What did Paul mean by a "new lump" in 1 Cor 5:7?:

YLT 1Co 5:6 Not good is your glorying; have ye not known that a little leaven the whole lump doth leaven? 1Co 5:7 cleanse out, therefore, the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, according as ye are unleavened, for also our passover for us was sacrificed--Christ, 1Co 5:8 so that we may keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of evil and wickedness, but with unleavened food of sincerity and truth.


To understand what Paul meant by a "new lump" we need to recognize that ancient bread baking was slightly different than it is today in regard to how the bread would be leavened. Modern bakers have available to them packaged yeast which was not available back then. Bakers today will add a quantity of yeast to flour and water, the yeast will eat the carbohydrates and fart carbon dioxide. The farts rise through the dough causing it to rise. There is a similar process that goes on in the making of alcoholic beverages. Yeast eats the sugars in the fruit and produce alcohol.

Yeast occurs naturally in abundance in the air so if you set out a vat of grapes for example the yeast from the air will find the sugar and multiply and turn the juice to wine. And if you cultivate the yeast that eats the starches in bread dough your dough serves as a starter to make loaves of bread rise:

Mat_13:33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Now, in the process of making bread one often lets the bread rise and then punches it back down to rise again.

Soooo, if you don't want your bread to be "puffed up" (as with pride) you don't allow the yeast time to multiply before you bake it resulting in a flat bread, like Pita bread. However, if it has already risen one has to punch it down to knock the air out of it. This is what I believe Paul is describing when he says to "purge out the old leaven to become a new lump". He's not saying, "get rid of those little packets of yeast" but rather "punch the air out so you can be an unpuffed up lump".


In the New Testament yeast is often a symbol of evil or corruption. See Mt 16:6, Lk 12:1, Gal. 5:9 and Mark 8:15. Paul is talking to the Corinthian church in this passage and is addressing a sin issue that is allowed to continue. He is telling them that they are new and need to get rid of the old, i.e. the sinful actions that are allowed to continue in the church. We see in 2 Co 5:17 where Paul is telling the church that if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come.

  • 2
    That was an excellent analysis, except that the last sentence kind of jumps the rails to another passage that doesn't seem to explain the metaphor. Can you walk us through the imagery of what Paul's saying without importing the 2 Co 5:17 passage? Thanks.
    – user10231
    Apr 25 '16 at 2:02

Here's my newbie schizophrenic interpretation. Old leaven is actual leaven, the leaven of the Pharisees. To become a new lump you need a new yeast. Like risperdal to get rid of the old and become a new body even the dick. Risperdal is what's called a chemical yeast. Barbiturates might be chemical yeast. In Judaism risperdal may not count as a yeast.you can make like thousand pancakes with one pill. I wish I could make it taste fruity and drink it without oil.

  • Welcome to BHSX, Nathan, so glad to have you with us. Please take the tour to get yourself familiar with the site. Enjoy ! hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/tour
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    Nov 17 '19 at 13:42

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