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Though his First Epistle had had good effect upon "the many" at Corinth, yet Paul finds it necessary, as led of the Spirit of God, to earnestly press the serious matter of God's establishing him as an apostle, and therefore of the authority of God in the ministry entrusted to him. These last four chapters being so occupied, indicates the great importance of this matter in the eyes of God. No other apostle writes in this way. And through the centuries it is Paul's ministry that has been ignored, opposed, criticized, refused by many claiming to be Christian. The Spirit of God anticipated such unbelief, and leaves no shadow of excuse for it.
How tender and gracious however is Paul's appeal in verse 1. He entreats them "by the meekness and gentleness of Christ." False apostles put on a show of power and arrogant pride, so contrary to the character of their Lord. Paul had not done so; indeed was evidently a man of no impressive physical appearance, and acted only simply and sincerely. Fleshly men would despise this as weakness. But Paul writes boldly, though kindly, for there is power here not merely natural. He had said before that to spare them he had not yet come to Corinth; and now he pleads with them that when he is eventually present with them, he may not be compelled to use bold, firm discipline against some who considered things only from a fleshly viewpoint. They had mistaken his meek and gentle character for weakness; but if they would not allow God to enlighten them in this, they might be rudely shocked when Paul came.
Not that his action would be fleshly; for though he walked in flesh, this is, in bodily condition, his warfare was not according to flesh, the mere selfish, vain principles that unregenerate man understands. Paul had higher weapons than those fleshly: they were in fact the opposite of self-assurance and pretentious pride; and yet "mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds." In fact, it is these very things - the haughtiness and pride of man, the determined exalting of the flesh - that God's weapons cast down. Men's imaginations, or reasonings, the rationalistic wisdom of philosophy, "and every high thing," that which man considers high, but is merely pretense, everything that seeks self-exaltation, which after all is really "against the knowledge of God;" all of this is brought to nothing by "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Moreover, God's warfare does not stop on this negative note: it is also that which can bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. Precious, wonderful weapons indeed!
But supposing such ministry of grace is resisted, and some refuse obedience? Verse 6 shows that, though patience was graciously shown in seeking a proper result, yet when time had been given in which to secure the obedience of the assembly generally, the same weapons of God would be ready to "revenge all disobedience," by the discipline of His hand toward those who resisted. God is in no way going to be defeated by the pride of man.
Did the Corinthians assume that "the outward appearance" of things was a reliable guide? Most men know better than this when considering the purchase of a used car; and many have learned to their deep regret that trusting appearances is not a safe rule in marrying a wife. Merely looking at the surface of things, a believer might say that he himself is of Christ, and therefore his opinions must be right. But let him stop and think. Paul also is "of Christ," and his opinions are opposed to those of the self-confident believer. Both cannot be right.
Moreover, as an apostle, the Lord had given him an authority that was not to be ignored, and though as to this, Paul will "boast" in pressing it, he will not be ashamed, for it is a vital matter that does not merely involve him, but their own spiritual welfare. Not that he is given authority simply to put them down, but with the object of their building up. It is this that he emphasizes. So his writing is not to terrify them, but with motives of their purest blessing.
Evidently some among the Corinthians, while admitting that Paul's letters were weighty and powerful, yet discounted this because Paul did not have an imposing personal appearance, and eloquent speech. How poor an index by which to judge! One might have such natural gifts along with extraordinary brilliance, and yet be a cunning enemy of God. It would have been far wiser to say that, though Paul was a man of humble, self-effacing character, not naturally standing out among men, yet his letters were weighty and powerful. And so the apostle reminds them that as he is by letter, so will he be in action when coming among them: it would be no matter for his looking for an admiring audience, but of his acting for God; and mere fleshly attraction would be reduced to its proper level.
Paul will not dare to link himself with those who take the attitude of comparing themselves with others. What measuring stick do they use? Nothing but one another! This is empty vanity. One will vaunt himself because he thinks he has the advantage over another in some fleshly way; and the atmosphere becomes merely that of rivalry, jealousy, arrogance. Are believers self-made individuals? Or are they not the product of the pure grace of God?
Paul refuses to boast of anything without a proper measure: it is in fact this, God's measure, that he has been throughout insisting upon: it is this that will put everything, and everyone, in proper place. God has distributed such a measure. It would remind us of "the measure of the gift of Christ," spoken of inEphesians 4:7; Ephesians 4:7. This is distributed according to God's grace, not according to the strength of man's pride. Each should act simply in the measure God gives, and not pretend to go beyond.
And the apostles did not stretch themselves beyond, but were within God's measure in the labour He had given them in reaching as far as the Corinthians in preaching the Gospel of Christ. They, being the fruit of his work, could not dispute this.
If Paul boasts, he will not boast out of measure (as indeed false apostles were doing at Corinth, for they had slipped in to take advantage of Paul's labours); but consistently with the measure God had given, not taking the glory for what was actually the labour of another. And more, they had hope that, when the faith of the Corinthians was increased, these saints would heartily support the further work of the apostles in declaring the gospel in new areas beyond them; still depending upon the God of wise measure, who gives them ability for such labour, and not taking advantage of another man's line of things made ready for them. This missionary zeal of the apostle is precious indeed, so contrary to the self-satisfaction that was so infecting the Corinthians. But while Paul must in this way speak of his Cod-given labours, yet his glorying Was not in this, but "in the Lord." And this they too must take to heart. For if one commends himself today, he may find at the judgment seat of Christ that he has no such commendation.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24