Origin and Application:
In the letter to the church in Corinth, a principal city of Greece, Paul the apostle was rebuking a sexually immoral church member who committed incest by marrying his step-mother. The letter was written at the time when Paul was in Ephesus, just opposite Corinthians. Paul, being not physically present with the church, said in the letter that he was spiritually present with the church.
From “absent in body, but present in spirit” comes the expression “present in body, absent in spirit”. Teachers like to use the latter expression to describe students who are physically present but are distracted in class.