Hand Over to Satan to Save His Spirit?!

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I am in the midst of writing a book on 1 & 2 Corinthians which serves as a study book for a Diploma Biblical Studies program. As I am writing, thought I will share a little about Apostle Paul’s almost incredulous instruction of discipline to “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 Cor 5:5) for a man who is in an incest relationship with his stepmother.

Apostle Paul’s instruction of handing over this man to Satan is a very specific and strong instruction. If he only intends to excommunicate him so that the church is kept holy, there is no need to mention Satan. Moreover, it seems contradictory that handing someone over to Satan can eventually save his spirit. Paul mentions a similar disciplinary action in 1 Timothy 1:20 where he delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan for discipline. It should be noted that this act of handing a person over to Satan for discipline is more than just a physical excommunication where Paul specifically prays for the power of our Lord Jesus to be present. Another passage written by Paul in 2 Cor 12 where he refers to the thorn in his flesh as a messenger of Satan that is present in his body to keep him humble and also for the glory of Christ. In these instances, Satan becomes God’s rod of discipline. The person is handed over to Satan “with the power of the Lord Jesus” signifies that God is still in full control of the situation with the end purpose to save the person’s spirit. God is sovereign over the life of the person handed over to Satan as Satan has to submit to God even in his rebellion.

Another record of a man being handed over to Satan in the Old Testament is Job (Job 2:6). Although Job is a blameless man and the reason for him being in the hand of Satan is the wager between God and Satan, the catastrophes meted out to Job drives him to declare “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6). There is a process of maturity and growth in God that brings Job to such repentance. In examination of Job’s story, the delivery of a man to Satan is a pathway of discipline for maturity and growth and not for destruction. Another Biblical story that bears such similarity will be that of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) where the father has no choice but to allow his son to go into the world, which can parallel to that of handing him over to Satan as he is the prince of the world. It is when the prodigal son experiences the harshness and bitterness of the world that he will turn and appreciate the goodness of the father. This turning back is salvation for the spirit even though the physical, emotional and mental are battered by the battles in the world.

This is probably best typified by what we call tough love now. The wilderness of willful sin can either kill a person or drive him back to repentance.

10 thoughts on “Hand Over to Satan to Save His Spirit?!

  1. So here we God declaring ‘this is my beloved Son hear and obey Him.’ And yet not one time in all the gospels does the Son ever grant authority to hand anyone over to Satan.’ Paul must have been on pretty good terms with Satan. Have you ever wondered why Paul allowed the sprit of Python to proclaim him for four days before rebuking it? Yahshua never allowed the demons to speak more than a word before He commanded them to ‘shut up’ and yet Paul uses the demons as his PR.

  2. I am trying to understand your statement that you are saying that Paul is not fully aligned with God? Jesus’ instruction for Church Discipline is found in Matthew 18:15-20. There is no mention of Satan but authority is given to church leaders to make the judgement of discipline based on his laws. Jesus’ ministry on earth is a very focused one and short and the fulfillment of the purpose is handed over to his disciples with the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that they will greater things he will on earth too. It is no surprise that Paul is advising the church that Is not recorded of Jesus, just as Paul plant churches among the Gentiles. If Jesus is the son of God, and is one with Him, and He does only what the Father says, this means that he is present when God handed Job over to Satan. I have also mentioned the prodigal son story told by Jesus. There is no direct mention but there is a similar parallel to Paul’s instruction.

    As for your mention about Jesus not allowing the demons to speak more than a word, it is true but I believe that is in the context of exorcism and not church discipline. These are two different matters. Can you please elaborate how Paul uses demons to be his PR?

    1. Hi There
      Job was a righteous man and Satan asked to try him. The ones paul had executed were in his opinion not righteous, so the there is no parallel between God and Paul in this instance. Besides Job was not handed over for destruction. As to Church discipline, there is a vast difference between excommunication and execution. Paul had the men executed. The laws of Yahshua are no different from the Law of Moses and in the Law of Moses one was to be stoned if they committed a sin worthy of death. But Paul had already done away with the Law of both the FAther and the Son, so what law was Paul operating under? Not the Law of God, he said said it was a yoke of bondage and the power of sin.
      As to Paul using the spirit of Python as PR or public relations, he allowed to demon to declare him (Paul) for four days and then he rebuked it. The demons several times tried to do the same thing with Yahshua but he would not allow it. Paul allows it and uses the demons for publicity purposes. Quite a difference.

      1. Hi! Yes, it is right that there is no direct parallel which I acknowledged in my writing. In using the story of Job is to illustrate the fact that God is in full control over the works of Satan and Satan does not have full authority to do as he pleases.
        As for Paul handing the people over for destruction, it is specific for the destruction of the flesh for the salvation of his spirit. The flesh although can literally mean the physical body, it can also mean the nature of fulfilling the lust of the flesh. This can take on double level of meaning. If a person choose to continue in sin without repentance, their natural end is destruction (Gal 6:8), not because of Paul’s judgement, but the natural course that God has put in place. If the prodigal son never repent and go back to his father’s house, he will probably continue feeding pigs until the day he dies.

        As for Paul and the possessed slave-girl, it is not recorded in the bible why Paul waited for a few days before casting it out but it record that Paul was annoyed. The authority of an apostle is subjected to the sovereignty of the leading of the Holy Spirit as well. I believe that the apostle lives in submission to the leading of the Holy Spirit. As this is recorded in the Bible whom I believe is God-inspired, Paul was walking in the will of the Father. Waiting is quite a trademark of God whereby Jesus waited a few days when Lazarus was rotting and stinky before he resurrect him. This slave girl seemed to have quite a lot of influence to the community, and the tolerance of her declaring the apostles authority for the few days and for her to be delivered by Paul & Silas gives a clear and direct glorification of God.

        I am not sure where you are going with the few points but what I gather is that you do not think that Apostle Paul is doing and teaching within the commandments and will of God.

  3. Hi There:
    In the Book of Acts there were criteria set forth as to the qualifications of an Apostle. Paul did not meet the criteria. To begin with they had to have been with Yahshua from the time of His baptism by John and thru to the resurrection, it wasn’t ‘either or’ but all the criteria had to be met. The 12 all witnessed the bodily resurrection of Yahshua, in other Words Yahshua resurrected in the flesh. Paul did not witness this, the one Paul met was a disembodied spirit entity. It was not the Yahshua that the 12 witnessed.
    So just on the criteria alone Paul was not a legitimate apostle but self appointed. Unless of course one believes that God is so fickle as to be constantly changing His mind.
    So if Paul lies when he declared his apostleship then when the demonic spirit of python is trumpeting him as a man God with the true way of salvation, then one has a choice here. Do the lying spirits of hell proclaim truth or do they proclaim lies.

    1. Hi, you are right about the episode of choosing Matthias to replace Judas with the pre-requisites are clearly stated and Paul does not fulfill the criteria. This is for the replacement of the one of the 12 Apostles whom Jesus discipled directly. I view this criteria as an one-off application as there is no need for replacement after this record.

      I do understand that the role and place of the apostle after the first 12 Disciples can be highly debatable but I will give you where my position is pertaining what you have brought up.

      The word apostle in Greek (apostolos) basically means a messenger who is sent out. In the Christian context it is first used for the 12 Disciples but following which, there are other apostles recorded, like Barnabas and Paul. The authority in which Paul and Barnabas operated is not self-appointed but was given by the Counsel in Jerusalem which is made up of the 12 Apostles. Thus, in the general sense, they are sent out as messengers to teach the church by the Jerusalem Council and therefore they are considered apostles. Paul and Barnabas are not The Apostles, but they carry with them the appointment of apostleship and authority over the church of Christ. For me, I add the term apostle before his name as a title, similarly to how I address pastors as a form of respect.

      As for the question of lying spirits, my they cannot lie in the presence of God, which includes the Holy Spirit who dwells within the believers of Jesus. From you said, I can see two possibilities that the spirit is saying the truth because of God’s anointing upon Paul or it is lying about Paul’s authority. Yet, the truth of the matter is the the demon was eventually cast out by Paul himself. If the authority you mentioned is false, I suppose the demon will not be cast out. Jesus teaches on the divided kingdom Luke 11:17-23 with regards to the casting of demons.

      It seems that the issues you have brought up are targeted at Paul’s authority as an apostle. If you are not able to accept Paul’s apostleship and authority, I suppose that most of the New Testament books, which are Paul’s Epistles, you do not consider as God’s Word and authority.

      1. Hi There
        Yes, Paul’s authority needs to be seriously questioned. If one accepts the Bible as a whole rather than marginalizing and compartmentalizing the Word according to Paul, then Paul is a classic textbook false prophet according to both Moses and Yahshua in that Paul for his followers not only did away with the Law but the Commandments. Paul verifiably did away the fourth commandment i.e the Sabbath Day. Which is not really arguable seeing as how Christians through Paul found great cause for denigrating the Commandments in that they no longer do them. At best he loosened and weakened the 4th which according to Yahshua would make Paul the least in the kingdom, if he made it all, which is highly questionable. He gave his followers the license to eat meant sacrificed to idols which Yahshua says Rev 2:14 and 20 would cost them their salvation. Further Yahshua considers this ‘knowing the depths of Satan.’So there is a great danger in Paul, and his words should never be used to trump the teachings of Yahshua but in reality most do use Paul to supplant the Words of the Son, believing that God gave Paul the authority or the revelation that God had done away with His own Word.
        A careful reading of Rom 7 has Paul stating that one who was crucified is not the one who rose. For Paul it had to be someone different otherwise the Husband still lives and the wife is bound to the Law. Which is why he says ‘that I may espouse you to ‘another.’

        So one needs to give serious consideration to these words ‘I did not come to destroy the Law or the Prophets….’ and ‘My Words will never pass away.’
        According to Paul Yahshua did come to destroy the Law and according to Paul the Words of Yahshua should be considered irrelevant seeing as how they were spoken while He was in the flesh, which He still is. 2Cor 5:16

        So in reality the Christian is faced today with this ‘how long halt ye between two opinions, if YHVH be God then serve Him, if Paul be god then serve him.’

      2. Hi,

        You brought up quite a few points in the reply on 9 Mar so thought I’ll break it down a little.

        Breaking of Commandments: You specifically mentioned Paul broke away from the 4th commandment about keeping the Sabbath Day. Jesus himself was accused of breaking the Sabbath too (John 5:18). Paul being a Jew himself goes to the synagogue every Sabbath to preach the Word in every city. It is not clear in what you’ve written how Paul has “loosened and weakedned” this commandment. Maybe you can clarify this a little more for me to understand where you are coming from.

        Food offered to idols: You quoted Paul in 1 Cor 8 instructions about food offered to idols. In this passage, he gives the premise of food having no direct effect on spiritual well-being of a person as it goes through the stomach and not the heart. Yet, in 1 Cor 9-10, he deals with food offered to idols in the context of living as a Christian in a pagan environment whereby eating food offered to idols in the temple as part of the feast in worshipping the idols is NOT allowed. Yet, meat that is offered to idols that are sold in the market is permissible. In the homes of non-believers for a social meal, it is best not to eat of the food offered to idols if the host’s conviction is for Christians not to eat these food. This is a very real situation in Asia as in the market and supermarkets, we have food that are prayed over for consumption of some religious groups which we as Christians also partake. Yet, we are clear about not eating any of the food that are part of the temple worship so that we are not unconsiously, subconsciously or even consciously partaking of the worship rituals to the idols.

        Romans 7: Paul was refering to the law as the former “husband” and we died to law in Christ’s death. It is not stated that the law has been abolished, but we have been freed from the consequences of the law. By the freeing of us from our “marriage” to the law as followers of God, we can then be married to “Another”, who is Christ, our Bridegroom. Perhaps the translation into English can be a little unclear. Paul in his other writings, even within Romans (1:4; 5:10; 6:5), he is very clear about Christ’s death and resurrection and there is no suggestion that he holds the stance of “the one who was crucified is not the one who rose”.

        Just out of curiousity, how much of the New Testament do you hold truth in it as inspired Word of God?

        1. Hi Again:
          Most of the Christian scholars from Tertulian, Luther, Calvin and nearly every other scholar onwards all state that Paul abolished the Sabbath, using Col 2:17-18 and Rom 14:5-6. So the point is, is that, that is the fruit of Paul’s teachings i.e abolition of the Sabbath. I mean do Christians maintain and insist upon the 7th day Sabbath? Or is it even an issue?
          Yahshua was only challenged on how it should be kept but not whether it was to be kept.
          But just out of curiosity, why do Christians maintain that Paul was the Apostle of Gentiles, when it was clearly given to Peter (Acts 15:7) long before Paul ever showed up to preach his first sermon. By the the time Paul came on the evangelistic scene which was probably around 47 AD, Peter had already established the Church at Rome, Antioch, Galatia and many many others through out the Gentile world of that time. His converts numbered in the tens of thousands and yet only 41 converts have ever been attributed to Paul. The only source for Paul’s claim is Paul himself. But we already discussed that.

          1. Hi!
            The scholars whom you listed have all used and quoetd from Paul’s epistles in forming their theology. From what I know Tertulian defended some of Paul’s Epistles as well. From the points you brought up in the exchanges, quite a number of times I find that your conclusion is not based on the full context in which the verse is quoted. I am quite sure among the ministers of the early church, especially with the key leaders of the 12 Apostles and those who laboured in the kingdom, like Paul and Barnabas, this form of comparison in terms of converts and rank is detrimental to the growth of the church. If Paul’s letters are read in the the churches and are accepted during the early church period, this means that there was approval by the Church Council as if there is anything in error, Paul will be called to question. Paul is basically certain of his calling that he is sent to the gentiles and not once he suggests that it is an exclusive title too. Thank you for taking time to write I will stop the exchange here as my aim to not go on such a debate in such matters.

I will love to hear from you! =)