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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 13

Gann's Commentary on the BibleGann on the Bible

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Verse 1

2 Corinthians 13:1

This is the third time -- (see the note on 2 Corinthians 12:14.) For the Greek present in the sense of an intention see 1 Corinthians 16:5. CBSC

Either Paul is anticipating his third visit to Corinth, OR it was the thrid time that he had taken up thoughts of traveling and was nor preparing for such a journey. (Poole, etc.)

Paul’s first visit to Corinth was the founding visit recorded in Acts 18:1-18 . His second visit was the Painful visit noted in 2 Corinthians 1:23 - 2 Corinthians 2:1. The third visit will be the one coming up, which is accounted for in Acts 20:2-3. That Paul considers three to be significant is made clearer in the citation of Deuteronomy 19:15 which follows.- CPNT

Every charge will be established -- That is, he will hold a formal enquiry in the strict legal way (see reff.) when he arrives. No evasions will be possible. - Exp-GR

two or three witnesses -- The warning is made by quoting Deuteronomy 19:15.

But in regard to its application here, commentators are not agreed. Some suppose that Paul refers to his own epistles which he had sent to them as the two or three witnesses by which his promise to them would be made certain; that he had purposed it and promised it two or three times, and that as this was all that was required by the Law. BN

Lightfoot supposes that he refers to Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, who would be witnesses to them of his purpose; see 1 Corinthians 16:17.

But the more probable opinion, it seems to me, is that of Doddridge, Macknight, and others, that he anticipated that there wound be necessity for the administration of discipline there, but that he would feel himself under obligation in administering it to adhere to the reasonable maxim of the Jewish Law. No one should be condemned or punished [ex-communicated] where there was not at least two or three witnesses to prove the offence. But where there were, discipline would be administered according to the nature of the crime. - BN

Verse 2

2 Corinthians 13:2

I warned -- G4280, V-Perfect Active, -1st person, singular, to say before.

who sinned before and all the others -- This seems to relate to two groups. The first “who have sinned in the past”, must refer to those believers at Corinth who heard Paul twice, but still rebelled against his leadership. This would be the factious groups of 1 Cor. 1–4 or an immoral group (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:20-21; 1 Cor. 5).

The phrase “and all the rest” seems to relate to those who were not present both times, possibly the false apostles from Jerusalem and their supporters, who are the focus of chapters 10–13. However, both groups/all groups are put on notice that Paul wants them to deal with the problems; if they do not, he will!

warn them now -- G4280; V, Present, AI-1S

as I did when present on my second visit -- "as if I were present the second time" Some, supposing that St Paul had already visited Corinth twice, would render ‘when present the second time.’ But the rendering in the text is more literal. - CBSC

Some believe Paul is referring to his three comings to Corinth (two actual, one promised) as three separate witnesses at whose testimony justice would certainly fall on the dissidents at Corinth. Another possible view sees a reference to the threefold warning that Paul would not spare the Corinthians: the first was either 1Co 4:21 or the warning given on the “painful visit”; the second is the warning given here; and the final one is the proposed third visit. In any case, the general import is clear: “Sufficient warning has been given; punishment is imminent.” EBCNT

I will not spare them -- Paul uses this term in a positive sense in 1 Corinthians 7:23 and 2 Corinthians 1:23, but in a judicial sense both here and in 2 Corinthians 12:6 (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:11).

He did not specify what form the discipline would take, and perhaps he himself did not know exactly, but it certainly would not be pleasant (cf. Acts 5:1-11; 2 Corinthians 13:8-11; 1 Corinthians 5:4-5). ESVSB

Verse 3

2 Corinthians 13:3

since you seek -- They had demanded a proof of his power, and he would not fail to give it.

proof -- This concept of testing is recurrent in this context. There is a sustained wordplay between the connotations of two Greek terms, dokimazō and peirazō.

proof that Christ is speaking -- Those Corinthians still seeking proof that Paul was a genuine apostle would have it when he arrived. They may have gotten more than they bargained for, however, for Paul was going to use his apostolic authority and power to deal with any sin and rebellion he found there (v. 2; see note on 12:21). - MSB

Christ is speaking in me -- In the OT, a prophet functioned as a messenger for God. Paul describes himself as one through whom Christ speaks.

He is no weak -- Christ’s power was to be revealed through Paul against the sinning Corinthians (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:30-32). By rebelling against Christ’s chosen apostle (2 Corinthians 1:1), they were rebelling against Him. - MSB

Verse 4

2 Corinthians 13:4

crucified -- Paul uses several terms to describe Jesus’ death: (1) death (cf. Romans 5:6 ff; Romans 8:34; Romans 14:15; 1 Corinthians 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Galatians 2:21; 1 Thessalonians 4:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:10); (2) blood (cf. Romans 3:25; Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:13; Colossians 1:20); (3) cross (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:17-18; Galatians 5:11; Galatians 6:12, Galatians 6:14; Ephesians 2:16; Philippians 2:8; Colossians 1:20; Colossians 2:14); and (4) crucifixion (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23; 1 Corinthians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Galatians 3:1).

crucified in weakiness -- The cross exhibited weakness, in the Greek and Roman mind, in His humanity, revealing the idea that He was susceptible to death (because He didn’t defend himself against His enemies.).

lives by the power of God -- The resurrection indictes the power of God in giving life back to His Son.

  • · Usually the terminology of this verse is used to affirm that God the Father, as an act of approval, raised the Son (cf. Acts 2:24; Acts 3:15; Acts 4:10; Acts 5:30; Acts 10:40; Acts 13:30, Acts 13:33, Acts 13:34, Acts 13:37; Acts 17:31; Romans 1:4; Romans 6:4, Romans 6:9; Romans 8:11; Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 4:14; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:10). However, there are other inspired texts that affirm that (1) the Spirit raised the Son (cf. Rom. 8:11) or (2) the Son raised Himself (cf. John 2:19-22; John 10:17-18). - Utley

we also are weak -- Paul acknowledges the Corinthians’ perception that he is weak, stating that he patterns his life after Christ. Just as Christ was weak (by people’s standards), so Paul is willing to be weak (1 Corinthians 2:3); just as Christ is strong (by God’s standards), so Paul is strong.

Verse 5

2 Corinthians 13:5

Examine yourselves -- The Greek grammar here places great emphasis on the pronouns “yourselves” and “you.”

Paul turned the tables on his accusers; instead of presuming to evaluate his apostleship, they needed to test the genuineness of their faith (cf. James 2:14-26). He pointed out the incongruity of the Corinthians’ believing (as they did) that their faith was genuine and his apostleship false. Paul was their spiritual father (1 Corinthians 4:15); if his apostleship was counterfeit, so was their faith. The genuineness of their salvation was proof of the genuineness of his apostleship. - MSB

This is a PRESENT ACTIVE IMPERATIVE. This is the word peirazō, G3985, which means “to test with a view toward destruction.” [See Utley’s note at 1 Corinthians 3:13.] They had tested Paul; now they must be tested themselves!

whether [if] -- This is a FIRST CLASS CONDITIONAL sentence which is assumed to be true. Paul is not doubting their faith, but challenging them to wake up!

the faith -- The Greek term “faith” (pistis) is translated into English by three terms: faith, believe, or trust. Faith is used in three senses in the NT: (1) as personal acceptance of Jesus as the Christ of God; (2) as faithfully living for Him; and (3) as a body of truths about Him (cf. 2 Corinthians 13:3; Galatians 1:23; Galatians 3:23-25). Mature Christianity involves all three senses. - Utley

Test [examine, prove] yourselves -- Paul repeats his command (another PRESENT ACTIVE IMPERATIVE), but uses the other term (dokimazō) for testing, which implies to test with a view toward approval. G1381

realize [recognize, know] -- This is the Greek term epigniōskō (G1921 P,A,I), which usually denotes experiential full knowledge.

Jesus Christ is in you -- When the spirit of Christ, his teachings, disposition, and godliness, is manifested within a person, Christ, God, and the Holy Spirit are said to be "in" that person. (cf. Ephesians 3:16-17; Colossians 1:27; Romans 8:10; 1 John 5:12; Galatians 4:19 John 14:23 See note at Ephesians 3:17).

failed the test [disqualified, not approved, reprobates] -- G96, Here it referred to the absence of genuine faith.

Verse 6

2 Corinthians 13:6

But I trust that you will know -- Paul wanted the Corinthians to know that Christ was manifested in him and those ("we") he sent to them, 2 Corinthians 12:18. The absolute proof were the signs, wonders, and mighty deeds the power of God enabled him to do, 2 Corinthians 12:12.

we have not failed -- G96, Paul is asserting that he and his helpers have passed the test (not counterfeits, adokimos, cf. v. 7), especially in relation to the church at Corinth.

Verse 7

2 Corinthians 13:7

not do wrong [evil] -- Refers to the refusal to repent from sin, especially the rejection of Paul’s authority (2 Corinthians 12:20-21); it may also refer to the refusal to show respect and hospitality to believers involved in the collection project (see note on 2 Corinthians 8:4). - FSB

do what is right [honorable, honest] -- Paul’s deepest longing was for his spiritual children to lead godly lives (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:1)—even if they persisted in doubting him. Paul was even willing to appear “disqualified,” as long as the Corinthians turned from their sin (cf. Romans 9:3). - MSB

honest --Rather, what is noble, right.

approved … unapproved -- Paul continues this word play on dokimos and adokimos. Approved, the opposite of reprobate, or rejected (See 2 Corinthians 10:18).

Paul’s motivation in ministry is to be faithful, not to appear successful (1 Corinthians 4:2). He patterned his service on Jesus Christ himself (2 Corinthians 13:4), who was outwardly weak and an apparent failure in dying on the cross, but who is now victorious as he lives by the mighty power of God. - NLTSB

Verse 8

2 Corinthians 13:8

truth -- The Greek word used here, alētheias, likely refers to the gospel message. Earlier, Paul affirmed that he openly proclaimed the truth (2 Corinthians 4:2). This is in contrast to Paul’s opponents, who distorted God’s Word and proclaimed a different gospel (see 2 Corinthians 11:4) - FSB

Paul hastened to add that he had not violated “the truth” of the gospel. The apostle may also have meant that he needed to take no action against the Corinthians if he found them living according to “the truth.” - MSB

Verse 9

2 Corinthians 13:9

we are weak, but you are strong -- Paul reminds the Corinthians about the paradoxical nature of his ministry: His vocation as an apostle requires that he endure hardship for the sake of other believers and so that more people can come to Christ (Acts 9:15-16; 2 Corinthians 11:23-29). - FSB

weak -- In that case, Paul would rejoice in his “weakness” (that is, his lack of opportunity to exercise his apostolic power), because that would mean that the Corinthians were spiritually “strong.” - MSB

complete -- The NOUN form of this term is found only here in the NT. The VERB means “to knit together.” Paul used the VERB form in 1 Corinthians 1:10, which calls on the Corinthian church to end its factious divisions. Now at the end of II Corinthians he returns to this mandate (unity which will result in spiritual adequacies). - Utley

complete -- Louw and Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, vol. 1, p. 680, assert that artios (complete, adequate, fully equipped for the assigned task), with all its different prepositional compounds (epi and kata), are all synonyms (cf. Luke 6:40; 2 Corinthians 13:9, 2 Corinthians 13:11; Ephesians 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:17).

strong [maturity, complete] -- Paul wishes the Corinthians would have the same perspective as him—that they would understand his ministry, his authority, and the nature of the church (all of which find their source in Christ). Believers must evaluate others from God’s point of view (see 2 Corinthians 5:16).

Verse 10

2 Corinthians 13:10

For this reason -- A one-sentence summary of Paul’s purpose in writing this letter.

while I am away -- Paul did not want to make another painful visit to Corinth (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:3-4). He did not want to come wrapped in his apostolic authority, but in parental love. However, the response of the church determined how he must act.

with the authority which the Lord gave me -- This exact phrase appears in 2 Corinthians 10:8. This apostolic authority, whether in personal presence or from afar (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:4), has Christ’s authority (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:19; 2 Corinthians 13:3). This authority was given to Paul in the Damascus road encounter (cf. Acts 9, 22, 26).

the Lord has given me -- Paul did not appoint himself as an apostle; Jesus Christ gave him authority and called him to apostleship.

building up [edification] -- To strengthen people in their faith so that they grow in maturity in Christ. 2 Corinthians 12:19; 2 Corinthians 10:8.

Verse 11

2 Corinthians 13:11

13:11–13 As he closes his letter, Paul expresses his desire for the Corinthian believers to be united. He encourages them to seek restoration, comfort one another, and live in peace. He concludes with a benediction. - FSB

Finally -- Literally this is “for the rest” (cf. Galatians 6:17). This is a characteristic concluding phrase for Paul (cf. Ephesians 6:10; Philippians 3:1; Philippians 4:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:1). It usually marks a transition to a closing point.

brethren -- What a beautiful and comforting way to close this difficult letter to a problem church. It also functions as a literary device to signal the transition to a new subject.

be in agreement -- Paul urges the believers to have the same mindset and purpose. This does not mean that they will agree on everything, but they must live in harmony with each other (see 1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 4:2). - FSB

be at peace -- To live in harmonious relationship with one another.

the God of love and peace will be with you. -- An encouragement to the Corinthians to carry out the exhortations in the first part of the verse. Only here in the NT is God called “the God of love” (cf. 1 John 4:8). - MSB

Verse 12

2 Corinthians 12:13

a holy kiss -- Paul often concludes his letters with this greeting (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20).

A kiss was a common greeting in the ancient world. A kiss exchanged upon greeting could also symbolize reconciliation (Genesis 45:15; Luke 15:20). In the Christian context, it expresses unity (Romans 16:16; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26).

Verse 13

2 Corinthians 13:13

All -- Paul seems to especially include those in his company in the greeting to the Corinthians and the whole of Achaia (2 Corinthians 1:1), but perhaps also the saints at the church location from which he was writing, some place in Macedonia ( 2 Corinthians 1:16; 2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 8:1; 2 Corinthians 9:2; 2 Corinthians 11:9).

Verse 14

2 Corinthians 13:14

Paul concludes with a benediction that mentions the three members of the Trinity. The terms Paul uses—“grace,” “love,” and “fellowship”—emphasize his concern for reconciliation with God (2 Corinthians 5:20) and unity among believers.

Paul also refers to the Trinity when he discusses spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-11).

The benediction reminded the Corinthians of the blessings they had received:

grace” from the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9),

love” from God the Father (cf. 2 Corinthians 13:11), and “communion” with God and each other through the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5).

See note on John 16:7 for a note of the "Work of the Trinity" from the ESV Study Bible.

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CBSC -- The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges , General Editor:-J. J. S. PEROWNE, D.D.

EBCNT -- THE EXPOSITOR’S BIBLE COMMENTARY, Abridged Edition, New Testament, Kenneth L. Barker, John R. Kohlenberger III

FSB -- Faithlife Study Bible, John D. Barry. General Editor


MSB -- The MacArthur Study Bible, John F. MacArthur, Jr., General Editor


Utley -- Paul’s Letters to a Troubled Church:I and II Corinthians, Bob Utley

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 13". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/2-corinthians-13.html. 2021.
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