15. I would like to ask you a question which I asked myself last night [on 29th November 2000] without finding an answer until now. Last night, while I was reading the first epistle of Paul to Timothy I stopped for a moment to consider the verse 20 of the first chapter: “Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” and then I read also the reference, that is 1 Corinthians 5:5 which says: “I have decided that such a one ought to be delivered unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” [translated from the IBRV]. What does the following expression ‘delivered unto Satan” mean? Are there any similar events nowadays? And then, does the expression “for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved” mean that the flesh can sin and the spirit remain alive? I don’t think so!




When Paul stated that he had delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander unto Satan, who had rejected faith and good conscience and so had shipwrecked their faith, as well as that believer of the Church at Corinth who had his father’s wife, he meant that he in the name of the Lord Jesus with the power of our Lord Jesus, delivered those men unto the power of Satan that Satan might destroy them through a serious disease, that is, that he might destroy their flesh.

We know that Satan can do nothing but destroy a believer when God allows him to destroy him. We have a clear proof of this in Job, who was struck by Satan, (however in the case of Job, God delivered Job unto the hands of Satan not because Job had forsaken righteousness or because he was guilty of some particular sin, but only to test him) by God’s permission, with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head (Job 2:7), and Job was reduced to a skeleton. His body was so much deformed and destroyed that at a certain moment he thought that for him there was no more hope of being healed and so the sepulchre was awaiting him.

But let us see the reason why Paul delivered those believers unto Satan. I have said that Paul delivered them unto Satan so that Satan might destroy them physically, thus that he might humiliate them deeply. However, this was done for their good, that is to say, in the hope that they might repent, for in the former case Paul said that he had handed Hymenaeus and Alexander over to Satan that they might learn not to blaspheme (I understand the it seems strange and unbelievable that some believers had began to blaspheme the name of God, however that’s what happened in that case. But Paul with the divine authority humiliated them by delivering them unto Satan in the hope that that serious physical distress would induce them to come to their senses and repent of their sin and thus they would stop blaspheming God). In the latter case the reason was that the spirit of that man might be saved on the day of the Lord Jesus. Now, in the latter case it seems that that believer would certainly be saved after Paul handed him over to Satan; however it is evident that salvation would be possible only if that believer came to his senses and repented of his sin of fornication. Why? Because fornicators will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Therefore, even in this case Paul delivered that man unto Satan that under the pressure of that serious illness he might be induced to repent and thus be saved.

From these two examples of believers delivered unto Satan, we deduce that the servants of God by the authority of God can ‘use’ Satan in order to induce some believers to repent of some particular sins they have committed. Obviously the devil is happy to be able to strike a believer with a disease and to destroy him physically, but what the devil does to harm a believer, God is able to turn into good, for He uses his wickedness in order to put the corrupted believer on the right road. Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom of God!

In the light of the above mentioned cases, God uses the devil in order to put an end to some kinds of sins, by giving repentance to those who have committed these sins. But there are some cases in which God uses the devil to prevent His children from falling in certain sins. We have an example in Paul, for God, in order to prevent Paul from becoming conceited because of the surpassingly great revelations he had received from the Lord, gave him an angel of Satan to torment him (2 Corinthians 12:1-10). So, Paul, humiliated physically by God, would be prevented from becoming conceited. Therefore, sometimes God uses the devil and his wicked angels both to punish His children for their sins and to prevent them from becoming conceited.

Are there nowadays examples of servants of God who have delivered some believers unto Satan that their flesh might be destroyed for their repentance? I am acquainted with a case, for I read it in a book of a missionary who was in a Eastern Country and who said that he had handed a believer, who had committed fornication, over to Satan.