2 Corinthians 13
Paul would be Unsparing of Evil upon Arrival (13:1-2)
- His first visit to Corinth. Paul’s first visit was on his second missionary journey, and he remained in Corinth for eighteen months. Acts 18 describes this first visit.
- His planned second visit. Paul planned a second visit to Corinth as his first epistle shows, but he delayed the visit to spare them, and to wait until he knew their state. He explains this in the second epistle. However, the message that Paul wanted them to hear was still delivered, only in the form of a letter rather than an in-person visit; “as present the second time”.
- His third intention. Now Paul planned to visit again, and he would definitely make good on the promise; “This third time I am coming to you”. Paul would not be lenient this third time. His detractors had portrayed his patience as weakness, but if he came again, he says “I will not spare”.
- “I have declared beforehand” (past tense) might refer to Paul’s first epistle, when he indicted them for immorality and warned that he would come with a rod (e.g. 1 Cor. 4). This was an opportunity for them to deal with the evil.
- “I say beforehand as present the second time” (present tense) refers to the second epistle, revealing that there were deeper evils at work. Yet this epistle gave them another opportunity to repent.
- “This third time I am coming to you… I will not spare” (future) refers to the fulfillment of Paul’s promise; an actual visit to Corinth. This would be the third and final witness of their state. Would they have repented?
Self-Examination: The Final Proof of Paul’s Apostleship (13:3-5)
Paul’s Desires Concerning His Arrival (13:6-10)
The holy kiss is mentioned four times in the New Testament as a common expression of affection, to be used as a greeting for Christians (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:263). There was to be a ‘kiss’, or display of affection; but it was to ‘holy’ as well. They were to be careful that their greetings were genuine, and above reproach. There are at least two ways a kiss could be unholy. First, if it is not genuine, like the kiss of Judas (Luke 22:47-48) or Joab (2 Sam. 20:9). Second, if it is sexually motivated or gives the appearance of evil (1 Cor. 7:1). Paul wanted to see affection between the saints, but he wanted it to be pure. God's desire is for warmth and affection to be present in the greetings of His saints. It is remarkable how a simple greeting such as a kiss can remove barriers, soften bitter hearts, and draw the Lord's people together.4
- The apostle says, “This is the third time I am coming”; yet he adds, “as if I were present the second time, and being absent now.” This is, because he had been there once, was to have gone there on his way to Macedonia, was coming a second time, but did not on account of the state the Corinthians were in; but this third time he was coming, and he had told them beforehand; and he said beforehand, as if he had gone the second time, although now absent, that if he came again he would not spare. – Darby, J.N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible.
- The, language most naturally conveys that he had not gone to Corinth the time when he had intended his second visit. Hence he says, “I have foretold and foretell, as if present the second time and now absent, to them that have sinned before and to all the rest,” etc. There is no ground apparent to my mind that this was literally a third visit, rather on the contrary the second in fact, though third in purpose. – Kelly, W. The Second Epistle to the Corinthians.
- In addition, we have a "kiss of love" in 1 Pet. 5:14.
- Should we still practice the holy kiss today? If God had intended some other form of greeting He would have specified it. In many cultures around the world, a greeting with a kiss is still common and socially appropriate. However, in some western cultures a kiss in public would have the appearance of evil. For example, in the United States, two men kissing in public, or a man kissing another man's wife, would give the appearance of evil, and therefore could not be considered "a holy kiss". In these cases, a different greeting could be used, or else discretion should govern the times and places the holy kiss is used.
- Newton, John. May the grace of Christ our Saviour. Little Flock Hymnbook #17. 1725-1807.