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Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
(412)822-7255
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Question:
clear.gif - 808 Bytes I'd like more understanding on verses II Corinthians 13: 4-10. What is the weakness he is talking about and what does he mean by the term reprobate? How does the "weakness" in verse 4 compare to being "weak" in verse 9?


Response:
You may click on verses to reveal pop-up Scripture

clear.gif - 808 Bytes Thanks for writing. Here is the main thrust of the passage. II Cor. 13
2-3) I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare: Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.
- Two things here. First, the Corinthians seemed to question whether or not Paul had the apostolic authority to tell them what to do. He is going to show them in the next few verses that he has this authority and has been approved of God. And, if he comes to see them, he will not spare them his rebuke and discipline. Second, When Christ speaks He is not weak, and when Paul speaks the Word of God It is not weak. Christ and His Word are not weak, They are mighty in the believer
4) For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth 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.
- His weakness is that He became human flesh, which could be crucified. He put himself in a position where He could be crucified so that He might provide eternal life for all. Philippians 2:7-8a sheds some light on this:
"But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
Though Jesus was the all-powerful God, He took on the "weakness" of humanity, and allowed Himself to be executed. He appeared weak on the cross because He did not save Himself. Yet, Christ rose from the dead by the power of God. Had be been only a man, he would have remained in the grave for a man can not raise himself. However, He was raised by the power of God. In fact, all three Members of the Trinity were involved in the resurrection, including Christ Himself. John 10:17-18 says,
"Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again."
(See also Ephesians 1:19-21 for the power of God being revealed at the resurrection.) This becomes the illustration of our Christian lives. We are weak because of our frail humanity, but through the power of God we can live abundantly and spiritually not only in this world, but with God in eternity.

5) Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
- So Paul challenges them to examine themselves to find out of they were truly saved. The Corinthians were a carnal bunch, although they are better in II Corinthians than they are in I Corinthians, so Paul wants them to examine themselves, or test themselves, like the testing of a metal or coin to prove that it was genuine. They should be able to know themselves well enough to know that Christ was in them, (which should empower them to accomplish what they need to accomplish), unless they were reprobates. "Reprobate" literally means to be "unapproved". According to Albert Barnes' commentary, "It is properly applicable to metals, as denoting that they will not bear the tests to which they are subjected, but are found to be base or adulterated. The sense here is, that they might know that they were Christians, unless their religion was base, false, adulterated; or such as would not bear the test."

6) But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.
- Paul hopes that they have seen enough in him and those with him to know that they have been approved by God and are believers.

7) Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.
- Paul's prayer is that the Corinthians would do what is right. His motivation is not the fact that if they do right it will validate his ministry as an apostle, but simply that they should do what is honest, regardless of how it makes Paul look. The possibility also exists that Paul is talking again about his apostolic authority to discipline the Corinthian church if they continued in their rebellious ways. Part of his authority allowed him to "punish" other churches, which he has done in I Corinthians, and is threatening to do here in verse 10, "Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness," If they do what is right, he will not/can not punish them, and thus can not use his apostolic authority against them. Thus if Paul does not have to use his authority on them it might appear that he doesn't have any, or is "unapproved", i.e., a reprobate.

8) For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.
- Again, there seem to be two ideas here. First, if they are doing truth, then Paul can not discipline them. Second, everything Paul did was for truth, not against truth.

9) For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection.
- A boss is at his "strongest" when he is bossing people around. If everyone is doing their jobs correctly, then the boss doesn't have to tell people what to do, and therefore can seem to be "weak", because he isn't exerting himself. When the church of Corinth is spiritually strong and does what it is supposed to do, then Paul does not need to exert his authority and can become "weak". It would make Paul happy not to have to show the Corinthians, and the rest of the churches, that he was in charge, because that would mean that they were doing right without him. And, this would indicate that they were moving towards being completely equipped for service ("perfection"), which would be something that he would desire for them.

10) Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.
- Paul is writing to them before he gets there, because if he was there he would be very sharp in his denunciation of them. God has given him the power and authority to rebuke them, but he wants them to know that his goal is always that they be edified, not destroyed. Sometimes when we receive discipline we can think that the person disciplining us hates us and wants to ruin us. Paul says that his discipline is designed to build them up and make them better Christians, not destroy them.

 Final thoughts: Paul had apostolic authority and the right to discipline and rebuke the church at Corinth for its sin. He does this in the power of the resurrected Christ (who allowed Himself to be crucified for us), and the power of the Word of Christ will make the Corinthian church strong. The church members need to examine themselves and find out whether they are approved of God or not. It is obvious that Paul is approved, and he has the right to judge them. If they will do what is right, Paul won't have to discipline them, which will please him even though it keeps him from exercising his authority. And, Paul hopes that they will understand that the rebuke he is sending them is not meant to destroy them, but to make them stronger.

Hope this is a help.

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By
Pastor Dr. Mark Montgomery
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