2 Corinthians 10
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:

CHAPTER 10:1–18

1Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence [indeed] am base [lowly] among you, but being absent am bold toward you:2But I beseech [entreat] you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if wewalked according to the flesh. 3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war afterthe flesh: 4(For the weapons of our warfare1 are not carnal, but mighty through Godto the pulling down of strong holds:) 5Casting down imaginations, [reasonings, λογισμοὺς] and every high thing that exalteth itself [is raised, ἐπαιρόμενον] against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought [every thought intocaptivity] to the obedience of Christ; 6And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, [every failure in obedience, παραχοήν] when your obedience is fulfilled.7Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to [in] himself that he is Christ’s, let him of himself think [conclude,λογιζέσθω] this again, that,8as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s [om. Christ’s].2 For though [even if, ἐἁν τε]3 I should boast somewhat more [abundantly, περισσότερόν] of our authority,4 which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, Ishould not be ashamed: 9That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters:10For his letters, say they,5 are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak,11and his speech contemptible. Let such a one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be [are we] also in deed when we arepresent. 12For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they, measuring themselves by [among, ἐν] themselves, 13 and comparing themselves among [with] themselves, are not wise. But we6 will not boast7 of things without our measure, [boast without measure, εἰς τὰ ά̓μετρα] but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed [apportioned] tous, a measure to reach even unto you. 14For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though8 we reached not unto you: for we are come [came foremost, ἐφθάσαμεν] as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ. 15Not boasting of things without our measure [boasting without measure], that is, of other men’s labors; but having hope, when your faith is increased, [that as your faith increases, αὐξανομέης] having hope, when your faith is increased, that [as your faith increases, αὐξανομένης that] we shall be enlarged by you [among you, ἐν ὑμῖν] according to our rule abundantly antly, 16To preach the gospel in the regions [as far as the parts, εὶς τὰ ὑπερὲχινα beyond17you, and not to boast in another man’s line of things made ready to our hand. Buthe that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. 18For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.


In passing to a new section (δέ), the tone of the Apostle’s discourse becomes much altered. [“The conciliatory and affectionate strain of entreaty which pervaded the first part, is exchanged for that of stern command, and almost menace: there is still the same expression of devotion to the Corinthian Church; but it is mixed with a language of sarcasm and irony which has parallels in the First Epistle, but none up to this point in the Second. With this change in the general tone agrees also the change in details. Instead of the almost constant use of the first person plural, he here almost invariably (and in some instances with unusual emphasis) employs the first person singular; the digressions no longer go off to general topics, but revolve more closely round himself; the Corinthians are no longer commended for their penitent zeal, but rebuked for their want both of love and penitence. The confident hopes which he had expressed for the future are exchanged for the most gloomy forebodings. This change is not to be accounted for by supposing this section to be a distinct fragment between his First and Second Epistles; for, after all, the differences between the different parts are no greater than those between other portions of his writings: nor by supposing that he is addressing a different portion of the Corinthian congregation, for no intimation of this is given; but it is possible that some considerable pause, either of time or thought, now took place, during which additional news or recollections of an unfavorable character came before him, and gave a new turn to his discourse. As the time drew near also in which he was to visit and test his apostolic power among them, he was perhaps haunted by the fear that he should have to visit them in anger and not in love. Such a feeling is the basis of this, as that of gratitude was the basis of the first portion of the Epistle. It is from this that he starts (10:1–7), from this the digressions fly off (10:12; 12:10), and to this his conclusion returns (12:11; 13:13).” STANLEY (abridged)]. His object now is to vindicate his Apostolic character and authority against those hill-disposed and arrogant opponents who had made light of them. The tendency of what he says is still to draw off the Church, with which he was anxious to deal tenderly, from those antagonists on whom he had determined to exert the Apostolic powers they had depreciated.

2 CO 10:1–6. Now I Paul myself, beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence, indeed, am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you (2 Co 10:1).—[In no other part of his Epistles has he made his individuality so prominent. He usually says, “I Paul,” (Gal. 5:2; Eph. 3:1; Philem. 19), or uses simply the first person (singular or plural) of some verb]. Here αυ̇τός is added, and by way of emphasis is placed at the head of the sentence. It should be construed neither in the sense of ultro (of my own accord), nor in that of idem (always the same) in opposition to those who reproached him that he had been fickle or inconsistent in his conduct, nor in contrast with those who had charge of the collection, with the poor saints who were to be relieved, with his calumniators, or with him who hitherto had been associated with him in the composition of the Epistle (2 Co 1:1). With respect to this last suggestion, we have nothing in the remainder of the Epistle which indicates that the Apostle wished to make prominent that he was sustaining any new relation to them, or that he was now more than before addressing the Corinthians with his own hand or especially authenticating what he was about to write. The word has reference rather to the prayer in 2 Co 10:2, which is brought out in a somewhat gentler form by the exhortation in 2 Co 10:1, and it relates to what is said in the relative sentence in 2 Co 10:1, as if he would say: I myself admonish and pray you; even I, who in personal appearance am so mean among you, but when absent am so bold toward you; i.e., even I who, according to the disparaging insinuations of my opponents, (for these are evidently aimed at), am bold only when at a distance, and so submissive (cringing, fainthearted) when personally present with you, now exhort and pray you, to save me by your conduct the necessity of being bold and overbearing when I shall be present with you. With the words e̓γὼ Παῦλος, on which the main emphasis should be placed, he meets them in that Apostolic and personal character which was so familiar to them, to which they owed so much, and on which his admonition now depended for all its power. He strengthens this, however, by the addition: by the meekness and gentleness (πραότης κὰι ἐπιεικεία) of Christ. This gentleness and benignity, or mildness (Acts 24:4) of Christ (comp. Matth. 11:29f.; Isa. 47:2f.), ought move them to comply with his exhortation. As this was the ordinary spirit and manner of Christ, they ought to see that Christ’s Apostles might also be gentle, and they should not make it necessary for him to proceed against them with severity. Ewald takes it as an admonition to the Corinthians, that they should not, like his opponents mistake for weakness that meekness and humility which he carefully copied in all his conduct from the example of Christ. Neither does the scope of the passage nor analogy require that we should construe διά in the sense of a solemn protestation (Osiander). Διά with a genit. often indicates the means or accompaniments; as if the action were passing through them, and receiving a peculiar coloring from the medium. Paul’s entreaty is here supposed to acquire a special tenderness by being διὰ τῆς πραιότκ. ἐπιεικ [JELF, & 905. 3 B. 1]. The distinction between πραότης and ἐπιείκεια, according to Melancthon, consists in this: the former means non temere irasci, and the latter facile placari. Bengel makes the former virtus magis absoluta, (willingness to suffer and to forgive), and the latter magis refertur ad alios. According to Meyer the contrast is between what was actually experienced and what was strictly just. HEUBNER: Meekness endures the pain, but gentleness corrects the faults of others with forbearance. [WEBSTER AND WILKINSON say that “πραότ is natural mildness of disposition; ἐπεεικ. a habit arising from considerateness, exemplified by our Lord in Luke 9:56, and Matth. 26:41.” Comp. TRENCH, Synn., First Part, pp. 207–10]. The idea (of Rüchert) that Paul felt especially touched by the insinuation contained in the relative sentence, inasmuch as he was conscious that notwithstanding all his vehemence he was really deficient in personal courage, must have originated in a sad misapprehension of the Apostle’s character as presented in his life and Epistles. Those opponents who urged this objection in order to weaken the impression which his severe reproofs had produced, had found a plausible reason for their assertion in the fact that, for fear of aggravating the evil, he had spoken of some things within the Church itself with a degree of hesitation. It is possible, too, that after his second visit to Corinth (and before our first Epistle) the state of things had become so much worse, that he had felt obliged to write with more severity than he had displayed when he was among them (Meyer). It would be hardly correct to go back as far as his first visit among them (1 Cor. 2:3), for the observation of his opponents had probably been made at some later period. But the matter on which the Apostle exhorts his readers is contained in the prayer (δέομαί) which follows in 2 Co 10:2.—But I pray that I may not when present have to be bold with that confidence with which I think to be bold against some.—[By translating παρακ. of 2 Co 10:1, and δέομ of 2 Co 10:2, by the same word (beseech) our common version fails to preserve the growing earnestness indicated by the latter word. For a similar interchange of these words see chap.5:20, 21; 6:1; 8:4]. The δέ not only indicates that he was taking up again what had gone before, but it introduces a contrast to the sentence implied in the relative sentence. The prayer itself, as the context and the want of the accusative of the object shows, was directed not to God (for then παρακαλῶ in 2 Co 10:1 would have no significance) but to the Corinthians. [“The terms in which this is expressed are taken from the description which the detractors were accustomed to give of him (2 Co 10:1), which, although apparently incidental, is the key note of all that follows, in which the ideas ταπειν. and θαῥῥ. in various turns of thought and phraseology continually and prominently recur.” STANLEY.] The article τό serves to make the infinitive sentence especially prominent. Παρών corresponds in signification with εἰς πρόςωπον in 2 Co 10:1. The thing prayed for is, that they would not allow it to become necessary for him to be bold among them. The πεποίθησις was that confidence in his official authority and rights which was connected with good conscience, and whose dependence was indeed upon God, but need not be understood here. Λογίζομαι is not in the passive (I am reckoned) to express the way in which he was estimated by his opponents (Luther). Beza not only regards it as a passive, but takes τολμῆσαι as a preterite, which, however, would have called for some additional word (ἁπών) to imply this (comp. Meyer). It denotes here, as it often does in Euripides and Herodotus, the intention, the design or determination of the mind. [Chrysostom thinks the word does not imply a full or settled purpose. Paul “said not ’wherewith I am prepared,’ but ‘where with I think,’ for he had not yet resolved upon this, though his opponents had given him occasion enough.” Bloomfield notices a paronomasia in λογίζομαι and λογιζομένους, which if introduced into English might perhaps be best expressed by reckon]. As the case is different with λογιζομένους, the word there has the meaning of, to reckon for, or as something. ʼΕπί τινας should be connected not with θαῤῤῆσαι but with τολμῆσαι, which must here be taken absolutely and in the sense of, to have courage, to be resolute, to step forth boldly (as in Homer, Pindar, the tragic poets and Thucydides). [It has also something of the signification, to venture, to have the heart, as if the agent endured or suffered something, because he acted in spite of natural feeling, or under great difficulties. This idea may be traced in the use of the word here].—namely, those who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. (2 Co 10:2 b.)—He does not name these persons, but he immediately characterizes them from the way in which they were in the habit of judging him. ̔Ως is here used as in 1 Cor. 4:1. [ΙΙεριπατού̓ντες etymologically signifies, to walk about, hither and thither, and Stanley thinks that we have here a reference to this original meaning]. Κατὰ σρκα περιπατεῖν here signifies, a course of conduct, characterized by the σάρξ (i.e., by the psychic-corporeal life), destitute of a spiritual character, and not merely dependent upon external influences, and of course feeble, but in positive antagonism to the spirit, and of course sinful; i.e., the organ and principle of sin (Beck, Christl., Lehrwiss, p. 278). The idea of weakness probably predominates, but the expression describes a course of conduct determined by the fear of men, or the desire of pleasing men, and hence a personal bearing disgraced by cowardice or servility (ταπεινός). The human nature referred to was therefore one enfeebled, not merely from the want of Divine support, but from sin (comp. on 1 Cor. 12:17).—For though we walk in the flesh, we do not make war according to the flesh (2 Co 10:3).—A reason is here given for the prayer in 2 Co 10:2, and at the same time he exonerates himself from what had been charged upon him by his opponents (τοὺςλογιζ).—περιπατοῦντας. I beg of you not to allow me to be placed in such circumstances that I shall be obliged to venture on an unpleasant part when I shall be present with you. For although we are walking in the flesh, we do not take the field, or carry on war according to the flesh, i.e., we are not determined by fleshly considerations as those persons imagine. Στρατεύεσθαι (1 Cor. 9:7), understood in the more comprehensive sense implied by its contrast with περιπατεῖν, designates the Apostles’ whole ministry in its numerous conflicts with hostile powers, under the figure of a warfare. Comp. 2:14; 1 Tim. 1:18. The emphasis lies upon the two contrasted prepositions ἐν and κατά. The flesh (σαρξ) is indeed the sphere in which we move, i.e. the psychical and corporeal life with all its sinful infirmities is the instrument by which and the department in which we act (comp. ζῶ ἐν σαρκί in Gal. 2:20), but it is not the influence which determines our movements.” The reason for this assertion is given in 2 Co 10:4.—For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty before God for the pulling down of strong holds.—The Apostle here describes the kind of weapons he used, i.e. the means by which he carried on his ministry (ὅπλα 2 Co 6:7) in contrast with those of his adversaries. As his weapons bore not the stamp of the flesh, there was no reason for saying that his action as a Christian warrior was under the direction of the flesh., W. F. BESSER: “The text must certainly give a strong testimony against the mingling of ecclesiastical authority with the civil power of the sword (comp. Augsb. Conf. p. 64, Art. of Smalc. p. 344].”—The Apostle brings into positive contrast with the carnal σαρκικά), comp. 1:12) not the spiritual (πνευματικα) but the mighty in God’s sight (δυνατὰ τῶνεᾶ). The fleshly is also that which is feeble, and especially when it is in conflict with the world for the cause of God, it is entirely powerless.Σαρκικός however is not precisely equivalent to, feeble, but the only thing which in this case is powerful is that which proceeds from, and bears the impress of the Spirit. For a notice of the spiritual panoply see Eph. 6:11ff. Similar contrasts may be found in 2 Chron. 32:8; Isa. 31:3; Ps. 88:39. Power is directly related to spirit also in 1 Cor. 2:4; Luke 1:17. Δυνατά is more particularly defined byτῷ θεῷto mean that which is powerful in God’s esteem, before God. Comp. ἀστεῖος τῷ θεῷ in Acts 7:20, and also Jonah 3:3. And yet the phrase is not intended to be simply a superlative, but to signify the truth or the reality (Osiander: acceptable to God) of the power. Neander: mighty, because God gave them, and overthrows strong holds by means of them. In opposition to the explanation which makes this phrase mean: through or for God, it may be said that the former would be superfluous, being self-evident; and although the latter might seem appropriate in the sense of: to the honor, or, for the use of God, (i.e. to show forth his power) there is nothing in the context to call for such a remark.9—The end which these weapons were to subserve, and to which they were adapted, is announced in πρὸς καναίρεσιν ὁχυρωμάτων. They are the instrumentalities by which the κόσμος, or its ἂρχων, the god of this world (τοῦ αἰῶος 2 Co 4:4), endeavors to obstruct the progress of God’s cause and the work of salvation. οχυρωμάτα signifies castles or fortresses. [They are things intended to serve in the mind as strong holds do in warfare. Comp. Prov. 21:22. Stanley (p. 500) thinks that the peculiar imagery here used was suggested by the Mithridatic and Piratical wars which took place in Cilicia; the latter only 60 years before the Apostles’ birth. One hundred and twenty such strong holds are said to have been in existence and to have been taken in the war with these pirates. Each word here used strikingly carries out the metaphor]. The way in which this overthrow was effected is more particularly described in 2 Co 10:5.—Casting down reasonings and every lofty thing which is erected against the knowledge of God.—As the first and most prominent of these strong holds, he mentions λογισμούς, intellectual bulwarks which were probably not so much projects or hostile plans as unevangelical thoughts or fixed conclusions of human (Hellenistic or Judaistic) philosophy, in direct opposition to the Christian faith, 1 Cor. 3:20. [Our English “imaginations” is hardly the proper word here. The idea is rather “reasonings.” It refers to theoretic subtilties or argumentations]. Comp. the contrasted γνὥσις τοῦ θεοῦ. Καθαιροῦντες is anacoluthic; comp. 2 Co 9:11. To connect it with 2 Co 10:3 so as to make 2 Co 10:4 a parenthesis, seems not only unnecessary but unallowable inasmuch as 2 Co 10:4 is essentially a continuation of the main thought, and καθαιροῦντες is most naturally referred back to καυαίρεσιν. [As all the prominent words of this passage are evidently military we must suppose the allusion in καθαίρέω was to the use of the “crow” which pulled (not cast) down the walls or towers of an enemy. Stanley gives several instances of such a use of the word in classic writers. (See also Cobbin)]. In καὶ πὰ́ν ὕψωυα, etc., (every high thing, etc.) he reverts to the metaphor he had left in λογισμούς and which had been only hinted at in καθαιροῦντες. ̔Yψωμα signifies an elevation, something made high, as a tower, wall or anything of the kind. In sense it is much the same as οχυρώματα in 2 Co 10:4 i.e. it is something by which the enemy strives to maintain his ground. By πᾶν it becomes a general term in which even the λογισμοί are included, and it then signifies every kind of human greatness which could be made use of in such a warfare; according to Osiander, wisdom, eloquence, power, righteousness, honor, wealth.—Agreeably to the metaphor, ἐπαιρόενον [opposite of καθαιρ] should be construed not in the middle but passive voice. That against which these high things were erected, and whose progress, and ascendency was thus to be prevented, was the knowledge of God (γνῶσις τοῦθεοῦ); not (subjectively) as it existed in the minds of his opponents, and was opposed by the darkness of human wisdom, but objectively, something which met men in common life, and called forth their opposition: that revelation of the plan and work of salvation, in which Christ was proclaimed and God was manifested in Christ. In addition to the negative acts by which the fortresses obstructing the progress of Divine knowledge were overthrown, we have those which were positive, when the Apostle adds,—and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, (2 Co 10:5 b.)—When the enemy is thus captured, the victory must be complete. This enemy is πᾶν νόημα; which is here not the same as design, and then to be joined with εἰς τὴν ὑρακοὴν, so as to mean every design in opposition to the obedience, etc., for even if we do not take into consideration the want of the article (τὸ), and the use of εἱς instead of the foregoing κατά, we should find that νόημα in this sense would be no proper object of captivity, and that a much better sense would be afforded by supposing τὴν ὑπακοήν the fortress to which they were carried. Thus obedience was as it were the place to which the captive enemy was brought and hence we have εἱς instead of a dative, as in Rom. 7:23. As the intellectual element predominates in the whole context, we have no reason to take νόημα in the sense of intention [Alford] or disposition; and still less of the spiritual mind itself which exercises thought, i.e. the understanding; Luther: all human reason.10 This obedience of Christ, in the sense of a subjection to Christ, is in other passages called the obedience of faith Rom. 1:5; 15:18. The idea is: to bring every thought or understanding which is otherwise opposed to Christ, into subjection to Him. ΙΙαρακοή and ὑπακοή are contrasted in 2 Co 10:6. [The former signifies (strictly) a failing to hear or a hearing amiss, and so a want of obedience; the latter a listening to authority, and so a subjection to another. See Webster, synn. p. 225, also TRENCH, Synn. 2d Ser. p. 73.] Although the Apostle does not entirely forsake the line of thought which he had pursued in the preceding paragraph, i.e., of contention generally with hostile powers, he now returns more decidedly to the affairs of the Corinthian Church. And having in a readiness to punish every failure in obedience when your obedience shall have been fulfilled (2 Co 10:6).—He evidently regarded that Church as specially subject to his Apostolical authority, and it was only in their return to him that he expected the completion (πληρωθῆ) of their obedience to Christ. Upon that obedience he made to depend the time in which he should exercise his disciplinary power upon those Judaistic corrupters who might persist in opposing his authority. For this he was even then ready (ἑν ἑτοίμω ἕχειν=in promptu habere), and he was only waiting for the completion of the Church’s obedience. Comp. 2 Co 2:1; 13:10. A delicate hint seems here conveyed that he would make a distinction between these seducers and those who had been seduced; and an admonition is expressed that the latter would do well by their entire submission to his instructions, to escape the punishment he was about to inflict (perhaps excommunication, or at least something which would be a proof of his miraculous powers as an Apostle) on those who might continue disobedient. It would be incorrect to understand this fulfilment of their obedience as referring to the Apostle’s call for a collection. He says that he was in readiness, in opposition to those who might suggest that he was not in earnest in the matter (comp. Osiander [also Jelf, & 622, 2]). [Stanley’s paraphrase well expresses the idea of this passage: “I conjure you not to compel me to break the bounds of the gentle and forgiving character of Christ. But be assured that, if I do exercise when I am present, the authority which some think I shall never venture to exercise but at a distance, it will be a real authority. I shall come against you like a mighty conqueror, though with Weapons, not of earthly, but of heavenly warfare; and every alien thought and imagination shall fall before me, like fortresses before a victorious army, and shall be reduced to submission, like captive hands: and those who resist shall be punished like the last remnants of a defeated insurrection. To effect all this, I wait only till I am assured of your submission, that I may not confound the innocent with the guilty, the dupes with the deceivers.” He speaks as if his opponents were not members of the Corinthian Church, but foreign to it; and hence as if they were not addressed in this epistle, and were only awaiting the obedience of the Corinthians that he might exercise his vengeance on them].

2 CO 10:7–11. In this passage the Apostle maintains that his relations to Christ were of an intimate nature, in opposition to his opponents, who professed that they alone stood in such relations; and he adds the assurance that when he should come to Corinth in person, and not merely by his letters, as they asserted, he would give them a proof of his Apostolical authority.—Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? (2 Co 10:7 a)—The way in which we interpret this sentence must depend upon the sense we give to τὰ κατὰ πρόσωπον. If it means things lying in sight before their eyes, from which the Corinthians might recognize, if they were disposed to do so, his Apostolical dignity, the idea would be that he was calling upon them to attend more carefully to things obviously before them. In this case βλέπετε would be construed in the imperative [: Look at what is before your own eyes]. The analogy of other passages, however, would require that this verb should have stood at the head of the sentence, comp. 1 Cor. 1:26; 10:18; Phil. 3:2. If that expression, however, means that which is merely apparent, it may refer to something in his opponents which gave them an external advantage; or to something external in the Apostle himself, which made the Corinthians postpone him to them. In this case, βλέπετε must be construed in the indicative, either as a direct assertion, and a severe reproach to them [Vulgate, Stanley], or as a question (with Theodoret, Erasmus, Meyer [Alford, Hodge, and our English A. V.]) in accordance with the lively and earnest spirit of the general passage. The context (2 Co 10:1–10), is certainly in favor of referring the expression to the Apostle himself. [In this case, however, many think that βλέπετε would be quite as much required at the commencement of the sentence, and to be preceded by a τι or some similar word. The signification finally attained is much the same, whether the indicative is taken annunciatively or interrogatively. Adopting the latter as the most probable, the Apostle] intended to speak of his outward manner, which, when he was at Corinth, had not been bold or confident, and hence had afforded ill-disposed persons an occasion for suspecting him of weakness and timidity. The question was directed not to his principal antagonists, but to the Church itself; at least, to that portion which had listened to the pretensions of these opponents. In the next verse, however, he changes his address and fixes his eye upon these opponents themselves.—If any man trusts in himself that he is Christ’s, let him conclude this again of himself, that as he is Christ’s, so also are we (2 Co 10:7 b). The word ἑαυτῶ makes the personal vanity and self-conceit of such a confidence very prominent, inasmuch as it is a confidence in one’s own self. In χριστοῦ εἶναι we have the idea of belonging to Christ, but the context does not imply that this was in the sense of kindred (perhaps through James), or of a particular fellowship with Peter; nor does it refer merely to the general relationship of all believers, but to the special ownership implied in δοῦλος (which indeed a number of authorities add to the reading of this passage, though it is evidently a gloss), or διάκονος χριστοῦ (2 Co 11:23). To this ἑαυτῶ corresponds ἁφ̓ (Lachmann ἐφ̓=in, though the reading is not sufficiently authenticated) ὡαυτοῦ, which is made emphatic by πάλιν, again (not, on the other hand). But this phrase, of his own self, may mean either, proceeding from himself, i.e., referring to what he might see of himself, inasmuch as he would find the same evidences of this being Christ’s in Paul as in himself; or by himself, without any suggestion or assistance from the Apostle; as if the meaning were: we should expect that those who assume such high grounds with respect to themselves, would need no suggestions from others, but that they would apply the same principles and come to a correct conclusion here. This last explanation seems the more probable. The first reminds us of the supposed Christ-party in Corinth which claimed a special relation to Christ on account of their Jewish descent (comp. 2 Co 11:22), or on account of some intercourse with him by mysterious visions, such as are referred to in 2 Co 12:1ff.; and according to it, the Apostle was maintaining that they would find the same marks of intimacy with Christ in him. But the alleged facts are altogether too uncertain to exercise any influence upon our exposition. There is no necessity of assuming that Paul had any where reference in xριστοῦεἶναι to such a party or its leaders, and the utmost that we can infer from what is here said is that he might possibly have some allusion to the name of that party. Neander thinks that Paul must have referred here to some opponents who claimed to belong exclusively to Christ on account of having received their Christianity directly from the Apostles of the original Church. The claim of these persons, whatever it might be, Paul met with the assertion that he also could speak of himself in the same terms in which those earliest Apostles said they were Christ’s. The words, as he himself is, so also are we, are intended to be a conciliatory and a moderate presentation of his true claims. When he speaks unreservedly and tells the whole truth on this subject, he goes beyond what is implied in such a comparison (2 Co 11:23). Eί̀ τις (delicately, instead of ὅστις) is not necessarily against the idea that his opponents were probably a number of persons. The equality or the title to an equality of position which he had claimed in 2 Co 10:7, he makes clear in 2 Co 10:8, by adding—For even if I should boast somewhat more abundantly of the power which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I should not be put to shame.—He means to say, that if he should go much further in his claims of official authority, he would never be found an idle boaster. The particle ἑάν is not designed to concede that he was about to boast in this manner, and τε γὰρ has the sense of, for even as in Rom. 1:26; 7:7. The object of τε is to indicate that some other member of a sentence stands in harmony with it or in a reciprocal relation to it. In the present case it points out such an agreement or correlation between ἑὰν—καυχήσομαι and οὐκ αίσχυνθήσομαι (PASSOW, Tr. A. B. I. 2 a. bb. B.). [On the use of ἕαν with the Aorist subjunctive when something objectively possible is thought of in the future, but not conceived of as exactly certain, see WINER § 43, 3 b. We may here render καυχήσωμαι like the Latin fut. exact and αἱσχυνθήσομαι as the fut. simpl. as in our common English version. The word “ἑξουσία includes both the ideas of power and of right or authority.” HODGE]. ΙΙερισσότερον (accus.) should be taken in a comparative sense. According to some, the comparison has reference to what had been said in 2 Co 10:4–6; but according to others, it has reference to his opponents (more than they boast). It is most natural to suppose that he is putting himself on an equality with those opponents mentioned in 2 Co 10:7, and his meaning would then be: yet more than I just now did when I made myself the equal of such as claimed to be Christ’s servants. In the words, for edification and not for destruction, the church is represented as if it were a house or a temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16) [and Paul and his associates in the ministry are supposed to be artificers in the construction of the whole and of each part. It was no part of his mission to destroy, but only to save and put in order (a true conservatism). Howson calls attention to the fact that out of the twenty-two times in which the words edify, and edification are used figuratively in the New Testament, they are in every instance but one used by Paul; and the one exceptional instance (Acts 9:31) is in a book composed probably under his superintendence, and by a writer of his school. It is possible that his predilection for the trope may have sprung from his craft as a Cilician tent-maker. But Howson is of the opinion that the word has always a social character, i.e., that it is always applied to the progress of a community, not of an individual. Hence believers are not severally a building, but only parts (living stones) of a common structure (Metaphors of St. Paul in Sund. Mag. for Jan., 1867, pp. 257–63)]. The expressions here used incidentally also suggest that his opponents had not edified but had rather pulled down (comp. 1 Cor. 3:17), and that they had arrogated to themselves powers which Christ had not bestowed upon them. The καθαίρεσις of 2 Co 10:4 had been of a different nature from that which is here spoken of, for the object of that had been to destroy only what obstructed the Christian faith‚ and to animate and assist such as were living a life of faith (οἱκοδομὴ in 1 Cor. 8:1). The communicative ἡμῶν indicates that there were others who shared in this power, and who were his genuine associates, and not unworthy intruders into this high office. The words I shall not be ashamed, are very concise and emphatic. They refer to what he was doing, or to the results of his labors as an Apostle, in consequence of which all his boasting on this subject would be proved to be the sober truth. With this is immediately connected a final sentence (2 Co 10:9).—That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.—This is introduced by no τοῦ ο δὲ λέγω, or anything of the kind. The aim which is implied in the ἵνα must be that of God who would not allow him to be put to shame. It was by an appeal to the results of his Apostolic power that he justified himself from the charge of using expressions in his Epistles which could never be carried into execution, and had been, therefore, thrown out for mere intimidation. There is no need, therefore, of commencing a new period with ἵνα, which, after a parenthesis in 2 Co 10:10, comes to a conclusion in 2 Co 10:11 (that I may not seem to terrify you by my Epistles, let such a one think, etc.). There would certainly be something abrupt in the way in which such a sentence would be introduced (and hence some manuscripts insert a δὲ after ἵνα), and the idea itself would be inappropriate (since nothing is, in fact, brought forward in 2 Co 10:11 to obviate the objection which 2 Co 10:9 supposes). [“A clause with ἵνα, as we have seen before in this Epistle (comp. also Gal. 2:10), often depends on some word or words omitted, but easily supplied from the context. “This is the only instance in the New Testament where ἅν, after a conjunction, is used with the infinitive. Winer (§ 43 6) resolves it into ὡς ἁν ἑκφοβοῖμι ὑμᾶς, as if I might wish to terrify you, which agrees with our translation.” HODGE]. In later usage ὡς ἅν has the sense of the simple ὡς with the ἅν, i.e., of tanquam quasi (as if), and it is here employed to modify the force of ἐκφοβεῖν, or to indicate that Paul was acting like one who terrifies. The plural seems to imply that Paul had already written to the Corinthians more than one Epistle. NEANDER: “We may reckon up, first, an Epistle now lost; secondly, that which we now call the first; thirdly, that upon which we are now commenting, and, perhaps, finally, the one which was sent by the hands of Titus.” [Barnes and Stanley think that the Corinthians might have seen some of Paul’s Epistles to other churches, and been so well acquainted with them as to make this general remark respecting them. Four large Epistles (two to the Thessalonians, one to the Galatians, and one to the Corinthians) among those now extant had been written (the two first in the city of Corinth) before this time. Alford also suggests that Paul may have included the letter he was then writing, by way of anticipation].—For his letters, they say, are indeed weighty, and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible (2 Co 10:10).—He here introduces his opponents, urging an objection founded on the objection which had been presented in 2 Co 10:9. The speakers who are the subject of φησίν, are his opponents, and this verb is equivalent to the impersonal φασίν of later usage (Passow, II. 2, p. 2238). There is no reason for confining this to some single person. Bαρύς has the sense of, gravis, significant, important, impressive, inspiring respect, the opposite of ἕξουενημένος. While his letters were important and forcible (mighty), his bodily presence was feeble (not weak on account of disease or smallness of size, but on account of a personal presence which lacked power, the opposite of ἱσχυραί), and his oral discourse (instructions of all kinds, exhortations) commanded no respect, and were received with contempt (comp. 1 Cor. 2:3 f.). There is no intimation that he was destitute of those bodily organs which were needful to a good oral expression, or of Grecian refinement and culture. Let such an one conclude this, that such as we are in word by Epistles when absent, such are we also in deed when present (2 Co 10:11).—Those who insinuated such things respecting him, might be assured that he would exhibit the same character in all his apostolical conduct as in his writings, and that no one would have reason to reproach him for acting the double part ascribed to him in 2 Co 10:10 (comp. 2 Co 10:1). The omission of the conjunction (asyndeton), and the position of τοῦτο, at the beginning of the sentence, are emphatic. Δογίζεσθαι is here contrasted with the inconsiderate judgment mentioned in 2 Co 10:10, and it has the sense of, to weigh well. To τοιοῦτοι τῷ ἕργω we must supply ἑσμέν, not ἑσόμεθα as if he had intended to say that he would actually fulfil his threatenings (λόγος). What he meant was, that the influence which he exerted personally as an Apostle would seem to one who carefully observed it, and reflected upon it, quite as important and energetic as that which he exhibited in his writings.

[It cannot after all be denied, as Alford concedes, that some allusion is here made to a deficiency in the apostle’s personal appearance and delivery. It does not seem that his opponents, objection was founded wholly on his reserve in the use of his apostolical powers. Without conceding that he was precisely ὁ τρίπηχος ἅνθρωπος καὶ τῶν οὑρανῶν ἅπτομένος, and even if we receive the descriptions given in Pseudo-Lucian, Malalas, Nicephorus and the Apocraphal Acts of Paul and Thecla as either caricatures or exaggerated traditions of a modern date, we are yet compelled to yield something to the almost universal agreement of antiquity. The general notion which the whole ancient church appears to have preserved of our Apostle was, that he was of a short stature, and that his body was disfigured by some lameness or distortion; that his head was long and bald, his complexion transparent, his forehead high, his nose aquiline, his eyes sparkling, and his eyebrows close and prominent. And yet that there was nothing in his person which amounted to a very unsightly deformity, we have a right to conclude from Acts 14:12, from his public influence before his conversion, from the power he often exhibited as an orator, and from the impression he appears everywhere to have produced. It is not improbable, however, from such passages as 1 Cor. 2:3, 2 Cor. 2:13, and others in the epistles to the Corinthians and Galatians, that his temperament was more than commonly liable to nervous agitations; and it would not be strange if his enemies had seen something when he was at Corinth, which they could pervert to his disadvantage. See Conybeare and Howson, chap. 7. p. 224. SMITH’S Diet. Art. Paul; Ad. Clarke, and Stanley.]

2 CO 10:12–18. To show that his personal influence was as energetic as his epistolary discourses and exhortations, he now appeals to what he had actually done as an Apostle. He calls attention to the fact that, unlike his arrogant opponents, he had confined himself to those limits which were appointed to his calling, and within which the church of Corinth properly fell, etc.—For we venture not to number ourselves among, or compare ourselves with, some who commend themselves (2 Co 10:12).—The words τολμᾶν signify either, not to have a heart for something, from a moral repugnance to such a proceeding (1 Cor. 6:1); or, better, ironically, not to venture; [in this matter we are indeed timid], with a severe implication that his opponents were vain enough to do so. A paronomasia may be noticed in ἑγκρῖναι, signifying, to place in a line with, and συγκρῖναι, to liken, to place by the side, to make equal. The words τισὶ τῶν συνιστάντων signify with certain persons (comp. 2 Co 10:2) of the class that commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves among themselves and comparing themselves with themselves are not wise [understand it not.] In this sentence αὑτοὶ with all its subsequent qualifications, appears to apply most appropriately to the Apostle himself (comp. Gal. 4:4). It then appears to be the regular positive expression, corresponding to the subsequent negative in 2 Co 10:13, [they measuring themselves, etc., but we will not boast ourselves of things without measure,] and finds its further development in the assertion (ἁλλὰ κατὰ τὸ μέτρον κ. τ. λ.) but we will boast according to the measure, etc. It was for this reason that we are able to account for a reading of the text which arose in the earliest times, according to which οὑσυνιοῦσιν. ἡμεῖς δὲ was left out. It seemed difficult to apply what was said in connection with αὑτοὶ to Paul’s opponents, and οὑ δυνιοῦσιν would make no good sense if αὑτοὶ were applied to Paul himself (they commend themselves; but we, measuring ourselves by ourselves—i.e., “by what we really find ourselves to be—and comparing ourselves with ourselves, not with those wise men, those pretended knowing ones; or, “comparing ourselves with ourselves, who are so unwise, in the opinion of our opponents”!). They also found that on this interpretation the words ἡμεῖς δὲ not only seemed superfluous, but injurious to the sense of the passage, and that on the other hand the sentence read smoothly and with an appropriate meaning if οὑ συνιάσιν. ἡμεῖςδὲ were left out (“they commend themselves; but we measuring ourselves by ourselves, etc., will not boast as to things beyond our measure”). It is evident, therefore, that the reading of the Respectus which has those words is the most difficult reading, and hence was most likely to have been the true one and altered to get rid of the difficulty. This also accounts for the fact that the abbreviated reading is sustained only by Occidental manuscripts, and that even these are by no means in agreement, since some of them have ἡμεῖς δὲ. But even the reading of the Receptus which is much better sustained is capable of a very appropriate sense. Let αὐοὶ be applied to Paul’s opponents. Then the measuring themselves among themselves, is not the correct estimate which people form of themselves and their performances in contrast with a more uncertain one from a comparison with others, but a proud self-conceit springing from a constant fixing of the thoughts upon themselves and their fancied excellences and performances, and from never observing those who are superior to them, and who have distinguished themselves by more exalted achievments; in other words, it is an idle self-satisfaction and self-admiration. Nor is συνιοῦσιν to be construed as a participle in the dative plur. (anacoluthic), but a verb in the 8d pers. plur. Ind. of συνιέω, like συνιᾶσιν, the more common Attic form (adopted by Lachmann on the authority of B. and some other MSS.). The word stands here in an absolute sense: (they not understanding, not reaching a clear discernment, being deficient in understanding;) like the participle οἱ συνιέντες=those who understand, and ὁ συνιῶν Rom. 3:11, and συνῆκαν Mark 6:52. It implies either that the course they take is the reason for their want of intelligence, or that it is the way in which they exhibit this want. Others explain it: they do not observe or perceive that they are measuring themselves. by their own selves; or they do so without being aware of it; but such a sense is agreeable neither to the order of the words, nor to the general sense of the passage. For the Apostle is speaking not of the way in which they were blinding themselves, but of the folly of their proceeding, in contrast with his own course. With that measuring of themselves by themselves which is sure to lead off into unbounded self-laudation, (inasmuch as no objective limits can be assigned to a man’s exaltation of himself), the Apostle contrasts that boasting of one’s self which is confined to the limits assigned him by God. Ἀλλά is to be taken in the sense of but, either like the Germ. sondern, completely reversing or giving the negative to the previous clause, or like the Germ. aber, only partially doing so. The former is preferable on account of the preceding οὐ. As he now wishes to carry out the contrast of persons which had been given already in ἑαυτούς τισι, he brings up in strong light the kind of conduct which is most opposed to the pretensions of which he had been speaking. But οὐσυνιοῦσιν offers an obvious explanation of οὐ τολμῶμεν (Meyer.) [It must be confessed that there is on this interpretation an appearance of defect in that sharp contrast which seems demanded by the ἁλλὰ at the commencement of the passage. That particle seems to require that what he was about to say should be in direct opposition to the self-commendation of those of whom he had just spoken. By referring αὐτοῖ to the Apostle, this would be clear, since he would oppose his way of proceeding to theirs; but if that word is referred to his opponents, we have the conduct of the same persons shown in contrast]. Osiander endeavors to avoid this difficulty, by making αὐτοὶ especially emphatic [giving it an exclusive power] equivalent to soli [they alone, by themselves, separate from all other men. KUEHNER. Gram. Am. ed. § 302, 6; JELF. § 656, 3. a.]. This would make the Apostle say, that he would not venture to put himself among or even by the side of such persons, but that he would leave them to themselves and to their own folly. In this case a severe and bitter irony would be expressed: “but they, for their own special part, since they measure themselves, etc., are not wise; but we,” etc. Something of this kind was undoubtedly intended by the Apostle in whatever way his language is construed; but it is questionable whether it is implied in αὐτοί. [The contrast implied in referring αὐτοὶ to Paul’s opponents is in the very spirit of this section, and seems demanded by the argument. The very object he had in view was to put himself personally in opposition to them. The complete meaning developed by such a construction may be expressed thus: “we confess we have not the boldness which some have shown; and hence we shrink from numbering ourselves, or even comparing ourselves with them. On the other hand, we think that they are far from showing wisdom when they resort to self-commendations, and seek for credit by comparing themselves not with true Apostles, but with one another, and with their ownselves at different periods. Their self-love is sure to flatter them when they look solely at their own and others’ accomplishments, instead of comparing themselves with the standard which God has given us.”—See a sermon on this text by Dr. Chalmers].—Nay, neither will we boast without measure—[as far as to things which have no limit] (2 Co 10:13). The authorities are here in favor of καυχησόμευα (Rec.) and are sufficiently strong to prove it genuine. The future [absolute, looking to indefinite time and to an ethical impossibility, WEBSTER, chap. 6. p. 84; WINER, § 41, 6] implies that such a boasting could never by any possibility take place (comp. Rom. 10:14). If we leave the word out of the text, we must suppose that the Apostle in 2 Co 10:15, by an anacoluthon (καυχώμενοι) turned back in his thoughts to εἰς τὰ ἅμετρα. Fritzsche, who prefers the shorter reading of the text in 2 Co 10:12, and who concludes that οὑ συνιοῦσιν originated in some marginal gloss, and then created a necessity for inserting ἡμεῖς δὲ, is in favor of such an explanation. But the Receptus has been triumphantly defended by Reiche (Commentar. I.) and Meyer.—But we boast according to the measure of the rule which God apportioned to us.—Opposed to εἰς τὰ ἅμετρα (on to the unmeasured, εἰς implying the extent or boundaries toward which the boasting tended, and which formed its measure or limit), stands here κατὰ τὸ μέτρον (according to the measure). This latter measure is more particularly defined by the additional τοῦ κανόνος, which signifies [properly, a reed, rod or staff, to keep anything erect, firm or upright, and then] the measure of the line, or the space determined by the measuring line [Robinson’s Greek and Eng. Lex to the N. T.]. We prefer the latter signification in the sense of a measured space accurately defined; and hence, in this place, in accordance with what follows, the department of influence, or of official duty, assigned him by God.11A measure—even unto you. in the words οὖ ἐμέρισεν ἡμιν ὁ θεὸς μέτρον we have an instance of a bold attraction in the sense of ποῦ μέτρον (in apposition with τοῦ κανόνος) ὁ̓. The reason it is joined thus with τοῦ κανόνος probably was, because the Apostle wished to give prominence to the thought that the measure was precisely determined, inasmuch as the field of his activity had been marked out for him by God, as if by a surveyor’s chain, when the Spirit within him, as well as external providential circumstances, had shown him in what direction and how far he should go (comp. Acts 16:6ff.). In ἐφικέσθαι ἄχρι καὶ ὑμῶν (to extend even unto you) he meant to say, that in this distribution of parts (1 Cor. 7:17), God had made his measure extend even to Corinth. The infinitive is connected with ἐμέρισεν, in which is contained the idea of an intention. Ἄχρι, etc., i.e., to Corinth, which was then the extreme limit of Paul’s preaching in the West. He proceeds, in 2 Co 10:14, to show that he might, without presumption, regard them as within the sphere of his influence, and to confirm what he had said in 2 Co 10:13.—For we stretch (over-extend) not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you.—The phrase ἱπερεκτείνειν ἑαυτόν properly signifies to stretch one’s self over or beyond the measure, which had been assigned him (by the measuring instrument); and in thus using it, the Apostle’s object was to meet the objection that he had arrogated to himself in Corinth something which did not belong to him. We must not construe ὡς μὴ ἐφικνούμενοι (the readings ἐφικόμενοι or ἀφικόμενοι have very feeble authority in their favor), as if it were in the preterite, but take it as a designation of those who do not come, i.e., do not reach to you. The μή denies the idea supposed, and implies that it was only an ideal case which he was supposing, viz: that he had not in fact reached to the Corinthians. He informs them what the real fact was, and confirms what he had before asserted, when he adds—For even as far as you did we come foremost in preaching the gospel of Christ.—̓Εφθάσαμεν suggests that the priority of influence in Corinth properly belonged to him, and that he had been before his opponents in preaching the Gospel and in establishing a Church there. Even if it were proved that φθάνειν in Rom. 9:31; Phil. 3:16; Dan. 4:8, should have the meaning simply of to come to a place generally, we think its more fundamental meaning [in the aorist: we have already come, or have come beforehand] should be re tained in this passage. ̓Εν τῷ εὑαγγελίῳ implies that the announcement of salvation was the element in which he moved in all his apostolic journeys; or it simply means, while we were preaching Christ.—Not boasting without measure in other men’s labors (2 Co 10:15a)—These words must be joined to 2 Co 10:13, so as to make 2 Co 10:14 not merely the second half of 2 Co 10:14, but a parenthesis. He resumes the subject contained in οὐκ εἰς τὰ ἅμετρα καυχᾶσθαι, and grammatically connects what he here says with καυχησόμεθα, which had to be understood in ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὸμέτρον, etc., in 2 Co 10:13. The participial sentence must therefore be joined with καυχησόμεθα and not with ἐφθάσαμεν (Rückert).—But having a hope that as your faith increases we shall be enlarged among you according to our rule abundantly (2 Co 10:15 b).—We have here a further development of the Apostle’s discourse. In the first place an object is given to the καυ χᾶσθαι, which he had disclaimed for himself when he says: ἐν ἀλλοτρίοις κόποις. This contains an indirect allusion to his opponents, who in fact boasted of other men’s labors, and arrogated as their own what had been done by others (κόπος, Jno. 4:38; 1 Cor. 3:8). With this negative he goes on to connect the prospect of an extension of his sphere of labor beyond Corinth, in consequence of an anticipated increase of their faith; αὐξανομένης τῆς πίστεωςὑμῶν is a more forcible expression than the simple participle ἐλπίζοντες would have been, and it signifies a firm, habitual confidence. The present αὐξανομένης indicates not only that their faith would be increased (Engl. A. V.), but that it was then actually increasing. He had an assurance that their faith would have a steady, pure and vigorous progress, and hence that he would not much longer be contracted and held back by his care for them. On this assurance he entertained a confident hope in a short time, ἐν ὑμὶν μεγαλυνθῆναι, etc. Ἐν ὑμῖν does not belong especially to that which had just been said, as if the Apostle had intended to say that he hoped their faith would be increased either in their hearts (in distinction from their outward growth among the people) or in the common fellowship of believers; for in either case ὑμῶν would be superfluous. He hoped that when their faith had been increased, he would be magnified among them, and would be assisted by their growing congregations to accomplish further and more important results. There is evidently nothing in the language used to imply that the Apostle was thinking of the geographical position of Corinth or of the favorable opportunities which would be presented there for more extensive enterprises (ἐν is in the sense of per). [And yet, as Grotius and Rosenmueller suggest, such an idea would have been peculiarly appropriate to the Corinthians, who were great navigators, and had peculiar facilities for assisting him on his journey to countries farther West and South. Not unreasonably, Osiander concludes from this passage that no Apostle had before this been further West]. Even the metaphor of a man of extraordinary stature, who could therefore reach further without going beyond his measure (Meyer), is probably foreign to the passage. Still less appropriate is the explanation of μεγαλύνειν, which makes it signify: celebrari (to be praised, although in other places the word may have that meaning), or rather: to be glorified among you. The context, however, favors the idea that the Apostle was thinking of an enlargement or exaltation of his power to perform his duties, in consequence of which he would be able to press further on, and enlarge the sphere of his labors. That this increase of his greatness would only be in conformity with his calling as an Apostle, he indicates by the words, according to our rule (κατὰ τὸν κανόνα ἡμῶν). This rule has no reference to the general principle expressed in Rom. 15:20, for the connection (2 Co 10:13) required him simply to say that he was confining himself to the limits God had assigned him (according to our measuring line, i.e., never to go beyond the space God has distinctly marked off for me). He is careful, however, to inform his readers that these limits did not abridge his free action and did not make his very great enlargement impossible. This he lets us know in εἰς περισσείαν. He was well aware that he had been ordained to an Apostleship which was universal in its object (comp. Rom. 1:13ff.; 15:23f., 28), and which called for an extraordinary energy. Rückert’s idea, that αὐξαν.εἰς περισσείαν has a tincture of irony about it, appears to be without foundation (comp. Meyer).—To preach the Gospel as far as the parts beyond you (2 Co 10:16 a). He here informs us more definitely what would be the result of the enlargement of which he had just spoken, and what he would become capable of. Εὐαγγελίσασθαι is here the infinitive either of the design or of the result to be accomplished by the enlargement; it is not simply epexegetical of what that enlargement was to be (q. d., that is, to make known the Gospel), but to tell us what would follow that enlargement, or why he hoped for it (in order that). As in 1 Pet. 1:25; 1 Thess. 2:9; John 8:26, εἰς is here used to imply the making known to, and bringing the Gospel into, those countries. ̓Ὑ̓περέκεινα is a word used in a corrupted Greek style for ἐπέκεινα. In the next clause he proceeds to give us the negative description of the same result or design—not to boast ourselves of things prepared for our hands in another’s line (2 Co 10:16 b.). In this additional qualification of what he had said, he intended to signify that in such an extension of his Apostolical influence he did not mean to boast like his opponents of something already prepared for him in the sphere of other men’s labors, i.e., to appropriate to himself the fruits of other persons, labors, and thus to acquire a false reputation for greatness. [In our common English version a comma should be placed after the word “line,” so that no one should read the passage as if it were, “another man’s line of things”]. The words ὁκανών have here the sense of, what is marked off by a measuring line; properly, the extent of space intended for another and assigned to him by the measuring line. The meaning of the word is not changed here, though the general idea it conveys is affected by the context. In contrast with this false and censurable self-glorification, he now presents in a general sentence the glorying which is proper and commendable. The general rule with respect to this he announces thus—But he that I glorieth let him glory in the Lord (2 Co 10:17). Comp. 1 Cor. 1:31. The reason for this glorying which is mentioned in 2 Co 10:18 makes it evident that, κύριος (God) is here represented to be not so much the object of the glorying as the reason on account of which one glories. To a selfish and arbitrary self-commendation, to a false boasting, stands opposed a glorying in a fellowship with the Lord, as the true source of all ability, or on account of that approbation which God bestows upon us and which is revealed in the blessing attending our labors. Such a glorying is shown in the confession that whatever success we have comes from God (comp. 2 Co 3:3).—For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth (2 Co 10:18). With respect to this commendation of ourselves, comp. 2 Co 10:12. The person who presumes to commend himself thus is brought before us with a special emphasis in ἐκεῖνις. Δόκιμος, in this connection, where the Apostle is speaking of Christ’s ministers, signifies one who is approved or authenticated as a faithful minister of the Lord (2 Tim. 2:15). Meyer draws from the whole passage a somewhat different sense; for in his view καυ χᾶσθαιἐν κυρίω is a glorying in God as the Being through whose grace and power he has and does every thing (comp. 12:9ff.; 1 Cor. 15:10). The opposite of this is the commendation of our own selves: “for not he who acts differently from this, and instead of glorying in the Lord, commends himself, is approved (tried experimentally by Christian tests), but he whom the Lord commends (by His blessing, and not by any literal or direct praise). NEANDER: “Only that which the Lord accomplished by the instrumentality of a man is really his commendation, not his own commendations of himself, or dead letters of commendation like those which the Judaizing teachers carried.” [Comp. 2 Co 3:1, and above 2 Co 10:12].


[1. The Christian and especially the Christian pastor, should be a man of combined strength and gentleness. The one quality without the other produces a distorted character. Without strength there can be no real gentleness, to the very idea of which the conception of a reserved force is necessary, an energy which on occasion forbears to exert its appropriate qualities. The Apostle had been gentle and meek in the former part of this Epistle, but it was not from feebleness of character. He could be, like his Lord, a lion or a lamb, as circumstances called for such qualities. The Church needs heroes as well as martyrs; to contend sometimes for truth and rights, as well as sometimes to surrender themselves to the smiter. There may be more danger that God’s people should fait in benignity or meekness, but there have been seasons where they have shown an equally painful lack of a magnanimity which sympathizes with great enterprises and with oppressed humanity, and a fervent zeal which cannot bear them that are evil (Rev. 2:2; Judg. 5:23)].

2. The minister of Christ is a spiritual warrior, in arms against every thing which is in the way of the progress of Christ’s kingdom, of the truth and of the knowledge of God; or which tends to impede or impair their exclusive and complete authority. He is often compelled to experience that his natural powers are weak and Sinful, but his sinful infirmities and afflictions are never allowed to control his method of warfare. The Spirit of that God, in whose cause he maintains the conflict, supplies him with weapons of Almighty power, which pierce every covering, overcome all opposition, and overthrow the strongest holds. This sword of the Spirit, the enlightening and quickening word, cuts through the most ingeniously contrived knots which the mind of man, however aided by Satanic art has been able to form, and batters down and destroys the most powerful defences which the reason of man has been able to construct against God. This is the light which penetrates the darkness of the human understanding, awakens in men a consciousness of their weakness and their errors in Divine things, convinces them of the infallible and exclusive certainty of the revelation God has made of Himself in Christ and so completely subjects their mental powers to Christ that that revelation becomes their only authority in matters of faith. In opposition to an enemy Whose equipment is “great power and much craft,” the spiritual combatant or commander has not only a Divine energy but a wisdom which is superior to all human craftiness. But before punishing the refractory, he distinguishes accurately between the seducers and the seduced, and he is careful kindly and thoroughly to win the latter and to draw them away from their dangerous associates. In such a work his love will be quite as prominent as his wisdom, for he will remember that his official power was intrusted to him by God not to destroy but to save and benefit his fellowmen.

2. The true minister of Christ can easily be distinguished from all arrogant intruders into the sacred office, in the first place, by his abstaining from all self-laudation, and by his leaving it entirely to God to justify him and to authenticate him as a servant of the Lord; so that if he ever boasts it will be a glorying in the Lord by whose grace he is qualified for his work, and without which he is and can do nothing: and in the second place, by his confining himself strictly to the sphere to which his Lord has called him, in which he makes all he does subservient to the Divine glory, and beyond which he never attempts to pass into new fields until he has performed all that had been previously required of him and is led and strengthened by the Divine hand.

[3. The conflict of truth with error, of sin and holiness, can never cease until all sin and error are exterminated from the earth. While true benevolence will allow of no such intolerance as resorts to carnal weapons against the life, reputation or outward prosperity of ungodly men, it can never be wanting in inclination, wisdom or power to pursue its conquests while any degree of sin or error remains in the world. This conflict is therefore truly “irrepressible” until the kingdom of darkness shall be utterly destroyed].



2 Co 10:1. Christ’s faithful ministers will endeavor to deal with souls as Jesus Himself dealt with them (Matth. 12:17–20).—It is right to meet all evil reports, but let it be always with becoming modesty.

2 Co 10:2. HEDINGER: Gentleness may and ought sometimes to be followed by sharpness and severity. In a world which is filled with wrong and outrage, who would be perpetually administering consolation (1 Tim. 5:20) ?

2 Co 10:3. God’s people and servants are spiritual soldiers who must war a good warfare (1 Tim. 1:18), and for this God alone can provide adequate weapons.

2 Co 10:4. IBID: A fortress is what makes resistance and is not easily taken. In the unsanctified heart it is: wilfulness, a proud spirit, inveterate wickedness, habitual sins, the old Adam with all his defences, subterfuges and pretended rights; or it is: everything which Satan and the world sets up in opposition to the kingdom of Christ, such as power, great names, craft, fraud, calumny, wealth, great numbers, philosophy and eloquence.—CHRYSOSTOM: Carnal weapons are wealth, fame, worldly power, fluency of speech, severity, circumventive arts, flatteries and hypocrisies.

2 Co 10:5. IBID: That which is lofty is also proud, established. Here it stands for all opposition to the word of God, to Christ, to repentance and to faith; inasmuch as men are ashamed of the humble requirements and the cross of Christ, ridicule the duties of self-denial, and resist the progress of Christ’s kingdom with all their subtility and power.—Reason is one of the noblest of God’s gifts, but when it is abused, when it sets itself against God’s word, and claims to be the supreme judge and arbiter in matters of faith, etc., it must be rejected.

2 Co 10:6. The revenge which springs from a carnal and embittered spirit should always be repressed, but that which comes from a spiritual desire to rebuke and faithfully punish wickedness is commendable and desirable.—A faithful minister should endeavor to unite, edify and strengthen his people before he attempts to scatter and punish those who are opposed to him.

2 Co 10:7. Teachers and preachers should not be directed by the mere outward semblance of things, but act honestly, faithfully and suitably to their calling.

2 Co 10:8. A good Christian will always be grateful to those who faithfully tell him the truth and never flatter him.—Spiritual power should be exercised with no other desire than to edify and benefit God’s people (2 Co 12:19).

2 Co 10:9. An upright servant of God will be especially careful to avoid every appearance of that which has been laid to his charge (1 Pet. 2:12).

2 Co 10:11. We should strive never to make an improper use of the gentle dealings of pious people, lest we compel them to exchange gentleness for severity.—It is a great thing for a preacher never to contradict his words by his works, and to be always the same, present or absent, etc.

2 Co 10:12. No man can judge himself correctly, if he looks only at himself. He must compare himself with those who possess more excellent gifts, that he may learn to think moderately of himself.

2 Co 10:13. God has measured out to every faithful preacher, the precise limits of his official duty, and he should strive to occupy these with all fidelity, and to leave nothing undone within his measure!

2 Co 10:14. A grandiloquent style of speaking however common and favored by worldly people, is peculiarly offensive to the servants and the children of God.

2 Co 10:15. Blessed is that congregation which, for a long time, has a faithful pastor, and has grown and strengthened under his ministrations.—But the minister who has been successful in saving and building up the people of his charge, may be convinced on right principles, that God has called him to go further, and enlarge his field.—The great business of Christianity is to have faith. This is the true bond by which our souls are spiritually united with God, and through which we become and continue branches of Christ, derive spiritual nourishment from Him, and so are able to advance in goodness.

2 Co 10:17. Everything without Christ is nothing; and nothing with Christ is everything.—-2 Co 10:18. SPENER: To praise one’s self is to derogate just so much from God’s glory, and is an insolence which God will assuredly resist. Great indeed is the commendation which God bestows; by showing to an assembled universe, that He is pleased with our works, by the testimony of a good conscience in our own hearts, and by the successful result of what we have done.


2 Co 10:3. Christians live in the flesh among their fellowmen, not to obey, but to overcome their fleshly inclinations.

2 Co 10:4. Before anything can be built up in the kingdom of God, whatever is opposed to it, as pride and false prejudices must be discovered and removed.

2 Co 10:5. Carnal wisdom, vain thoughts, and the conclusions of unassisted reason, are the principal obstacles with which the gospel has to contend. They can never be subdued by external force, nor by counter opinions of men, but by the sword of the Spirit. Our great work is to learn to wield this sword with faithfulness and skill.—The right knowledge of God will always lead to a subjugation of ourselves to Him, for it will show what are our true relations to Him. Whoever follows not the Lord Jesus as a little child, but proudly adheres to the conceited maxims of human wisdom, will certainly fall into darkness. It must be our constant care to humble every high thing and bring it into subjection to the simplicity of Christ. It will be easy to do this if we allow the Holy Spirit to work freely in our hearts.

2 Co 10:7. Whoever sees only what the outward eye naturally rests upon, will never observe the Spirit, and the footsteps of Christ.

2 Co 10:8. If the appointed overseers in the Church would use their power in the wisest manner, they should insist upon nothing but what will promote the growth of real piety, and they should exclude from visible fellowship none whom Christ has thought worthy of an invisible fellowship with Himself and His people.—If each one would give his attention to the measure which God hath measured to him, and be faithful in that without disturbing others in their proper spheres, the peace and unity of the Christian world would never be broken.

2 Co 10:15. Our first business is to learn what is the peculiar work to which God calls us.

2 Co 10:17. As long as you imagine you have something to boast of, you know neither God nor yourself, and you are making a god of yourself.

2 Co 10:18. We have here a little text of great importance. Great and small, strong and feeble, come within its range, that the one may not be discouraged, and that the other may not be presumptuous.


2 Co 10:1, 2. Nothing is more difficult than for a man to speak much of himself. If, however, circumstances demand it, let him show that a good conscience is not necessarily a feeble or timid one.—Our Lord always endeavored to make the way of repentance and amendment as easy as possible, and He never threw needless impediments in the path of those who were seeking for truth.

2 Co 10:5. We should never hesitate to break in pieces all carnal weapons, but we should strive to bring those who once used them, to accept of the easy yoke of Christ, and to learn of Him that they may find that rest which their souls never knew while contending against God.

2 Co 10:7ff. We are very liable falsely to suspect others, when our judgments are guided by wrong principles, and are formed according to appearances. How cruel have been the imputations under which the most excellent of the earth have sometimes been obliged to live! Wicked men have not been afraid to trample under foot those whom God has prepared to sit with His Son on the throne of His glory. Teach us, O God, so to use Thy grace, that we may meekly submit to ignominy, and yet hope for glory!

2 Co 10:12ff. Where God helps, there only can the believer find a path to walk.

2 Co 10:17f. Something we must have to support us while all around us are judging and despising us. But if thou wilt glory, glory only in the Lord who has accepted of thee, and counted thee worthy of His high calling, with whose pounds thou art trading, and for whom thou art to live and die.—Even in the judgment of common sense it is a contemptible thing for a man to praise himself. But there are many arts by which it is consistent with good manners and intelligence to draw upon ourselves the observation of those around us.—The Lord can praise us, sometimes by opening doors which no art or power of man could previously open, and sometimes by quieting those who before had thought unfavorably of us (Rev. 3:9). But in general our cause must be reserved for that great day when the Lord will judge every secret thing.


2 Co 10:1. The good qualities of those who act as spiritual shepherds are sure to be misrepresented. Their gentleness will be called weakness, and their earnestness, arrogance and rashness. Even those who commonly appear retiring and diffident, when necessity calls for it, sometimes put forth great energy.

2 Co 10:3. The Christian must always be at war with the world, but his weapons must be spiritual and very different from those of worldly prudence.

2 Co 10:4. Only the pure in heart have courage to attack sins which are rooted deeply in the spirit of the world, and sustained by public laws and usages (wicked maxims, established customs and erroneous opinions).

2 Co 10:5. Man’s pride rebels against the Gospel, but those who are enlightened and strengthened by the Spirit of God can get the victory over it.—That reason which exults itself against Christianity and will learn nothing from Christ, is false (Luther: Satan’s harlot).

2 Co 10:6. All who are in favor of right and order in the Church must ordinarily rally around their ministers.

2 Co 10:7. There are other and perhaps better Christians than yourself (against exclusiveness).

2 Co 10:8. There is a salutary power which belongs to the pastoral office, which is not for condemnation, but for edification, and which ought always to be cheerfully acknowledged by the people. Ministers should never attempt to drive their people by slavish fears.

2 Co 10:10. Extraordinary talents or merits are not always connected with an imposing presence or a remarkable eloquence.

2 Co 10:11. The truest respect of our fellowmen is acquired by showing them that we have been called of God and are led by His Spirit; not by exhibitions and a consciousness of our own powers, which too often engender pride.

2 Co 10:12. Great as thou mayest be, there are probably some much greater! Nothing can be more idle than for a man to make himself his standard and then measure himself by it.

2 Co 10:13. God gives to every man the sphere of action in which his talents may be best employed; this he should strive to occupy, and never break into that of his neighbor and arrogate to himself something which is not his.

2 Co 10:15. Those who occupy well a small sphere will be very sure to be Divinely called to a larger (Luke 19:17).

2 Co 10:17. No garment is so beautiful and no honor so illustrious as humility.

2 Co 10:18. What if you are commended by yourself and by all men? One word from your final Judge may turn it all to shame. How different will be His estimate of all human merit!


2 Co 10:3. The Spirit of Christ enables us not only to mortify the deeds of the body (Rom. 8:13), but to subject the flesh in which we live and walk (Gal. 2:20) so completely under the seal of the Spirit, that our tongue, eyes, ears and all our members, our reason, and all our minds and hearts, shall be consecrated to the service of God (Rom. 6:13). But whoever serves God in this life must be a warrior. If this is true of all Christians (Eph. 6:10), it is in a double sense true of ministers. But he wars a good warfare if, while walking in the flesh, he wars not after the flesh, with passion, vindictiveness, pusillanimity, unworthy artifices and vain ambition.

2 Co 10:4. In the eye of the world, carnal weapons are mighty, and the spiritual weapons of the Church (the word of God, preaching, faith, confessions, patience and spiritual gifts) are of no consequence; but in God’s sight, carnal weapons are powerless and vain, and those which come from the holy armory, where David obtained his equipments (Ps. 18:35, 36), are mighty. What bulwarks has the god of this world erected to keep men in their wicked ways! The idolatrous systems of heathen nations, the self-righteous prejudices of the Jew, the philosophic arrogance of the Greek, the civil grandeur of the Roman, the haughty power of the world, the whole manner of life sanctioned by ancestral usages and deeply rooted popular prejudices, strongly fortified errors of heretics,—these are the strongholds which the Church has had to storm, with no other weapons than the trumpet of the Gospel and the sword of the Spirit.

2 Co 10:5. As a beleaguered enemy builds up one wall behind another, and erects many towers in his defence, so rises up from the carnal institutions assailed by the Gospel, one high thing after another to maintain their life, their purposes, their honor, and their loves and pleasures against the word of God, which demands an unconditional surrender. What was it that subdued me and made me renounce myself, die to myself, and thus become my own enemy; made me depend entirely upon Jesus, lose myself in Him, and find my all in Him? Nothing but the word of God, whose power is so wonderful. This it was which destroyed every high thing which my imagination erected, and behind which I had intrenched myself. As long as reason, with its power of thought and will, remained in the service of the flesh (Eph. 2:3), she was God’s enemy and “Satan’s harlot” (Luther); but no sooner was she taken captive to the obedience of Christ, than she became a submissive handmaid, performing precisely the opposite service for, not against, the knowledge of God. For faith is in its essential nature obedience to Christ (Rom. 1:5; 16:26).

2 Co 10:8. This text appeals to all ministers: For edification and not for destruction! This admonishes us that we should make such a use of the power which the Lord has committed to us that we may be commended as faithful stewards.

[The Christian Church is engaged in a conflict, and every Christian is a warrior. I. For what? 1. For the knowledge of God; and 2. for the obedience of Christ (2 Co 10:5). This conflict can never cease while a hurtful error, or a disobedient person, remains on earth. Strongholds must be demolished (2 Co 10:4); rational powers taken captive (2 Co 10:5); and incorrigible ones cast out (2 Co 10:6). II. Some principles according to which it must be conducted. 1. Christ must be over all, all must be His, and exclusive Christ-parties among such as belong to Him are schismatic (2 Co 10:7); 2. Christ’s Spirit must animate all; (a) his meekness and gentleness (2 Co 10:1), or (b) his severity (2 Co 10:2) according to the occasion; 3. Spiritual weapons alone must be used: every man’s freedom and external position must be respected, but whatever truth and love can do must be done (2 Co 10:4); 4. Nothing but the good of individual men and of society must be sought (2 Co 10:8, 9); 5. Men must be valued not by their own or other’s estimate of them, but by the standard of Divine truth (2 Co 10:12,17,18); 6. Each one must be confined to the sphere to which Providence assigns him, and yet this should be continually enlarging (2 Co 10:15), 16].


[1]2 Co 10:4.—Rec. has στρατείας, but its authority is feeble. [Internal evidence would seem strong in favor of στρατείας both here and in 1 Tim. 1:18, for ordinarily (though by no means uniformly) it is used for military service or warfare, while στρατιά signifies rather an army: but they are often used interchangeably, and the external evidence against it is too strong to be forsaken. (Tisch.). Lachm. however (sustained only by Cod. B.) adopts it.]

[2]2 Co 10:7.—Rec. has χριστοῦ after ἡμεῖς; but it is thrown out by the majority of the best MSS. [Tisch. after rejecting it in ed. 3d, restores it in ed. 7th with the remark: “at ut molestum omnino omissum videtur: addidisse quemguam vix credibiu videtur.” And yet the documentary evidence against it (B. C. D. (1st hand) F. G. Sin. many cursives, Vulg. Goth. Syr. Arm. with most of the ancient expositors) is very strong.]

[3]2 Co 10:8.—The predominance of evidence is in favor of τε after και; it is easier to conceive of its omission than of its insertion. On the other hand καί before περισσότερον has the weight of authority against it, and it is probably a supplementary addition. [Tisch. now restores it and thinks it more likely to have been omitted than added by a foreign hand.]

[4]2 Co 10:8.—ἡμῖν after κύριος is uncertain. It might have seemed superfluous after ἡμῶν, and yet very appropriate after ἔδωκεν. The best MSS. do not have it.

[5]2 Co 10:10.—[ἐπιστολαὶ is placed before μέν by Lachm. after Codd. B. and Sin.]. φησίν is better sustained than φασιν; it is also the more difficult reading.

[6]2 Co 10:12, 13.—οὐ συνιοῦσιν ἡμεῖς δὲ are thrown out by a number of critics, but on the sole authority of Occidental MSS., some of which have ἡμεῖς δὲ, although these last words seem like an incomplete restoration when they stand alone. The transcriber’s eye easily passed from οὐ before συν or οὐχ after ἡμεῖς δὲ, and it was difficult to explain the passage without omitting these words. See critical remarks [and Stanley's extended discussion.]

[7]2 Co 10:13.—καυχησόμεθα. has satisfactory evidence in its favor; and is neither to be left out nor exchanged for καυχώμεθα nor καυχώμενοι.

[8]2 Co 10:14.—Lachm. has ὡς γὰρ instead of οὐ γὰρ ὡς, but his authorities are weak [only Cod. B. and two very recent cursives. As he plaees the mark of interrogation after ἑαυτόυς, the sense remains the same.]

[9][This seems hardly conclusive, for the Apostle might very properly call attention to the agency of God through which his weapons were so powerful. Is there any greater call for his mere assertion that his weapons were powerful in God’s sight (i.e. truly)? The ancient Greek Expositors (whose opinions on such a question are entitled to weight, favor the meaning given in our common version, as e.g. Chrys.: “Paul here refers the whole power to God–he says not we are mighty, but our weapons are mighty through God.” So also Bloomfield,conybeare and Stanley (in his translation). Wordsworth less appropriately renders the phrase, God-ward in contrast with man-ward or in the direction of, in respect to, men. He refers to Acts 7:20. Comp. JELF, § 611, b.]

[10][This is one of those passages which became so important in the controversy with Rationalism. The etymological construction of the word is certainly in favor of the meaning: a thought, an intellectual perception as it is formed in the mind; and yet a very extensive usage in classic writers favors the meaning, the faculty of the understanding, or even the mind itself. The sense, too, if we adopt this meaning, would be highly appropriate; for while it is the λογισμοὶ, which were demolished, the mind itself which once entertained them, is here supposed to be taken captive to the obedience of Christ. We are compelled, however, by the connection which deals entirely with the products of human action against Divine knowledge, to adopt the etymological signification].

[11][Thereis no evidence beyond the vaguest tradition that before their separation at Jerusalem the Apostles portioned out the different provinces of the world to one another, and yet there was doubtless an understanding, perhaps silently acquiesced in by them all, that only one Apostle, or supreme authority, was needful on any field. In some special sense, “the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed to Paul and that of the circumcision to Peter” (Gal. 2:7); and in consequence of this, James, Cephas and John went unto the circumcision, and Paul and Barnabas unto the Gentiles (Gal. 2:9). Paul appears also to have adopted the rule that he would leave the minor details of labor to inferior hands, when the Gospel had once been planted in a place, while he pressed forward to new countries. Hence he proposed to visit even Rome, where a Church had been formed by others, only by the way (Rom. 15:20, 24). If, then, any persons came to Corinth in the character of Apostles, or professing to act under the authority of other Apostles, while Paul was still alive and active on that field, and especially if they resisted his authority, it was a decided infringement of this express or implied arrangement, or a plan denial of his right to the name of an Apostle. Comp. Stanley].

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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