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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 10

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

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Verses 1-11

Paul’s Defense Against False Charges In 2 Corinthians 10:1-11 Paul opens this argument as an apostle over the Corinthians by first defending himself against false charges of being weak and of poor speech. He boasts that his confidence is not in fleshly appearance, but in the power of God.

2 Corinthians 10:1 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:

2 Corinthians 10:1 Comments - In 2 Corinthians 10:1 Paul described himself as being humble among them, but bold when absent. Those who opposed Paul in the Corinthian church had accused him of being a weak individual, and scorned the way that he spoke to them. Paul quotes them in 2 Corinthians 10:10, “For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.”

2 Corinthians 10:2 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 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

2 Corinthians 10:3 Comments - The Kingdom of God was not a military force that was attempting to overthrow earthly rulers. Otherwise, Jesus would have had His disciples pull out their swords at his arrest. Rather, it was a spiritual kingdom. It fights its battles in the heavenlies. Yet, in A.D. 1100-1300, some parts of the Church, corrupted by man, launched many Crusades to fight for Jerusalem and take it from the Moslems, but they lost.

2 Corinthians 10:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

2 Corinthians 10:4 Comments Paul the apostle describes the weapons of our warfare in Ephesians 6:10-18 when he tells the church to put on the whole armor of God. He does not expound upon spiritual warfare in 2 Corinthians 10:4 simply because his emphasis was on bringing divine judgment upon false teachers. That is, Paul’s reference to spiritual warfare to the Corinthians serves a more practical purpose than doctrinal, as in Ephesians 6:10-18.

2 Corinthians 10:5 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;

2 Corinthians 10:5 “and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” Comments Randy Morrison says, “If you do not take control of your thoughts, your thoughts will take control of you.” [80]

[80] Randy Morrison, A Common Sense Approach to Life (Speak the Word Church International, Golden Valley, MN), Lighthouse Television, Kampala, Uganda, television program.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 Comments Tearing Down Strongholds - In 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 Paul lists a series of events in order to describe the process of tearing down strongholds. If we look at this list in reverse order, we can see how a stronghold develops in a person’s life. Satan begins his attack upon a human being by subtle thoughts to the mind. In the process of meditating upon these satanic thoughts, a person is foolishly allowing them to take priority over his knowledge of God’s ways. The process of meditating upon satanic thoughts leads to the mind creating imaginations, or images, which are thoughts that are carried out and developed in the realm of the mind. Once these imaginations are acceptable to the person, he begins to practice what he previously was only imagining. After practicing these habits enough times, they become demonic strong holds, by which a person becomes bound by particular ungodly habits. He has now become a servant of sin, and abandoned his knowledge of God.

2 Corinthians 10:6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

2 Corinthians 10:6 Comments - In 2 Corinthians 10:6 Paul says that when the church finished obeying what he was asking them to do, which was to prepare a sacrificial offering in chapters 8-9, then those who rejected his instructions could be dealt with. God gave Paul the authority to do this. He would then “revenge” all remaining disobedience in the church.

Why does Paul want their obedience fulfilled before punishing those who will not obey. He seems to be giving the entire body of believers an opportunity, or time, to repent. He will then punish those who do not take advantage of this grace Paul gives them to repent. He had explained to them in his first epistle that if they would judge themselves, then they would not be judged (1 Corinthians 11:31-32). Thus, Paul is following this divine principle that he established in the church.

1 Corinthians 11:31-32, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”

Paul will justify his right of authority to judge the Corinthians in the following chapters (10-13) in order to persuade all church members to obey, or suffer punishment. In these chapters Paul will confront the issue of “false apostles” who were attempting to take over the church at Corinth.

Once you become obedient, it becomes your responsibility to punish the disobedience in the Church. Another way to say this is, “first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.” (Matthew 7:5)

Scripture References - Note other verses that reveal Paul's authority:

2 Corinthians 10:8, “For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:”

2 Corinthians 12:21, “And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.”

2 Corinthians 13:10, “Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.”

1 Timothy 1:20, “Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.”

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 Comments - Spiritual Warfare 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 describes the spiritual warfare that every believer is to partake of in order to walk in victory.

1. Defining - Jack Taylor says that the term “stronghold” is a military term synonymous with the word “fortress.” The root verb means, “to make firm.” In military language, it refers to an area where the enemy is entrenched. In spiritual terms, it is a place where the enemy, the Devil, is entrenched. A stronghold is an area of thought, a fixation in the mind, a complex which occupies a vital area of thinking. It may be mostly the subconscious.

2. Detecting - Compulsions, obsessions, fixations, recurring involuntary thought processes, fear, hate, jealousy, temper, a driving, aggressive spirit, lust, appetite urges, indecision, lack of self-restraint, impatience.

3. Demolishing:

a. The Word of God:

Ephesians 6:17, “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:”

b. The name of Jesus and His blood:

Revelation 12:11, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”

Weapons do four things:

1. Pull down strongholds

2. Cast down imaginations

3. Pull down high things

4. Bring into captivity of every though to the obedience of Christ. [81]

[81] Jack Taylor, “Sermon,” Fort Worth, Texas.

2 Corinthians 10:8 “which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction” Comments - The disciples wanted to misuse this authority to destroy others in Luke 9:54-56, but Jesus corrected them in love:

Luke 9:54-56, “And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.”

Verses 1-18

Paul Defends and Exercises His Apostolic Authority 2 Corinthians 10:1 to 2 Corinthians 13:10 forms the third and last major division of the epistle of 2 Corinthians. In this section Paul defends his apostolic authority over the churches he had founded. Now, for those in Corinth who will be reconciled to Paul as their spiritual authority, he gives them a charge of giving an offering to the poor saints in Jerusalem in order to prove their sincerity and to steer them into a deeper, more sacrificial walk with the Lord (2 Corinthians 8:1 to 2 Corinthians 9:15). For those who are still rebellious, Paul will execute his divine authority over them in these last four chapters of his epistle (2 Corinthians 10:1 to 2 Corinthians 13:10). In this section Paul will declare his apostolic authority (2 Corinthians 10:1-18), then boast in his credentials (2 Corinthians 11:1 to 2 Corinthians 12:13), and finally execute his office as an apostle and set those who are rebellious in order (2 Corinthians 12:14 to 2 Corinthians 13:10).

Outline - Note the proposed outline:

1. Paul Declares His Authority 2 Corinthians 10:1-18

a) Paul’s Defense Against False Charges 2 Corinthians 10:1-11

b) Paul’s Claim to Apostleship 2 Corinthians 10:12-18

2. Paul Boasts of His Credentials 2 Corinthians 11:1 to 2 Corinthians 12:21

a) Mental: A Godly Lifestyle 2 Corinthians 11:1-15

b) Physical: Jewish Ancestry & Christian Suffering 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

c) Spiritual: Revelations & Miracles 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

d) Final Plea 2 Corinthians 12:11-13

3. Paul Executes His Authority 2 Corinthians 12:14 to 2 Corinthians 13:10

Identifying Paul’s Opponents In 2 Corinthians 10:1 to 2 Corinthians 13:10 Paul exercises his apostolic authority over those dissidents in the church at Corinth. The traditional view sees these opponents as Jewish emissaries sent from the Church of Jerusalem to bring all Churches under its leadership. (For example, we see the Jewish leaders sending servants to John the Baptist [John 1:19-28 ] and Jesus Christ [John 7:32-53 ] during their public ministries to inquire about them or to challenge them or to seize them. Saul of Tarsus was sent out to various cities with authority from Jewish leaders in Jerusalem to carry out instructions in foreign synagogues.) These Jews had accused Paul of being fickle when he changed his travel plans (2 Corinthians 1:17), of needing a letter of commendation as was commonly used by others (2 Corinthians 3:1), of being weak and of poor speech (2 Corinthians 10:1; 2 Corinthians 10:10) and of not having proper clerical credentials (2 Corinthians 10:12). Paul will reply by revealing them as those who corrupt the Word of God (2 Corinthians 2:17), as ministers of the old, less glorious covenant (2 Corinthians 3:1-18) while masquerading as ministers of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:23), as being bold and overconfident (2 Corinthians 11:21) and as someone who was overstepping into another’s domain (2 Corinthians 10:3-16).

It is interesting to note that when Paul gives evidence of his office of an apostle and authority over the Corinthians that he does not appeal to letters of commendation from men. Rather, he appeals to the sufferings he has endured for Christ’s sake as the seal of God’s hand at work in his life and to the visions and revelations that he has received from God.

These adversaries looked upon Paul’s outward appearance and as a result challenged his physical appearance and his speech (2 Corinthians 10:7-11). Paul warns them not to look at things as they appear, but according to the divine power entrusted unto Him by God to carry out discipline to the churches (2 Corinthians 10:1-6).

He does not rely upon letters of commendation from men (2 Corinthians 10:12), which implies that his adversaries had done so. This would suggest Jews, who sent representatives to their synagogues throughout the Empire with such letters. Nor does he boast about work started by others (2 Corinthians 10:13-15 a), which implies that his adversaries had encroached upon his work in the Lord. He hopes that the Corinthians will approve him (2 Corinthians 10:15-16), and he relies upon approval from the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:17-18).

Perhaps our clearest hint as to the identity of Paul’s adversaries is found in his statement, “Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.” (2 Corinthians 11:22). Thus, they prided themselves in being Jewish. His next statement, “Are they ministers of Christ?” (2 Corinthians 11:23) implies that these were Jews who had embraced Christ as the Messiah. These Jewish converts seem to have been on a mission; for the idea that they were Jewish emissaries is implied in the statement, “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus,” (2 Corinthians 11:4) and in Paul’s statement, “or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you.” (2 Corinthians 3:1) These Jews had apparently brought with them letters of commendation to Corinth, perhaps from the church at Jerusalem, or even some leading synagogue. When Paul says, “For such are false apostles,” (2 Corinthians 11:13) we sense that this group of Jews carried Christian titles with which they had been commissioned by those that sent them. They made some sort of claims to be ministers of righteousness; for Paul says, “Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness,” (2 Corinthians 11:15). They claimed in some way to be ministers of Christ; for Paul says, “Are they ministers of Christ?” (2 Corinthians 11:23) They seemed to be different in the Judaizers that troubled the Galatian churches in that we find no reference in 2 Corinthians to their interest circumcision, in the keeping of the Sabbath or other holy days and in laws of purification.

2 Corinthians 11:13 suggests that these adversaries of Paul entered the church of Corinth cloaked with letters of recommendation from those who sent them. They came with the titles of “apostles.” Within Jewish circles, an “apostle” was not a title used in the specialized sense of the word to mean a missionary who was anointed and sent out by the elders of a local Church to evangelize the heathen world; but rather, it was used in the normal, more general, secular sense of the Hebrew word “shaliah,” which was an agent of those who commissioned him. These Jews were originally given the charge to unite the Jews of the Diaspora with the religious circles seated in Jerusalem. These Jewish Christians came to Corinth cloaked with the title of an apostle while believing that they were sent with just as much, or more, authority as Paul carried in his ministry.

Thus, Paul attempts to tell the Corinthians rather bluntly that such emissaries are “false apostles”, meaning that they did not carry the true office of an apostle that Christ Jesus placed within the Church. Paul says that they were “deceitful workers” because their motives were not pure. Perhaps they were sent to unite the Gentile churches under the authority of one leading church in Jerusalem. We can only speculate as to who sent them. He explains that they were “transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” because of the confusion brought when they attempted to identify themselves with the true office of an apostle. They too, were sent out from a church. They too, agreed with the Gospel message that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. I am sure these “false apostles” made their appealed to the believers in Corinth with many such comparisons. Thus, they attempted to transform themselves into apostles of Christ.

The Sorrowful Letter Many scholars suggest that 2 Corinthians 10:1 to 2 Corinthians 13:14 contains a part of an earlier letter that Paul wrote to the church at Corinth called the “Sorrowful Letter,” mentioned in 2 Corinthians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:8-9. They suggest that this portion of 2 Corinthians is out of place with the first nine chapters. The basis for this suggestion is that 2 Corinthians 10-13 is filled with criticism and abuse, while 2 Corinthians 1-9 is characterized by gratitude for a restored relationship with Paul and deep affection for the Corinthians. However, conservative scholars make a strong case for the unity of 2 Corinthians.

Verses 12-18

Paul’s Claim to Apostleship over the Corinthians In 2 Corinthians 10:12-18 Paul declares that his boastings of spiritual matters extends unto the Corinthians. Another way to state this is to say that the fleshly boastings from his opponents have encroached upon his spiritual domain. His minister went into new regions and territories not claimed by other Christian ministers. Now, these “false apostles” have encroached into his territory and claimed their right to be the true spiritual leaders. This reminds us of a story in the book of Genesis when Jacob uncovered his father’s wells, which had been covered up by the local people (Genesis 26:18-22). Each time he uncovered a well his adversaries would come and claim it as their own. He relocated and dug until he found a place where his adversaries did not follow. There he found enough space between himself and his enemies.

2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

2 Corinthians 10:12 Comments - We cannot compromise by comparing our lifestyles to others. This is where many people fall into the ditch as they follow the standards of others. Christ set the standard. There are those men and women of God who serve as examples, but Christ is our only standard. The Lord spoke to Joyce Meyer about this issue of looking at what others are doing by saying, “You have asked me for a lot. Do you want it or not?” [82]

[82] Joyce Meyer, Life in the Word (Fenton, Missouri: Joyce Meyer Ministries), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

When we compare ourselves with others, we either consider ourselves better or worse than them. Either path of thought takes you down the wrong path.

2 Corinthians 10:18 Comments - In 2 Corinthians 10:18 Paul explains that the true test of a minister of Jesus Christ comes from divine commendations, from the Lord working in and through such ministers. Therefore, in the following passages Paul will boast in how the Lord has commended him as a genuine apostle to the Corinthians.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/2-corinthians-10.html. 2013.
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