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Bible Commentaries

Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

2 Corinthians 10

Verse 1

1. ] δέ marks the transition to a new subject, and αὐτός points on to the personal characteristics mentioned below, ‘Ego idem Paulus, qui …;’ the words ἐγὼ Παῦλος setting his Apostolic dignity in contrast with the depreciation which follows. Sometimes however we have αὐτός used, where the only object seems to be to bring out the personality more strongly : so 1 Thessalonians 3:11 ; 1Th 4:16 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:23 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:16 ; 2 Thessalonians 3:16 . See also Romans 7:25 ; and ch. 2 Corinthians 12:13 : and such may be the case here: but the ὅς rather favours the former interpretation.

διὰ τ . πρ . κ . ἐπ .] as in Romans 12:1 , using the meekness and gentleness of Christ ( Mat 11:29-30 ) as a motive whereby he conjures them . And most appropriately: he beseeches them by the gentleness of Christ, not to compel him to use towards them a method of treatment so alien from that gentleness: “Remember how gentle my Master was, and force not me His servant to be otherwise towards you.”

πραΰτης , lenitas, virtus magis absoluta: ἐπιείκεια , æquitas, magis refertur ad alios,” Bengel. See many examples in Wetst.

ὃς κατὰ πρός .] Who in personal appearance indeed (am) mean among you (he appropriates concessively, but at the same time with some irony, so Chrys. Hom. xxi. p. 583, κατ ʼ εἰρωνείαν φησί , τὰ ἐκείνων φθεγγόμενος , the imputation by which his adversaries strove to lessen the weight of his letters.

κατὰ πρ . is not a Hebraism: Wetst. quotes several instances of its usage by Polybius), but when absent am bold (severe, outspoken in blame) towards you;

Verses 1-6

1 6. ] He assures them of the spiritual nature, and power, of his apostolic office: and prays them not to make it necessary for him to use such authority against his traducers at his coming .

Verses 1-18


Verse 2

2. ] but (however this may be, assuming this character of me to be true or not, as you please; or, notwithstanding that I may have been hitherto ταπεινός among you) I pray (you) (not, God , as Bengel (1), al.) that I may not ( τὸ μή sets the object of δέομαι in a stronger light, see reff.) when present (‘as I intend to be:’ ‘ at my next visit ’) have to be bold (see above) with the confidence (official peremptoriness, and reliance on my authority) with which I reckon ( am minded : not passive, ‘ am reckoned ,’ as Vulg., Luther, Beza, Estius, Bengel, al., which, as Meyer remarks, would naturally require ἀπών with τολμῆσαι to be bold towards [against] some, (namely) those who reckon (of) us as walking according to the flesh ( περιπατεῖν κατὰ σάρκα is well explained by Estius, ‘hoc est, secundum carnales et humanos affectus vitam et actiones instituere.… Putabaut enim Paulum, quando præsens erat, sive captandæ gratiæ causa, sive quod timeret offendere, vel simili affectu humano prohibitum fuisse, ne potestatem exerceret, quam absens per literas venditabat’).

Verse 3

3. ] The γάρ here shews that this verse is not the refutation of the charge κατὰ σάρκα περιπατεῖν , but a reason rendered for the δέομαι above; and ἐν σαρκί and κατὰ σάρκα allude only to the charge just mentioned. This indeed is shewn by the use, and enlargement in 2 Corinthians 10:4-47.10.6 , of στρατευόμεθα , instead of περιπατοῦμεν : they who accuse us of walking after the flesh, shall find that we do not war after the flesh: therefore compel us not to use our weapons.

ἐν σαρ . γ . περιπ .] Although we walk in the flesh , i.e. are found in the body, yet we do not take our apostolic weapons from the flesh do not make its rule our rule of warfare.

Verse 4

4. ] Enlargement of the idea in στρατευόμεθα . If the warfare were according to the flesh, its weapons would be carnal; whereas now, as implied, they are spiritual, δυνατὰ τῷ θεῷ , powerful in the sight of God (i.e. ‘ in His estimation,’ ‘after His rule of warfare .’ It is not a Hebraism: see on ref. Acts; and for the dat., Winer, edn. 6, § 31. 4. Some render it, ‘ by means of God ,’ Beza, Grot., Estius, Bengel, al.: others, ‘ for God ,’ God’s means of shewing his power, Billroth, al., but wrongly) in order to pulling down of strongholds (see ref. Prov. So Philo de Abrah. § 38, vol. ii. p. 32, τὸν ἐπιτειχισμὸν τῶν ἐναντίων δοξῶν καθαιρεῖν , see also de Confus. ling. § 26, vol. i. p. 424. Cf. Stanley: who thinks that recollections of the Mithridatic and piratical wars may have contributed to this imagery.

The second of these, not more than sixty years before the Apostle’s birth, and in the very scene of his earlier years, was ended by the reduction of 120 strongholds, and the capture of more than 10,000 prisoners).

Verse 5

5. ] The nom. καθαιροῦντες refers to ἡμεῖς , the implied subject of 2 Corinthians 10:4 ; this verse carrying on the figure in ὀχυρωμάτων . By λογισμούς he means, as Chrys., p. 585, τὸν τῦφον τὸν Ἑλληνικόν , καὶ τῶν σοφισμάτων κ . τῶν συλλογισμῶν τὴν ἰσχύν : but not only these: every towering conceit κατὰ σάρκα is also included.

κ . πᾶν ὕψ .] And every lofty edifice (fortress or tower) which is being raised (or, raising itself) against the knowledge of God (i.e. the true knowledge of Him in the Gospel: not subjective here, but taken objectively, the comparata being human knowledge , as lifted up against the knowledge of God, i.e. the Gospel itself), and leading captive every intent of the mind (not ‘ thought ,’ as E. V.: not intellectual subjection here , but that of the will , is intended) into subjection to Christ (in the figure he treats ἡ ὑπακοὴ τ . χριστοῦ , the new state into which the will is brought by its subjection, as the country into which it is led captive : compare Luk 21:24 ).

Verse 6

6. ] But perhaps some will not thus be subjected. In that case we are ready to inflict punishment on them: but not till every opportunity has been given them to join the ranks of the obedient; when your obedience (stress on ὑμῶν ) shall have been completed . He does not mention any persons not the disobedient , but every (case of) disobedience , and throws out ὑμεῖς into strong relief, as charitably embracing all, or nearly all, those to whom he was writing. Lachmann, strangely, and as it seems to me most absurdly, puts a period at παρακοήν , and joins ὅταν πληρωθῇ ὑμ . ἡ ὑπακοή , τὰ κατὰ πρόσωπον βλεπετε . More complete ignorance of the Apostle’s style, and non-appreciation of the fine edge of his hortatory irony, can hardly be evinced, than this.

Verses 7-11

7 11. ] He takes them on their own ground. They had looked on his outward appearance and designated it as mean. Well then, he says: ‘ do ye regard outward appearance ? even on that ground I will shew you that I am an Apostle I will bear out the severity of my letters: I will demonstrate myself to be as much Christ’s, as those who vaunt themselves to be especially His.’ This rendering suits the context best, and keeps the sense of κατὰ πρόσωπον in 2 Corinthians 10:1 . The imperative rendering of Vulg., Ambrose, Theophyl., Billr., Rück., Olsh., De Wette, al., ‘ look at the things before your eyes ,’ is objectionable (Meyer), (1) from altering the meaning of κατὰ πρόσωπον : (2) because it gives too tame a sense for the energy of the passage: (3) because βλέπετε generally in such sentences, in Paul’s style, comes first, see 1 Corinthians 1:26 ; 1 Corinthians 10:18 ; Philippians 3:2 (3ce); Colossians 4:17 . Another way, is to take it as said without a question, but indicatively. So Chrys., Calvin, ‘Magni facitis alios qui magnis ampullis turgent, me, quia ostentatione et jactantia careo, despicitis.’ But in that case, surely some further intimation would have been given of such a sentiment than merely these words, the break after which, without any connecting particle, would thus be exceedingly harsh. Others again fancifully mix up with κατὰ πρόσωπ . the supposed characteristics of the (?) Christ-party , the having seen Christ in the flesh: the being headed by James the brother of the Lord, &c. &c.

εἴ τις .…] If any one believes himself to belong to Christ (lit. ‘ trusts in himself to belong .’

From 1 Corinthians 1:12 , it certainly was one line taken by the adversaries of the Apostle to boast of a nearer connexion with, a more direct obedience to, Christ, in contradistinction to Paul: and to this mind among them he here alludes), let him reckon this again out of his own mind (i.e. let him think afresh, and come to a conclusion obvious to any one’s common sense ( ἀφ ʼ ἑαυτοῦ ) and not requiring any extraneous help to arrive at it), that as he is Christ’s, so also are we (that whatever intimate connexion with or close service of Christ he professes, such, and no less, is mine).

Verses 7-12

7 12:21. ] A digression, in which he vindicates his apostolic dignity, his fruitfulness in energy and in sufferings, and the honour put on him by the Lord in revelations made to him .

Verse 8

8. ] This is shewn to be so. Even more boasting than he had ever yet made of his apostolic power, would not disgrace him, but would be borne out by the fact. For if we were to boast ( ἐάν is not concessive, but hypothetical, as in 1 Corinthians 13:1 .

τε γάρ generally has a corresponding clause following, with τε , καί , δέ , or ἤ , as Eur. Phoen. 1313, ἐμός τε γὰρ παῖς γῆς ὄλωλ ʼ ὑπερθανών , … βοᾷ δὲ δῶμα πᾶν , so in reff. and Thucyd. i. 12 bis, but sometimes the corresponding clause is wanting, being understood, or, as apparently here and in Hebrews 2:11 , allowed to pass out of mind while following out the thought of the first clause. See Hartung, Partikellehre, i. 115. 5) somewhat more abundantly (than we have ever done: or than in 2Co 10:3-6 ) concerning our power which the Lord has given for building you up and not for pulling you down ( καὶ πῶς φησι , λογισμοὺς καθαιροῦντες ; ὅτι αὐτὸ τοῦτο μάλιστα οἰκοδομῆς εἶδός ἐστι , τὸ τὰ κωλύματα ἀναιρεῖν , καὶ τὰ σαθρὰ διελέγχειν , καὶ τὰ ἀληθῆ συντιθέναι ἐν οἰκοδομῇ . Chrys. Hom. xxii. p. 589), I shall not be put to shame ( οὐ δειχθήσομαι ψευδόμενος οὐδὲ ἀλαζονευόμενος , Chrys. ib.).

Verse 9

9. ] follows on 2 Corinthians 10:8 , but requires some clause to be supplied such as ‘And I say this,’ or the like. Meyer would join it immediately to αἰσχυνθ ., and regard it as the purpose to be served by the fact verifying his boast . But as De W. observes, a particular result like this can hardly be bound on to a general assertion like that of 2 Corinthians 10:8 . To suppose the purpose of Paul’s boast of apostolic power being borne out, to be merely ἵνα μὴ δόξω , &c., would be out of keeping with the importance of the fact. So that ἵνα μὴ δόξω is much better taken subjectively I say this, because I wish not to seem, &c. ὡς ἄν , as Vulg. ‘tanquam terrere vos.’ It takes off the harshness of ἐκφοβεῖν . “ ὡς ἄν in later (? see ref.) Greek, has the sense of ‘quasi, tanquam,’ ἄν losing its proper force, in a commonly current expression; and the sense is much the same as that of ὡς alone.” Meyer. Winer takes ὡς ἂν ἐκφοβεῖν as = ὡς ἂν ἐκφοβοῖμι , edn. 6, § 42. 6 (but see Moulton’s note, p. 390, 1, who prefers the account given above), and is followed by Olsh., but this, in the presence of the above idiom, is unnecessary.

διὰ τῶν ἐπιστολῶν ] He had written two before this, see 1 Corinthians 5:9 ; but this is not necessarily here implied: for he may reckon this which he is now writing. Still less can we infer hence that a third had been written before this (Bleek).

Verse 10

10. ] φησίν , taken by Winer (edn. 6, § 58. 9. b . [ β ]), De W., and Meyer, as impersonal heißt es , ‘ men say :’ but why should not the τις of 2 Corinthians 10:7 , and ὁ τοιοῦτος of 2 Corinthians 10:11 , be the subject?

βαρεῖαι ] see in Wetst., definitions from the rhetoricians of βαρύτης in discourse. Among other illustrations of it, Aristides mentions ὅταν τι ἄτοπον ἑαυτῷ καταράσῃ · οἷον , τεθνάναι μᾶλλονταῦτ ʼ εἰρηκέναι βούλομαι (see 1Co 9:15 ), and ὅταν εἰς κρίσιν ἀγάγῃς τῶν τεθνεώτων ἐνδόξων , … οἷον , πηλίκον ἂν στενάξαιεν οἱ πρόγονοι (see 1Co 15:18 ).

παρουσία ἀσθενής ] No countenance is given by these words to the idea that Paul was of weak physical constitution, or short in stature. His own explanation of them is sufficient as given in 1 Corinthians 2:1 ff. It is, that when he was present among them, he brought, not the strength of presence or words of the carnal teachers, but abjured all such influence and in fear and trembling preached Christ crucified. It was this, and not weakness of voice, which made his λόγος to be ἐξουθενημένος . At the same time, the contrast being between his epistles and his word of mouth , his authority as unaccompanied or accompanied by his presence, it must be assumed, that there was something (see on ch. 2Co 12:7 ) which discommended his appearance and delivery. See the traditional authorities for the Apostle’s personal appearance, in Winer’s Realw. vol. ii. p. 221, note.

Verse 11

11. ] λογιζέσθω , as in 2 Corinthians 10:7 .

τοιοῦτος , viz. who thus speaks. The introduction of the verse without any connecting particle gives force and emphasis.

After παρόντες supply ἐσμεν , not ἐσόμεθα Not only the conduct of the Apostle on his next visit, but his general character , is in question.

Verse 12

12. ] disclaims resemblance to those false teachers who made themselves their only standard. For we do not venture (ironical; “dum dicit quod non faciat, notat quid isti faciant.” Bengel) to number ourselves with ( συναριθμῆσαι , Theophy., Œcum., ‘inserere,’ Vulg.: see examples of this usage, with εἰς principally, but also with μετά and ἐπί w. gen, in Wetst.), or compare ourselves with ( συγκρίνειν is properly, in classical Greek, ‘ to compound ,’ or ‘ unite :’ but in later Greek, to compare :’ ὁ συγκριτικὸς τρόπας , with the grammarians, is the comparative degree ) some of those who commend themselves (the charge made against him , ἑαυτὸν συνιστάνει , see ch. 2 Corinthians 3:1 ; 2 Corinthians 5:12 , he makes as a true one against the false teachers); but (they), themselves measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves, are not wise . The renderings are very various . Chrys. al., read συνιοῦσιν , and make it a particip., τουτέστι , μὴ αἰσθανομένοις πῶς εἰσι καταγέλαστοι τοιαῦτα ἀλαζονευόμενοι , p. 590: and see again below. Others, reading the same, take it rightly, as = συνιᾶσιν , but make μετροῦντες , &c., the object of συνιοῦσιν : ‘ know not that they are measuring ,’ &c.: but the corresponding sentence, ἡμεῖς δὲ κ . τ . λ ., shews that this sense would be irrelevant; for the Apostle does not oppose their ignorance of their foolish estimate of themselves to his own practice, but that foolish estimate itself.

Others again, as Emmerling and Olshausen, take ἀλλὰ συνιοῦσιν (or - ᾶσιν ) to apply to the Apostle himself , as contrasted with the τινές : ‘ We do not venture, &c., but we ourselves measure (supply ἐσμεν , ‘are in the habit of measuring’) ourselves by ourselves (i.e. as 2 Corinthians 10:18 , by what the Lord has really made us to be), and compare ourselves with ourselves, foolish as we are (reputed to be: συνιοῦσιν being a participle). But foolish we are not: we will not boast ourselves,’ &c .

But (1) this rendering would absolutely require the article before οὐ συνιοῦσιν , which, anarthrous, would imply, not an imputation, but the fact : (2) the mode of expression ( αὐτοὶ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἑαυτ . μετρ .) would be a most extraordinary one to convey the meaning supposed: and (3) the meaning itself would be irrelevant when obtained. Another variety of this rendering is to take (as Bos, Schrader, al.) ἑαυτοῖς , οὐ συνιοῦσιν , = ἑαυτοῖς , οὐ τοῖς συνιοῦσιν with ourselves, not with the wise: which is also inadmissible.

Others again (see var. read.) would omit οὐ συνιᾶσιν (or - οῦσινἡμεῖς δέ , which has been an evident correction, on the supposition that ἀλλὰ αὐτοὶ κ . τ . λ . belonged to the Apostle , to expunge words so much in the way of such an interpretation.

I may observe that much of the difficulty has arisen from taking αὐτοί with ἀλλά as the subject to οὐ συνιᾶσιν , whereas it belongs to what follows, ἀλλὰ αὐτοὶ ἐν ἑαυτ . ἑαυτ . μετρ . κ . τ . λ ., as in the version given above: the subject of συνιᾶσιν being to be supplied, and the construction being an inaccurate one. Calvin well illustrates the sense , by the reputation which any moderately learned man gained among the ignorant monks of his day “Si quis tenuem modo gustum elegantioris literaturæ habeat, … spargitur de eo mirabilis fama, adoratur inter sodales.… Inde præcipue monachis insolentissimus ille fastus quod se metiuntur ex seipsis: quum in eorum claustris nihil sit præter barbariem, illic nihil mirum, si regnet luscus inter cæcos. Tales erant isti Pauli æmuli: sibi enim intus plaudebant, non considerantes quibus virtutibus constaret vera laus, quantumque a Pauli et similium excellentia distarent.”

Verses 12-18

12 18. ] The difficulty of this passage is universally acknowledged. In early times Theodoret wrote: ἀσαφῶς ἅπαν τὸ χώρημα τοῦτο γέγραφεν , and adds as a reason, ἐναργῶς ἐλέγξαι τοὺς αἰτίους οὐ βουλόμενος . He substantiates what has just been said, by shewing how unlike he is to those vain persons who boast of other men’s labours ; for he boasts of what God had really done among them by him, and hopes that this boast may be yet more increased .

Verse 13

13. ] But we (opposed to those spoken of in last verse) will not (ever: will never allow ourselves to) boast without measure (lit. ‘ boast as far as to things unmeasured .’ εἰς with an adj. and the art. is used to signify the extent to which ; so Herod. vii. 229, κατεκέατο ἐν Ἀλπηνοῖσι ὀφθαλμιῶντες ἐς τὸ ἔσχατον : as ἐπί with the same denotes the direction towards which , as ἐπὶ τὸ μεῖζον κοσμοῦντες , … ἐπὶ τὸ μυθῶδες ἐκνενικηκότα , Thucyd. i. 21, without measure , scil. as they do who compare themselves with themselves and measure themselves by themselves, for there is no standard for, no limit to, a man’s good opinion of himself. The plur. τὰ ἄμετρα , instead of τὸ ἄμετρον , seems to be chosen to generalize the negative ‘we adopt no such vague standard for our boasting’), but according to the measure of the rule ( τὸ μέτρ . τοῦ καν . ‘the measure pointed out by the rule,’ gen. subj.) which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach as far as to you οὗ ἐμέρισεν ἡμῖν ὁ θ . μέτρου = ὂν ἐμέρ . ἡμ . ὁ θ . μέτρον , which ( κανών ) God apportioned to us as a measure , or, as De W., τοῦ μέτρουἐμέρ . ἡμ . ὁ θ ., in which latter case μέτρου is in appos. with κανόνος : but I prefer the former. Mr. Green, Grammar of the N. T. dialect, p. 269, makes μέτρου governed by ἐφικέσθαι , as in οὕτω τάρβους ἀφικόμην , Eur. Phoen. 361; τοῦ βίου εὖ ἥκοντι , Herod. i. 30. My objections to this construction are, (1) that ἐφικνούμενοι εἰς ὑμᾶς is used absolutely in the very next clause, which makes it probable that the same usage is found here: (2) that an unnecessary harshness is introduced, which I cannot persuade myself that the Apostle would have used, and which is apparent even in Mr. G.’s English, ‘of advancing in standard as far as even you.’ See Stanley’s note.

ἐφικέσθαι is the inf. of the purpose, that we should reach : or perhaps (but not so well) of the result, ‘ so that we reach .’

Verse 14

14. ] Further explanation of ἐφικ . ἄχρι κ . ὑμ . For we are not stretching ourselves beyond (our bounds), as (we should be doing) if we did not reach to you (not, as if we had not reached to you, as Luth., Beza: the pres. betokens the allotment of the field of apostolic work as his own, ‘ut si non perveniamus.’ The μή shews that the case is only a supposed one: so also 1 Corinthians 4:18 , but compare 1 Corinthians 9:26 , ὡς οὐκ ἀέρα δέρων , where the case is the real one; see Winer, edn. 6, § 55.1 [a]): for even as far as [ unto ] you did we advance (the proper meaning of φθάνω must hardly be pressed here: the Apostle would not introduce a distinct thought by a word of secondary importance in the sentence) in the gospel (the element in which our advance was made: ‘the gospel ’ = ‘the promulgation of the gospel ’).

Verse 15

15. ] in apposition with οὐ γὰρ κ . τ . λ . 2 Corinthians 10:14 , and carrying out the thought. Not boasting without measure in other men’s labours (the element of the boasting), but having a hope if (or, as ) your faith grows, to he enlarged (not as many Commentators, ‘ celebrated :’ the metaphor of measure still remains) among you (so Chrys., Theophyl., Est., Meyer. ἐν ὑμ . is not to be joined with αὐξ ., as Luth., Calv., Beza, Olsh., De W., in which case it would be superfluous) according to our rule (i.e. our apportionment of apostolic work , for we seek not ὑπερεκτείνειν ἑαυτούς ) unto abundance (‘so as to abound more than we now do,’ viz. as 2Co 10:16 explains),

Verse 16

16. ] [ so as ] (with a view) to preach the gospel as far as (see on εἰς τὰ ἄμ ., 2Co 10:15 ) the parts beyond you (Wetstein quotes from Thomas Magister, ἐπέκεινα ῥήτορες λέγουσι .… ὑπερεκεῖνα δὲ μόνοι οἱ σύρφακες , la canaille ), not (with a view) to boast ourselves within another man’s line ( κανών throughout seems to be used of a measuring line : according to the metaphor so common among us, ‘in his line,’ i.e. ‘within the line which Providence has marked out for him’) with regard to (or, ‘ to the extent of ;’ ‘to extend our boasting to’) things ready made to our hands.

Verse 17

17. ] He sets forth to them , in contrast ( δέ ) to this boasting themselves in another’s line, which was the practice of his adversaries, wherein the only legitimate boasting must consist : viz. in the Lord , the Source of all grace and strength and success in the ministry; see 1 Corinthians 15:10 .

Verse 18

18. ] The reason of this being, that not the self-commender but he whom the Lord commends , by selecting him as His instrument, as He had the Apostle, and giving him the ἐπιστολὴ συστατική , to be known and read by all men, of souls converted and churches founded, is δόκιμος , approved , i.e. really and in the end abiding the test of trial.

ἐκεῖνος brings out the distinction of the man who is δόκιμος , see reff. and Winer, edn. 6, § 23. 4. We have the usage in English in affirmative sentences, e.g. ‘The Lord, he is the God,’ 1 Kings 18:39 ; but not in negative ones.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10". Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.