Chapter 13:11-14 (ESV) - Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Question to consider: Why is it significant that Paul called the Corinthians brothers (and sisters) at the end of this letter?
As I mentioned at the beginning of this epistle, Paul wrote this letter in the same year as he wrote his first epistle (55 AD) toward winter. He had travelled to Macedonia, and was ready to continue on to Corinth with some Macedonian saints to pick up the offering for the Christians in Judea who were suffering from famine and persecution.
This letter had to have been hard for the Corinthians to receive, for Paul even asked them to question whether they were still putting their faith in Christ. Paul didn’t deliver this message as an accusation but as a warning for them to examine their heart so that they understood the logical outworking of accepting the false gospel of the super-apostles. It is important for us to continually examine our thoughts and motives to make sure we are trusting in Christ alone for our salvation. We need to hear both Law and Gospel every week to remind us of our fallen nature and the wonderful grace of Jesus.
It is in this that we, like the Corinthians, can rejoice. It must have brought them some relief to know that Paul still called them brothers and sisters and gave them greetings from all the saints. Christ had not abandoned them even though they lost sight of Him for a while. Now it was time to clean house and restore what had been lost, namely their comfort, their unity and their peace with God. When we struggle in our faith or see our church growing cold, the answer is not to remake the church with the latest and most popular ministry trends. The answer is to rediscover the word of God and reorient ourselves on Jesus. This is why we have the unchanging scriptures and don’t accept the word of those who proclaim to receive direct revelation from God.
Paul’s closing benediction is openly trinitarian and highlights the roles of the persons in the godhead. Through Jesus, we receive grace because He paid for our sins and freely gives us His righteousness. Despite His sacrifice being a singular event, His grace and righteousness are ongoing gifts which is why we receive Him at every opportunity in the communion meal. God the Father has placed his covenantal love upon us which means He set His will to love us even when we were unlovable and considered Him our enemy. The Holy Spirit cleanses us from sin and allows us to have fellowship with God and one another. He empowers the gospel in the church and in the world.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for the grace and mercy we have received through Christ and love which You have set upon us even though we do not deserve it. May Your spirit continue to open our hearts to Your word, make our worship acceptable to You, and fill us with Your joy and peace. Amen.