From 2 Corinthians 10-13
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
As we have seen from the overview, Paul has been struggling to reconcile with the Corinthians. At the end of the letter he still contends with people who have sinned.
13 This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 2 I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them. (2 Cor 13.1-2)
Paul takes a cautious stance on sin initially. He doesn’t jump to the assumption that anyone has sinned. He instructs the Corinthians to have two to three witnesses before they can verify the charge. If it is found to be true, Paul takes a tough tough stance on sin. When he is present he will not spare them. What does this mean? He will punish them in some manner.
3 Since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. 4 For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God. (2 Cor 13.3-4)
Paul speaks about the power of Christ. The power that he will have in dealing with them if they continue on sinning. Is this different from our experience. Perhaps we don’t know any apostles. We should remember that the Lord performed many miracles through Paul. He was confident the Lord could do some amazing stuff through him.
5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 6 I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. 7 But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. (2 Cor 13.5-7)
If someone claiming to be a believer sins, it brings into question whether they are a believer or not. This is why Paul instructs the Corinthians to examine themselves. If Jesus Christ is in them, he is probably referring to the Spirit. Paul expects them to have a certain level of victory over sin. The two go together, if they have Christ, they will not go on sinning. If they go on sinning, they are most likely not in Christ.
Paul instructs them to test him as well. Paul continues to defend himself in their eyes. If they test him and he passes the test. They will realise Christ is in him. In doing so they will authenticate him and his ministry.
8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for. 10 For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down. (2 Cor 13.8-10)
Paul’s ultimate aim is their restoration. He does not want them to keep on sinning. If they listen to his instructions now, he will not have to punish the offenders when he comes. There’s grace in this message, he is giving them opportunity to repent now before he comes. There is also a warning. If he does come and finds them still in the same state. There will be trouble.
Words for believers
Its not often believers are asked to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith. The main questions we should be asking of ourselves are;
- What do we believe?
- How are our attitudes lining up with our beliefs?
- How are our actions lining up with our beliefs?
- If someone looked at us, would they know Christ was in us?
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