In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul has this to say about their behavior:

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? — 1 Corinthians 5:1-2 (NIV)

Why would the Corinthians have been proud of this behavior? Is there some cultural reason this might have been praised? I'm finding it really strange to imagine them praising this behavior among each other, and publicly apparently.

  • I'm still unclear as to when things should be on Biblical Hermeneutics and when it should be this site. I had thought that asking questions about the culture of the early church would be on topic here. But if it should be on that site, perhaps it could be migrated rather than having me create a new question? Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 6:01
  • Compare other bible translations; and commentaries; before posting such Qs. They will be clarified easily if you see translations and commentaries.
    – Michael16
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 16:50
  • @Michael16 I'm a bit confused by this. I see plenty of recent questions that only use one translation and no commentaries, and there doesn't seem to be any issue. I'm new to this site, but I did check to make sure this was in line with other questions on this site. Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 17:22
  • You're right, one guy is posting some silly questions on contradictions; he too needs to learn basics. For this one; I was referring to ESV "arrogant" in place of "proud". Some versions "puffed up". Which shows having no shame of such sins. Its an open shameless sin culture. Paul mockingly says they are proud of it. They dont actually flaunt and praise such sinners obviously. Commentaries make basic things easy.
    – Michael16
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 17:58
  • @Michael16 Actually, I linked to six questions (one each word). Is there somewhere where "the basics" are defined? I don't see it. In the site's tour. Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 20:41

1 Answer 1


The word translated as “You are proud!” is the participle πεφυσιωμένοι, conjugated from the lemma φυσιόω. The King James Version translates it as “And ye are puffed up,” which is a decent translation. The derivative of the Greek stem φυσ- is later found in such English words as emphysema, a disease of the lungs. Notably, the lemma φυσιόω occurs 7 times in 7 verses in the Textus Receptus, and of those 7 occurrences, 6 of them are in the First Epistle to the Corinthians. In other words, the Corinthians had a significant problem being “puffed up”—proud—perhaps moreso than any other Christian church at that time!

Both BDAG1 and Thayer (translating Wilke)2 concur that φυσιόω can be understood as “to make proud” (active voice) or “to be proud” (passive voice). With respect to the Corinthians, it’s possible that there pride was a result of their intellectual knowledge.3

As far as 1 Cor. 5:2 is concerned, Henry Alford (among others) did not believe that the Corinthians were actually proud because of the fornication. He commented that the pride was cum hoc, not propter hoc.4 The Corinthians were proud for other reasons,5 but due to the severity of the sin in 1 Cor. 5:2, the apostle Paul took that moment to express astonishment (and perhaps disgust) that the Corinthians could even dare exhibit pride at all!


Alford, Henry. The Greek Testament. Vol. 2. Boston: Lee, 1878.

Arndt, William; Bauer, Walter; Danker, Frederick William. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2000.

Wilke, Christian Gottlob. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Being Grimm Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti. Trans. Thayer, Joseph Henry. Ed. Grimm, Carl Ludwig Wilibald. Rev. ed. New York: American Book, 1889.


1 p. 1069
2 p. 660
3 1 Cor. 8:1: «ἡ γνῶσις φυσιοῖ»—“Knowledge makes proud.”
4 Commentary on 1 Cor. 5:2 (p. 505). Cum hoc (lit. “with this”) is when something occurs with something else. Propter hoc (lit. “because of this”) is when something occurs because of something else. Both are related to a fallacy known as Cum hoc ergo propter hoc.
5 cp. 1 Cor. 4:6, 4:18–19

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