Focus Scripture – 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 (NKJV)
In the letter’s closing, Paul expressed several things:
- First, he bid them Farewell: Paul’s letters typically concluded with a wish for the well-being of his readers—somewhat like our “take care” or “fare thee well,” which is to say goodbye and express a wish for good health.
- He asked them to Put things in order. “Find a common mind.” This admonition addresses the division in the church. He’s telling them to stop the power plays! Have the same mind as Christ. Humble yourselves, just as Christ humbled himself and died for the sake of the world (Philippians 2:5-11).
- He urged them to Listen to his appeal. “Listen to what I have been saying to you!” Think the way Jesus would think! Demonstrate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – that is, the fruit of the Spirit as found in Gal 5: 22-23.
- He requested that they Agree with one another and try to live in peace. In other words, allow the spirit of love and peace to abide in the community and move in the relationships among members of the church. This kind of love and friendship are possible when the power of God’s Holy Spirit is at work in the congregation.
- And, lastly, he asked them to Greet each other with a holy kiss. In the ancient world to greet fellow community members with a kiss signified mutual acceptance and respect. It was a visible sign of reconciliation.
- Paul ends his letter with a benediction: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
- This benediction, I believe, was Paul’s way of pointing the church to “congregational” unity—the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
The message of reconciliation is what we should take away from this reading. The letter emphasizes unity and the church’s reliance on the power of the Spirit of God to give hope and spiritual transformation.
In the NRSV, verse 13 of the lectionary text says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” As we can see, this benediction includes all three members of the Trinity. The benediction expresses the wish for grace, love, and communion.
But, there is more to this mystery than meets the eye. The next segment of this series examines this factor in greater detail.