Defending the Value of Spiritual Authority.

Unbelief seeks to undermine spiritual authority. Without integrity, authority undermines itself. In 2 Corinthians 13, Paul continues to write about what Spirit-filled authority with integrity is and does.

Restoring Relationships

Spiritual authority always longs to restore relationships that have been broken (2 Corinthians 13:1-2). Paul is preparing to visit Corinth and is ready to defend his life and ministry to those who accuse him. He emphasizes the need for unity in the body of Christ for the sake of the Gospel in multiple other letters (Philippians 4, Philemon). He addresses division in Ephesians 2, Colossians, and Galatians.

If relationships are broken, there is a Scriptural way to mend them. (See Deuteronomy 19:15, Matthew 18:15, Matthew 5:23-24, Hebrews 10:28, 1 John 5:8, and 1 Timothy 5:19-20.) The process involves determining the facts of a situation in the presence of witnesses, which can be a hard conversation. When we deal with the facts, ninety-nine percent of disagreements end up being misunderstandings.

Protecting the Gospel

Spiritual authority leads the flock in protecting the content of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 13:3-4). Unbelief wanted proof that Christ was speaking through Paul. The Corinthians and others were eyewitnesses to the change that only Christ can bring to someone's life. The power of the resurrection operates in every believer through the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 4:2). There should be an observable general pattern of walking away from our old lifestyle (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).


Spiritual authority cares about personal and corporate sanctification (2 Corinthians 13:5-9). They want to see saints continue to grow until they reach "completion" or spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:17). This happens as we live out Gospel influence underpinned by prayer.

Attempting a disciplined, holy life without prayer is like walking in a desert. It leads to performance-based religion. Unbelief cookie-cuts holy living and raises the bar above human ability. Prayer is the refreshing water of sanctification and the air we breathe in our Christian walk. The book Praying with Paul by D.A. Carson excellently highlights the connection of sanctification and prayer.

Verse 5 uses words for scientific testing and the examination for authenticity. Considering the evidence for our own growth in holiness can help us have assurance of our salvation.

The Church's Continuation

Spiritual authority values the ultimate continuation of the church (2 Corinthians 13:10-14). The church isn't perfect, but Jesus is, and He is for the church. When we gather, we rejoice in God's work to grow us in holiness, confident that the Holy Spirit is always doing something in every believer. We call others alongside so we can grow together. We are not timid to take a stand on our convictions in the strength of God. We seek peace, not fighting or quarreling. As we practice these things in our local churches, we can share fellowship with other local churches, so no one church is alone.

Finally, Paul prays for each person of the Godhead to be present in the Corinthian church to continue to grow them into Christ-likeness.

Application Points

  • Do you have a relationship that used to work closely for the Gospel but is no longer enjoyed? Do you need to have a hard conversation?
  • Is the general pattern of your life walking away from your old lifestyle?
  • Prayer plays a significant role in our pursuit of holiness, both individually and corporately. Do you pray for other believers' growth in holiness?
  • Are you "for" the church? The church isn't perfect, but Jesus is, and He is for the church. When you get discouraged, remember that the Holy Spirit is always doing something in every believer. Rejoice in that and call others alongside to grow together. Seek peace even as you stand strong on biblical convictions.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Colossians 3, Ephesians 4 – Life change comes by the Spirit.
Quotes to Ponder

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. ...those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. "

— C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock

"The great concern of the New Testament Epistles is not about the size of the Church, it is about the purity of the Church."

— D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones