In 1 Corinthians 5:5, handing over to satan for the destruction of the flesh is usually taken metaphorically as in removing the immoral man from the church.

However, in 5:13 Paul says “remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” This quotes multiple passages in Deuteronomy (17:7; 19:19; 22:21, 24; 24:7) which use this same phrase (LXX is identical). All of these passages except perhaps one (19:19) refer to putting one to death for serious sin.

Why would we not see this as Paul telling the Corinthian church to put this member to death “destruction of the flesh”, and then clarifying in case there was any uncertainty by saying “put away the evil from among you”?

Perhaps verses 9 & 11 are the basis for an excommunication interpretation, but the language in 13 seems very strong.

  • 3
    Since the person concerned was delivered from his behaviour and re-instated within the church (see 2 Corinthians) and not suffered to experience 'overmuch sorrow' one has to accept that capital punishment was never in Paul's mind regarding he offender : only separation and restoration.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 22 at 15:21

1 Answer 1


It is a Christian's duty to set an example for non-Christians and to proclaim the Gospel to them. Clearly Christians should not avoid these sinners.

So consider the entire section:

Verse NKJV Comment
5:9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Previously I gave a simple rule about not associating with sinners.
5:10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. Some mistakenly thought I meant with all such people.
5:11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner — not even to eat with such a person. I'm now making it clear that I was referring to people within our community.
5:12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? We mustn't judge those that don't understand God's way. We can only judge ourselves.
5:13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.” Leave others to God. But do stay away from those that claim to be our fellow Christians until they are ready to practice the faith.

Just as in physical Israel, unrepentant breakers of the law were banished or executed, lest they corrupt the society, so too must sinners be spiritually removed from within spiritual Israel, lest they corrupt it.

  • 1
    Good answer. +1.
    – Dottard
    Mar 22 at 21:19

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