What does 2 Corinthians chapter 13 mean?The final chapter of 2 Corinthians opens with an ominous warning from Paul. His third visit to them may be marked by the judgment of Christ for sin. He warned them on his previous visit, and warns the Corinthians once more, that he will not be lenient on those found to be in unrepentant sin. Two categories of sin were named at the end of chapter 12: division and immorality. The congregation's desire for proof that Christ is speaking through Paul will be fully satisfied if he must exercise Christ's judgment on any of them for sin. They will see that, though Paul may be weak, Christ will be powerful among them through him (2 Corinthians 13:1–4).
In keeping with that challenge, Paul urges self-examination. The believers ought to scrutinize themselves to see if they are living according to their professed faith in Christ. They must test themselves and realize whether Jesus Christ is truly in them. Paul seems to assume they will pass this test and find they still believe in Christ as they did when he first introduced Jesus to them. If the Corinthians do agree that Christ is in them, Paul and his associates will also pass the test of being true representatives of Christ. After all, Christ cannot be real in the Corinthians and false in the one who introduced them to Him (2 Corinthians 13:5–7).
Since Christ is in them, Paul prays that the Corinthians will not do wrong, that they will stop sinning. He is quick to add that this is not superficial appearances. He would rather everyone thought he had failed the test of being a true apostle, if the Corinthians would do what is right and prove Christ was true in them. Paul knows he cannot control the opinions of others, anyway. He and his fellow ministers work for the truth. Period. Christ is the truth. They cannot do anything against the truth, even if that would somehow help them to be more impressive to others. In fact, they are glad to be weak because it makes Christ powerful in them. They are glad for the Corinthians to be strong in that same way. They are praying for the Corinthians to be restored by fully repenting from sin and returning to their full devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 13:8–9).
Paul's sincere plea expresses hope that the believers in Corinth will repent before he arrives, and he will not have to use his God-given authority as Christ's representative to be severe with them because of their sin (2 Corinthians 13:10).
The letter concludes by urging the Corinthians to rejoice, to strive for restoration, to encourage each other, and to live in peace. They are assured the God of love and peace will be with them. Paul also offers greetings from other believers. His final prayer for them is for specific blessing from each of the three members of the Trinity (2 Corinthians 13:11–14).