Every Matter Established
Every Matter Established
Words of Faith 1-2-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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2 Corinthians 13
This will be my third visit to you. "Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses."  I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others,  since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me.
Paul will soon wrap up this fourth letter called 2 Corinthians. His intention was that a third visit would happen very soon and he wanted the Corinthians to be warned that this would not be a pleasant visit for those who had not repented of both the disruptive behavior and the sexual sins that had continued on there.
Paul issued two direct warnings: "Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses" and "On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others.” Paul promised a discipline of some sort for the unrepentant. The proof of his apostolic authority which some wanted would be given but in terms they would be wise to avoid.
These matters would be established. The truth would be made known. Those who had been in rebellion would be punished in some way. It would not be a pretty visit.
What are the “two or three witnesses?” Paul may have been referring to a formal sort of judicial investigation that he or the assembled church would conduct at Corinth in order to deal with the unsubstantiated accusations against Paul. This sort of "church trial" is an agonizing ordeal but is sometimes necessary.
Some have suggested that Paul was making reference to his three trips to Corinth as three separate witnesses at whose testimony justice would certainly be applied to the dissident situation at Corinth. Still others suggest that the three witnesses were Timothy, Titus, and Paul, the "big guns," gathering together to confront the deteriorating situation in Corinth, a sort of "church intervention.” Whatever the case, sufficient warning had been given and punishment was imminent.
When Paul spoke about "those who sinned earlier" he was referring to the immoral persons who did not repent during Paul's "painful visit" and were evidently still indulging in their sexual sins. When Paul spoke of "any of the others" this was apparently directed to those Corinthians who had been adversely influenced by the false apostles and were arrogantly stirring up unrest within the church.
Both groups received their final warning here. We don't know what sort of discipline would be applied but if they remained unrepentant, he would be firm in his use of authority, perhaps handing the wrongdoers over to Satan "for the destruction of the flesh" unless there was repentance (1 Cor. 5:5).
Well. What do we gain from this?
Some of this seems like another world. We live in a time in which church discipline is mostly non-existent or is frowned upon as "mean-spirited" or only exists among the high echelons of errant church leaders, if even there.
In modern Christian culture, churches and church-starts are so prevalent that folks simply move on to a different location rather than go through a process of discipline and restoration. Yet here we catch a fascinating glimpse of first-century Christianity in which people couldn't just choose a different "box church" when confronted by their sin.
At the same time, we don't want to miss the heart of Paul behind these strong statements. The last verses prior to this warning shared Paul heart, "speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ so that everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening" (12:19). Paul's heart was deeply grieved by all this and his spirit was "brought low" by the unrepentant response of the Corinthians. Paul was by no means "lording over" this church he loved so dearly.
We cannot miss the fact that there is a place for consequence and discipline when there is unrepentant sin and rebellion. It is a grievous process yet there is a very important place for discipline in a church body and for restoration. This may not market well in the arena of "retail Christianity" and user-friendly venues, but it is important if the heart of the Gospel is to have integrity.
What can we do today? We can walk carefully with Christ seeking Him in His Word. We can speak the truth in love and support leaders who are earnestly trying to lead the people of God forward. We can support efforts to lovingly apply church discipline and restoration. We can pray for the Body of Christ.
Father God, help me to walk carefully with You. Help the Body of Christ to be whole and vibrant with Your love and grace. Help me to show Your mercy and kindness in every relationship. Help me to see the value of careful discipline and restoration. In Jesus' Name.