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Lesson 11: Christ Is All We Need for Life (2 Corinthians 13:1-14)

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…since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you. (2 Corinthians 13:3-4)

As we have studied this letter, 2 Corinthians, we have seen how personal and messy it is. It’s messy because it is full of emotions and experiences. It’s like life—messy—because people are messy, relationships are messy, circumstances are messy, and community within the church is messy.

In the midst of our messy lives, God wants us to learn to rely on Him more than on ourselves. Throughout 2 Corinthians, we have seen examples of Paul making plans and submitting them to God to be changed, demonstrating his authority and submitting that to God, asking for healing and submitting to God’s answer, and preaching the gospel in one city while his heart wants to be in another city but waits for God to say “go.” That’s dependent living.

Through your study of 2 Corinthians, you have learned how the Lord Jesus Christ will transform your life as His child by teaching you to live dependently on Him in weakness and in strength. This “dependent living” will lead to you becoming stronger and more effective in life by relying on God rather than on yourself. You learn how to do this as you act according to the Word of God, depend on Jesus Christ for the power to do so, and trust Him with the results.

He’s all you need to find the best way to live!

Questions To Consider This Week:

  • How do you balance being patient to judge someone’s sin when you don’t know all the facts with deciding to lovingly confront them when you do know the facts?
  • How has Jesus specifically shown His power in dealing with sin or temptation in your life?

Day One Study—Get The Big Picture.

Read 2 Corinthians 12:14-13:14, which includes verses from the last lesson. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

[To print, follow this link (or for the NIV, this one). Use your own method (colored pencils, lines, shapes) to mark: 1) anything that grabs your attention and 2) words you want to understand. Feel free to develop your own method of marking up a passage. Put a star  next to anything you think relates to dependent living.]

1. What grabbed your attention from these verses?

  • 13:1-4
  • 13:5-10
  • 13:11-14

2. What verses or specific words do you want to understand better?

3. What topics are repeated in this passage or continue an earlier discussion in this letter?

4. What verses illustrate or help you understand what dependent living on God looks like?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Two Study

Read 2 Corinthians 13:1-4. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

5. Paul continues his discussion of his planned visit to the Corinthians.

  • In v. 1, Paul quotes Deuteronomy 19:15. What does the Bible say?
  • On his visit to Corinth, what will Paul do (v. 2)?
  • What were they demanding (v. 3)?
  • What does he tell them in response (v. 3)?
  • What is true about Christ (v. 4)? Note: Christ illustrated 2 Corinthians 12:9 for us.
  • What is likewise true about Paul and his leader team (v. 4)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

Focus on the Meaning: What did Paul mean by the “two or three witnesses?” He could be referring to himself, Titus and the other brother when they last visited the Corinthians. Or, it could be the people who know the truth about Paul, heard the warning from him before, and will be present when he comes to visit the church.

What Does It Mean?

6. Paul takes his authority and responsibility of servant-leadership in the church very seriously. Summarize what he is saying to the Corinthians.

Scriptural Insight: Rebellion against Paul is rebellion against Christ, who appointed him as His apostle. (NIV Study Bible, note on 13:3, p. 1777)

7. Does God’s power (v. 4) shown through His representatives include the authority to judge sin and correct sinful behavior in Christians? See v. 10. Also, see 2 Corinthians in 2:5-10; 6:14-7:1; 7:8-13; 11:3-4; and 12:20-21 to help you answer this question.

Focus on the Meaning: It appears that Paul and the Corinthians did not understand

“power” in the same way. For them it was on display in an aggressive and a mighty personality. For the apostle, it is seen in weakness [that relies on Christ]. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 124)

8. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 13:1-4?

Scriptural Insight: Christ’s finished work on the cross is His power perfected for us. See the essay after Lesson 5 for the descriptions of some of what He made complete for us.

What Application Will You Make?

9. Is the proof of Jesus’s hand on our lives found only in big money, big deals, flashes of fame, and our biggest dreams coming true? If not, why not? Use what you have learned in this letter to explain your answer.

Think About It: Dear follower of Christ, make sure you’re not judging the proof of God’s hand on your life merely by outward, materialistic blessings. As we’ve seen throughout 2 Corinthians, oftentimes His greatest display of power in our lives is in our places of loneliness, battles with infirmities, and painful losses. Whether you’re feeling weak or strong, hide yourself as weak in Christ. A child is weak when resting in her father’s arms. This is where we’ll find the true strength to love God and serve others. (Kelly Minter, All Things New, p. 200)

10. In what other ways can you apply this lesson to your life?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Three Study

Read 2 Corinthians 13:5-10. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

11. Answer the following questions based on the text.

  • Paul says the Corinthians should examine (or test) themselves to see that they are in the faith. As someone in the faith, what is true about them (v. 5)?
  • What does Paul say about himself (v. 6)?
  • What is his prayer for them (v. 7)?
  • What does he confirm in v. 8?
  • On what is Paul’s focus as he exercises authority over the Corinthians (v. 9)?
  • Why does he write such seemingly harsh words to them (v. 10)?
  • Why did Jesus give him authority (v. 10)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

What Does It Mean?

From the Greek: Paul meant v. 5 to be an affirming question, carrying the idea of “proving in the expectation of approving.” The Greek word peirazo means “to try, make trial of, test: for the purpose of ascertaining quality, or one’s thinking, or how one will behave himself.” The end result is to show that what one expected is true. The Corinthians had been examining him. Now he turned the tables and challenged them to examine themselves—not for salvation but for obedience to the Lord.

12. Paul wanted the Corinthians to take a hard look at themselves with the expectation they would discover that Jesus Christ was truly in their lives and working in their midst. What are some of the evidences that would show this to be true? [Note: They would only fail the test if they had never trusted in Christ.]

13. Relate v. 9 to what you learned in 2 Corinthians 12. What could Paul have meant when he said he’s glad when he’s weak and the Corinthians are “fully restored” / “made complete?”

From the Greek: The end of verse 9 reads very differently among the various translations. You will see “become mature” (NLT), “fully qualified” (NET), “made complete” (NAS), and “fully restored” (NIV, ESV). You’ll see the same differences in verse 11. The Greek words used there carry the idea of strengthening, perfecting, training, being completely ready to take on whatever is needed. The goal is to move forward in your transformation to become more like Jesus Christ and serve Him well.

14. What is the proper use of authority in the church (v. 10)? See also 2 Corinthians 1:24 and 10:8.

What Application Will You Make?

15. Notice Paul’s mention of prayer twice in this section. Every daily lesson in this study begins and ends with prayer. Lack of prayer is often a sign of self-sufficiency rather than dependent living and will lead you to doing what is not pleasing in God’s sight. Spend some time responding to the Lord about what Hes shown you today.

Day Four Study

Read 2 Corinthians 13:11-14. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

16. Paul’s closing words in a letter often include simple reminders of how to live as a Christian in community. As he says goodbye, Paul sums up his letter with five “take-away” actions. What are they?

What Does It Mean?

17. What does Paul mean when he tells them to strive or aim for full restoration (NIV, ESV)? To what or whom must they be restored? See also 2 Corinthians 11:3 and 12:20-21.

Historical Insight: Evidently Paul’s anticipated visit to Corinth turned out to be a pleasant one. Paul wrote Romans during the three months he was in Corinth (Acts 20:2-3, A.D. 56-57). In that epistle, he gave no indication that there were problems in Corinth. Moreover, he proceeded with his plans to evangelize unreached areas, which he would not have done if the Corinthian church still needed his attention (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:14-16). Furthermore, Paul wrote that the Corinthians (believers in Macedonia and Achaia) “were pleased” to complete their collection for the Jerusalem saints (Romans 15:26-27). Finally, the Corinthian church’s preservation of 2 Corinthians argues for this church’s acquiescence to Paul’s admonitions and warnings. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 127)

18. Focus on the phrases: “be of one mind” and “live in peace.” You can find “cross references” (verses that are similar to the one you are reading) in most study Bibles and in the Blue Letter Bible App. Look at cross references to find other verses that describe how to:

  • be of one mind—
  • live in peace—

Historical Insight: The “holy kiss” was an expression of brotherly love, a sign of being in fellowship with one another. It welcomed newly baptized believers into the family of God. It symbolized the forgiveness, reconciliation, unity, and fellowship that existed between the believers.

19. Write Paul’s benediction (v. 14) in the space below.

20. What do you learn about the three persons of our one God from this verse?

Scriptural Insight: This benediction confirms the Trinity and has ever since been a part of Christian worship tradition. It serves to remind us that the mystery of the Holy Trinity is known to be true not through rational or philosophical explanations but through Christian experience, whereby the believer knows firsthand the grace, the love, and the fellowship that freely flow to him from the three Persons of the one Lord God. (NIV Study Bible, note on v. 14, p. 1778)

What Application Will You Make?

21. Review the passage for this lesson in “Day One Study.” Add reasons why God wants us to depend on Him more than on ourselves to the chart below. I’ve given a few prompts.


Reasons why God wants us to depend on Him more than on ourselves


To live by Gods power to deal with people


To gain assurance that you are in Christ by your faith in Him


For our disciples to do what is right even though we may fail


To stand for the truth

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Famous Last Words

22. What are your takeaways from this study? What have you learned about being a God-dependent woman? Have you learned to depend on Christ more? In what ways do you understand dependent living better? Are you making the choices daily to live in God-dependency rather than self-sufficiency?

As His child, God transforms your life by teaching you to live dependently on Him in weakness and in strength. See all the reasons why in the chart on the next page.

Related Topics: Christian Life

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