2 Corinthians 13: Confrontation and Blessing
May 16, 2019
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Paul comes towards the end of this letter and towards the end of his defense of his own ministry and the defense of the gospel itself. Here we can glean some principles from which we can learn as we seek to guard the gospel today:
First, Paul is willing to strongly and firmly confront. Of course, Paul here speaks as an apostle. But in his declaration of willingness to confront “those who sinned earlier,” he is showing that unrepentant sin and divisive behavior is not acceptable in the Christian church.
Second, Paul calls on Christians to “examine” themselves. We rarely follow this practice in the contemporary church. But there is a time and a place for self-examination. Do I really know Christ? Am I really his? It is possible to grow up in church or in the Christian community, to make a profession of faith at some point in the past, but not really have a story of how Jesus met with you. Do you have a story to tell of Jesus’ encounter with you? Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? If not, then turn to Jesus and ask him to give you new life and to come into your life by the power of his Spirit!
Third, even in the midst of these firm words that Paul writes, he ends on a note of celebration. “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice!” Joy is the mark of the Christian. Sometimes we need to school ourselves to rejoice. What is there that we can rejoice in? Much in every way. Life in Christ, the knowledge of Jesus, eternal salvation. So much about which to rejoice. Therefore, rejoice!
Fourth, Paul encourages relational community and friendship within the church. The “holy kiss” is the cultural kiss of the time that was reserved for family members – and which therefore was how Paul wanted Christians to greet each other. How do you greet a beloved family member? That’s the kind of way Paul wants us to greet each other in the church, because we are in the family of God.
Fifth, finally Paul ends on a note of blessing. Even in this letter – which at times has had moments of severe confrontation – he wants it to be clear that his desire is for the Corinthians’ good, their blessings, and their spiritual flourishing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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