2 Corinthians 13:5, test yourselves: Christian living, not eternal salvation.
- Paul is writing to believers (2 Corinthians 1:1, 21; 3:1-3; 6:14; 13:13-14; and many other verses). These Corinthians were products of his ministry. They could look at themselves and see the good that God worked in them through Paul.
- Many Corinthians believers were living like unbelievers, yet they were saved (1 Corinthians 1:11; 3:1-3; 6:19-20; 11:30; 2 Corinthians 3.1-3; 7.1; 12.20-21; 13.5).
- Paul is writing to the entire Corinthian church, not a select few (2 Corinthians 13.2, 10). Paul may need to discipline the wayward believers, but they are believers. This letter does not support the claim by some that Paul questions the Corinthians’ eternal salvation.
- Some of the Corinthians think that Paul has failed the spiritual life test, but they do not deny that Paul is a Christian (2 Corinthians 10.2,7; 13.6-7).
- Paul told the Corinthians, “test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13.5), present active imperative 2nd plural of πειράζω peirazw, to try, to put to a test, to discover the character or kind (1 Corinthians 10:13 for the noun; Acts 15.10, Hebrews 11:17, Revelation 2.2 for the verb). They are to measure themselves by the letters that Paul has written to them. Have they corrected their behavior and living the biblical faith (2 Corinthians 6.14-18; 11.3)?
- He asked, “are you living in the faith?” (2 Corinthians 13.5), ἐν τῇ πίστει en te pistei in this context refers to walking in Christian life faith, sanctification, fellowship. “In the faith” means “living as Christians should” (as suggested by the UBS Handbook, 2 Corinthians 13.5, and other sources). See also for the phrase 1 Corinthians 16.13; Titus 1.13; 2 Peter 1.5.
- Paul also told them “examine yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13.5), present active imperative 2nd plural of δοκιμάζω dokimazw, to examine to determine genuineness, prove by testing (2 Corinthians 8:22 verb; Romans 12:2 verb). They do this by measuring their attitude and lifestyle by the Scripture, especially that which Paul has written to them.
- “Christ is in you” (2 Corinthians 13.5), ὅτι Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν hoti Iesous Christos en humin, refers to Christ living in them and through them in fellowship with them, not salvation relationship-position in Christ (Ephesians 3:17: Revelation 3:20).
- Some may “Fail the test” ἀδόκιμος adokimos, unqualified, worthless, discredited (2 Corinthians 13:5). Many will realize that they are not living as Christians should—living and walking in the light (1 John 1) and by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6.19; Galatians 5.16). This is possible. Paul wrote to them in 1 Corinthians 9.27 that he did not want to fail the test in his ministry.