2 Corinthians 13
1This is the third time I am coming to you EVERY FACT IS TO BE CONFIRMED BY THE TESTIMONY OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES.
2I have previously said when present the second time, and though now absent I say in advance to those who have sinned in the past and to all the rest as well, that if I come again I will not spare anyone,
3since you are seeking for proof of the Christ who speaks in me, and who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you.
Paul is going to come to the Corinthians a third time, and he is going to address all issues of sin, sparing no one. He will not put a person out of the fellowship unless there are two or three witnesses to prove his or her guilt. But Paul wants all of them to know that sin will be addressed when he comes, which will serve as a demonstration of the strength and power of Christ which works in and through his weakness. Christ is not weak but mighty, and He will reveal where the sin is and what needs to be changed. Those who don’t repent will be disciplined by the church as they are removed from fellowship.
4For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you.
Christ was crucified because of weakness in that He willingly submitted Himself to the plan of God, allowing Himself to be crucified by men who deemed themselves stronger than Him. Yet He demonstrated that He has all power when He rose from the dead. As believers, we are weak in Him, choosing to suffer with Him and be mocked by the world. Yet we will live with Him for eternity by the power of God, the same power that raised Christ from the dead.
5Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test?
6But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test.
Paul wants the Corinthians to be introspective before he comes to them. He wants them to determine whether they are saved or not and whether they are walking according to the faith or not. Either Jesus is in them or not. If they are saved, He is. If they are not saved, He is not. Those who have Christ in them should be known by love (1 John 4:7-8) and by the fact that they don’t continue practicing sin (1 John 3:9). It is imperative that every person comes to a place where they know where they stand before God. Believers should rest in their relationship with God Who will keep them until the end (1 John 5:13).
7Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved.
8For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth.
9For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you be made complete.
10For this reason I am writing these things while absent, so that when present I need not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down.
Paul prays that the Corinthians repent and stop sinning. This is not because he wants the Corinthians to follow him for his own ego’s sake, but it is that he wants them to obey God and live in righteousness for their own well-being and for the glory of God. He is on the side of truth, and he wants them to be on that side as well. What is true will be true, no matter how many deceptions and lies there are floating around. The truth can’t be stopped because Christ will build His church (Matthew 16:18). We must guard ourselves lest we oppose the truth and thereby fall under its condemnation. We can’t stop the truth from being true, but we can receive rewards from the Lord if we participate in the advancement of His truth. Paul rejoices when he sees the Corinthians strong in the Lord, even if he must suffer greatly in order to see it done. He desires that they grow to maturity in Christ and that the church continues to be sustained and sanctified in Corinth. Paul says that he writes this letter now correcting them so that he doesn’t have to come to them in severity yet again and use the authority which he has been given to set things straight in the church, though he will if he must (v. 2). He doesn’t want to have to rebuke and tear down when he visits, but he would rather build the Corinthians up, enjoying good fellowship in the Lord all the while.
11Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Paul concludes this letter by commanding the church to rejoice, grow to maturity, be comforted, be like-minded, and at peace. This will only happen if they repent of sin and stop listening to the false teachers. They must listen to Paul’s teaching if they want to have joy. As they obey and humble themselves, God will give them peace and enable love to overflow through them to one another and to the world in need.
They have pushed God away by their sin and error, and God will be with them to bless them and help them if only they will seek Him by obeying His commands (James 4:8).
12Greet one another with a holy kiss.
The holy kiss was a customary greeting in this culture that was between men or between women. There was nothing immoral or sensual about it, but it was akin to a handshake or hug. It was holy in that it was not corrupt and not tied to pagan practices.
13All the saints greet you.
14The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
Finally, Paul passes on the greetings of the saints from other churches. He prays that the grace of Jesus, Who is Lord of all and the Messiah, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit would be with them. If they obey, they can expect to know God’s love and to be overflowing with it. They can expect to be showered with the grace of Christ to be able to do good works, and they can expect that the Holy Spirit will comfort them, commune with them, lead them, and create a unity among them. All members of the Trinity will be at work in them, but they must first repent and draw near to God. God is always eager to bless and bestow sufficient grace to His people as they turn to Him in faith.