2 Corinthians 13 Bible study

 

The Pentecostal Bible Commentary

1 Corinthians

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Chapter 13.

 

Warning of Severe Discipline.

 

1. This is the third time I am coming to you. "Any charge must be sustained by the evidence of two or three witnesses."

 

Paul has already warned that on his third visit he would not spare those who have continued to sin and have not repented (2 Cor. 12:21). Yet he insists that all discipline will be executed fairly, in accordance with Scriptural principles. Charges must be brought by two or three persons, but never by one (Deut. 19:15).

 

2. I warned those who sinned previously and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again, I will not be lenient.

 

This warning was nothing new. Paul had already warned them about this on his second visit, and does so again now that they might know how serious he is. When he comes he will be severe to those in the church who continue to live in sin.

 

V3,4. Since you desire proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful in you. For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.

 

We have already seen in these studies that there were those who questioned Paul's apostleship and authority to discipline the church. If these people demanded a proof that Christ spoke through him (that is, that he acted in Christ's name and with his personal authority) then Paul would give it.

 

Though Christ was crucified in weakness, He lives by the power of God. His power is unlimited (Matt. 28:18 ; Rev. 1:8) and His authority over the Church absolute (Eph. 1:22). By His power He has brought us out of the spiritual death of sin into the life of God, which is everlasting (Eph. 2:5-6).As Christ's power had previously been manifested in healing and salvation, it would also be manifested in His judging and disciplining of his Church.

 

Just as Christ knew human weakness in the suffering of crucifixion, so the apostles knew weakness as they endured suffering and persecution for His sake. Nothing they accomplished was done by their own power, but by Christ's power in them; through the preaching, miracles, the planting and the building up of churches. This same power would be at work in them as they carried out their responsibility to impose and establish order, government, and authority in the churches. It was the power of Christ at work in him that gave Paul the authority to handle matters of church discipline.

 

 

Examine Your Lives. 

 

5. Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless, indeed, you fail to meet the test!

 

Rather than putting Paul's authority to the test, they should examine themselves. Were they living lives which truly demonstrated that Christ was living in them? Paul has already dealt in his epistles to Corinth with the moral implications of Christ's living in us (1 Cor. 3:16-17 ; 1 Cor. 6:19-20). Did the Corinthians live up to this standard? Were they going on with God as they should? The proof that Christ was in them was their growing in the grace and knowledge of Him. Though Christ had been accepted by the Corinthians, some were not allowing Him to have His way; He was not abiding in them and they in Him (John 15:4-6 ; 1 John 2:24).

 

When spiritual growth is hindered, the danger of falling away is very real and the apostles would be forced to act to remove any possible danger. Of course, there may have been those in the church who were not saved. The evidence that Christ lives in our heart is that the Holy Spirit bears witness with out spirit that we are born of God. This is accompanied with a changed heart and life. If these are absent, salvation is not present.

 

6. I hope you will find out that we have not failed.

 

But, says Paul, you have seen by our way of life that Christ really does live in us. So where is the proof that He lives in you? Why aren't you behaving differently from the world around you?

 

 

The Reason for Discipline.

 

7. But we pray to God that you may not do anything wrong--not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed.

 

Paul's prayer that the Corinthians should be kept from worldliness is not based on a desire for his apostleship to be approved, to show he had founded a good church; he genuinely cares for the Corinthians' welfare. Paul would not mind being thought of as a failure so long as the Corinthians were going on with God.

 

8. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.

 

It was not to undermine the truth, but to promote it that they used discipline. Gill says, "The apostles had no power, nor did they desire to (act) against (those) who received the truth, loved it; continued in it, walked in it, and held it fast; they would only use their authority to discipline to defend the truth against those that dropped, denied, and opposed it; and for the honor of it, by chastising, correcting.. and punishing (those) who contradicted it, or caused it to be blasphemed."

 

9. For we rejoice when we are weak and you are strong. This is what we pray for, that you may become perfect. 

 

Paul rejoiced when he saw believers growing stronger in Jesus, though for him it meant suffering weakness for their sake . He wished the Corinthians to become fully mature in Christ. "Perfection" means to be fully equipped, in all the Christian graces.

 

10. So I write these things while I am away from you, so that when I come, I may not have to be severe in using the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down. 

 

The reason he wrote such strong words when absent was to avoid having to do so when present. The authority the Lord gave Paul for the sake of His Church. It was that they might grow in faith, not that their faith might be destroyed.

 

 

Final Words & Benediction.

 

11. Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

 

Paul exhorts the church to remain of good cheer (Phil. 4:4) and to be perfectly joined together in a maturity of understanding in the Christian faith, keeping the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace and to be comforted in this fellowship (Phil. 2:1-2). As they did so the God of love and peace would be with them (Phil. 4:9).

 

12. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

 

Paul refers to a custom prevalent in most countries then, as today, that greetings are given by a kiss. Paul refers to this kiss as holy to distinguish it from the erotic use of kissing. The custom may be unusual in our land, but the principle remains clear. Christian greetings should "spring from real love and true friendship, and be without dissimulation, hearty and sincere" (Gill). There are to be no "limp lettuce" handshakes in a Christian church.

 

13. All the saints greet you.

 

Paul conveyed greetings to the Corinthians from all the Christians who were with him at that time. Gill says "being all interested in the same divine favour, redeemed by the same blood, and sanctified by the same grace, they have a common concern for each other's welfare."

 

14.  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

 

Paul's final greeting is the benediction. He invokes a three fold blessing upon them all. That they may continue to know and experience the grace (unmerited favor) of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

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