November 3, 2019, 2 Corinthians 13:1-11

I.
This week we turn to the closing sentences of 2 Corinthians. We hear Paul bring to a close (at least until he is able to visit them again) the several conversations that went on between him and the church at Corinth.

I am convinced these verses will demand our reading them more than once or twice so let’s start with a first reading. As your read it the first time, what stands out to you most. How would you characterize his words.

II.
2 Corinthians 13:1-11 (New Revised Standard Version)

This is the third time I am coming to you. “Any charge must be sustained by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” I warned those who sinned previously and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again, I will not be lenient— since you desire proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful in you. For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, indeed, you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed. But we pray to God that you may not do anything wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we are weak and you are strong. This is what we pray for, that you may become perfect. So I write these things while I am away from you, so that when I come, I may not have to be severe in using the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.

Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

III.
So what did you hear? How does Paul sound to you as he writes to this church?

Let me confess that as I read over it I heard a strong negative tone. Well, actually, I thought Paul was very harsh! Was he “unloading” on them in his final words to them? Am I reading more into his words that is actually there?

IV.
Let’s read it a second time, but wait just a moment. First, go to the end of this passage and reread these words –

Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Hold that in your mind and with that “tone,” that concern for the people, reread the entire passage.

V.
Now, spend some time noticing what you can see as truly affirming in his words. And, no less what you see as critical. You might think of it as seeing the passage in two columns, one the affirming and positive and constructive, and the second as the critical, corrective and (can we say ?) judgemental.

Who is this man that writes such to these people he has spent time with? What do you see in his heart as he writes to them?

We’ll talk more later,

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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