Friday, 6 June 2014
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. 1 Corinthians 5:3
In this verse, Paul writes in broken thoughts as if he were mourning over his words and contemplating each one carefully, even through tears of sadness. Each is a separate heartfelt consideration of what must occur in order for the situation to be resolved. Beginning with “For I indeed…” He is stressing the importance of the issue which is being considered in connection with the previous words “that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.”
“As absent in body but present in spirit” is a way of saying that his physical absence from the congregation doesn’t negate his spiritual tie to them. He is, in his heart and affections, right there worshipping with them. He is attuned to their situation, feeling their emotions, and sharing in their highs and lows. In this case, it is as a father with his beloved children discussing a matter which will ultimately adversely affect them unless they get it resolved.
In this he shares that [I] “have already judged (as though I were present)…” In his deliberations over the matter, which began the moment that they were relayed to him, and probably through much prayer and reflection, he came to a judgment as to what needed to be done. However, he isn’t present and so he can only relay his judgment from afar. The broken sentences then are explained in this. He is conveying emotion and a profound determination through them. We do this with exclamation points and other punctuation which was lacking in the Greek. Therefore, sentence structure was important in this manner.
And Paul’s judgment is against, “him who has so done this deed.” The matter of sexual immorality needed to be handled and it didn’t matter who it was. He has been singled out in Paul’s letter indirectly and it is now incumbent on those around that person to take the necessary action that Paul will recommend in the coming verses.
Life application: The reason why so many churches have no moral base is because of compromise over moral issues. Friendships arise that may preclude harsh judgment. Wealthy donors may have their transgressions overlooked because of the supposed need for their money. The same may be true with the politically connected. Eventually, such examples will become the standard. When this occurs, the church is doomed. Jesus has been left outside the door for the sake of tolerance and compromise. The lampstand will be removed and Judgment Day will be a day of regret, not rejoicing.
Lord God, Your word presents standards which are expected to be maintained, but too often it’s easier to ignore those things than to confront the difficult issues which arise in a church. Help each of us to think clearly on this and to realize that Your word is more important than our sense of tolerance or moral compromise. Grant us willing hearts to be obedient, even when it is so difficult to take such steps. Amen.