5:3 for I indeed, as being absent as to the body, and present as to the spirit, have already judged, as being present, him who so wrought this thing: 4 in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ — ye being gathered together, also my spirit — with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 to deliver up such a one to the Adversary for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Paul is a wildly controversial figure. He spent the entire previous chapter explaining how he was the refuse of all the earth. Garbage. Filth. Mistreated. Dishonored. Fool. Buffeted. Reviled. Persecuted.
It may be that he is the most persecuted man of the planet because of his letters. Imagine a writing of your own being treated by the world like his? The horror. Today his persecution is doubled-down by a treacherous generation of Christianity that has yet to figure out what exactly it is he was talking about.
As is evident from this verse, Paul seems to speak through time to the end times, judging a man “who has his father’s wife” that he be “delivered up” so that the flesh (which is against the spirit) may be destroyed and the spirit (which is Life) may be saved. There is nothing plain in his speech, and it is on purpose. It’s for the day of the Lord Jesus. Many write of his words as “pertinent to the culture he was in”. But, consider, maybe it was the exact opposite? Being absent in body, yet “as being present”. For a man who called himself a “steward of the mysteries of God” who in every way knew the mysteries of the Bible far beyond what you or I could, you will do well not to close yourself off to this idea. Consider that Paul is not haphazardly writing his letters, but is carefully choosing each and every word, words which themselves have far deeper meanings…
For though ye have ten thousand tutors [paidagógos, boy-tutors] in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I begat you through the gospel. 1 Cor. 4:15 ASV