Thursday, May 23, 2013

Handing Man over to Satan

1 Corinthians 5:5

“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.”

As the Apostles had been furnished with this power among others, that they could deliver over to Satan wicked and obstinate persons, and use him as a scourge to correct them, Chrysostom views these words of Paul as referring to a chastisement of that kind, agreeably to the exposition that is usually given of another passage in reference to Alexander and Hymeneus.

“Hymenaeus and Alexander are two examples. I threw them out and handed them over to Satan so they might learn not to blaspheme God.

To deliver over to Satan means nothing but the infliction of a severe punishment upon the body. But when we examine the whole context more narrowly, and at the same time compare it with what is stated in the Second Epistle, we understand it simply of excommunication. For delivering over to Satan is an appropriate expression for denoting excommunication for as Christ reigns in the Church, so Satan reigns out of the Church. 

As we are received into the communion of the Church, and remain in it on this condition, that we are under the protection of Christ.  He who is cast out of the Church is delivered over to the domain of Satan, for he is cast out of Christ's Kingdom.

The destruction of the flesh is made use of for the purpose of softening; for Paul's meaning is not that the person who is chastised is given over to Satan to be ruined, or to be given up to the devil in perpetual bondage, but that it is a temporary condemnation. So to speak, "We will condemn him in this world for a time, that the Lord may preserve him in His Kingdom."

This furnishes an answer to the objection, by which some endeavor to set aside this exposition, for as the sentence of excommunication is directed rather against the soul than against the body, and they ask how it can be called ‘the destruction of the flesh.’  Then the answer is that the destruction of the flesh is contrasted to the salvation of the spirit, simply because the former is temporal and the latter is eternal

In this sense the Apostle in Hebrews 5:7, uses the expression the days of Christ's flesh, to mean the course of His mortal life.

Who in the days of His flesh both prayers and supplications unto Him Who was able to save Him from death -- with strong crying and tears -- having offered up, and having been heard in respect to that which He feared.”

Now the Church in chastising offenders with severity not to spares them in this world in order that God may spare them in His Kingdom if He wills. 

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