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Anonymous wrote:

Dear AskACatholic.com,

In the history of the Church, there existed a group called the Flagellants, who mortified their flesh by whipping themselves. I think I read the Church condemned them as heretics. My question is:

  • Did they get this idea from 1 Corinthians 9:27, and
  • What did St. Paul the Apostle mean by this verse?

Anonymous

  { Did these heretics get the idea of mortifying from 1 Corinthians 9:27 and what did St. Paul mean? }

Mike replied:

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for the question.

Because none of us are Scripture scholars I would recommend getting a good Catholic Commentary on the Scriptures.

I have three suggestions for Bible Commentaries:

  • The Navarre Bible Commentaries (they stress the Early Church Fathers and Saints of the Church, which is good.)
  • I have a 1954 Commentary on the Scriptures that I got at a used, old book store but you might be able to get one on-line, used from Amazon, and
  • though Raymond Brown has been a controversial person in the Church, you can still consider the Jerome Biblical Commentary.

I don't know which Bible Commentary Scott Hahn would approve, but if he approves of one,
I believe all my colleagues would as well.

Based on what I read from 1 Corinthians 9, I sense Paul was referring to combating the sins of concupiscence (or sins of the flesh.)

This answer from my colleague Eric may help as well:

Mike

John replied:

Anonymous —

Paul is talking about developing the virtue of self control by denying himself comforts, or perhaps fasting. In the previous verses, he talk about training for and running a race. So he's using imagery here; he's not talking literally.

Now it is possible that some took this verse literally but it was not Paul's intent for us to do physical harm to our bodies.

John

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