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Bible Commentaries

Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible

2 Corinthians 13

Verses 11-21

  1. Intro:
    1. Remember the old EBS? "This is a test. For the next 30 seconds, this station will conduct a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test." - Beeeeeep - "If this had been an actual emergency, the Attention Signal you just heard would have been followed by official information, news or instructions." (ended 1997)
    2. Tests, Tests, Tests! – Test: a procedure intended to establish the quality, performance, or reliability of something, esp. before it is taken into widespread use.
      1. It seems like every day there’s a test for something.
      2. Medical tests (Biopsy’s, blood work, pregnancy tests); School Tests (From pop-quizzes to finals); Even our automobiles have diagnostic tests run on them. Psychological tests; Paternity tests; Stress tests.
        1. Well, spiritually there are some tests that ought to be run often.
    3. Outline: Paul gives 5 open book Tests: The Serving Survey; The Attitude Analysis; The Faith Final; The Authority Assessment; & then our very own Personal Fruit Inspection.
  2. SERVING SURVEY! (11-18)
    1. 5 good questions to ask regarding Serving!
      1. Am I too big for my britches? (11-13)
        1. I am nothing – Not false humility here. (True humility)
        2. “When you see yourself as nobody, then you don’t mind working with people who have taken advantage of you!”
        3. (Spurgeon) “He whose garments are the whitest will best perceive the spots upon them. He whose crown shines the brightest will know when he has lost a jewel. He who gives the most light to the world will always be able to discover his own darkness.” (Charles Spurgeon)
      2. Am I seeking their souls or their stuff? (14)
        1. I do not seek yours, but you – He’s not after what you got, but who you are!
        2. This lays down one of the supreme principles of Christian living!
      3. Am I a joyful servant? (15)
        1. I will very gladly spend & be spent – Mt.20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
    2. Am I taking advantage of anyone? (16-18a)
      1. Did I (or Titus) take advantage of you? – He refuses to use them.
    3. Am I modeling what I’m expecting of others? (18b)
      1. Did we not walk in the same steps – Paul models what he expects of others.
      2. Edgar Guest said, “I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I'd rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.”
      3. Leonardo da Vinci had started work on a large canvas in his studio. For awhile he worked at it--choosing the subject, planning the perspective, sketching the outline, applying the colors, with his own inimitable genius. Then suddenly he ceased, the painting still unfinished, and, summoning one of his students, invited him to complete the work. The student protested that he was both unworthy and unable to complete the great painting which his master had begun. But da Vinci silenced him. "Will not what I have done inspire you to do your best?"
  3. ATTITUDE ANALYSIS! (19-21)
    1. ​​​​​​​The bible is packed full of relationships…many were very turbulent!
      1. Cain & Abel; Jacob & Esau; Joseph & his brothers; Samuel & Saul, David & Saul, Saul & Saul; David & Absalom; Paul & Barnabas; Euodia & Syntyche(Phil.4:2).
    2. We speak before God in Christ – On one occasion Abraham Lincoln & his counselors had taken an important decision. One of the counselors said, “Well, Mr. President, I hope that God is on our side.” Lincoln answered, “What I am worried about is, not if God is on our side, but if we are on God’s side.”
    3. Paul reveals his motive(19b)…their building up not their tearing down!
    4. Slide#8 (20) Backbitings (slander) are loud-mouthed attacks. Someone speaking in public about you. Whisperings (Gossip) on the other hand are more sinister, lurking like a shadow behind someone’s back.
      1. Funny poster I saw: Sure, “Love your neighbor,” But you can say whatever you want about somebody...as long as you add... “Just sayin”.
      2. See whisperings are, “the slanderous story murmured in someone’s ear, the discreditable tale passed on as a spicy secret.” (Barclay)
      3. Both are aimed at character assassination, but at least w/a slanderer you can deal w/it because it is a frontal attack.
      4. With a whisper campaign, it is an underground movement which will not face you. Thus you are helpless to attack, because you do not know about it! (like fighting terrorists)
        1. But remember, "a tiger doesn't lose sleep over the opinion of sheep"
    5. (21) After Paul’s list of sins of the heart & tongue he deals with the sins of the body.
      1. Paul lists forms a downward spiral from: uncleanness (a general word describing any impurity); to fornication (includes fornication & adultery); to lewdness (filthiness that knows no restraint).
    6. Has the world squeezed you into its mold? Or, are you remolding the world?
    7. Are you living the lifestyle of the carnal Corinthians? Or, are you incarnating the character of Christ?
      1. If you are not salt infiltrating a decaying world, the decaying world is infiltrating you! (Charles Swindoll, pg.78.)

Verses 1-10

  1. FAITH FINAL! (13:1-6)
    1. (1-4) Paul appeals to the Law(Deut.17:6). He is through warning them. Discipline is imminent. It is time for a thorough spring cleaning! [fur is going to fly!]
    2. (2) I will not spare – He’s coming w/his white glove!
      1. Sometimes your doctor recommends medicine. When that doesn’t work, he resorts to surgery! :(
    3. (5,6) Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
      1. The test here isn’t asking, how often you go to church, or how often you say your mealtime prayers, or how many verses you’ve memorized. It goes right to the bottom line...are you even in the Christian faith?
      2. If those in the church chronically reject God’s words & ways, checking to see if they’re saved isn’t just wise. It’s essential!
      3. Before we examine someone else’s life we are encouraged to examine our own 1st!
    4. Note 3 words used here: Examine, Test & Know.
    5. Examine A test.
      1. Do you have a personal relationship w/Christ?
      2. Have you experienced any significant changes in your life through knowing Him?
      3. Do you experience His leading, His presence, His peace, & His joy?
      4. If you were to die today, do you have the assurance of eternity w/God?
    6. Test A proof. [test is stronger than examine]
      1. How would you “prove” you were a Christian?
      2. If you were abducted in a closed foreign country would there have been enough evidence to convict you of being a Christian?
      3. Can you show evidence you are really a changed person? How different are your thoughts? Your habits? Your goals? Your relationships? Your feelings?
      4. Are you getting easier to live with?
      5. Are your attitudes any different now than they were in the past?
    7. Know – A perception.
      1. Do you have any inner discernment?
      2. Do you have His peace?
  2. AUTHENTICITY ASSESSMENT! (7-10)
    1. (10) Paul reiterates his intention of this letter. To build up not tear down!
      1. 1. He sought to lead sheep, not drive cattle!
  3. PERSONAL FRUIT INSPECTION!
    1. (5c) Disqualified = do not stand the test. Do you stand the test?
    2. How many professing Christians are living in self-deception? - Most test life this way…
      1. Externally, things are more or less all right in my life. I have a pretty sound doctrinal basis of faith. My life is lived more or less righteously. I’m not conscious of any gross sin in my life.
        1. But Paul says, that’s not the test! That’s the good moral person test! No, it’s about an Slide#17b Internal test...Christ in you! (5b)
        2. This is how one is approved by God.
        3. God’s concerned not only with outward conduct but inward life.
        4. I can have a correct creed...but I am not saved by a statement of Creed!
      2. I want to know, do these questions find you out?
      3. These questions shouldn’t lead you to morbid introspection!
        1. How does it not?
          1. Ask the H.S. to guide you! Ps.139:23,24 Search me, O God, & know my heart; Try me, & know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. (You can’t do by yourself, you need the H.S. guiding this process)
          2. Don’t look for sin, look for Jesus!
          3. Search w/in yur heart for evidences of the indwelling H.S. in your life
      4. Results:
        1. Keeps your heart tender; keeps your will submissive; keeps your mind open to leading of the H.S.
        2. It takes the chill away from your soul; it takes away hardness from your heart; it takes shadows away from your life. It breaks up any clouds that have formed between you & your Savior. It sets the prisoner free.
        3. It ushers in...His peace, His forgiveness, His cleansing, His Presence.
    3. These questions have their origin in the spiritual accountability group started by John Wesley when he was a student at Oxford called "The Holy Club."
      1. ​​​​​​​The first list appeared about 1729 in the preface to Wesley's second Oxford Diary. (284 yrs ago)
    4. Questions:
      1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
      2. Do I confidentially pass on to others what has been said to me in confidence?
      3. Can I be trusted?
      4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work or habits?
      5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
      6. Did the Bible live in me today?
      7. Do I give the Bible time to speak to me every day?
      8. Am I enjoying prayer?
      9. When did I last speak to someone else of my faith?
      10. Do I pray about the money I spend?
      11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
      12. Do I disobey God in anything?
      13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
      14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
      15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
      16. How do I spend my spare time?
      17. Am I proud?
      18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?
      19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?
      20. Do I grumble or complain constantly?
      21. Is Christ real to me?

Verses 11-14

  1. Intro:
    1. Title: Christianity’s Nuts & Bolts!
      1. ​​​​​​​When we use the informal definition for Nuts and bolts - we are talking about the essential or practical details.
      2. Paul gives us 6 practical commands for our Christianity.
        1. Six in Greek is Hex, where we get hexagon/6 sided...like our nuts & bolts.
    2. Paul ends this letter with such a peaceful & encouraging note!
    3. “This benediction is the most complete of them all. It presents the persons of the Trinity in full form.” (A.T.Robertson, Word Pictures in the N.T., Vol.4, pg.271) (benediction = utter a blessing, invoke God’s favor)
    4. Note the opening of his closing! - Finally brethren!
      1. ​​​​​​​Remember, this was a letter to a divided, unspiritual church. Yet, there was no distinction between those who attacked him & those who supported him.
  2. NUTS & BOLTS! (11-13)
    1. ​​​​​​​Paul sums up this letter with 6 Practical Commands:
    2. [1] Farewell - χαίρω or Good-bye. But the root term is “be joyful”.
    3. (Swindoll) In other words laugh more. Let laughter spill from your life, filling the walls of your home & your workplace. Solomon said…
      1. A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones. Prov.17:22
      2. Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up. Prov.12:25
      3. A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit. Prov.15:13
      4. For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast. Prov.15:15
    4. Our 1st soul search: Am I living the joy filled life?
    5. [2] Become Complete - καταρτίζω. Aim for perfection(NIV). Also means Restoration.
      1. It has in mind supplying what is missing to bring about full usefulness.
        1. It’s used for mending a torn net (Mk1:19 w/Ja&Jn). Setting a broken bone. Equipping an army w/supplies. Patching up anything that has been injured or damaged.
        2. Go onward to perfection - there is no standing still in the Christian life.
          1. If you’re not advancing you’re slipping back!
        3. RSV translates it “Mend your ways”.
      2. See, after you make things right on the human level, you’ll enjoy fellowship on the divine level (LKGNT)
        1. Have you mended your ways after being confronted by truth from 2 Cor.?
        2. Have you been restored?
        3. What difference have these studies made in your life?
          1. Remember, as one said, “It’s not how many books of the bible we get through, but how many books get through us!”
    6. Our 2nd soul search: Am I mending my ways?
    7. [3] Be of good comfort - παρακαλέω. To come along side. It can also be a command...to Encourage, cheer, exhort, or console one another.
      1. If exhortation - It takes a big man to listen to hard advice.
        1. ​​​​​​​Stop talking & start listening to the voice of the wise, to the voice of Jesus Christ.
      2. We can be of good comfort in following Paul’s advice, in getting our lives in order.
    8. Our 3rd soul search: Do I consider my spiritual life to be in order? What’s out of order?
    9. [4] Be of one mind - Like minded. Harmonious in thought & aim. Agree w/1 another.
      1. He’s not asking for uniformity in dress or appearance or actions. He asking all of us to have the same focus.
      2. When we’re like-minded toward Christ, we are like-minded toward others, unselfish & open & supportive. Which is the secret of close relationships.
    10. Our 4th soul search: Do I have a common purpose with my church? With my small group? With others I serve with?
    11. [5] Live in peace - Be peaceable. Paul’s goal, stay together, peacefully.
      1. Men must love each other before their love for God has any reality.
      2. Who wants to be in an organization whose members can’t get along?
      3. Do I live in peace? Do I calm the waters, or tend to stir thing up?
    12. As they lived together in peace & harmony they’d receive this 2-fold promise:
      1. We can count on His divine presence - the God of love and peace will be with you.
      2. We can also count on earthly companionship....All the saints greet you (13).
    13. Our 5th soul search: Do I live in His peace or just visit it once in a while? Would my friends say I live in peace?
    14. [6] Greet one another w/a holy kiss - [maybe today a holy hug, or a holy fist bump, or my favorite...the triple shoulder pat] [double/u just wanna be done - quatro/its gettin a lil weird now] :)
      1. He’s telling them to be affectionate with one another.
      2. Not impure or sensual. As, the men sat with the men & women with the women.
    15. The early Christians were known for their visible expressions of love. But later it grew more formal.
      1. The church eventually came up with the Pax-Board or Peace Plate.
        1. It was used in the Middle Ages to convey the kiss of peace to the faithful.
          1. They’d say, “Pax tecum” (Peace be w/you)
        2. In 1250 Archbishop Walter in England introduced the Pax–board that had been kissed by the clergy & was then passed among the congregation to be kissed.
        3. It was a plaque of metal, ivory, or wood, generally decorated with some pious carving and provided with a handle.
          1. Where’s the warmth in that? - Greet one another w/a holy board???
    16. Our 6th soul search: Do I show appropriate affection to my brothers & sisters? Inappropriate? Or, none at all? (maybe a better word would be warmth/or caring)
  3. THE TRINITY’S TRIPLE BLESSING! (14)
    1. The benediction (utter a blessing) of the Trinity.
    2. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ –
      1. This takes us back to Bethlehem, where He became poor for us.
    3. The love of God –
      1. This takes us back to Calvary, where God The Father’s love gave us His Son.
    4. The communion/Koinonia of the Holy Spirit - [fellowship/participation which has the HS as its object]
      1. This takes us back to Pentecost, where The Spirit baptized all believers into the body of Christ.
    5. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
      1. The grace manifested by Christ.
      2. When a person works an eight-hour day and receives a fair day’s pay for his time, that is a wage. When a person competes with an opponent and receives a trophy for his performance, that is a prize. When a person receives appropriate recognition for his long service or high achievements, that is an award. But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves no award - yet receives such a gift anyway - that is a good picture of God’s unmerited favor.
    6. The love of God
      1. The love expressed by the Father.
      2. There is a natural, logical kind of loving that loves lovely things and lovely people.
        1. That’s logical. But there is another kind of loving that doesn’t look for value in what it loves, but that CREATES value in what it loves. Like a small child’s rag doll.
    7. The communion/fellowship of the Holy Spirit
      1. ​​​​​​​The fellowship created by the Holy Spirit.
        1. This word fellowship originates in the relationship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have with one another.
      2. Ps.55:14 NLT helps us define fellowship. What good fellowship we once enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God.
        1. The root of fellowship means Common or shared.
        2. It’s a common participation in something either by giving & receiving.
    8. Amen - So be it. I agree. Action!
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 13". "Brian Bell Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/2-corinthians-13.html. 2017.