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Introduction to 2nd Corinthians Chapter 13

THIS closing chapter of the epistle relates to the following subjects:

(1.) The assurance of Paul that he was about to come among them, 2 Co 13:1-4, and that he would certainly inflict punishment on all who deserved it. His enemies had reproached him as being timid and pusillanimous. See Barnes "2 Co 10:1,2,10,11.

They had said that he was powerful to threaten, but afraid to execute. It is probable that they had become more bold in this from the fact that he had twice purposed to go there and had failed. In reply to all this, he now in conclusion solemnly assures them that he was coming, and that in all cases where an offence was proved by two or three witnesses, punishment would be inflicted, 2 Co 13:1. He assures them 2 Co 13:2 that he would not spare; and that since they sought a proof that Christ had sent him, they should witness that proof in the punishment which he would inflict, 2 Co 13:3; for that Christ was now clothed with power, and was able to execute punishment, though he had been crucified, 2 Co 13:4.

(2.) Paul calls on them solemnly to examine themselves, and to see whether they had any true religion, 2 Co 13:5,6. In the state of things which existed there, in the corruption which had abounded in the church, he solemnly commands them to institute a faithful inquiry to know whether they had been deceived; at the same time expressing the hope that it would appear, as the result of their examination, that they were not reprobates.

(3.) He earnestly prays to God that they might do no evil; that they might be found to be honest and pure, whatever might be thought of Paul himself, or whatever might become of him, 2 Co 13:7. Their repentance would save Paul from exerting his miraculous power in their punishment, and might thus prevent the proof of his apostolic authority which they desired; and the consequence might be that they might esteem him to be a reprobate, for he could not exert his miraculous power except in the cause of truth, 2 Co 13:8. Still he was willing to be esteemed an impostor if they would do no evil.

(4.) He assures them that he earnestly wished their perfection, and that the design of his writing to them, severe as he had appeared, was their edification, 2 Co 8:9,10.

(5.) Then he bids them an affectionate and tender farewell, and closes with the usual salutations and benedictions, 2 Co 13:11-14.

Verse 1. This is the third time, etc.

See Barnes "12:4".

For an interesting view of this passage, see Paley's Horae Paulinae on this epistle, No. xi. It is evident that Paul had been to Corinth but once before this, but he had resolved to go before a second time, but had been disappointed.

In the mouth of two or three witnesses, etc. This was what the law of Moses required, De 19:15. See Barnes "Joh 8:17".

Comp. Mt 18:16. But in regard to its application here, commentators are not agreed. Some suppose that Paul refers to his own epistles which he had sent to them as the two or three witnesses by which his promise to them would be made certain; that he had purposed it and promised it two or three times; and that as this was all that was required by the law, it would certainly be established. This is the opinion of Bloomfield, Rosenmuller, Grotius, Hammond, Locke, and some others. But, with all the respect due to such great names, it seems to me that this would be trifling and childish in the extreme. Lightfoot supposes that he refers to Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, who would be witnesses to them of his purpose. See 1 Co 16:17. But the more probable opinion, it seems to me, is that of Doddridge, Macknight, and others, that he anticipated that there would be necessity for the administration of discipline there, but that he would feel himself under obligation in administering it to adhere to the reasonable maxim of the Jewish law. No one should be condemned or punished where there were not at least two or three witnesses to prove the offence; but where there were, discipline would be administered, according to the nature of the crime.

{d} "In the mouth" De 19:15; Heb 10:28,29

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