2 Corinthians 13:1–11 People often set goals to achieve personal growth. What can we do to gauge our personal development? Following previous difficulties, Paul now forcibly reminds the Corinthians to examine themselves in comparison to God’s standards for faithful living.
Lesson 10: November 3, 2019
Bible Background • 2 CORINTHIANS 13:1–11
Printed Text • 2 CORINTHIANS 13:1–11 | Devotional Reading • JAMES 1:12–18
Aim for Change
By the end of the lesson, we will: IDENTIFY the standards of faithful living in Christ that guided Paul’s life, SENSE the growth in faithful living by testing our lives in Christ, and EMBRACE faithful living as the basis for communal life in Christ.
“Ethan is wrong! He knows better,” Mathew thought as he sat across the dinner table from his brother, “I must tell what happened.” Ethan had been warned several times about going into the candy store with the Smith boys. They did things contrary to the way Ethan and Mathew were being taught. They were always talking back to adults, getting into fights, and stealing. Ethan knew better. Ethan and Mathew loved going to church. They especially liked going to church with their grandparents and hearing Pastor Gray preach. The boys got baptized at the same time. They even chose the same favorite Bible verse, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Now Ethan was stealing and being disrespectful to Mr. King, the candy store owner. Mathew knew what Ethan was doing was wrong. He even told Ethan he was going to get in trouble because he knew better. Granddad would always say, “Boys, if you want to know if you are doing right, God is your plumb line. We examine ourselves by God’s Word.”
As Mathew pondered how to bring up what happened, Granddad said, “Ethan, I saw you today at the candy store. What were you doing over there?” Mathew was so relieved! Granddad had seen what happened, too.
When our sin has been called out, do we acknowledge and confess our sins? Or do we deny them? Do we examine ourselves against God’s Word?
Keep in Mind
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5, KJV)
“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5, NLT).
The People, Places, and Times
Paul. Even before his conversion, Paul was instrumental in causing the church to spread from its Jerusalem roots. Paul’s participation in the death of Stephen the deacon and frenzied persecution of believers after the Resurrection caused them to flee Jerusalem and take the Gospel to other parts of world. After his conversion (Acts 9:1–19), Paul embarked on three missionary journeys spreading the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire. Paul personally established numerous churches, and he also wrote at least thirteen epistles in the New Testament. The conversion of a notorious church hater such as Paul proves that even the worst of sinners can be changed, empowered, and used by God.
Corinth. A key city in ancient Greece until it was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC. Julius Caesar rebuilt it as a Roman colony in 46 BC, and it grew and prospered. In Paul’s day, Corinth was thriving because of its two seaports (to the west and the east) and had become a commercial center. The cosmopolitan center thrived on commercial entertainment and corruption. Pleasure seekers came there to spend money on immoral practices. A very active cult of Aphrodite there employed temple prostitutes. Corinth became so notorious for its evils that the term korinthiazomai (Gk. “to Corinth”) became a synonym for debauchery and prostitution.
In 2 Corinthians Paul is again writing the church because of immoral practices. Additionally, there have been attempts to besmirch Paul’s reputation. Paul argues that his trials prove God’s power in him rather than proving God’s displeasure with him. Paul makes his argument in this letter in order to help the Corinthians so that when he comes to visit them, he will not have to be harsh.
Paul often mentions how God’s power is seen in the weakness of the Cross. The Corinthian Christians were very much like the pagan culture that surrounded them. Indisputably, Paul had Christ in him. The Corinthians must decide if Christ is in them. If they conclude Christ is in them, then they cannot deny Christ is in Paul, their spiritual father. In this letter Paul speaks of his authority for building them up (2 Corinthians 10:8) and encourages them live in the power of God.