Church of God, New World Ministries

Bible Q & A

Q. What was the apostle Paul doing when he commanded those in authority in the Church to “deliver such a one (a fornicator) to Satan for the destruction of the flesh” (I Cor. 5:5)? Why would Paul do this? Is this really showing love to a person?
A. Like the individuals Paul described in I Tim. 1:19-20, this man was continuing to sin. He was headed for the ultimate penalty of sin eternal death (Rom. 6:23). He had cast aside the faith. Paul gave him over to his world cut off from God’s people and God’s protection. He was at the mercy of this world’s system and the power of Satan, this world’s ruler.

This drastic action was for the purpose of waking him up and showing him his need to repent of his sin. He may have suffered both physical and mental pain. He was left to the devices of this world “that his spirit (Greek pneuma the mind, character or life) may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (I Cor. 5:5).

If Church leaders had let him remain in fellowship with God’s true people, he would have seen no need to quit committing fornication with his stepmother. He might have been lost forever and faced ultimate destruction in the lake of fire. And he would have wrongly influenced other Church members.

What was the result of this excommunication or disfellowshipment? Was it beneficial? This man repented and submitted to God because of this severe action, which Paul took in love. Paul then wrote a letter to the church congregation and commanded them to take this man back into their fellowship after his repentance (II cor. 2:6-10).

God wants “all men to be saved” (I Tim. 2:4). God is a God of love. He does everything with a purpose for our good.
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