2 Corinthians

13:11-13

10. Conclusion, 13:11-13

The grace of God

Argument

Paul concludes his letter with a set of final exhortations, greetings and benediction "embodying hope that the Corinthians will respond well to his admonitions", Guthrie.

 
Issues

i] Context: See 1:1-7. The final section of Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, 10:1-12:21, deals with his apostolic authority. It serves as an apologia of his ministry. He winds up with an exhortation aimed at restoring discipline in the Corinthian Church, 13:1-10, and now, in 13:11-13, he concludes with final exhortations and a benediction.

 

ii] Background: See 1:1-7.

 

iii] Structure: This conclusion to Paul's letter presents in two parts:

Final exhortations, v11-12;

Benediction, v13.

 

iv] Interpretation:

The final exhortations, greetings and benediction in 2 Corinthians possesses similar elements to the other letters in the New Testament. In fact, Barnett argues that such is common in letters in the Greco-Roman world. There is a shift in tone at this point in the letter, more conciliatory and less confrontational. This has prompted some commentators to view these verses as more likely the ending for chapters 1-8/9; See the Compilation Hypothesis in the Introduction. This seem rather far fetched, given that a kindly word at the end of a letter is not unexpected. The majority of modern commentators take these three verses with 13:10.

Note that the benediction in v13 is trinitarian in form and is often used in liturgical worship.

 

v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

 
Text - 13:11

The conclusion of Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, v11-13: i] Final exhortations , v11-12. Paul begins his final greetings with a word of encouragement:

a) "Cheer up". The NIV actually has "good-bye", but the word probably means "rejoice" rather than good-bye and is therefore the first of Paul's final exhortations. Christian joy is not exuberance but rather a peaceful sense of Christ's uplifting. It is possible to cry, and at the same time be filled with the joy of Christ, cf. Phil.3:1, 4:4, Gal.5:22.

b) "Aim for perfection", or as J.B. Phillips puts it, "straighten yourselves out." Paul may be speaking about personal sanctity, but more likely group harmony.

c) "listen to my appeal." "Be admonished", "consider carefully the exhortations in this letter", or better, the exhortations of gifted members of the church.

d) "Be of one mind", or as William Barclay puts it, "agree with one another." Paul is not speaking about rigid uniformity, blind submission to authority, but a unity, an agreement in the essential elements of their faith in Christ, an agreement in the truth. Christian unity is essential for the people of God.

e) "Live in peace", or possibly better, "live at peace with one another." The Corinthian church was marked with disunity, immorality, even civil litigation, and so it certainly needed a little bit of togetherness.

Paul follows up his exhortations with a divine promise. Our God, who is a God of peace and love, will reside in the midst of a people who seek peace and love. Division drives our Lord away; harmony invites him into our fellowship.

loipon adv. "finally" - remaining, for the rest. Temporal adverb. Paul has used this word before to signal the end of a letter; "Finally".

adelfoi (oV) "brothers" - Often vocative in first Corinthians, but here expressing "solidarity", Furnish.

cairete (cairw) pres. imp. "good-by / rejoice!" - rejoice. The word can have the meaning "farewell", but more likely it means "rejoice", particularly as it stands at the head of a series of imperatives. "Be cheerful", Peterson.

katartizesqe (katarizw) pres. pas. imp. "aim at perfection / strive for full restoration" - be restored. This is possibly a "be what you are" idea and therefore "aim at perfection" is a reasonable paraphrase. Yet, the verb is passive and therefore, the idea may be of allowing the Spirit of Christ to restore us. So, what we could have here is a "walk by the Spirit" idea.

parakaleisqe (parakalew) pres. pas. imp. "listen to my appeal / encourage one another" - be encouraged, possibly encourage yourselves. The NIV's "listen to my appeal" goes beyond the text.

to auto froneite (fronew) pres. imp. "be of one mind" - be of the same mind. "Be harmonious in thought and aim," Plummer.

eirhneuete (eirhneuw) pres. "live in peace" - be at peace. Barrett suggests a cause and effect action between the imperative "be of one mind" and the imperative "be at peace" such that "live in peace" "expresses the result of being of the same mind."

kai "and [the God of love] and" - Coordinative, "and".

thV .... eirhnhV (h) gen. "peace" - of peace. The genitive, as with the genitive "of love", may be classified as adjectival, attributive, limiting by description "God", "the loving and peaceful God", or verbal, subjective, "God the bringer of peace and love", Cassirer. Paul often ends his letters with a benediction, usually on the subject of peace, here also with "love". The presence of the future verb to-be e[stai indicates that the benediction is in the form of a promise, as NIV. It is possible that the future stands in place of an optative which would then shape the benediction in the form of a wish, although this is unlikely. So, a promise is likely and is particularly applicable to a church that has been somewhat quarrelsome and in need of divine help. "God will be there to help them. He is the God of love and peace and in situations of conflict what is need above all is the peace and love that he alone can give", Best.

 
v12a

Paul now encourages his readers to properly greet each other. In their culture, a kiss was the accustomed greeting, but let it be a "holy" one, a pure and sincere one.

aspasasqe (aspazomai) aor. pas. "greet" - The exhortation that his readers "greet" one another is found in a number of Paul's letters, Rom.16:6, 1Cor.16:20, 1Thes.5:26. It is actually a common ending in hellenistic letters of the time, other than for the addition of the modifying adjective "holy".

en + "with" - Possibly instrumental, expressing means, "by means of ...", or adverbial, modal, expressing manner, "greet one another with the kiss of peace", Barclay.

aJgiw/ adj. "holy" - holy. The kiss may be "holy" in that it is respectful, a pure and sincere greeting, but possibly holy is being used to distinguish the kiss as a greeting between believers, as opposed to a greeting between non-believers.

filhmati (a atoV) dat. "kiss" - At this time a kiss was a common act of affection or respect, given at the point of meeting someone and at departure. It later became a standard form of greeting between believers. In Western culture today an extended right hand (to show that there is no weapon in it!!!!) serves the same purpose, which in a Christian context we might call "offering the right hand of fellowship."

 
v12b

A greeting from the "saints" in Macedonia. The saints, of course, are living believers, not dead believers. Verse numbering here is confused. In the NIV / NIV11, v12a = v12, and v12b = v13. This numbering is also found in the REB, following the RV and AV, originating in the second folio edition of the Bishops' Bible in 1572.

oiJ a{gioi (oV) "[all] God's people here" - the holy ones, the saints. The adjective serves as a substantive, the nominative subject of the verb "to greet."

aspazontai (aspazomai) pres. "send their greetings" - greet [you]. This greeting from believers who are presently fellowshiping with Paul is another common feature often found at the end of a Pauline letter, cf. Rom.16:16, 1Cor.16:19, Phil.4:22.

 
v13

ii] Benediction, v13. This concluding benediction is trinitarian in form, although it is obviously not intended as a trinitarian doctrinal statement ("love of God", not "love of the Father"). None-the-less, by association Jesus is being elevated to the status of divine. Paul would normally just offer a benediction of grace, so the benediction here is quite unique, although he is saying nothing here that he hasn't said elsewhere. The sample sermon focuses on the trinitarian nature of the verse due to the fact that it is the epistle for Trinity Sunday A in the three year series of readings for the church year. "Paul turns to his Corinthian friends, impoverished by their party-spirit, to contemplate the unlimited wealth of blessing which God makes available to them in Christ by the power of the Spirit", Bruce.

"May ... be [with] you" - There is no verb and so the intended action must be assumed. The NIV has opted for a wish/prayer, ie. an optative verb to-be. The presence of the preposition meta + gen. = "with", certainly leads to this conclusion, although an imperative is also a possibility; "the grace of ...... be with you all", Barclay. It is also possible that an indicative is intended making the benediction a statement of fact, a declaration that divine grace etc. is with the readers. "May these be by the side of each and every one of you: the grace of the ......", Cassirer.

hJ cariV (iV ewV) "the grace" - the grace or favor. Here, the gracious kindness of God's mercy extended to all who believe.

tou Ihsou Cristou gen. "of the Lord Jesus Christ" - "Christ" stands in apposition to "Jesus". The genitive here, as for "of God" and "of the Holy Spirit", is usually treated as verbal, subjective, although it is possible to argue that "of the Holy Spirit" is objective, the fellowship that believers experience in the Holy Spirit. "Of the Holy Spirit", as with the other two genitives, is better treated as subjective rather than objective, ie. the fellowship experienced by believers which is the product of the Holy Spirit's activity in the life of the Christian community. A verbal classification is often dubious so possibly the genitives could be classified as either i] adjectival: a) idiomatic / product / producer, the grace / love / fellowship facilitated by Jesus / God / Holy Spirit, or b) possessive, expressing a particular aspect/quality belonging to all members of the trinity, but individually identified, and experienced by believers through their association with the divine, or ii] ablative, source / origin, "flowing from." Jesus is gracious, merciful, giving, and we experience that grace in union with him. God [the Father] is loving and we experience that love in union with him. The Holy Spirit is unifying, participatory, and we experience that fellowship in union with him. In the end, given that the benediction is most likely a wish-prayer, the genitives may best be classified as ablative expressing source/origin; a grace / love / fellowship which is derived from / is dependent on the divine. It is these qualities for which Paul prays on behalf of his readers.

hJ agaph (h) "the love" - love. Best understood as "compassion".

hJ koinwnia (a) "fellowship" - close association, fellowship. An association involving close mutual relations and involvement*.

meta + gen. "be with [you all]" - Expressing association.

 

2 Corinthians Introduction

Exposition

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