Paul’s Next Visit
No advantage will be taken of the Corinthians (II Corinthians 12:14-18)
This will be Paul’s third trip toward Corinth. The first time is recorded in Acts 18. The second time was the aborted trip that Paul apologized for in II Corinthians 1:12-2:4. His planned next trip will be his third time in coming, not necessarily the third time in arriving.
Even though the accusation is that a “real” apostle would be supported by those he is with, Paul reaffirms that he has no intentions of having the Corinthians support him. He doesn’t care about their money (Acts 20:33; I Thessalonians 2:5-6; II Corinthians 11:9); he cares about the people (I Corinthians 10:33; Philippians 4:7). Casting himself in the role of a parent (I Corinthians 4:14-15), Paul notes that it is the parent who supports the child, not the child the parent (I Thessalonians 2:8). Shifting to an illustration of money, Paul says he is quite willing to be spent on behalf of the Corinthians even though it seems that the more he gives love to the Corinthians, the less is returned to him (II Corinthians 1:6; Philippians 2:17; II Timothy 2:10; John 10:10-11).
Even though Paul did not burden the Corinthians, the charge is laid against Paul that he still burdened the Corinthians by trickery. He sent other men and then profited from what those men collected. Of course, Paul already reminded them that he never used deception (II Corinthians 4:2; 7:2). Paul had sent Titus and the unnamed brother they both knew (II Corinthians 8:18, 22). Their behavior and attitude and Paul’s were of the same sort.
What will Paul find when he comes to Corinth? (II Corinthians 12:19-21)
Paul makes it clear that he isn’t saying all of this to gain favor from the Corinthians. He is speaking the truth as witnessed by God. Everything is done to build the Corinthians up.
What Paul greatly fears is that by the time he does arrive the false teachers will have done their damage. The church there will not be as he desires them to be and Paul will have to act in a manner that he would rather not act. Paul is afraid to find a church in chaos with members at each other’s throats. To find such misery would humiliate and grieve Paul. He also feared to find that those involved in various sexual sins had not changed from their past behaviors.
Paul will address the problem makers (II Corinthians 13:1-4)
Again Paul mentions that this is his third attempt at coming to Corinth (II Corinthians 12:14). His purpose in coming has been solidly established. Truth is established by two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 18:16; John 8:17). The witnesses to Paul’s intentions are that he told them before (I Corinthians 4:19-21), said it as if present with them when he started his aborted second trip to Corinth and writing it again in this letter (II Corinthians 10:9-11). This establishes the firmest and truth of his intentions. Those who have been sinning will not be spared, nor will any others. They have had plenty of warning.
Ironically they had been demanding evidence that he was an apostle through whom Christ spoke. Shortly they will be seeing that evidence first hand. It brings to mind Paul’s handling of the sorcerer, Elymas (Acts 13:8-11). The Corinthians had abundant evidence of Christ’s power among them, so they should know that this was not an idle threat.
Examine yourselves (II Corinthians 13:5-6)
A core problem is an assumption each person makes that he is acceptable to God and that any who disagree are not acceptable. A person needs to look at his beliefs objectively. Paul realizes that some in Corinth were being deceived by false teachers and were not aware of it.
He challenges them to put themselves to the test (Psalms 119:59; Lamentations 3:40; Ezekiel 18:28; Haggai 1:5; I Corinthians 11:31; Galatians 6:4; Hebrews 12:15). These false teachers were demanding proof of Paul, which Paul showed was amply available. Now it was time for them to examine themselves for evidence that they were followers of Christ.
Surely a person knows whether he is truly a Christian. He ought to know how he will react in various situations. He should know the strength of his commitment. He can compare his life to what God commands of him (I John 2:3-6; 3:14, 19, 24; 4:13; 5:2, 19-20). He can know if Christ is within him (John 14:23; 15:4; Romans 8:10).
Unless, of course, they are not committed followers of Christ. If they have been rejected by God (Jeremiah 6:30; Romans 1:28; Titus 1:16; Hebrews 6:8), then they will not be certain of where they stand with Christ.
Regardless of the outcome of their own examination, Paul is confident that they will realize that Paul is on the side of Christ and not disqualified.
Stand with the truth and not appearances (II Corinthians 13:7-9)
Paul wants the Corinthians to do what is right. If they do what is wrong, then when he comes they will have solid evidence that he is an apostle. He isn’t out to justify himself as an apostle or to seek that they accept him as an apostle. Even if they ultimately reject him, Paul would still be happy to know that they are living the truth, even though by following the truth Paul will not have the opportunity to give the ultimate proof of his apostleship.
As an apostle, he cannot do anything opposing the truth. Thus if they are following the truth, he will not oppose them but support them. He gladly would take on the burden of appearing weak if the Corinthians are strong in the Lord. Paul’s desire is that they are made complete (I Thessalonians 3:10; Ephesians 4:11-16).
Paul is trying to avoid a showdown if possible (II Corinthians 13:10)
Once again, Paul emphasizes that he has written in advance so that his visit can be a pleasant one where he spends time strengthening the brethren. He doesn’t want to spend his time with them rebuking error and destroying false beliefs (I Corinthians 4:21; II Corinthians 2:3; 10:2, 8; 12:20-21).