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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 10

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

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Verse 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:

I Paul myself - no longer "we," "us," "our" (2 Corinthians 9:11). But (so Greek: But, while I deal thus tenderly with you, I can and will exercise authority) I who am represented as "base," etc. I, the same Paul, of my own accord, "exhort" you for your sake [ parakaloo (G3870)]. As I "beseech you" [a distinct Greek verb, deomai (G1189): 2 Corinthians 10:2 ] for my sake. Eunnerling thinks Paul here began to write with his own hand. His expressing "I Paul myself" implies condescending tenderness; apostle of the world though he be, he humbly craves as a personal favour what is their own interest.

By the meekness and gentleness of Christ. He mentions these graces especially (Psalms 18:35; Matthew 11:29), as for his imitation of them in particular he was despised. He shows that, though he must have recourse to more severe measures, he is naturally inclined to gentle ones, after Christ's example. "Meekness" [ prautees (G4240)] is more in the mind; "gentleness" [ epieikeia (G1932)] in the external behaviour, and in relation to others, as the yieldingness of a superior to an inferior, the former not insisting on his strict rights (Trench). Bengel, '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 Greek word is not applied to Him, the idea is (cf. Isaiah 40:11; Matthew 12:19-20).

In presence - in personal appearance when present with you.

Base, [ tapeinos (G5011)] - 'lowly,' timid, opposed to "bold." "Am" stands here, by ironical concession, for 'am reputed' (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:10).

Verse 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.

But - resuming the 'but' (Greek), 2 Corinthians 10:1.

I beseech you - as I can beseech in letters, so I can be severe in presence.

That I may not be - that I may not have to be bold, fearless [ tharreesai (G2292)], etc.

With that confidence - a soft word for authoritative sternness.

I think - I reckon on being bold ('audacious:' Paul's adversaries said he would not have the audacity to rebuke them [ tolmeesai (G5111)]; a distinct Greek word from "bold" above) against some who reckon concerning us as if, etc. The same verb is ironically repeated [ logizomai (G3049), logizomenous (G3049)].

As if we walked according to the flesh. His Corinthian detractors judged of him by themselves, as if he were influenced by fleshly motives, desire of favour, or fear of offending, so as not to exercise his authority.

Verse 3

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

For. Reason why they should regard him 'beseeching' them (2 Corinthians 10:2) not to oblige him to have recourse to "bold" exercise of authority. "We walk IN the flesh," and so in weakness; but not "ACCORDING TO the flesh" (2 Corinthians 10:2): though we WALK in it, we do not WAR according to it. A double contrast. They had better not put us to the proof that we neither walk nor war according to the flesh.

Verse 4

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

Confutation of those who propagate their creed by persecution (cf. Luke 9:54-56).

Carnal. Translate, 'fleshly,' to preserve the allusion to 2 Corinthians 10:2-3, Weapons - for punishing not those without, but offenders in the Church (2 Corinthians 10:6; 1 Corinthians 4:21; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Corinthians 5:13); namely, boldness of speech, ecclesiastical discipline (2 Corinthians 10:8; 2 Corinthians 13:10), the Word, the sacraments, and the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit.

Mighty through God - Greek, 'mighty to God;' i:e., before God: divinely mighty. The power is not ours, but God's. Compare 'fair to God' - i:e., divinely fair (margin, Acts 7:20). Also 2 Corinthians 2:15. 'The efficacy of Christianity proves its truth' (Bengel) (2 Timothy 1:7).

Pulling down, [ kathairesin (G2506)]. The Greek is the same as 2 Corinthians 10:5, "casting down." Compare Jeremiah 1:10.

Strongholds (Proverbs 21:22) - namely, in which sinners entrench themselves against reproof: all that opposes Christ; the learning, eloquence, and philosophical subtleties, the pride of the Corinthians. So Joshua's trumpet-blast cast down Jericho's walls.

("We," 2 Corinthians 10:3)

Verse 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;

Casting down imaginations - a word alluding to 'reckon' (2 Corinthians 10:2), 'reckonings' [ logismous (G3053)], calculating 'reasonings.' Whereas "thought" [ noeema (G3540)] expresses men's own device, intent of living after their own will.

High thing, [ hupsooma (G5313)]. So it ought to be translated, Romans 8:39: distinct Greek from Ephesians 3:18, "height" [ hupsos (G5311)], and Revelation 21:16, which belongs to God and heaven, 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 (Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12).

Exalteth itself. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 supports the English version [so Vulgate: epairomenon (G1869), 'extollentem se'], rather than it 'lifted up.' Such were the high towers of Judaic self-righteousness, philosophic speculations, and rhetorical sophistries, the "knowledge" so much prized by many, which opposed the "knowledge of God" at Corinth. True knowledge makes men humble. Where self is exalted God is not known. Arrange: 'Bringing every thought [i:e., intent of the mind: noeema (G3540)] into captivity to the obedience of Christ' - i:e., to obey Christ. The apostle's spiritual warfare

(1) demolishes what is opposed to Christ;

(2) leads captive;

(3) brings into obedience to Christ (Romans 1:5; Romans 16:26) (3) brings into obedience to Christ (Romans 1:5; Romans 16:26).

The 'reasonings,' "imaginations," are 'cast down.' The 'mental intents,' 'thoughts,' are made willing captives, rendering the voluntary obedience of faith to Christ the conqueror.

Verse 6

And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

Translate, 'Having ourselves (i:e., being) in readiness to exact punishment for all disobedience,' etc.

When your obedience ... He charitably assumes that the Corinthian church will act obediently; therefore he says "YOUR obedience." But as some will act otherwise, in order to give all an opportunity of joining the obedient, he waits (not prematurely exacting punishment) until the full number of those who obey Christ has been 'completed,' and the remainder have proved incorrigible. He had acted already so at Corinth (Acts 18:6-11: cf. Exodus 32:34; Matthew 13:28-30).

Verse 7

Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's.

Do ye regard mere outward appearance-person, voice, manner, oratory, presence face to face, such as they admired in the false teachers, to the disparagement of absent Paul? (2 Corinthians 10:10; note, 2 Corinthians 5:12.) Even in outward bearing when present (in contrast to "by letters," 2 Corinthians 10:9), I will show you that I more really have the authority of Christ than those who arrogate the title of being peculiarly 'Christ's' (1 Corinthians 1:12). Billroth objects that what follows-namely, being or not being Christ's-is not a question of outward appearance. He translates, 'Behold what is before your eyes-namely, what I have done in founding your church' (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:14). But the former interpretation does not make BEING Christ's a question of outward appearance, but one EVIDENCED by it.

Let him of himself think this again. He may "of himself," without having to be taught it in a more severe manner, by 'thinking again,' reach "this" conclusion, 'that even as,' etc. Paul modestly demands for himself only an equal place with his spiritual children.

Verse 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:

'For even though I boast somewhat exceedingly (2 Corinthians 10:3-6) of our (apostolic) authority (2 Corinthians 13:10) ... I shall not be put to shame' (by the fact; my authority shall not be proved abortive by my threats failing to be carried into effect).

For edification, and not for your destruction - Greek, 'for building up ... not for ... CASTING DOWN' [ kathairesin (G2506), as in 2 Corinthians 10:5 ]; the image of a building, Though we 'cast down reasonings,' this is not in order to destroy, but to build up, by removing hindrances to edification, testing what is unsound, and putting together all that is true in the building (Chrysostom).

Verse 9

That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.

Billroth: 'I say this (that our authority is for your edification, not destruction) lest I should seem to frighten you.' But what Paul wished to refute was, not the idea of his severity, but that of his terrifying only "by letters" (2 Corinthians 10:10), and not executing his threats in fact. 'I shall not be shamed by the non-fulfillment of my threats when present (2 Corinthians 10:8), that I may not seem as if my aim was only to frighten you with threatening letters' (2 Corinthians 10:11).

Verse 10

For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.

Letters - therefore there had been already more letters (plural) of Paul received by the Corinthians than the one we have-namely, 1 Corinthians. They contained strong reproofs.

Say they. 'Aleph (') Delta G f read 'says one;' "such an one"(2 Corinthians 10:11) points to some definite individual. [But B g, Vulgate, read 'say they:' feesin (G5346).]. Compare Galatians 5:10: a similar slanderer was in the Galatian church.

Weak (1 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 12:7). There was nothing of majesty in his manner. He bore himself tremblingly among them, whereas the false teachers spoke with authoritative bearing.

Verse 11

Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present.

Think this - `consider this.'

Verse 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.

'We do not presume (irony.) to judge ourselves among, or in comparison with, some of them that command themselves.' The charge brought against him of commending himself (2 Corinthians 3:1; 2 Corinthians 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 on the roll (Wahl).

Measuring themselves by themselves - `among themselves,' to correspond to the previous 'judge ourselves among them.' Instead of 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, [ ou (G3756) suniasin (G4920), A B C: sunisasin, 'Aleph (')] - with all their boasted "wisdom" (1 Corinthians 1:19-26).

Verse 13

But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.

Not boast of things without our measure, [ eis (G1519) ta (G3588) ametra (G280)] - 'to unmeasured bounds'. There is no limit to a man's self-conceit so long as he measures himself by himself (2 Corinthians 10:13) and his fellows, and not with his superiors. It marks the personal character of this letter that "boast" occurs 29 times in it, and only 26 times in all the other letters. Undeterred by the charge of vanity, he must vindicate his apostolic authority by facts (Conybeare). It would be to "boast of things without our measure" were we to boast of conversions made by "other men's labours" (2 Corinthians 10:15).

Distributed assigned Distributed - assigned.

A measure to reach - `that, as our measure, we should reach as far as even to you;' not that he meant to go no further (2 Corinthians 10:16; Romans 15:20-24). Paul's "measure is the apportionment of his sphere of Gospel labours ruled 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 letter here incidentally, and therefore undesignedly, confirms the independent history, the Acts, which represents Corinth as the extreme limit as yet at which he stopped, after he had from Phillipi passed southward successively through Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens (Paley).

Verse 14

For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ:

'We are not stretching ourselves beyond our measure, as if we should not have come unto you; for as far as even to you have we in fact come in preaching the Gospel.' The fact and the effect produced proves that Corinth is within the measure assigned to me by God. So 'Aleph (') Delta G f g, Vulgate. But B omits "not;" then read interrogatively, Do we stretch ourselves, etc.? Certainly not.

Verse 15

Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly,

Not boasting to unmeasured bounds of (literally, 'in') other men's labours.

When - `AS your faith goes on increasing' [ auxanomenees (G837) tees (G3588) pisteoos (G4102)]. The cause of his not yet reaching the regions beyond Corinth was the weakness as yet of their faith. He desired not to leave them before the proper time, yet not to put off preaching to others too long.

Enlarged by you, [ en (G1722) humin (G5213)] - 'in your case.' Our success in your case will be an important step toward further progress beyond (2 Corinthians 10:16). Calvin makes the balance of the opposite clauses better, 'Having hope that, as your faith goes on increasing among yourselves [ en (G1722) humin (G5213)], we may be magnified according to our rule abundantly,' by preaching beyond you: a gain at once to both parties, them and Paul.

According to our rule - our divinely-assigned sphere of work; for "we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure" (2 Corinthians 10:14). Abundantly - Greek, 'unto exceeding abundance,' so as to exceed the limits yet reached (2 Corinthians 10:16).

Verse 16

To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand.

To - i:e., so as to preach ... beyond you (and) not to boast, etc.

In another man's line of things made ready to our hand. Do not connect "line of things," etc.; but 'boast of things,' etc. Arrange, 'Not to boast as to things (already made by the preaching of others) ready to our hand in another man's line' (i:e., within the sphere apportioned by God to another).

Verse 17

But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Glorieth. Translate, to accord with 2 Corinthians 10:16, 'boasteth.' In contrast to his opponents' boasting in another's sphere Paul declares the only true boasting is in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:31; 1 Corinthians 15:10).

Verse 18

For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.

Is approved - stands the test of the final trial [ Dokimos (G1384)]: a metaphor from testing metals (Romans 16:10; 1 Corinthians 11:19). On the other hand, those finally rejected by the Lord are termed 'reprobate silver" (Jeremiah 6:30).

Whom the Lord commendeth - to whom the Lord has given, as His "letter of commendation," the believers whom he was instrumental in converting; as was Paul's case (2 Corinthians 3:1-3).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/2-corinthians-10.html. 1871-8.
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