Sermon Starters

Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals

Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

The Second Sunday After Pentecost

Option #1 "Target Practice"
2 Corinthians 13:11-14
Rev. Wayne Dobratz

Introduction: Millions of people will visit cemeteries on this Memorial Day weekend. In fact, this holiday used to be called Decoration Day. The graves of veterans will be marked with small American flags in commemoration of their service to our nation. When these soldiers entered the military, they all had to go through basic training. They had to learn how to fire a weapon accurately. There was a lot of target practice. The Epistle for today talks about a different kind of target practice:

I. Aim for perfection--"perfection" here doesn’t mean a perfect score so much as it points to being "whole or complete."

       A. Middle passive voice--"Let God work in you. Let God repair your life from the inside out. Let’s God’s Spirit change you in Word & Sacrament."

       B. This word is used for the time when Jesus found James & John "mending their nets." In the same way, God repairs the damaged parts of our lives, damaged emotions, unhealed grief, unrepaired hurts.

II. Peter picks up the same idea when he conveys God’s promise: "The God of all grace...after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." (1 Pet 5:10)

III. Every benefit that Jesus won for you is available for your life of Christian service to God and your fellow man. The same word is used in Heb 13:20ff: "May the God of all peace...equip you with everything good for doing his will...through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever." Heb 13:20: "Aim for perfection"--let God build you and repair you, strengthen you for the work he has given you to do. "Aim for perfection (completion), listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you."

Adam Clarke explains the key word katartisin--2 Corinthians 13:9: and this also we wish, even your perfection--we cannot be satisfied that persons, with such eminent endowments, and who have once received the truth as it is in Jesus, should be deficient in any of the graces that constitute the mind of Christ; such as brotherly love, charity, harmony, unity, and order. I have given the above paraphrase to this verse because of the last term...which we render "perfection." ...from... [the] intensive [form], fit or adapt, signifies the reducing of a dislocated limb to its proper place; and hence, as Beza says on this passage: 

"The apostle’s meaning is, that whereas the members of the Church were all, as it were, dislocated and out of joint, they should be joined together in love; and they should endeavor to make perfect what was amiss among them, either in faith or morals." 

It is a metaphor, also, taken from a building; the several stones and timbers being all put in their proper places and situations, so that the whole building might be complete, and be a proper habitation for the owner. The same figure, though not in the same terms, the apostle uses in Ephesians 2:20-22. 

The perfection or rejointing which the apostle wishes is that which refers to the state of the Church in its fellowship, unity, order, etc. And perfection in the soul is the same as perfection in the Church is to its order and unity. The perfection or rejointing of the soul implies its purification, and placing every faculty, passion, and appetite in its proper place; so that the original order, harmony, unity, and purity of the soul may be restored; and the whole builded up to be a habitation of God through the Spirit. See  Ephesians 2:22.

Adam Campbell, a graduate of Columbine High School, said: 

"Hate will cause wrong choices. If a person has a bad heart, you cannot change it. Only God can change a bad heart."

 Benjamin Franklin learned that plaster sown in fields made things grow. He told his neighbors, but they wouldn’t believe him. So he let the matter drop and said no more about it. But he went into the field the next spring and sowed some grain. Close by the path where people would walk, he traced some letters with his finger and put plaster in them and then sowed his seed. After a little while, the seed sprang up. His neighbors were surprised to see that, in brighter green than all the rest of the field, the writing in large letters: "This has been plastered." Jesus said: This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:8)

+  +  +

Option #2: "Perfect(ing) Peace"
2 Corinthians 13:11-14
Rev. Kelly Bedard

A. Trinitarian Gifts

       1. Grace, the Son-gift: God's riches at Christ's expense

       2. Love, the Father-gift: "God is love" (1 John 4:8, 16)

       3. Fellowship, the Spirit-gift: a relationship with God (1 John 1:3) and God's children

B. Gifted Trinitarians

       1. Joyful (Philippians 4:4) and "mending": "to be knit together in love"

       2. Comforting amid sufferings and harmonious (Philippians 2:5): the unity-liberty-charity triad

       3. Peaceful: "Difference in opinion should not cause alienation in affections." (Henry)


1. katartizo (v11): perfect, make perfect, mend, be perfect, fit, frame, prepare, restore, perfectly joined together; to render, i.e., to fit, sound, complete; to mend (what has been broken or rent), to repair; to complete; to fit out, equip, put in order, arrange, adjust; to fit or frame for one's self, prepare; ethically: to strengthen, perfect, complete, make one what s/he ought to be.

2. parakaleo (v11): beseech, comfort, exhort, desire, pray, intreat, besought; to call to one's side, call for, summon; to address, speak to, (call to, call upon), which may be done in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc.; to admonish, exhort; to beg, entreat, beseech; to strive to appease by entreaty; to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort; to receive consolation, be comforted; to encourage, strengthen; exhorting and comforting and encouraging; to instruct, teach.

3. He gives them several good exhortations. (1.) To be perfect, or to be knit together in love, which would tend greatly to their advantage as a church, or Christian society. (2.) To be of good comfort under all the sufferings and persecutions they might endure for the cause of Christ or any calamities and disappointments they might meet with in the world. (3.) To be of one mind, which would greatly tend to their comfort; for the more easy we are with our brethren the more ease we shall have in our own souls. The apostle would have them, as far as was possible, to be of the same opinion and judgment; however, if this could not be attained, yet, (4.) He exhorts them to live in peace, that difference in opinion should not cause an alienation of affections--that they should be at peace among themselves. He would have all the schisms that were among them healed, that there should be no more contention and wrath found among them, to prevent which they should avoid debates, envyings, backbitings, whisperings, and such like enemies to peace. (Matthew Henry).

 Ministry Health Sermon Starters
Copyright 2002 Ministry Health, LLC

Go to Main Page

Main Site:

Copyright 1997-2005 Ministry Health, LLC  All Rights Reserved.

Microsoft FrontPage and Microsoft Internet Explorer are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation
Adobe Acrobat and PDF are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated

Contact Support for any technical issues with this website!

This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:31 PM