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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

2 Corinthians 10

Verse 1

Now I Paul myself (Αυτος δε εγω Παυλος). Cf. Galatians 5:2. Paul now turns to the third part of the epistle in chapters 2 Corinthians 10:10-13 in which he vigorously defends himself against the accusations of the stubborn minority of Judaizers in Corinth. Great ministers of Christ through the ages have had to pass through fiery trials like these. Paul has shown the way for us all. He speaks of himself now plainly, but under compulsion, as is clear. It may be that at this point he took the pen from the amanuensis and wrote himself as in Galatians 6:11.

By the meekness and gentleness of Christ (δια τες πραυτητος κα επιεικιας του Χριστου). This appeal shows (Plummer) that Paul had spoken to the Corinthians about the character of Christ. Jesus claimed meekness for himself (Matthew 11:29) and felicitated the meek (Matthew 5:5) and he exemplified it abundantly (Luke 23:34). See on Matthew 5:15; 1 Corinthians 4:21 for this great word that has worn thin with us. Plutarch combines πραυτης with επιεικια as Paul does here. Matthew Arnold suggested "sweet reasonableness" for επιεικεια in Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch. It is in the N.T. only here and Acts 24:4 (το επιεικες in Philippians 4:5). In Greek Ethics the equitable man was called επιεικης, a man who does not press for the last farthing of his rights (Bernard).

Lowly among you (ταπεινος εν υμιν). The bad use of ταπεινος, the old use, but here alone in N.T. in that meaning. Socrates and Aristotle used it for littleness of soul. Probably Paul here is quoting one of the sneers of his traducers in Corinth about his humble conduct while with them (1 Corinthians 2:23; 2 Corinthians 7:6) and his boldness (απων θαρρω) when away (1 Corinthians 7:16). "It was easy to satirize and misrepresent a depression of spirits, a humility of demeanour, which were either the direct results of some bodily affliction, or which the consciousness of this affliction had rendered habitual" (Farrar). The words stung Paul to the quick.

Verse 2

I beseech (δεομα). So here, but παρακαλω in verse 2 Corinthians 10:1. Perhaps, "I beg" suits the new turn here.

That I may not when present show courage (το μη παρων θαρρησα). Articular infinitive (aorist active of θαρρεω) in the accusative case with negative μη the direct object of δεομα. Literally, "I beg the not when present (παρων nominative present participle agreeing with subject of θαρρω in spite of being in the accusative infinitive clause, το μη θαρρησα) showing courage." The example of humility in Christ makes Paul drop "from magisterial exhortation to earnest entreaty" (Plummer).

As if we walked according to the flesh (ως κατα σαρκα περιπατουντας). Another sneering charge as made plain by the use of ως with the participle for the alleged reason.

Verse 3

In the flesh (εν σαρκ). But that is a very different thing from walking κατα σαρκα according to the standards of the flesh as his enemies charged. It is easy enough to make insinuations.

We war (στρατευομεθα). Literary plural again after λογιζομα in verse 2 Corinthians 10:2. Old word to lead an army (στρατος). In N.T. only in the middle as here. Paul admits that he fights, but only the devil and his agents even if wearing the livery of heaven. Paul knew the Roman army well. He knows how to use the military metaphor.

Verse 4

The weapons of our warfare (τα οπλα της στρατειας). Στρατεια (old word, in N.T. only here and 1 Timothy 1:18) is

campaign and not army as some MSS. have (στρατια). But both στρατεια and στρατια occur in the papyri for the same word (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 181f.). For οπλα (Latin arma) see on 2 Corinthians 6:7; Romans 6:13; Romans 13:12.

Of the flesh (σαρκικα). See on 1 Corinthians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 1:12. They had accused him of artifices and craft.

Mighty before God (δυνατα τω θεω). This dative of personal interest (ethical dative) can be like αστειος τω θεω (Acts 7:20), in God's eyes, as it looks to God.

To the casting down of strongholds (προς καθαιρεσιν οχυρωματων). Καθαιρεσις is old word from καθαιρεω, to take down, to tear down walls and buildings. Carries on the military metaphor. Οχυρωμα is old word, common in the Apocrypha, from οχυροω, to fortify, and that from οχυρος (from εχω, to hold fast). Nowhere else in N.T. In Cilicia the Romans had to tear down many rocky forts in their attacks on the pirates.

Verse 5

Casting down imaginations (λογισμους καθαιρουντες). The same military figure (καθαιρεσις) and the present active participle agreeing with στρατευομεθα in verse 2 Corinthians 10:3 (verse 2 Corinthians 10:4 a parenthesis). The reasonings or imaginations (λογισμους, old word from λογιζομα, to reckon, only here in N.T. and Romans 2:15) are treated as forts or citadels to be conquered.

Every high thing that is exalted (παν υψωμα επαιρομενον). Same metaphor. Hυψωμα from υψοω is late Koine word (in LXX, Plutarch, Philo, papyri) for height and that figure carried on by επαιρομενον. Paul aims to pull down the top-most perch of audacity in their reasonings against the knowledge of God. We need Paul's skill and courage today.

Bringing every thought into captivity (αιχμαλωτιζοντες παν νοημα). Present active participle of αιχμαλωτιζω, common Koine verb from αιχμαλωτος, captive in war (αιχμη, spear, αλωτος verbal of αλισκομα, to be taken). See on Luke 21:24. Paul is the most daring of thinkers, but he lays all his thoughts at the feet of Jesus. For νοημα (device) see on 2 Corinthians 2:11.

To the obedience of Christ (εις την υπακοην του Χριστου). Objective genitive, "to the obedience unto Christ." That is Paul's conception of intellectual liberty, freedom in Christ. Deissmann (St. Paul, p. 141) calls this "the mystic genitive."

Verse 6

Being in readiness (εν ετοιμω εχοντες). This very idiom occurs in Polybius, Philo, etc. "Holding in readiness." In 2 Corinthians 12:14 we have ετοιμως εχω for the same idea (adverb ετοιμως).

Disobedience (παρακοην). Rare word (Plato, papyri) hearing amiss (aside), failing to hear, refusing to heed (cf. Matthew 18:17 for same idea in παρακουω). In N.T. only here; Romans 5:19; Hebrews 2:2. In contrast with υπακοη (obedience) rather than the common απειθια (Romans 11:30; Romans 11:32).

When your obedience shall be fulfilled (οταν πληρωθη υμων η υπακοη). Indefinite temporal clause with οταν and first aorist passive subjunctive. Paul expects that the whole church will become obedient to Christ's will soon as came true.

Verse 7

Ye look (Βλεπετε). Either indicative or imperative. Either makes sense but the indicative the best sense.

Before your face (κατα προσωπον). They ought to look below the surface. If it is imperative, they should see the facts.

That he is Christ's (Χριστου εινα). Predicate genitive in indirect discourse).

Verse 8

Somewhat abundantly (περισσοτερον τ). Comparative, "somewhat more abundantly" than I have, in order to show that he is as true a minister of Christ as his accusers are. Concessive (conditional) clause of third class. For εαν τε see Romans 14:8.

I shall not be put to shame (ουκ αισχυνθησομα). As a convicted impostor or pretentious boaster (Plummer). First future passive, singular number (not literary plural as in verse 2 Corinthians 10:7).

Verse 9

As if I would terrify you by my letters (ως αν εκφοβειν υμας δια των επιστολων). This use of ως αν with the infinitive is seen in the papyri (Moulton, Prolegomena, p. 167) and it is not αν in the apodosis (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 974, 1040). The active of this old compound verb means to frighten, to terrify. Here only in N.T. It is common in the LXX (Job 7:14; Job 33:16). Note plural (letters) here and cf. 1 Corinthians 5:9; 2 Corinthians 2:3.

Verse 10

They say (φασιν). Reading of B old Latin Vulgate, but Westcott and Hort prefer φησιν (says one, the leader). This charge Paul quotes directly.

Weighty and strong (βαρεια κα ισχυρα). These adjectives can be uncomplimentary and mean "severe and violent" instead of "impressive and vigorous." The adjectives bear either sense.

His bodily presence (η παρουσια του σωματος). This certainly is uncomplimentary. "The presence of his body." It seems clear that Paul did not have a commanding appearance like that of Barnabas (Acts 14:12). He had some physical defect of the eyes (Galatians 4:14) and a thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7). In the second century Acts of Paul and Thecla he is pictured as small, short, bow-legged, with eye-brows knit together, and an aquiline nose. A forgery of the fourth century in the name of Lucian describes Paul as "the bald-headed, hook-nosed Galilean." However that may be, his accusers sneered at his personal appearance as "weak" (ασθενης).

His speech of no account (ο λογος εξουθενημενος). Perfect passive participle of εξουθενεω, to treat as nothing (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:28). The Corinthians (some of them) cared more for the brilliant eloquence of Apollos and did not find Paul a trained rhetorician (1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 2:1; 1 Corinthians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 11:6). He made different impressions on different people. "Seldom has any one been at once so ardently hated and so passionately loved as St. Paul" (Deissmann, St. Paul, p. 70). "At one time he seemed like a man, and at another he seemed like an angel" (Acts of Paul and Thecla). He spoke like a god at Lystra (Acts 14:8-12), but Eutychus went to sleep on him (Acts 20:9). Evidently Paul winced under this biting criticism of his looks and speech.

Verse 11

What we are (οιο εσμεν). Rather, "what sort" (οιο), not ο (what) nor ο (who). Literary plural. Hοιος is qualitative just as τοιουτο (such). Paul's quality in his letters when absent (αποντες) and in his deeds when present (παροντες) is precisely the same.

Verse 12

To number or compare ourselves (ενκρινα η συνκρινα). Paronomasia here, play on the two words. Ενκρινα is first aorist active infinitive of old verb, but here only in N.T., to judge among, to judge one as worthy to be numbered among as here. The second verb συνκρινα (first aorist active infinitive of συνκρινω, old verb, in N.T. only here and 1 Corinthians 2:13) originally meant to combine as in 1 Corinthians 2:13 (which see), but here it has the sense of "compare" not found in the old Greek. The papyri use it to mean to decide. Plummer suggests "to pair and compare" for the play on the words here.

Measuring themselves by themselves (εν εαυτοις εαυτους μετρουντες). Or "in themselves." Keenest sarcasm. Setting themselves up as the standards of orthodoxy these Judaizers always measure up to the standard while Paul falls short.

Comparing themselves with themselves (συνκρινοντες εαυτους εαυτοις). Associate instrumental case εαυτοις after συνκρινοντες (verb just explained). Paul is not keen to fall into the trap set for him.

Are without understanding (ου συνιασιν). The regular form for present active indicative third plural of συνιημ, to comprehend, to grasp. Some MSS. have the late form συνιουσιν (omega form συνιω). It is a hard thing to see, but it is true. These men do not see their own picture so obvious to others (Ephesians 5:17; 1 Timothy 1:7). Cf. Mark 8:17.

Verse 13

Beyond our measure (εις τα αμετρα). "Into the unmeasured things," "the illimitable." Old word, here only in N.T.

Of the province (του κανονος). Old word (καννα like Hebrew) a reed, a measuring rod. Numerous papyri examples for measuring rod and rules (our word canon). Only twice in N.T., here (also verse 2 Corinthians 10:15; 2 Corinthians 10:16) and Galatians 6:16 (rule to walk by).

To reach even unto you (εφικεσθα αχρ κα υμων). Second aorist middle infinitive of εφικνεομα, old verb, only here and verse 2 Corinthians 10:14 in N.T. Paul's measuring-rod extends to Corinth.

Verse 14

We stretch not ourselves overmuch (ου υπερεκτεινομεν εαυτους). Apparently Paul made this double compound verb to express his full meaning (only in Gregory Nazianzen afterwards). "We do not stretch ourselves out beyond our rights."

We came even as far as unto you (αχρ κα υμων εφθασαμεν). First aorist active indicative of φθανω, to come before, to precede, the original idea which is retained in Matthew 12:28 (Luke 11:20) and may be so here. If so, it means "We were the first to come to you" (which is true, Acts 18:1-18).

Verse 15

In other men's labours (εν αλλοτριοις κοποις). Αλλοτριος means belonging to another as in Luke 16:12. Paul founded the church in Corinth.

As your faith groweth (αυξανομενης της πιστεως). Genitive absolute of the present passive participle of αυξανω, to grow.

We shall be magnified (μεγαλυνθηνα). First aorist passive infinitive of μεγαλυνω, old verb (Luke 1:46) to make great (cf. Philippians 1:20 of Christ). Indirect discourse after ελπιδα (hope) with the construction of ελπιζω, to hope.

Verse 16

Even unto the parts beyond you (εις τα υπερεκεινα υμων). Compound adverb (υπερ, εκεινα, beyond those places) used as preposition. Found only here and in ecclesiastical writers.

Things ready to our hand (τα ετοιμα). He had a plenty besides that he could use.

Verse 17

Paul quotes Proverbs 27:2.

Verse 18

Is approved (δοκιμος). Accepted (from δεχομα) by the Lord. The Lord accepts his own recommendation (συνιστησιν, see on 2 Corinthians 3:1).

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/2-corinthians-10.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.