We are concluding our study of 2 Corinthians by studying 2 Cor 12:13-13:14. In 2 Cor 13:10, Paul said, “Therefore I write these things.” He wrote what he wrote at the end of this epistle so that he wouldn’t have to deal with certain things while he was in Corinth on his third visit. He said in 2 Cor 13:10, “lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.” If he could deal with them in the letter, he could spare them while he was there. Paul wrote these things:
So they would know he wasn’t coming for “gain” – 2 Cor 12:13-19 – there were people in Corinth obviously fussing about the “money.” But Paul never took any money from them. He said, “I myself was not burdensome to you,” [2 Cor 12:13]. And when he apologized to them for this, he was being completely sarcastic. He assured them in verse 14 that he was not going to burden them on his next visit either. The principle is simple, “the children ought not to lay up for the parents.” See 1 Cor 4:15. Even Titus and his companion didn’t “make a gain” of them [2 Cor 12:17-18]. They were of the same mind as Paul.
In this passage, Paul was not only sarcastic in his apology but he was also sarcastic in verses 15 and 16. In 2 Cor 12:15, he really cut them when he said, “the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” But even so, he was willing to spend for them. In 2 Cor 12:16 he was also being sarcastic when he said, “being crafty, I caught you with guile.” That’s what the other guys were doing who had come to “take of” them [2 Cor 11:19]. Paul wasn’t crafty and he didn’t use guile [1 Thes 2:3-5]. Therefore, he wasn’t “excusing” himself or his companions. They hadn’t done anything wrong. Paul did all things for their edifying [2 Cor 12:19].
So they would get in line with his expectations – 2 Cor 12:20-21 – Paul feared that when he arrived in Corinth on his next visit, he would encounter the same stuff he encountered from the gainsayers every where else that he preached. His expectation was that, by now, these folks should be in a right relationship with God and with him. Therefore, he expected them to be settled down and not on the verge of a split.
Debates are contentions by words or arguments. Envyings are grudges and resentments. Wraths are indignations [strong vengeful anger]. Strifes are fights and bitter conflicts. Backbitings are mean and spiteful sayings about others. Whisperings are gossip and rumors. Swellings are uprisings. Tumults are agitations of a crowd with uproar and confusion of voices; commotions. Paul feared they would be caught up in these things.
His hope was that, by now, the folks sinning among them should have repented of their uncleanness, fornication and lasciviousness. Otherwise, Paul feared that the Lord would humble him among them as he bewailed [to wail over] those who had not repented. Folks who continue on with these sins after they get saved have no idea about the grief and heartache they cause the pastor when they won’t repent [Heb 13:17].
So they would believe that he wouldn’t spare them – 2 Cor 13:1-4 – Paul established his witness against their iniquity by two or three visits, citing Deut 19:15 as his scriptural authority. Paul warned them in 2 Cor 13:2, that if he showed up and they were still committing these sins like they had been “I will not spare you.” In essence he wrote, “As you know that Christ’s power is mighty in you [v.3], likewise, you will see the same power in me toward you, ‘though we are also weak,” [v.4]. The truth is that Jesus was crucified in weakness and lives by the power of God. So, when we are crucified with him, Christ lives by the power of God in us.
So they would examine and prove their own selves – 2 Cor 13:5-6 – Paul exhorted each of them to examine themselves to see if they were even saved and to “prove” it. That is, they were to establish the fact of their salvation by the truth. If you are saved, if “Christ is in you,” you should KNOW it [1 Jn 5:13]. A reprobate won’t know whether he’s saved because his mind is “corrupt,” [2 Tim 3:8; Jer 6:30] and he doesn’t retain God in his knowledge [Rom 1:28; Titus 1:16]. Paul trusted that they knew he and his companions weren’t reprobate.
So they would do that which is honest and be perfect – 2 Cor 13:7-9 – Paul wanted them to “do no evil,” but not so “we should appear approved.” Pastors are often tempted to get their congregations “to do right” so they will be “approved” by their peers. Paul wouldn’t do that. He said, “we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.” That was always his guiding principle. He told them to do no evil so they could be honest and perfect before God, even though some of them thought Paul was a reprobate.
So they would be in good fellowship with each other – 2 Cor 13:11-14 – As Paul closed this epistle, he gave them some final instructions to help strengthen them in unity [see 1 Cor 1:10]. A congregation is stronger when the members are perfect [Eph 4:12-13], of good comfort, of one mind and living in peace [Rom 12:15-18]. The God of love and peace will be with them. They are also closer when they can greet each other with a holy kiss and when they rely upon the grace of Jesus, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Ghost.
Conclusion: Paul was obviously hoping by this letter to prepare the Corinthians for his next visit and to cut off some problems that would have required him to be much rougher on them in person than he had been before. He wasn’t coming for their money and he wasn’t going to put up with their sin and lack of repentance. He was ready to deal with them “head on” in the power of Christ. If some of the trouble going on there was the result of lost folks, then he wanted them to get saved and straighten up. His desire was to edify them, not destroy them.