like to think that burnings-at-the-stake such as
carried out by the Spanish Inquisition by Torquemada and by Calvin in
Geneva are appalling examples of the peril of misunderstanding this passage
in 1 Cor and that the powerful restraints laid upon the exercise of the
power to excommunicate in Mt 18 would give pause to anyone seriously
contemplating attempting to exercise this procedure today. At any rate, I
don't see within the text of 1 Cor 5:4 itself any element that would bar
exercise of this procedure.

> In v. 4, I wonder if there might not be two
>grammatical clues:
>1) Should the genitive absolute SUNACQENTWN hUMWN KAI TOU EMOU
>PNEUMATOS be taken as a logical unit, thus relating SUN TH DUNAMEI TOU
>KURIOU to the entire clause (rather than simply to Paul's spirit)?

Yes, I definitely think that SUN THi DUNAMEI TOU KURIOUS must be construed
with the entire clause; grammatically I don't see how the SUN + dative
phrase could be construed directly with the genitive referring to Paul.

>2) Is the SUNACQENTWN . . . SUN . . . construction a possible indicator
>that the gathering together is between hUMIN KAI TOU EMOU PNEUMATOS and

                                   It's hUMWN; important that it's genitive

>TH DUNAMEI TOU KURIOU (rather than two separate ideas: the gathering of
>the Corinthians with Paul's spirit, and Paul's own connection to the
>power of the Lord)? I understand that SUNAGW is a common enough word
>that it takes on its own distinctive meaning, but I'm simply suggesting
>that Paul was using the prefixed preposition in his construction. For
>comparison, see Col 2:13. It makes sense to me that SUN would be the
>better point of connection than KAI.

Again, I don't see how SUN THi DUNAMEI TOU KURIOU IHSOU can construe
directly or primarily to TOU EMOU PNEUMATOS; it must be construed with the
conjoint hUMWN KAI TOU EMOU PNEUMATOS SUNAXQENTWN, and the syntactical link
must be with the verb SUNAXQENTWN rather than with either of the genitives:
"when you and my spirit are convened together with the power of our Lord
Jesus ..."

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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