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2 Corinthians 10:1. Now I Paul, &c.— St. Paul having finished his exhortation to liberality in the collection for the Christians at Jerusalem, he resumes his former argument, and prosecutes the main purpose of this epistle; which was, totally to reduce and put a final end to the adverse faction,—which seems not yet to have been entirely extinct,—bybringing the Corinthians wholly off from the false apostle, to whom they had adhered; and to re-establish himself and his authority in the minds of all the members of that church. Thinking it fit to forbear all severity till he had, by fair means, reduced as many of the contrary party as he could, (see 2 Corinthians 10:6.) he begins his discourse here by conjuring them by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, as an examplewhichmightexcusehisdelayofinflictingpunishmentupontheringleadersand chief offenders, without giving them reason to think it was for want of power. It seems very probable that they had upbraided and reflected upon him in some such language as that in the close of the verse: but there was a sense in which he was indeed lowly among them, his presence having nothing majestic. See 2 Corinthians 10:10. Instead of base, Dr. Heylin reads mean.
2 Corinthians 10:2. As if we walked according to the flesh— "As if in my conduct and ministry I regulated myself by carnal considerations, by low and mercenary views."
2 Corinthians 10:3. For though we walk, &c.— "For though we inhabit mortal bodies, and are obliged, in some respects, to stoop to the care of them; yet we do not manage that important war in which we are engaged according to the flesh, by carnal methods, or with worldly or interested views." Mr. Cradock explains this somewhat differently: "Though we are not free from a mixture of human infirmities, yet I do not exercise my apostolical power in a weak manner, as either fearing or flattering men; but use such spiritual weapons as Christian fortitude, zeal, freedom in speaking the truths of God, and courage in administering the censures of the church; which, through the divine concurrence, are very effectual."An ingenious critic would render the verse thus: For walking IN the flesh, not ACCORDING TO the flesh, we carry on our warfare.
2 Corinthians 10:4. For the weapons of our warfare, &c.— What are the carnal weapons, and those opposed to them, which he calls mighty through God, may be seen, if we read and compare 1Co 1:23-24 with the 2nd. chap. 1-13 and 2 Corinthians 4:2-6.
2 Corinthians 10:5. And bringing into captivity every thought,— The believing soul, when its carnal fortificationsaredemolished,submitsto the conqueror; and then every thought, every reasoning takes law from him. Nothing is admitted which contradicts the gospel, Christ being acknowledged as absolute master. The former clause shews how ready men are to fortify themselves against him, and to raise as it were one barrier behind another to obstruct his entrance into the soul. See Romans 15:18-19.
2 Corinthians 10:6. And having in a readiness, &c.— Those whom the Apostle here addresses are the Corinthian converts, who had been too much influenced by the false apostle. Of him the Apostle seems to have no hopes, ch. 2Co 11:13-15 and therefore he every where threatens, and here particularly in the present and 11th verse, to make an example of him and his adherents, (if any were so obstinate as still to remain with him,) when he had brought back all the Corinthians whom he could hope to prevail upon. It should be remembered, that before this time the Apostle had smitten Elymas with blindness; and it is highly probable from this whole passage before us, that some other miracles of this awful kind had been wrought by him, though they are not recorded in scripture.
2 Corinthians 10:8. Somewhat more— See ch. 2 Corinthians 11:23. The next clause contains another reason insinuated by the Apostle for his forbearing any severity for the present towards them. I should not be ashamed, infers, "Because the truth would justify me in it."
2 Corinthians 10:10. His bodily presence is weak, &c.— Chrysostome, Nicephorus, and Lucian, relate of St. Paul, that his stature was low, his body crooked, and his head bald; which seem to be the infirmities here referred to. See on ch. 2 Corinthians 12:7.
2 Corinthians 10:12. But they, measuring themselves by themselves,— Dr. Whitby would render it measuring themselves by one another; as if they compared themselves with their false apostles, and grew proud in the degree in which they resembled them in accurateness and eloquence, or other things on which those deceitful teachers valued themselves. But it is more natural to think the meaning is, "They looked continually on themselves, surveying their own great imaginary furniture, but not considering the vastly superior abilities of many others; and so formed a disproportionate opinion of themselves:" and this is every where one of the greatest sources of pride.Mr. Locke observes, that this is spoken ironically: and instead of are not wise, he reads do not understand; namely, that they ought not to intrude themselves into a church planted by another man, and there vaunt and set themselves above him who planted it,—which is the meaning of the following verses.
2 Corinthians 10:13. Without our measure,— The original word Αμετρα, here and in 2Co 10:15 does not signify immense, or immoderate, but something which had not been measured out and allotted to him; something which is not committed to him,nor within his province.
2 Corinthians 10:14. For we are come as far, &c.— This seems to charge the false Apostle, the grand leader of the faction, who had caused all this disturbance in the church of Corinth, that without being appointed to it, without preaching the gospel in his way thither, as became an apostle, he had unlawfully crept into that church
2 Corinthians 10:15-16. Not boasting, &c.— That is, "Not intermeddling, or assuming to myself an authority to meddle, or any honour for doing so." St. Paul here visibly taxes the false Apostle for coming into a church converted and gathered by another, and there pretending to be somebody, and to rule all. This, among several other passages, shews, that the opposition made to St. Paul was owing chiefly to one man, who had placed himself at the head of the faction; for it is plain that it was a stranger, who came thither after St. Paul had planted this church; who pretending to be more an Apostle than St. Paul, with greater illumination and more power, set upagainst him, to govern that church, and withdraw the Corinthians from following the rules and doctrines of St. Paul and the Gospel. Now it can never he supposed to be a combination of men, who came to Corinth with that design; nor that they were different men, who came thither separately, each setting up for himself; for then they would have fallen out one with another, as well as with St. Paul; and in both cases he must have spoken of them in a different way from what he does now. In 1Co 3:10 he plainly speaks of one man. Instead of—measure, that is, of other men's labours, 2Co 10:15 some read, measure in other men's labours; and instead of another man's line, 2 Corinthians 10:16 another man's rule or province. It is certain, the Apostle did go to places already converted, to confirm and establish his brethren in the faith; but this was chiefly where he had himself planted churches: though he mighttake some others in his way, which it would have been affectation and disrespect, rather than modesty, to have avoided. But he did not speak of churches thus visited, as if he were the founder of them, as his opposers probably did; pouring contempt on St. Paul's labours, as if they were hardly to be called Christian churches, which he had left, as they pretended, in so unformed and unfinished a state.
2 Corinthians 10:18. But whom the Lord commendeth.— Particularly by the gifts of the Holy Ghost. It is of these weapons of his warfare that St. Paul speaks in this chapter; and it is by them that he intends to try which is the true Apostle, when he comes to them.
Inferences.—With what meekness and condescension, in imitation of our blessed Lord, should his servants labour to win over such, as are unreasonably prejudiced against them and their ministrations; and yet with what authority should they vindicate the honour of Christ, in rebuking those who, after all, continue obstinate in their disobedience to him, as speaking by them! Though faithful minister's are men of like passions and infirmities with others, and make but a mean figure in the world, while they dwell in mortal flesh; yet they are not to be judged of by outward appearance; nor are they governed by carnal principles and views in their work and warfare, as many false pretenders are. And, O how victorious and triumphant is the gospel which they preach, when attended with the mighty power of God, to beat down the strong-holds of sin and Satan; to overcome the perverse reasonings of carnal minds, and all their pride and prejudices; and to subdue them to the obedience of Christ! When his ministering servants have a witness in themselves that they are Christ's, it is sometimes necessary for them to assert it, in confutation of those who would unrighteously reproach them, as though they assumed too much to themselves, or acted an inconsistent part in different situations: and yet how careful should they be, to avoid all appearances of vain-boasting, or of going out of their province, to the hindrance and disturbance of other churches! And, as ever they would be approved of God in all that they do, they should take heed of priding themselves in any thing, that they are, have, or perform; and glory only in the Lord, as ascribing the praise of all entirely to him.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Nowhere had the Apostle met with more malignant insinuations, than from the false teachers at Corinth; he is obliged therefore, in justice to himself, to refute their slanders. See the Annotations.
1. Though he had it in his power to punish, he rather chose mildly to entreat, imitating the meekness and gentleness of his blessed Master. The false teachers reviled him as a poor despicable animal, and mean in his abilities; as diminutive in his stature, who fawned and cringed when present, but when absent wrote in a magisterial stile; terrifying them into compliance with his will, by vain boasts of his apostolic rod. But he wished not to be compelled to exercise the power wherewith he was invested, and to their faces boldy to rebuke, and severely chastise, those who dared insinuate as if he walked after the flesh, with views of secular advantage, and influenced by carnal policy. Note; (1.) However great provocations we may meet with, the example of the meek and gentle Lamb of God should ever be in our eye. (2.) If men will not be reformed, they will be ruined. (3.) The best of men and ministers may expect malignant traducers.
2. He asserts the integrity of his preaching and conduct. For though we walk in the flesh, surrounded with the common infirmities of humanity, we do not war after the flesh, under the maxims of fleshly wisdom, or for any selfish ends. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal; we war not against the powers of evil with an arm of flesh, or pretend to convince by mere human persuasion; but that Gospel we preach, becomes effectual through divine operation, and is mighty through God, the Spirit's energy, to the pulling down of the strong-holds of sin and Satan in the world, and in the hearts of men; casting down imaginations, confuting the corrupt reasonings of self-righteous rabbis and proud philosophers; and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, confounding the pride and self-sufficiency of the unhumbled heart; and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; engaging the sinner to bow to his gentle yoke; submitting his reason to revelation, his will to the commands of Jesus, and in every sentiment of his soul yielding a willing subjection to the authority of the great Redeemer. Note; (1.) Men are not to be persuaded by the sword, but by the gospel. (2.) Satan's power is strong in the human heart; nothing but the power of Jesus can dethrone him. (3.) Nothing is more opposite to the knowledge of God, than a high conceit of our own wisdom.
3. He threatens the offenders, having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, and inflict condign punishment on these false teachers, and maligners of the true apostles; when your obedience is fulfilled, and milder methods have recovered the penitent members from those who continue refractory.
2nd, The Apostle reasons the case with the Corinthians. Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? and form your judgment merely on external show? If any man trust to himself, that he is Christ's, that he belongs to him as a member of his body mystical, or is commissioned by him as a minister; let him of himself think this again, that as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's; whatever evidence he may produce of the one or the other, I can at least equal him. For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, than I have done, or than the vainest of my traducers dare to do concerning the powers with which they are invested, (which authority the Lord hath given us for edification of his church, and not for your destruction, to drive offenders to despair by severity,) I should not be ashamed, but dare speak with truth and confidence. But I forbear, that I may not seem, as these men suggest, as if I would terrify you by letters. For his letters, say they, are weighty and peaceful; wrote in an authoritative strain, and big with menaces: but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible; he appears with no dignity of presence and aspect, and his parts and elocution are as despicable as his stature. In answer to such a contemptuous insult, I reply,
1. Let such an one think this, and be assured that such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present, and execute every threatening that we denounce against the obstinately impenitent.
2. We never act with falsehood and orientation, like these seducers; for we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves, puffed up with vain conceit, and blinded with self-admiration: but while they fondly value themselves on their imaginary greatness, measuring themselves by themselves, and supposing themselves the standard of excellence, and comparing themselves among themselves, by the poor and insignificant endowments of others equally vain, they are not wise, foolishly fancying they are something, when in fact they are nothing. Note; All self-applause is hateful. We should look to the superior excellencies of others to be humble, and not proudly vaunt ourselves over those beneath us.
3. The Apostle lays down the proper rule of conduct. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you: like those who run in the Isthmian games, we have kept the line marked out for our race, and in a regular course have preached the Gospel as far as Corinth. For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as these false Apostles do, as though we reached not unto you, and had in coming to Corinth entered into another man's province; for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the Gospel of Christ, through countries where his name had not been heard before; not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours, and taking to myself the credit of their success; but having hope when your faith is increased, your church affairs regulated, and your divisions healed, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly, to preach the Gospel in the regions beyond you, where darkness still reigns uncontrouled; and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand, assuming to myself the honour of their labours. But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord, ascribing to the grace of God alone the whole of whatever gifts he enjoys, or success he may be blessed with, and taking no praise to himself: for not he that commendeth himself, is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth; and his approbation is the only true and substantial honour.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24