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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
2 Corinthians 10

 

 

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Introduction

2 Corinthians 10:1 to 2 Corinthians 13:10. At this point (2 Corinthians 10:1) Paul turns sharply upon certain opponents and proceeds to defend himself with energy against their attack and insinuations, to enlarge on his claim to obedience and affection, and then adds to stern remonstrance threats of what he will do at his coming if he does not find the situation changed.

The change of tone and attitude which here takes place is both obvious and startling. Up to this point, the letter has been the expression of almost exuberant relief, thankfulness, and confidence; due to the fact that, contrary to what he feared, Paul and the church at Corinth had been reconciled. From this point onward we have the expression of anxiety, alarm, anger. All that in the first part of the letter seems to have been accomplished, here waits for accomplishment. The people whom Paul here addresses are not yet reconciled to him. They are definitely hostile, and they are not an isolated group. They are linked at heart by sympathy with the congregation as a whole.

The explanation which has commonly been given is that in the earlier part of the letter Paul has been dealing with the section (? majority) of the congregation which had partly remained loyal to him, partly returned to their loyalty, and that he now turns to deal with the other section, an obstinate and embittered minority. But in that case there would surely be at the beginning of this section some indication that he was addressing a new class of people, and the earlier part of the letter must have betrayed some consciousness of the presence of this unreconciled section of the people. The difficulty of accounting for this change, sudden, unexplained, and maintained almost to the close of the epistle, is the ground of the opinion now widely held, that 2 Corinthians 10:1 to 2 Corinthians 13:10 belongs not to this but to some other letter sent by Paul to Corinth. It has further been conjectured that we have here part of the intermediate, or "painful" letter. And though that cannot be proved, the contents of these chapters certainly agree very closely with what we can gather as to the character of that letter, and would go far to explain the tense anxiety with which Paul waited to hear how it had been received (2 Corinthians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 2:13, 2 Corinthians 7:6).


Verses 1-6

2 Corinthians 10:1-6. A Warning to Those who Misunderstand and Misrepresent Paul.—The abruptness and emphasis of the opening words, as well as their want of connexion with what precedes, are best explained on the hypothesis that we have here a portion of another letter. The description of himself that follows, humble when he is at Corinth, overbearing when he is at a safe distance, is probably one of the several echoes (or quotations) in this chapter from the language used of Paul by his critics at Corinth. They have sneered at him as a very human person ("walking according to the flesh"). He prays that he may not have to prove on their persons (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:3-5) that both his courage and his power are from God. It is his business to destroy sophistries, the strongholds of disobedience, and to bring every operation of the mind into subjection to Christ. And this he is prepared to do, taking vengeance on every form of disobedience so soon as the congregation as a whole has completely manifested its submission.—[The military vocabulary of this section is well brought out in Moffatt's translation.—A. J. G.]


Verses 7-18

2 Corinthians 10:7-18. Paul's Claim is Absolute, yet Limited in its Scope; for it Arises from and is Governed by his Dependence upon God.—This paragraph is full of allusion to the assertions, claims, and criticisms of his opponents. They claim superiority to Paul on the ground of some special relation to Christ, possibly that they had been actually His disciples (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:12*). They asserted that Paul used his authority to humiliate the church (2 Corinthians 10:8), that he browbeat them in his letters, whereas his personal appearance was feeble (2 Corinthians 10:9 f.), that he claimed what we should call a jurisdiction practically unlimited. On each point Paul replies vigorously, indignantly. Let them look facts in the face (2 Corinthians 10:7). He belongs to Christ as really as any other man (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:12). If he does make a "proud claim" to authority, he will be able to show the ground for it. His confidence rests on very different grounds from theirs. He refuses to compare or rank himself with those who are their own trumpeters. Neither is it true (2 Corinthians 10:13) that he claims authority "without measure," boundless and unlimited. The province of his authority is both appointed and delimited by God, and beyond doubt it includes the Corinthian church. For to the Corinthians, whatever others might insinuate, he had introduced the gospel of Christ. Beyond this Divinely assigned province he makes no "proud claim" to authority, where other men have pioneered. What he does hope is that through their increasing faith, his claim may be justified, first within the province already occupied, and then in "the regions beyond," but always provided that it did not invade another's "province," or craftily appropriate the results of other men's labours.

Attentive examination of this passage, bearing in mind that by "glorying" or (AV) "boasting" Paul means making a (proud) claim, will provide striking evidence of his fine feeling and scrupulousness in respect of other men's work. With a terse summary of two verses in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 9:23 f.) he exposes the foundation of his own claim and confidence. It is to the Lord that he stands, from Him alone he derives his authority (cf. Romans 14:12, 1 Corinthians 4:3-5).

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/2-corinthians-10.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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