2Co 10:1-18. He Vindicates
His Apostolic Authority against Those Who Depreciated Him for His
Personal Appearance. He Will Make His
Power Felt When He Comes. He Boasts Not,
as They, Beyond His Measure.
1. I Paul myself—no longer "we," "us,"
9:11): I who am
represented by depreciators as "base," I, the same Paul, of my own
accord "beseech you"; or rather "entreat," "exhort" you for your
sake. As "I beseech you" (a distinct Greek verb, 2Co 10:2) for my sake.
by the meekness and gentleness of
Christ—He mentions these graces of Christ especially (Ps
18:35; Mt 11:29), as on
account of his imitation of them in particular he was despised [Grotius]. He entreats them by these, in order
to show that though he must have recourse to more severe measures, he
is naturally inclined to gentle ones after Christ's example [Menochius]. "Meekness" is more in the mind
internally; "gentleness" in the external behavior, and in relation to
others; for instance, the condescending yieldingness of a
superior to an inferior, the former not insisting on his strict rights
[Trench]. Bengel explains it, "By the meekness and gentleness
derived by me from Christ," not from my own nature: he objects
to understanding it of Christ's meekness and gentleness, since
nowhere else is "gentleness" attributed to Him. But though the exact
Greek word is not applied to Him, the idea expressed by it is
(compare Isa 40:11; Mt 12:19, 20).
in presence—in personal appearance
when present with you.
base—Greek, "lowly"; timid,
humbly diffident: opposed to "bold." "Am" stands here by ironical
concession for "am reputed to be" (compare 2Co 10:10).
2. I beseech you—Intimating that, as he
can beseech in letters, so he can be severe in their
that I may not be—that I may not
have to be bold, &c.
with that confidence—that
I think—I am minded to be.
as if we walked according to the
flesh—His Corinthian detractors judged of him by themselves,
as if he were influenced by fleshly motives, the desire of favor or
fear of giving offense, so as not to exercise his authority when
3. For—Reason why they should regard him
"beseeching" them (2Co 10:2) not
to oblige him to have recourse to "bold" and stern exercise of
authority. "We walk IN the flesh," and so in weakness: but not
"ACCORDING TO the flesh" (2Co 10:2). Moreover, though we WALK in it, we do not WAR according to it. A double contrast or
antithesis. "They who accuse us of walking after the flesh, shall find
[to their cost] that we do not war after the flesh; therefore
compel us not to use our weapons" [Alford].
4. A confutation of those who try to propagate
their creed by force and persecution (compare Lu 9:54-56).
weapons—for punishing offending
members (2Co 10:6; 1Co 4:21; 5:5, 13); boldness of speech, ecclesiastical
discipline (2Co 10:8; 2Co 13:10), the power of the word, and of the
sacraments, the various extraordinary gifts of the Spirit.
carnal—Translate, "fleshly," to
preserve the allusion to 2Co 10:2, 3.
mighty through God—Greek,
"mighty to God," that is, mighty before God: not humanly, but divinely
powerful. The power is not ours, but God's. Compare "fair to God," that
is, divinely fair (Ac 7:20,
Margin). Also above (2Co 2:15),
"unto God a sweet savor." "The efficacy of the Christian
religion proves its truth" [Bengel].
pulling down—As the Greek is
the same as in 2Co 10:5,
translate, "casting down." Compare Jer 1:10: the inspired servants of God inherit
the commission of the Old Testament prophets.
strongholds—(Pr 21:22); namely, in which sinners entrench
themselves against reproof; all that opposes itself to Christ; the
learning, and eloquence, and philosophical subtleties on which the
Corinthians prided themselves. So Joshua's trumpet blast was "mighty"
under God to overthrow the walls of Jericho.
5. imaginations—rather, "reasonings."
Whereas "thought" expresses men's own purpose and determination
of living after their own pleasure [Tittmann].
high thing—So it ought to be
translated (Ro 8:39). A
distinct Greek word from that in Eph 3:18, "height," and Re 21:16, which belongs to God and heaven from
whence we receive nothing hurtful. But "high thing" is not so much
"height" as something made high, and belongs to those regions of
air where the powers of darkness ::exalt themselves" against Christ and
us (Eph 2:2; 6:12; 2Th 2:4).
exalteth itself—2Th 2:4 supports English Version rather
than the translation of Ellicott,
&c., "is lifted up." Such were the high towers of Judaic
self-righteousness, philosophic speculations, and rhetorical
sophistries, the "knowledge" so much prized by many (opposed to "the
knowledge of God"), which endangered a section of the Corinthian
against the knowledge of God—True
knowledge makes men humble. Where there is exaltation of self, there
knowledge of God is wanting [Bengel].
Arrange the words following thus: "Bringing every thought (that is,
intent of the mind or will) into captivity to the obedience of
Christ," that is, to obey Christ. The three steps of the apostle's
spiritual warfare are: (1) It demolishes what is opposed to Christ; (2)
It leads captive; (3) It brings into obedience to Christ (Ro 1:5; 16:26). The "reasonings" (English
Version, "imaginations") are utterly "cast down." The "mental
intents" (English Version, "thoughts") are taken willing
captives, and tender the voluntary obedience of faith to Christ the
6. Translate, "Having ourselves (that is,
being) in readiness to exact punishment for all disobedience,"
&c. We have this in store for the disobedient: it will be brought
into action in due time.
when your obedience, &c.—He
charitably assumes that most of the Corinthian Church will act
obediently; therefore he says "YOUR
obedience." But perhaps some will act otherwise; in order, therefore,
to give all an opportunity of joining the obedient, he will not
prematurely exact punishment, but wait until the full number of those
gathered out to Christ has been "completed," and the remainder have
been proved incorrigible. He had acted already so at Corinth (Ac 18:6-11; compare Ex 32:34;
7. Do ye regard mere outward appearance (mere
external recommendations, personal appearance, voice, manner, oratory
of teachers present face to face, such as they admired in the
false teachers to the disparagement of Paul, 2Co 10:10; see on 2Co
5:12)? Even in outward bearing when I shall be
present with you (in contrast to "by letters," 2Co 10:9) I will show that I am more really
armed with the authority of Christ, than those who arrogate to
themselves the title of being peculiarly "Christ's" (1Co 1:12). A Jewish emissary seems to have led
let him of himself think this again—He
may "of himself," without needing to be taught it in a more severe
manner, by "thinking again," arrive at "this" conclusion, "that even
as," &c. Paul modestly demands for himself only an equal place with
those whom he had begotten in the Gospel [Bengel].
8. "For even if I were to boast somewhat more
exceedingly (than I do, 2Co 10:3-6)
of our (apostolic) authority (2Co 10:6; 2Co 13:10) … I should not be put to shame
(by the fact; as I should be if my authority proved to be without
foundation: my threats of punishment not being carried into
for edification … not for …
destruction—Greek, "for building up … not for
… CASTING DOWN" (the same
Greek as in 2Co 10:5):
the image of a building as in 2Co 10:4, 5. Though we "cast down reasonings," this
is not in order to destroy, but really to build up ("edify"), by
removing those things which are hindrances to edification, and testing
what is unsound, and putting together all that is true in the building
9. I say this lest I should seem to be
terrifying you, as children, with empty threats [Bengel]. Estius
explains, "I might boast more of my authority, but I forbear to do
so, that I may not seem as if," &c. But this ellipsis is harsh:
10:10, 11 confirm Bengel's view.
10. letters—implying that there had been
already more letters of Paul received by the Corinthians than the one
we have, namely, First Corinthians; and that they contained strong
say they—Greek, "says one,"
"such a one" (2Co 10:11)
seems to point to some definite individual. Compare Ga 5:10; a similar slanderer was in the Galatian
weak—(2Co 12:7; 1Co 2:3). There was nothing of majesty or
authority in his manner; he bore himself tremblingly among them,
whereas the false teachers spoke with authoritative bearing and
11. think this—"consider this."
such will we be—or "are," in
general, not merely shall we be at our next visit.
12. "We do not presume (irony) to judge
ourselves among, or in comparison with, some of them that commend
themselves." The charge falsely brought against him of commending
himself (2Co 3:1; 5:12), really holds good of the false
teachers. The phrase, "judge ourselves of the number," is drawn from
the testing of athletes and senators, the "approved" being set down on
the roll [Wahl].
measuring themselves by
themselves—"among themselves": to correspond to the
previous verb, "judge ourselves among them." Instead of
measuring themselves by the public standard, they measure themselves by
one made by themselves: they do not compare themselves with others who
excel them, but with those like themselves: hence their high
self-esteem. The one-eyed is easily king among the blind.
are not wise—with all their boasted
"wisdom" (1Co 1:19-26), they are anything but "wise."
13. not boast … without …
measure—Greek, "to unmeasured bounds." There is no
limit to a man's high opinion of himself, so long as he measures
himself by himself (2Co 10:13)
and his fellows, and does not compare himself with his superiors. It
marks the personal character of this Epistle that the word
"boast" occurs twenty-nine times in it, and only twenty-six times in
all the other Epistles put together. Undeterred by the charge of
vanity, he felt he must vindicate his apostolic authority by facts
[Conybeare and Howson]. It would be to "boast of things without our
measure," were we to boast of conversions made by "other men's labors"
a measure—as a measure [Alford].
to reach—"that we should reach as far
as even to you": not that he meant to go no further (2Co 10:16;
Ro 15:20-24). Paul's
"measure" is the apportionment of his sphere of Gospel labors
ruled for him by God. A "rule" among the so-called "apostolic
canons" subsequently was, that no bishop should appoint ministers
beyond his own limits. At Corinth no minister ought to have been
received without Paul's sanction, as Corinth was apportioned to
him by God as his apostolic sphere. The Epistle here
incidentally, and therefore undesignedly, confirms the independent
history, the Acts, which represents Corinth as the extreme limit as yet
of his preaching, at which he had stopped, after he had from
Philippi passed southward successively through Amphipolis, Apollonia,
Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens [Paley,
14. "We are not stretching ourselves beyond
our measure, as (we should be) if we did not reach unto
you: (but we do), for as far as even to you have we come in preaching
15. "Not boasting to unmeasured bounds (that
is, not exceeding our own bounds by boasting) of (literally, 'in')
other men's labors."
when—"As your faith goes on
increasing." The cause of his not yet reaching with the Gospel the
regions beyond Corinth, was the weakness as yet of their faith. He
desired not to leave the Corinthians before the proper time, and yet
not to put off preaching to others too long.
enlarged by you—Greek, "in your
case." Our success in your case will give us an important step towards
further progress beyond you (2Co 10:16).
according to our rule—according to our
divinely assigned apportionment of the area or sphere of our work; for
"we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure" (2Co 10:14).
exceeding abundance": so as to exceed the limits we have yet reached
16. To—that is, so as to preach
… beyond you (and) not to boast, &c.
in another man's line of things made ready to
our hand—Do not connect "line of things," &c.; but "boast
of things," &c. To make this clearer, arrange the words thus, "Not
to boast as to things (already made by the preaching of others) ready
to our hand in another man's line (that is, within the line, or sphere
of labor, apportioned by God to another)."
17. glorieth—Translate, to accord with
10:16, "boasteth." In
contrast to his opponents' practice of boasting in another's line or
sphere, Paul declares the only true boasting is in the Lord (1Co 1:31;
18. (Pr 27:2).
whom the Lord commendeth—to whom the
Lord has given as His "Epistle of commendation," the believers whom he
has been the instrument of converting: as was Paul's case (2Co 3:1-3).
is approved—can stand the test of the
final trial. A metaphor from testing metals (Ro 16:10; 1Co
11:19). So on the other hand
those finally rejected by the Lord are termed "reprobate silver"