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2Corinthians 12and13 - Strength For Edification

INTRODUCTION: The Apostle Paul went one step further as he very reluctantly gave more detail of the special way the Lord had prepared him to spread the gospel message of salvation in Christ. This was painful to him because he wanted to humbly serve the church he loved at Corinth: and he felt many there were being led astray by men who were seeking to be honored above Paul. Paul's love for the Corinthians came through again as he closed this very lengthy letter.

NOTE: Bible passages are from the American KJV.



A - VISIONS AND REVELATIONS OF THE LORD

2 Corinthians 12 "1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knows;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knows;) 4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in my infirmities. 6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he sees me to be, or that he hears of me. 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I sought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for Hwhen I am weak, then am I strong."



COMMENTS: Paul did not want to continue in a manner of boasting, but as he wrote about something that had happened over 14 years earlier, it demonstrated how much he wanted to draw back to himself the Corinthians he loved in the Lord. As he wrote that he knew a man in Christ who was caught up to the third heaven and heard things not permitted to be repeated, he was using a literary device to describe something he had never before written about himself. Whether this happened with the body being carried up, or whether it was a mysterious fully spiritual experience, he left that matter to God, who alone should receive praise. Paul used humble restraint about the truth of his experience so he would not foolishly boast about it: which could result in anyone thinking more highly of him than the way Paul is seen in person, or what might be heard about him. Paul said he was given a "thorn in the flesh" which counter-balanced the abundance of the revelation which could have exalted him to an unworthy high degree before men, rather than all glory going to the Lord. Paul said he appealed to the Lord three times, but the Lord said "My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Paul said because of that, he would gladly boast in all manner of infirmities so the power of Christ would rest upon him.

What a wonderful way for any Christian to allow the strength of the Lord to be in the place of personal works to bring glory to God. If we feel weak when faced with reproaches, lacking necessities, having persecutions, even being severely distressed for Christ's sake: those weaknesses can be overcome by the strength provided by the Lord.




B - THE SIGNS OF AN APOSTLE WERE WORKED AMONG THE CORINTHIANS

2 Corinthians 12 "11 I am become a fool in glorying; you have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very most chief apostles, though I be nothing. 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were worked among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. 13 For what is it wherein you were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong. 14 Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not your's but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. 16 But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile. 17 Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent to you? 18 I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps? 19 Again, think you that we excuse ourselves to you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying. 20 For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found to you such as you would not: lest there be debates, contentions, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, arrogance, tumults: 21 And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall mourn many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed."



COMMENTS: Paul wrote that he had become a fool having described things that made him to be very boastful, when the Corinthians should have been able to commend him for the way they had known him. He was not in the least behind the very most chief apostles, though he saw himself as nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle had been worked among the Corinthians in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. Paul asked them to forgive him if they felt inferior to other churches because he had not burden them for his personal needs all the while he was with them. As he prepared again to go to Corinth he said he would not burden them to supply his physical needs, because he believed that they were like his children, and parents should first provide for children. He would gladly give of himself personally, and in all other ways that he could; though it seemed no matter how much he displayed his love, the less they returned their love to him.

Did they believe that he used others to gain things for himself? When Paul sent Titus and another brother, they did not gain any physical things from the Corinthians, but rather conducted themselves in the same spirit of service for the Lord. Paul was not trying to make any kind of excuse to them, for all he had done was in the sight of Christ, and it was for the Corinthians to become more firmly grounded in their faith. He was very concerned that when he came there they would not be to each other as they had been before and that would lead to arguments, strong difference in positions, and even personal degradations in anger. Paul also anticipated he would be humbled before God and mourn if he found that many within the church had not repented of openly disgraceful sins.




C - PAUL WROTE ABOUT THE PURPOSE OF ANOTHER VISIT TO CORINTH

2 Corinthians 13 "1 This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. 2 I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare: 3 Since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. 4 For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you. 5 Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates? 6 But I trust that you shall know that we are not reprobates. 7 Now I pray to God that you do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that you should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates. 8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. 9 For we are glad, when we are weak, and you are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection. 10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord has given me to edification, and not to destruction."



COMMENTS: Paul said that every charge deserving action brought before him when he arrived would be confirmed by two or three witnesses: this procedure had been clearly recorded in the law. Deuteronomy 19 "15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sins: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established." Paul declared that he would take action in the strength of Christ as an apostle, toward any who are convicted of their unrepented sin. Christ was crucified in weakness but he lives by the power of God. Paul said he is also weak in the flesh, but when necessary he would take action given to him in the strength from God. Paul said they should be able to know for themselves whether they were in the faith in Christ Jesus; or if they had remained sinners who transgressed the ways of God, and were among those who readily do evil. Paul said he prayed to God that they would do no evil; and this was not so that he might have commendation, but that they would be honest in their conduct. He was willing to be regarded as rejected, disapproved, worthless; provided they led honest and holy lives which would truly represent a Christian. He could not be against, but only in support of, the truth that is in God. He would be satisfied to be weak if they were strong in the strength of the Lord. That is why he was writing all these things for edification in a letter, because he did not want to be with them in person with a need to use the power from the Lord for destruction of evil among them.




D - PAUL CLOSED THIS LETTER WITH ENCOURAGING WORDS

2 Corinthians 13 "11 Finally, brothers, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. 12 Greet one another with an holy kiss. 13 All the saints salute you. 14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen."



COMMENTS: Perhaps Paul had hoped that his benediction in this letter would be part of the elimination of his need to make a visit to Corinth to use his authority as an apostle to deal with unworthy matters among the believers. He wanted to hear news from Corinth that they were giving evidence of their maturing in Christ with dependance on the Holy Spirit within them. It is important for every church body, until the return of Christ, to be complete, of good comfort, of one mind, and to live in peace. Christians today should also have confidence that the God of love and peace shall be with us. Greeting each other very warmly is beneficial for every church; and it is a good interaction between churches to exchange warm greetings by some form of communication or when some are visiting. I'm sure it pleases the Lord whenever Paul's benediction praising the triune God is used in written or spoken words. "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen."



--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Paul had ministered at the church at Corinth for about eighteen months, and his two letters reflect love and concern for seeing the believers there to continue to grow in the steadfast love of Christ as they put aside the rebellious ways of the world. He did not quickly write the lengthy content, as the text progresses through time when he sent representatives until he might have opportunity to visit there himself. He then received reports as those representatives returned to him. I thank you Lord for the combination of warm love he expressed, while also letting the church know that he would be willing to use strong authority you had given him to deal with various problems that ought not be present in an assembly of believers. Many centuries after Paul wrote his letters to Corinth, believers of our time who have been in one church for many years, or in different churches as they move around: know that it is not at all unusual to see how the same circumstances occur today. I thank you Lord for the strength you provided to Paul as he strove to be humble even though he had the authority of an apostle so dramatically chosen by you on the road to Damascus. . By the Holy Spirit Paul was then able to very effectively use the excellent knowledge from his formal learning of Scripture to present the truth about our Savior Christ Jesus; and then to be used of the Holy Spirit to pen additional Scripture that allows subsequent generations to have guidance, encouragement, and comfort from the Word of God until Christ returns. Amen, and amen.



Published 16 April 2021