Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11)
Finding The Love And Peace Of God
The church in Corinth was a challenging and turbulent group of saints. In the first letter Paul addressed to the Corinthian brethren, he dealt with division, carnality, rebellion, immorality, chaos among the worshipers, and a host of internal problems plaguing the church. Writing his second letter, he is encouraged by their faith and the willingness to address the issues that were tearing the group apart. Closing his letter, Paul seeks to instill in the hearts of the saints the love and peace of God with four admonitions. These encouraging words are essential to the union of troubled souls and a pattern for all saints to seek the grace of God.
Paul wanted the church at Corinth to be complete or perfected in the union of the body of Christ. Division had marred the work of spreading the gospel. The aim of the church must be the restoration of the peace and love of God. Disunion does not serve to the glory of God. Seeking the joy of walking together brings harmony to the local church and shines as a bright light of hope for those outside. Everyone must work toward the completeness of unity. If the church had followed this pattern earlier, there would not have been the Corinthian church’s severe problems. Growing to maturity is the goal of the church. No congregation should be satisfied with the status quo. Every day should be an effort to increase in love, knowledge, and evangelism. When a church remains the same year after year, it is not perfected to the glory of God. Exhortation number one: be perfected.
Division does not lend itself to a benevolent heart. One of Satan’s useful tools is to bring division among the people of God so they will spend their time fussing, arguing, disagreeing, and hating one another. The Holy Spirit admonishes the church to be of good comfort and for saints to seek the unity of helping others with a mature mind of love. To have comfort is to bring comfort and be a comforter. Corinth was divided with members against one another. What they needed was found in the hearts of the members caring for other members and showing that care. The servant’s heart seeks the welfare and good of others, not esteeming self greater than others. Being like-minded, having the same love and mind brings comfort to the family of God, helping the work grow in spirit and number. Corinth needed a lot of comfort, but that comfort must come from its members. Without the kindness of brotherly love, there could be no forgiveness, restoration, and reconciliation in the Lord. To be perfect required the second exhortation: be of good comfort.
When Paul heard from those of Chloe’s household of the contentions among the church of God at Corinth, his heart was saddened. Carnality had overwhelmed the attitudes of those who gave allegiance to Paul, Apollos, and Peter rather than stand united under the banner of Jesus Christ. It frustrated the apostle to see how childish the brethren were acting toward one another and the impact to the glory of God. The church must stand with one mind. Divided spirits will defeat the work. Doctrine must be established upon the word of God and not the opinions of men. Morality is not measured by what is accepted in society, like the man with his father’s wife. Worship is a specific pattern of authority demanded of God to be in accordance with the divine will of Jesus Christ, the church’s head. Corinth was not of one mind, and problems were rampant throughout the church. When a church is filled with strife, division, and unrest, carnal hearts are refusing to stand with God and His word alone. Exhortation number three: be of one mind.
Attitudes express the relationships of brethren, and division never unites but creates disharmony. Living in peace is seeking peace. Jesus taught His disciples the example of servitude when He washed twenty-four dirty feet belonging to His twelve apostles. The Lord washed the feet of Judas, knowing what he was about to do. The church will live in peace when it follows the example of Jesus. A servant’s heart is the motive of each member. Peace comes from God. Living in peace is perfected when the saints’ spirit unites with love and concern for one another. There were many evil attitudes among the brethren at Corinth. Paul wanted the contentions and strife to end. Then peace could rule in the church. If a church is filled with fighting, it is because the members have become combatants of error rather than contenders for the faith. The final appeal: live in peace.
When the church becomes complete, finds comfort with one another, seeks the unity of one mind, and lives in peace, the joy of God’s love and peace will overshadow the church. The world will see something special about the saints who show the glory of God in their daily lives and in the dedication of their worship of Jesus Christ. Souls will be brought to the truth. Heaven will rejoice. The angels will marvel. God will be pleased with His children. Jesus Christ will be exalted, and the Holy Spirit honored for the word. Finally, brethren – where are you!