2 Corinthians, Lesson 20: Conclusion

Trinity2 (610x352)Having announced his planned visit to Corinth for a third visit, Paul decision to go there remains firm.


Paul Remains Ready

Read 2 Corinthians 13:1

“by the evidence”: Paul retained Deuteronomy’s “by the mouth” (in both the Masoretic Text and Septuagint). Paul will connect the idea of what comes out of the mouth (speech) to himself in vs. 2-3.

Deuteronomy 19:15: One witness is not enough to convict anyone of some iniquity, sin, or guilt. A fact must be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses.

  • How does Paul take what God commanded in the Old Covenant and reshape it to make his point?


Lesson 20, Two or Three Witnesses


Excursus: Paul’s “Secret” Message to the False Apostles

Paul is tapping into the knowledge of Scripture that the “super apostles” (2 Cor 11:5), those “false apostles” (2 Cor 11:13) at Corinth had. Remember, they were of Jewish origin (2 Cor 11:22), so they grew up learning the Old Testament. Paul is counting on these “false apostles” knowing the verses that follow Deuteronomy 19:15.

Deuteronomy 19:16-19:

If a false witness testifies against someone, accusing him of a crime, then both must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and judges at that time. The judges will investigate thoroughly. If the witness should prove to be false, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite, then do to the false witness as he intended to do to his brother. You must purge the evil from you.

Paul is letting those “false apostles” know that it they do not repent from their unauthorized teaching and preaching (2 Cor 10:18) and the false doctrine (2 Cor 11:4), there’s going to be a showdown. He is turning the tables on the “false apostles” and preparing to put them on trial, just as they had judged him and he has had to defend himself in this letter.

What Paul implies to these “false apostles,” he now states overtly to the congregation about unrepentant sin.


Read 2 Corinthians 13:2

Tying into the idea that “by the mouth” of two or three witnesses [his two or three visits], Paul starts verse 2 this way: “I have said before, and I now say before…”

  • What does Paul say will happen if he finds entrenched and unrepentant sinning?


Read 2 Corinthians 13:3-4

The “false apostles” asserted that Paul’s “bodily presence is weak, and his speech is of no account” (2 Cor 10:10). For some in Corinth, the “proof if Christ is speaking in” someone was the “wow” factor. Did he have a presence that looked like God was in him? Could he speak in such a way to mesmerize a crowd? That was proof for them that Christ was speaking in someone.

“out of weakness”: Greek: ek astheneia. The preposition ek is a genitive, which means “out of” or “from.” Christ being crucified “out of” weakness means that such weakness came from Christ, that such weakness belonged to Him. It was from, out of, this weakness (not simply by external forces, “in weakness”) that Christ was crucified.

“by the power of God”: Paul uses the same preposition and case (genitive) to say that Christ “lives out of the power of God.” Just as weakness is part of Christ (His humanity), God’s power is part of Him (His divinity), as well.

  • What is the proof that Paul brings out to say that someone is speaking in Christ? (vs. 4)


Judge Yourselves

Paul just finished with the idea that only if someone is weak, not relying on his power, is he then “in Christ.” One lives, not by own his power to bring about his union with God, but “by the power of God.” Now, Paul tells the Corinthians to see whether this is the case for them.

Read 2 Corinthians 13:5

Examine [peirazo] yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Test [dokimazo] yourselves. Don’t you realize that Christ Jesus is in you? Unless, of course, you are disqualified [adokimos].

“Examine”: Greek, verb, peirazo. This is to test, which is not an intellectual endeavor. “Put something to the test” carries with it the idea of verifying if something is the case. Here, the test is if someone is relying on his own power or God’s power to know if he is “in Christ.”

Test”: Greek, verb, dokimazo. This is to judge to separate. Again, this is not an intellectual endeavor but properly recognizing on which “side of the fence” you are. If you are relying on your own power (righteousness, intellect, etc) to be in communion with God, then you are not “in Christ.” If you come in weakness, with the “power of God,” then you are “in Christ.”

“fail… the test”: Greek, adjective, adokimos. This means to be “not qualified” this is, disqualified or rejected.

Read 2 Corinthians 13:6

And I hope you know that we are not disqualified [adokimos].

  • Why would Paul and Timothy not be disqualified?


Read 2 Corinthians 13:7

  • What does Paul and Timothy mean when he says “that you may not do wrong?” Doing wrong means the Corinthians are doing what instead of what?


  • Like Christ, what are Paul and Timothy willing to do, if it were possible, for the Corinthians? 


Read 2 Corinthians 13:8-9

  • Having Christ in them, what are Paul and Timothy unable to do when it comes to shaping the Word of Christ?


  • Again being willing, hypothetically, to switch places, what do Paul and Timothy want the Corinthians to be strong in?


Read 2 Corinthians 13:10

  • Again, what is Paul’s preference when he visits the Corinthians?


  • God had given the Apostle Paul authority to do what?


  • If so, why does it seems that he plans to tear down the unrepentant? What purpose does that serve?


Paul’s Final Words

Read 2 Corinthians 13:11

“rejoice”: present-tense, imperative, active. This is an ongoing state of rejoicing, which is a response of faith.

“aim for restoration”: present-tense, imperative, passive. This is ongoing state of being restored. Note the passive voice. This is something that it done to the Corinthians from outside of them (that is, Word and Sacrament effecting this within the Corinthians). This is not the Corinthians causing this restoration (then it would have been a verb in the active voice).

“comfort one another”: present-tense, imperative, passive. This is ongoing state of being comforted. Note the passive voice. This is not Paul commanding the Corinthians to comfort each other (then it would have been a verb in the active voice). This is, instead, the Corinthians being comforted by something from outside of them (that is, Word and Sacrament).

“agree with one another”: Greek, phroneo, present-tense, imperative, active. This is not agreeing with one another. This is being intent on, or giving attention to, the same thing, which leads to agreeing with one another. This is Paul commanding the Corinthians to transcend their external differences and to find a unity above and beyond the matters that divide them.

“live in peace”: present-tense, imperative, active verb form of the word “peace.” This is a command from Paul to live in and share the peace that someone has in Christ with others. In the next verse, Paul will state how such “peace-ing” takes place.

Paul’s ends with a conditional promise: “[do this and] the God of love and of peace will be with you.” “To be at peace” is to participate, both individually and collectively, in the decisive, end-of-time peace (shalom, wholeness and well-being) that God has worked in Christ.

Read 2 Corinthians 13:12

Paul now answers how, in part, the peace of Christ was displayed to others in the Church.

  • When Paul uses the adjective “holy” to describe “kiss,” how does that separate that kissing from secular, or sensual, kissing.


  • Although we do not “greet one another with a holy kiss,” how do we do something similar?


Read 2 Corinthians 13:13

  • How does Paul pass on the greetings from the “holy ones” (saints) who are unable to “greet one another with a holy kiss”?


Read 2 Corinthians 13:14

  • What is the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ?


  • How does that grace come to us?


  • How does the love of God take physical form in our lives?


  • If someone has the Holy Spirit, what is he brought into?