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Saturday, June 15th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 13

McGarvey's Commentaries on Selected BooksMcGarvey'S Commentaries

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Verse 1

This is the third time I am coming to you. At the mouth of two witnesses or three shall every word be established. [Deuteronomy 19:15]

Verse 2

I have said beforehand, and I do say beforehand, as when I was present the second time, so now, being absent, to them that have sinned heretofore, and to all the rest, that, if I come again, I will not spare [The apostle here declares that patience has reached its just limit. Twice he has been present and has forborne, but at the third coming he will handle them with rigorous discipline. He will not, however, proceed rashly, nor will he decide who is guilty by direct or immediate revelation, lest he be regarded as arrogating to himself the offices of both witness and judge. He will proceed by due legal form, and call witnesses, since they are to be had, and obviate the necessity of employing miraculous knowledge. Some argue from the context that Paul means to say that his three visits will be, as it were, three witnesses against them, or that his thrice-repeated threats are shown to be true by these repetitions. But such interpretations are fanciful. There may, however, be a parallelism in Paul’s thought; thus: Let my three warnings, repeated at such long intervals, persuade you that my words will testify against me if I do not keep them by punishing you, for I have thrice said I would do this thing, viz.: when I first wrote, when I was present, and now, when I am writing again, that I would do this thing];

Verse 3

seeing that ye seek a proof of Christ that speaketh in me; who to you-ward is not weak, but is powerful in you:

Verse 4

for he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth through the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him through the power of God toward you. [The apostle here gives the reason why he had so fully decided to discipline: they had tauntingly desired it. You ascribe, says he, weakness to the Christ who speaks in me, and strength to the Christ, who, according to their profession, speaks in these false apostles, and you would put me to the test. Their Christ, ye say, is the mighty Keeper of the Jewish law, while mine is the weak, crucified Christ. But you should remember that he has not been weak toward you, either in my ministry (2 Corinthians 12:12), or in miracles and judgments (2 Corinthians 6:7; 1 Corinthians 2:4-5; 1 Corinthians 11:30), or in the bestowal of gifts (1 Corinthians 1:7), for, though he did indeed manifest through the weakness of our humanity a mortal life susceptible to death by crucifixion (Philippians 2:7-8; 1 Corinthians 1:23; Hebrews 2:14); yet, per contra, through the power of God the Father working in him (Romans 1:4; Romans 6:4; Ephesians 1:20), he overcome this weakness and lives again. And by virtue of our union with him, we follow the pattern of his life in our dealings with you; for you who have beheld our physical weakness, infirmities, gentle forbearance, etc. (2 Corinthians 10:10; 2 Corinthians 12:5; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10), and have, as it were, put our influence and power to death among you, shall behold also in me the same divine power of God effecting a resurrection of us because of our union with Christ, that we may exercise our rightful authority over you. We should note the direct assertion of inspiration, and the willingness to have it tested contained in 2 Corinthians 13:3]

Verse 5

Try your own selves, whether ye are in the faith; prove your own selves. Or know ye not as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you? unless indeed ye be reprobate.

Verse 6

But I hope that ye shall know that we are not reprobate. [Ye who are so eager to put me to the test as to whether I am united with Christ, would exercise a truer wisdom if you tested your own selves to see whether you are in possession of that faith which should unite you with Christ--yea, test your own selves and do not foolishly wait for me to apply the rigors of my testing. Ye seek to know whether Christ is in me, but the obvious, immediate way of testing this is to see if I have been able to impart Christ to you. Or have you indeed lost all consciousness of Christ being in you, using you as his temple? Compare John 15:4-5; 1 John 3:24; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 1:27 . Surely you have this consciousness which is the conclusive test of my ministry (2 Corinthians 3:1-3; 1 Corinthians 9:2), unless indeed ye are proved to be no Christians at all, by the application of this test. But I hope that by my testing when I come, the true authority of Christ in me may be vindicated, and that, testing me, you may find me approved by the testing. Reprobate means that which fails to stand the test (Jeremiah 6:30). It is evident to the casual observer that Paul uses the word in an entirely different sense from that horrible meaning read into it by Calvin.]

Verse 7

Now we pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we may appear approved, but that ye may do that which is honorable, though we be as reprobate.

Verse 8

For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. [While hoping or expecting to be vindicated, his prayer is of a different sort. We pray, says he, that you may be kept from evil, and thus escape the discipline. We do not thus pray for the sake of approving ourselves by showing our power to restrain you from evil (and thus our approval would result from our prayer), but we thus pray because of our earnest desire for your righteousness. We would have you do that which is honorable, even though you thereby deprive us of the opportunity of vindicating ourself, so that we shall still be looked upon by you as untrustworthy, and not capable of enduring tests. Compare with the like unselfishness at Romans 9:3 . For our apostolic power is given to us to use, not against, but for, the truth. We are powerless against anything which is right and true. If ye, therefore, do the truth, you withdraw your demand for a test of us, and deprive us of this chance of vindicating ourselves by showing our power, and this we desire that you should do.]

Verse 9

For we rejoice, when we are weak, and ye are strong: this we also pray for, even your perfecting.

Verse 10

For this cause I write these things while absent, that I may not when present deal sharply, according to the authority which the Lord gave me for building up, and not for casting down. [Here Paul amplifies the thought of verses 7 and 8. If the Corinthians are only perfected in strength, if they are mighty in faith and righteousness, he is content to be looked upon as weak by them; and therefore to spare himself the pains of disciplining them at his coming, he has taken the milder method of doing so by letter. For it indeed pained him to use divine power in tearing down a Church, when that power was given him for the purpose of building up churches. In short, Paul was content that they should look upon him as no apostle it all, provided they could do so without any injury to themselves. He was zealous for his apostolic authority over them, because without his guiding power they would make shipwreck of the faith.]

Verse 11

Finally, brethren, farewell. [Literally, rejoice; a reverting to the purpose declared in 2 Corinthians 1:24 . Compare Philippians 4:4] Be perfected [Ephesians 4:13; Matthew 5:48]; be comforted [2 Corinthians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 7:8-13; 1 Thessalonians 4:18]; be of the same mind [1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 2:2; 1 Peter 3:8; Romans 12:16; Romans 12:18]; live in peace [Ephesians 4:3]: and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

Verse 12

Salute one another with a holy kiss. [Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 1 Peter 5:14 . See note on 1 Thessalonians 5:26]

Verse 13

All the saints salute you. [That is, all the saints with me in Macedonia.]

Verse 14

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. [This is the full apostolic benediction. It contains three blessings respectively derived from the three divine sources. It occurs nowhere else in the Scripture. Coming, as it does, after this, the most severe of letters, it reminds one that the greatest showers of blessing often follow the fiercest flashes of lightning and the mightiest reverberations of thunder. Thus closes Paul’s second epistle to the church at Corinth. It evidently furthered the good work set in motion by the first epistle and by Titus; for when Paul a little later wrote his letter to the Romans from Corinth, he was evidently in a calm and peaceful frame of mind. Also compare 2 Corinthians 10:15-16 and notes, with Romans 15:22-24 . Moreover, the collection for Jerusalem was taken, and was apparently generous, for Paul accompanied them who bore it to Jerusalem. Compare 1 Corinthians 16:4 and note, with Romans 16:18; Acts 20:4]

Bibliographical Information
McGarvey, J. W. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 13". "J. W. McGarvey's Original Commentary on Acts". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/oca/2-corinthians-13.html. Transylvania Printing and Publishing Co. Lexington, KY. 1872.
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