2 Corinthians 10:1-6
1. Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:
1. Pro ipse ego Paulus exhortor vos 1 per lenitatem et mansuetudinem Christi, qui secundum faciem humilis quidem sum inter vos, absens autem audax sum in vos.
2. But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.
2. Rogo autem, ne praesens audeam ea fiducia, qua cogito audax esse in quosdam, qui nos aestimant, acsi secundum carnem ambularemus.
3. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
3. Nam in carne ambulantes, non secundum carnem militamus.
4. (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
4. Siquidem arma militiae nostrae non carnilia sunt, sed potentia Deo ad destructionem munitionum, quibus consilia destruimus.
5. Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
5. Et omnem celsitudinem, quae extollitur adversus cognitionem Dei: et captivam ducimus omnem cogitationem ad obediendum Christo: 2
6. And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
6. Et in promptu habemus vindictam adversus omnem inobedientiam, quum impleta fuerit vestra obedientia.
Having finished his exhortation, he now proceeds partly to refute the calumnies with which he had been defamed by the false apostles, and partly to repress the insolence 3 of certain wicked persons, who could not bear to be under restraint. Both parties, with the view of destroying Paul's authority, construed the vehemence with which he thundered in his Epistles to be
The form of entreaty, which he makes use of, is taken from the subject in hand, when he says -- by the meekness and gentleness of Christ. Calumniators took occasion to find fault with him, because his bodily presence was deficient in dignity, 6 and because, on the other hand, when at a distance, he thundered forth in his Epistles. Both calumnies he befittingly refutes, as has been said, but he declares here, that nothing delights him more than gentleness, which becomes a minister of Christ, and of which the Master himself furnished an example.
Learn of me, says he, for I am meek and lowly.
My yoke is easy and my burden is light.
(Matthew 11:29, 30.)
The Prophet also says of him,
His voice will not be heard in the streets:
a bruised reed he shall not break, etc. (Isaiah 42:2, 3.)
That gentleness, therefore, which Christ showed, he requires also from his servants. Paul, in making mention of it, intimates that he is no stranger to it. 7 "I earnestly beseech you not to despise that gentleness, which Christ showed us in his own person, and shows us every day in his servants, nay more, which ye see in me."
Who in presence. He repeats this, as if in the person of his adversaries, by way of imitating them 8 Now he confesses, so far as words go, what they upbraided him with, yet, as we shall see, in such a way as to concede nothing to them in reality.
2. I beseech you, that I may not be bold, when I am present. Some think, that the discourse is incomplete, and that he does not express the matter of his request. 9 I am rather of opinion, however, that what was wanting in the former clause is here completed, so that it is a general exhortation. "Show yourselves docile and tractable towards me, that I may not be constrained to be more severe." It is the duty of a good pastor to allure his sheep peacefully and kindly, that they may allow themselves to be governed, rather than to constrain them by violence. Severity, it is true, is, I acknowledge, sometimes necessary, but we must always set out with gentleness, and persevere in it, so long as the hearer shews himself tractable. 10 Severity must be the last resource. "We must," says he, "try all methods, before having recourse to rigor; nay more, let us never be rigorous, unless we are constrained to it." In the mean time, as to their reckoning themselves pusillanimous and timid, when he had to come to close quarters, he intimates that they were mistaken as to this, when he declares that he will stoutly resist face to face the contumacious 11 "They despise me," says he, "as if I were a pusillanimous person, but they will find that I am braver and more courageous than they could have wished, when they come to contend in good earnest." From this we see, when it is time to act with severity - after we have found, on trial being made, that allurements and mildness have no good effect. "I shall do it with reluctance," says Paul, "but still I have determined to do it." Here is an admirable medium; for as we must, in so far as is in our power, draw men rather than drive them, so, when mildness has no effect, in dealing with those that are stern and refractory, rigor must of necessity be resorted to: otherwise it will not be moderation, nor equableness of temper, but criminal cowardice. 12
3. For though we walk in the flesh.
being at home in the body. (2 Corinthians 5:6.)
For he was shut up in the prison of his body. This, however, did not prevent the influence of the Holy Spirit from showing itself marvelously in his weakness. There is here again a kind of concession, which, at the same time, is of no service to his adversaries.
carry an inestimable treasure in earthen vessels,
as he had previously said. (2 Corinthians 4:7.) Hence, however they may be surrounded with the infirmities of the flesh, the spiritual power of God, nevertheless, shines forth resplendently in them.
4. For the weapons of our warfare. The warfare corresponds with the kind of weapons. He glories in being furnished with spiritual weapons. The warfare, accordingly, is spiritual. Hence it follows by way of contraries, 18 that it is not
But by what weapons is he to be repelled? It is only by spiritual weapons that he can be repelled. Whoever, therefore, is unarmed with the influence of the Holy Spirit, however he may boast that he is a minister of Christ, will nevertheless, not prove himself to be such. At the same time, if you would have a full enumeration of spiritual weapons, doctrine must be conjoined with zeal, and a good conscience with the efficacy of the Spirit, and with other necessary graces. Let now the Pope go, and assume to himself the apostolic dignity 19 What could be more ridiculous, if our judgment is to be formed in accordance with the rule here laid down by Paul!
Mighty through God. Either according to God, or from God. I am of opinion, that there is here an implied antithesis, so that this strength is placed in contrast with the weakness which appears outwardly before the world, and thus, paying no regard to the judgments of men, he would seek from God approbation of his fortitude. 20 At the same time, the antithesis will hold good in another sense -- that the power of his arms depends upon God, not upon the world.
The moon shall be ashamed, and the sun shall be confounded,
when the Lord shall begin to reign in that day;
The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the high looks of mortals shall be abased, and the Lord alone shall be
exalted in that day.(Isaiah 5:15, and Isaiah 2:17)
Because, in order that God alone may shine forth, it is necessary that the glory of the world should vanish away.
5. And bring into captivity. I am of opinion, that, having previously spoken more particularly of the conflict of spiritual armor, along with the hinderances that rise up in opposition to the gospel of Christ, he now, on the other hand, speaks of the ordinary preparation, by which men must be brought into subjection to him. For so long as we rest in our own judgment, and are wise in our own estimation, we are far from having made any approach to the doctrine of Christ. Hence we must set out with this, that
he who is wise must become a fool, (1 Corinthians 3:18,)
that is, we must give up our own understanding, and renounce the wisdom of the flesh, and thus we must present our minds to Christ empty that he may fill them. Now the form of expression must be observed, when he says, that he brings every thought into captivity, for it is as though he had said, that the liberty of the human mind must be restrained and bridled, that it may not be wise, apart from the doctrine of Christ; and farther, that its audacity cannot be restrained by any other means, than by its being carried away, as it were, captive. Now it is by the guidance of the Spirit, that it is brought to allow itself to be placed under control, and remain in a voluntary captivity.
whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven. (Matthew 18:18.)
For although God does not thunder forth immediately on the minister's pronouncing the sentence, yet the decision is ratified, 24 and will be accomplished in its own time. Let it, however, be always understood, that it is when the minister fights with spiritual armor. Some understand it as referring to bodily punishments, by means of which the Apostles inflicted vengeance upon contumacious and impious persons; as for example, Peter struck Ananias and Sapphira dead, and Paul struck Elymas the sorcerer blind. (Acts 5:1-10, and Acts 13:6-11.) But the other meaning suits better, for the Apostles did not make use of that power invariably or indiscriminately. Paul, however, speaks in general terms that he has vengeance ready at hand against all the disobedient.
When your obedience shall be fulfilled. How prudently he guards against alienating any by excessive severity! For as he had threatened to inflict punishment upon the rebellious, that he may not seem to provoke them, he declares that another duty had been enjoined upon him with regard to them -- simply that of making them obedient to Christ. And, unquestionably, this is the proper intention of the gospel, as he teaches both in the commencement and in the close of the Epistle to the Romans. (Romans 1:5, and Romans 16:26.) Hence all Christian teachers ought carefully to observe this order, that they should first endeavor with gentleness to bring their hearers to obedience, so as to invite them kindly before proceeding to inflict punishment upon rebellion. 25 Hence, too, Christ 26 has given the commandment as to loosing before that of binding. 27
1 "Je vous exhorte, ou prie;" -- "I exhort or entreat you."
2 "Et reduisons en captiuite toute intelligence, ou, amenans conme prisonnier, toute," etc.; -- "And we bring into captivity every thought, or, leading forth as a prisoner every," etc.
3 "L'insolence et audace;" -- "The insolence and audacity."
4 "Vne hardiesse d'vn vanterau;" -- "The boldness of a braggadocio."
5 "Qu'il pense auoir toute authorite sur nous;" -- "That he thinks he has entire authority over us."
6 "Auoit bien peu de dignite et maieste en apparence;" -- "Had very little dignity and majesty in appearance"
7 "I1 n'est pas nouueau a la pratiquer;" -- "He is no stranger to the practice of it."
8 "En contrefaisant les propos qu'ils tenoyent de luy;" -- "By imitating the speeches that they uttered respecting him." -- See volume 1.
9 "Et le sens seroit, Ie vous prie, afin qu'il ne faille point vser de hardiesse;" -- "And the meaning would be, I beseech you, in order that I may not have occasion to use boldness."
10 "Docile et traittable;" -- "Teachable and tractable."
11 "Aux rebelles et obstinez;" -- "The rebellious and obstinate."
12 "Couardice ou nonchalance;" -- "Cowardice or indifference."
13 Wiclif (1380) renders it: "that demen" (i.e., judge) "us as if we wandren aftir the fleisch. Tyndale (1534,) Cranmer (1539,) and Geneva (1557,) read as follows: "which repute us as though we walked carnally." Rheims (1582) -- "which thinke us as though we walke according to the flesh." -- Ed.
14 "The sense is, 'I entreat, I say, that I may not have to be bold when I am present, with that confidence, wherewith I intend to be bold against certain, who regard me as walking after the flesh,' i.e., guided by worldly principles. There seems to be a paraniomasia in
15 "Nec satis recte (ut opinor) Chrysostomus
16 "Mais qui estoyent ceux qui le mesprisoyent ainsi?" -- "But who are those that despised him thus?"
17 "Tous vrais seruiteurs et ministres de Jesus Christ;" -- "All true servants and ministers of Jesus Christ."
18 "Par vn argument prins (comme on appelle) des choses contraires;" -- "By an argument taken (as the expression is) from things contrary."
19 "Qu'il s'attribue tant qu'il voudra le titre de dignite Apostolique;" -- "Let him assume to himself, as much as he pleases, the title of Apostolic dignity."
20 "Aiusi le sens seroit, que laissant la tousles jugemens des hommes, il se retireroit vers Dieu pour auoir approbation de sa force;" -- "Thus the meaning would be, that, disregarding all the judgments of men, he would direct his view God-ward to have approbation of his fortitude."
21 "The word here rendered strongholds (
22 "Des-rebelles et obstinez;" -- "Upon the rebellious and obstinate."
23 "Pour faire peur (comme on dit) aux petits enfans;" -- "To frighten (as they say) little children."
24 "Ferme et stable;" -- "Firm and stable."
25 "Auant qu'entrer a les menacer, et leur denoncer la peine de rebellion;" -- "Before proceeding to threaten them, and denounce upon them the punishment of rebellion."
26 "Et pour ceste cause Jesus Christ luy-mesme;" -- "And for this reason Jesus Christ himself."
27 "Calvin manifestly alludes here to John 20:23, in commenting on which he says, "As the embassy of salvation and of eternal life has been committed to the Apostles, so, on the other hand, they have been armed with vengeance against all the ungodly, who reject the salvation offered to them, as Paul teaches. (2 Cor. 10:6.) But this is placed in last order, because it was proper that the true and real design of preaching the gospel should be first exhibited. That we are reconciled to God belongs to the nature of the gospel; that believers are adjudged to eternal life may be said to be accidentally connected with it. For this reason, Paul, in the passage which I lately quoted, when he threatens vengeance against unbelievers, immediately adds -- after that your obedience shall have been fulfilled; (2 Cor 10:6;) for he means, that it belongs peculiarly to the gospel to invite all to salvation, but that it is accidental to it that it brings destruction to any." -- Calvin on John, vol. 2. p. 273. -- Ed.