1 Corinthians 5:5, "flesh"

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Puritan Board Freshman
This verse reads, "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."

Do you think that "flesh" here refers to our sinfulness and our own sinful lusts or does it refer to our physical bodies?

The NLT supports the interpretation that it refers to their sinful nature in their translation:
"Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed"

Others, such as John MacArthur argue that Satan has no power over someone's spiritual condition and that all he can do was harm someone physically, so the "handing over to Satan" has to do with a physical affliction.
John Gill seems to agree with MacArthur here:
"for the destruction of the flesh; that is, that his body might be shook, buffeted, afflicted, and tortured in a terrible manner; that by this means he might be brought to a sense of his sin, to repentance for it, and make an humble acknowledgment of it:"

The first interpretation makes me question how handing someone over to Satan causes someone to repent if it does not mean afflict physically. What do you guys think?
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Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
It refers to the sin nature. If it referred to the body physical punishment would be in order, and not excommunication, which is a spiritual punishment. Compare the other times Paul mentions the flesh. It always has some reference to the sin nature.

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
The first interpretation makes me question how handing someone over to Satan causes someone to repent if it does not mean afflict physically. What do you guys think?

Hi Jamie,

For a true Saint, the affliction of the mind is often worse than of the body physical. The sentence of the Church of removing a man from the comfort of fellow believers and the privileges of the sacraments are designed to lead to the fear of perdition.

Proverbs 18:14 (KJV)​
The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; But a wounded spirit who can bear?​

Do not the following verses emphasize trouble of the heart more so than of the body?
2 Thessalonians 3:14 (KJV)​
And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.​
1 Corinthians 5:11​
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.​

I think these rules of Paul are designed to cause affliction of the mind (heart) by (hopefully) causing Godly sorrow that leads to repentance. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

I decided to cite the verse within its context.

2 Corinthians 7:8-11​
8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.​
9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.​
10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.​
11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.​

We know from Job that physical affliction can also be caused by Satan as a secondary cause. For it was God that put Satan up to the whole ordeal. "Have you seen my servant Job," was a setup to be sure. But for the greater good.

And what do we learn from Job?

James 5:11 (KJV)​
Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end (purpose) of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.​

These are my quick thoughts.


Note: Pardon the KJV if that is a translation you are not used to. After a five-year break from the KJV in favor of the ESV, I am now going through the whole KJV this time around. It's in my blood.
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