Online Bible Commentary
Churches Must Reject False Teaching
2 Corinthians 13:7 Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified. 8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. 9 For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete. 10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction. 11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you. 14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. (NKJV)
With this passage, the Apostle Paul concludes this letter to the church in Corinth, Greece. He prays that they would “do no evil”. Here he is asking that they do not resume their previous behavior (v. 7a).
Previously, the church had entertained false teaching, primarily by Judaizers. These Judaizers were identified by Paul as being of Satan, thus characterizing their teaching as “evil”.
He asks this not for his own benefit, “not that we should appear approved”, not to make him and his apostles look good or just to satisfy them. But. Instead, he is asking so that the Corinthian believers would “do what is honorable”, what is honoring to God (v. 7b).
Paul is asking them to take this initiative upon themselves, even “though we may seem disqualified”, even though Paul and his apostles may appear to not be doing their jobs as Christians (v. 7c). Paul is trying to get the Corinthian believers to stand on their own two feet as Christians, to be complete.
Paul argues that “we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth” (v.8) He is saying that we, as Christians, must always seek to do the truth, the truth of the Gospel.
He and his apostles “are glad when we are weak and you are strong” (v.9). Paul and his apostles are glad when they can draw back and be assured that the Corinthian believers can remain strong and not be swayed by false teachers.
Paul has taken a hands-off approach during this time of the false teachers in Corinth. He has, for the most part wanted the Corinthian believers themselves to identify and reject the false teachers.
Paul and his apostles also pray, “that you may be made complete” (v. 9). He is asking that they become complete as believers. The Greek word used here for complete denotes a picture of mending of fishing nets, so as to be strong and complete. Again, he wants them to be strong and stand on their own two feet.
Because of this desire, Paul is writing “these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me” (v. 10a). He did not wish to come in person and lay down the law, which he had every right to do as their spiritual leader for their “edification and not for destruction” (v. 10b).
So, it appears, that Paul did not make the so called “second visit” that he had previously gotten ready to do. Instead his second visit to Corinth would be the one he was about to undertake.
Next, Paul gives his final words to the Corinthian believers prior to coming to visit them. First, he bids them “farewell”, which is also translated as “rejoice” (v. 11a).
Then, he gives them four commands. He commands them to “be complete”, to be strong in their faith so as not to be led astray by false teachers. He commands them to “Be of good comfort”, to be encouraged in their faith. He commands them to “be of one mind”, united in the mind of God. And he commands them “to live in peace” with themselves, and not have divisions within the church. In doing so, the Corinthian believers will enjoy “the God of love and peace” with them (v. 11b).
Paul encourages them to “Greet one another with a holy kiss” (v. 12). Many Christians around the world continue the practice of the holy kiss, as a greeting. In our current culture in the United States we would recommend instead the holy handshake or the holy fist bump.
Paul sends a greeting to the Corinthian believers that “All the saints greet you” (v. 13). He may also be reminding them that all the other churches are watching them.
Finally, Paul covers them with a holy benediction “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen” (v. 14). In this benediction we again see the mention of the Trinity, that God has revealed Himself in Three Persons; the Son, the Father, and the Holy Spirit.
I don’t think it is an accident that among the four commands that Paul gives to the church in Corinth, the first one he gives is to be complete. Churches must be strong in the Gospel. They must reject false teaching, any teaching that does not agree with the Bible.
This letter was written primarily to combat false teaching in the church. A church who is weak in their doctrine can never honor God. Everything starts, and ends, with doctrine.
Even love is constrained by the doctrine of Godly love. Love that ushers someone down the road to Hell is not love. Churches are commanded to be complete, to be strong in the Gospel, and must reject false teaching.