We are generally familiar with the word "truth," the same word that appears in John 17:17, "Your word is truth." This word is used in a number of ways in the New Testament. It can mean "genuine" or "real or reality" as opposed to mere appearance. In John 17:17, it is used in the sense of something derived from a pure and holy God that declares the will of God, as compared to that which is from the world, which is sullied by the experiences of men.
Here in I Corinthians 5, it is used in the sense of truth in conduct. In other words, the truth has been taken in by means of words, believed, then been put into practice. "Truth" in the Greek is very similar to sincerity, which precedes it, and is contrasted with malice and wickedness, which are works of the flesh. The word translated sincerity means "pure or clear." The English word "sincere" is an accurate translation of the Greek word. Sincere comes from the Latin and means "without wax," implying that nothing at all contaminates it. It describes behavior that is not contaminated. The word of God in I Corinthians 5:7 has been imbibed by the person, and it has resulted in a pure, sincere, realistic, and genuine behavior or conduct.
The connections there are obvious. As surely as strength and vitality falls on the heels of eating the right kind of food, so does the vitality of the mind—that is, by the Word of God the life of God in us is strengthened so we can grow into an adult. Eating unleavened bread is symbolic of eating the pure and unadulterated Word of God, which is spirit. That spirit, in turn, becomes the basis for thinking within new parameters—parameters that always take God into account.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Freedom and Unleavened Bread
In addition to representing sin, leaven represent false doctrine as well. Jesus points out the error of the Pharisees' doctrines, and Paul advises the Corinthians to partake of the bread of sincerity and truth. False doctrine causes us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. True doctrine promotes sincerity, humility, and obedience to the Sovereign of the Universe, the overall lesson of the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Holy Days: Unleavened Bread
The apostle Paul instructed the Corinthian Christians to observe the Passover as a memorial of the death of Christ, our Passover, who was sacrificed for us.
Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Passover
Paul plainly instructs that the purpose of keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread is to remind us of our need to remove sin from our lives. Because of the serious sins that a Corinthian member had committed, and the congregation's general acceptance of this situation, Paul advises them to use the Days of Unleavened Bread to "purge out the old leaven." They should examine their attitudes and put these sins out of their lives and out of the congregation. He reminds them that the Passover is a memorial of the death of Christ, who died for us that we may receive forgiveness of sins. They "truly are unleavened," he says, in the sense that they had repented and been justified through faith in the sacrifice of Christ. However, since they had allowed leaven to return into their lives, they needed to get rid of it.
This is the heart of why we are still required to put leaven out of our homes. Leaven represents sin, and deleavening our homes symbolizes purging sin from our lives. However, cleansing our lives of sin is a lifetime process that will not be completely fulfilled until we are resurrected and transformed into spirit. As long as we are still flesh and blood, we will never be absolutely perfect—we will never free ourselves completely and totally of sin. This constant struggle to overcome human nature and put on God's nature is called sanctification. Nevertheless, we must continually strive to conform to the image of Jesus Christ, that is, to be a truly perfect human being (Philippians 3:12-14).
God wants us to observe the Days of Unleavened Bread year after year to remind us that we are not perfect and that our lives are a constant struggle against sin. When we deleaven our homes, we find that, no matter how hard we try, we cannot find every tiny crumb that may be imbedded in carpet or hidden behind an appliance. This illustrates how deceitful sin is and teaches us that we must constantly examine ourselves to purge it out of our lives. Removing sin is hard work! The Days of Unleavened Bread remind us annually of this constant warfare that all Christians must wage throughout their lives.
Why then must we remove leaven from our homes but need not be circumcised? The answer is that physical circumcision no longer has a purpose under the New Covenant. Its symbolism is fulfilled in the process of repentance, baptism, and receipt of the Holy Spirit. However, the object lesson of deleavening our homes still has great meaning and purpose for us. The symbolism of putting sin out of our lives will not be completely fulfilled until we are born into the Kingdom of God and become like Him who cannot sin (I John 3:9).
Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Why We Must Put Out Leaven
The Days of Unleavened Bread are a memorial to God's law and to His powerful deliverance from Egypt and bondage. Paul explains this significance to the Corinthians and the urgency attached to cease sinning. He says we should not even keep company with a brother involved in flagrant sin! Also, by ridding our homes of sin, we realize that overcoming sin is hard work!
Holy Days: Unleavened Bread
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing 1 Corinthians 5:8: