1 This is the third time I am coming to you. "At the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established." 2 I have said beforehand, and I do say beforehand, as when I was present the second time, so now, being absent, I write to those who have sinned before now, and to all the rest, that, if I come again, I will not spare; 3 seeing that you seek a proof of Christ who speaks in me; who toward you is not weak, but is powerful in you. 4 For he was crucified through weakness, yet he lives through the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we will live with him through the power of God toward you. 5 Test your own selves, whether you are in the faith. Test your own selves. Or don't you know as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you? - unless indeed you are disqualified. 6 But I hope that you will know that we aren't disqualified. 7 Now I pray to God that you do no evil; not that we may appear approved, but that you may do that which is honorable, though we are as reprobate. 8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. 9 For we rejoice when we are weak and you are strong. And this we also pray for, even your perfecting. 10 For this cause I write these things while absent, that I may not deal sharply when present, according to the authority which the Lord gave me for building up, and not for tearing down. 11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Be perfected, be comforted, be of the same mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you. 14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.
This closing chapter 2-Corinthians 13:1-14 of the Epistle relates to the following subjects.
I. The assurance of Paul that he was about to come among them 2-Corinthians 13:1-4, and that he would certainly inflict punishment on all who deserved His enemies had reproached him as being timid and pusillanimous; see the notes on 2-Corinthians 10:1-2, 2-Corinthians 10:10-11. They had said that he was powerful to threaten, but afraid to execute. It is probable that they had become more bold in this from the fact that he had twice proposed to go there and had failed. In reply to all this, he now in conclusion solemnly assures them that he was coming, and that in all cases where an offence was proved by two or three witnesses, punishment would be inflicted; He assures them 2-Corinthians 13:2 that he would not spare; and that since they sought a proof that Christ had sent him they should witness that proof in the punishment which he would inflict 2-Corinthians 13:3; for that Christ was now clothed with power and was able to execute punishment, though he had been crucified; 2-Corinthians 13:4.
II. Paul calls on them solemnly to examine themselves and to see whether they had any true religion; 2-Corinthians 13:5-6. In the state of things which existed there; in the corruption which had abounded in the church, he solemnly commands them to institute a faithful inquiry, to know whether they had not been deceived; at the same time expressing the hope that it would appear as the result of their examination that they were not reprobates.
III. He earnestly prays to God that they might do no evil; that they might be found to be honest and pure, whatever might be thought of Paul himself or whatever might become of him; 2-Corinthians 13:7. Their repentance would save. Paul from exerting his miraculous power in their punishment, and might thus prevent the proof of his apostolic authority which they desired, and the consequence might be that they might esteem him to be a reprobate, for he could not exert his miraculous power except in the cause of truth; 2-Corinthians 13:8. Still he was willing to be esteemed an impostor if they would do no evil.
IV. He assures them that he earnestly wished their perfection, and that the design of his writing to them severe as he had appeared, was their edification; 2-Corinthians 13:9-10.
V. Then he bids them an affectionate and tender farewell, and closes with the usual salutations and benedictions; 2-Corinthians 13:11-14.
The apostle again says that this is the third time he has purposed to come and see them; and threatens that he will, by the power of Christ, punish every incorrigible sinner, 2-Corinthians 13:1-4. Exhorts them to examine themselves, whether they be in the faith, 2-Corinthians 13:5, 2-Corinthians 13:6. Prays that they may do no evil, 2-Corinthians 13:7. And shows how ardently he wished their complete restoration to unity and purity, 2-Corinthians 13:8, 2-Corinthians 13:9. Tells them for what reason he writes to them, 2-Corinthians 13:10. Bids them farewell, 2-Corinthians 13:11, Gives them some directions, and concludes with his apostolical benediction, 2-Corinthians 13:12-14.
INTRODUCTION TO 2 CORINTHIANS 13
In this chapter the apostle continues his resolution to come to the Corinthians, and to threaten with severity the incorrigible among them, giving the reasons of it; prays to God that they might so behave, that there might be no occasion for the exercise of it; and concludes the epistle with very useful exhortations, and hearty wishes of good things to them. He intimates to them again, that he intended this third time to come unto them, when he would not spare them, as they might expect he would not; partly because they had such repeated warnings, reproofs, and admonitions from him, 2-Corinthians 13:1 and partly because many of them had sinned before, and were stubborn and obstinate, and had not repented, 2-Corinthians 13:2 as also because they had tempted him, and demanded a proof of his power and authority, and of Christ speaking in him, 2-Corinthians 13:3 and whereas this sprung from the outward appearance of the apostle, whose bodily presence was weak, he observes to them the instance of Christ himself in human nature, who was crucified through weakness, and yet lives by the power of God; and so he and his fellow ministers were weak like Christ, and for his sake, and yet lived, and should live by the power of God; so that their outward appearance was no proof of their want of the power of Christ in them, 2-Corinthians 13:4 besides, he directs them to themselves for a proof of it; who upon examination would find, that they were in the faith, and Christ was in them; which was owing to the ministry of the apostle, as a means and instrument; and so they had a proof in themselves of Christ's speaking in the apostle, and being mighty in, and towards them, or else they must be reprobate, injudicious, and disapproved persons, 2-Corinthians 13:5 but whether they were such persons or not, he was confident that he would not be found such; but would appear to be in the faith, to have Christ in him, and to have power and authority from him, 2-Corinthians 13:6 however, the apostle's hearty prayer for them was, that they might be kept from evil; and that they might do that which is good, and so be approved of God and men; and there be no occasion to use any severity with them, when he should come among them, 2-Corinthians 13:7 otherwise he could do nothing against the truth, could not connive at error and sin, but must use the power and authority he had to crush everything of that kind, and defend truth, 2-Corinthians 13:8 and so far was he from glorying in his power, and priding himself with it, that it was a pleasure to him to have no occasion to make use of it, by which it might seem as if he was without it; and it rejoiced him, when they stood fast in the faith, and walked as became the Gospel, and so needed not the rod of reproof and correction; nay, he could even wish, that they were wholly perfect, and free from all blame, and every kind of charge, 2-Corinthians 13:9 and the end he had in the writing in the manner he did, being absent from them, was, lest when he should come among them, he should be obliged to make use of his power he had from Christ for edification, and not destruction; to prevent which, he wrote and admonished them, in order to bring them to repentance, that so he might have no occasion to use severity and sharpness, 2-Corinthians 13:10 and then he takes his farewell of them, by giving them some exhortations to harmony, unity, peace, and love among themselves, 2-Corinthians 13:11 gives the salutations of all the saints unto them, 2-Corinthians 13:13 and then his own, with which he concludes the epistle, which is a wish of all the blessings of grace from all the three persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, 2-Corinthians 13:14.
SUMMARY.--Severity Threatened to All Who Do Not Repent. He Will Display the Apostolic Power. Exhorted to Self-Examination; and to Reformation Before He Comes. Closing Admonitions. Benediction.
*More commentary available by clicking individual verses.