2 Corinthians 13:1-10
As we have seen, strength in weakness is a big theme in 2 Corinthians. Paul did not feel any need to apologise for his weakness as he thought about Christ. In His crucifixion Jesus humbled Himself to a place of weakness. (Never forget that it was a path He deliberately chose). But it was the way to resurrection life and power (4). Paul knew that it would be just the same for him and his colleagues. Those critics in Corinth who were saying that Paul was weak needed to prepare themselves for an encounter with the power of God. In this case that power could be experienced in terms of church discipline. Paul was not ‘all talk and no action’. He had given warnings, and he would ‘deliver the goods’ if necessary. Of course, he hoped not to have to do that, as verse 10 shows.
Christian ministry (4) is about:
- Fellowship with Christ: ‘’we will live with him’’. All authentic ministry flows from walking with Jesus in a vital relationship;
- It is exercised ‘’by God’s power’’. And the more weak we are in ourselves the more the divine ‘current’ will move through us;
- It is shown in service: ‘’we will live…to serve you’’. All of that great power is to be harnessed to the work of serving others. In fact, we just will not have the stomach for everything that Christian service demands without God’s enabling. Verse 9 shows something of the heart of this true servant of Christ, the apostle Paul. He was content to know human weakness if through that others could be strengthened. What price are you prepared to pay to have an effective ministry to other people?
We know that Paul had his critics in Corinth who undermined his ministry. But the apostle could see that if the professing Corinthian believers did a self-examination test (5) and came to the conclusion that they were truly Christians that would speak volumes about the authenticity of his ministry (6). You see, it was through Paul that they were converted. If they were genuine Christians, and it was through Paul’s preaching that they came to Christ, that surely was a powerful rebuttal of the mud-slingers’ position?
Paul could never act in a way that was contrary to the gospel or its moral implications (8). He wasn’t concerned about his own reputation, but just wanted to see the Corinthians avoiding the wrong and doing the right (7), and moving on to complete maturity (9; see 11 also). In chapters 10-13 he repeatedly threatened a severe use of authority, but he clearly hoped it would not come to that. It is probably true to say that the purpose of these chapters was to call the Corinthians back to their allegiance to Paul and his gospel, so that he would not have to take disciplinary action. He wanted their growth in holiness, and took no delight in the thought of using the ‘cane’.
Prayer: Help me, dear Lord Jesus, to walk in step with you every moment of every day. Let your power flow through me to energise always the most meaningful and fruitful service to others.