He threateneth severity and the power of his apostleship against obstinate sinners; and advising them to a trial of their faith, and to a reformation of their conduct before his coming, he concludeth his epistle with a general exhortation and prayer.
Anno Domini 58.
THE taunting speech of the faction, "that the Apostle was bold by letters when absent, but humble and meek when present," he had answered by a delicate but pointed irony, ch. 2 Corinthians 10:1-2. But as that speech contained an insinuation that his threatenings to punish them by a supernatural power were mere bugbears, without any foundation, he in this chapter tells them plainly, that he was now coming to Corinth a third time, and would punish all who opposed him, as well as those who had sinned habitually: and whatever of that kind was proved by the testimony of two or three witnesses, he would consider as fully established, 2 Corinthians 13:1.—In my former letter, said he, I foretold that the delivering the incestuous person to Satan would be followed with the destruction of his flesh; and I now foretel, as present with you in spirit the second time, that the same thing will follow the censures which I shall inflict on the guilty; and being absent in body, I write to all those who sinned before ye received my former letter, and to all the rest who have sinned since, that if they oppose me when I come, I will not spare them, 2 Corinthians 13:2.—And this I will do, the rather because some of you, in derision, seek a proof of Christ speaking by me. For though ye think me not able to punish you, yet, by the spiritual gifts which Christ hath bestowed on you, ye must be sensible that he is sufficiently strong to punish every guilty person among you, 2 Corinthians 13:3.—He was crucified, indeed, through the weakness of his human nature; but, though he gave himself to be put to death, he now liveth by the power of God. In like manner, though I also am weak in body, and subject to death as he was, I will, nevertheless, shew myself alive withhim, by exercising the power that he has given me in punishing you, if you repent not, however strong you may think yourselves, 2 Corinthians 13:4.—And since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking by me, I desire you to try yourselves whether ye be a church of Christ, and to prove your ownselves, whether as a church ye possess any spiritual gifts? Know ye not yourselves to be a church of Christ, by the spiritual gifts which ye received from me? and that Jesus Christ is among you in an extraordinary manner, by his miraculous powers and spiritual gifts; unless, perhaps, ye are without that proof of his presence? 2 Corinthians 13:5. (See the Annotations.)—In this passage the Apostle, by a very fine irony, shewed the faction the absurdity of their seeking a proof of Christ's speaking by one who had been the instrument of their conversion, and who had conferred on them, in such plenty, those spiritual gifts whereby Christ manifested his extraordinary presence in any church. The Apostle added, that although they should be without that proof of Christ's presence, having entirely banished the Spirit, at least in his supernatural gifts, from among themselves, by their heinous sins, he trusted they should not find him without the proof of Christ's speaking by him, if it were needful for him to punish any of them when he came, 2 Corinthians 13:6.—Yet he prayed to God that they might do nothing evil; his wish being not to appear approved as an apostle by punishing them, but that they might repent, although the consequence should be, that he should appear as one without proof of his apostleship, having no occasion to exert his power in punishing them, 2 Corinthians 13:7.—For the Apostles could, at no time, use their miraculous power against the truth, but for the truth, 2 Corinthians 13:8.—He therefore rejoiced when he appeared weak, through his having no occasion to punish offenders; and wished the Corinthians to become perfect in love, and most closely knit together, so as to form a glorious spiritual temple, 2 Corinthians 13:9. And to promote their perfection, being absent, he had written these things to them, that when present he might not need to act sharply against them, according to the miraculous power which the Lord Jesus had given him, for edifying, and not for destroying his church, 2 Corinthians 13:10.