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PAUL'S GREATEST BENEDICTION!

2nd CORINTHIANS 13:11-14

"Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. Greet one another with an holy kiss. All the saints salute you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen."

 

 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15

 

LESSON 1:

The Text that interests us is found in Paul's closing paragraph to the Corinthian Church.  As far as we know, this is the last thing he ever wrote to them.

"Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. Greet one another with an holy kiss. All the saints salute you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. "   2nd Corinthians 13:11-14

Paul is trying to encourage these saints in the Lord!

In the next few lessons, Lord willing, we shall examine these words in a verse-by-verse fashion.  All the lessons will appear here on our Home Page.  They shall be grouped and named as "Paul's greatest Benediction!"

I sure do love this type of Bible Study!

It will, Lord willing, systematically examine nearly every word of the Text ... believing it to have special meaning as inspired by the Holy Spirit!  "But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line ...."  Isaiah 28:13

This expository way of handling the Word of God is exactly the method Ezra used in the days of old.  "So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading."   Nehemiah 8:8

By the way, through that type of detailed Bible preaching in Nehemiah's time a great Revival began, one of the most important in all the Old Testament!

This being Sunday, go to Church and hear the Man of God PREACH the Word!

You will benefit from the experience!

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."  2nd Timothy 3:16-17

God has promised it.  His Word will never return void!

"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."  Isaiah 55:11

Amen!

 

                                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, VERSE 11:

The last paragraph Paul ever wrote to his beloved Corinthian brothers and sisters is found in 2nd Corinthians 13:11-14.

He began by saying:  "Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you."  2nd Corinthians 13:11

That opening adverb "finally" means "for the rest" or the "remaining" things, the concluding things which now are to be discussed.  It's actually an adjective in Greek, "liopos," most often translated as "finally" but occasionally as "now" or "then" or "besides" or "furthermore" or even "henceforth."  Paul is fond of ending his epistles with this word hinting that his last few sentences have begun.

The noun "brethren" indicates those who are from the same womb!  "Delphus" means womb and the "a" prefix here is a connecting particle.  These folks are "one in Christ" as Paul sees them ... henceforth, "one" with the Apostle too! Paul is verily living "in Christ" ... since the moment of his salvation!

"Farewell" is a verb.  "Chairo" means literally "be cheerful!"  As it appears in the King James Text it's an imperative, in the present tense and active voice. Paul is commanding their joyfulness!  Of it's 74 appearances in Scripture, it is rendered "rejoice" 42 times and "be glad" 14 times and "hail" 5 times and "greeting" 3 times and "God speed" 2 times ... but "farewell" only 1 time.

Sticking with the imperatives here Paul next requires them to "be perfect." This verb, "katartizo," means "to mend or repair" or "to make sound or complete."  It was used by the Greeks in activities such as fixing a torn fishing net and even setting a broken arm!  It is only used 14 or so times in Scripture.  Paul here seems to be acknowledging that some things in the Corinthian Church were "broken" and had to be "fixed!"

"Be of good comfort," another requirement, is spelled "parakaleo" in Greek.  It is a passive imperative in the present tense.  Keep on being "comforted" of God!  This is the verb that indicates the ministry of the Trinity!  The Holy Spirit is The Comforter ("parakletos").  God the Son is The Advocate (again, "parakletos").  Then God the Father is "The God of all comfort" ("parakletos" a third time)!  We cannot comfort ourselves!

To "be of one mind" is to live in harmony.  One mind is "autos phroneo."  Be of the same mind! 

"Live in peace," again expressed as a command, is "eireneuo" and means to live in unbroken communion!  The verb "eiro" means "to join" together! 

And the consequence of living according to these five imperatives, or the blessed result is ... "and the God of love and peace shall be with you."

He is obviously the eternal Source of further and ever-expanding joy (farewell) and maturity (be perfect) and comfort (be of good comfort) and love (of one mind) and peace (live in peace) in the Christian's life!

God ..."shall be with you!"

"Eimi meta su" means "HE will be in the midst of you all!"

It is grammatically built as a promise!

Our Lord is reported in Hebrews 13:5 to have said:  "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."  Also He committed Himself to His Own children in Matthew by saying ... "lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Matthew 28:20

But, here in our verse today, He is "with" us in a special way as we follow these five commands of the Apostle!  Yes, "meta" does often suggest "right in the middle" of a group or family!

I will, on  the authority of God's Word, promise this:  Wherever a church body lives by these five codes, God's Presence in their midst will be both apparent and enjoyable!

Our Lord keeps His Word!

Paul wants the best for these precious believers in Christ, who have "come so far" from their sordid past lives of sin and debauchery!

The amazing power of the Grace of God!

Additionally let me convey this one thought.  I suspect these five commands would still work well in our churches yet today; farewell or rejoice, be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, and live in peace!  Such conditions literally invite Jesus' Presence in a powerful way!

                                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, VERSE 12:

The verse is rather short.

It in fact is seldom followed today.

Perhaps it is a cultural thing.

Yet Paul did write it under the direction and inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God.

"Greet one another with an holy kiss."  2nd Corinthians 13:12

I have been told that such a "holy kiss" was not practiced in the Jewish Synagogues.  That is where Paul for years had attended worship services, doing so in accordance to his strict Hebrew upbringing.

This must have been a custom begun in the early New Testament Church!

Paul used this little imperative a number of times too.  To verify that, read Romans 16:16 and 1st Corinthians 16:20 then 1st Thessalonians 5:26.  Even Peter required this of those first century Believers!  See 1st Peter 5:14.

Let me set you minds at ease, however.  It definitely was a non-sensual kiss. That would surely be in keeping with Paul's extremely cautious (and extremely wise) attitude toward the matter of sex.  It apparently was practiced men with men or ladies with ladies only.  And it was not a kiss to the mouth either. Incorporated with a hug, it involved a quick touch of one's lips to the cheek or neck of another Believer in Christ.

And Paul here really gives them no choice.  The verb "greet" ("aspazomai" in Greek) is an imperative, giving a stark command!  It means "to draw someone" toward yourself. "Spao" in Greek means just that, "to draw."  The "alpha" prefix ("a") here simply indicates union.

Paul means for these folks to exhibit heartfelt love one to another.

The expression "one another" translates "allelon" (from "allos") and means another of the same kind!  The word "heteros" means another of a different kind!  Paul is not advocating morally loose behavior here in any way at all! 

The Corinthians particularly had been fighting and arguing among themselves over a number of issues; which "preachers" they loved best, the Lord's Supper, spiritual gifts and even the resurrection of saints!  And this does not even count the family problems (husband-wife issues) and lawsuits that were raging in Corinth!

Paul nearly shouts:  "Stop the fussing!  Love one another!  Kiss each other in a holy manner when you meet!  Anything to build harmony!"

There are well over a dozen "one another" statements that flow from the pen of Paul!  And they constitute a worthy Bible Study project I might add!

Lastly, the noun "kiss" should be defined and described.  "Philema," being derived from "phileo" means "to be fond of" or "to be a friend to" someone. This "phileo" family of words is not nearly as broad and rich as is "agape" love for sure, but it well serves the Holy Spirit's purpose here in this context.

And this "kiss" will certainly reveal to any onlookers the fact that the Corinthians are no longer divided into camps or cliques or factions ... and have begun appreciating and respecting one another in the Lord!

The kiss here is further qualified by the adjective "holy."  The word "hagios" means clean or modest or innocent or even morally pure!

This practice, "holy kissing," is still used by Christians in some parts of the world.  Even my ministry, small as it is, has led me to places where the Brethren normally do this as a matter of respect to the Man of God. 

The real lesson here today is this:  Love one another!

That sure beats fussing at church all the time, doesn't it?

                                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

P. S. --- Here are a few more points about the "kiss" in Scripture.  It is thought that when God "breathed" into Adam's nostrils the breath of life ... that very action was the "foundation" of man's concept of the "kiss!"  Who would have ever thought of a "kiss" being a "sharing" of life?   I also recently learned that in ancient Judaism there existed a fear of kissing a Gentile!  In fact, it was forbidden to do so!  Such action was thought to involve demonic defilement!  While most Bible kisses have emotional and spiritual significance, apparent Judas' kiss of Jesus was merely pragmatic, the "signal" indicating Whom to arrest!  Later, in the dark ages, Catholic tradition admitted a form of "substitute" kissing.  That means one could kiss the altar or an icon or a statute or a ring ... and gain spiritual merit for doing so!   Such is NOT taught in Scripture.  And what about Jesus "breathing" on His Disciples in John 20:22, imparting to them the Holy Ghost?  That's nearly a kiss of "life!"

 

 

LESSON 4, VERSE 13:

"All the saints salute you," declares the Apostle Paul.

He's writing to the Corinthians from somewhere in Asia, probably Philippi.

With him is Timothy and likely Titus too.  Plus a whole Church (the Philippian Believers) may have been aware of his letter, his epistle.  An epistle differs from a simple letter only in that it is a document often invested with authority. It asks that something be done ... and expects a favorable response too!

The Brethren with Paul are sending their love to the Brothers and Sisters at Corinth.

Paul is obviously trying to build a deeper spirit of love and cooperation between these two groups of Christians.  They are already working together on a genuine "love offering" for the poor and perhaps even hungry Believers in Judea.  That's the focus of 2nd Corinthians chapters eight and nine.

"Aspazomai" is the Greek verb for "salute."  It's very center, "spao," just means "to draw" someone to yourself! 

Paul uses this term for "salute" 15 times in Romans chapter sixteen alone!

All total, I fine 26 times the Apostle penned this very word in his 14 New Testament Epistles!

Such "saluting" was very important in Paul's day.  It did not consist of a mere quick "hello."  It required one to stop what he was doing, embrace the person in question, share a kiss of friendship, and conduct a sincere and sometimes even lengthy conversation!

Paul has taken this innocent "custom" and sanctified it, using it to draw God's people closer to one another in sweet Christian love.

In so many words the Apostle is teaching us to salute one another.  He said exactly that in Romans 16:16.  "Salute one another with an holy kiss."

This is old fashioned "fellowship" at its best!

Paul often instructed folks to do things "one to another."  "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another."  Romans 12:10

"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."  Ephesians 4:32

"Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God."  Ephesians 5:21

"Lie not one to another."  Colossians 3:9

And these examples do not include Paul's other injunctions:  love one another, judge not one another, receive one another, admonish one another, greet one another, serve one another, do not bite or devour one another, do not envy or provoke one another, forbear one another, comfort one another, edify one another, exhort one another and consider one another!

What responsibility!

What love!

And Paul is exhibiting this spirit of sincere concern to a people, the Corinthians, who have been anything but kind to him lately!

What a "Pastor" he was!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, VERSE 14:

It is a benediction for sure!

One of the greatest in the Bible!

Paul prays for the Corinthians ... "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen."  2nd Corinthians 13:14

He, just two verses earlier, had promised the presence of the "God of love and peace" to any Corinthians who were obedient followers of Christ.

Now he appeals to the grace of God too!

I suggest to you that, as with all Bible lists, this one has divine logic behind its every word.

It begins with the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ for a reason.  We could never know the love of God in its depths apart from the grace of our Saviour!  Nor could we experience the sweet communion of the Holy Spirit!

Here also is proof of Paul's Trinitarian doctrine.

God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit ... the "Godhead!"  Only Paul uses that Name ... three times!  See Acts 17:24 (to the Greeks) and Romans 1:20 (to the Europeans) and Colossians 2:9 (to the Asians).

Each of us should memorize this great verse and make it a part of our lives!

This benediction or blessing reminds me of Numbers 6:22-27.  "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, the LORD bless thee, and keep thee: the LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them."

This Old Testament blessing also has a threefold emphasis!

Of course the noun "love" Paul used is "agape," the deepest and most mature love known in Scripture.

And "communion" translates "koinonia" which mans that "which is shared" or "held in common" with another.  

I once read a book by an old Puritan Preacher who discussed for several hundred pages the topic of fellowship with God.  His manuscript was divided into three parts.  Communion with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!  He even advised his readers to learn to discern at any given time whether they were in communion with the First, Second or Third Person of the Trinity!  Now that's a precious thought!

This verse, technically lacking a verb, is nonetheless a direct expression of Paul's desire for his people, for the Lord's people, there in Corinth!

What a way to conclude a Book!

Come to think of it, it's an excellent way to conclude a church service too!

Why can't you conclude a Bible study article that way also?

I will!

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen."

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

P. S. --- Recently while driving, I had these two thoughts about the "communion" of the Holy Spirit.  I do believe the Lord gave them to me.  The word Paul used definitely has the idea of "sharing" in it.  I thought, "What do we share with the Holy Ghost?"  The answer came!  We right now as Christians have access to the Holy Spirit's very love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance ... the fruit of the Spirit! (Galatians 5:22-23)  We share His very Character!  Secondly, I thought of the English noun "communion." Look at it!  It is a Latin term meaning "in union" with someone or something!  Now let's apply that to the "communion" of the Spirit.  How are we "in union" with Him?  Graciously He lives in us!  We are His Temple!  (1st Corinthians 6:19-20) I'd call that union for sure! Then we also live "in" Him!  (Galatians 5:25) Also according to Paul in Galatians 5:16 we "walk in the Spirit" too!  We additionally "worship" in the Spirit! (Philippians 3:3) And we even "love" in the Spirit!  (Colossians 1:8)  Yes, that's union!

 

 

LESSON 6, "AMEN:"

Paul used the word more often than we think.

Of its 78 occurrences in Scripture, Paul uttered 29 of them.  That's 37% of the total!

Then again, think of it this way. 

The whole New Testament only contains the word 49 times.  Paul's 29 uses of it constitute a majority of these ... this time nearly 60%.

What is the word?

"Amen!"

Just "amen!"

The Apostle writes, under Holy Spirit inspiration, "amen" most often in the Epistle to the Romans, 7 times!  Then twice each in 1st and 2nd Corinthians and two more times each in Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 2nd Timothy and Hebrews. "Amen" is also found once each in Colossians, 1st Thessalonians and 2nd Thessalonians, Titus and Philemon.  But 1st Timothy lists it 3 times!

Amazing!  That's every "Pauline" Epistle!

Paul sure believed in the word!

I can hear him now, "Amen!"

Invariably Paul closes his Books with a good hearty "amen."

For example, 2nd Corinthians concludes: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen."

"Amen!"

The word itself as Paul understood it had linkage to the Hebrew language.  In fact, it is a loan word from Hebrew to Greek.  For that matter we English speaking folks have borrowed it too!

In Greek it is spelled:  "amen."

In Hebrew, "amen."

And in English ..."amen!"

Its meaning?

"TRUTH!"

When Jesus says in our New Testaments "verily verily,"  He is actually saying "amen, amen!"

After Paul's great prayer of blessing in 2nd Corinthians, one of the greatest in the Bible, he says:  TRUTH!

It's all the TRUTH!

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen."

God is triune!

Amen!

He imparts Grace ... and Love and Fellowship!

Truthfully!

And He will never leave us!

Again, AMEN!

Sunday when you go to Church, say it yourself ..."amen!"

Say it loudly!

Encourage your Preacher!

Enliven the service!

Irritate a liberal!

Wake a sleeper!

Join the likes of Paul and his band!

Pre-register for the language of heaven!  Revelation 5:14 and 7:12 and 19:4 and 22:20 prove that for sure!

Begin a good spiritual habit!

"Amen!"

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

You have now studied verse-by-verse one of the greatest benedictions in all the Bible!  Pray it for someone you love!

 

 

 

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