(KJV)1 Corinthians 5:9

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

It would seem in the above text Paul is referring to an epistle he had written before to the church at Corinth

(KJV)1 Corinthians 5:11

But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

In the above verse he now seems to make a distinction between the epistle which he was now writing to the church at Corinth & the former one by using the words "but now"in reference to his current epistle

In the current epistle he seems to be reiterating what he had previously said in the former concerning sexual immorality. Could there be another epistle to the Corinthians before this one where he admonishes them concerning sexual immorality?

  • A lot of commentators says there was but it was deemed not too universal an application for the church in all ages or at least covered in scope by this epistle (i.e. 1 Corinthians). And if that's the case, most probably therefore deemed by the Holy Spirit Himself not to be included in the inspired final collection of the canonical Scripture that we have now.
    – Edper
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 17:07

4 Answers 4


Many letters were written and passed between the churches from the apostles.

1 Thessalonians 5:27

"I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren."

Not all of these letters were saved or survived.

For example in Colossians 4:16

"And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea."

We don't have the epistle to Laodicea either.

This appears to be the case with the epistle referenced in 1 Corinthians 5:9.


Virtually all commentators agree that there was a previous letter: for example, Thiselton in his NIGTC commentary, and FF Bruce in his book on Paul. Unfortunately, it is now lost.

As N.Ish says, there is evidence for quite a few letters, which are now lost. And of course we don't get the letters that people sent to Paul, although he quotes from them sometimes. For example: 1 Corinthians 7:1:

Now for the matters you wrote about

Modern translations then have the next sentence in quotation marks, indicating that Paul is quoting from the letter that the Corinthians sent to him.


I believe that the Epistle Apostle Paul was referring to where he said "I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators" is a God inspired epistle. It is a scripture. Be not deceived.

Also, as touching Colossians 4:16 where Apostle Paul commanded that:

"And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea."

The Epistle from Laodicea is also a God inspired Epistle. It is a scripture. Be not deceived. It is the same as "The Epistle of Paul The Apostle To The Laodiceans." It is a short epistle.

Here is a copy of it. enter image description here

  • Hello akinsoij, welcome to BHSE, glad to have you with us. If you haven't already, please make sure to take our tour, to see how we are a little different from other sites you may know. Thanks! (hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/tour)
    – sara
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 7:13


Is an interesting thought on the Greek tense. This reference suggests and interesting answer.

Eluding to lost letters, mentioned the lost letter to the Laodecian church... there is interestingly a letter to them in all of the older German Bibles as well as in Wycliffe's English bible.

  • I think your answer needs to be more substantial and needs more references. You have broached significant issues but not properly developed them, in my own view.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 14:07
  • You could improve the answer by summarizing the website's contents and explaining how they answer the question
    – b a
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 15:18

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