Help Needed with 1 Cor 5

1It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.
2And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
3For 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,
4In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5To 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 a discussion with a OSAS, he believes this verse states that with this sin, Paul is saying that the flesh may be turned over to Satan, but the spirit will be saved indicating you can’t lose salvation.

I’ve given numerous examples in Scripture of how you can lose salvation, he’s hung up on this one…any thoughts?

this is the problem with using different translations of the bible. If you read the same verse in the NAB the last line reads:

  • you are to deliver this man to Satan 4 for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.*

footnote 4 explains the verse:

4 [5] Deliver this man to Satan: once the sinner is expelled from the church, the sphere of Jesus’ lordship and victory over sin, he will be in the region outside over which Satan is still master. For the destruction of his flesh: the purpose of the penalty is medicinal: through affliction, sin’s grip over him may be destroyed and the path to repentance and reunion laid open. With Paul’s instructions for an excommunication ceremony here, contrast his recommendations for the reconciliation of a sinner in 2 Cor 2:5-11.

The emphasis is on the spiritual health of the community and not the sinner. allowing an unrepentant sinner in the midst of a Christian community is a disease and affects all of the members. He is to be let to his sin so he might repent and return to God. Paul’s way of telling the community not to “enable” sinfulness by allowing the sinner to remain in the community. We are all sinners within reach of God’s salvation, but choosing to sin we separate ourselves from God.

First of all, I would make it clear that you believe that passage of Scripture, but not his fallible interpretation. I assume you’ve found some good verses that disprove OSAS, there are a myriad of them. If you have not, I have a CD that I check tonight that states them. Here are some thoughts:

  1. I would ask if he believes 1 Cor 5:6-13 as devoutly as he believes 1 Cor 5:1-5. If he reads the whole chapter and puts this passage in context, it will be very clear that Paul is writing to admonish the Corinthians not to tolerate fornication (especially from their own families, let alone other peoples) and put away evil. His message to them is not that they can do evil and still be saved.

The title of this chapter in the Douay-Rheims Bible ( actually indicates that Paul excommunicated the fornicator, and it make sense that he did so in this particular passage. Read verses 3-5 as the single sentence they are, ignoring the verse divisions, and it becomes obvious that this is where the excommunication is happening. You could convincingly argue that Paul is telling the Corinthians in verse 5 that “it was better he be excommunicated for both your good and his, as the current situation was leading all involved to Satan” (my paraphrasing) Why would Paul use his God-given authority as he claimed in verse 4 to excommunicate someone if that person is already saved? Wouldn’t God just overturn his judgement? He would if OSAS is true; Paul is obviously acting as though it is not.

Along those lines, verse 5 indicates that “that the spirit may be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ”. This particular phrase is likely the one your OSAS person picked out and elevated in importance above the entire chapter. But note that it doesn’t say he was excommunicated “as an example even though the spirit is already saved”, or “because he was doing evil but ultimately it will not cost him his salvation”. The actual verse wording sounds like Paul is hoping for more of a free will, change of heart-type response for the excommuncated’s than banking on a OSAS free pass. Paul simply doesn’t treat this incident with a OSAS attitude. The passage does not say what the OSAS person is trying to make it say.

  1. I would ask why this verse carries more weight with him than the verses that you say you given him to disprove OSAS. I would specifically take him to 2 Tim 3:16, which says that “All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice…”. If Scripture itself says that it must be considered in totality, why do the literally hundreds of verses that disprove OSAS not mean as much as 1 Cor 5:5?

If he is open to what you are saying, the Scripture verse disproofs along with with the above thoughts should force him to consider your case.

Who is OSAS?

I used to hold the belief that you can’t lose your salvation. I must say that there are many passages that one can use that might lead people to believe that false doctrine, that is when they fail to see that there are many other passages that show that you can lose it. With all the writings of Pope John Paul the 2nd, we can go through and pick out various quotes from him that could also lead someone to believe that the Pope taught that false doctrine too, if of course we failed to acknowledge that he said many other things that teach otherwise.

With those who ride the hobby horse of 'once in grace always in grace," they don’t operate with an open mind. When you debate it with them you are only playing a game of “whoever can quote the most Bible verses wins.” As Catholics we have the assurance that comes from Apostolic authority. We don’t have to be a self-appointed pope, we have the leadership that is called by God.

By examining other verses that employ the same words “that … may be saved,” it seems clear that merely the possibility or opportunity of being saved is meant and not the certainty of being saved.

Jesus speaking to the Jews said, “You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony which I receive is from man; but I say this that you may be saved.” (John 5:32-33) Jesus is not saying that the Jews are saved because of the testimony of John the Baptist.

St. Paul speaking of the Jews said, “[size=2]Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.” (Romans 10:1) St. Paul is not saying that the Jews are saved merely because of his prayer.[/size]
[size=2]St. Paul said, “[size=2]Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, [/size]just as I try to please all men in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” (1 Corinthians 10:32-33) St. Paul is not saying that many are saved merely by his trying to please all men in everything he does.[/size]

St. Paul said, “…by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they may be saved” (1 Thessalonians 2:16) St. Paul is not saying that the Gentiles are saved merely by hearing him speak.

So, in 1 Corinthians 5, St. Paul is not saying that by delivering the man’s flesh to Satan his spirit is saved but that by delivering the man’s flesh to Satan his spirit is given an opportunity to repent and be saved.

The difficulty in this discussion is one I have found in others. If the person finds one verse they can misinterpret to their advantage they rest confidently on it, despite verses to the contrary. For me it is very common to find this way of reading Scripture within the fundamentalists, to find verses they like, ignore those that do not conform.

There are several great thoughts in this thread for me to use, and I appreciate your help.

This interpretation makes no sense. Paul is giving them instructions how to act *so that *the person’s spirit will be saved. The implication is that if proper discipline is not exercised, the offender’s spirit will *not *be saved. It seems to me that this passage presents a problem at least for non-Calvinist versions of OSAS. (A Calvinist can always say that God will use church discipline as the means by which the person’s spirit is saved–I think this would be a harder interpretation to defend from a non-Calvinist perspective.) I don’t see how it can reasonably be said to be a problem for a non-OSAS view. If OSAS (in its non-Calvinist version) were true, Paul wouldn’t need to tell them what to do “that the spirit may be saved,” because the spirit would already be saved no matter what anyone did.


Just for good measure, here is the Haydock commentary, which agrees with what the other posters have written:

[size=2][FONT=Times New Roman,Times,serif][size=3]Ver. 1.[/size][/size] As the like is not among the heathens. This seems to have been the crime of incest, that he took the wife of his father yet living. See 2 Corinthians vii. 12. (Witham) — St. Chrysostom, Theod. [Theodoret?], &c. think, that this incestuous person was one of the chiefs of the schism which then reigned in Corinth. This man, say they, was a great orator, with whose eloquence the Corinthians were enchanted, and therefore dissembled a knowledge of his crime, public as it was. The apostle having proved to them the vanity of all human learning, in the preceding chapter, now attacks the incestuous man, and exposes to their view the enormity of his crime. (Calmet)[/FONT]
[size=2][FONT=Times New Roman,Times,serif][size=3]
[size=2][/size][size=2][FONT=Times New Roman,Times,serif][size=3]Ver. 2.[/size][/size] You are puffed up, seem to be unconcerned, to take pride in it, instead of having the man separated from you. (Witham)[/FONT]
[size=2][FONT=Times New Roman,Times,serif][size=3]
[size=2][/size][size=2][FONT=Times New Roman,Times,serif][size=3]Ver. 3. &c.[/size][/size] Have already judged, decreed, and do decree, being present in spirit with you, and with your congregation. — In the name…with the power of our Lord Jesus, to deliver such a one to Satan by a sentence of excommunication, depriving him of the sacraments, the prayers, and communion, and even of the conversation of the rest of the faithful. It is likely in those times, such excommunicated persons were delivered over to Satan, so as to be corporally tormented by the devil, to strike a terror into others. See St. Chrysostom, hom. xv. and this is said to be done for the destruction, or punishment of the flesh, that the spirit, or soul, may be saved. (Witham) — It is the opinion of most of the Greek fathers, that this man was either really possessed by the devil, or at least struck with such a complaint as a mortification, and humiliation to his body, whilst it served to purify his soul. We have seen from many instances in holy Scripture, that it was not unusual, in the origin of Christianity, for persons who had fallen into crimes of this nature, to be punished with death, some grievous sickness, or by being possessed by the devil, so as to be separated from the communion of the Church. (St. Ambrose; Estius; Just. [St. Justin Martyr?]; Menochius)[/FONT]

I always understood it to mean excommunicate the man with the hope you can “scare the hell out of him” and cause him to repent and be saved before death. This excommunication would be aimed at causing grief in the heart of the man such that he would turn his life around and return.

It could possibly be in reference to the harsh penances imposed in the early Church which COULD require years before you were readmitted to full communion, this could have meant the man could be readmitted only on his deathbed! (deathbed confession)

One thing you may need to make clear with your friend is that when St. Paul talks about ‘the flesh’ he’s using a Greek word that literally means: according to human nature, which in itself is not a sinful thing, for Jesus was also God made flesh (according to human nature). This means he felt like you do, had bodily needs like you do (eat, sleep, etc.), except for Original Sin. However, what is sinful about the flesh, and what St. Paul was referring to was in living according to the flesh alone, without the need for the spirit, without the need for God. In this sense, and in this sense alone can we say it is sinful to live according to the flesh. God created the flesh, and it is false teaching to say that the flesh is sinful. The point that I’m trying to make is that you cannot separate the spirit from the flesh, for at the resurection, Christ taught us that he will bring back our bodies, so the two will ultimatetly be united into one.

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