It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.
All Commentaries on 1 Corinthians 5:1 Go To 1 Corinthians 5
Cornelius a Lapide
It is reported commonly among you. It is no vague rumour, but a well-ascertained fact.
1. The Gentiles who were not barbarians, but living civilised and honest lives, by natural instinct rejected all such intercourse of a step-son and step-mother. The poets praise Hippolytus for preferring to incur the anger of his father, Theseus, rather than yield to the lust of his step-mother, Phdra. When he was solicited by Phdra and refused to consent to the abomination, he was falsely accused by her to his father of having solicited her, and was torn asunder by him by four horses. There Isaiah , however, extant an example of such intercourse in Valerius Maximus (lib. v. De Par. Amore in Lib.), in the case of King Seleucus, who, on learning from his physician that his son Antiochus was sick unto death from love of his wife Stratonice, handed her over to him.
2. Theodoret, in his preface to this epistle, and Chrysostom here say that this fornicator was an eminent and powerful leader of the schism at Corinth, and this is why the Apostle proceeds so directly from the one sin to the other.
It may be asked whether this incestuous person took his father"s wife during his lifetime or afterwards. Some reply that he was dead; but it seems more likely that he was living, from the phrase used, "his father"s wife," and also from the words of2Cor.vii12: "I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong," which seems plainly to mean the father. Anselm and others take the view that the father was still alive. The Prayer of Manasseh , therefore, was at once incestuous and an adulterer, and was obstinate in his sin; for without such obstinacy he would not have been excommunicated.