Reason for Spiritual Self Examinations #1
In his first letter to them, around AD 56 or early 57 AD he has much anxiety over the church because of the information he gathered from the house of Chloe, Stephanus, Fortunatus, Archaicus (1 Cor 1:11; 16:17). Later he was contacted to answer some questions about the conduct of the brethren in Corinth. The news of the misdeed of the brethren got to him which he wrote a sorrowful letter to them about of the need to discipline the person.
He is saying he is coming the third time and if they fail to disciple the person he will disciple the person himself when he arrives. (2 Cor 2:1; 12:14; 13:1) Matthew Henry says that it is God’s gracious method to bear long with sinners, yet he will not always do this, thence he commands that all repents of their sins and come to Jesus, because when he resurrected he has demonstrated his divine power to all.
Bibleref.com says this letter though was directed to a particular church, but it has a broader sense requesting them to look deeply within themselves to see if they are following the will of God for their lives.
Instead of believers looking at the mote in other people’s eyes we should check ourselves to see if there are no beam in our eyes too. This the apostle is buttressing here in his epistle to them.
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith;…” (2 Cor 13:5a)
In Cambridge bible for schools and colleges, the apostle has nothing to boast of this he plainly told them, but some of them perhaps are looking at him with contempt because of this, 2 Cor 11:30; 2 Cor 12:5; therefore he says unto them instead of them looking at him with contempt they should examine their status in the Lord.
Let us examine the word of this articulate author clearly.
A) Examine Yourselves
Oxford English Minidictionary defines examine as “look at closely; question as a formal test of knowledge”.
The Greek word for examine is “πειράζω”, when romanticized it becomes peirazō (phonetic spelling is pi-rad'-zo) which among other meanings mean to test, scrutinize, prove, try.
Ellicott in his commentary says, the word examine is suggestive of test, while the other word used states general scrutiny.
Benson in his commentary of this verse says, apostle Paul says, if they have taken him to be the real apostle of the Lord, then they also need to prove themselves to show that Christ really lives inside of them.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown says, the word examine means they should “make a trial of themselves”, instead of seeking a proof of Christ in the author, apostle Paul. (2 Co 13:3).
- Who Will do the Examining?
The person who would do the test is stated by the author, apostle Paul and it is individual persons that make up the church of God.
Having known who will do the examining, what would readily be disturbing our hearts is why did the apostle said this? This we shall answer.
Barnes says in his note on this place that the brethren have been deceived and the foundation of their faith is being questioned by some, thence he calls that they examine themselves if the foundation of their faith is yet there.
- Why He Says This
Matthew Poole in his commentary says many a time those who desire to see a proof of Christ in others are themselves tardiest in making of prove of themselves in Christ Jesus. The apostle unarguably states this because of some of the following reasons.
(i) Prophet’s Saying: Prophet Jeremiah in his book says, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer 17:9)
The apostle having read and heard of some of the things that were happening among the brethren at Corinth some of which according to him were not mentioned among the unbelievers he cannot but say that the people need to examine themselves, for they own their hearts, we are looking at people’s faces but do not know what the components of their hearts are. Individuals however knows what is in his or her hearts and thence he calls that they need to examine themselves.
“It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.” (1 Cor 5:1)
(ii) The Spurious Conversion: He perhaps may have brought to his mind what happened when Apostle Peter was called by evangelist Philip to come and pray with the brethren who claimed to be saved in the city of Samaria and one of them wanted to buy the gift of God with money. Which shows that he was not sincerely converted, he was a spurious convert, albeit he has joined the church and was doing things with them, mingling with them and people, brethren too have thought him to be saved until his secret was revealed by the Holy Ghost.
“Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
“But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
“Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
“And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
“Saying, give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
“But Peter said unto him, thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
“Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
“Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” (Act 8:5, 9, 13, 18-22)
For such not to happen so that there would not be misrepresentations, so that there would not be misjudgment, he in the strongest possible terms told them that individuals need to examine himself or herself.
Evangelist Philip thought he has been saved and presented him alongside others who have genuinely repented of their sins, but his status was revealed as his sin funds him out.
“… and be sure your sin will find you out.” (Num 32:23c)
(iii) They are Living Beings: As living beings he expects them to be able to do this themselves without being probe by anyone.
(iv) They are not Forced to Believe: He wants them to do this because they were not forced to believe the Gospel when they believed. This is true today of all who claims to have accepted Jesus into their lives. No one forces us to believe the gospel and we should be ready to examine ourselves.
(v) To Be Sure Whether You are Yet on Track: They need to examine themselves to know if they are still on track to heaven or not.
(vi) To Know if We are yet His Children: They are called to examine themselves to know if they are yet God’s children. Some may be thinking they are still his child but have erred along the line as it happened unto Samson who broke the Nazarite covenant. (Jud 16)
Having seen some of the reasons why he suggested, let us see how we can examine ourselves.
In the next article I shall be talking on how believers could examine themselves.
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