2Co 13:1-3 “This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare: Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.”
Paul had visited Corinth and labored there for over a year and a half, establishing the church at Corinth (Acts 18:1- 18). After his departure, word came to him of strife and division among the saints there. He wrote to them in what we know as First Corinthians and addressed these matters. In First Corinthians, he rebuked the church for their lack of mourning concerning the sin that was among them (1 Corinthians 5:1).
Based on this letter of Second Corinthians, there was still much division among the saints at Corinth. Some of them were enthralled with the false teachers that had come among them. They questioned Paul’s apostleship and whether he was actually being an ambassador for Christ. Paul was setting this record straight, and promised to do so in the mouth of two or three witnesses.
The false apostles among them appear to be Jews who were trying to subvert the grace of Christ. Paul therefore used an Old Testament principle to confirm his power as an apostle of Jesus Christ by having every word established in the mouth of two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15). Paul already had the witness of those of the household of Chloe (1 Corinthians 1:11). He had, by this letter, sent unto them Titus and another brother who was apparently well known to them.
Besides all of this, Paul had the witness of the Spirit of God in the signs and wonders he had wrought among them. It was through God’s use of Paul’s ministry that they had heard the gospel to being with. Out of a great depth of love, Paul labored with the saints so that he might come to them in gentleness. He told them in the outset of this epistle that he had not come to them yet because he desired to spare them (2 Corinthians 1:23).
As he closes this letter, he tells them that he will not spare them any longer. He foretells (warns) them that they cannot continue to live in sin without rebuke. In the power of Paul’s coming, they will have proof that it is not Paul speaking, but Christ through Paul. This is going to be made manifest in a mighty and undeniable way among them.
On the one hand, there appears to be a dire warning in all of this. There is obviously going to be some heartache in Paul’s coming, both for him and for the church at Corinth. However, there is also going to be something glorious to come from this. Christ is going to manifest Himself in a mighty way to them through Paul.
As servants of God and of Christ, we may avoid certain things for a season because we wish to spare God’s people that we love. Still, there comes a time when matters have to be faced regardless of how much we might wish it otherwise. In those times, we must come having our message established in the word of God and by the Spirit of God. Living willfully sinful lives was not ok in Paul’s day, and it is not ok today.
May Christ speak through us in a mighty way for the edification and peace of His church!