I. Paul’s Visits To Corinth Vs. 1-4
A. Paul’s First Two Visits
1. First visit- He stayed 18 months & founded the church. Acts 18:11
2. Second visit- A brief and painful visit, between the writing of 1 & 2 Corinthians.
a. There was such tension between he & them that he left so as to not make things worse.
b. After his second visit, he intended on a quick return, but changed his mind.
c. The atmosphere had been volatile, and Paul thought that continuing to try to deal with the problem would be destructive rather than constructive.
d. Paul sought to deescalate the situation. 2 Corinthians 1:23, 2 Corinthians 2:1-4
e. 2 Corinthians 7:2-3, 13-16
i. Instead of coming back to a volatile situation, he sent Titus.
ii. Titus spoke on Paul’s behalf, & some of them repented, which brought joy to Paul.
B. Paul’s Third Visit
1. Third visit- Paul was now planning on another visit.
a. He had been extremely patient with them, and some of them received correction.
b. Others misinterpreted Paul’s patience as weakness, and they continued sinning.
2. Paul had been warning the unrepentant that though he had been mild with them, they should not misinterpret that as weakness or a lack of authority. See 2 Corinthians 10:1-11
C. Paul’s Execution Of His Authority
1. V. 1- Paul quoted Deuteronomy 19:15. Establishing facts always calls for witnesses.
a. Paul may have been alluding to his previous visits as witnesses.
b. He may have been alluding to his colleagues who had witnessed the same behavior.
2. V. 2- Paul reminded them that he had warned them. A third trip would bring discipline.
a. He had warned them about this on his second trip. He was being patient.
b. These were people that were sinning before and would not stop. Hurting the church.
c. “I will not spare”- The time for reasoning and warning was over. Time for discipline.
i. 1 Corinthians 13:4 Love suffers long and is kind…
ii. 1 Peter 4:8 above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
iii. Love suffers long with sinful people, but it does have a godly limit.
iv. Ongoing unrepentant sin cannot be tolerated in a marriage, a family, or a church.
v. It needs to be stopped for the welfare of people and for the glory of God.
d. Paul would no longer come as an investigator, but as a judge.
3. Vs. 3, 4- They were still seeking proof that Jesus was speaking through Paul.
a. He reminded them-Jesus lived and was crucified in weakness, but was raised in power and shall return in power as a Judge.
b. Paul was weak among them, but he would return in the authority Jesus gave him.
c. Harris- “It would seem that in their immaturity the Corinthians were unimpressed by Christ like gentleness and meekness . . . but were overawed by arbitrary displays of power.”
II. A Plea For Self-Examination Vs. 5-10
A. Self-Examination Is A Good Thing
1. Medical check-ups to discover our physical state. Does anything need to change?
2. Financial audits to determine our financial state. Does anything need to change?
3. Spiritual self-examination is the most important of all.
4. V. 5- Is Jesus in you? The Corinthians were church members, but possibly not saved.
a. They were either spiritually qualified (born again), or disqualified (unrepentant)
b. That statement does not speak about living a perfect life of sinlessness.
c. The question was this: Is Jesus Christ in you?
d. Some of Paul’s harshest critics were probably unsaved church attenders.
e. Test yourselves-
i. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
ii. Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
iii. Romans 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…
iv. 1 Thessalonians 1:3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father,
v. 1 Thessalonians 1:6 And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word…
5. V. 6- Paul suggested that they examine themselves, and that they would be reasonable and understand that Paul wasn’t disqualified, but actually and truly called by God.
6. V. 7- Paul prayed that they would do no evil.
a. Not so that he could catch them doing something wrong, and then could prove how wrong they were and how right he was.
b. But that they would live honorably, even though they considered him disqualified.
7. V. 8- If he rejoiced over them getting caught in sin, hoping that it would make him look better, then he would be going against the truth of God. He was to desire the best for them, not the worst in order to make himself look good.
8. V. 9- If Paul was weak, or with them in weakness, that was ok if they were strong in Jesus, and complete and mature in their faith. Paul’s concern was for them, not himself.
9. V. 10– Paul’s preference was long distance persuasion, not face to face combat. But, if needed, he would do whatever was necessary for the health of the church and people.
III. Final Words Vs. 11-14
1. V. 11- Farewell- better translated “rejoice”. Paul has been firm with them, but wishes them joy which is the result of a right walk with God.
a. Complete- “to render fit, to mend, to put in order, to adjust, to make one what he ought to be”.
i. Paul was exhorting them to be fully mature in all areas of their lives.
ii. He would not allow them (or us) to claim perpetual weakness that was left unaddressed. We can’t say, “That’s how I am, I’ll never change”.
b. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace- We must be deliberate to do these things as we pursue unity with all Christians. Unity doesn’t come from uniformity, it comes for making every effort to do your own part.
c. the God of love and peace will be with you- This is the reward for our efforts, regardless of the other person’s response.
2. V. 12- Holy kiss- Appropriate cultural greeting in Paul’s day, & in some places today. Handshakes/hugs for us. Ancient cultures didn’t kiss on Good Friday because of Judas.
3. V. 14- Here we see Paul wish a blessing for them as they are connected to the Triune God
a. grace of the Lord Jesus Christ- Undeserved favor and divine friendship & assistance
b. the love of God- Love that goes far beyond human love, loving the unlovable
c. communion of the Holy Spirit- a heavenly union and oneness that is experienced as the same Spirit of God that inhabits one Christian also inhabits all Christians.