2 Corinthians 13:1-4
If Only We Could Get Back There
Paul now begins to close this letter. In doing so, he issues a final warning. To whom? We’re not sure. He just mentioned those who have fallen back into sexual sin which he addressed in 1 Corinthians 5-6 and other places. Or is he speaking of those who doubt his apostolic authority? Regardless, Paul issues a warning that he will not spare them. This seems an odd statement since his last visit proved humiliating to himself, and he has only just mentioned that he fears being humbled before them again with his upcoming visit. So what will he do?
To understand we must get out of our contemporary consumer and democratic understanding of church in which we live. We live in a day where if you don’t like what is happening in your church, you can go down the street to another church and they’ll be happy to accept you. Church discipline is unknown to us, and if a church tried to pursue such a course, the church itself would be censured by those who heard about it. Thus, to understand the reality of Paul’s warning, we must understand that the apostolic era was not one in which one could simply cross the street to another church which wouldn’t about care who they were or their history, nor was it a time suffused with eighteenth century notions of equal rights. The Church was one—with problems, yes—but one. And the apostles were her God-ordained leaders. Which is all to say that the godly had a healthy sense of fear—fear of God and fear of rightly constituted authority.
The further matter of just what Paul would do to make good his threat and manifest God’s power through his own weakness, I cannot tell. I do NOT think he would have been weeping before the church on his knees begging them to comply with his wishes. Perhaps it would have been the disfellowshiping of those certain persons from the church. And though I may be the only one to offer the following suggestion, though Paul was no sorcerer we have plenty of instances in the Book of Acts where the power of God was exercised through him to work woe on individuals who stood in the way of God’s mighty work.
Our problem today is that the contemporary church is so thoroughly modernized and Americanized that we think it should operate like a political entity in which everybody has a voice, everyone has equal authority, and no one is ever told that they might just be wrong. And there is no fear. Trying to make the Church relevant, she’s been rendered totally powerless.