Did Paul Really Say the Church Should Deliver People to Satan?

TODAY’S READING: 1 CORINTHIANS 5-9

“When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that this spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 5:4-5

The more and more I attempt to study the scriptures on my own in their original language, the more I see how the translations have been biased by an assumed theology that God will judge people, actual people, unworthy. Therefore, because these people are evil, wicked sinners they will be cast aside.

But, this is misses the entire point of the scriptures, which is that the Christ, God, suffers, dies, and rises from the dead for repentance and the forgiveness of sins.

The singular point of the word of God becoming flesh was to show that God suffers for us so that we can be forgiven. God was in Jesus on the cross reconciling the world to himself. God was not in Jesus forgiving us 2,000 years ago so that at some point in the future he can destroy, eternally burn, sinners.

What would have been the point of the suffering, forgiving, and reconciling of the world on the cross?

So, we come to a rather well known passage where Paul hears that someone has a father’s wife in a sexually immoral manner. It’s a sexual immorality such that is not in the nations or Gentiles.  The rest of the translation says that the man who has done this should be removed from the congregation. Further, the translation says that Paul already has judged the man who did this thing. So, when the congregation is assembled, they should deliver the man to Satan to destroy the flesh, which seemingly gets read as destroying the man, even though the purpose is that the man’s spirit may be saved in the end, the day of the Lord.

In English, the word man and his appear quite frequently. But, in the Greek these words are not there. The Greek uses words like “such” and “this.” To me, it seems less about the man being judged and delivered to Satan as it is the works and the deeds that are judged and delivered to Satan for destruction.

For example, according to the ESV, 1 Corinthians 5:2 says, “And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.”

However, a more literal reading would be something like, “And you are in a state of being proud, but rather not you mourned in order that the doing of this deed be removed from among you?”

It seems to me Paul is not so concerned about the man being removed. Being in a state of pride would cause you to want to remove a sexually immoral man from among you. The Pharisees were full of pride and did not want sinners in their presence. They wanted to cast sinners out.

Rather, I think Paul’s concern is that the church should have mourned so that the doing of the deed of sexual immorality would be removed from among them not the man?

Doesn’t this sound more like Jesus?

Jesus didn’t purge people from God’s presence. Because of his humility, Jesus drew sinners in so that that could be cleansed, which is to say that their sinful deeds would be purged from them.

According to the ESV, verse 3 says, “For thought absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.”

However, a more literal reading would be something like, “Because on the one hand absent in the body, but I am present in the spirit. As present, I already am in a state of judging the thing accomplished in this way.”

In this more literal sense, it is not even clear to me that Paul is judging the man or the man’s actions. Rather, it could be that Paul is already judging the thing the church accomplished by being in a state of pride instead of mourning the deed done. Paul could be judging their pride that drove the man out instead of their mourning the deed done, the sexual immorality, so that the man would be drawn in by their humility but the sexual immorality itself driven out.

Even if the thing accomplished that Paul is judging is the sexual immorality of the man, we must remember that Paul said, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:16-20)

In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul said he was absent in the body but present in the spirit. He was assessing the situation in the present, not regarding the man, or the Corinthian church, according to the flesh. No matter how fleshly, or carnal, the Corinthian church was Paul called them saints. He saw them in Christ as a new creation. And, if God was not counting trespasses against them, I doubt Paul was either. Therefore, i doubt Paul advocated kicking this man out of the church, driving him out of the presence of God.

Therefore, according to the ESV, verses 4-5 says , “When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 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.”

However, a more literal reading would be something like, “In the name of the our Lord Jesus you are gathered together (and my spirit together with the power of our Lord Jesus) to deliver such things in Satan to destruction of the flesh, so that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”

There is no “when” in the Greek. Rather, quite literally Paul says “In the name of our Lord Jesus you are gathered together.” It is in the name, the character, the mind, of our Lord Jesus that we, the church, have been gathered together.

Then, referring back to his previous comment that he was absent in body but present in spirit, Paul parenthetically adds that his spirit is there together with the power of our Lord Jesus.

What is the power of our Lord Jesus, the power of God?

In yesterday’s post, Paul said that the word of the cross is the power of God.

What is the power of God?

Forgiveness in the midst of the suffering.

Is it likely that the Corinthians were suffering as a result of this man’s sexual immorality?

Highly.

Then, instead of being in a state of pride, they should have mourned the deed done and forgiven the man despite the suffering they were enduring.

Therefore, you are gathered together for forgiveness to deliver such things in Satan. “In Satan” could also be translated “to Satan” or “by Satan.” I chose in Satan because we are delivering “such things.”

What are such things?

Either or both the sexual immorality of the man and/or the pride of the church. Both have their beginnings in Satan. And, it’s these things, these sins, that come from Satan that Jesus came to destroy.

First John 3:8 says, “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”

First John 2:16 says, “For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world.”

The pride of the Corinthian church and the sexual immorality of the man are both sins and of the devil. They are part of the desires of the flesh and pride of life that are not of the Father but of the world. Satan is the ruler of this world; therefore, if they are of the world, they are of Satan.

But, Jesus appeared to destroy the works of the devil. Jesus appeared to destroy the sins of pride and sexual immorality – such things in Satan.

Therefore, in the name of our Lord Jesus we are gathered together to forgive, which is the word of the cross and the power of God, to deliver such things in Satan – pride and sexual immorality – to destruction because this is why the Son of God appeared.

Why to destruction of the flesh?

Because scripture is quite clear that the flesh is where sinful desires, which are from Satan, reside.

What is the whole purpose of everything Paul has said?

“So that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”

The Greek verb for “may be saved” is in the subjunctive mood.  According to www.ntgreek.org, “The subjunctive mood indicates probability or objective possibility. The action of the verb will possibly happen, depending on certain objective factors or circumstances. It is oftentimes used in conditional statements (i.e. ‘If…then…’ clauses) or in purpose clauses. However if the subjunctive mood is used in a purpose or result clause, then the action should not be thought of as a possible result, but should be viewed as a definite outcome that will happen as a result of another stated action.”

Paul’ statement is used in a result clause – “so that.” Therefore, it is a definite outcome that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord because we have delivered such things in Satan to the destruction of the flesh by the power of Jesus, the power of God, forgiveness. Let us not forget that in his first sermon in Acts 2, Peter declared that the Spirit had been poured out on all flesh. Everyone has the Spirit of God in them. It’s just buried underneath more flesh in some than others.

Given all of that, Paul says, “Your boasting is not good.”

What boasting?

The “you are in a state of being proud” that Paul started all of this with in verse 2.

Doesn’t Paul’s statement “Your boasting is not good” make more sense now?

My translation may not be exactly right. I’m sure Greek scholars would have problems with it. But, we have to start by coming to the scriptures with the single understanding that it was necessary that the Christ suffer and rise from the dead for repentance and the forgiveness of sins. This one thing has to be what we are looking, the lens through which we translate and interpret the scriptures.

Then, only then, will you “have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:18-21)

Did Jesus Come to Judge the World or Not?

TODAY’S READING: JOHN 9-10

“Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” – John 9:39

“For judgment I came into this world.”

Jesus’ statement seems to clearly the answer the question “Did Jesus come to the judge the world of not?”

Or does it?

In John 5:22, Jesus said, “For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son.”

Okay, so Jesus did come into the world to judge it.

But, wait.

In John 8:15, Jesus said, “I judge no one.”

And, in verse 16, Jesus said, “For it is not I alone who judge, but and the Father who sent me.”

Okay…So, Jesus judges. And, now the Father judges too? But, Jesus said the Father judges no one.

In 12:47, Jesus said, “For I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”

Jesus, what is your problem?

Can you not give me a straight answer as to whether you are going to judge the world or not?

First, you say that is for judgment you came into this world. Then,  you say, “For I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”

Jesus, can you stop contradicting yourself?

Actually, Jesus is not contradicting himself. It only appears that way because of our English translation and the word “for.”

Let’s start with the passage from today’s reading, John 9:39.

“For judgment I came into this world, that those who not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

Every single English translation I checked says, “For judgment I came into this world.” But, this is a problem.

Why is it a problem?

The Greek word translated “for” is eis. According to A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible, eis means to or into. Eis is used 1,634 times in the New Testament. It is translated to, into, or in 1,066 times. These are three most common translations of eis, and in that order.

Let’s use these meanings of eis in John 9:39.

“To judgment I came into this world.”

“Into judgment I came into this world.”

“In judgment I came into this world.”

In John 9:39, even though every English translation gives us this idea, Jesus is not saying that he came into the world to judge it. Rather, Jesus is saying that he came into this world to be judged. In other words, Jesus came into this world to be condemned on the cross.

John 18:31-32 says, “Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.’ The Jews said to him, ‘It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.’ This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show what kind of death he was going to die.”

Moses’ law did allow to the Jews to put someone to death. However, it was only to be done by stoning. The Jews were not allowed to crucify though. Therefore, the Jews took Jesus to Pilate so that Jesus could be crucified. And, as Pilate said, the Jews wanted to a judgment, a judgment of death, upon Jesus.

In Matthew 26, Jesus was brought to trial before the high priest. So, the high priest asked the rest of the scribes and the elders, “What is you judgment [more literally, your opinion]?” They answered, “He deserves death.”

So, in Matthew 27, they take Jesus to Pilate. Pilate is sitting on the judgment seat, which is both interesting and ironic. Verses 22 and 23 say, “Pilate said to them, ‘Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?’ They all said, ‘Let him be crucified!’ And he said, ‘Why? What evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Let him be crucified!'”

Who is doing the judging?

Man.

Who is sitting on the judgment seat?

Man.

Who is being judged?

Jesus.

What is man’s judgment?

Death.

“Let him be crucified.” “Crucify him.”

“Into judgment I came into this world.”

Why did Jesus come into this world to be judged?

“That those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

Jesus came to the world to be judged to alter our perception of, to change how we think about, power and wisdom.

“For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'” (1 Corinthians 1:22-31)

Now, let’s look at what seems to be the contradictory passage, John 12:47.

“I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”

In this verse, the Greek word translated “for” is not eis. Instead of eis, Jesus uses the Greek word gar in this verse. This word assigns a reason, a cause, or a purpose for something. Gar means for, since, because. It is used 1,009 times in the New Testament and is translated “for” 966 of those times. Gar is the Greek word that we would most associate with the English word for and as being the reason something happens.

Here, Jesus is saying he does not judge because he did not come to judge the world. Instead of coming to judge the world, Jesus came to save the world. If Jesus had come to judge the world, then he would have condemned the world and put it to death, crucified it. But, Jesus did not come to condemn and crucify the world, he came to save it. Therefore, he did not come for the purpose of judging the world.

Let’s look at verse 47 in its fuller context.

“I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” (verse 46)

What is the relationship between light and darkness?

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 1:3-4)

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)

Light shines in the darkness. Light drives out and casts out darkness. God uses light to create by separating darkness from the world.

“If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” (verse 47)

Jesus is speaking about those who hear his words and do not keep them. He is talking about the disobedient. He is talking about those who do not see the light and are still blind. He is talking about those that love evil.

Jesus said in John 3:19, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”

What does Jesus say to those who hear his words but don’t do them, the disobedient, the evil, those that love darkness rather than light?

“I do not judge them.”

Did you get that?

Jesus does not judge

  • the disobedient
  • the sinner
  • the evil
  • those that love darkness rather than light

Jesus does not condemn these people. Jesus does not crucify these people. Jesus does not put to death these people.

Not then.

Not now.

Not ever.

Why does Jesus not judge them?

“For [because] I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”

“The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (verses 48-50)

God gave Jesus a commandment. This commandment what was what Jesus was to say and speak. The commandment God gave was Jesus’ word.

What was this commandment?

What was Jesus’ word?

Eternal life.

Eternal life is what Jesus has to say and speak. He says it just as the Father told him to say it.

Those that reject Jesus, those the judge him worthy of death and crucify him, and those that are disobedient, preferring darkness and evil rather than light and good, have a judge.

What is their judge?

Jesus’ word.

“The word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.”

What is Jesus’ word?

Eternal life.

How are we to understand this?

How did God create with light?

By separating.

The Greek word for judgment is krino. It has the idea of separating and distinguishing.

Jesus is making all things new. Everything in him is a new creation. He does this by separating light from darkness in everything. Jesus does this separating by his word. And, as the word of God, the word spoken in Genesis, Jesus himself is the one that does the separating.

Hebrews 4:12-13 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him whom we must give account.”

Jesus is the word of God that every creature, every created thing, every man and woman, must face. And, Jesus speaks eternal life to them, separating out light and darkness, good and evil, out of every thought and intention of their heart.

Jesus says his word of eternal life will judge the disobedient on the last day. In Romans 2:15-16, Paul says, “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”

What does God judge?

The secrets of men. The hidden and concealed things of men.

What are these things?

The thoughts and intentions of our hearts.

God judges the thoughts and intentions of our hearts, separating out, casting out, the darkness within us. It is these evil thoughts and intentions that are God’s enemies that he destroys. God’s judgment is against these things, not men themselves.

In John 8:15, Jesus said, “You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.”

We saw above how we judge according to the flesh. Our method of judgment is just how we judge Jesus – worthy of death and crucifixion.

Jesus does not judge this way. He does not judge the flesh. His word of eternal life judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

So, why did I say that Pilate sitting on the judgement seat was both interesting and ironic?

Because from the judgement seat mankind pronounced his judgement of God. Mankind judged God worthy of death and crucifixion.

But, Jesus is going to sit on his judgment seat one day, the last day. From his judgment seat, Jesus, God, is going to judge mankind. However, Jesus’ judgment will not be that we are worthy of death and crucifixion. Jesus is going to judge us with his word, the word that was the commandment his Father gave him, that which he says and speaks – eternal life.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”