What does 2 Corinthians 13 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
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).
Verse Context:
Second Corinthians 13:1–10 contains Paul's final warning to the Corinthians: repent from sin before he arrives to visit them. None will be spared from Christ's discipline if they remain unrepentant. They will see that Christ speaks through Paul when he executes Christ's powerful discipline among them. He urges them to examine themselves to see if Christ is in them and he prays for their restoration. Paul knows he has God-given authority to represent Christ among them, but he hopes he will not have to do so in a severe way when he arrives.
Second Corinthians 13:11–14 contains Paul's closing farewell to the Corinthians. He urges them to rejoice, to strive for restoration, and to comfort and encourage each other in like-minded unity. He assures them that the God of love and peace will be with them, reminds them to greet each other with a holy kiss, and offers greetings from believers in other churches. Finally, Paul offers a prayer of specific blessing for them from each of the three members of the Trinity.
Chapter Summary:
The final chapter of Paul's letter begins with a harsh warning. Nobody living in unrepentant sin when Paul arrives will be spared Paul's discipline. All will learn that Christ speaks through Paul—because Christ will deal powerfully with their sinfulness despite Paul's own weakness. Paul urges them to examine themselves and verify that Christ is in them and, by extension, that he is a true apostle. He prays for their restoration and hopes they will repent of all sin before he arrives so that he will not have to be severe in the use of his authority.
Chapter Context:
Second Corinthians 13 follows Paul's listing of two sets of sins he is concerned he will find among the Corinthians when he arrives. These are personal divisions and sexual immorality. He warns them once more that nobody will be spared from Christ's discipline if they remain in sin. Paul urges them to examine and test themselves to see if Christ is in them. He prays for their restoration and hopes they will repent of sin so that he does not have to be severe with them in his authority as Christ's representative when he arrives.
Book Summary:
Second Corinthians returns to similar themes as those Paul mentioned in his first letter to this church. Paul is glad to hear that the church in Corinth has heeded his advice. At the same time, it is necessary for Paul to counter criticisms about his personality and legitimacy. Most of this text involves that subject. The fifth chapter, in contrast, contains comforting words which Christians have quoted often in times of hardship. Paul also details his expectations that the church in Corinth will make good on their promise to contribute to the needs of suffering believers in Jerusalem.
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