In 1 Corinthians 5:1, the Bible says that a man had his father’s wife:

“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!” (1 Cor. 5:1)

This fornication was not even named among the Gentiles (1 Cor. 5:2-3). In other words, even the Gentiles submitted themselves to higher standards than what was taking place with this man and his father’s wife in Corinth. The sin here had to do with unlawful sexual intercourse between a son and a mother (perhaps a stepmother).

The sin certainly wasn’t remarriage after an unlawful divorce because whatever took place here was even more immoral than what the Romans and Gentiles were involved in. The Gentiles were certainly familiar with and were involved in much unlawful divorce and remarriage. Seneca (4 BC. -65 AD.), a first century philosopher, spoke of how women at that time were married to be divorced and divorced to be married and that women dated the years by the name of their husbands (Barclay, Letters to the Galatians & Ephesians, Westminister Press, pp. 199-200):

“Virtually every notable Roman of the two centuries on either side of Christ’s birth was divorced and remarried at least once, often to women also previously married” (Exploring the New Testament World, Bell, p.233).

Obviously, this sin at Corinth was something much more different than an unlawful divorce and remarriage. This was a sexual sin of a man sleeping with his father’s wife. Furthermore, this man may or may not have married his father’s wife (Some believe they might have been married). However, she may have just been his sex partner. Either way, the condemnation that took place here was the sin of incest and unlawful sexual intercourse with one’s mother (stepmother), not a remarriage after an unlawful divorce.

– Kevin Pendergrass

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