Re: 1 Cor 5:5--hINA clause

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Feb 21 1997 - 14:00:38 EST

At 3:23 PM -0600 2/21/97, T & J Peterson wrote:
>The handing over to Satan has enough of its own problems, and I would
>appreciate comment on that aspect, but my real concern is with the hINA
>clause. Does it necessarily identify the salvation of the spirit as
>contingent upon the act of handing over? Or, to put it another way,
>does the action of the assembly in disciplining the sinner directly
>affect his salvation? Also, how does the hINA clause relate to the EIS
>phrase that precedes it?

This strange little formula--and I can never look at it without stopping
and shuddering at the way it's been used in Toledo by Torqemada, probably
even by Calvin against Michael Servetus--is as close to unfathomable as
anything in the entire Biblical corpus (although I could suggest some close
seconds)--is apparently a formula of excommunication. I take it that the
"delivering to Satan" referred to by PARADOUNAI means fundamentally
dismissing the person in question from the congregation and its circle of
divine "protection" in accordance with the formulae elsewhere indicated in
Mt 16, Mt 18, Jn 20 etc. where we are told in slightly different terms that
the decision of the earthly authority will be ratified in heaven. I would
not imagine that the community itself takes any part in the OLEQROS THS
SARKOS beyond the dreadful step of abandoning the excommunicate in hopes
that, as he labors under the curse, he may come to his senses and repent
and be forgiven. Grammatically, at any rate, I would understand that the
erstwhile believer, henceforth a profaned exile, is subject to Satan's
power to destroy him. How then does the possibility of salvation enter in?
My guess (nothing more than that) is that it is the extremity of this
action that is itself to arouse the sinner to the peril in which he now
stands; only that awakening may make it possible for him to be saved. OR:
surely there can be nothing automatic about this "deliverance to Satan for
the destruction of the evil self (SARX)" triggering salvation, I wouldn't

There are a couple possible paralles that might illuminate this passage a bit.

(1) One is the 3x repetition of PAREDWKEN in Romans 1, where Paul speaks of
God's abandoning humanity to suffer the consequences of its failure to
acknowledge Him as creator; humanity, consequently, is "God-forsaken" and
one might well assert that it is COMPLETELY "given over to, surrendered to"
Satan. The only way out is recognition that this is one's condition, and
consequent repentance. It would seem to me that this is what the
excommunication and the surrender of the ex-member to Satan is intended to
accomplish--not an automatic salvation, but rather the only conceivable
hope of his salvation.

(2) The other interesting parallel is in Luke's gospel; at the end of the
Temptation narrative, we are told (Lk 4:13), KAI SUNTELESAS PANTA PEIRASMON
hO DIABOLOS APESTH AP' AUTOU ACRI KAIROU--Jesus is free from Satan's power
during the period now beginning--UNTIL A SUITABLE TIME. That time arrives
at the outset of the Passion Narrative (Lk 22:3), EISHLQEN DE SATANAS EIS
IOUDAN ..., the significance of which becomes clear in Jesus' words to the
arresting authorities (Lk 22:53), ALL' hAUTH ESTIN hUMWN hH hWRA KAI hH
EXOUSIA TOU SKOTOUS. Luke seems to understand Jesus at this moment as
"handed over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh." It is no human
action that reverses the destruction but God's power that raises Jesus from
the dead. If this illuminates the passage in 1 Cor, then perhaps it means
that the only hope for the salvation of the spirit of the unrepentant
sinner rests with God himself.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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