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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
2 Corinthians 13

 

 


Verses 1-14

It is essential that Paul should repeat that this was the third time he was coming to them. Such emphasis was needed to awaken proper exercise. For the second time he had not come, in order to spare them. Nor did he desire now to cause distress there. He would use discipline only on the basis of fully competent witness; yet when this was established, he would not spare those who were guilty. He had told them as much before, and now was forewarning them as if he had actually gone there the second time: if flagrant evil was not self-judged, or judged by the assembly, then he would use the authority God had given him as an apostle: and it would mean no little humiliation for all involved.

Since the Corinthians desired some proof of Christ speaking in Paul, the proof as to them was far from weak, but "mighty in you." Verse 4 is a parenthesis, so that verse 5 continues the force of verse 3: "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith." They were themselves the result of Paul's labour: if Christ was in them, how powerful a proof that Christ was speaking in Paul!

Verse 4 however is an insertion to show that power is most to be found in what appears to be weakness. If they saw in Paul what seemed to be weakness, let them remember that Christ was crucified through weakness, yet lives by the power Of God. The apostles too were willingly identified with such apparent weakness in the world's view, but with absolute certainty of eventual resurrection life by the power of God, the same power that operated in the Corinthians.

At least, if this were true of them, Jesus Christ was in them: if not they were reprobates, that is, worthless, and only fit to be rejected. They would not accept this designation! Nor would they likely go so far as to brand Paul as reprobate, and verse 6 should at least have served to alert them as to the heartlessness of their unfair criticism of him.

It was his prayer to God that they should do no evil, certainly not the attitude of a reprobate. Nor did he desire this in order that he himself would be credited with such results in them, but for their own sakes as in the sight of God: if they kept from evil, Paul would not object to being thought of as reprobate, for it was not his own reputation he sought. (Of course, if the Corinthians would practice honesty in thought as well as deed, it would be evident to them that Paul was not reprobate.)

Verse 8 emphasizes that, whatever one does, even with motives of opposition to the truth, nothing can overthrow truth, but will actually work only in such a way as to show truth to be completely triumphant. Faith as to this will put us now wholeheartedly on the side of truth.

Paul's weakness then, as dependent upon the strength of God, was a matter of gladness to him, specially if it issued in making the Corinthians strong spiritually: he wanted no ascendancy over them, but desired the strength of God to operate in them in full measure. Their perfection or mature growth was the object of his labours with them.

For this he wrote this epistle, rather than to come himself at the time, for though his letter is indeed "weighty and powerful," yet if he came, he might (for the same spiritual reason) be required to use such sharpness as would be unpleasant for him and for them, consistently with the authority the Lord had given him. Yet he always remembered that this authority was intended for edification, not for destruction.

And his last exhortation is consistent indeed with this. He first bids them to "rejoice," (not simply "farewell"): their joy was not to be diminished because correction was needed among them. "Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace." These are matters deeply precious in any assembly; and certainly their taking to heart the many reproofs of the epistle would contribute greatly to such valuable results. And this further would result in the conscious knowledge and joy of the presence with them of "the God of love and peace." It was fitting too that their affections toward one another should be expressed by "an holy kiss."

Now, sending the greetings of all the saints with whom he was, Paul closes the epistle with a peculiarly precious benediction: for in contrast to the stilted measure of blessing they were enjoying, he wishes them all the fullness of blessing that flows from the eternal Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in grace, love and communion. Can there be a question left as to how expanded and full the heart of Paul was toward them?

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 13:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/2-corinthians-13.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 27th, 2020
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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