What does 2 Corinthians 13:4 mean – “Crucified through weakness”?
In the last few chapters of 2 Corinthians (10-13), Paul is anticipating a visit to Corinth (13:1). He indicates that, when he gets there, he will need to use his authority against those who are in the wrong (13:2-3). Evidently, some were speaking disparagingly of Paul, describing him as “weak” (10:10). Paul accepts that this is so. For example, he indicates that he could be weak out of sympathy for others (11:29), and that he did have a “thorn in the flesh,” in which state of weakness God’s strength was made perfect (12:7-10). Those with whom he was going to have to deal severely on his arrival were clearly not taking the prospect seriously, accusing Paul of being strong in his talk, but ineffective when actually present (10:1,10), and demanding proof that Christ really was speaking through him (13:3).
Paul is very happy to rise to this challenge, and he does so using a tremendous example, the Lord Jesus Himself, Who exhibited weakness, followed by mighty power. When He died, He was “crucified through weakness,” or “out of weakness.” He willingly submitted to all that wicked men did to Him; He did not retaliate, physically or verbally; but went “as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isa 53:7; 1Peter 2:23). It was not that He did not have the means or power to deliver Himself from it (John 19:11; Matt 26:53), but He did not exercise these means of escape, that He might save us from our sins. Those observing the scene at the cross could have employed many virtuous adjectives to describe Him, such as “gracious,” “submissive,” “kind,” “dignified,” and “innocent.” But it is unlikely that any would have used the word “mighty.” They would have perceived Him as a man in utter weakness. And, indeed, He was in weakness, but it was voluntary, and absolutely necessary, in order that the will of God might be accomplished. Had he not done so, it would not have been possible for men to take Him and crucify Him.
But that was not the end of the story. Three days after this voluntary display of weakness, there was a mighty display of Divine power: “Though He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by (through) the power of God” (2Cor 13:4). The weakness that was necessary for Him to be crucified was answered in the power that was necessary for Him to be raised.
Paul applies this to his own case: “For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.” Paul (like His Savior) was content to be “weak,” in order that the will of God be carried out; and, just as the perceived weakness of the Lord Jesus (seen in His crucifixion) was followed by a manifestation of power (in His resurrection), even so, Paul’s weakness would be followed by a demonstration of God’s power in him, and directed forcibly toward the troublemakers, when he arrived in Corinth.