13:1-6 Though it is God's gracious method to bear long with sinners, yet he will not bear always; at length he will come, and will not spare those who remain obstinate and impenitent. Christ at his crucifixion, appeared as only a weak and helpless man, but his resurrection and life showed his Divine power. So the apostles, how mean and contemptible soever they appeared to the world, yet, as instruments, they manifested the power of God. Let them prove their tempers, conduct, and experience, as gold is assayed or proved by the touchstone. If they could prove themselves not to be reprobates, not to be rejected of Christ, he trusted they would know that he was not a reprobate, not disowned by Christ. They ought to know if Christ Jesus was in them, by the influences, graces, and indwelling of his Spirit, by his kingdom set up in their hearts. Let us question our own souls; either we are true Christians, or we are deceivers. Unless Christ be in us by his Spirit, and power of his love, our faith is dead, and we are yet disapproved by our Judge.
2Co 13:1-14. He Threatens a Severe Proof of His Apostolic Authority, but Prefers They Would Spare Him the Necessity for It.
1. This is the third time I am coming to you—not merely preparing to come to you. This proves an intermediate visit between the two recorded in Ac 18:1; 20:2.
In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established—Quoted from De 19:15, Septuagint. "I will judge not without examination, nor will I abstain from punishing upon due evidence" [Conybeare and Howson]. I will no longer be among you "in all patience" towards offenders (2Co 12:12). The apostle in this case, where ordinary testimony was to be had, does not look for an immediate revelation, nor does he order the culprits to be cast out of the church before his arrival. Others understand the "two or three witnesses" to mean his two or three visits as establishing either (1) the truth of the facts alleged against the offenders, or (2) the reality of his threats. I prefer the first explanation to either of the two latter.