2 Corinthians 13:10


Sunday, 24 January 2016

Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction. 2 Corinthians 13:10

The words here are given with the greatest humility. They are not so much of an apology as many take them, but rather they are simply a statement of fact. “Therefore” is given as a summary of his words since verse 1 (and even inclusive of other verses where he has promised to use his authority if necessary). “I write these things being absent” shows that he truly intends for his words to be read, accepted, and acted upon before he comes. It is his hope that his words while absent will be sufficient to bring about all necessary correction within the church.

“Lest being present I should use sharpness” defines what will be necessary if the letter doesn’t have its intended effect. In this clause, the word translated as “sharpness” is an adverb. Therefore, Vincent’s Word Studies suggests that to give the force of the adverb, it should read “deal sharply.” If dealing sharply is necessary, it will be “according to the authority which the Lord has given me.”

This means his apostolic authority. It is based on his selection by Christ as the Apostle to the Gentiles and it will come with a demonstration of power and of the Holy Spirit. Paul is hoping that this will not be necessary, but should it be so, he will use it “for edification and not for destruction.”

It is neither the intent of Paul, nor the desire of the Lord, to destroy a church. Nor is it even to destroy those in the church who are not walking according to the word. Rather, it is always desirable to find correction and repentance within the body. The seven letters to the seven churches in Revelation make this abundantly clear. Only when such edification is not found will stronger actions be effected.

It is notable that what Paul says in this verse has already been addressed by him in chapter 10 –

“For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave usfor edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed— lest I seem to terrify you by letters. 10 “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” 11 Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present.” 2 Corinthians 10: 8-11

There he spoke of his actions being for “edification and not for your destruction” and he noted that the tenor in his letters was “weighty and powerful” but that when present he seemed “weak.” Paul has clearly shown that this will not be the case if it is necessary.

Life application: It is always preferable to build up and to edify rather than to destroy. This should be the goal in our lives for strained friendships, difficult work situations, trials within a church, and for other such reasons. Let us always endeavor to be peacemakers when possible.

Heavenly Father, help us to be people who will build up one another rather than tearing each other down. Too often, we find offense in things and seek to destroy fellowship rather than spending the extra time and effort to heal it. It is so much easier to simply walk away from a problem and let it implode, but in the end, nothing can replace a restored friendship and harmonious living. So help us in this Lord. Amen.



2 Corinthians 13:9


Saturday, 23 January 2016

For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete. 2 Corinthians 13:9

These words follow logically with what he just said in the previous verse. Paul is speaking of the spiritual state of the Corinthians. If they are spiritually strong, there will be no need for a demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power through the apostles. In essence, they will appear weak because everything is A-OK. Should the Corinthians be weak in their walk, then they would need to be “strong” in the use of their apostolic powers.

Therefore, this contrast is given not as any physical strength/weakness, but in connection with spiritual matters. In such matters, he says that “…we are glad when we are weak and you are strong.” More than just being a state of proper functioning, it was a point of gladness for Paul. And this should be the truth with any pastor.

If he has a spiritually strong congregation, then his job of teaching them should be rather easy. If he has one that is dysfunctional and spiritually misguided, then of course it would be a point of mourning and constant strife. How happy is the pastor then who doesn’t need to be “strong” in exercising his knowledge and authority, but rather to be “weak” in appearance because of the strength of his congregants!

Pastors then, like Paul here, should say, “And this also we pray, that you may be made complete.” This should be the goal of every pastor. Paul looked for growth and spiritual adulthood in those he ministered to.

The word for “completion” in this verse is katartisis. It is only used here in the NT and means “preparing” or “making fit.” However, there is a corresponding verb found in the NT which is used by Matthew and Mark to indicate the mending of fishing nets. Thus, it gives the idea of restoring something. And this is exactly what Paul has been working towards in the Corinthians; a restoration of spiritual health.

It is true that all pastors should look for a mature congregation who are spiritually healthy and able to conduct their own lives well, but some pastors actually want the opposite. By having a congregation of spiritually weak people under him, he can then exercise control over them. This can even lead into dangerous cults. If those who listened to Joseph Smith were properly educated in theology, they would have abandoned him and there would be no Mormonism today. Instead, the world is filled with this aberrant cult.

Life application: If you are in a congregation where you are not being instructed on the deeper tenets of theology, you may need to find another church. Doctrines such as the Trinity, the human/divine nature of Jesus, election, predestination, sin and repentance, and so on should be regularly brought into Bible studies. These are not rabbit trails, but are foundational issues which need to be taught and understood by all congregants.

Glorious God, with the introduction of a new day comes all sorts of possibilities. We don’t know what lies ahead. There could be good news, fun, and fulfilling work ahead, or there could tragedy, loss, and grief. And so now, as the future unfolds into the present, help us to trust You each step of the way and to be confident that all things were known to You and that You have them all under control. Be with us and guide us. And thank You above all for the surety of a good-end for us because Jesus leads the way. Even if the road is bumpy, it is leading to a wonderful place of peace. Amen.


2 Corinthians 13:8


Friday, 22 January 2016

For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. 2 Corinthians 13:8

With a cursory reading of this verse, it appears that Paul is speaking as a person who is incapable of working against the truth. We would then see it comparable to the words ascribed to George Washington which say, “I cannot tell a lie.” Although this is a noble way of looking at it, Paul’s words are more intense than that. They are somewhat comparable in type to the words of John the Baptist when he said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

The “we can do nothing against the truth” isn’t speaking of his personal abilities so much as that of the power of the Holy Spirit in Him as an apostle. In essence, “I have no ability to work the power of my apostleship against the truth (because of the Holy Spirit in me.)” Thus the reciprocal is also true – “I only have power to work in accord with the truth in my apostolic ministry (because of the Holy Spirit in me.)”

As a man, Paul had the ability to lie or to sin in any other way. But when he was exercising the powers of his apostleship, this was not possible because the Holy Spirit is God and can in no way work unrighteousness.

Paul’s words here demonstrate that when he comes and makes judgments to enforce the standards of the church, his actions will be perfectly just. This is not because he is perfect, but because the Holy Spirit who would speak through him is.

Life application: Today, many claim they have the powers of an apostle or some other Holy Spirit designated ability which then elevates them to a position of power within the church. Some go so far as to say that when you speak against them, you are committing a crime against the Holy Spirit. Reject such people as perverse and stay far away from them. The Bible is written. It is our source for determining if someone is speaking the truth concerning God or not. Such fools will be dealt with by God. But for now, let them play alone in their own deluded funhouse.

Heavenly Father, You are marvelous in all Your ways. By Your wisdom, You made the coconut tree and the bald eagle. You have given us sweet scents and delightful tastes. From Your wisdom come the changing seasons and the rains from the skies. You have given us iron in the ground and beautiful shells come from the ocean. To ponder Your majestic workings will take all eternity because You are the Source of all wonder. Praises be to You, O God. Amen.



2 Corinthians 13:7


Thursday, 21 January 2016

Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified. 2 Corinthians 13:7

Paul has been discussing his need for discipline when he comes. And along with this discipline must come a demonstration of his apostolic powers. Before his arrival though, he asked them to examine themselves. His words of the last two verses said –

“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.”

They are to conduct a self-evaluation to see if they are actually disqualified. Having said that to them, he now says, “Now I pray to God that you do no evil.” His correction through the use of his apostolic powers implies that they are doing wrong. However, he would rather have them do right and there not be a need for that power to be wielded. In its use, he and those with him would certainly “appear approved.” This word, approved, is set in contrast to the word “disqualified.”

If he appeared approved, it would settle all the matters concerning the charges of the false apostles levied against him, and it would be a real positive note concerning him, but he would rather simply have them do right and let the charges against him stand. As he says, “…that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified.”

To him, it would be preferable for the Corinthians to think whatever ill they wanted about him if they were living properly. It was of higher value to him that they were approved and doing what is right than it would be for him to have a good name and a seemingly perfect reputation. This type of humility towards those he loved is seen elsewhere in his epistles. A remarkable example is found in Romans 13 –

“For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,…” Romans 9:3

Life application: Are we willing to humble ourselves if it means that those who are weaker in the faith will be brought to a position of sound doctrine and right living? What value is our esteem in others’ eyes if they are not living right? Rather, wouldn’t it be better to be lowered in the eyes of those who are living for the Lord than to be esteemed by those who are not?

Lord God, this world is filled with a seemingly endless set of challenges ahead of us. We get past one and then comes another. And even if we handle them all well, we still have the biggest one of all ahead of us – our own demise. No matter what we do, we cannot get past that roadblock. It is the same end for the wealthy and the beggar, for the do-gooder and the wicked. But thanks be to God for the One who is there through the daily challenges, and who has also gone before us even in the greatest of them. Thanks be to God for Jesus our Lord who is the Breaker of all bonds! No fear here. Jesus has led the way! Amen.


2 Corinthians 13:6


Wednesday, 20 January 2016

But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. 2 Corinthians 13:6

In verse 3, Paul noted that they “seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you.” Rather than merely seeking a proof that he and his fellow apostles are in Christ and fully capable of demonstrating the power of Christ towards them, he asked them to examine themselves. As much as looking for the power of Christ in Paul, they needed to determine if they were even in the faith.

How could they rightly discern the source of Paul’s power if they couldn’t even determine if their own faith was sound? This is why he then admonished them by saying, “Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.”

Now come his words to them based on this, “But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.” In doing their own self examination, they will then be able to discern the Source of Paul’s words and actions towards them. They will know that it is Christ speaking in him. This entire line of thought follows so well with his previous words to them from Chapter 2 –

“These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 13-16

Life application: Just because someone is a believer in Christ, it does not mean that they have the gift of discernment. There are preachers in a thousand denominations. Do they all have discernment? Obviously not, because many come to entirely different conclusions on the same spiritual matters found within the Bible. For each of us to be able to discern what is correct and what is not, we need to do our own inward tests concerning our faith, and we need to know the Bible ourselves. It is impossible to imagine that we have time for dinner out, nightly TV, football games, etc., and yet we don’t have time for reading our Bible and attending Bible studies.

Lord God, it is so hard to imagine that we have time for everything imaginable, but yet never time to study Your word. We attend sports outings, we watch TV every day, we are constantly taking photos of our last evening out or our recent big adventure, and yet we don’t take time to read Your word, attend Bible studies, and so on. Is all of the temporary fun we pursue worth standing before You with empty hands? Help us to focus on what really matters to You. After that, all of the other things will find their proper place. Amen.