2Corinthians 13 - Outline of 2Corinthians(MENU page)
I. Introduction. 1:1-7
II. The Characteristics of Paul's Ministry. 1:8- 7:16
III. The Collection for the poor. 8:1- 9:15
IV. The Vindication of Paul's apostleship. 10:1- 13:10
A. The divine authentication. 10:1-18
B. The godly jealousy. 11:1-11
C. The warning against false teachers. 11:12-15
D. The enforced boasting. 11:16- 12:18
     1. Credentials comparable. 11:16-22
     2. Labors more abundant. 11:23-33
     3. Visions and a thorn. 12:1-10
     4. Signs seen by Corinthian church. 12:11-18
E. The warning to reprobates. 12:19- 13:10
1. This [is] the third [time] I am coming to you.
In the mouth of two or three witnesses
shall every word be established.
2 I told you before, and foretell you,
as if I were present, the second time;
and being absent now I write to them
which heretofore have sinned, and to all other,
that, if I come again, I will not spare:
3 Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me,
which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.
4 For though he was crucified through weakness,
yet he liveth by the power of God.
For we also are weak in him,
but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.
This is the third time I am coming to you... as if I were present, the second time...
As noted at 2Cor 12:14, Paul was, for the third time, preparing to visit Corinth. Following his first visit, he wrote 1Corinthians, in which he discussed plans for a second visit. However, those plans were thwarted by unexpected trouble in Ephesus. Thus, for the third time, he was in the planning process. In this second epistle to the Corinthians, he addressed matters needing attention within the church, as though he was already there for a second time.
     He was afraid that when he actually arrived for the second time, the visit would be unpleasant (2Cor 12:20,21).
In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established... (cp. Deu 19:15; Mat 18:16)
...I write to them which... have sinned... that, if I come again, I will not spare.
At his next visit, Paul would carefully establish the truth and decisively excercise appropriate action against everyone engaged in sinful behavior, whether or not he had previously heard of specific issues. (cp. 2Cor 10:1-2,8-11)
Since ye seek {require} a proof of {a test to demonstrate} Christ speaking in me,
which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you...
Christ was already working powerfully in the Corinthian believers, for their salvation and sanctification.
For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God.
Christ offered Himself for our redemption in His fleshly weakness (as seen in His death). Yet, the power of God, working through Him, accomplished the reconciliation of sinners, as demonstrated in His resurrection (2Cor 5:19; Eph 1:6-8,19-20; Php 2:6-11; 1Pet 3:18,22).
For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.
ie., 'Despite our fleshly weakness, we are alive in Him who is our strength. Therefore, the power of God will work through us regarding these matters, when we are in your midst.' 2Cor 3:5,6; 10:3-6
     But if they would consider it, the fact that they had been brought into 'the Faith,' through the Gospel proclaimed by Paul, provided ample evidence that Christ had been speaking in him, all along (cp. v.3 with v.5a).
5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith;
{test to verify} your own selves. {cp. v.3}
Know ye not
{Do ye not recognize} your own selves,
how that Jesus Christ is in you,
{unless} ye be reprobates {disapproved (by failing the test)}?
6 But I trust
{hope} that ye shall know {recognize} that we are not reprobates.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith...
'The Faith' is the whole body of truth revealed by God, proclaimed by the apostles, and established upon the Person and work of Christ.
     Those who are 'in the Faith' have embraced this truth, by placing their full confidence in Christ alone for their salvation from sin, its penalty and power. By reason of their personal faith in Christ, those who are 'in the Faith' have become new creatures (born of God's Spirit), are presently joined to Christ to live with Him in His life of righteousness, are being progressively changed into His likeness, and are looking forward to being completely delivered from the presence of sin, when He returns to take His own into His Holy Presence. (See 'the faith' in Col 2:6-10; Jude 1:3,4.)
     The professed believer's self-examination will test what he believes against 'the Faith,' and test how he lives and thinks, for evidence of the new nature which longs to please God, and, therefore, seeks to live in purity, and in love for the brethren. cp. Psa 139:23,24; 1Cor 11:28-31
 -- The brief epistle of First John presents several points of self-examination, including:
  • continuance in the truth concerning Christ. 1Joh 2:23-25
  • discernment of the truth from error (as instructed by the Spirit). 1Joh 2:26-28
  • a life of righteousness (characteristic of the new nature). 1Joh 3:6-10
  • a clear conscience toward God. 1Joh 3:19-21
  • love for God and Christ (for God's Spirit dwells within). 1Joh 4:13-16
  • love for God's born-again children (for we have one Father). 1Joh 4:20-21; 5:1-5
  • the inner assurance of eternal life in Christ (as witnessed by God's Word and Spirit). 1Joh 5:9-13; cp. Rom 8:16
Know ye not {Do ye not recognize}... that Jesus Christ is in you, (cp. 1Cor 6:15-20; Col 1:27)
except {unless} ye be reprobates {disapproved (by failing the test)}?
The word 'reprobate' is used of dross, rejected by a silver smelter, as corrupt, impure, and worthless. cp. Jer 6:30; Titus 1:15,16
7. Now I pray to God that ye do no evil {wickedness};
not that we should appear approved
{tested and accepted},
but that ye should do that which is honest
{right, good},
though we be as reprobates
{disapproved}. {cp. 1Cor 4:9-13}
8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.
{cp. Prov 21:30}
Paul wanted to hear that they were living according to truth and righteousness, for that would be a proof that they were in the Faith. cp. Php 1:27; 2Joh 1:4
9 For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong:
and this also we wish, [even] your perfection.
10 Therefore I write these things being absent,
lest being present I should use sharpness,
according to the power which the Lord hath given me
to edification, and not to destruction.
{cp. 2Cor 10:8-11}
...this also we wish, even your perfection {GK=katartisis, rendered fit, rightly ordered}.
This word for 'perfect' (also in v.11) differs from the word {GK=teleios, complete} translated 'perfect' in Eph 4:13 and Col 1:28. Ultimate perfection was Paul's goal for the Corinthian believers. But here (in v.9,11), the sense is that he desires to see them aimed in the right direction and making progress toward that goal (see this word in Eph 4:12; 1The 3:10; Heb 13:21).
V. Conclusion. 13:11-14
11. Finally, brethren, farewell {lit., rejoice, as in Php 4:4; 1The 5:16}.
Be perfect
{rightly ordered},
be of good comfort
{2Cor 1:3,4; 2The 2:16,17},
be of one mind
{1Cor 1:10; Rom 12:16},
live in peace
{Rom 12:18};
and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
12 Greet one another with an holy kiss.
13 All the saints salute you.
{1Cor 16:20}
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
{Joh 1:16,17}
and the love of God,
{Joh 3:16; Rom 8:38,39; 1Joh 3:16}
and the communion of the Holy Ghost,
{1Cor 12:13}
[be] with you all. Amen.
In this letter, Paul humbly, yet powerfully, countered the attacks of enemies who sought to discredit his apostolic authority and deceive his beloved spiritual children with destructive error (2Cor 11:2-4). We know that Paul did visit Corinth a second time, because that visit is mentioned very briefly in Acts 20:2,3 (although these verses do not name this prominent city in Greece).
     Either through this letter or through Paul's presence, during his three month stay in Corinth, the satanic strongholds, addressed in 2Corinthians (including doctrinal error and self-exalting false teachers), were evidently demolished with spiritual weapons (v.10; 2Cor 10:4). Following that visit, Paul's apostleship was universally recognized by the churches, as attested by the early church fathers, including Clement of Rome, whose letter to the Corinthian church (c. 96 AD) mentions the martyrdom of Peter and Paul, and encourages the church to "Take up the epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul." (1Clement ch.47) for help in dealing with another instance of internal discord.
     Also, during that brief visit, the collection for the saints in Jerusalem was gathered, and Paul's epistle to the Romans was written. In that letter, Paul tells the Roman church about the completion of the collection for the church in Jerusalem, and of his plans to visit Rome after that gift was delivered (Rom 15:26-28). The letter to the Romans closes with greetings from principle members of the Corinthian church (Rom 16:22,23.) At the end of Paul's second visit to Corinth, he departed enroute to Jerusalem, along with messengers entrusted with the gift from the Gentile churches (Acts 20:4).

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