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THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 10 - Verse 12
Verse 12. For we dare not make ourselves of the number. We admit that we are not bold enough for that. They had accused him of a want of boldness and energy when present with them, 1 Co 10:1,10. Here, in a strain of severe but delicate irony, he says he was not bold enough to do things which they had done. He did not dare to do the things which, had been done among them. To such boldness of character, present or absent, he could lay no claim.
Or compare ourselves, etc. I am not bold enough for that. That requires a stretch of boldness and energy to which I can lay no claim.
That commend themselves. That put themselves forward, and that boast of their endowments and attainments. It is probable that this was commonly done by those to whom the apostle here refers; and it is certain that it is everywhere the characteristic of pride. To do this, Paul says, required greater boldness than he possessed, and on this point he yielded to them the palm. The satire here is very delicate, and yet very severe, and was such as would doubtless be felt by them.
But they measuring themselves by themselves. Whitby and Clarke suppose that this means that they compared themselves with each other; and that they made the false apostles particularly their standard. Doddridge, Grotius, Bloomfield, and some others suppose the sense to be, that they made themselves the standard of excellence. They looked continually on their own accomplishments, and did not look at the excellences of others. They thus formed a disproportionate opinion of themselves, and undervalued all others. Paul says that he had not boldness enough for that. It required a moral courage to which he could lay no claim. Horace (B. i. Ep. 7, 98) has an expression similar to this:
Metri se quemque suo modulo ac pede, veturn est.
The sense of Paul is, that they made themselves the standard of excellence; that they were satisfied with their own attainments; and that they overlooked the superior excellence and attainments of others. This is a graphic description of pride and self-complacency; and alas! it is what is often exhibited. How many there are, and it is to be feared even among professing Christians, who have no other standard of excellence than themselves. Their views are the standard of orthodoxy; their modes of worship are the standard of the proper manner of devotion; their habits and customs are in their own estimation perfect; and their own characters are the models of excellence, and they see little or no excellence in those who differ from them. They look on themselves as the true measure of orthodoxy, humility, zeal, and piety; and they condemn all others, however excellent they may be, who differ from them.
And comparing themselves, etc. Or rather comparing themselves with themselves. Themselves they make to be the standard, and they judge of everything by that.
Are not wise. Are stupid and foolish. Because
(1.) they had no such excellence as to make themselves the standard.
(2.) Because this was an indication of pride.
(3.) Because it made them blind to the excellences of others. It was to be presumed that others had endowments not inferior to theirs.
(4.) Because the requirements of God, and the character of the Redeemer, were the proper standard of conduct. Nothing is a more certain indication of folly than for a man to make himself the standard of excellence. Such an individual must be blind to his own real character; and the only thing certain about his attainments is that he is inflated with pride. And yet how common! How self-satisfied are most persons! How pleased with their own character and attainments! How grieved at any comparison which is made with others implying their inferiority! How prone to undervalue all others simply because they differ from them! The margin renders this, "understand it not," that is, they do not understand their own character or their inferiority.
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