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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:
Ver. 1. By the meekness and gentleness ] Whom in those sweet virtues I desire to imitate. The praise of Christ’s meekness recorded by the prophet, and explained by Philip, converted the eunuch, Acts 8:27-39 .
Who in presence am base ] i.e. Despicable, because I take not upon me, and bear a port, as the false apostles do. Meekness of spirit commonly draws on injuries. A crow will stand upon a sheep’s back pulling off wool from her sides.
Am bold toward you ] So mine adversaries report me, as if I were over bold and busy by my letters.
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.
Ver. 2. That I may not be bold ] That you necessitate me not. Non nisi coactus hoc facio, said that emperor that subscribed a warrant to put one to death.
With that confidence ] It was but confidence, but they made the worst of it, and called it boldness, Quam vitio verterunt. Evil will never speaks well.
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
Ver. 3. We do not war, &c. ] The ministry is a kind of militia, 1 Timothy 1:18 . Christ rideth on ministers, as his white horses, conquering and to conquer, Revelation 6:2 .
4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Ver. 4. Are not carnal ] i.e. Weak, opposed here to mighty. The flesh is weak as water, therefore called the old man, old leaven, &c. These weak weapons of the false apostles (here intimated and taxed) are human eloquence, artificial composures, &c., of those verbalists, Qui exceptis verbis tinnulis et emendicatis nihil loquuntur, as Jerome hath it.
But mighty through God ] Note here the apostle’s modesty. Not we, saith he, but our weapons are mighty; and not through us that wield them, but through God that works by and with them. See Trapp on " 1Co 15:10 "
To the pulling down of strong holds ] Forts, munitions, trenches, cages of foul spirits inhabiting men’s hearts.
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;
Ver. 5. Casting down imaginations ] As the spittle that comes out of a man’s month slayeth serpents, so doth that which proceedeth out of the mouths of God’s faithful ministers quell and kill evil imaginations, carnal reasonings, which are that legion of domestic devils, that hold near intelligence with the old serpent. Nemo sibi de suo palpet: quisque sibi Satan est. Corrupt reason, like Eve and Job’s wife, is always drawing us from God. Out-of-doors with this Hagar.
And bringing into captivity ] See here the process of St Paul’s ministry. He overthrows, captivates, subdues to the obedience of the Lord Christ. See the like, Jeremiah 1:10 . Chosroes, king of Parthia, was so subdued by the Romans, that he made a law that none of his successors should ever wage war with them again. So here.
6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
Ver. 6. And having in a readiness ] Vengeance is every whit as ready in God’s hand, as in the minister’s mouth. See Matthew 16:19 ; Matthew 18:18 . Elisha hath his sword as well as Jehu and Hazael, 1 Kings 19:17 . God hews men by his prophets and slays them by the words of his mouth, Hosea 6:5 . By preaching, Christ many times smites the earth, Isaiah 11:4 ; his word lays hold on them, Zechariah 1:6 , and that which they have counted wind, hath become fire to devour them,Jeremiah 5:13-14; Jeremiah 5:13-14 .
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.
Ver. 7. Do ye look on things ] q.d. Are ye so weak as to be deceived by an outside, to be carried away with shows and shadows of true worth? Do not many things glister besides gold? Every bird that hath a seemly feather, hath not the sweetest flesh; nor doth every tree that beareth a goodly leaf, bring good fruit. Glass giveth a clearer sound than silver, &c.
Even so are we Christ’s ] The Rogation heretics would have made the world believe that they were the only Catholics. The Arians called the true Christians Ambrosians, Athanasians, Homousians, &c. The Donatists made themselves the only true Church, &c.
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:
Ver. 8. And not for destruction ] If it prove so, it is by accident, and not as we intend it. See Trapp on " 2Co 2:16 "
9 That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.
Ver. 9. Terrify you by letters ] As the false apostles object against me. Aspersions must be carefully cleared, when the fruit of a man’s ministry is thereby impeached and impeded.
10 For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.
Ver. 10. Weighty and powerful ] As often as I read Paul’s Epistles, Non verba, sed tonitrua audire mihi videor, saith Jerome, Methinks I hear not words, but thunderclaps. But that his bodily presence was not weak, nor his speech contemptible, see Acts 13:10 . See Trapp on " Act 13:10 "
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.
Ver. 11. Such will we be, &c. ] That we have not hitherto been so, was because we spared you. Posse et nolle nobile, saith Chrysostom. Kindness is godliness, Isaiah 40:6 , חסד
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.
Ver. 12. For we dare not ] This he speaks by an irony, whereof he is full in this Epistle; and may therefore be called as Socrates was, ο ειρων .
But they measuring themselves, &c. ] Turning the other end of the perspective, they see themselves bigger and others lesser than they are. So bladder-like is the soul, that filled with earthly vanities, though but wind, it grows great and swells in pride. Oh, pray to be preserved from this perilous pinnacle of self-exaltation. Look into the perfect law of liberty, and draw nigh to God. The nearer we come to God, the more rottenness we find in our bones. The more any man looks into the body of the sun, the less he seeth when he looks down again.
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.
Ver. 13. But we will not boast, &c. ] As any man is more worthy, he is more modest: full vessels yield no such sound as empty casks do. A vessel cast into the sea, the more it fills the deeper it sinks; the leaden scale goes downward; the most precious balm sinks to the bottom. The good ear of grain, the fuller it is, the lower it hangs the head.
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:
Ver. 14. For we stretch not, &c. ] υπερεκτεινομεν , we tenter not ourselves beyond our scantling.
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,
Ver. 15. Not boasting of things ] Ammianus Marcellinus tells of one Lampadius, a great person in Rome, who through all parts of the city, where other men had bestowed cost in building, he would set up his own name, not as a repairer of the work, but as the chief builder. Of the same fault Trajan the emperor is said to have been guilty; whence he was commonly called Herba parietina, or Wall Wort.
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.
Ver. 16. In the regions beyond you ] This was a piece of the braggadocio false apostles’ vain boasting, as it is now of the Jesuits, those Circulatores and Agyrtae, that compass sea and land, crack of what conversions they have wrought in India and Africa, and, Lampadius-like, take it ill at any man’s hand that commend them not every time they spit upon the ground. (Amm. Marcell.) Gaius Caligula the emperor was ready to destroy the whole senate, because they did not deify him for marching with his whole army to the ocean, and fetching thence a few oyster shells, Quibus spoliis acceptis magnifice gloriabatur, quasi oceano subacto. (Dio, in Vita Caligulae.)
17 But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
Ver. 17. Glory in the Lord ] See Trapp on " 1Co 1:31 "
18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.
Ver. 18. Whom the Lord commendeth ] As he did his servant Job, 2 Corinthians 1:8 . And as he did his handmaid Sarah, for calling her husband lord, though there was never a good word besides in the whole sentence, 1 Peter 3:6 ; cf. Genesis 18:22 . Neither was Job so patient, but that he had his outbursts. All which notwithstanding "ye have heard of the patience of Job," &c., James 5:11 . He is not challenged at all for his impatience, but crowned and chronicled for his patience. See here the wonderful goodness of God toward his; and take comfort in his white stone, against the black coals of ill-affected persons.
Is approved ] δοκιμος , or, will pass for current coin in heaven. When slips are abroad, men will take heed what money they take.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13