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WVW: 1 Corinthians 5:5 He's All Yours, Satan

Can the church hand us over to Satan?

I will be honest with you, I did not grow up in a church environment, or attend youth group. In fact, I was more likely to mock and tease the kids who did. Thankfully the Lord grabbed a hold of me when I was in my early 20’s, and recently opened my eyes to my own need for a church community.

As Christians we are called to gather together, worship together, encourage one another, and to humble ourselves under church authority. In today’s westernized society, we are so independent and avoid commitment like the plague, so the idea of being disciplined by your church and ex-communicated doesn’t really phase us.

But in the early church being a part of a community meant having physical needs met. They shared all that they had, their homes, their food, everything. They didn’t just get together for an hour and a half once a week, and then carry on with their lives. The church was like a family, and that meant security, so being excommunicated from the church was a big deal.

With this in mind we approach our weird verse…

“You are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” -1 Corinthians 5:5

Context, Context, Context

First off we never want to just examine a single verse. It is best to read the entire chapter or passage to get a better understanding of what this verse is speaking about. We want to look at who is speaking? Who is the person speaking to? What is being addressed? Why is it being addressed? Where and when is it taking place?

So if we read all of 1 Corinthians 5, we can see that the apostle Paul is addressing the church of Corinth for allowing, and accepting someone to continue to in their sexual sin, and in doing so they are defiling the church. Paul tells them specifically how they are to discipline this person, and how they are to behave moving forward. The church at Corinth is told to “deliver this man over to Satan, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” -1 Corinthians 5:5-7 NOTE: Leaven is used to describe sin.


This leads us to ask what is meant by Satan? Is this meant to be interpreted as literal or symbolically? This is a good time also to check out commentaries, and cross references.

One of the cross references for 1 Corinithians 5:5 is 1 Timothy 1:20 “among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”

Satan is being used symbolically to represent ex-communication from the church. The church is God’s house, while Satan is still the ruler of the world (John 12:31). When the person was sent out of the church and into the world, where they were on their own, and apart from the support of Christian fellowship.

Destruction of the flesh

Satan can destroy the flesh, with illness and even death, but does not have control over the believers' spirit. If they are in Christ and have put their faith in Christ as their Saviour, then they will be saved on the Day of the Lord, when they die. This disciplinary action would also encourage the man to repent of his sin, and be forgiven by the church.

“The destruction of the flesh indicates that the incestuous man in Corinth would eventually die unless he repented of his sin. We are not told of the specific affliction, disease, or circumstances, but his body was on the way to destruction in a special disciplinary way. If he kept sinning, his life would end before he otherwise would have died. He would go to heaven, if he was truly a believer; but he would go before he should have gone.” - The MacArthur New Testament Commentary 1 Corinthians by John F. MacArthur

What does this mean for us today?

This passage reminds us that the world is still ruled by Satan, and that the church is meant to be a place of fellowship, authority and community for true believers, but that doesn’t mean we can continue in unrepentant sin. Thankfully the gospel reminds us that Jesus came and lived the perfect life for us, He took on our sin, died on the cross and rose again on the third day, being seated at the right hand of God, so that we could be clothed in His righteousness and would be saved by placing our faith in Him and not in our own works (Eph 2:8). He also promised to send us the Helper (John 15:26),and the Holy Spirit will convict us of our sin, and help to sanctify us, so that we could be conformed to the image of Christ (2 Cor 3:18). It is important to remember that God placed boundaries on us, for our own good, and for His glory.

Dingers, this Weird Verse Wednesday blog post was written by our friend Jamie Lee. She is an Ex-new ager and passionate about true teaching and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you enjoyed her writing, she has many other informative posts on her Instagram @clingingtochrist

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