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2 Corinthians 10:1 . Who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold towards you. Paul retorts ironically the unworthy insinuations of the false teachers, sent out by the sanhedrim of Jerusalem, and in the full pay of the synagogue, to bring back the people to the ceremonial law. These, it would seem, made a genteel appearance, while Paul appeared in humbler dress, often labouring with his own hands.
2 Corinthians 10:2 . I beseech you; yea, to cut off occasion from those that seek occasion, I beseech you then by the meekness and gentleness, or benignity of Christ, that you disregard those false apostles, who insinuate that we walk after the flesh, seeking the ease, the honours, and riches of this world.
2 Corinthians 10:3-4 . For though we walk and sojourn in the flesh, humble and abject, we do not war after the flesh, as is the way of the world. Our armour is the armour of righteousness, and mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; the castles, citadels, and fortresses of the enemy. In other words, our weapons are mighty in forcing down the pride of gentile philosophy, in storming the forts of spiritual wickedness in high places, and in counteracting all the lawless habits of concupiscence.
2 Corinthians 10:5 . Casting down imaginations. Here we find many opinions. The margin of Montanus reads, “destroying counsels.” This reading is adopted by La Haye; and Theophylact expounds it of philosophical argumentations against the faith of Christ. But Menochius understands it both of counsels against the apostles, and against the gospel. The expression fairly refers to the guile and sophisms of judaizing teachers.
2 Corinthians 10:7 . Do ye look on things after the outward appearance, the genteel and reputable figure of those false apostles. If they are, as they affect to be, the ministers of Christ, let them by all fairness and candour allow that we also are his ministers. The character of the workmen is demonstrated by their work.
2 Corinthians 10:8 . Though I should boast, of the apostolic powers, I should not be ashamed. Those powers were conferred for the salutary defence of discipline, and for the edification of the church. There was then a power, not only of expulsion, but also to visit with “sickness and death.” 1 Corinthians 11:30. The last are punishments of a high and miraculous nature, which the Lord who searches the heart keeps chiefly in his own power. Was not Herod slain by the angel, in unison with the prayers of the church? Acts 12:0. Queen Mary’s reign, after burning almost five hundred martyrs, was short. Here, case may be opposed to case. Raviliac, a jesuit, assassinated Henry the fourth of France, amidst his guards, when getting into his coach. True, but the protestants had engaged in the civil wars to place him on the throne. The final judgment of those cases belongs to Him who cannot err.
2 Corinthians 10:10 . His letters, say they, [the false apostles] are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech, in regard of elocution and utterance, is contemptible. They spoke well of his letters, for no man could say otherwise, that they might speak ill of his appearance with the better grace. As to the person of Paul, we have cited the priest of Asia, in the book called Paul and Thecla, a book named by four of the fathers, in the introduction to the Acts of the apostles. Chrysostom describes him thus. “A little man, scarcely three cubits high, the wonder of the world. Whatever I know of theology, I owe it all to St. Paul.” Of his eloquence, converted Greece and proconsular Asia are his witnesses. At Lystra, the priests of Jupiter called him Mercury. At Cæsarea, Felix trembled under his word; and where he could be fairly heard, his eloquence never sustained defeat.
After all those high encomiums, we must admit that Paul had some defects in elocution, and many difficulties to surmount, before he attained to the sublime and beautiful in Grecian eloquence. The Greek was so far from being his native language, that when he first began to preach in it, “he made,” according to Jerome, “very many bulls and blunders in his words. He scarcely knew how to construe a hyperbatic phrase, nor how to close a sentence.” This father affirms farther, that St. Paul at first “did not know how to express his own profound conceptions in the Greek language; that his elocution was defective, and that he laboured under difficulties in communicating his ideas.” Iste qui Solæcismos in verbis facit, qui non potest hyperbaton reddere, sententiamque concludere, audacter sibi vindicat sapientiam, &c. Hieron. Comm. in epis. ad Ephesians tom. 6. p. 384.
Illud, &c. etsi imperitus sermone, &c. nequaquam Paulum de humilitate dixisse; profundos enim, et reconditos sensus lingua non explicat, et cum ipse sentiat, quid loguatur, in alienas aures puro non potest transferre Sermone. Epis. 15. ad Algas. Q. 10.
2 Corinthians 10:12 . We dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves. Paul here attacks with a masterly stroke of irony, their boasted learning in the talmud, and sciences of the Hebrew schools. But in boasting, I doubt whether they are wise to measure themselves by themselves. Because, if they follow us in the sphere of our labours in Asia, in Macedonia, in Thessalia, in Achaia, and into Asia again and Syria, and back to Macedonia, their line of measure might possibly be found short, and shame would be the result. Rather, “Let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord.”
Many jews of some learning went about troubling the churches, and most artfully affected to be christians. They are generally called “false apostles” by the fathers, and by St. Paul: 2 Corinthians 11:13. Yet they are allowed to be Israelites, and Hebrews of the seed of Abraham: 2 Corinthians 11:22. These men slandered St. Paul as walking after the flesh, and exercising an extravagant authority over the churches. We generally find the church of Christ like a ship at sea, exposed to waves and troubles. Some proud and ambitious mind which resolves to have the preëminence will ever be rising up, and troubling the heavenly repose of the saints.
St. Paul conducted himself in a tender, but dignified manner towards the ministers at Corinth, who had received and encouraged those judaizing teachers. He besought them by the tender and gentle spirit of Christ to stop the proceedings of those men, and emboldened them to do it by all the sanction of the Lord’s mission in the hands of his apostles. The weapons of their warfare, comprising the doctrine and discipline of Christ, were not carnal, but were the mighty power of God to pull down all rebellious irregular proceedings, and injurious inuendos. Every thing must give way to the truth and order of Christ, who has not left the glory of his church to the selfish caprice of man. St. Paul was resolved that they should find his rod of expulsion equal to the power of his letters. He would come to revenge all disobedience, and put those to shame who commended themselves.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12