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Friday, December 22 2017

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

INTRODUCTION: Last week, from our study in 2 Corint.12:1-21, we saw Paul, a man full of revelations and insight into kingdom mysteries and on the other hand, he was going through fierce persecution from the gates of hell. The comforting words of the Lord to Paul was; “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”. The response of Paul is “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor.12:9-10).

 

This week, we are studying 2 Corinthian chapter 13. This concludes our studies in Paul’s letters to the Corinthian Church.

 

1. Coming with Authority: 2 Cor.13:1-6

This will be the third time I am coming to you. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.” 2 I have told you before, and foretell as if I were present the second time, and now being absent I write to those who have sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again I will not spare. 3 since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. 4 For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives 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. 5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. 6 But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.

 

Vs-1, This is the third time Paul will be visiting Corinth because of persistent problems, so Paul warned them that he would not listen to gossip, or to stories about other people. In any such matter, Paul needed to hear witnesses who were able to give their evidence in front of God. The truth would become clear when the evidence of two or three witnesses are in agreement according to Due.19:15.

 

Vs-2, On his return to Corinth he will deal firmly with those people who are causing troubles in the church. In 1 Corinthians 5:1-5. There, Paul told the church to deal with the member who was guilty of wrong sex acts. He urged the church to join with him in prayer against that man and his evil behaviour.

 

Vs-3-4, Corinth’s Christians very much wanted to see the power of God. For a time, they confused it with the actions of powerful men who wanted to control them. Probably, the Christians made that mistake because they had not really understood God’s power in their own lives. They considered Paul weak; they even doubted his apostleship. Paul, on the other hand, believed that church leaders should normally be humble, gentle and patient. He understood that God is working powerfully inside his people - nobody can see that power, but it is real (2Tim.2:24).

 

Their error was to concentrate too much on the things that they could see and feel. Their problem with Paul was simply that he did not impress them enough.

However, there is a situation where church leaders must be firm and powerful. They must sometimes deal with stubborn people who have firmly chosen to do wrong things. In such circumstances, even the most gentle church leader has a duty to be strong and bold. An extreme example is how Samuel carried out God’s punishment against the wicked King Agag in 1 Samuel 15:33.

 

Vs-5-6, Paul urges each of his readers to examine whether their own relationship with God is real. It is not good enough if other people consider us to be genuine Christians. Even our own heart (mind) can convince us of something that is not true. So we must be extremely careful in this matter.

 

2. Paul Prefers Gentleness: 2 Cor.13:7-10
 

Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honourable, though we may seem disqualified. 8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. 9 For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete. 10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction.

 

Vs-7-8 Paul loved the Christians in Corinth, even as a father loves his own children. However, they were discussing whether Paul’s work for God was genuine or not. They complained that Paul did not seem impressive enough. He refused their gifts; and he did not seem powerful, like some other church leaders.

 

Paul wanted them to know the truth about him. However, in the end, it hardly seemed to matter. Paul had worked hard among them so that they could have a relationship with God. So, if now they were truly serving God, their opinion about Paul was unimportant. Paul had done his work; the work of God in their lives would continue without Paul.

 

Paul still prayed for them, and he would continue to pray for them. He was not praying that they would approve of him. He was praying that they would do the right things. He prayed that they would stop their wrong activities. Paul’s greatest desire was that they would learn to serve God better.

 

Paul saw himself as a witness of the truth about God. As a witness, Paul cared only that people heard the truth. When people accepted Christ into their lives, they had received the truth. It was not necessary for them also to accept Paul as the leader of their church. If Paul had argued otherwise, he would have been arguing against the truth. So, Paul considered it his duty simply to declare the truth that God had shown to him.

 

Vs-9-10 Many political leaders and business leaders are pleased when they become more powerful or more important. Church leaders should have a very different attitude. They can be glad even about the loss of their power, when other people serve God better as a result. That is because church leaders must not work for their own wealth, honour and importance. Instead, church leaders work for God; and they work to help other people to know God better. Matt.23:11.

 

So, Paul was not praying that Corinth’s Christians would respect him. Instead, he was praying that God would make them perfect. We can see what he meant by ‘perfect’ from his previous use of a similar word in 1 Corinthians 1:10. There, Paul was writing about the opposing groups that had formed in their church. Those groups argued much with each other. Paul appealed that the church should be ‘perfect’ with the same opinion. In other words, he wanted them to ‘join’ with the other Christians, and not to be separate groups that constantly argued. We could say that God needed to ‘repair’ their church; it was as if it had broken apart. Paul was praying for God to do that.

3. Greetings and Benediction 2 Cor.13:11-14

 

 

Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one 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, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

 

Vs-11, Paul was concluding his letter here with greetings. The rest of Paul’s advice is for the same purpose. They should urge and encourage each other to serve God better. They should end their arguments and they should try to understand each other. Their many different opinions had caused them to separate from each other in the past. However, God wanted them to join together so that they would all benefit from their many different skills and gifts. Then, instead of their constant arguments, their church would be calm and content.

That was what God wanted. Love and peace (a calm and content attitude) are part of God’s character. They are also among the results of the Holy Spirit’s work in the lives of Christians. Christians should love each other with the love that comes from God. They should be calm and content because of the work that God is doing in their lives.

 

Vs-12, Paul mentions the ‘holy kiss’ in three other places also: Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; and 1 Thessalonians 5:26. It became a usual greeting in the first Christian churches. The custom continues in the churches in some countries near the Mediterranean Sea today. The men kiss each of the other men in turn. The women kiss each of the other women. Men do not kiss women; and they do not kiss on the lips. Rather, they kiss by the side of the head.

 

Vs-13, ‘All the saints greet you.’ In the original language, Greek, the word for ‘saints’ is HAGIOI. That word is simply the plural form of the word that means ‘holy’. So, a correct translation would be: ‘All the holy people greet you.’

Paul concluded with the benediction

 

 

CONCLUSION

Vs 14, Paul finishes the Book of 2 Corinthians with words that are very familiar to many Christians today. They are not just a prayer but a blessing: a declaration that God will show his kindness in a person’s life. This blessing is sometimes called ‘the benediction’, which means ‘the blessing’ - or sometimes simply ‘the grace’. Many church meetings today end when the leader, or all the people, declare these words to everyone present.

 

                                 Parts of this study was culled from usefulbible.com

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:04 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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