2 Corinthians 13

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.

Notes:

  1. English translations have it marked as either verse 13 or 14.

Proverbs 10

Chapters ten through thirteen form one unit in the Hebrew text, the first of three long sections, with no paragraph marker until the end of the four chapters. Unlike the first nine chapters, the format starting at this point is what most people consider a “proverb,” e.g., a one- or two-line saying containing a general principle or command, though not necessarily a guaranteed of promised results in every case.

Most of these proverbs are contained in a single verse and follow one of four patterns. In nearly every case, these use a common form of parallelism (A-B or A-A) to make the point.:

  • Positive statement…but parallel negative opposite
  • Negative statement…but parallel positive opposite
  • Positive statement…and further positive statement
  • Negative statement…and further negative statement

Solomon called the people in his positive statements righteous, wise, upright, shrewd, faithful, diligent, generous, and blameless. In contrast, the person we should not emulate is wicked, foolish, lazy, perverse, sluggard, evildoer, faithless, ruthless, without discretion, stupid, twisted, and a scoffer.

The topics of this section are just as plentiful as Solomon’s descriptions of those who participate in them. Because he addressed finances, instruction and discipline, personal appearance, parenting, integrity, anxiety, hope, work, speech, and motives, this section contains a wealth of wisdom and general principle for many of life’s daily situations.

Proverbs 9

Chapter nine closes the first section of Proverbs, with its emphasis on finding, gaining, and heeding wisdom. In Proverbs 9:1-6, wisdom is personified as a woman preparing for a dinner party. She has created a meal, set the table, and sent out the invitations. Her special guests are the naïve, who desperately need the knowledge and understanding she offers. In one of the first major distinctions between the wise and foolish person, Solomon noted that a wise person receives instruction, whereas a fool does not (Proverbs 9:7-9). In fact, it is often better to not even try to correct a fool, because he will mock and abuse the would-be helper. A wise person, on the other hand, will use the instruction to become wiser.

Proverbs 9:10 is the matching bookend to Proverbs 1:7 for this opening section of the book. Solomon has already described the “fear of the LORD” as rejecting evil, and in Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10, he wrote that this proper fear of the LORD is required to obtain true knowledge and wisdom. This God-given wisdom can add years to a person’s life but the one who mocks God’s wisdom pays for it (Proverbs 9:11-12).

Just as Wisdom has been personified as a woman in the past few chapters, this chapter closes by personifying Folly as well. Like Wisdom, Folly also stands and calls for followers. In fact, Folly’s words in Proverbs 9:16 are identical to Wisdom’s call in Proverbs 9:4. Foolishness often looks like Wisdom on the surface, but those who reject Wisdom for Folly’s called “do not realize that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave.”