Paul is finishing up his last words in this letter to a church that he planted, that is now in a mess and nearly rejecting him. He wants them to deal with the issues so that his third visit will be fruitful and a fun time of fellowship and encouragement. Paul’s first visit was to plant the church, the second was painful and humbling, hence he had decided not to go back yet. Now, by the end of the letter, he would like to make a third visit. He is hopeful that they will deal with their issues before he goes.
It’s much easier in church life when people want to stop sinning, and sort our their issues, because of their love for Jesus and the Spirit’s prompting to follow Christ. Excuses, masks or pretence make fruitful ministry difficult and hinder our walk individually and corporately as a church. Paul’s desire is for them to stop being so triumphalistic and to grasp the fact that Jesus’ gentleness and meekness is much easier than him coming with power to sort them out (Ananias and Sapphira in Acts being an example!).
Paul reminds them that Jesus came in weakness to die for them, is now in heaven in power and will return in power. He is the supreme embodiment of weakness and strength. Paul is trying to be like Jesus – he knows he is weak and walks in Holy Spirit power.
So Paul is praying for them, that they would be restored in their walk with Jesus. He urges them to test themselves – are they walking with Jesus and the Gospel or are they believing in the super-apostles with their different gospel and different Jesus.
Lastly we get Paul’s last words to them:
- Rejoice – stop grumbling, catastrophising and being miserable – anchor your joy in Jesus! Gratitude helps with that
- Aim for restoration – always aim to live right with others
- Agree with one another – grumbling and quarrelling are unhelpful and pointless
- Live in peace.
Doing that means we get to enjoy more of God’s love and peace too. Greet one another with a holy kiss – not immorality; a Mediterranean kiss on the cheeks!
Praise the trinitarian God revealed in the last verse:
- Jesus giving us grace
- The Father giving us love
- The Holy Spirit empowering fellowship
Thank you Jesus!