Here we have,
I. The apostle’s prayer to God on the behalf of the Corinthians, that they might do no evil, 2 Cor. 13:7. This is the most desirable thing we can ask of God, both for ourselves and for our friends, to be kept from sin, that we and they may do no evil; and it is most needful that we often pray to God for his grace to keep us, because without this we cannot keep ourselves. We are more concerned to pray that we may not do evil than that we may not suffer evil.
II. The reasons why the apostle put up this prayer to God on behalf of the Corinthians, which reasons have a special reference to their case, and the subject-matter about which he was writing to them. Observe, he tells them, 1. It was not so much for his own personal reputation as for the honour of religion: “Not that we should appear approved, but that you should do that which is honest, or decent, and for the credit of religion, though we should be reproached and vilified, and accounted as reprobates,” 2 Cor. 13:7. Note, (1.) The great desire of faithful ministers of the gospel is that the gospel they preach may be honoured, however their persons may be vilified. (2.) The best way to adorn our holy religion is to do that which is honest, and of good report, to walk as becomes the gospel of Christ. 2. Another reason was this: that they might be free from all blame and censure when he should come to them. This is intimated in 2 Cor. 13:8; We can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. If therefore they did not do evil, nor act contrary to their profession of the gospel, the apostle had no power nor authority to punish them. He had said before (2 Cor. 10:8) and says here (2 Cor. 13:10) that the power which the Lord had given him was to edification, not to destruction; so that, although the apostle had great powers committed to him for the credit and advancement of the gospel, yet he could not do anything to the disparagement of the truth, nor the discouragement of those who obeyed it. He could not, that is, he would not, he dared not, he had no commission to act against the truth; and it is remarkable how the apostle did rejoice in this blessed impotency: “We are glad,” says he (2 Cor. 13:9), “when we are weak and you are strong; that is, that we have no power to censure those who are strong in faith and fruitful in good works.” Some understand this passage thus: “Though we are weak through persecutions and contempt, we bear it patiently, and also joyfully, while we see that you are strong, that you are prosperous in holiness, and persevering in well-doing.” For, 3. He desired their perfection (2 Cor. 13:9); that is, that they might be sincere, and aim at perfection (sincerity is our gospel-perfection), or else he wished there might be a thorough reformation among them. He not only desired that they might be kept from sin, but also that they might grow in grace, and increase in holiness, and that all that was amiss among them might be rectified and reformed. This was the great end of his writing this epistle, and that freedom he used with them by writing these things (those friendly admonitions and warnings), being absent, that so, being present, he should not use sharpness (2 Cor. 13:10), that is, not proceed to the utmost extremity in the exercise of the power which the Lord had given him as an apostle, to revenge all disobedience, 2 Cor. 10:6.