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
s4 , 5.—When ye are gathered together . . . deliver such an one unto Satan. I determine and order, O Corinthians, that when you are assembled in the Church, where I shall be present in my spirit, i.e, in mind, affection, and the authority given me by Christ, this incestuous person be excommunicated and handed over to Satan, who rules outside he Church, and is wont in this world to afflict the excommunicate not only in soul but also in body. It plainly appears from these words that the heretics are wrong in saying that the power of excommunicating resides in the whole congregation, and not in the prelates. On the contrary, he says, I have judged. All that the Apostle means is that the excommunication is to be publicly pronounced by whoever was presiding over the Church, that others might fear to do the like. Hence, he does not say that they were to assemble and hand him over to Satan, but when ye are gathered together I have determined to hand him over to Satan, i.e, through him who in the name of Christ is in charge of your Church in my place, and whose, therefore, it is to hand him over. In every state judgment takes place, not by the popular voice, but by the judges and magistrates.
The Apostles, moreover, uses this phrase to denote that this spiritual power has been given to the Church, and was exercised by himself and by prelates in the name of the Church, not in the sense that the whole Church has received it directly from Christ, but that Christ gave it to Paul and the other Apostles, not for themselves, but for the good of the Church; for as great confusion would ensue if each one had to be asked to give his sentence, the whole Church discharges this duty by the hands of its heads and rulers. Again, as excommunicating is liable to cause hatred, Paul wishes it to be done with the consent of the whole Church, that so he may win all to his side, and none may protect the powerful fornicator and accuse Paul of over severity. Hence he leaves, as it were, the judgment to them of his own free-will, and out of his modesty he makes them the assessors, approvers, and executors of the sentence pronounced by him of public excommunication of the fornicator by the hands of their president. So often prudent princes and generals will in a difficult and dangerous matter, when any great officer is to be punished, seek the opinion of other great officers, and what is more, leave the judging to them. So Chrysostom, Ambrose, Theophylact, Anselm.
With the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. Connect this with deliver, or, better still, as Ambrose does, with when ye are gathered together and my spirit. In other words, in this act of excommunication the Spirit is present with you, and still more with my spirit. For Christ has given His mighty power to His Church, and so the Church can, by her rulers and prelates, excommunicate and deliver over to Satan the contumacious.