In 2 Corinthians, Paul mentioned that it was the third time he was going to visit the people there, and he added that "As the scriptures say, the facts of every case must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses".

2 Corinthians 13:1-2 (NLT)

1 This is the third time I am coming to visit you (and as the Scriptures say, “The facts of every case must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses”). 2 I have already warned those who had been sinning when I was there on my second visit. Now I again warn them and all others, just as I did before, that next time I will not spare them.

I was trying to understand what Paul is trying to say when he mentioned “The facts of every case must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses” in 2 Corinthians 13:1.

What is the significance of the message “The facts of every case must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses” ?

2 Answers 2


Since Paul was coming to deal with a sinning church member, he is back referencing Jesus' command on dealing with sins in the church in Matthew 18:

But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.

Which is itself a reference to Deuteronomy 19:15:

A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.

Paul is reiterating that while he "knows" there is sin in the church, even as an Apostle of Jesus, he won't cast a man out on hearsay: it must be confirmed in the proper process.

  • In this case who would be the 2 or 3 witnesses?
    – Pacerier
    Nov 1, 2011 at 8:41
  • @Pacerier - one would presume here that Paul means reliable church members (perhaps deacons, pastors, or other highly-respected saints). Also note that Paul has already given the offenders multiple chances to repent and turn from their sin before passing full judgement on them.
    – warren
    Nov 1, 2011 at 13:13
  • @Pacerier - it's also possible that Paul was himself the witness who waited until he had witnessed the sin 2 or 3 times before passing judgement
    – warren
    Nov 2, 2011 at 12:37
  • That's my initial thinking too which I'd thought was "weird" because he's referring himself to the 2 or 3
    – Pacerier
    Nov 3, 2011 at 0:12

I don't think there is any reason to draw any connection at all other than coincidence. If I told you I had four eggs for breakfast this morning and then later told you that at four my sister was coming over for a visit would you try to draw some meaningful connection?

Paul talked about his pending visit back in 12:14-15 as well. Each of his trips were accompanied by a different situation. The first one was the original church plant. We hear from chapter two that his second visit was painful. For his third trip he's set out his intention not to be a burden while there.

However his coming was a warning. He knew there were problems in the church and that they needed to be dealt with. In some senses he is calling them to get their act together before he gets there. In chapter 13 he reminds them that he's coming again, then gives them an outline of some of the things they need to work on.

Remember the grammatical layout of our Bibles is contrived as best the translators were able to because the Greek doesn't have the same punctuation or formatting that we use. You could easily use the first bit of verse 1 as a subject heading, then start the paragraph with the second phrase.

In short, there is no particular connection to this being his third visit and the fact that charges against a sinning brother should be established by two or three witnesses. True his presence might have contributed one more witness (presumably there was one there already aware of the issues and reporting them to Paul) but there is not some magical numerical significance here.

I was trying to draw some link...

Be careful about trying to draw links where the text doesn't actually indicate them. You can make a lot of wacky mistakes in understanding the Bible if you set out trying to find connections that aren't specified.

  • Ok thanks for the warning, I've edited the phrasing of the question.
    – Pacerier
    Oct 29, 2011 at 14:45

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .