1 Corinthians 5:3
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,
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(3) For I verily.—The Apostle had fully made up his mind that this offender must be removed, and insists on the Corinthians doing it. So that the previous words imply they might as well have done it without waiting for his interference.

As absent in body.—Better, omit “as,” which is not in the best MSS.

1 Corinthians 5:3-5. I verily, as absent — Or though absent; in body, but present in spirit — Having a full (it seems a miraculous) view of the whole fact; have judged already — Passed sentence upon him by my apostolical authority, since you have neglected doing it; as though I were present — As deliberately, justly, and authoritatively; that hath so done — Hath acted in such a scandalous manner. In the name of our Lord Jesus — By his authority and command; when ye are gathered together — In an assembly for judgment, and calling upon his name, Matthew 18:20; and my spirit — Being present with you; with the power of our Lord Jesus — To confirm what you do; to deliver such a one to Satan — To expel him from your communion. This was the highest degree of punishment in the Christian Church; and we may observe, the passing this sentence was the act of the apostle, not of the Corinthians: whereupon usually followed terrors of conscience, and bodily pains or diseases inflicted by Satan, the terrible executioner of the divine justice and displeasure. For the destruction — Though slowly and gradually; of the flesh — Unless prevented by speedy repentance; that the spirit — Being brought to true contrition and humiliation; may be saved — From those infinitely more insupportable and everlasting agonies to which it might otherwise be doomed. It was observed, in the note on 1 Corinthians 4:21, that the apostles were empowered to punish notorious offenders miraculously with diseases and death. And doubtless the command here given by the apostle to deliver the incestuous person to Satan, was an exertion of that power, especially as it was to be done at the command of the inspired apostle, and by the power of the Lord Jesus. “Accordingly Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Œcumenius conjectured, that in consequence of his being delivered to Satan, the offender’s body was weakened and wasted by some painful disease. The Latin fathers and Beza, however, thought no such effect followed that sentence; because when the Corinthians were ordered (2 Corinthians 2:7) to forgive him, no mention is made of any bodily disease that was to be removed from him. Wherefore, by the destruction of the flesh, they understood the destruction of the offender’s pride, lust, and other fleshly passions; which they thought would be mortified, when he found himself despised and shunned by all. This interpretation, however, does not, in my opinion,” says Macknight, “agree with the threatenings written 1 Corinthians 4:21; 2 Corinthians 13:1-2; 2 Corinthians 13:10; nor with the apostle’s design in inflicting that punishment. For when the faction found the offender’s flesh wasted by some grievous disease, in consequence of the apostle’s sentence, it could not fail to terrify such of them as were capable of serious thought.”

5:1-8 The apostle notices a flagrant abuse, winked at by the Corinthians. Party spirit, and a false notion of Christian liberty, seem to have saved the offender from censure. Grievous indeed is it that crimes should sometimes be committed by professors of the gospel, of which even heathens would be ashamed. Spiritual pride and false doctrines tend to bring in, and to spread such scandals. How dreadful the effects of sin! The devil reigns where Christ does not. And a man is in his kingdom, and under his power, when not in Christ. The bad example of a man of influence is very mischievous; it spreads far and wide. Corrupt principles and examples, if not corrected, would hurt the whole church. Believers must have new hearts, and lead new lives. Their common conversation and religious deeds must be holy. So far is the sacrifice of Christ our Passover for us, from rendering personal and public holiness unnecessary, that it furnishes powerful reasons and motives for it. Without holiness we can neither live by faith in him, nor join in his ordinances with comfort and profit.For I verily - But I, whatever it may cost me; however you may esteem my interference; and whatever personal ill-will may be the result toward me, have adjudged this case to be so flagrant as to demand the exercise of discipline, and since the church to whom it belongs have neglected it, I use the authority of an apostle, and of a spiritual father, in directing it to take place. This was not a formal sentence of excommunication; but it was the declared opinion of an apostle that such a sentence should be passed, and an injunction on the church to exercise this act of discipline.

As absent in body - Since I am not personally present with you, I express my opinion in this manner. I am absent in body from you, and cannot, therefore, take those steps in regard to it which I could were Ipresent.

But present in spirit - My heart is with you; my feelings are with you; I have a deep and tender interest in the case; and I judge as if I were personally present. Many suppose that Paul by this refers to a power which was given to the apostles, though at a distance, to discern the real circumstances of a case by the gift of the Spirit. Compare Colossians 2:5; 2 Kings 5:26; 2 Kings 6:12. (Whitby, Doddridge, etc.) But the phrase does not demand this interpretation. Paul meant, probably, that though he was absent, yet his mind and attention had been given to this subject; he felt as deeply as though he were present, and would act in the same way. He had, in some way, been fully apprized of all the circumstances of the case, and he felt it to be his duty to express his views on the subject.

Have judged already - Margin, "Determined" κέκρικα kekrika. I have made up my mind; have decided, and do decide. That is, he had determined what ought to be done in the case. It was a case in which the course which ought to be pursued was plain, and on this point his mind was settled. What that course should be he states immediately.

As though I were present - As though I had a personal knowledge of the whole affair, and were with you to advise - We may be certain that Paul had the fullest information as to this case; and that the circumstances were well known. Indeed, it was a case about the facts of which there could be no doubt. They were everywhere known 1 Corinthians 5:1, and there was no need, therefore, to attempt to establish them by formal proof.

3. as absent—The best manuscripts read, "being absent."

present in spirit—(2Ki 5:26; Col 2:5).

so done—rather, "perpetrated," as the Greek word here is stronger than that for "done" in 1Co 5:2. "So," that is, so scandalously while called a brother.

Though I be absent as to my bodily presence, yet God having intrusted me with a superintendency and care over his church amongst you, out of the care and solicitude which I have for you, as well as the other churches of Christ, and in discharge of that trust which God hath reposed in me, I do determine, and have determined as much as if I were present amongst you, what ought to be done by you concerning this person so notoriously scandalous.

For I verily, as absent in body,.... As he really was, being now at Philippi, if any dependence is to be had upon the subscription of this epistle; or rather at Ephesus; however, wherever he was, it is certain he was not at Corinth:

but present in spirit; in his affection to them, care of them, and concern for their good, and the glory of God:

have judged already; he had considered of the matter, thought very deliberately about it, and was now come to a point, to a determination concerning it, what to do in it:

as though I were present; upon the spot, in person, to do what he had resolved upon:

to him that hath so done this deed; this infamous one, and in so scandalous a manner, and which was continued in: what that was which the apostle, upon mature deliberation and judgment, determined to do with this wicked man, is expressed in 1 Corinthians 5:5 which is to be connected with this, the whole fourth verse being to be read in a parenthesis, and that was to deliver him to Satan.

{3} For I verily, as absent in body, but present in {a} spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,

(3) Excommunication ought not to be committed to one man's power, but must be done by the authority of the whole congregation, after the matter is diligently examined.

(a) In mind, thought, and will.

1 Corinthians 5:3. Ἐγὼ μὲν γάρ] introduces the independent resolution already arrived at by himself, and therewith the justification of the ἵνα ἀρθῇ; for he, Paul, for his part, has resolved already to inflict a yet heavier punishment upon him. Comp also Winer, p. 422 [E. T. 568]; the contents of 1 Corinthians 5:3-5 correspond to the ἵνα ἀρθῇ in its connection with καὶἐπενθήσ. The μέν solitarium must be taken as meaning: I at least. See Hermann, a[763] Viger. p. 841 f.; Wunder, a[764] Soph. Phil. 159; Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 413.

τῷ πνεύματι] Comp 1 Corinthians 5:4 : τοῦ ἐμοῦ πνεύματος, hence not to be understood, as Chrysostom and others hold,[766] of the Holy Spirit, against which τῷ σώματι also militates, comp 1 Corinthians 7:34; Romans 8:10; Colossians 2:5.

ἤδη κέκρ. ὡς παρών] have made up my mind already, as though I were present (personally superintending your community).[768]

τὸν οὕτω τοῦτο κατεργ.] belongs to πάραδ. τῳ Σατ., 1 Corinthians 5:5, so that, after the intermediate statements which follow, the object of the sentence is taken up again by τὸν τοιοῦτον in 1 Corinthians 5:5 (hunc talem inquam), comp 2 Corinthians 12:2. See Matthiae, p. 1045; Schaefer, Melet. p. 84. Bengel says happily: “Graviter suspensa manet et vibrat oratio usque ad 1 Corinthians 5:5.” Not so happy is Hofmann’s view, that τὸνκατεργ. belongs to ΚΈΚΡΙΚΑ as an accusative of the object, whereupon ΠΑΡΑΔΟῦΝΑΙ Κ.Τ.Λ[770] is then set down to a mixing up of two constructions, this being coupled with an inappropriate comparison of Mark 14:64.

οὕτω] after such fashion, in such a way. The way and manner thereby referred to as aggravating the offence were known to the readers, but are unknown to us. Respecting οὕτω in a bad sense, see on John 18:22, and Bremi, a[771] Dem. Phil. I. p. 120. Pott and Olshausen explain it wrongly: “licet Christianus sit,” which is not implied in the text, and would state nothing special, for it was a matter of course that the person in question was not a non-Christian.

κατεργ.] has perpetrated, more emphatic than ποιήσας, 1 Corinthians 5:2. See on Romans 1:27.

[763] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[764] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[766] So, too, Holsten, z. Ev. d. Paul. u. Petr. p. 385.

[768] Were the ὡς before ἀπών the genuine reading,—and Hofmann persists in retaining it as such, notwithstanding that cod. א, too, has added its weight to the side of the overwhelming contrary testimony,—this ὡς might be very simply distinguished from that which stands before παρών in this way, that the first ὡς would mean as, and the second as if.

[770] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[771] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

1 Corinthians 5:3-5. The removal of the culprit is, in any case, a settled matter: ἐγὼ μὲν γάρ, “For I at least” … ἤδη κέκρικα, “have already decided”—without waiting till you should act or till I could come. For ἤδη see note, 1 Corinthians 4:8; κέκρικα, pf. of judgment that has determinate effect.—f1μέν solitarium—“I indeed (whatever you may do)”.—ἀπὼν τῷ σώματι παρὼν δὲ τῷ πνεύματι, “while absent in the body yet present in the spirit”: by absence the Ap. might seem disqualified for judging (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:20 to 2 Corinthians 13:2); he declares that he is spiritually present, so present to his inmost consciousness are the facts of the case; cf. Colossians 2:5. “St. Paul’s spirit, illumined and vivified, as it unquestionably was, by the Divine Spirit, must have been endowed on certain occasions with a more than ordinary insight into the state of a Church at a distance” (Ev[813]; cf. John 1:48; 2 Kings 5:26): “I have already passed sentence, as one present, on him that has so wrought this thing”. ὡς παρὼν means “as being present,” not “as though present”—which rendering virtually surrenders the previous ἀπώνπαρὼν δέ.—κατεργάζομαι, to work out, consummate (see parls.); the qualifying οὕτως probably refers to the man’s being a Christian (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:12 f.)—“under these conditions” (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:16 f., 1 Corinthians 6:15).

[813] T. S. Evans in Speaker’s Commentary.

The judgment already determined in the Apostle’s mind is delivered in 1 Corinthians 5:5, supplying a further obj[814] (of the thing: cf. for the construction, Acts 15:38) to κέκρικα: “I have already judged him … (have given sentence), in the name of our Lord Jesus, to deliver him that is such (τὸν τοιοῦτον) to Satan for destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”. The clauses of 1 Corinthians 5:4, with their solemn, rounded terms, make fit way for this awful sentence; “graviter suspensa manet et vibrat oratio usque ad 1 Corinthians 5:5” (Bg[815]). The prp[816] phrases ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τ. κυρ. ., σὺν τ. δυνάμει τ. κυρ. ἡμῶν Ἰ., may be connected, either of them or both, with παραδοῦναι or with the subordinate συναχθέντων; and the four combinations thus grammatically possible have each found advocates. The order of words and balance of clauses, as well as intrinsic fitness of connexion, speak for the attachment of the former adjunct to παραδ. Σατ., the latter to συναχθ. ὑμῶν: so Luther, Bg[817], Mr[818], Al[819], Ev[820], Bt[821], El[822] “In the name of the Lord Jesus” every Church act is done, every word of blessing or banning uttered; that Name must be formally used when doom is pronounced in the assembly (see parls.). The gen[823] abs. clause is parenthetic, supplying the occasion and condition precedent (aor[824] ptp[825]) of the public sentence; all the responsible parties must be concurrent: “when you have assembled together, and my spirit, along with the power of our Lord Jesus”. Along with the gathered assembly, under Paul’s unseen directing influence, a third Supreme Presence is necessary to make the sentence valid; the Church associates itself “with the power” of its Head. Realising that it is clothed therewith, the Cor[826] Church will deliver the appalling sentence inspired by the absent Ap.—σὺν τῇ δυνάμει κ.τ.λ. is a h.l[827]; ἐν δυνάμει (1 Corinthians 2:5, etc.) is frequent in P. “Our Lord Jesus” is Christ the Judge (see 1 Corinthians 1:8).

[814] grammatical object.

[815] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.


[817] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.

Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).

[819] Alford’s Greek Testament.

[820] T. S. Evans in Speaker’s Commentary.

[821] J. A. Beet’s St. Paul’s Epp. to the Corinthians (1882).

[822] C. J. Ellicott’s St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.

[823] genitive case.

[824] aorist tense.

[825] participle

[826] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[827].l. hapax legomenon, a solitary expression.

“Delivering to Satan,” in the view of many (including Aug[828], Cv[829], Bz[830], and latterly Hn[831]), is a synonym for excommunication,—a thrusting out of the condemned into “the kingdom of darkness,” where “the god of this world” holds sway (2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12, Colossians 1:13, etc.); similarly in 1 Timothy 1:20. But there is no proof that such a formula of excommunication existed either in the Synagogue or the early Church; and the added words, εἰς ὄλεθρον τῆς σαρκός κ.τ.λ., point to some physically punitive and spiritually remedial visitation of the sinner. The σὰρξ to be destroyed, it is replied, lies in the man’s sinful passions; but these would, presumably, be strengthened rather than destroyed by sending him back to the world. “The flesh,” as antithetical to “the spirit” (see parls.), is rather the man’s bodily nature; and physical maladies, even death, are ascribed in the N.T. to Satan (2 Corinthians 12:7, Luke 13:16, John 8:44, Hebrews 2:14), while on the other hand affliction is made an instrument of spiritual benefit (1 Corinthians 9:27, 1 Corinthians 11:30 ff., 2 Corinthians 4:16 f., 1 Corinthians 12:7, 1 Peter 4:1 f.); moreover, the App. did occasionally, as in the cases of Ananias and Elymas (Acts 5, 13), pronounce penal sentences in the physical sphere, which took immediate effect on the condemned. It appears certain that P. imposed in this case a severe physical infliction—indeed, if ὄλεθρος is to be pressed (see parls.), a mortal stroke—as the only means of marking the gravity of the crime and saving the criminal. “Il ne faut pas endouter, c’est une condamnation à mort que Paul prononce” (Renan); not however a sudden death, rather “a slow consumption, giving the sinner time to repent” (Gd[832]). The ejection of the culprit the Church of itself could and must effect (1 Corinthians 5:2; 1 Corinthians 5:13); for the aggravated chastisement the presence of the Apostle’s “spirit,” allied “with the power of the Lord Jesus,” was necessary.—ὁ Σατανᾶς (Heb. hassatân, Aram. s’tanâ: see parls.), “the Adversary,” sc. of God and man, to whom every such opportunity is welcome (John 8:44). That Satan’s malignity should be (as one may say) overreached by God’s wisdom and mercy (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:19) is nothing very, wonderful (see 2 Corinthians 12:7, Luke 22:31 f., also the temptation of our Lord, and of Job); hate is proverbially blind. On “the day of the Lord,” when the ultimate salvation or perdition of each is fixed, see 1 Corinthians 1:8, Romans 2:5-16. That some Cor[833] afterwards sought proof of Paul’s supernatural power goes to show, not that this sentence proved abortive, but rather that the offender averted it by prompt repentance.

[828] Augustine.

[829] Calvin’s In Nov. Testamentum Commentarii.

[830] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[831] C. F. G. Heinrici’s Erklärung der Korintherbriefe (1880), or 1 Korinther in Meyer’s krit.-exegetisches Kommentar (1896).

[832] F. Godet’s Commentaire sur la prem. Ép. aux Corinthiens (Eng. Trans.).

[833] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

3. I verily, as absent in body] Cf. Colossians 2:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:17. Here we have the method of excommunication pursued in the Apostolic Church. It is important to observe it narrowly. First, it is to be remarked that the Apostle is acting not only as the president, but as the founder of the Corinthian Church. Next we remark that the whole Church at Corinth was associated with him in the work. “When ye are gathered together, and my spirit.” Hence it came to pass that in primitive times it was usual for such acts of discipline to be carried out in the presence of the Church or congregation in which the offender was accustomed to worship. Thirdly, it is observable that such excommunication was pronounced ‘in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ,’ that is, with His authority and in accordance with His Divine Law of purity and love, whereby, while hating the sin, He desired to convert the offender.

have judged already] This may either be taken (1) as in the Authorized Version, with the word concerning inserted before him that hath so done this deed, or (2) these last words may be regarded as the accusative after “deliver,” and the word “judged” taken absolutely. The former appears preferable, but the whole passage is very intricate.

concerning him that hath so done this deed] Literally, he that hath perpetrated this deed in such a manner, i.e. as though to add to the guilt and shame of it by his way of doing it.

1 Corinthians 5:3. Ἐγὼ μὲν γὰρ, I indeed for my part) An antithesis between the lighter punishment, which would have been inflicted by the Corinthians, and the severer one, which is threatened by Paul: thence also we have in 1 Corinthians 5:2, ποιήσας, he that hath done, a gentler expression; but in 1 Corinthians 5:3 κατεργασάμενον, he that hath perpetrated, a much more severe expression. Afterwards the Corinthians did what they ought, 2 Corinthians 2:6. Therefore the severer punishment pronounced on the sinner (here in 1 Corinthians 5:5) admitted of being superseded. Thence arose the joy of Paul, 2 Corinthians 1:24; 2 Corinthians 2:1, etc.—τῳ πνεῦματι, in spirit) Colossians 2:5, 2 Kings 5:26.—ἤδη κέκρικα, I have already judged) A weighty effect is produced by the sense of the sentence continuing to be gravely suspended and poised [as it were a lance], till we come to 1 Corinthians 5:5, where the expression, he who hath perpetrated [κατεργασάμενον] is again taken up in the expression, such a one [τὸν τοιοῦτον].—ὡς παρὼν, as though I were present) It is construed with, to deliver, 1 Corinthians 5:5.—τὀν οὕτω τοῦτο) A triple demonstrative.—οὓτω, so) very shamefully, so, while he was called a brother.

Verse 3. - For I verily. The broken structure of the verse shows the deep emotion with which it was penned - as it were with sobs. St. Paul contrasts the line which he means to take with the lax condonation granted by the Corinthian Church. As absent; rather, being absent or though absent. The as is omitted in the best manuscripts. But present in spirit; literally, in the spirit;' but he is referring to his own spirit: "Bodily I am absent; but speaking as though my spirit were present in your assembly [comp. 2 Kings 5:26], I have already judged," etc. Have judged already. My decision was instantaneous and is final. As though I were present. My sentence is as clear as though I were at this moment standing in the midst of you. That hath so done. The verb is not as before, poiesas, but katergasamenon, which is stronger, "the perpetrator of this deed." The "so" means "with all these circumstances of aggravation." The same verb is used in Romans 1:27. The broken periods of the Greek reflect the emotion of the writer. The passage is as it were written with sobs (Wordsworth). 1 Corinthians 5:3
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