We have been on quite a journey through First and Second Corinthians. These two letters to a troubled church are rich with theology and experience.
Paul’s final words to the church are worthy of our prayerful consideration.
— 2 Corinthians 13.11-12 – Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Be restored; listen to my appeal; agree with one another; live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.
The Greek word that the New Revised Standard Version translates as “be restored” is rich with meaning.
Other possible meanings include: to mend or repair, to equip, to make perfect, or to restore.
The word summarizes Paul’s message to the church. He wrote to restore their relationship with God, others, and himself.
He desired to equip the church to participate in God’s mission of love to the world.
The message of being restored and equipped for service is appropriate for all generations of Jesus’ followers.
A restored congregation will “listen to [Paul’s] appeal, agree with one another, and live in peace.”
Paul – Pastor and Missionary
Several years ago, I was greatly influenced by a Bible scholar associated with World Vision. He described two ways of thinking about the church.
(1) A Fortress Mentality – This viewpoint senses myriad threats to the church and seeks to preserve the purity of the congregation.
The church is seen as a fortress that protects the purity of believers. Church members remain untainted by the world because all of their associations are with each other.
Words such as restoration, equipping, agreement, and peace are described as ways the church can protect one another against the onslaught of an evil world.
(2) A Mission Outpost Mindset – The Bible scholar with World Vision advocated for this kind of view of the church.
The aim of what takes place when the church gathers is to prepare the people to help influence a world toward faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul’s final words to the church were designed to gather a unified team of persons who would help their fellow Corinthians come to love and worship Jesus.
It is very difficult for a squabbling, sinful, and worldly church to be an effective witness to the world.
That is why we need to listen to Paul, to be equipped, and restored to a right relationship with Jesus and each other.
Paul ended his letter with a powerful blessing.
— 2 Corinthians 13.13 – The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
When you think about the church, this blessing will make an excellent prayer for everyone.
Note, the presence of the Trinity in these verses. There are many instances when the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are present in a verse, even though the word “Trinity” is not present.
As we pray this blessing for others, let’s meditate on the meaning of each word.
(1) The Grace of Jesus – Grace can be understood as a benefit, a favor, or a gift. It can also be seen as a power that only God can give.
(2) The Love of God – Love is the very nature of God for “God is love” (1 John 4.8).
If God were to stop loving, he would have to deny his essential nature, which would be impossible.
The best way to understand “grace” and “love” is not by studying definitions of the words. The cross of Jesus is the very best picture of God’s grace and love.
The great missionary to India, E. Stanley Jones devoted a night of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. He meditated on God’s love that gave his only Son for the sins of humans.
A night alone with God and the image of Gethsemane, the cross, and the resurrection further deepened an already powerful relationship with the Lord.
We do well to imitate what Jones did on some level.
(3) Communion of the Holy Spirit – Like other words in Paul’s final message to the Corinthians, there are several nuances to “communion.”
A full meaning involves partnership, participation, social intercourse, and fellowship.
These words picture the privilege of partnering with the Holy Spirit. We can participate in the activity of God through him.
The Holy Spirit grants us the ability to have spiritual intercourse with the Father. Intimacy between husband and wife is described as “intercourse.”
Participation, fellowship, and communion with the Holy Spirit are so real that “intercourse” is one word that describes this gift from our loving God.
Thank you for participating in this study of 1 and 2 Corinthians. I write the blog as a tool to keep me accountable for continued study and prayer. Your participation helps me to keep on studying, writing, and praying.
I deeply appreciate my friendship and partnership with Rudy Ross. We enjoy talking about the Bible and the YouTube videos we produce are helpful to us both.
Tomorrow’s blog will start with a study of Galatians. I look forward to studying the letter with you.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org and the Maywood prayer team will pray for you.