Q: What boundary of sin has the church in Corinth crossed?
A: It has accepted as normative a sin of immorality that was egregious even by the world’s standards.
Q: How do we know that this believer was not just in an immoral relationship with his step-mother, but with an unbeliever as well?
A: If she had been a believer, Paul would have had the church deal with her too.
Q: How can Paul take action against something he has not personally witnessed?
A: The only biblical requirement is for the testimony of two or more witnesses.
“A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed. (Dt. 19:15)
Point: No courtroom judge is ever a firsthand witness to the crime, but must evaluate the credibility of the witnesses and evidence brought before him in the case. Likewise Christian leaders operate in the same manner.
Q: How did Corinth’s reaction betray their spiritual condition?
A: The visible example they set in the presence of this sinner was arrogance—that is, sinful pride, instead of mourning so as to let him know their position on such sin.
Q: What does the Greek word for “arrogant”—“peryphysiomenoi” (Strong’s #5448) literally mean?
A: It literally means to be “puffed up”. It is the same characteristic the New Testament assigns to sin as leaven, infecting and permeating not just the individual, but the whole church.
Q: Who is instructed to carry out this action of removing the man from the church?
A: Paul does not instruct leaders alone, but assigns this responsibility to the whole congregation.
Q: What does it mean “to deliver such a one to Satan”?
A: It is to be removed from church fellowship so as to live in an environment which, because of the nature of their unrepentant sin, has the best chance of inducing them to repent.
Q: What is the stipulation Paul makes in this regard?
A: “…for the destruction of the flesh”. (v.5) He is not being handed over to Satan spiritually, but physically. It is a sort of reversal of Job who was tested by Satan because of Job’s righteousness; in this case, it is because of this man’s unrighteousness. Whereas Job’s faith was tested by physical trials, this measure is taken to address this man’s faithlessness.
Application: The Church cannot judge the motives of the heart, but can and does judge the visible actions of believers.