Study Notes in 2 Corinthians 13
2 Corinthians 13
The final chapter! Paul gives a warning of how he'll come to them, asks they examine themselves, stands for the truth, and prays to God on their behalf.
1 This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.
There's a lot of opinion on what exactly is meant here, but he's quoting from Deuteronomy 19:15, and we also see that quoted in Matthew 18:16. Whether this is being quoted now to signify that Paul had given "two or three" letters against them or that he would come with others is unclear. What is clear (especially considering the next verse) is that he is coming for correction.
William Godbey said, "He had sent Timothy in the first place, who had labored faithfully to correct all of those troubles. Afterward he had sent Titus, who had done the same; both of them having held protracted meetings of reasonable prolixity, making all due and faithful effort to accomplish the end in view. Of course now when he goes down, he himself will be the third witness on the stand in favor of the prosecution of the guilty."
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:
This bears a close similarity to 1 Corinthians 4:21, What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?
Apparently he'll be coming with a rod so to speak, and bringing the truth (verse 8 below). From the context of the past couple chapters it seems he will come especially against the false teachers who perverted the gospel for their own benefit.
3 Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.
How is the proof of Christ in him mighty in them? They are saved by the power of the gospel (See 2 Corinthians 3:3)! Their salvation is proof of his sincerity.
Let's always remember that these wicked idolaters in the city of Corinth were saved by the power of the gospel.
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.
See Philippians 2:7-8.
Paul makes a comparison here between the apparent weakness of Christ in that He was crucified (and the sincere weakness He allowed while in the flesh), yet proved His great power and deity by rising from the dead. In a similar manner, Paul and his fellow workers are "weak" in being connected with Christ through the beatings and persecutions they endure, yet they will demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit in them.
Another way to phrase it is that they appear weak but they'll show power against their enemies.
5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
Connect this verse with verse 3. Are you not the proof of the power of the gospel? Are you not Christians and not reprobates? Doesn't the power of God reside in you?
"Man pollutes himself; then God reprobates the polluted." - Adam Clarke
1 Corinthians 11:28, But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
6 But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.
Paul says you have been shown the fullest proof by my ministry and sincerity and that the power of Christ rests on me.
7 Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.
Paul prays for the Corinthians to do the right thing, putting their best interest over himself. He says hypothetically "though we be as reprobates" as if to say that regardless of who Paul is they should still do right. They should still follow the Lord.
Albert Barnes paraphrases, "I am willing to be regarded as rejected, disapproved, worthless, like base metal, provided you lead honest and holy lives."
8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.
The truth stands on its own and we can't do anything opposed to the truth. Paul will deliver truth to them as he has done and it will stand on its own regardless of who Paul is or what his accusers say about him.
We ALL should be constrained by the truth.
9 For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection.
We're happy to be weak or considered weak if it means that you are standing strong in the Lord.
We wish your perfection, or your completeness and restoration. He hopes for their restoration to unity and to walking with the Lord (see verse 11).
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.
He's writing these things to warn ahead of time. He'd rather show up to edify and enjoy the fellowship. Similar statement to 2 Corinthians 10:8.
William Burkitt writes, "Learn we, from the apostle's practice, to execute the censures of the church with great tenderness and affection, with great pity and compassion, with extraordinary dread and caution; not with rashness and indiscretion, or upon every light and trivial occasion, but like a tender-hearted father, with a rod in our hands, and tears in our eyes."
11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
Be restored and return to unity. Our God is the God of love, peace, and comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3).
12 Greet one another with an holy kiss.
A greeting in love.
13 All the saints salute you.
All believers are saints.
1 Corinthians 1:2, Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their's and our's
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.
The closing remark and a beautiful verse on the Trinity.