We are studying 2 Corinthians 13:1-11 for Sunday, November 3 (which is also the kick-off for “Golden Rule 2020,” and is All Saints’ Day, and is time change – “fall back” – Sunday). Our text is Paul’s concluding exhortation to the members of the church in Corinth in the early 50s CE to consider what it really means to be living with the power of God. [Notes on the text are here.]
Here are a few questions we might want to consider as we dig into this text:
In v1, Paul mentions that he is making a third visit to the church in Corinth. What do we know about Paul’s reasons for visiting the church in Corinth? What are our sources for this information? How much do we need to know to understand the letter? (For instance, think of some of the possible reasons that have been mentioned – how do we think knowing, rather than suspecting, that those were the actual reasons affect our reading of this letter?)
What are some reasons people have visited our own church in the past? What light do those experiences shed on the circumstances around this letter, and the meaning of this letter, do we think?
How do we think Paul’s not being “lenient” or “sparing” the Corinthians would serve as “proof that Christ is speaking in me”? What makes us think that?
Can we think of any examples of “Christ speaking in” people, or in Paul, elsewhere in the Bible? (Acts 5:1-11 comes to mind, I admit, in this context. What others?) What do those examples add to our understanding of Paul’s meaning here?
In verses 3-4, there are three sentences that are constructed in parallel form. “Christ is not weak in dealing with you [all],” “For he was crucified in weakness,” and “For we are weak in him” all align. “[He] is powerful in you,” “[He] lives by the power of God,” and “we will live with him by the power of God” all align.
What does Paul seem to be saying here? What in the text leads us to say this? What other things we know or think make us say this?
What idea do we get from this about what Paul means by strength, weakness, and “dealing with”? Where does that idea come from?
How does Paul’s idea here compare with our usual ideas of strength and weakness? Of “dealing with” people? Same? Different? More or less “tough” or “gentle” or … what? Why is that, do we think?
How do we think Paul wants the Corinthians to “test” or “examine” themselves (individually or collectively)? What makes us say this?
What do we think Paul wants them to be looking for? Are there any clues to that in Paul’s text? (e.g., is 2 Corinthians 12:20-21 a clue?) What do those clues suggest?
How would we examine ourselves (individually or collectively) in difficult circumstances? What would we do, specifically? How would that practice help us?