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Chapter thirteen concludes this letter with Paul urging the Corinthians to examine themselves before God before Paul arrived so that his fears (2 Corinthians 12:20-21) would not be realized (2 Corinthians 13:1-3). He warned them that he would not be timid in using his apostolic authority to discipline any of them who rejected his letters and teaching, choosing to continue in their sin. He challenged them to make sure they were truly “in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5), probably a reference both to initial salvation and sanctification and to the orthodox teachings of Christianity since he did not specify just “in Christ.” Even believers can “fail the test” of obedience (2 Corinthians 13:5) and be disqualified from serving Christ (1 Corinthians 9:23-27), something Paul did not want for them. Even if it seemed that Paul failed, he did not want them to fail (2 Corinthians 13:6-9).
Paul claimed that this letter, no matter how harsh it was from time to time, was actually a demonstration of his great love for them (2 Corinthians 13:10). Solomon wrote that wounds from a friend can be good (Proverbs 27:6), and Paul chose to wound them from a distance so that they could enjoy each other in person.
The final verse 1 is an inspired acknowledgment of the Trinity. Under the Holy Spirit’s guidance (2 Peter 1:21; 3:15-16), Paul referred to the three members of the Godhead as individual persons who are co-equal with each other. Although the word Trinity never occurs in Scripture, passages like this teach this doctrine clearly.
- English translations have it marked as either verse 13 or 14. ↩