For an introduction to this series, click here.
This is the last chapter of this book. Paul wraps up this letter with a dire warning: I am coming, and you need to make sure you are doing right. These believers had a lot of problems, just like we do today. Paul's advice is good for us to take heed as well:
"Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them— since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God." (13:1-4)
The Corinthians doubted Paul's authority because he was harsh both when he visited and in his letters. Paul said there is an easy solution to that: start following Christ. If they are truly following the Lord Jesus, then they will not have a problem with Paul.
"Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?— unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for. For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down." (13:5-10, ESV)
This is definitely an important warning for us today. It is easy to get involved in church activities and seem to have everything right, but not really be born again. This is especially true for people like myself who grew up in church and are familiar with the "Christian culture." It is not our place to judge others, but we are to examine ourselves very closely. We can make assumptions based on others' actions, but there is no way we can know for sure. It is not our place to tell someone else in the church, "You need to be saved." But we need to take this more seriously than we do. Everybody always assumes that everybody else is saved and has their life put together better than we do. That is because we are good at hiding our flaws from others. We need to pray more for each other and we need to encourage each other to continue in the faith.