Art Toombs Ministries

Online Bible Commentary

We Are Not Disqualified
2 Corinthians 12:20 For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; 21 lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced. 13:1 This will be the third time I am coming to you. "By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established." 2 I have told you before, and foretell as if I were present the second time, and now being absent I write to those who have sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again I will not spare-- 3 since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. 4 For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. 5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you are disqualified. 6 But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. (NKJV)





Paul was in Macedonia from June to November of A.D. 56. It was there that he wrote the letter of 2nd Corinthians, likely in September and October of A.D. 56.

The church in Corinth had been beset by false teachers. These false teachers, Judaizers, were undermining Paul’s teachings and questioning his apostolic authority.

The Judaizers wanted to add to the Gospel, to make it more complicated. What they wanted to add was the requirement to follow the Jewish practices and customs expressed in the Mosaic Law.

The Corinthian church has now rejected the false teachers and returned to the teachings of Paul. However, Paul still has some concern about the issue of his apostolic authority and addresses it again in this letter.

Paul began this letter by defending his apostolic authority. After moving on to other subjects, he now concludes this letter by returning to defend his apostolic authority in the last four chapters.

In the previous passage, Paul wrote “How were you inferior to the other churches” (v. 13a). It was a fact that the Corinthian church was less mature than the churches in Macedonia and other areas that were started at about the same time.

This likely was because of where the Corinthian church came from. Corinth, a metropolitan hub, was filled with sin. Collins Dictionary defines the current day word “corinthianize” as a verb meaning to live a promiscuous life.

It is thought that the Judaizers justified sexual immorality and thus were able to influence the new Corinthian believers. Although the believers had renounced their past sin, they likely had not repented of, turned from, this, or other sins.

In this passage, Paul continues to write of their past, and perhaps present, sins when he writes “ For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced” (vv. 20-21).

Paul fears that many of the Corinthian believers are still practicing sin, of various kinds. As would any mature believer, Paul “mourns” all sin and speaks out against it.

Paul will be soon leaving Macedonia for Corinth, where he will write the book of Romans. Previously, he wrote “Now I am ready to visit you for the third time” (v. 14a). Scripture is not clear that this next visit to Corinth will actually be his third visit or just the third time that he was “ready” to visit.

We know that he visited them for the first time on his second missionary journey. It is possible that then, on this third missionary journey, he made a quick visit across the Aegean Sea while in Ephesus prior to going to Macedonia, but this is not stated in Scripture.

The use of the word “ready” might indicate that Paul had thought of making a visit from Ephesus but decided against it. We know from this letter that he did not want to visit Corinth when they were in turmoil.

Paul writes here that this would be “the third time” that he was “coming to” the Corinthian believers (v. 1a). The literal Greek translation for this verse is “third this I am coming to you.” Again, it is not clear if Paul actually made the short visit from Ephesus or if he just planned his “coming”, and then decided against it.

Next, Paul quotes Scripture when he writes "By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established" (Deut. 19:15) (v. 1b). There would need to be witnesses before the church would confront this sin.

Then, Paul seems to clarify the number of visits issue by indicating that he actually did not make the second visit when he writes “I have told you before, and foretell as if I were present the second time” (v. 2a). Whatever the case, on this next visit Paul will address the sin in the church.

He writes “and now being absent I write to those who have sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again I will not spare” (v. 2b). Paul will offer his counsel as the church addresses any sin prevalent within members of the congregation. He will be tough, and will not “spare” anybody who is guilty of sin.

Next, Paul writes “since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you” (vv. 3-4). Here, Paul is addressing those who have questioned his apostolic authority.

Previously, Paul was criticized for appearing weak, therefore he was not an apostle from God since God is “power”. Paul explains that Jesus also appeared weak during his crucifixion, and yet he possessed the power of God. One of Paul’s themes throughout 2 Corinthians is that he is weak so that the power of God may be displayed through him.

In response to the sin issue, Paul writes “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (v. 5a). He is telling the Corinthian believers in advance to examine themselves for sin in their lives. Sin in our lives keeps us from being in our “faith”, from being in communion with God. God cannot bless sin.

Next, Paul attempts to discourage the believers from practicing sin when he reminds them “Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you are disqualified” (v. 5b). As believers, we should “know” that “Jesus Christ is in” us through the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps us with our sin problem. We are not unbelievers, those who “are disqualified” from the blessings, help and salvation of God.

Paul concludes this passage with a word of encouragement. He writes “But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified” (v 6). As Christians, we know that we cannot lose the blessings, help and salvation of God. We “know that we are not disqualified”.