ReaD 2 Corinthians 13
Introduction: This week we are wrapping up our series in 2 Corinthians. This letter is very personal in nature and challenging. Imagine what it must have been like for Paul. He started and served at this church for 18 months (Acts 18:11). He was like a spiritual father to this congregation (1 Cor. 4:15, 2 Cor. 12:14). Now this church began to question his credentials of being an Apostle, which in turn created questions about the gospel he preached.
After Paul left to start more churches, new men came to Corinth. These so-called “Super Apostles” (2 Cor. 11:5) were more impressive in their speech and called into question Paul’s qualifications. These “Super Apostles” were preaching a different gospel. Additionally, there were reports of infighting. Fearing that they could be led astray, Paul pens this letter to call them back to the gospel.
Weakness and power are two major themes throughout the letter. Part of the reason Paul’s credentials were being questioned is that Paul appeared weak. Paul was experiencing imprisonments, beatings, shipwrecks, and all kinds of calamities (2 Cor. 11:23-27). It appears that the church was beginning to believe Paul must not be an Apostle. After all, wouldn’t God be blessing an Apostle and protecting him from all these hardships? Paul challenged these ideas. Furthermore he boasts of his weaknesses.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-11)
At the end of the letter Paul again draws attention to our weakness and need for Christ and his strength. He calls upon them to examine their own hearts (2 Corinthians 13:5). Are they living as though Christ is in them?
Reflection: Take personal inventory of your life, heart, and spiritual journey. Use these prompts as a way to prepare for group discussions or for personal times of prayer.
1. The church of Corinth was questioning Paul and his message. Why do you think it is so easy for us to notice flaws in others?
2. When someone questions you, how do you feel? What do you want to do? What makes it difficult to respond with grace?
1. What about this week’s sermon stood out or impacted you the most? Do you have any follow-up questions about the sermon?
2. Pastor Jonathan discussed the pattern of the gospel. He pointed out that Jesus and the Apostle Paul displayed both strength and weakness, often at the same time. God tells Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” What do you think that means?
3. Why do you think people hide their weaknesses? What would it look like if our community began to accept our individual weaknesses and turned to Christ for grace?
4. Missional Living: Our culture tends to elevate their strengths and hide their weaknesses. When we live like this, people are kept at a distance. It becomes hard for people to be truly known. Learning to accept our weaknesses and others takes great humility and care, for we are all broken and in need of Savior. When we lay aside the false veneer of strength, we become approachable and more able to share how Christ’s grace is sufficient for us.
Apply: In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul implores the church to “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” In our fast-paced world we often don’t slow down enough to reflect on our lives. Take some time to reflect – Does my life look like Christ is in me? What does that even look like? How am I inviting Christ to search my heart and lead me?