1 Corinthians 5:5 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 5:5, NIV: hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 5:5, ESV: 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, KJV: To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

1 Corinthians 5:5, NASB: I have decided to turn such a person over to Satan for the destruction of his body, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 5:5, NLT: Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns.

1 Corinthians 5:5, CSB: hand that one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

What does 1 Corinthians 5:5 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This is an important and complicated verse. Paul has commanded the Christians in Corinth to remove from among them a man who was sleeping with his father's wife, a form of sexual immorality even their own pagan culture condemned (1 Corinthians 5:1). By tolerating such open sin and perversion, the church was inviting shame and judgment (1 Corinthians 5:2).

Now Paul writes that by the power of the Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 5:4), they are to deliver—or hand over—the man to Satan. Paul is the one who has commanded this action, but it is the church in Corinth that must carry it out. In doing so, they will take responsibility as a group for confronting the sin that is among them. This openly incestuous person is to be given over "to Satan for the destruction of the flesh." The purpose is not for revenge, or even punishment. Rather, it is "so that his spirit might be saved" at the Lord's judgment.

Bible teachers debate what this means. Most all agree that in practice it means nothing more than excommunication: to reject him from meeting with the other believers, and from identifying with them. It seems likely that by removing the man from the church, they will also be removing him from the protection that comes with being included in the body of Christ. They will be thrusting this man back, exposed, into the kingdom of darkness (Colossians 1:13).

In some way, this will result in the destruction of the man's flesh. Some scholars suggest this means Satan will be given the freedom by God to end the man's earthly life, either quickly or through a long-term illness. Others, however, point to the examples of Job, Paul's own "messenger from Satan" (2 Corinthians 12:7), and Paul's deliverance of others to Satan for their ultimate good (1 Timothy 1:20) to mean that God may use Satan's destructive work in the man's life to lead him to repentance.

For the man, the hope is that this action will result in the eternal salvation of his spirit. It is unclear if the man is understood to be a Christian who will ultimately be saved by God's grace or an unbeliever who may come to genuine salvation by this act of removing him from the church. The goal of this action is not retaliation, but rehabilitation: to convict the man of his sin to encourage repentance and restoration (Galatians 6:1).

Details aside, this verse clearly supports three crucial purposes of church discipline. First, it is necessary in order to convict and correct others so they aren't fooled about their spiritual state (1 Corinthians 10:12). Second, it is necessary for the spiritual health of the other believers (Jude 1:12; Galatians 2:4). Third, it is necessary to prevent the unbelieving world from having legitimate reasons to criticize the body of Christ (1 Peter 2:12; 2 Peter 2:1–2; Galatians 2:14).