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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
2 Corinthians 13

 

 

Introduction

2 Corinthians 10:1 to 2 Corinthians 13:10. At this point (2 Corinthians 10:1) Paul turns sharply upon certain opponents and proceeds to defend himself with energy against their attack and insinuations, to enlarge on his claim to obedience and affection, and then adds to stern remonstrance threats of what he will do at his coming if he does not find the situation changed.

The change of tone and attitude which here takes place is both obvious and startling. Up to this point, the letter has been the expression of almost exuberant relief, thankfulness, and confidence; due to the fact that, contrary to what he feared, Paul and the church at Corinth had been reconciled. From this point onward we have the expression of anxiety, alarm, anger. All that in the first part of the letter seems to have been accomplished, here waits for accomplishment. The people whom Paul here addresses are not yet reconciled to him. They are definitely hostile, and they are not an isolated group. They are linked at heart by sympathy with the congregation as a whole.

The explanation which has commonly been given is that in the earlier part of the letter Paul has been dealing with the section (? majority) of the congregation which had partly remained loyal to him, partly returned to their loyalty, and that he now turns to deal with the other section, an obstinate and embittered minority. But in that case there would surely be at the beginning of this section some indication that he was addressing a new class of people, and the earlier part of the letter must have betrayed some consciousness of the presence of this unreconciled section of the people. The difficulty of accounting for this change, sudden, unexplained, and maintained almost to the close of the epistle, is the ground of the opinion now widely held, that 2 Corinthians 10:1 to 2 Corinthians 13:10 belongs not to this but to some other letter sent by Paul to Corinth. It has further been conjectured that we have here part of the intermediate, or "painful" letter. And though that cannot be proved, the contents of these chapters certainly agree very closely with what we can gather as to the character of that letter, and would go far to explain the tense anxiety with which Paul waited to hear how it had been received (2 Corinthians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 2:13, 2 Corinthians 7:6).


Verses 1-10

2 Corinthians 13:1-10. Warnings in View of a Visit.—This closing chapter starts from a vivid realisation of that which is only too likely to be the situation when he arrives for the third time. With increased emphasis, and added detail, he reiterates his solemn warning, and with biting irony turns against his adversaries one of the sarcastic demands they level at him. They ask for proof that Christ speaks in him. They shall have it (cf. Isaiah 28:9 ff.). Christ will show Himself not weak among them, as they have reckoned His apostle, but powerful for judgment. His experience, "dying to reign," will repeat itself in Paul, who has already put this interpretation on his own weakness, that in it he fills up "that which is lacking of the sufferings of Christ." Let them examine themselves whether they are truly Christians; let them get back the primal Christian experience, and ascertain whether Christ is really in them. The word translated "reprobate" means "such as have failed to pass the test"; and 2 Corinthians 13:6 implies that the Corinthians may find that they have not so failed, by discovering that Paul has met and stood every kind of test. Yet he prays that they may not have that fact brought home to them in an unwelcome way through any breach of loyalty either to Christ or to Paul; that on the contrary they may display a noble loyalty. If that be so, he is willing to let the proof of his own authority; and so of his own worthiness, remain in abeyance. He knows that he has the right and the power to exercise discipline of the extremest kind, but he will sacrifice everything, even the knowledge that it is so, if only he can persuade the Corinthians to give him no occasion to apply it.


Verses 11-14

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 13:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/2-corinthians-13.html. 1919.

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