“Thank you for your wonderful assurance letters. I wonder if you might address the statement, ‘To deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of his flesh’ (1 Cor. 5:5) and ‘. . . whom I have delivered unto Satan’ (1 Tim. 1:20). I have heard and read various views, but would be interested in your exegesis.”
Dr. H. Graham Wilson, Jr.
San Antonio, Texas
Dear Dr. Wilson,
Satan is called the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). Delivering one over to him is the opposite of delivering one into God’s loving care. It is handing one over to suffering and possibly physical death. We know from the life of Job (e.g., Job 1:6-2:10ff) that Satan is able to inflict physical pain and even death when God permits (God is sovereign; He is in control). However, this has nothing to do with one’s eternal destiny as Paul makes clear later in 1 Corinthians 5:5 when he says “that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” Dr. Ryrie comments on 1 Timothy 1:20, “[This is] a remedial discipline (as in 1 Cor. 5:5), which excluded such persons from the help and fellowship of the church-a kind of last-resort punishment” (Ryrie Study Bible, p. 1817n).