10/23/11 2 Corinthians 13:5-8
Leader: Pastor Biebert
Meeting Time: 8:00 AM & 10:15 AM
A CHECKUP FOR the CHRISTIAN
2 Corinthians 13:5-8
Acts 18 tells about Paul’s first visit to Corinth. The first time he stayed a year and a half (Acts 18:11). The Holy Spirit made believers of some Jews there. A Jewish church leader converted. A lot of non-Jews also came to Jesus. Afterwards, the lax moral climate in Corinth apparently affected those Christians (1 Corinthians 5:1-5; 6:13). Paul visited a second time (Acts 19:21). 2 Corinthians 12:14 and 13:1-2 tell of Paul’s plans to visit a third time. Paul must be referring to this visit in 2 Corinthians 2:1 speaking about a “painful visit” he planned there. Acts 20:2-3 hints at what must have been his third visit. He stayed three months (Acts 20:3). People say that guests are like fish. After three days they start to stink.
Why are there always issues the longer we let other people get to know us better?
There was interpersonal conflict between the group in Corinth and their group’s first Christian contact. The slander against Paul out of Corinth suggested he used friends to take people’s money while he himself came off as self-sacrificing and innocent. Paul was determined to answer these charges and resolve the issue (13:1-3). You might think Paul’s strategy would be to exert his authority and come down on these people like a ton of bricks. Paul takes a different approach.
Why does Paul rely on Jesus Himself intervening (13:3)?
God doesn’t want spiritual leaders to try controlling people himself. That would be the normal leadership tactic the business world uses. Jesus really is the head of His believers here. He can take care of issues Himself if we let Him. He’s in a unique position to influence people far better than any powerful human leader. He has the capability to bring people back into line and make them want to change (13:4).
How will Jesus make contact with these people in Greece to resolve things there?
Lamentations 3:40 gives almost the same message as 2 Corinthians 13:5. Christians have always needed a periodic gut check. The word for “test” in the original Greek of this section occurs five times here. The Holy Spirit used Paul to prescribe some detailed self-analysis of their group individually. No one can do this for us. We must administer a personal checkup ourselves. What are my motives?
4. If the group there in Corinth examined themselves, what was Paul sure they would discover (13:5)?
Paul is hopeful that the “Jesus-personality” the Holy Spirit injects into each believer will overrule the dark, evil natural instinct inside of the group members in Corinth (13:5).
5. What human medium had Jesus used to get His mindset inside of these people (13:6)?
Paul hoped his next visit to Corinth would determine two things: whether he was really one of Jesus’ hand-picked, personally-trained missionaries, and whether they really loved Jesus enough to follow His directions. Refusing to respond to Paul is refusing to respond to Jesus.
6. How can you tell the difference in real believers? How are they different from fake ones (13:5)?
Paul lacks power to punish. Jesus does not. In his first letter Paul noted that a lot of the Corinth group had become ill and some had even died because they degraded the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:30). Jesus will do the disciplining when Christians fail to respond.
What “test” (13:7) does Paul hope the Corinth Christians would see he had passed?
The important thing is the truth of the Gospel and the Word of God (13:8). Paul didn’t mean that it’s impossible to attack the truth or hinder the truth. These things were going on back then among the Corinth Christians. Paul and his mission team wanted the truth to win out, no matter what. They were determined to help people see the truth, not obstruct it.
What does Paul mean in 13:8?
People usually overlook weaknesses and flaws of spiritual leaders if they believe those leaders care about them. The group of believers in Corinth knew Paul’s failings. No one of them could doubt Paul’s love and concern for them as they heard Jesus’ message. It’s how Jesus rules us too.
1. How do we examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith?
2. When is a good time to do this?
3. How does this unite the different personalities in Christian group and keep them loyal to Jesus and the work He gives us?
How does this section connect to Matthew 21:28-32? What’s the connection to Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32?