“Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11 NLT).
The list of imperatives here in 2 Corinthians 13:11 continues with an exhortation to be of good comfort or, encourage one another as we read in the version quoted above. In addition to the qualities of comfort, encouragement, and consolation, this concept also involves the act of admonishing, teaching, or instructing others, thus giving this phrase a wide-ranging application. (1)
So this brings us back to where we began in our look at the book of 2 Corinthians. You see, the opening verses of this letter began with an expression of praise for “…the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (1 Corinthians 1:3-4). Now this letter closes with an encouragement to express those virtues in our relationships with others.
This exhortation is followed with a directive to “live in harmony” or to “be like-minded” (NASB). This does not necessarily imply that every Christian must share the same viewpoint on every subject. Nor does it mean that two Christians of good conscience cannot reach different conclusions on a variety of questions. Instead, a closer look at the internal dynamics of the first-century Corinthian church can help us find the best way to apply this instruction.
Remember that the members of the Corinthian fellowship struggled with the issue of divisions within the church. Therefore, this passage served to remind the original audience for this letter (along with modern-day readers of this epistle) that unity in Christ far outweighs such disagreements. This issue is so important that similar exhortations are found within the New Testament books of Romans (12:16-18), Philippians (2:2), and 1 Peter (3:8) as well.
Finally, this passage offers a corresponding reminder to “…live peacefully with each other” (CEV). One commentator offers further insight into this idea with the following observation: “This Greek term has many connotations… but in this context it is parallel to ‘be made complete.’ This refers to unity for the sake of the gospel. This is not asserting that believers must agree about every issue, but that they must disagree in love and that the gospel should always have priority over personal opinions or preferences!” (2)
(1) G3870 parakaleo Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g3870
(2) Dr. Bob Utley, Free Bible Commentary 2 Corinthians [13:11] Copyright ©2014 by Bible Lessons International http://www.freebiblecommentary.org/new_testament_studies/VOL06/VOL06B_13.html