Regarding Scripture: II Corinthians 13.11-14
Sometimes finding the right way to end a discussion, a work relationship, tenure, or anything similar is difficult. During these times, some may not want anything said, while others may want to hear encouraging words. All relationships have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Knowing this, we can see that “breaking the ice” has its nuances, but after that generally the free flow of information back and forth is done fairly easily. What’s interesting is that no matter if the time spent was considered beneficial or mundane, the closing moments and thoughts are truly the most difficult. Some endings are known and foreseen, while others are not. Perhaps these are the greatest of challenges.
Departing on the right note is not simply a platitude it truly is divinely inspired. It is more than departing from the house on a good note telling your wife and family you love them and hope to see them later. It really leaves open future possibilities and whether there has been difficulty or harmony the departure leaves hope. Such is the case with Paul in II Corinthians 13. Recall that Paul has upbraided the Corinthians in the first letter and has more words of correction in the second, but Paul closes out this second epistle in an encouraging and promising way.
The KJV and NKJV have Paul saying farewell, to 21st century readers this seems more like a goodbye, but the Greek word actually means rejoice. Even in the midst of trials, tribulations, and corrections there needs to be rejoicing – remember Paul did not have a non-confrontational engagement with the brethren, but he encourages them to rejoice.
Next, in the KJV, Paul tells the brethren to be perfect, the NKJV and NASB have complete, the ESV says aim for restoration. This is no less important than rejoicing, because after difficulties have been addressed or struggles have be endured, there has to be an effort to make things right.
Following restoration, Paul encourages them to be of good comfort and this Greek word means encouraging. The brethren are to encourage one another in doing good, enduring trials, bearing one another’s burdens. There are many ways one can encourage another. Paul states that the brethren are to encourage each other.
Next, Paul tells them to be of one mind (KJV), the ESV says agree with one another. This is probably the most difficult of the closing thoughts. It truly is difficult, a real challenge, to agree with your brethren. There are personalities that sometimes seem so powerful that true agreement is just a dream, but with Christ all things are possible. The only way that agreement can ever be achieved is that egos and selfish pride have to be laid aside, and each person seeks to esteem everyone else better than themselves.1
For us, the last item we will look at is the idea of living in peace. Paul encourages these brethren to find a way to be at peace with each other. This is another area that is problematic at best. Some families seem to thrive on strife. It would seem that if they did not have strife then they would have nothing. But the family that strives against itself can overcome this device of the devil. However, to begin having peace, each person must be willing to submit to each other.2
Paul leaves words of wisdom with the Corinthians – the kind of words that we should leave with brethren, family, friends, and enemies alike. May the Lord help us to end all our of relationships with Paul’s attitude and follow him as he followed Christ.3
1 Philippians 2.3
2 Ephesians 5.21
3 I Corinthians 11.1