Updated 5 Aug 2020
- Mark 12 - The Widow's Offering
- Mark 11 - The Triumphal Entry
- Mark 10 - The Rich Young Ruler
- Mark 9 - The Transfiguration
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2 Corinthians 13
Paul is now bringing his second letter to a close. He has been handling some very difficult issues, but he has sought to speak with integrity and clarity.
Paul wisely teaches that everything should be established by the testimony of 2 or 3 witnesses, to ensure that unrepentant sinners in the church are dealt with firmly but fairly. He is committed to building a strong church, which seeks to grow in unity and always aims for perfection!
Living by God's Power
Many people have attempted to determine what this was, but we just don’t know. However, it was something that was real and obviously kept Paul humble, so that he would boast about God but never about himself. It would seem that his experience of the vision could have tempted him to be proud but, whatever the thorn in the flesh was, it reminded him of his weaknesses and his need to depend on God. Paul describes it as a messenger of Satan, indicating that the devil might have been allowed to inflict this suffering, just as Job was tempted by the evil one under the sovereignty of God.
Paul urges the Corinthians to look into their lives, to test whether they have true faith in Christ. He is putting this challenge to the Corinthians, in the hope that they will discover firstly, that they are in a good place with God and, secondly, that Christ is speaking to them through Paul's words. However, if they fail this test and discover that they have not been genuinely saved, then they need to face up to that reality!
Aiming for Perfection
Paul realises that some of the issues about which he has challenged the people have not been easy. However, he wants to share the truth, so that people can be thoroughly equipped to serve God faithfully. The object of his teaching and discipline is never intended to be destructive, because he wants to build them up and not tear them down. His desire is that, having received this letter, the Corinthians will root out sinful behaviour and deal with the issues themselves, so that Paul's visit will be gentle and not harsh.
Paul’s desire is that there should be rejoicing and not sorrow. Where things have been broken down, he longs for relationships and situations to be restored. He desires them to encourage one another and live in peace, knowing that, then, God's love and peace will be known among them.
A Holy Kiss
We do not know what the customs were when the Corinthians met one another. We know that in our world, there are different greetings. Some may shake hands, some may hug, some will nod to one another and some will kiss. Paul teaches that the kiss should be a 'holy kiss'. This means a kiss of genuine affection and respect, with nothing impure behind it. Paul has been contending with the Corinthians about immorality within the church and this may still be in his mind as he urges appropriate caution in their manner of greeting.
Paul shares greetings from God's people that he is working with, followed by words that have long been adopted by many churches as an appropriate way to end their times of worship. The Trinity is mentioned - the Lord Jesus Christ, Almighty God and the Holy Spirit, together with 3 important characteristics:
1. Grace - The mercy that comes to us undeserving sinners, because Jesus has dealt with our sin on the cross.
2. Love - God is love. It is the heartbeat of His personality. God loves the world and He sent Jesus.
3. Fellowship - The great thing about the Holy Spirit, is that He is with us all, wherever we are. The Holy Spirit inspires us as God's people and comforts us when we are oppressed. Whatever we are handling - persecution, hunger, grief - we are never alone. The Holy Spirit is always there to draw us closer to God!
Points to Consider:
- How diligent are we to establish things through witnesses, rather than listening to gossip and hearsay?
- How do we handle the balance between our weakness and living by God's power?
- Do we take time to assess our spiritual life and respond to areas we need to improve upon?
- Does our ministry tend to build people up for works of service or tear them down?
- Are we discerning about the way that we greet one another in the body of Christ?
God bless you!
Bible Study: 2 Corinthians 13
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