What does 1 Corinthians 5:3 mean?
ESV: For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.
NIV: For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this.
NASB: For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present.
CSB: Even though I am absent in the body, I am present in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who has been doing such a thing.
NLT: Even though I am not with you in person, I am with you in the Spirit. And as though I were there, I have already passed judgment on this man
KJV: 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,
NKJV: For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.
Verse Commentary:
A man in the Corinthian church is known to be carrying on an affair with his father's wife. Incest of this kind was not tolerated either by the Jewish followers of the law or by Roman society, yet the Corinthian Christians had allowed it to continue among them without addressing it.

Paul has written that they must act. First, they should mourn over this man's sin among them. One of their own is harming himself and others by living in ongoing sexual immorality instead of following the way of Jesus. In addition, they must immediately remove the man from their meetings.

This is not just a suggestion. Paul claims his authority as an apostle of Christ Jesus. He declares his spiritual presence with them—through this letter and their unity together in the Christ. It's not entirely clear if Paul means to say that he is also present with them in some additional supernatural sense through the power of the Holy Spirit.

In either case, Paul insists that he is present enough with them to declare this man guilty and command that he be removed from his place among the other Christians. Apparently, there was no question about whether this man was sleeping with his father's wife. Everyone knew it, and Paul used his authority to pass judgment on the man. His rationale will be explained in the following verses: the goal is to restore the man's spiritual health.
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 5:1–8 contains Paul's primary example of how the Corinthian's pride and self-sufficiency is hurting their community. He has just asked if they would prefer he come in gentleness, or ''with a rod,'' symbolic of harsh judgment. Here, Paul details a grievous sin: the believers in Corinth have failed to rebuke a member who is committing incest with his father's wife. They must remove him from the church and turn him over to Satan in hopes of his ultimate salvation. This is also crucial for the health of the church—just as tiny bits of leaven eventually spread to an entire batch of dough, sin left unconfronted can poison an entire church.
Chapter Summary:
Paul confronts the church in Corinth for failing to respond to a self-identified believer having a sexual affair with his father's wife. He insists they must remove the man from their community—to refuse his participation in the church—referred to here as delivering him to Satan. As the Jewish people would do during Passover, they must remove the leaven of this man and his sin from among them, to prevent it from spreading to the entire church. Christian congregations should not associate with those who claim to be believers, yet flaunt their sin.
Chapter Context:
First Corinthians 5 continues Paul's confrontational tone from the previous chapter. There, he warned the arrogant that he might return to them with a rod of correction. Now he points to a specific result of their pride: They have failed to respond to one among them who is openly committing incest. Paul commands them to remove the man from their community by turning him over to Satan for destruction of his flesh, in hopes that his spirit would be saved. They must not even share a meal with a Christian continuing in unrepentant sin. Paul will distinguish between the judgment of believers with that of non-believers. In the next chapter, this will include more details on how to handle conflict, as well as the ability of God to forgive any and all sin.
Book Summary:
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
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