2 Cor. 13:1-14
We are now in the end part of this beautiful, informative, and very clear letter from the Apostle Paul.
I would say he had come to the extremes in defending himself against his enemies and in proving the authenticity of his Apostleship. In this ending chapter, he now shows his authority to his children but still wants to be gentle to them.
I. Correcting Errors (2 Cor. 13:1-4)
A. From this it is evident that Paul had already been in Corinth. He was about to make his third visit. The Acts of the Apostles does not contain a full record of all the journeys, labours and sufferings of the apostle. He may have visited Corinth repeatedly without its coming within the purpose of that book to mention the fact
B. The true minister is no coward. He is willing to face a battle. He will not back down to sin. Witnesses must support a testimony against a sinning saint. “In the mouth of two or three witnesses…” Every case of disorderly conduct will be taken care of, but the trials will be strictly legal. Two or three witnesses will establish a charge. “At the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established” (Deut. 19:15).
C. “I told you… I will not spare” (2 Cor. 13:2): “I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth” (2 Cor. 1:23). He could not put off his visit much longer. He would come to them and face to face deal with those who would not repent as he had commanded through the Holy Spirit. He wanted them to repent before he arrived. He would exert the full force of his authority as an apostle if they did not.
D. “Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me…” (2 Cor. 13:3) Since some denied his apostleship, he will give them “proof” when he comes. “It will not spare.” He will show that Christ speaks “in me.”
E. 2 Cor. 13:4 is interesting. In His death, Christ seemed to reveal weakness; but His resurrection revealed the power of God. In his previous visit, Paul showed seeming weakness as he served; this next visit would be different. There are times when we show His power in us by our seeming weakness; there are other times when we must be severe through the power of God. Paul’s thorn in the flesh experience is an example of being “weak in Him” yet living by the power of God.
F. Had the Corinthians obeyed the Word of God, they would have spared themselves and Paul a great deal of agony. It is when Christians ignore or oppose the Word of God that they bring trouble upon themselves, others, and the church. How many pastors have gone through Gethsemane because of Christians who refuse to listen to God’s Word!
II. Examine Yourselves (2 Cor. 13:5-7)
A. The Corinthians were spending a great deal of time examining Paul; now it was time they examined themselves. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” A true Christian experience will bear examination. “Are you even in the faith?” asked Paul. “Are you truly saved?” Every believer must prove his or her faith; no one can tell others whether or not they are born again.
B. A true Christian has Christ in him. The word “reprobate” means “counterfeit.” The word literally means “not passing the test.” His enemies had charged Paul with being a counterfeit (a false apostle), a charge that he denied in v. 6. He begged the Corinthians to turn away from evil living and speaking, not simply that they might thereby prove that Paul was a true apostle, but for their own good. If they repented, he would not have to prove his apostleship by coming to discipline them. He was willing to set aside this privilege for their sakes. Paul would have rather lost his reputation to see them helped spiritually than to have them continue in sin and force him to exercise his apostolic authority. Peter warns pastors that they should not exercise lordship over the church (1 Peter 5:1), and Paul is here manifesting that same humble spirit. The warning of discipline is never for the purpose of exalting the pastor, but always for leading the offender to the place of repentance.
C. In this day of satanic counterfeits, it is important that professing Christians know that they are saved. Remember the warnings in Matt. 7:15-29 and the startling truths of 2 Cor. 11:13-15.
Illustration 1: Beware of …
Beware of false gods (Ex. 20:3), false prophets (Matt. 7:15), false Christs (Matt. 24:24), another Jesus (2 Cor. 11:4), another gospel (Gal. 1:6), false brethren (2 Cor. 11:26), false teachers (2 Pet. 2:1-2), false apostles (2 Cor. 11:13), and Satan who deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9). Holy Bible
III. Be Obedient to God’s Word (2 Cor. 12:8-10)
A. For himself, Paul knew he was powerless against the truth, the will of God. His experience on the Damascus Road had taught him that (Acts 9:1-6). Like Jesus his Lord, he was willing to spend and be spent on behalf of others (2 Cor. 8:9; 12:15). In his weakness he was made strong (2 Cor. 12:8,10) and so were they (2 Cor. 13:9). He was concerned about the Corinthians’ welfare (Phil. 2:20-21). Perfection (katartisin) may be translated “restoration.” This noun occurs only here in the New Testament but is kin to the verb katartizesthe translated “aim for perfection” in 2 Cor. 13:11 and elsewhere used for repairing nets (Matt. 4:21).
B. As a conclusion to this warning (2 Cor. 12:20-21; 13:5-7), this prayer for restoration of their ways was certainly fitting. Then Paul could be spared the pain of disciplining those he loved (2 Cor. 2:2) and instead he could work with them for their joy (2 Cor. 1:24) and for building them up (2 Cor. 13:10).
Illustration 2: The Old Choice
It is the old choice which still is presented to every soul; the old crisis which reappears in every experience. Caesar, or Christ, that is the question: the vast, attractive, skeptical world, with its pleasures and ambitions and its prodigal promise, or the meek, majestic, and winning figure of Him of Nazareth?
The election remains for each of us. And the moment of the election, in the shaded and solemn “Valley of Decision,” will be memorable in our history, when suns for us have ceased to shine! Source unknown
IV. Farewell and Benediction (2 Cor. 11-14)
A. Final counsel (2 Cor. 13:11).
1. Be perfect. “Finally, brethren, farewell” (II Cor. 13:11): This is the “last word.” In some respects, it is the most important word. There is something sad about this “finally. ”Farewell” is not equivalent to “Good-bye,” but rather to “rejoice.” Be perfect.” Or, press on to perfection. This is a continuous growth in grace that will lead them on to increasing maturity in Christ (Eph. 4:1; Matt. 5:48).
2. Be of good comfort. “Be of good comfort.” It is comfort in sorrow, but includes good cheer and encouragement. Show heart interest in another’s progress. It is helpful encouragement instead of the hindrance of our criticism. Too many times we stifle instead of stimulating others because of a too critical attitude. Read 2 Cor. 1:6; 7:8-13; 1 Thess. 4:18.
3. Be united. “Be of one mind.” Be united in Christ (Jn. 17:21). Christians have been compared to burning coals. Scattered apart they are easily extinguished. When the burn close together the heat of one preserves the heat of another. Together Christians strengthen each other! To fall away from the fellowship of the church is to die spiritually (Heb. 10:25; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:23-32).
“Live in peace.” The result of being of the “same mind” is the ability to “live in
peace.” But there is an even more blessed consequence: “The God of love and
peace shall be with you.”
B. Final salute (2 Cor. 13:12-13). “Greet one another with an holy kiss.” (2 Cor. 13:12). In the Jewish synagogues the sexes were separated. Men kissed men and the women kissed women. This apparently became the Christian custom also. It is still observed in the Coptic and the Russian churches. Pagan charges caused Christians to drop the custom. Our handshake is our usual form of greeting, and must be holy, too.
C. Final prayer (2 Cor. 13:13-14).
1. “All the saints salute you.” (2 Cor. 13:13) The apostle graciously added the salute from “all the saints.” Although his rebukes had been severe, he here assures his readers that all his fellow Christians recognize the standing of the Corinthian church as composed of those who belong to Christ and are being sanctified in him.
2. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ…” (2 Cor. 13:14) The whole passage closes with the benediction, and the most complete of them all. Here, Father, Son and Holy Ghost are addressed as one in this comprehensive fervent petition. The unmerited favor of Christ, the boundless love of God, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit is invoked upon all the members of the turbulent, restless Corinthian church.
3. It appears from 2 Thess. 3:17 that Paul wrote the greeting or benediction with “mine own hand.” We know from Romans 15:19 that Paul went round about unto Illyricum before, probably, he came to Corinth. When he did arrive (Acts 20:1-3), the troubles from the Judaizers had disappeared. Probably the leaders left after the coming of Titus and the brethren with this Epistle. The reading of it in the church would make a stir of no small proportions. But it did the work!
Did the Corinthians respond positively to Paul’s warning? Yes. Paul had conditioned the expansion of his ministry in other areas on the problems in Corinth being resolved (10:15-16). He followed the writing of this letter with a visit of three months during which time he wrote the letter to the Romans. In that letter he wrote “Now…there is no more place for me to work in these regions” (Rom. 15:23). His appeal had been heeded. The Corinthians were now obedient.