Would you explain the words “delivered over to Satan” as spoken by Paul of certain men in 1 Corinthians 5:5 and 1 Timothy 1:20?
In 1 Corinthians 5:5 we read, “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” In 1 Timothy 1:20 we read, “Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.”
In Romans 6:17, 18 we read, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” When one becomes a Christian, there is a transfer of ownership. That ownership is transferred from sin and Satan to righteousness and God. 1 John 3:10 states, “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” When one is born into the family of God, one stops being the child of the Devil and starts being the child of God. In Galatians 4:6 we read, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” When a person becomes a child of God, they are delivered into the care and keeping of their heavenly Father.
But what happens when a Christian leaves the ways of Christ and goes back to their old ways of sinfulness? Are they not delivered back into the clutches of Satan? Do they not return to their old father, Satan? In fact, this is exactly what happens. We read in 2 Peter 2:20-22 “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, the dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” When a child of God chooses to go back to Satan, God honors their free choice and delivers them back over.
Paul’s statement regarding his delivering them to Satan is merely the earthly recognition that this person has chosen not to walk in the ways of Christ and is once again under condemnation unless true repentance can be found in their life. In the case of the man at Corinth, he was engaged in such sin so as to cut himself off from the hope of salvation. Paul tells the church to “deliver him to Satan,” that is, to acknowledge that he has chosen to no longer live the life of the Christian and to withdraw fellowship from him. In the case of Hymenaeus and Alexander, Paul himself delivered those two to Satan for making shipwreck of the faith. They were teaching false doctrine and Paul withdrew fellowship for this reason.
When the church withdraws fellowship from individuals, they state that there is nothing more that we, as the church, can do to help this individual. He or she is now under the ownership of Satan, no longer servants of God, been delivered over from the care of God to the dominion of Satan. The one withdrawn from has been delivered to Satan. The purpose for such action is to get those who are guilty to repent, by cutting them off from the blessings and benefits that they would normally enjoy in fellowship with the church. Additionally, he is cut off from the spiritual blessings that he would have in a right relationship with God. Such knowledge should cause one disciplined to realize the error which he has committed and return to God�s grace by repenting and confessing sin before the church. This then reestablishes the relationship with the church and with God.
The statement, “delivered over to Satan” refers to the final act of disfellowship which the church pronounces upon those who refuse to repent of sin. With such an act, it is acknowledged by the church that this individual no longer serves God, but Satan, and thus is not under the care of God, but the dominion of Satan.