September 14, 2018

The Closing

By: Larry Shaffer

The Astros are looking good!

2 Corinthians 13

Paul closes this book with this brief chapter, but he doesn’t close it out quietly.  

“This is the third time I am coming to you. Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses. I have previously said when present the second time, and though now I am absent I say in advance to those who have sinned in the past and to all the rest as well that if I come again I will not spare anyone,” 13:1,2 

At first I read this and thought ‘Paul is threatening them.’  But let’s be honest, what can he really do besides what he has already done in this letter which is boldly warn them? What can he really do?  

Well actually there’s a lot he can do as an “apostle” that we just don’t see much today. When he wrote “every fact is to be confirmed with two or three witnesses,” he was clearly referring to the practice of church discipline, (Mt 18:16;Jn 8:17). Put this together with the fact that Paul was an apostle and he therefore has been endowed with the “signs of an apostle” which he referenced a couple verses back in chapter 12. 12:12.  

“The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance by signs and wonders and miracles.”  

The true apostles, (the 12 plus Paul), who were with Jesus and were trained by Jesus himself had unique power to perform signs, wonder and miracles. They were given such power by God in order to validate Jesus and Christianity at a time of transition in a world that despised this new and emerging religion of Christianity.  

It was a unique time in history when the entire Jewish nation was turned upside down by Jesus. The signs of a true apostle were needed to validate Jesus. God also used the power of a true apostle to reach the Gentile world that found Jesus to be silly, weak and irrelevant. So, Paul could use his authority of apostleship to cleanse the church and apply church discipline.  

Do you recall when the apostles in Jerusalem used church discipline with Ananias and Sapphira for lying in Acts 5. They both dropped dead. Yikes. So what Paul is saying is ‘I have been gentle with you. I have appealed to you in love and that didn’t work. I wrote you a severe letter and that helped many of you turn back to the truth. That is good. But if there are any others who oppose me and therefore oppose Jesus, I will come and it will be severe.’ It sounds threatening because, well, I guess it is. God takes sinful rebellion within the church as serious and so should we. 

Therefore, based on this important threat to the church, in 12:5 Paul says,  

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!”  

This is a stern warning against rebellious sin by confessing Christians. I trust none of us are in that scenario but nevertheless, Lord, let us be very reflective and mindful today of our spiritual state. Bring to mind the sins that seem to plague us and give us the grace, strength and commitment to surrender them to You! May we live in You today, mindful of the power of Your grace to conquer our sins and honor You with our lives! Amen! 

Let’s close our 2 Corinthians study in prayer 

Let’s make the last few verses of 2 Corinthians our prayer today for our loved ones, friends and anyone else whom the Lord lays in your heart. It’s an exhortation that can also be the prayer and longing of our hearts. Verses 11-14 sys,  

“Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen!