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Monday, June 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 10

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

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Verse 1

2Co 10:1

2 Corinthians 10:1

[In this section Paul defends his apostolic authority against his detractors and slanderers who sought by all means, whether fair or foul, to undermine his authority and destroy his influence, and thus the more certainly capture the churches he had been instrumental in founding, and impose upon them the Judaistic and legal principles and practices they advocated. There was a small minority in the churches under their influence; some were living, apparently, in gross sin. (2 Corinthians 12:20-21). The one resource with which he had to en­counter the situation—his own standing ground alike against the church and those corrupting it—was his apostolic author­ity; and to the vindication of this he first addresses himself.]

Now I Paul myself—Up to this point in this epistle, Paul has used the plural we, now he not only uses the singular, but I Paul myself, and in these concluding chapters there is a se­verity, which is in striking contrast with the gentleness mani­fested in the preceding chapters, in which he was addressing the church which had cleared itself of guilt; but there was a faction who joined with the Judaizers, who denied his being an apostle. He now deals with them. This explains his change in tone. His authority and apostleship have been challenged; and with boldness he puts his personality into the forefront of the discussion.

entreat you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ,—This is one of the few references in Paul’s epistles to the earthly life and character of Jesus. There can be no doubt that it is to the life of Jesus he refers. Jesus was at times most stern and outspoken in his demonstrations. The language which follows is very strong, but he reminds them that the motive which inspires it is the highest; he speaks in the name and spirit of Christ who claimed to be meek and lowly. (Matthew 11:29-30).

I who in your presence am lowly among you, but being ab­sent am of good courage toward you:—His enemies charged that he was a coward in close quarters, a brave man at a dis­tance; he was one who could write bold letters, but lacked au­thority and courage when he came in person—such was their description of Paul. We have already seen that he was ac­cused of fickleness and indecision (2 Corinthians 1:17); his conduct was easily misrepresented by those who had no love for him, and did not understand his inspiring motives. His caution and tenderness were mistaken for cowardice. Courage was the motto of his life (2 Corinthians 4:16; 2 Corinthians 5:6-7), and his courageous life is the best answer to this charge of cowardice (Acts 19:30; Acts 21:13; Acts 24:24-25).

Verse 2

2Co 10:2

2 Corinthians 10:2

yea, I beseech you, that I may not when present show courage with the confidence wherewith I count to be bold against some,—He beseeches them that he may not be com­pelled by their course to show courage and boldness toward some who charged him with walking after fleshly desires and purposes. He expected to be severe toward the leaders in evil; but he besought the members not to force him to be se­vere toward them. [He had determined in his own mind that if persuasion failed to bring his opponents to a right state of mind, he would resort to that power with which God had armed him to put down all opposition. These “some” are the cause of the whole trouble.]

who count of us as if we walked according to the flesh.—:It seems that they charged that he had an undue regard for the opinion of others and acted with inconsistency in his efforts to please them. A man of whom all this could truthfully be said would be without spiritual authority, and it was to discredit him in the church that the vague and damaging charge was made. He certainly showed no want of courage in meeting it. That he walked in the flesh, he could not deny. He was a human being, wearing the weak nature, and all its maladies were incident to him. He spent his life in this nature, with all its capacity for unworthy conduct, but in his Christian war­fare he was not ruled by it—he had conquered it and it had no power over him. [He said to them: “I was with you in weak­ness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” (1 Corinthians 2:3-4).]

Verse 3

2Co 10:3

2 Corinthians 10:3

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh—Though he lived and walked in the flesh, he was not led by the fleshly feelings and lusts. He was not under human leadership; it was no human war in which he was en­gaged.

Verse 4

2Co 10:4

2 Corinthians 10:4

(for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh,—This shows that he was not actuated by fleshly motives, nor seek­ing fleshly good, nor did he use weapons of carnal strife.

but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds);—Many think the miraculous powers by which he was en­abled to cast out demons, and demonstrate superiority to the wicked one, are meant; others think it means the sound scrip­tural reasoning, teaching, and motives used in turning men from Satan to God. It probably means both. The spiritual weapons are the only ones the child of God can use, and they, through the power of God that goes with and is in them, are mighty to the overturning of the strongholds of sin. The Christian can lawfully use no other. And God’s power to overturn the strongholds of sin cannot go with one using fleshly or carnal weapons. For a Christian to use these is to drive God out of the battle he wages. These things are true if there is truth in the Bible. We weaken our strength in ap­pealing to the civil power. There is not one word in the New Testament giving man direction as ruler or participator in the management of human government. That means he has no place in this work.

Verse 5

2Co 10:5

2 Corinthians 10:5

casting down imaginations,—This brings out the truth that the life-work of the Christian is to cast down all the imag­inations and everything that exalteth itself against the knowl­edge of Christ and casting these out of his heart; bring every thought of his heart to the obedience of Christ. No heart is actually clean in the sight of God until the very thoughts and feelings and impulses of the heart are brought into subjection to the will of Christ. It takes a life-work to accomplish this, but too often the Christian life is so neglected that the heart never becomes purified for a habitation of God through the Spirit.

and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God,—The teaching of the word of God is to bring to nought the mere reasonings of the mind, and everything that sets itself up against the revelation of God. [In reference to this Paul had already triumphantly asked: “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20). But what was seen then is often re­peated today. The vain reasonings of the modernists, puffed up with the conceit of their own wisdom, are exalted against the infallible teaching of the Son of God and his inspired apostles. And Paul’s admonition is no less appropriate now than when it first came with burning energy from his earnest soul. “Let no man deceive himself. If any man thinketh that he is wise among you in this world, let him become a fool, that he may become wise.” (1 Corinthians 3:18).]

and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ;—The end sought is to bring every thought of the heart and mind into obedience to Christ, which is a difficult thing to do. Evil thoughts will arise in our minds, excited by fleshly lusts, yet by constant prayer, watchfulness, and per­severing effort the very thoughts that spring from the heart can be brought into subjection to the will of Christ. The heart can be so trained that the thoughts that arise in it will be of God, of our duties and obligations to him, and of the high and exalted privileges and blessings that are bestowed on us as his children.

Verse 6

2Co 10:6

2 Corinthians 10:6

and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience,—When he speaks of his “readiness to avenge all disobedience,” he certainly did not have in mind those to whom he writes, and whose repentance and obedience filled him with so much joy (2 Corinthians 7:6-13); but only to the rebellious remnant who had per­sisted in their disobedience.

when your obedience shall be made full.—He would wait till all who were willing had repented and were willing to obey. He does not indicate what form of vengeance he would administer, but possibly such severe discipline as that indi­cated by delivering to Satan (1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 5:20, with a view, if it were possible, to their ultimate restoration (2 Corinthians 13:3-10).

Verse 7

2Co 10:7

2 Corinthians 10:7

Ye look at the things that are before your face.—I think the marginal reading—“Do ye look at the things that are be­fore your face?”—more fully brings out the thought. It cer­tainly was addressed to the members of the church, and with reference to the claims which had been set up by the false teachers, warning them not to be carried away with appear­ances. Looking at the work of the false teachers it was strictly manifest that Paul had showed more of the signs of an apostle in the miracles of power and the good he had accom­plished than any of them.

If any man trusteth in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again with himself, that, even as he is Christ’s, so also are we.—[At this point Paul only claims bare equal­ity; as the argument advances, he advances his claims as in 1 Corinthians 9:1-27, by pointing to his success at Corinth, or to his vision of the risen Christ, as in 1 Corinthians 15:9; the proof, which he adduces later (2 Corinthians 11:21-30), lies in what he had suffered for the gospel’s sake.]

Verse 8

2Co 10:8

2 Corinthians 10:8

For though I should glory somewhat abundantly concern­ing our authority (which the Lord gave for building you up, and not for casting you down),—The authority Paul had was given him to build them up, not to cast them down. In this he intimates that he would be sorry to so use it as to punish them.

I shall not be put to shame:—Were he to glory somewhat abundantly concerning this power, he would not be put to shame thereby. The power he had would bear out the glory­ing. [He was quite sure, without any shadow of misgiving, that if he should be forced to proceed to the extreme step of delivering his detractors to Satan, the result which he contem­plated would follow.]

Verse 9

2Co 10:9

2 Corinthians 10:9

that I may not seem as if I would terrify you by my let­ters.—That he might not seem to make a boast in his letters to terrify them when he had no power to carry out the boast when present. [There is evident allusion to the representa­tions made by the false teachers, that Paul wrote in the au­thoritative tone which he assumed merely to frighten his read­ers, having neither power nor the purpose to carry his threats into execution.]

Verse 10

2Co 10:10

2 Corinthians 10:10

For, His letters, they say, are weighty and strong;—[Al­lusive references to what had been said of Paul at Corinth by the false teachers have already appeared in this epistle (2 Corinthians 1:17; 2 Corinthians 3:1; 2 Corinthians 5:12-13). Here for the first time the very words are quoted. The scorn conveyed in them had deeply wounded him; and we have here the nearest approach which the New Testament presents of the passionate complaints poured forth by David. (Psalms 69:1-21; Psalms 109:1-5). We note the common element of a burning indignation under the sense of wrong; but also the absence from his feelings of the maledictory ele­ment which is so prominent in David. The meekness and gentleness of Christ had not been without their effect in tem­pering even the most vehement emotions.]

but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no ac­count.—His enemies said that his letters were brave and strong, but when present in body he was cowardly and sub­servient. [These words give remarkable significance to a pas­sage in an epistle written shortly after this, which says: “Ye know that because of an infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you the first time: and that which was a tempta­tion to you in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but ye received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 4:13-14). There is manifestly a contrast present to his thoughts between the mean insults of his opposers at Corinth and the affection which the Galatians had once manifested, and which made their subsequent alienation all the more painful to him.]

Verse 11

2Co 10:11

2 Corinthians 10:11

Let such a one reckon this, that, what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such are we also in deed when we are present.—He warned those who so charged that, as he wrote, he would when present act with vigor and promptness.

Verse 12

2Co 10:12

2 Corinthians 10:12

For we are not bold to number or compare ourselves with certain of them that commend themselves:—This charge of self-commendation Paul’s opponents had leveled at him (2 Corinthians 3:1; 2 Corinthians 5:12), whereas it was they themselves who were guilty of the practice. He boldly asserts that he has not the courage to range himself among such boasters.

but they themselves, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves,—Men who com­mend themselves, having nothing but themselves with which to measure themselves, can only end by boasting immeasura­bly; and Paul frankly confesses, that he has not the courage to join such a company.

are without understanding—They who so measure them­selves are foolish. Wisdom tests all things by the will of God. The only wise way is to lose confidence in self, and ear­nestly seek the standard God has given. The heart that loses sight of its own ways, and comes to trust to divine guidance and light is wise. The great trouble with most religious peo­ple is that they desire to honor God, but desire to do it in their own way. They have confidence in their own ability to invent ways that will please God. They please themselves, satisfy their own conscience, and take this as satisfactory evi­dence that they please God. This is a fatal mistake. Christ, to correct this error, said: “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my sayings, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I spake, the same shall judge him in the last day.” (John 12:48). We are not to be judged in the last day by our con­science, by our standards of right, by what we have been taught, nor by the agreement of public sentiment, but by the word spoken by the Lord to guide man. The great difficulty with man is to bring himself to the point that he sincerely de­sires to do the will of God.

Verse 13

2Co 10:13

2 Corinthians 10:13

But we will not glory beyond our measure, but according to the measure of the province which God apportioned to us as a measure,—God gave Paul a rule by which he walked, and worked, and by that rule he measured himself, and he did not boast of anything without this measure. [In opposition to the false teachers, who not only boasted of gifts which they did not possess, but appropriated to themselves the fruits of other men’s labors by intruding into churches which they had not founded, Paul says he did neither the one nor the other. His glorying was neither immoderate, nor was it founded on what others had done. He invaded no man’s sphere of labor. It was his settled purpose to preach the gospel where Christ had not been named, and not to build on another man’s foundation. (Romans 15:20).]

to reach even unto you.—[Acting on this principle he had the right to regard Corinth as legitimately within his field. His assigned limit of labor reached at least that far. He founded the church at Corinth; others built thereon. (1 Corinthians 3:10). The church was his work in the Lord.]

Verse 14

2Co 10:14

2 Corinthians 10:14

For we stretch not ourselves overmuch, as though we reached not unto you:—He did not go beyond his measure when he came to them. The work he performed by the mea­sure God gave him brought him unto them.

for we came even as far as unto you in the gospel of Christ:—Walking by the rule God gave him he came unto them in preaching the gospel of Christ. [The idea involved in over­extension is as in verse 12 of a commensurateness between the person and the place which he holds, such as exists be­tween a man and a fitting garment. If anyone wishing to be great undertakes a province which he cannot fill, he overmea­sures himself. This was not the case with Paul, for God gave him his province, and he filled the Corinthian district of it, having taken possession before anyone else had set foot on it.]

Verse 15

2Co 10:15

2 Corinthians 10:15

not glorying beyond our measure, that is, in other men’s labors;—He did not boast of things not accomplished by him­self working by this rule, or accomplished by other men.

but having hope that, as your faith groweth, we shall be magnified in you according to our province unto further abun­dance,—After he had trained them and gone to other points of labor, he would receive help from them, as he had from the Philippians, who sent to him once and again (Philippians 4:14-17).

Verse 16

2Co 10:16

2 Corinthians 10:16

so as to preach the gospel even unto the parts beyond you,—He hoped that when their faith was strengthened they would enable him in accordance with this rule to preach the gospel in regions beyond them. That is, that they would as­sist him while he was preaching in the regions beyond them.

and not to glory in another’s province in regard of things ready to our hand.—Paul did not like to build upon another man’s foundation. It was his ambition to preach where the gospel was not known. So he did not boast of work done by others as these false apostles had done, taking his work, per­verting it, and boasting of it as though done by themselves. Paul could not do this. When he said God had given him this rule, he did not mean that God required him to work without being chargeable to those to whom he preached, but that he had enabled him to work by it successfully.

Verse 17

2Co 10:17

2 Corinthians 10:17

But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.—Paul would not glory in what others had done. He would only glory in what the Lord had enabled him to do. What he did under the direction of the Lord, the Lord did through him—he enabled him to do it. (Jeremiah 9:24). Paul reproved in this those who came, entered into his work, decried him, boasted in, and perverted what he had done.

Verse 18

2Co 10:18

2 Corinthians 10:18

For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.—The Lord commends those through whom he works. He commended the apostles by his presence and power in spiritual gifts bestowed. [Paul did not commend himself; his claims were not founded on the sugges­tions of self-conceit; neither did he rely on the commendation of others, his eyes were fixed on God. If he could secure his favor, it was to him a small matter to be judged by man’s judgment (1 Corinthians 4:3).]

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/2-corinthians-10.html.
 
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