2Corinthians 12:14 – 13:14
Evening Bible Study
Paul had spent nearly three years in Ephesus, during which he wrote his first
letter to the Corinthians.
Paul’s stay in Ephesus ended abruptly when a riot broke out in the city
because of how the Christian revival was affecting the business of those who
After the riot, Paul headed up north to Macedonia.
The year is AD 56, almost a year after Paul had written his first letter to
The main issue running throughout the letter is the questioning of Paul’s
12:14-21 Love for the church
:14 Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not
be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought
not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.
:14 the third time I am ready to come to you
Luke only recorded Paul going to Corinth twice. (Acts 18; 20:2).
Paul is writing in that time period just before that second time.
Some have suggested that sometime between these two times, Paul may have
made a “quick trip” that Luke didn’t record, made during the three years that
Paul had been headquartered in Ephesus.
It is also possible that Paul only made one actual trip when he wrote this,
but that he had actually intended to go an additional time but never made the
trip, making this the third time he “was ready” to go.
This intention of going, but not going was one of the things the
Corinthians had used to say that Paul wasn’t a guy who kept his promises.
(2 Corinthians 1:17
NLT) You may be asking why I changed my plan. Do you think I make my
plans carelessly? Do you think I am like people of the world who say “Yes” when
they really mean “No”?
:14 I will not be burdensome to you
Paul didn’t wasn’t coming to get stuff from them, he was coming because he
wanted to be with them. (“for I do not seek yours, but you”)
Feeding or Fleecing
Some shepherds only care about how much wool they are going to take off the
sheep, and would be guilty of neglecting the feeding and well-being of their
Those shepherds are intent on only “fleecing” the flock instead of
“feeding” the flock.
Paul described his relationship with the Corinthians as if they were his
kids, and he was their dad.
At least until the parents get much older and are cared for by their
children, the general principle is that parents take care of their kids.
Paul sees the Corinthians as his “kids”, and he’s not out
to expect them to take care of him, but he will take care of them.
When you are in a position of ministry, you need to be careful what your
goal is in ministry.
Some folks start off okay, but then slide into a bad place.
It’s not hard to start thinking that the people are there “for you”.
It might be that they think the people are there to pay
It might be that they think that their self-worth is bound
up in what kind of recognition they might get from the people.
In the early church there
was a problem with certain wandering “prophets” who would go from church to
church, giving prophesies and expecting the church to support them.
So the early church
devised a test for telling whether a man be a true prophet or not. The test was that if a man came to your
church and said, “Thus saith the Lord, you shall give me a loaf of bread”, then
that man was a false prophet.
(1 Peter 5:1–3 NLT)
—1 And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am
an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in
his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal
to you: 2 Care for the
flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not
grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to
serve God. 3 Don’t lord
it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good
Ministry needs to be “others” centered, not self-centered.
Ministry ought to be about what you are doing for others, how you are
serving them, and now how your own needs are being met.
:15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the
more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.
The more Paul does for them, the less he is loved back.
:16 But be that as it may, I did not burden you. Nevertheless, being
crafty, I caught you by cunning!
:16 I caught you by cunning
A little more of Paul’s sarcasm.
It’s possible that Paul
is quoting his enemies here. They may
have said that Paul hadn’t been accepting support from the Corinthians because
he was planning on keeping the “offering for Jerusalem” for himself.
:17 Did I take advantage of you by any of those whom I sent to you?
:18 I urged Titus, and sent our brother with him. Did Titus take
advantage of you? Did we not walk in the same spirit? Did we not walk
in the same steps?
:19 Again, do you think that we excuse ourselves to you? We speak before
God in Christ. But we do all things, beloved, for your edification.
:18 Did we not walk in the same steps
The Imitation Game
steps – ichnos – a footprint,
track, footstep; of imitating the example of any one
We all tend to imitate or walk in the footsteps of someone who seems ahead
of us. The question is, “whose
Peter 2:21 NKJV) For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us,
leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
In His Mother's Steps
A mom (Davida Dalton) writes:
It was a busy day in our Costa Mesa, California home. But
then, with 10 children and one on the way, every day was a bit hectic. On this
particular day, however, I was having trouble doing even routine chores-all
because of one little boy.
Len, who was three at the time, was on my heels no matter
where I went. Whenever I stopped to do something and turned back around, I
would trip over him. Several times, I patiently suggested fun activities to
keep him occupied. “Wouldn’t you like to play on the swing set?” I asked again.
But he simply smiled an innocent smile and said, “Oh, that’s
all right, Mommy. I’d rather be in here with you.” Then he continued to bounce
happily along behind me.
After stepping on his toes for the fifth time, I began to
lose my patience and insisted that he go outside and play with the other
children. When I asked him why he was acting this way, he looked up at me with
sweet green eyes and said, “Well, Mommy, in preschool my teacher told me to
walk in Jesus’ footsteps. But I can’t see him, so I’m walking in yours.”
Whose footsteps are you walking in?
Who might be walking in your footsteps?
Paul is reminding the Corinthians that he and the fellows he had sent to
Corinth all walked in the same footsteps.
None of them had tried to take advantage or act out of greed with the
Corinthians, and they knew it.
:20 For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that
I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be
contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings,
whisperings, conceits, tumults;
:21 lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall
mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness,
fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced.
:21 sinned before and have not repented
Paul is concerned that he is going to be embarrassed or “humbled” because
his children (the Corinthians) have not turned out very well.
Look again at this list (vs. 20-21) of issues in the Corinthian church.
12:20–21 NLT) —20 For I am afraid that when I come I won’t like what I find, and you
won’t like my response. I am afraid that I will find quarreling, jealousy,
anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly behavior. 21 Yes, I am
afraid that when I come again, God will humble me in your presence. And I will
be grieved because many of you have not given up your old sins. You have not
repented of your impurity, sexual immorality, and eagerness for lustful
Time to change
Paul is warning them that he is indeed coming for a visit and he is hoping
that things have changed.
On Sunday we read what John the Baptist said to the people who were coming
to be baptized.
(Luke 3:8 NKJV) Therefore
bear fruits worthy of repentance…
The point is, don’t just talk about change, don’t just be
sad that you’re not where you want to be, actually turn around.
I think that older believers can find ourselves too comfortable to pay
attention to what God might be leading us to do.
13:1-6 Coming with Authority
:1 This will be the third time I am coming to you. “By the mouth of two or
three witnesses every word shall be established.”
:1 two or three witnesses
What do you do when you hear that someone is doing bad things?
When confronting sin, it’s not wise to just listen to one person’s ideas,
but to seek more “witnesses”.
NKJV) “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity
or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter
shall be established.
:2 I have told you before, and foretell as if I were present the second
time, and now being absent I write to those who have sinned before, and to all
the rest, that if I come again I will not spare—
:3 since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward
you, but mighty in you.
:2 I will not spare
Paul is warning them that he isn’t going to go easy on those who haven’t
repented when he comes.
:3 you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me
If they want to see how Jesus works through Paul, he will oblige them, but
I’m not sure you really want to be asking Paul to do this.
Many years earlier on Paul’s first missionary journey, while travelling
across the island of Cyprus, there was a false prophet who tried to oppose Paul
while he was witnessing to the governor.
The man ended up blind (Acts 13:6-12)
In talking about Jesus…
:4 For though He was crucified in 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.
:4 we also are weak … shall live
Don’t mistake “weakness” or “meekness” in a person with a lack of God’s
power to work.
Jesus displayed weakness when He allowed Himself to be crucified.
Jesus also displayed power when He rose from the dead.
12:10b NKJV) …For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Jesus works in our weakness.
:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.
Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are
:6 But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.
:5 Examine yourselves
I think you have to be a little bit careful here.
Some of us tend towards being overly critical of ourselves.
Yet I do think it’s a valuable thing for every Christian to check themselves
every now and again.
How do I know that I’m saved?
John 5:11–13 NKJV) —11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and
this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God
does not have life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the
Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue
to believe in the name of the Son of God.
Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?
Do you believe that Jesus died to pay for your sins?
Have you received Jesus into your life?
How is your life characterized? Paul wrote,
5:19–21 NKJV) —19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery,
fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of
wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness,
revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you
in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom
What are you practicing in your life?
As John said, are you bringing forth the “fruits of repentance”?
Are you working at changes in your life?
The issue isn’t whether you’ve achieved perfection and
have stopped sinning altogether.
The issue is are you fighting the fight? Are you struggling with your sin? Or are you not all that bothered by it?
13:7-10 Paul prefers gentleness
:7 Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear
approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem
:7 I pray to God that you do no evil
Paul doesn’t want them to do good things just so he looks better.
He wants them to do good things because that’s what’s best for them.
:8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.
:8 do nothing against the truth
(2 Corinthians 13:8
NLT) For we cannot oppose the truth, but must always stand for the
Chuck: Paul knew that the truth
about himself would be revealed in time and the liars exposed.
Unfortunately, damage is sometimes done before the truth is known.
:9 For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we
pray, that you may be made complete.
:9 that you may be made complete
(2 Corinthians 13:9
NLT) We are glad to seem weak if it helps show that you are actually
strong. We pray that you will become mature.
His goal is that the Corinthians grow up.
If it costs Paul his reputation, he doesn’t care. Just as long as the Corinthians are growing
:10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I
should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me
for edification and not for destruction.
Authority should not be about destroying people or pulling them down.
It should be all about building them up.
13:11-14 Farewell Benediction
:11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of
one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
:12 Greet – aspadzomai –
to draw to one’s self; to salute one, greet
A salutation was made not merely by a slight gesture and a few words, but
generally by embracing and kissing, a journey was retarded frequently by
:12 kiss – philema – a
kiss; the kiss with which, as a sign of fraternal affection, Christians were
accustomed to welcome or dismiss their companions in the faith
I remember when I was young how excited us young men were to stumble across
this verse, until you look at the word “holy”
:13 All the saints greet you.
:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the
communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
:14 Jesus … God … Holy Spirit
Note Paul’s use of the trinity here.
Now back to…
:11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of
one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
:11 farewell – chairo – to
rejoice, be glad; to be well, thrive; in salutations, hail!
This may be simply “farewell”, but it is an imperative like the next four
Maybe it would better to translate this as “Rejoice”.
:11 Become complete – katartizo
– to render sound, complete; to mend (what has been broken or rent), to
repair; to complete; make one what he ought to be
Also an imperative, a command.
This is what Paul “prayed” for back in verse 9, that they be complete.
The NLT translates it “grow to maturity”
Now he tells them to grow up.
Growing up isn’t simply something you pray for, it’s something you take
steps to do.
:11 Be of good comfort – parakaleo
– to call to one’s side, exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc.
The verb is passive, and an imperative.
Or, “Be encouraged”
Sometimes we don’t want to be encouraged.
Sometimes we don’t want to receive comfort.
Sometimes we’d rather stay in our pity party and wallow in our sorrow.
Paul commands them to receive encouragement or comfort.
:11 be of one mind
Or, “be of the same mind”, another command.
Paul used the same words in:
NKJV) fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being
of one accord, of one mind.
The longstanding problem in
Corinth was the divisions in the church.
He’s encouraging them to get on the same page with each other.
:11 live in peace – eireneuo –
to make peace; to cultivate or keep peace, harmony; to be at peace
Again, this is a command.
Paul used the same word in:
(Romans 12:18 NKJV)
it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
It’s not always possible, but when you can, do your part of making peace
:11 the God of love and peace will be with you
The verb is a future indicative, not a command.
This is not a wish of Paul’s for them.
This is the result of what happens when you do the things he just
God’s love and peace
It seems to me that Paul is laying out a path for the Corinthians to
experience God’s love and peace in their lives.
Too often we find our joy in our circumstances.
Work at finding your joy in your relationship with God.
4:4 NKJV) Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
2) Grow up
Are you growing in your walk with God or have you just settled for things
as they are?
Make an effort to seek God.
Make an effort to hear God’s voice.
Make an effort to obey God and put His ways into practice.
3) Be encouraged
Some of us get stuck in our negative thinking.
Let others encourage you.
Don’t just use your old excuses that “they don’t
Let God encourage you.
Work at receiving it.
4) Cultivate Unity
Be careful of becoming part of things that would divide Christians.
Sometimes it’s a negative criticism or fear about another person.
Work at getting along with others.
Be careful of thinking that you (or we) are better than others.
5) Practice peace
I wish settling things between people were as simple as
arm wrestling, but it’s usually a little more work than that.
It’s not always possible to live in peace with people, but you don’t have
to be the one that’s always stirring things up either.