When you are assembled, and my spirit is present with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

The sin in question was incest, a capital crime in Judaism. A member of the church had been sleeping with his step-mother ("his father's wife"). Does Paul's statement here imply that a sinner who is put to death can still be saved on the Day of the Lord?

Corollary questions:

  • If Paul refers to corporal punishment rather than the death penalty, does he rule out salvation for this sinner through repentance and reconciliation/absolution, until the Day of the Lord?
  • In this letter, does Paul think of the Day of the Lord as a distant event or an imminent one?
  • 1
    A basic grasp of the resurrections would solve this. Sadly that is not the accepted theology.
    – Steve
    Oct 17, 2022 at 2:33
  • I am asking what Paul believed. I do not claim that I know the answer, or I would not have asked. Oct 17, 2022 at 3:55
  • It is more likely that the Corinthian man's father having died, and leaving behind a wife who was not the Corinthian man's mother, the Corinthian man thought it was acceptable, the husband being deceased, to marry the deceased husband's widow. But Paul makes it clear that the very fact of the man's father having had the woman, precludes the man from taking her to be his own wife.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 17, 2022 at 16:10

3 Answers 3


For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 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. (1 Corinthians 5:3-5, KJV)

The text refers to "my spirit" (the spirit of Paul), a way of expressing, in this case, his own "moral support" (agreement with and support of) to the Corinthian believers as they grappled with this situation. This reference to the spirit of someone is common throughout the Bible. But nowhere in the Bible does the phrase get turned around into something like "Paul the Spirit" or "Nebuchadnezzar the Spirit" or even "God the Spirit." Spirits are not beings separate from their possessors, and therefore cannot exist as separate, such as the popular notion of them remaining alive after the death of the body.

Consider Jesus' own teaching on the matter.

  1. Jesus has a spirit:

And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? (Mark 2:8, KJV)

In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. (Luke 10:21, KJV)

  1. Jesus is not a spirit:

Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. (Luke 24:39, KJV)

So having a spirit does not make one a spirit.

NOTE: All of the occurrences of "spirit" in the three texts above are translated from the same Greek word, pneuma (G4151).

In 1 Corinthians 5:3-5, Paul is referring to his own spirit (again, pneuma in Greek) in similar fashion to which the Bible refers to Jesus' spirit. It is not a separate entity, but rather a mental/emotional state. When afterward the word spirit (pneuma) is used again, it must be understood to reference one's inner state of mind. We often still use the word in similar fashion today: "Are you in good spirits?"

Regarding your corollary questions:

  1. The man being "handed over" to Satan is a reference to being disfellowshiped (neither capital nor corporal punishment), and by this action (removal from church membership), made to understand more clearly his standing with God, i.e. that he is actually on Satan's side and needs to beware. If he, realizing where he is at, spiritually, chooses to return to God, confess his sin and repent of it, he will certainly be forgiven and can be saved.

  2. Paul's belief that the day of the Lord is imminent is evident in his epistle to the Thessalonians:

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. . . . Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17, KJV)

Paul seems to have thought Jesus might return in his day.

  • welcome and thanks. + 1 for a well reasoned answer. Most of the answer addresses a different question however. Oct 17, 2022 at 20:11

Turning the man over to Satan is simply a way of saying that he will be released back into Satan's physical world of temptation.

The next two verses show why. Were this unrepentant man allowed to remain in the Church, he would eventually corrupt many others:

Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us
— 1 Corinthians 5:6–7

Paul earlier referred to "the day of the Lord" as a time of judgement:

Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
— 1 Corinthians 1:8

Peter makes it more explicit that this corresponds to what John later wrote about in the Book of Revelation:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
— 2 Peter 3:1

At the end of the Millennium there will be a second resurrection, later followed by the Great White Throne Judgement, when all that have lived without accepting God's salvation will be given their opportunity to be saved:

… [those in the first resurrection] lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. … … And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
— Revelation 20:4,5,11–13

It is Paul's hope that the man, who obviously never really became a Christian, will be part of the second resurrection where he will finally learn and accept God's way and receive salvation.

  • + 1 for a well reasoned answer even though it rejectsfmy presumptions Oct 17, 2022 at 20:08
  • Very good answer. +1.
    – Dottard
    Oct 17, 2022 at 21:00

OP's Question is referring to a member of the ecclessia who had been sleeping with his stepmother and the apostle Paul hands him over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh.

In light of that the question was can he still be saved on the day of the Lord assuming he dies.

The foundation for anyone who is called is established in 1 Corinthians 1: 8-9

Who also shall confirm you unto the end — unblamable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ; faithful [is] God, through whom ye were called to the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

This person may have believed that he could do whatever he wanted without consequences because his salvation was assured from God. Paul even says that all things are lawful for him but not all things were profitable. 1 Co. 6:12. ( It does take time to understand the cross and it's implications in a believers life)

Looking at the reaction of the Corinthians in 5:2 shows that many of them were still corrupted in their thinking as well. Of course many of them had come out of a city where immorality was rampant along with temple prostitution.

They still had much to learn about the cross and their old life gone and their new life in Christ.

"It will be noticed that the punishment, of being given up to Satan, was with a view to salvation. Thus are all of God's judicial acts. They are not vindictive, without any consideration for the welfare of those involved, but are of such a nature as to correct the evil. Concord commentary

Op's question asked,

"Does 1 Corinthians 5:3-5 imply that Paul believed salvation Is possible for a sinner after he dies.?"

This particular person was no longer identified as a sinner because he had been placed in Christ Jesus who was his redemption as stated in 1 Co. 1:30

So even though this person did a horrible sin, he was being corrected by the Lord and of course his spirit is still saved.

We do see in the end this person learned and came back and was forgiven by the community and comforted as they all learned a great lesson.

Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, So you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. 2 Co. 3:5-8

  • 1
    + 1 for a well reasoned answer even though it rejects my presumptions Oct 17, 2022 at 20:06

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