2Co 13:1-14. He Threatens a
Severe Proof of His Apostolic Authority, but Prefers They Would Spare
Him the Necessity for It.
1. This is the third time I am coming to
you—not merely preparing to come to you. This proves
an intermediate visit between the two recorded in Ac 18:1; 20:2.
In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall
every word be established—Quoted from De 19:15, Septuagint. "I will judge not
without examination, nor will I abstain from punishing upon due
evidence" [Conybeare and Howson]. I will no longer be among you "in all
patience" towards offenders (2Co 12:12). The apostle in this case, where
ordinary testimony was to be had, does not look for an immediate
revelation, nor does he order the culprits to be cast out of the church
before his arrival. Others understand the "two or three witnesses" to
mean his two or three visits as establishing either (1) the
truth of the facts alleged against the offenders, or (2) the reality of
his threats. I prefer the first explanation to either of the two
2. Rather, "I have already said (at my second
visit), and tell you (now) beforehand, AS (I did) WHEN I WAS PRESENT THE SECOND TIME, SO also NOW in my absence (the oldest manuscripts omit
the 'I write,' which here wrongly follows in English Version
Greek text) to them which heretofore have sinned (namely, before my
second visit, 2Co 12:21),
and to all others (who have sinned since my second visit, or are in
danger of sinning)." The English Version, "as if I were
present the second time," namely, this next time, is quite
inconsistent with 2Co 13:1,
"this is the third time I am coming to you," as Paul could not
have called the same journey at once "the second" and "the third time"
of his coming. The antithesis between "the second time" and "now" is
if I come again, &c.—that is,
whensoever I come again (Ac 20:2). These were probably the very words of
his former threat which he now repeats again.
3. Since—The reason why he will not
spare: Since ye challenge me to give a "proof" that Christ speaks in
me. It would be better if ye would "prove your own selves"
13:5). This disproves the
assertion of some that Scripture nowhere asserts the infallibility of
its writers when writing it.
is not weak—in relation to you, by me
and in this very Epistle, in exercising upon you strong discipline.
mighty in you—has given many proofs of
His power in miracles, and even in punishing offenders (2Co 5:11, 20,
21). Ye have no need to put
me to the proof in this, as long ago Christ has exhibited great proofs
of His power by me among you (2Co 12:12) [Grotius]. It is therefore not me, but Christ, whom
ye wrong: it is His patience that ye try in despising my admonitions,
and derogating from my authority [Calvin].
4. though—omitted in some of the oldest
manuscripts; then translate, "For He was even crucified," &c.
through weakness—Greek, "from
weakness"; that is, His assumption of our weakness was the source, or
necessary condition, from which the possibility of His
crucifixion flowed (Heb 2:14; Php 2:7, 8).
by—Greek, "from"; "owing
the power of God—the Father (Ro
1:4; 6:4; Eph 1:20).
weak in him—that is, in virtue of our
union with Him, and after His pattern, weakness predominates in us for
a time (exhibited in our "infirmities" and weak "bodily presence,"
2Co 10:10; 12:5, 9, 10; and also in our not putting into
immediate exercise our power of punishing offenders, just as Christ for
a time kept in abeyance His power).
we shall live with him—not only
hereafter with Him, free from our present infirmities, in the
resurrection life (Php 3:21),
but presently in the exercise of our apostolic authority against
offenders, which flows to us in respect to you from the power
of God, however "weak" we now seem to you. "With Him," that is,
even as He now exercises His power in His glorified resurrection life,
after His weakness for a time.
5. Examine—Greek, "Try (make
trial of) yourselves."
prove your own selves—This should be
your first aim, rather than "seeking a proof of Christ speaking in
me" (2Co 13:3).
your own selves—I need not speak much
in proof of Christ being in me, your minister (2Co 13:3), for if ye try your own selves
ye will see that Christ is also in you [Chrysostom], (Ro 8:10). Finding Christ dwelling in yourselves
by faith, ye may well believe that He speaks in me, by whose ministry
ye have received this faith [Estius]. To
doubt it would be the sin of Israel, who, after so many miracles and
experimental proofs of God's presence, still cried (Ex 17:7), "Is the Lord among us or not?"
except ye be reprobates—The
Greek softens the expression, "somewhat reprobates," that
is, not abiding the "proof" (alluding to the same word in
the context); failing when tested. Image from metals (Jer 6:30; Da 5:27; Ro 1:28).
6. we … not reprobates—not
unable to abide the proof to which ye put us (2Co 13:6). "I trust that" your own Christianity
will be recognized by you (observe, "ye shall know,"
answers to "know your own selves," 2Co 13:5) as sufficient "proof" that ye are not
reprobates, but that "Christ speaks in me," without needing a proof
from me more trying to yourselves. If ye doubt my apostleship, ye must
doubt your own Christianity, for ye are the fruits of my
7. I pray—The oldest manuscripts read,
not that we should appear approved—not
to gain credit for ourselves, your ministers, by your Christian
conduct; but for your good [Alford]. The
antithesis to "reprobates" leads me to prefer explaining with Bengel, "We do not pray that we
may appear approved," by restraining you when ye do evil; "but
that ye should do what is right" (English Version,
though we be as reprobates—though we
be thereby deprived of the occasion for exercising our apostolic power
(namely, in punishing), and so may appear "as reprobates" (incapable
of affording proof of Christ speaking in us).
8. Our apostolic power is given us that we may
use it not against, but for the furtherance of, the truth. Where you
are free from fault, there is no scope for its exercise: and this I
desire. Far be it from me to use it against the innocent, merely in
order to increase my own power (2Co 13:10).
9. are glad—Greek, "rejoice."
when we are weak—having no occasion
for displaying our power; and so seeming "weak," as being compassed
with "infirmities" (2Co 10:10; 11:29, 30).
ye … strong—"mighty" in faith
and the fruits of the Spirit.
and—not in the oldest manuscripts.
we wish—Greek, "pray for."
your perfection—literally, "perfect
restoration"; literally, that of a dislocated limb. Compare 2Co 13:11, "Be perfect," the same
Greek word; also in 1Co 1:10,
"perfectly joined together"; Eph 4:12, "the perfecting of the saints."
10. Therefore—because I wish the
"sharpness" to be in my letters rather than in deeds
edification … not to
destruction—for building up … not for casting
down. To "use sharpness" would seem to be casting down,
rather than building up; therefore he prefers not to have to use
11. farewell—meaning in Greek
also "rejoice"; thus in bidding farewell he returns to the point with
which he set out, "we are helpers of your joy" (2Co 1:24; Php
Be perfect—Become perfect by filling
up what is lacking in your Christian character (Eph 4:13).
be of good comfort—(2Co 1:6;
7:8-13; 1Th 4:18).
14. The benediction which proves the doctrine
of the Divine Trinity in unity. "The grace of Christ" comes first, for
it is only by it we come to "the love of God" the Father (Joh 14:6). The variety in the order of Persons
proves that "in this Trinity none is afore or after other"
communion—joint fellowship, or
participation, in the same Holy Ghost, which joins in one catholic
Church, His temple, both Jews and Gentiles. Whoever has "the fellowship
of the Holy Ghost," has also "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ," and
"the love of God"; and vice versa. For the three are inseparable, as
the three Persons of the Trinity itself [Chrysostom]. The doctrine of the Trinity was not
revealed clearly and fully till Christ came, and the whole scheme of
our redemption was manifested in Him, and we know the Holy Three in One
more in their relations to us (as set forth summarily in this
benediction), than in their mutual relations to one another
Amen—omitted in the oldest
manuscripts. Probably added subsequently for the exigencies of public