“I have told you before, and foretell as if I were present the second time, and now being absent I write to those who have sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again I will not spare—” (2 Corinthians 13:2).
Much like a photographer who makes use of a wide-angle lens, 2 Corinthians 13:2 captured the entire church at Corinth in a snapshot that brought the various elements of the congregation together. But unlike a photo that evokes a memory of a group activity, this passage served as a warning for every member of the Corinthian church.
You see, Paul the Apostle’s first Biblical letter to the Corinthians addressed a number of issues that existed within the church. These issues included divisions within the church (chapter one), sexual immorality (chapter five), lawsuits among the members of the congregation (chapter six), irreverence towards the things of God (chapter eleven), and erroneous views of Jesus’ resurrection (chapter fifteen) among others.
The final portion of this second Corinthian letter has dealt with the accusations made by the false apostles who had worked their way into the church, Taken together, these two Biblical epistles functioned as a first and second warning to the members of the Corinthian fellowship. So this passage represented a forceful message to any member of the congregation who chose to continue in those behaviors: “…the next time I come nobody will escape punishment” (GNB).
We can understand this statement to imply that Paul would use his authority as an Apostle to correct those who refused to be persuaded by other means. That might involve various forms of church discipline such as the kind described earlier in 1 Corinthians 5:5. In that portion of Scripture, Paul gave the following instructions regarding a person who was involved in a sexually immoral affair: “I direct you to release this man over to Satan so his rebellious nature will be destroyed and his spirit might be rescued in the day the Lord Jesus returns” (Voice).
However, it might also mean that Paul would use his apostolic authority to exercise a more immediate form of correction, one that we will examine in greater detail next. But just as Paul mentioned previously in 2 Corinthians 10:8 (and will go on to repeat again in 2 Corinthians 13:10). that authority was intended to build them up, not tear them down. Nevertheless, he would use his God-given authority for disciplinary purposes if he was required to do so.