This article attempts to read 1 Corinthians as Scripture, particularly by asking how Paul theologizes in 1 Cor 5 (that is, engages actively in the task of theology and ethics), by asking to what reality Paul’s words, as Scripture, point as a witness, and by setting up a theological conversation between Paul and three distinctive theological interpreters: Ambrosiaster, John Chrysostom, and Karl Barth. I argue that Paul’s vision of God and humanity forms the true subject matter of his discourse in 1 Cor 5. When read theologically, this text reveals an ecclesiological paradox concerning the relationship between God and humanity. First, the article analyzes important conceptual pairs in the passage (individual and community, judgment and power, “inside” and “outside,” and flesh and spirit), and through the interplay of these concepts the theological reasoning of Paul’s instructions emerges. The article then turns specifically to 5:6–8, the theological center of the passage, where Paul’s theologizing emerges most clearly through his use of Scripture. First Corinthians 5 presents a paradox of ecclesiology: How can this human community, “puffed up” with pride and boasting, exercise divine judgment and power responsibly, as they are called to do? The paradox is solved by God sharing the power of judgment with the community by the Spirit on the basis of Christ’s work. Paul presses upon the Corinthians a theologically-centered vision of themselves in relation to God. Without God’s act, the church cannot properly be the church; with God’s act, the church cannot be anything else.

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