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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 10

Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentMahan's Commentary

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Verses 1-7

The weapons of our warfare

2 Corinthians 10:1-7

Paul met with much opposition at Corinth from false preachers and teachers. He had many enemies there who boasted in themselves and refuted both Paul and his doctrine. They envied him and did all that they could to undermine him and lessen his influence. They represented him as a harsh, mean-spirited man and insinuated that he had neither the authority nor the courage which he claimed. In this chapter he vindicates himself and arms the Corinthians against these self-seekers.

2 Corinthians 10:1 . Paul's enemies evidently had charged him with being meek, gentle and humble when he was present with them, but when he was away, he wrote forceful, bold and condemning letters. Is not this the example of our Lord, who never compromised the truth about men, yet was meek and gentle, kind and patient toward all? When we find ourselves inclined to be rough or angry with men, let us think of the gentleness of Christ, be sensible of our own infirmities and yet be bold in our quest for Godliness in spirit and deed (2 Timothy 2:24-25; 2 Timothy 4:1-2).

2 Corinthians 10:2 . He urges them to hear him, follow him as he follows Christ and submit to his teaching, that he might not, when he comes among them, have to use that power and authority given him by Christ (Hebrews 13:7; Hebrews 13:17). He does not want to deal boldly with them all in general, as he plans to deal with some who have accused him of acting according to the flesh (1 Corinthians 4:21). These false preachers accused Paul of the very thing of which they were guilty, that of seeking his own worldly interest and secular advantage and employing craftiness and fleshly wisdom and methods to accomplish it (2 Corinthians 1:12).

2 Corinthians 10:3 . There is a difference in walking in the flesh and walking after the flesh or warring after the flesh (Romans 8:1; Romans 8:4-6). Every believer walks in the flesh, in the body, in a state of imperfection, attended with many weaknesses and infirmities, but he does not walk after the flesh in that his fleshly appetite, desires and pride are not his end, goal and objective. The glory of God and a godly way of life are the desires of every renewed heart (Philippians 3:10-14). Nor does the believer war after the flesh! The work of the ministry and the Christian life are spiritual warfare (1 Timothy 1:18; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 2:3-4), but this battle is not fought upon fleshly principles, using fleshly methods, nor for fleshly honour and glory. We seek his glory and the true salvation of sinners (Jeremiah 9:23-24; 1 Corinthians 10:31).

2 Corinthians 10:4 . The goal of the Christian ministry is not carnal but spiritual. We seek not lip-service from men but heart love to Christ. It is not our goal to bring men to outward morality and reformation alone, but that they might be new creatures in Christ, delivered from the kingdom of evil to become bond-slaves of Jesus Christ, motivated to holiness and godliness by new and spiritual inward principles. Therefore, our weapons and methods are not carnal nor of the flesh, but spiritual (John 6:63). The strongholds of Satan are ignorance, prejudice, vain imagination, carnal wisdom and beloved lusts. These can only be pulled down by the mighty Spirit of God, bestowing grace and life through the gospel. Our weapons in this warfare are the sword of the Spirit (the word of God), prayer, gifts of ministering and love to Christ and his people (Ephesians 6:11-15). We dare not depend on anything the flesh can produce. If God does not work in us and through us, we labour in vain.

2 Corinthians 10:5 . The preaching of the gospel of Christ is the power of God to destroy the strongholds of Satan in the minds and hearts of men, casting down every proud thought of self-righteousness, every high and lofty reasoning of human wisdom, as opposed to his revealed truth, every reliance on our works or deeds which might be a rival to his grace in Christ, every high and haughty look or feeling of confidence in what we were or have become, and bringing us, mind and heart, thought and attitude, into a full and complete dependence upon and obedience to Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Colossians 2:9-10). Repentance is the gift of God; faith is the gift of God; eternal life is the gift of God. All that we are, know and shall ever be are gifts of God and the work of God in us through, by and for the glory of our Lord Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-10). We have nothing of which to boast in the flesh (1 Corinthians 4:7). What we do is in response to what he has done in us and for us (1 John 4:19).

2 Corinthians 10:6 . The apostle refers here to church censure and excommunication to be exercised upon those who depart from the gospel of God's grace. Paul would not tolerate another gospel, the dishonoring of the name of Christ, nor a disorderly walk among church members. These offenders are to be dealt with by the church, not hastily, but prayerfully, patiently and only after our own submission and obedience to Christ are secured and complete. Church censure and excommunication are painful but necessary where the honour of Christ, the glory of God, the well-being of the church and the testimony of the gospel are concerned.

2 Corinthians 10:7 . ‘Do you look upon and judge men by outward appearance?’ (1 Samuel 16:7; Luke 16:15.) Are you so weak in spiritual wisdom that you judge men by their faces, their outward appearance, their claims and their voices and words? A man may appear to be gracious and not have the principle of grace in his heart. A man may appear to be learned in the Scriptures and not know Christ. Don't be misled by the outward appearance of some; redemption is a heart work. ‘If any among you is confident that he has an interest in Christ, is redeemed by his blood and is a believer, let him reflect and remind himself that on the same basis (which is the mercy and grace of God in person and work of Christ) we, too, have a saving interest in him.’ We must not think that none belong to Christ but ourselves. By the grace of God we are what we are, and his grace is effectual to save even those who differ from us.

Verses 8-18

He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord

2 Corinthians 10:8-18

Paul defends his ministry against the false preachers who despised him, opposed him and judged him by appearance. Spurgeon once said, ‘The best way to expose a crooked stick is to lay a straight stick down beside it.’ Every generation is plagued with false preachers and religious hucksters (Matthew 7:15; 2 Peter 2:1-3).

2 Corinthians 10:8 . When God calls a man to be a prophet, an apostle, an evangelist or a pastor (Ephesians 4:11-13), he is pleased to give that man gifts, ability and certain authority (2 Corinthians 13:10; Hebrews 13:7; Hebrews 13:17). This power is not for the destruction, oppression, nor discomfort of the flock, but for their edification, to promote their faith, holiness, comfort and eternal salvation. Paul was not ashamed to speak of, nor to exercise this authority. Let all who have office or authority in the church remember that with authority goes responsibility to edify and unify, not destroy.

2 Corinthians 10:9-10 . This was the charge against Paul which came from his enemies and false preachers: ‘When he is absent and writes to the church, his letters are weighty, powerful, forceful and demanding of obedience to God, yet when he is present, he does not impress men with his appearance, grandeur and forceful oratory, but rather his bodily presence is small, frail and old, and his speech is humble, without impressive persuasion and contemptible to those who are looking for a hero to worship.’ What they thought to be an insult to Paul was a strong recommendation of his true call of God (1 Corinthians 15:9-10; Ephesians 3:8; 1 Timothy 1:15; Philippians 3:3). God never intended us to be impressed with men, to adore men, nor to be obsessed with preachers, but to worship only Christ (2 Corinthians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 2:4-5).

2 Corinthians 10:11 . Paul declares, ‘But those who judge by appearance only and think, because I walk in humility before God and men, that I am not an apostle with due authority, let those people realize that what I say in letters, I will put into deeds when I am present.’ There comes a time to deal forcefully with rebellion and disobedience (1 Corinthians 5:4-5).

2 Corinthians 10:12 . Paul refuses to evaluate either himself or his ministry by the method used by these teachers of false religion to commend themselves. They were pleased with themselves, prided themselves on their righteousness and estimated their value in the kingdom of God by comparing themselves with themselves and others. Paul denounces this as unwise (Isaiah 65:5; Luke 16:15; Luke 18:9). If we have any grace, gifts, or ability, they are given and sustained by God, and even at our best we are all altogether vanity in his sight (l Cor. 4:7; Psalms 39:5). Feeding our egos by comparing ourselves with others is foolish.

2 Corinthians 10:13 . They had among them men who boasted immeasurably, or beyond the gifts which they had. Paul had a better rule for his conduct: not to boast of any gifts, graces, or authority other than those God had obviously given to him and not to go beyond his God-given commission as to duties and place of service. His authority and ministry included the Corinthians. What an important lesson for all believers! Each member of the body has a place and a service to perform. Learn what it is and seek not to be otherwise nor to envy another (1 Corinthians 12:12-18).

2 Corinthians 10:14 . Paul declares that he had not gone beyond the bounds set for him by the purpose and providence of God in edifying and instructing the church at Corinth, for he was indeed sent by God to them (Acts 18:0:l, 9-11). Another evidence of his being in the will of God by ministering among them was that God had blessed his labors with success (Matthew 7:16).

2 Corinthians 10:15-16 . When Paul rejoiced in the Corinthians as his children and converts (whom he had begotten through the gospel of Christ), he was not taking credit for the labors of other men, as did these false preachers, who, when they came to Corinth, found a church planted with many believers. Yet these men claimed the Corinthians as their own, belittled Paul, and troubled the church with their errors. His hope concerning this church was that as they were grounded in truth and grown in spirit, his field of labour would be enlarged greatly, and both he and they would be the instruments of God to preach the gospel in regions beyond, where the name of Christ was not known. He was not interested in interfering with, nor boasting in, work already done by others before he came on the scene.

2 Corinthians 10:17 . But none of us really has anything in which to glory (Jeremiah 9:23-24; 1 Corinthians 1:29-31), neither Paul who planted nor Apollos who watered, for it is God who gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:5-7). We have no reason to glory in ourselves nor in our works, but only to thank, praise and give glory to God, who is pleased to use human vessels to accomplish his divine purpose.

2 Corinthians 10:18 . It is not the man who praises and commends himself who is approved and accepted, but it is the person whom the Lord enables, approves and commends (Proverbs 27:2). Self-commendation means nothing; rather than lifting us, it really lowers us in the estimation of true believers and is nauseous to God.

Bibliographical Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10". Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hms/2-corinthians-10.html. 2013.
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