2 Corinthians 13
One last warning: I’m coming.
Paul warns the sinners1 I’m coming to visit you for the third time. I want to remind you of what the Bible says about accusations:
“Every accusation needs confirmed by two or three witnesses.” 2 Listen, I said this when I was with you during my second visit. And I’m saying it to you now, before I get there again. I will not go easy on the people who have been sinning or on anyone else who needs to straighten out. 3 You asked for it. You wanted proof that the Messiah uses my voice to speak. You’re not going to see any weakness from him when it comes time to deal with you. You’re going to see his power. 4 He died in weakness, nailed to a cross. But he’s alive because of God’s power. We’re weak, just as the Messiah was. But we’ll live with him because of God’s power. You’re going to see that power.
Don’t fail the faith test5 Take a long, hard look at yourself. Examine the state of your faith. Is Jesus the Messiah living inside you? If not, give yourself an F in faith. 6 I hope you eventually realize that my associates and I don’t fail that test of faith.
7 We’re praying for you. We’re asking God to help keep you from doing anything wrong. It’s not because we want you to make us look good, as evidence that we’ve aced the test of faith. We want you to do what you know is right, even if we flunk the test. 8 We can’t do anything to stop the truth. Instead, we stand for the truth. 9 We’re happy to appear weak if it makes you strong. That’s our prayer. We want you to grow stronger in your faith.
10 I’m writing this to you as a warning, before I get there. This way, I hope you’ll straighten up and I won’t have to treat you harshly, with all the authority the Lord gave me. My mission is to build people up, not tear them down.
Paul’s goodbye hellos11 As I close my letter, dear family, I’m asking you to rejoice in your faith, work at growing stronger, be courageous, and try to get along with each other and live in peace. May the God of love and peace be with you.
12 Greet each other warmly, with a respectful kiss. All the believers here asked me to say hello. 13 May every one of you experience the kindness of the Lord Jesus our Messiah, the love of God, and the companionship of the Holy Spirit.
Why do you think Paul begins wrapping up this letter by quoting an Old Testament law from Deuteronomy: “Every accusation needs confirmed by two or three witnesses”?
Apparently, the people in Corinth accused Paul of being all bark and no bite. “I know that some people are saying, ‘His letters pack a heavy wallop, but in person he’s a wimp. When he opens his mouth, nothing worthwhile comes out’” (2 Corinthians 10:10). But in this letter, Paul promises that when he gets to Corinth he’s going to get in their faces and go Marine Corps drill sergeant on them (13:2-3). Why do you think Paul threatened the people the way he did?
LIFE APPLICATION. Let’s say a church leader wrote a letter to your congregation that reads a lot like 2 Corinthians 13. Maybe the church leader is a district superintendent, a bishop, or some other administrator who oversees many congregations. How do you think your church would respond to a letter like this?
- Send him an un-invitation.
- Get your house in order quickly.
- Strap on your boots and get ready to kick his fanny back to where it came from.
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul asks the congregation in Corinth to take a personal faith test. “Take a long, hard look at yourself. Examine the state of your faith. Is Jesus the Messiah living inside you? If not, give yourself an F in faith” (13:5). If you were going to help build a practical faith test that Christians could use to measure the extent of their devotion to God, what questions would you put on the test?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul wrote a lot about weakness in this chapter. He was accused of being weak in person. He promised he would be weak in person during his next visit. But he added, “We’re happy to appear weak if it makes you strong. That’s our prayer. We want you to grow stronger in your faith” (13:9). When have you ever seen the weakness of one person help build up the spiritual strength of another?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul closes his letter by asking the Christians in Corinth to “try to get along with each other and live in peace” (13:11). What advice would you give someone who is having trouble getting along with a jerk?