(Vs. 1.) Some understand the words, "The third time I am coming to you," to mean his one visit to them in person (Acts 18:1, 9-11), his first epistle and now this second epistle. This is probably what he meant, for he called to their attention the law concerning witnesses in any matter (Deut. 19:15). Our Lord also referred to this rule in Matthew 18:15, 16. The gospel he preached, the things he taught, the way of life he had called them unto and the correction and rebukes for their errors had all been established by the Spirit of the Lord in the mouth of two or three witnesses (John 5:31-39; 1 John 5:7, 8). We would do well to use the same rule in all matters before us today.
(Vs. 2.) He means that he had in the first epistle faithfully told them of the evils that existed among them (the divisions, false preachers, fornication, going to law with one another, divorce, misuse of gifts and bad behaviour at the Lord's Table) and had warned them to correct these errors. Now, being absent, he writes the second time to the whole congregation, and especially to the guilty parties, that if these matters are not corrected by the time he comes to them in person, he will use his powers as an apostle to deal with the offenders. This was one of the reasons he had been reluctant to visit them; he wanted his visit to be pleasant and not tumultuous (2 Cor. 1:23). Those who love Christ love and enjoy peace and unity. They do not delight in conflict and division.
(Vs. 3.) Some of the members of this church, prompted by false apostles and teachers, had called into question Paul's authority (his apostleship) and had suggested that perhaps he did not speak for God at all. Of all men, these Corinthians had the least reason to question Paul's ministry, for he had been the means and instrument God used to bring them to faith in Christ. Christ's message of grace, spoken through Paul, was certainly not weak but mighty in them. It was the power of God unto salvation to them and was attended among them with signs, wonders and gifts of the Holy Spirit. True converts are living proof that God speaks through a minister. Those who make a false profession are the fruits of false prophets (Matt. 7:15, 16).
(Vs. 4.) "Our Lord is not weak but mighty; his gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). His blood is effectual, his righteousness is sufficient, his Spirit is invincible, and those whom he has purposed to save will be saved (Ps. 110:3; John 6:37-39; 10:23-30). There was a time when Christ was weak and was crucified in weakness (Isa. 53:1-3). He was made flesh and numbered with the transgressors, but by the power of God he arose and ascended to heaven, where he lives and reigns for ever. We apostles are weak like he was, and for his sake bearing reproaches, persecutions and afflictions as he did in the day of humiliation, but we are strong in Christ (Phil. 4:12, 13) and through Christ, who enables us to perform the gospel ministry (2 Cor. 10:3-5).
(Vs. 5.) "Now instead of examining me and seeking proof of Christ's speaking through me, examine yourselves? Determine by the Word of God if you are in the faith of Christ. Don't spend your time proving others but prove yourselves! (2 Peter 1:10, 11). Do you not know your own hearts? If Christ dwells in your hearts by faith, you have become new creatures, his Spirit is within you, his graces and fruit are manifested, his love is shed abroad in your hearts and you have a good hope. If not, you are counterfeits, worthless and rejected.
(Vs. 6, 7.) Paul expresses the hope that the Corinthians would know that he was not counterfeit, rejected of God and a hypocrite. He also prayed to God that they would believe the Word, love Christ and walk in the Spirit of God not just to make him appear to be something great or even to vindicate his claims, but that they might know and love the Lord Jesus and be redeemed even if his ministry was never accepted and men considered him to be a counterfeit.
(Vs. 8.) The gospel is true! God is sovereign? The will of God in covenant mercies and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ shall be victorious! Neither Paul, the Corinthians, nor any man, nor all men, nor the forces of evil can do anything to alter God's purpose or defeat his truth. Whether in obedience or rebellion, we contribute to his greater glory! (Isa. 46:9.11; Acts 4:27, 28; Rom. 9:15-18; Ps. 76:10.)
(Vs. 9.) The apostle declares that he was glad to be weak, to be afflicted and to bear reproaches for Christ's sake that the power of Christ might rest upon him and result in their becoming strong in faith and active in the exercises of grace (2 Cor. 12:10; 2 Tim. 2:9, 10). This was his desire above all things that they know Christ and reach maturity in faith (Eph. 4:11-15).
(Vs. 10.) Therefore, he wrote this epistle while he was absent from them, that they might set things in order among themselves (Phil. 2:12, 13), that when he did visit them in person he would not be forced to use his apostolic authority and rod which the Lord gave him. The Lord put him in the ministry to edify men, not to destroy and trouble them.
(Vs. 11-14.) The apostolic benediction: "Brethren, be mature believers, not babes which are always in need of correction and rebuke. Be of good comfort in your trials and afflictions, knowing they are for God's glory and your good (Rom. 8:28). Be united in mind and heart, in purpose and affection, live together in peace among yourselves and as much as possible with all men, and the God of love and peace will bless and be with you. Greet one another with mutual love and genuine friendship. Don't avoid others and hold grudges but show your love openly. The saints in other places greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all" (Num. 6:24-26).