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Monday, July 15th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 10

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New TestamentSchaff's NT Commentary

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The tone of these concluding chapters is so very different from that of all that precedes them, that though it is impossible to doubt that both came from the same pen (only two or three of the wildest critics have ever alleged the contrary), yet probably some interval took place between the time when the preceding portion was written and that of these three chapters. Perhaps also disquieting news may have come from Corinth of the growing influence of the hostile party, rendering it necessary, as he was so soon to return to it (2 Corinthians 12:14, and 2 Corinthians 13:1), that he should assume the peremptory tone which we find here; for with the loss of his apostolic influence at Corinth, the very truth of that Gospel which he had brought them, and which had made that Church all that it was, would have been fatally affected there.

Verse 1

2 Corinthians 10:1. Now I Paul myself: ‘Hitherto I have addressed you for the most part as associated with others in the work of the Lord; but understand me now as speaking exclusively in my own person’

entreat you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ. These words convey merely different shades of that unruffled placidity of temper which was so wonderfully displayed by the Lord Jesus, that even He Himself holds it up as the outstanding feature of His character, in which He would have His followers to “learn of Him” (Matthew 11:29: and see Isaiah 53:7; John 18:23; Mark 14:60-61; Luke 23:8-9; Luke 23:34);

I who in your presence am lowly among you referring, as we think, to the almost shrinking way in which he carried himself after his disappointing experience at Athens, in ministering to so renowned and luxurious a people as the Corinthians, who doated as much on showy oratory as the Athenians on philosophy (see on 1 Corinthians 2:3-4),

but being absent am of good courage toward you, ‘have the fall courage both of the truth itself and of my office to proclaim it:’

Verse 2

2 Corinthians 10:2. yes, I beseech you, that I may not when present shew courage with the confidence wherewith I reckon to be bold against some, which reckon of us as if we walked according to the flesh. The sense, here touchingly and delicately expressed, is this: ‘By that meekness and gentleness of Christ which I strove to exercise among you, I intreat you not to force me to change my tone, so as to show on my return that stern attitude which fidelity to the truth demands against some who look upon us as weaklings, afraid to face them.’

Verses 3-4

2 Corinthians 10:3-4 . For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God (in God’s estimation) to the casting down of strongholds): [1] ‘Because our weapons are not carnal, they are despised by carnal men; but just on that account are they mighty to overthrow what carnal weapons cannot reach;’

[1] The phrase is essentially a military one, and is used in the LXX. for the capture and destruction of fortresses (Lamentations 2:2; Proverbs 21:22; 1Ma 5:65 ; 1Ma 8:10 ). The apostle speaks as if leading an attack upon the strong defences of the workers of evil, perhaps having his eye on the great systems of idolatry and impurity enthroned at Corinth and throughout the Empire; possibly, too, of the pride and obstinate rebellion of his individual opponents (Plumptre).

Verse 5

2 Corinthians 10:5. casting down imaginations (or ‘reasonings’), and every high thing that is exalted (or ‘exalteth itself) against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. The reference here is to the pride of human reason, which takes upon itself to judge of things supernatural and spiritual on purely natural principles. This was working perilously in the church of Corinth; but, says the apostle, the weapons of our warfare are able to cast all that to the ground, and bring every thought (‘every conception’ [1] ), like a captive, into absolute obedience to what Christ demands in thought and action;

[1] νόημα.

Verse 6

2 Corinthians 10:6. and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. The sound and healthy party in the church whom the apostle identifies with the church itself are here distinguished from the refractory spirits who required stringent measures of repression. But the right condition of the former was to be his first care, that is, their thorough recognition of his apostolic authority, which would be evinced by their “obedience” to his instructions; after that he would deal with the unruly.

Verse 7

2 Corinthians 10:7. Do ye look at things after the outward appearance? (The interrogative form of this clause is, we think, with Meyer, Alford, etc., more natural and lively than the indicative, as Calvin, Stanley, Plumptre, and others take it.)

If any man trusteth in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again with himself, take this other thought along with him,

that as he is Christ’s, go also are we. [1] ‘Let those who set themselves up among you as the special servants of Christ, and supporters of His cause, say what claims they have to this character that are wanting in me; rather, let them evidence their claims by recognising mine.’

[1] The repetition of the word “Christ’s” in the received text is clearly wrong.

Verse 8

2 Corinthians 10:8. For though I should glory somewhat more abundantly of our authority, which the Lord (the Lord Christ, Ephesians 3:7-11) gave for building you up, and not for casting you down, I shall not be put to shame. Two reasons are given for this: it was an authority gifted by the Lord of the Church, and it was given for rearing up the Church.

Verse 9

2 Corinthians 10:9. that I may not seem as if I would terrify you by my letters that is, ‘by my letters only, and at a distance:’ ‘Some seem to think that though I can write terrifying letters, I will be as mild as when I was formerly with you; but they shall find it otherwise, if necessity for action shall arise.’ What follows shows this to be the meaning.

Verse 10

2 Corinthians 10:10. For, His letters, they say, are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account. That the weakness here ascribed to his “bodily presence” refers to his physical weakness, which Plumptre thinks obvious, is far from clear to critics quite as acute and impartial, who think that the context shews the contrast between his tone and manner when present with the Corinthians, and that when merely writing to them; and we cannot but agree with them. Indeed, but for such statements as that in chap. 2 Corinthians 12:7 (on which see the comment), and Galatians 4:13-14, it is very doubtful if bodily infirmity would have been thought of here.

Verse 11

2 Corinthians 10:11. Let such an one reckon this, that what. . . in word by letters when . . . absent, such are we also indeed when. . . absent ‘that our words are no idle threats.’

Verse 12

2 Corinthians 10:12. For we are not bold to number or compare ourselves with certain of them that commend themselves: but t hey themselves measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves, are not wise. The sense of this somewhat obscure verse which contains a kind of play upon two words which cannot be expressed in English seems to be this: ‘Were we as bold as to class ourselves with those self-satisfied, supercilious teachers, who set themselves up as the one standard by which the pretension and character of all Christian teachers are to be tried, then our empty words and weak deeds might be justly held up in contrast; but such shew a want of all understanding.’

Verse 13

2 Corinthians 10:13. But (unlike all these) we will not glory beyond our measure, but (only) according to the measure of the rule which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even to you: ‘We go simply by the line of action divinely assigned to us, and not beyond it.’ As the apostleship of the circumcision was specially committed to Peter, while Paul was sent to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:7-9), so Corinth being probably up to this time the utmost limit westward which his commission had “reached” (see Paley’s Horae Paulinae, chap. 4, No. 12), he says he was only fulfilling it in his ministry there. The next verse expresses this more nakedly.

Verse 15

2 Corinthians 10:15. not glorying ... in other men’s labours, but having hope that, as your faith groweth, we shall be magnified in you . . . unto further abundance ‘be encouraged by our success with you to extend our labours,’ so as to preach the gospel even unto the parts beyond you, and not to glory in another’s line of things made ready to our hand. The principle here laid down was a fixed one with our apostle. See his remarkable statement of it in Romans 15:18-23

Verse 17

2 Corinthians 10:17. But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. So often had he to speak of “glorying” (sixteen times, says Stanley, in this section), that he here finds it needful to remind his readers and himself that the one object of all legitimate glorying is “the Lord” ( Jer 9:24 ; 1 Corinthians 1:29; 1 Corinthians 1:31).

Verse 18

2 Corinthians 10:18. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but he whom the Lord commendeth. This addition is intended for the opponents he has had in view throughout all this chapter.

No wonder that this chapter begins with an apology for indulging in self-commendation, since the former one ended with a condemnation of those who dealt with it. Feeling it to be in the last degree distasteful, the apostle proceeds to state why it had been forced upon him, and in doing so he is led into such details of his personal history as are of extreme interest, and nowhere else even alluded to such as to make us glad of the unwelcome necessity of self-praise.

Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/scn/2-corinthians-10.html. 1879-90.
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