Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

2 Corinthians 10

Verse 1

Now I Paul myself (Αυτος δε εγω ΠαυλοςAutos de egō Paulos). Cf. Galatians 5:2. Paul now turns to the third part of the epistle in chapters 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 και επιεικιας του Χριστουdia tes prautētos kai epieikias tou Christou). 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 note on Matthew 5:5 and 1 Corinthians 4:21 for this great word that has worn thin with us. Plutarch combines πραυτηςprautēs with επιεικιαepieikia as Paul does here. Matthew Arnold suggested “sweet reasonableness” for επιεικειαepieikeia in Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch. It is in the N.T. only here and Acts 24:4 (το επιεικεςto epieikes in Philippians 4:5). In Greek Ethics the equitable man was called επιεικηςepieikēs a man who does not press for the last farthing of his rights (Bernard).

Lowly among you (ταπεινος εν υμινtapeinos en humin). The bad use of ταπεινοςtapeinos 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 2:2, 1 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 7:6) and his boldness (απων ταρρωapōn tharrō) 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 (δεομαιdeomai). So here, but παρακαλωparakalō in 2 Corinthians 10:1. Perhaps, “I beg” suits the new turn here.

That I may not when present show courage (το μη παρων ταρρησαιto mē parōn tharrēsai). Articular infinitive (aorist active of ταρρεωtharreō) in the accusative case with negative μηmē the direct object of δεομαιdeomai Literally, “I beg the not when present (παρωνparōn nominative present participle agreeing with subject of ταρρωtharrō in spite of being in the accusative infinitive clause, το μη ταρρησαιto mē tharrēsai) 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 περιπατουνταςhōs kata sarka peripatountas). Another sneering charge as made plain by the use of ωςhōs with the participle for the alleged reason.

Verse 3

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

We war (στρατευομεταstrateuometha). Literary plural again after λογιζομαιlogizomai in 2 Corinthians 10:2. Old word to lead an army (στρατοςstratos). 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 στρατειαςta hopla tēs strateias). ΣτρατειαStrateia (old word, in N.T. only here and 1 Timothy 1:18) is campaign and not army as some MSS. have (στρατιαstratia). But both στρατειαstrateia and στρατιαstratia occur in the papyri for the same word (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 181f.). For οπλαhopla (Latin arma) see note on 2 Corinthians 6:7; note on Romans 6:13; note on Romans 13:12.

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

Mighty before God (δυνατα τωι τεωιdunata tōi theōi). This dative of personal interest (ethical dative) can be like αστειος τωι τεωιasteios tōi theōi (Acts 7:20), in God‘s eyes, as it looks to God.

To the casting down of strongholds (προς καταιρεσιν οχυρωματωνpros kathairesin ochurōmatōn). ΚαταιρεσιςKathairesis is old word from καταιρεωkathaireō to take down, to tear down walls and buildings. Carries on the military metaphor. ΟχυρωμαOchurōma is old word, common in the Apocrypha, from οχυροωochuroō to fortify, and that from οχυροςochuros (from εχωechō 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 καταιρουντεςlogismous kathairountes). The same military figure (καταιρεσιςkathairesis) and the present active participle agreeing with στρατευομεταstrateuometha in 2 Corinthians 10:3 (2 Corinthians 10:4 a parenthesis). The reasonings or imaginations (λογισμουςlogismous old word from λογιζομαιlogizomai 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 υπσωμα επαιρομενονpan hupsōma epairomenon). Same metaphor. υπσωμαHupsōma from υπσοωhupsoō is late Koiné{[28928]}š word (in lxx, Plutarch, Philo, papyri) for height and that figure carried on by επαιρομενονepairomenon 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 νοημαaichmalōtizontes pān noēma). Present active participle of αιχμαλωτιζωaichmalōtizō common Koiné{[28928]}š verb from αιχμαλωτοςaichmalōtos captive in war (αιχμηaichmē spear, αλωτοςhalōtos verbal of αλισκομαιhaliskomai to be taken). See note on Luke 21:24. Paul is the most daring of thinkers, but he lays all his thoughts at the feet of Jesus. For noēma (device) see note on 2 Corinthians 2:11.

To the obedience of Christ (eis tēn hupakoēn tou Christou). 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 ετοιμωι εχοντεςen hetoimōi echontes). This very idiom occurs in Polybius, Philo, etc. “Holding in readiness.” In 2 Corinthians 12:14 we have ετοιμως εχωhetoimōs echō for the same idea (adverb ετοιμωςhetoimōs).

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

When your obedience shall be fulfilled (οταν πληρωτηι υμων η υπακοηhotan plērōthēi humōn hē hupakoē). Indefinite temporal clause with οτανhotan 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 (λεπετεBlepete). Either indicative or imperative. Either makes sense but the indicative the best sense.

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

That he is Christ‘s (Χριστου ειναιChristou einai). Predicate genitive in indirect discourse).

Verse 8

Somewhat abundantly (περισσοτερον τιperissoteron ti). 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 τεean te see note on Romans 14:8.

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

Verse 9

As if I would terrify you by my letters (ως αν εκποβειν υμας δια των επιστολωνhōs an ekphobein humas dia tōn epistolōn). This use of ως ανhōs an with the infinitive is seen in the papyri (Moulton, Prolegomena, p. 167) and it is not ανan 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; 33:16). Note plural (letters) here and cf. 1 Corinthians 5:9; 2 Corinthians 2:3.

Verse 10

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

Weighty and strong (πησινbareiai kai ischurai). These adjectives can be uncomplimentary and mean “severe and violent” instead of “impressive and vigorous.” The adjectives bear either sense.

His bodily presence (βαρειαι και ισχυραιhē parousia tou sōmatos). 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” (η παρουσια του σωματοςasthenēs).

His speech of no account (αστενηςho logos exouthenēmenos). Perfect passive participle of ο λογος εχουτενημενοςexoutheneō 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 (οιοι εσμενhoioi esmen). Rather, “what sort” (οιοιhoioi), not οho (what) nor οιhoi (who). Literary plural. οιοςHoios is qualitative just as τοιουτοιtoioutoi (such). Paul‘s quality in his letters when absent (αποντεςapontes) and in his deeds when present (παροντεςparontes) is precisely the same.

Verse 12

To number or compare ourselves (ενκριναι η συνκριναιenkrinai ē sunkrinai). Paronomasia here, play on the two words. ΕνκριναιEnkrinai 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 συνκριναιsunkrinai (first aorist active infinitive of συνκρινωsunkrinō 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 μετρουντεςen heautois heautous metrountes). 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 εαυτοιςsunkrinontes heautous heautois). Associate instrumental case εαυτοιςheautois after συνκρινοντεςsunkrinontes (verb just explained). Paul is not keen to fall into the trap set for him.

Are without understanding (ου συνιασινou suniāsin). The regular form for present active indicative third plural of συνιημιsuniēmi to comprehend, to grasp. Some MSS. have the late form συνιουσινsuniousin (omega form συνιωsuniō). 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 αμετραeis ta ametra). “Into the unmeasured things,” “the illimitable.” Old word, here only in N.T.

Of the province (του κανονοςtou kanonos). Old word (κανναkanna 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 2 Corinthians 10:15, 2 Corinthians 10:16) and Galatians 6:16 (rule to walk by).

To reach even unto you (επικεσται αχρι και υμωνephikesthai achri kai humōn). Second aorist middle infinitive of επικνεομαιephikneomai old verb, only here and 2 Corinthians 10:14 in N.T. Paul‘s measuring-rod extends to Corinth.

Verse 14

We stretch not ourselves overmuch (ου υπερεκτεινομεν εαυτουςou huperekteinomen heautous). 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 (αχρι και υμων επτασαμενachri kai humōn ephthasamen). First aorist active indicative of πτανωphthanō 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 κοποιςen allotriois kopois). ΑλλοτριοςAllotrios means belonging to another as in Luke 16:12. Paul founded the church in Corinth.

As your faith groweth (αυχανομενης της πιστεωςauxanomenēs tēs pisteōs). Genitive absolute of the present passive participle of αυχανωauxanō to grow.

We shall be magnified (μεγαλυντηναιmegalunthēnai). First aorist passive infinitive of μεγαλυνωmegalunō old verb (Luke 1:46) to make great (cf. Philemon 1:20 of Christ). Indirect discourse after ελπιδαelpida (hope) with the construction of ελπιζωelpizō to hope.

Verse 16

Even unto the parts beyond you (εις τα υπερεκεινα υμωνeis ta huperekeina humōn). Compound adverb (υπερ εκειναhuperτα ετοιμαekeina beyond those places) used as preposition. Found only here and in ecclesiastical writers.

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

Verse 17

Paul quotes Proverbs 27:2.

Verse 18

Is approved (δοκιμοςdokimos). Accepted (from δεχομαιdechomai) by the Lord. The Lord accepts his own recommendation (συνιστησινsunistēsin see note 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". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.