II Corinthians 10

 

With this chapter begins the last great section of the Epistle (ch. 10:1-13:10), which

contains an impassioned vindication of the apostle’s position as compared with that

of his opponents. It is so much more vehement and severe than the former part of the

Epistle, and the whole style and tone of the Epistle at this point change so completely,

that many have supposed that this is in reality another letter, and some have even identified

it with the letter alluded to in ch. 7:8-12.  There is no trace of external evidence in favor

of this view. It is much more probable that Paul would here have ended his letter

but for fresh information given him by Titus, or the arrival of some

new messenger from Corinth, from whom he learnt the bitter way in which his

enemies spoke of him. The most flagrant offender seems to have been one teacher

from Jerusalem (vs. 7,10,11,12,18; ch. 11:4). This man and his abettors and other

party opponents spoke of Paul as mean in aspect (vs. 1,10), untutored in speech

(ch.11:6), bold at a distance and cowardly when present, a man of mere human

motives (v. 2), and not quite sound in intellect (ch. 11:16-17,19). They had been

introducing new teaching (Ibid. v. 4), and had shown themselves boastful (v. 7),

insolent, rapacious, violent (Ibid. vs. 20- 21), intrusive (v. 15), and generally

dangerous in their influence (ch. 11:3), which had succeeded in alienating from

Paul the minds of many (v. 18; chps. 11:8, 20; 12:13-14). Such accusations and

such conduct now roused the deep indignation of Paul, and his Apologia pro vita

 sua is mainly given in these chapters.  Plunging at once into his subject, with a

solemn appeal, he declares his apostolic power (vs. 1-8), and that he will exercise

it in person as well as by letters, in answer to the taunt of his opponents (vs. 9-11).

He then shows that his estimate of himself is formed on very different methods from

those of his adversaries (vs. 12-16), and that he referred all grounds of boasting solely

to the judgment of God (vs. 17-18).

 

1 Now I Paul myself” - The words, as Theodoret says, express the emphasis of

apostolic dignity. He is going to speak of himself and for himself. “I, the very Paul,

with whose name you make so free.” The conjecture may not even be impossible

that this portion of the letter may have been written with his own hand. Perhaps he

began without any intention of writing more than a few concluding words, but he

was carried away by his feelings, and the subject grew under his hands (comp.

Galatians 5:2; Ephesians 3:1; Philemon 1:19)  - “beseech you by the meekness

and gentleness of Christ” - The conduct which he is obliged to threaten might seem

incompatible with this meekness and gentleness (Matthew 11:29-30). It was not really

 so, because even Christ had been compelled at times “to burst into plain thunderings

and lightnings.” Still, severity and indignation were not in themselves after the inmost

heart and will of Christ, though human perversity might compel love itself to assume

such tones. He entreats them, however, not to force him to stern measures. Gentleness.

The word e]piei>keiav - epiekeias means “fairness, forbearance, sympathetic

consideration for others,” or, as Mr. Matthew Arnold prefers to render it, “sweet

reasonableness (Acts 24:4; Philippians 4:5; James 3:17; I Peter 2:18) - “who in

presence” – “am base” – rather, humble –  “among you, but being absent am

bold toward you:” - The charge, if true, would have been the mark of a coward;

and it naturally awakens an indignant echo in the language of Paul.

 

2 But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence,

wherewith I think to be bold against some” – Paul leaves these unidefined until the

vehement outburst in ch. 11:13-14 -  “which think of us as if we walked according to

the flesh.”  To say this of Paul was to charge him with being insincere and not dis-

interested.

 

Throughout I and II Corinthians we find Paul constantly on the defensive; here again

we find him standing up for himself.  In his defense he manifests:

 

  • A STRONG DESIRE TO DEAL WITH THEM IN THE SPIRIT OF

            CHRIST. “Now I Paul myself beseech [entreat] you by the meekness and

            gentleness of Christ.” He seems to shrink from the idea of so defending

            himself as to act contrary to the mild and gentle spirit of Christ. Whatever I

            say in my defense, I would say in the spirit of Him “who, when He was

            reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but

            committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” (I Peter 2:23)  Thus we                      

            should always act, even in reproving others and defending ourselves; in all we   

            should be actuated and controlled by the spirit of Jesus Christ. No reproof will

            go so thoroughly home to the heart of the offender as that which breathes and            

            echoes His spirit.  It is the characteristic of a great soul, especially of a great

            soul inspired with the spirit of Christ, to shrink from inflicting pain on any

            heart.Yet when duty calls it must be done.

 

3 For though we walk in the flesh” - Paul does not disclaim the possession of human

infirmities, but maintains that such trials and temptations were not the guiding force of his life –

we do not war after the flesh:” – His campaigns (Luke 3:14) were fought with spiritual

weapons. The metaphor is a constant one with Paul (ch. 2:14-16; I Corinthians 9:26;

Ephesians 6:10-17).

 

4 (For the weapons” -  (see ch. 4:7; Romans 6:13) – “of our warfare are not carnal” –

Paul did not rely on the mere “arm of flesh,” or on earthly sword or panoply -  but

mighty through God” - literally, powerful for God; i.e. either:

 

·        powerful for the cause of God, or

·        powerful in His estimate.

 

to the pulling down of strongholds.”) - The word kaqai>resin, kath-ah’ee-res-n;

 for “pulling down,” which implies the entire clearance of an obstacle, is only found in the

New Testament in this Epistle (vs. 4, 8;  ch. 13:10). The word ojcu>rwmatwn,

ochuromaton -  for “strongholds” is found here alone. These “fortresses  (castles)

were the opposition aroused by factious and hostile partisans, and he hoped to subdue

them by the strong exercise of apostolic authority (l Corinthians 4:21; 5:1-5).

 

5 Casting down imaginations” – rather, disputations, or reasonings -  and every

high thing that exalteth itself” – rather, every height that is exalted - “against the

knowledge of God” – (see I Corinthians 15:34) – There we have passive ignorance,

here active opposition -  “and bringing into captivity” – when the fortresses are

razed, their defenders will be taken prisoners, but for a beneficent end – “every

thought” - Even intellectual result. The word no>hma, — no’-ay-mah; (noema) –

device, mind, thought -  is not common in the New Testament. It occurs five times in

this Epistle (chps. 2:11; 3:14; 4:4; here; and 11:3), but elsewhere only in Philippians 4:7 –

to the obedience of Christ”.

 

6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is

fulfilled.” - Paul is confident that he will overcome the mazes of those opposed to him,

and win them to Christ’s obedience; but if there were any who should obstinately refuse

to submit, they must be reduced to submission by action, not by words.

 

Vs. 3-6 leads us to notice the weapons and victories of a true soldier of Christ.

 

  • THE WEAPONS OF TRUE SOLDIERSHIP. The apostle states two

            things concerning these weapons.

 

ü      They are not carnal. (v. 4) - The word “carnal” here may be regarded

      as standing in contradiction to:

 

Ø      miracles,

Ø      coercion, and

Ø      crafty inventions.

 

ü      Though not carnal, they are mighty.Mighty through God.”

 

Ø      They are mighty through God because they are His productions.

      Gospel truths, the weapons of which the apostle speaks, are

      God’s ideas, and those ideas are mighty — mighty in truth

      and love.

 

Ø      They are mighty through God because they are His instruments.

      God goes with His ideas and works by them.

 

·         THE VICTORIES OF TRUE SOLDIERSHIP. What are the victories?

 

ü      They are mental. Paul is speaking about imaginations and things

                        pertaining to mind. They are not over body. There is not any glory in

                        destroying the bodily life of man. The lion, the bear, a poisonous gust

                        of air, will excel man in this. The victories of a true soldier of the

                        cross are over the mind. 

 

ü      They are corrective. These victories do not involve the destruction of

                        the mind nor any of its native faculties, but certain evils that pertain to it.

                        What are they?

 

Ø      The evil fortifications of the mind. “The pulling down of

       strongholds.”  (v. 4) - What are they? Prejudices, worldly

      maxims, associations, passions, habits; behind these

      strongholds the mind entrenches itself against God.

 

Ø      The corrupt thinking of the mind. “Casting down imaginations.”

      (v. 5) – The word “thinking” comprehends this, for the faculty which

      we call imagination thinks as well as the intellect. It is against

      evil thinkings, therefore.

 

Ø      The antitheistic (anti-Christian) impulses of the mind. “And every

       high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God.”

      (Ibid.) Over every feeling and passion that rises against God.

      These are the victories of true soldiership.

 

Ø      They are Christian. They “bring into captivity every thought to

      the obedience of Christ.”   (Ibid.) Thought is everything to man.         

      Now, the work of a true soldier is to bring this fontal force into            

      entire subjection to Christ.

 

 

7 Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself

that he is Christ’s, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ’s, even

so are we Christ’s.” - In a true and real sense, not by external knowledge and connection

(which he has already disclaimed), but by inward union. This he proceeds to prove by

the fact that he was the founder of their Church (vs. 13-18); that he had always acted

with absolute disinterestedness (ch.11:1-15); that he had lived a life of toil and

suffering (Ibid.11:21-33), and that he had received special revelations from God

(ch.12:1-6).

 

8 For though I should boast” - In this section Paul is thoroughly haunted by

this word. The fact that a word could thus possess and dominate over his style and

imagination shows how deeply he was moved. The Corinthian Church, with its

inflated factions and their fuglemen, reeked with boasting, and Paul is driven, with

utter distaste, to adopt in self defense language which, to the indiscriminating, might

seem to wear the same aspect. The word, which is infrequent in other Epistles, occurs

eighteen times in these chapters alone. Other haunting words are “tolerate,” “bear

with (ch.11:l,4,19-20), and “senseless,” “fool” (Ibid. vs.16,19; ch.12:6 11) -  

 somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification,

and not for your destruction” - for building you up, not pulling you down. The

word kaqai>resin, kathairesin is from the same root as the verb in v. 5 – “I should

not be ashamed:” – No shame shall ever accrue to me from my “boast” being

proven false.

 

 

9 That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.”  (I Corinthians 5:9)

 

10 For his letters, say they” – Perhaps it would have been wiser and kinder if no one

had reported to Paul all these subterranean calumnies and innuendoes – “are weighty and

powerful; but his bodily presence is weak” - unprepossessing  - this, indeed, we should

infer from many other passages (I Corinthians 2:3-4; Galatians 4:13-14), and as a natural

result of his “thorn in the flesh” (ch. 12:7), however, the words may mean no more than

that “he adds nothing to his cause by being present in person, since he shows vacillation

and want of energy.” - and his speech contemptible.”  (rather, despised, see

I Corinthians 2:3-4).

 

Vs. 8-10 present to our attention Gods gift of special Power to man. The “authority”

(exousiavexousiasdenoting authority) of which the apostle here speaks, is a

supernatural endowment – Such an endowment he both claimed and manifested (see

Acts 13:8-11; 14:8-10; 15:9-12). Having this power he was superior even to the

ablest of his censors in Corinth, and he felt that should he “boast somewhat”

of this there was no reason for him to be ashamed. God has given exceptional power

to some men.  The Bible is full of them – Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Peter, etc.  (One

example that comes to mind is Stephen – Acts 6:7-7:60 – especially 6:10 –

“And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake” –

the reaction of the unredeemed towards Stephen, and often is also that of the modern

secularists era, was/is “When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart,

and they gnashed on him with their teeth…….they cried out with a loud voice,

and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him our of

the city, and stoned him…[and of all things] “the witnesses laid down their clothes

at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul” – {Acts 7:54,57-58}  This Saul

turned out to be Paul, who met Jesus on the Damascas Road when Christ said to him –

“I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.  But rise, and stand upon thy feet:  for I have

appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both

of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will

appear unto thee;  Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto

whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light,

and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins,

and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” – Acts 26:

15-18 – Thus the secret of Paul’s power and authority – it came from

JESUS CHRIST, HIMSELF, and thus it is with all God’s servants whether in the

1st century or the 21st GOD gives the POWER AND AUTHORITY to his servants

through JESUS CHRIST – CY – 2010)

 

 

  • ITS GREAT DESIGN IS USEFULNESS. “The Lord hath given us for

            edification, and not for your destruction.” (v. 8) - He gives power to men,

            not to pull down, but to build up. Usefulness is the grand end of our existence. 

            We are formed, not to injure, but to bless our fellow creatures. Whatever         

            endowments we have, be they ordinary or transcendent, all are given by our   

            Maker to promote truth and virtue and human happiness through the world.

 

  • IT IS NO PROTECTION FROM MALICE. Though Paul was thus so

            distinguished by signal endowments, he was nevertheless the subject of

            bitter envy and cruel slander. “For his letters, say they, are weighty and

            powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible,”

            Did the supernatural power with which some of the old Hebrew prophets

            were endowed shield men from the malice of men? How were Moses,

            Elisha, and Elijah treated? The fact is, the higher gifts a man has the more

            he is exposed to the malice of others; the more distinguished a man is in

            gifts and graces, the more he will arouse among his contemporaries the

            spirit of detraction and hate. It was so with Christ Himself.

 

 

11 Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are

absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present.” - Paul is not saying what

he would do hereafter, but is rebutting with calmness and dignity the false charge

that he was in any way different when absent from what he was when present.

 

12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with

some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves,

and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” – The meaning is that

the little cliques of factious religionists, never looking outside their own narrow circles,

became inflated with a sense of importance which would have been annihilated if they

had looked at higher standards. Hence they thought themselves at liberty to intrude

and lay down the law and usurp a claim to infallibility which there was nothing to justify.

Such conduct is the reverse of wise. It is a mixture of selfishness, Pharisaism, and conceit,

and there have been abundant examples of it among religious parties in all  ages. Paul,

on the other hand, keeps within his own measure, because he has learnt to adopt larger

and loftier standards.

 

13 But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the

measure of the rule (the measuring-line – I will keep to the province and limit which

God has assigned to me – “which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach

even unto you.”

 

Vs. 11-13 depict THE FALSE AND THE TRUE METHOD OF ESTIMATING MEN 

 

  • To judge by what someone else says is a wrong method.  How common it is

      for people to judge those they have never seen by general report! But a

      miserably false standard of judgment is this. All of us have received information

      concerning a person whom we had never seen, which a subsequent personal     

      acquaintance has completely dispelled. As a rule, the public estimate of men,

      both in Church and state, is most fallacious and unjust.

 

  • To judge by personal knowledge is the true method. “Let such a one

            think [reckon] this, that, such as we are in word by letters… such will we

            be also in deed when we are present.” (v.11) - The meaning of this seems to be       

            — Wait until I come amongst you, and you will find that I am true to the

            character of my letters, that I will act out their spirit. A man’s own letters,

            even when rightly interpreted, will not give a free and a complete idea of

            the author. The author is greater than his book, the man greater than his

            productions. One hour with an author will give me a better idea of him

            than I could obtain from all the productions of his pen, however voluminous.

            (How much more so the LORD OF HOSTS and our knowledge, or lack

            thereof, of HIM! – CY – 2010)

 

THE FALSE AND THE TRUE METHOD OF ESTIMATING OUR OWN

CHARACTER.

 

  • The false method is comparing our own character with the character of

            others. “Measuring themselves by themselves.” (v. 12) - This the

            Corinthians seem to have done, and this, perhaps, is the general tendency of  

            mankind. We judge ourselves by the characters of others. When we are

            accused we are prone to say we are not worse than So-and-so. (And do

            we not think there is safety in numbers?  Because “everyone is doing it” –

            we do it and that seems to make it right??? – CY – 2010)  A false standard

             this, because:

 

ü      The mass of mankind are corrupt.

 

ü      The best of men are more or less imperfect.

 

ü       There is only One perfect character — Jesus Christ.

                        In these words Paul indicates:

 

Ø      That it is a terrible thing thus to judge ourselves. “We dare not

      [are not bold enough to] make ourselves of the number.” (v. 12)

      Truly it is a terrible thing, for it leads to fearful issues.

 

Ø      That it is an unwise thing thus to judge ourselves. Those who

      compare themselves with others “are not wise,” (Ibid.) or are

      without understanding.”

 

·        The true method is judging ourselves by the will of God. “According to

            the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us.” (v. 12)  Though

            the apostle by the expression, “rule which God hath distributed,” primarily

            refers to the Divine limits of his apostolic work, as will appear again, the

            rule applies also to his personal character, God’s will is the standard or

            canon by which all characters are to be determined.

 

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:  Fear God, and keep His

commandments:  for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every

work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether

it be evil” -  (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)  “Search me, O God, and know my heart:

try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and

lead me in the way everlasting.”  (Psalm 139:23-24)

 

14 For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not

unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ:”

To Paul belonged the undisputed glory of having first introduced the gospel into the regions

of Macedonia and Achaia.

 

15 Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men’s labors;

Not to thrust himself obtrusively into spheres of labor which legitimately belonged to

others was a part of Paul’s scrupulously chivalrous rule (ch. 3:10; Galatians 2:9;

Romans 15:20). It contrasted with the usurping arrogance of these Jerusalem emissaries.

but having hope, when your faith is increased” - He delicately implies that their

lack of faith prevents the extension of his labors. He could not leave in his rear

an unstormed fortress of opposition to the gospel. The spread of the gospel depends

on them – “that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly”,

 

16 To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you” – even to Rome and Spain

(Romans 15:19,24,28) – “and not to boast in another man’s line of things made

ready to our hand.”

 

17 But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”  (I Corinthians 1:31; Jeremiah

9:23-24).

 

18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord

commendeth.”  (compare I Corinthians 3:13-14; 4:5; Proverbs 27:2)

 

Vs. 14-18 bring before us two subjects for meditation.

 

  • THE TRUE SPHERE OF HUMAN USEFULNESS.

           

ü      It is a sphere in which we are placed by Divine appointment. Paul

                        teaches that his sphere of labor in Corinth was according to the Divine

                        will. “We stretch not ourselves beyond our measure [overmuch], as                                  

                        though we reached not unto you.” (v. 14)  As if he had said, “I am not                                 

                        come to Corinth merely by my own inclinations, or as a matter of

                        impulse or caprice, or as an intruder. I am come here by the will of God.

                        I am licensed by Him to this sphere.”

 

ü      The consciousness that we are in this sphere is a just reason for

      exultation.  “Not boasting of things without our measure.” (v. 15) –

      As if Paul had said, “My boasting, or my exultation, is not that I have    

      entered into the sphere of other men’s labors, but that I am in the sphere

      to which I have been divinely commissioned.” The opponents of Paul, in    

      Corinth, boasted of the influence they had gained in the Church which he           

      himself had founded by his self-sacrificing labors, and whose members  

      owed, either directly or indirectly, their conversion to him; whereas his

      rejoicing was that he was doing the work of God in the sphere to

       which he had been sent.

 

ü      It is a sphere which widens with our usefulness. Although Paul felt that

                        Corinth was the sphere to which he had been sent, he knew that the field

                        would be widened according to his spiritual success. “Having hope,

                        when your faith is increased [that as your faith groweth], that we shall                                 

                        be enlarged [magnified] by you according to our rule [province]                                          

                        abundantly.” (Ibid.)  The increase of their faith would lead to an                                              

                        enlargement of his sphere of labor. The true method of extending the                         

                        sphere of labor to which we have been sent is by the multiplication of our                          

                        converts. Each soul which a minister bring to Christ enlarges the field of                                   

                        his usefulness, enables him to break up new ground still further on.

 

  • THE TRUE SOURCE OF HUMAN EXULTATION. In what did Paul

            exult or “boast”?

 

ü      Not in crediting himself with the labors of other men. He did not

                        boast in another man’s line [province] of things made ready to our                                 

                        hand.”  (v. 16) -  How common it is for men to credit themselves with

                        the labors of others!  We find this in every department of labor. In                                            

                        literature there are plagiarists, in scientific discoveries and artistic                                               

                        nventions there are unjust claimants, and even in religion one minister is                         

                        often found to claim the good that others have accomplished. Paul was                         

                        above this. The genius of Christianity condemns this mean and miserable                                   

                        dishonesty.

 

ü      Not in self-commendation. “For not he that commendeth himself is

                        approved (v. 18)  That conscience approves of our conduct, though at

                        all times a source of pleasure, is not a true source of exultation; for                                            

                        conscience is not infallible. Conscience sometimes deceives.  “There

                        is a way which seemeth right unto a man but the end thereof is the

                        ways of death”  (Proverbs 14:12) – “Beloved, believe not every spirit,                             

                        but try the spirits whether they are of God:  because many false

                        prophets are gone out into the world.”  (I John 4:1)  What, then,                                         

                        was his true source Of exultation? “He that glorieth, let him glory in

                        the Lord.” (v. 17) - “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross

                        of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Galatians 6:14)

 

 

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