Final Warnings, 1-10
2 Cor 13:1 This will be my third visit to you. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”
2 Cor 13:2 I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others,
2 Cor 13:3 since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you.
2 Cor 13:4 For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him to serve you.
2 Cor 13:5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realise that Christ Jesus is in you— unless, of course, you fail the test?
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves – It is their faith, rather than Paul’s apostleship, that is in some doubt. ‘They should be examining themselves, not cross examining him’ (Garland, NAC). Nevertheless, Paul is confident that they will pass the test, and so prove the authenticity of his ministry, v6.
Wiersbe notes that many who are quick to judge and condemn others are guilty of worse sins themselves. In fact, the whole exercise may be one of self-justification, as when attempts to make oneself look better by making someone else look worse.
To be ‘in the faith’ means living lives that are consistent with Christian truth.
For the kinds of criteria that they might use to conduct such a self-examination, see, for example, 1 Cor 6:18; 10:14; 11:22; 12:2. Wiersbe mentions the following more general questions: ‘Do you have the witness of the Holy Spirit in your heart? (Rom. 8:9, 16) Do you love the brethren? (1 John 3:14) Do you practice righteousness? (1 John 2:29; 3:9) Have you overcome the world so that you are living a life of godly separation? (1 John 5:4)’
2 Cor 13:6 And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.
2 Cor 13:7 Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed.
2 Cor 13:8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.
2 Cor 13:9 We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection.
2 Cor 13:10 This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority— the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.
Final Greetings, 11-14
2 Cor 13:11 Finally, brothers, good-bye. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
2 Cor 13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
2 Cor 13:13 All the saints send their greetings.
2 Cor 13:14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
In this benediction, the three noblest blessing of redemption are brought together and attached distributively to the three persons of the Trinity. Is is characteristic of Scripture, that whenever all three persons of the Trinity are mentioned together, it is for blessing. ‘We have instances in which each Person, standing by himself is an aspect of fear. The Father we see clothed with thunders on Sinai; the Son as the falling stone that grinds to powder; and the sin against the Holy Ghost shall never be forgiven. But there is not an instance upon record in which the three Persons stand together without an intention of grace. And it is a magnificent thought, that the completeness of the Deity, in all his essence and in all his operation is never mentioned but for mercy.’ (Winnington Ingram, The Love of the Trinity)