2 Corinthians 10


The apostle vindicates himself against the aspersions cast on

his person by the false apostle; and takes occasion to mention

his spiritual might and authority, 1-6.

He shows them the impropriety of judging after the outward

appearance, 7.

Again refers to his apostolical authority, and informs them

that when he again comes among them he will show himself in

his deeds as powerful as his letters intimated, 8-11.

He shows that these false teachers sat down in other men's

labours, having neither authority nor influence from God to

break up new ground, while he and the apostles in general had

the regions assigned to them through which they were to sow

the seed of life; and that he never entered into any place

where the work was made ready to his hand by others, 12-16.

He concludes with intimating that the glorying of those false

apostles was bad; that they had nothing but self-commendation;

and that they who glory should glory in the Lord, 17, 18.


Verse 1. I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness] Having

now finished his directions and advices relative to the collection

for the poor, he resumes his argument relative to the false

apostle, who had gained considerable influence by representing St.

Paul as despicable in his person, his ministry, and his influence.

Under this obloquy the apostle was supported by the meekness and

gentleness of Christ; and through the same heavenly disposition he

delayed inflicting that punishment which, in virtue of his

apostolical authority, he might have inflicted on him who had

disturbed and laboured to corrupt the Christian Church.

Who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold

toward you] He seems to quote these as the words of his

calumniator, as if he had said; "This apostle of yours is a mere

braggadocio; when he is among you, you know how base and

contemptible he is; when absent, see how he brags and boasts."

The word ταπεινος, which we render base, signifies lowly, and, as

some think, short of stature. The insinuation is, that when there

was danger or opposition at hand, St. Paul acted with great

obsequiousness, fearing for his person and authority, lest he

should lose his secular influence. See the following verse.

Verse 2. Some, which think of us as if we walked according to

the flesh.] As it is customary for cowards and overbearing men

to threaten the weak and the timid when present; to bluster

when absent; and to be very obsequious in the presence of the

strong and courageous. This conduct they appear to have charged

against the apostle, which he calls here walking after the flesh-

acting as a man who had worldly ends in view, and would use any

means in order to accomplish them.

Verse 3. Though we walk in the flesh] That is: Although I am

in the common condition of human nature, and must live as a human

being, yet I do not war after the flesh-I do not act the coward or

the poltroon, as they insinuate. I have a good cause, a good

captain, strength at will, and courage at hand. I neither fear

them nor their master.

Verse 4. The weapons of our warfare] The apostle often uses

the metaphor of a warfare to represent the life and trials of a

Christian minister. See Eph 6:10-17; 1Ti 1:18; 2Ti 2:3-5.

Are not carnal] Here he refers to the means used by the false

apostle in order to secure his party; he calumniated St. Paul,

traduced the truth, preached false and licentious doctrines, and

supported these with sophistical reasonings.

But mighty through God] Our doctrines are true and pure, they

come from God and lead to him, and he accompanies them with his

mighty power to the hearts of those who hear them; and the strong

holds-the apparently solid and cogent reasoning of the

philosophers, we, by these doctrines, pull down; and thus the

fortifications of heathenism are destroyed, and the cause of

Christ triumphs wherever we come; and we put to flight the armies

of the aliens.

Verse 5. Casting down imaginations] δογισμους. Reasonings or

opinions. The Greek philosophers valued themselves especially on

their ethic systems, in which their reasonings appeared to be very

profound and conclusive; but they were obliged to assume

principles which were either such as did not exist, or were false

in themselves, as the whole of their mythologic system most

evidently was: truly, from what remains of them we see that their

metaphysics were generally bombast; and as to their philosophy, it

was in general good for nothing. When the apostles came against

their gods many and their lords many with the ONE SUPREME and

ETERNAL BEING, they were confounded, scattered, annihilated; when

they came against their various modes of purifying the mind-their

sacrificial and mediatorial system, with the LORD JESUS CHRIST,

his agony and bloody sweat, his cross and passion, his

death and burial, and his glorious resurrection and ascension,

they sunk before them, and appeared to be what they really were,

as dust upon the balance, and lighter than vanity.

Every high thing] Even the pretendedly sublime doctrines, for

instance, of Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics in general, fell

before the simple preaching of Christ crucified.

The knowledge of God] The doctrine of the unity and eternity

of the Divine nature, which was opposed by the plurality of their

idols, and the generation of their gods, and their men-made

deities. It is amazing how feeble a resistance heathenism made,

by argument or reasoning, against the doctrine of the Gospel! It

instantly shrunk from the Divine light, and called on the secular

power to contend for it! Popery sunk before Protestantism in the

same way, and defended itself by the same means. The apostles

destroyed heathenism wherever they came; the Protestants confuted

popery wherever their voice was permitted to be heard.

Bringing into captivity every thought] HEATHENISM could not

recover itself; in vain did its thousands of altars smoke with

reiterated hecatombs, their demons were silent, and their idols

were proved to be nothing in the world. POPERY could never, by

any power of self-reviviscence, restore itself after its defeat by

the Reformation: it had no Scripture, consecutively understood; no

reason, no argument; in vain were its bells rung, its candles

lighted, its auto da fe's exhibited; in vain did its fires blaze;

and in vain were innumerable human victims immolated on its

altars! The light of God penetrated its hidden works of darkness,

and dragged its three-headed Cerberus into open day; the monster

sickened, vomited his henbane, and fled for refuge to his native


The obedience of Christ] Subjection to idols was annihilated

by the progress of the Gospel among the heathens; and they soon

had but one Lord, and his name one. In like manner the doctrines

of the reformation, mighty through God, pulled down-demolished and

brought into captivity, the whole papal system; and instead of

obedience to the pope, the pretended vicar of God upon earth,

obedience to Christ, as the sole almighty Head of the Church, was

established, particularly in Great Britain, where it continues to

prevail. Hallelujah! the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth!

Verse 6. And having in a readiness to revenge all

disobedience] I am ready, through this mighty armour of God, to

punish those opposers of the doctrine of Christ, and the

disobedience which has been produced by them.

When your obedience is fulfilled.] When you have in the

fullest manner, discountenanced those men, and separated

yourselves from their communion. The apostle was not in haste to

pull up the tares, lest he should pull up the wheat also.

All the terms in these two verses are military. Allusion is

made to a strongly fortifed city, where the enemy had made his

last stand; entrenching himself about the walls; strengthening all

his redoubts and ramparts; raising castles, towers, and various

engines of defence and offence upon the walls; and neglecting

nothing that might tend to render his strong hold impregnable.

The army of God comes against the place and attacks it; the strong

holds οχυροματα, all the fortified places, are carried. The

imaginations, λογισμοι, engines, and whatever the imagination

or skill of man could raise, are speedily taken and destroyed.

Every high thing, πανυψωμα, all the castles and towers

are sapped, thrown down and demolished; the walls are battered

into breaches; and the besieging army, carrying every thing at the

point of the sword, enter the city, storm and take the citadel.

Every where defeated, the conquered submit, and are brought into

captivity, αιχμαλωτιζοντες, are led away captives; and thus the

whole government is destroyed.

It is easy to apply these things, as far as may be consistent

with the apostle's design. The general sense I have given in the

preceding notes.

Verse 7. Do ye look on things after the outward appearance?]

Do not be carried away with appearances; do not be satisfied with

show and parade.

If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's] Here, as in

several other places of this and the preceding epistle, the τις,

any or certain, person, most evidently refers to the false apostle

who made so much disturbance in the Church. And this man trusted

to himself-assumed to himself that he was Christ's messenger: it

would not do to attempt to subvert Christianity at once; it had

got too strong a hold of Corinth to be easily dislodged; he

therefore pretended to be on Christ's side, and to derive his

authority from him.

Let him of himself] Without any authority, certainly, from

God; but, as he arrogates to himself the character of a minister

of Christ, let him acknowledge that even so we are Christ's

ministers; and that I have, by my preaching, and the miracles

which I have wrought, given the fullest proof that I am especially

commissioned by him.

Verse 8. For, though I should boast, &c.] I have a greater

authority and spiritual power than I have yet shown, both to edify

and to punish; but I employ this for your edification in

righteousness, and not for the destruction of any delinquent.

"This," says Calmet, "is the rule which the pastors of the Church

ever propose to themselves in the exercise of their authority;

whether to enjoin or forbid, to dispense or to oblige, to bind or

to loose. They should use this power only as Jesus Christ used

it-for the salvation, and not for the destruction, of souls."

Verse 9. That I may not seem, &c.] This is an elliptical

sentence, and may be supplied thus: "I have not used this

authority; nor will I add any more concerning this part of the

subject, lest I should seem, as my adversary has insinuated, to

wish to terrify you by my letters.

Verse 10. For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful]

He boasts of high powers, and that he can do great things.

See on 2Co 10:1, 2.

But his bodily presence is weak] When you behold the man, you

find him a feeble, contemptible mortal; and when ye hear him

speak, his speech, ολογος, probably, his doctrine,

εξουθενημενος, is good for nothing; his person, matter, and

manner, are altogether uninteresting, unimpressive, and too

contemptible to be valued by the wise and the learned. This seems

to be the spirit and design of this slander.

Many, both among the ancients and moderns, have endeavoured to

find out the ground there was for any part of this calumny; as to

the moral conduct of the apostle, that was invulnerable; his

motives, it is true, were suspected and denounced by this false

apostle and his partisans; but they could never find any thing in

his conduct which could support their insinuations.

What they could not attach to his character, they

disingenuously attached to his person and his elocution.

If we can credit some ancient writers, such as Nicephorus, we

shall find the apostle thus described: παυλοςμικροςηνκαι

συνεσταλμενοςτοτουσωματοςμεγεθος. καιωσπεραγκυλοναυτο

κεκτημενος. σμικρονδεκαικεκυφος. τηνοφινλευκοςκαιτο

προσωπονπροφερηςψιλοςτηνκεφαληνκτλ-Nicephor., lib.

ii., cap. 17. "Paul was a little man, crooked, and almost bent

like a bow; with a pale countenance, long and wrinkled; a bald

head; his eyes full of fire and benevolence; his beard long,

thick, and interspersed with grey hairs, as was his head, &c."

I quote from Calmet, not having Nicephorus at hand.

An old Greek writer, says the same author, whose works are

found among those of Chrysostom, tom. vi. hom. 30, page 265,

represents him thus:-παυλοςοτριπηχυςανθρωποςκαιτωνουρανων

απτομενος. "Paul was a man of about three cubits in height, (four

feet six,) and yet, nevertheless, touched the heavens." Others

say that "he was a little man, had a bald head, and a large nose."

See the above, and several other authorities in Calmet. Perhaps

there is not one of these statements correct: as to Nicephorus, he

is a writer of the fourteenth century, weak and credulous, and

worthy of no regard. And the writer found in the works of

Chrysostom, in making the apostle little more than a pigmy, has

rendered his account incredible.

That St. Paul could be no such diminutive person we may fairly

presume from the office he filled under the high priest, in the

persecution of the Church of Christ; and that he had not an

impediment in his speech, but was a graceful orator, we may learn

from his whole history, and especially from the account we have,

Ac 14:12,

where the Lycaonians took him for Mercury, the god of eloquence,

induced thereto by his powerful and persuasive elocution. In

short, there does not appear to be any substantial evidence of the

apostle's deformity, pigmy stature, bald head, pale and wrinkled

face, large nose, stammering speech, &c., &c. These are probably

all figments of an unbridled fancy, and foolish surmisings.

Verse 11. Such as we are in word] A threatening of this kind

would doubtless alarm the false apostle; and it is very likely

that he did not await the apostle's coming, as he would not be

willing to try the fate of Elymas.

Verse 12. We dare not make ourselves, &c.] As if he had said:

I dare neither associate with, nor compare myself to, those who

are full of self-commendation. Some think this to be an ironical


But they, measuring themselves by themselves] They are not

sent of God; they are not inspired by his Spirit; therefore they

have no rule to think or act by. They are also full of pride and

self-conceit; they look within themselves for accomplishments

which their self-love will soon find out; for to it real and

fictitious are the same. As they dare not compare themselves with

the true apostles of Christ, they compare themselves with each

other; and, as they have no perfect standard, they can have no

excellence; nor can they ever attain true wisdom, which is not to

be had from looking at what we are but to what we should be; and

if without a directory, what we should be will never appear, and

consequently our ignorance must continue. This was the case with

these self-conceited false apostles; but ουσυνιουσιν, are not

wise, Mr. Wakefield contends, is an elegant Graecism signifying

they are not aware that they are measuring themselves by

themselves, &c.

Verse 13. Things without our measure] There is a great deal

of difficulty in this and the three following verses, and there is

a great diversity among the MSS.; and which is the true reading

can scarcely be determined. Our version is perhaps the plainest

that can be made of the text. By the measure mentioned here, it

seems as if the apostle meant the commission he received from God

to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles; a measure or district that

extended through all Asia Minor and Greece, down to Achaia, where

Corinth was situated, a measure to reach even unto you. But the

expressions in these verses are all agonistical, and taken from

the stadium or race course in the Olympic and Isthmian games. The

μετρον, or measure, was the length of the δρομος, or course;

and the κανων, rule or line, 2Co 10:15, 16, was probably the

same with the γραμμα, or white line, which marked out the

boundaries of the stadium; and the verbs reach unto, stretch out,

&c., are all references to the exertions made to win the race. As

this subject is so frequently alluded to in these epistles, I have

thought it of importance to consider it particularly in the

different places where it occurs.

Verse 14. For we stretch not ourselves beyond] We have not

proceeded straight from Macedonia through Thessaly, and across the

Adriatic Gulf into Italy, which would have led us beyond you

westward; but knowing the mind of our God we left this direct

path, and came southward through Greece, down into Achaia, and

there we planted the Gospel. The false apostle has therefore got

into our province, and entered into our labours, and there boasts

as if the conversion of the heathen Achaians had been his own

work. As there is an allusion here to the stadium, and to the

Olympic games in general, we may consider the apostle as laying to

the charge of the disturber at Corinth that he had got his name

surreptitiously inserted on the military list; that he was not

striving lawfully; had no right to the stadium, and none to the

crown. See the observations at the end of 1Co 9; "1Co 9:27" and

the note on ver. 13 of this chapter; "2Co 10:13"

Verse 15. Not boasting of things without our measure] We

speak only of the work which God has done by us; for we have never

attempted to enter into other men's labours, and we study to

convert those regions assigned to us by the Holy Spirit. We enter

the course lawfully, and run according to rule. See above.

When your faith is increased] When you receive more of the

life and power of godliness, and when you can better spare me to

go to other places.

We shall be enlarged by you] μεγαλυνθηναι probably signifies

here to be praised or commended; and the sense would be this; We

hope that shortly, on your gaining an increase of true religion,

after your long distractions and divisions, you will plainly see

that we are the true messengers of God to you, and that in all

your intercourse with your neighbours, or foreign parts, you will

speak of this Gospel preached by us as a glorious system of saving

truth; and that, in consequence, the heathen countries around you

will be the better prepared to receive our message; and thus our

rule or district will be abundantly extended. This

interpretation agrees well with the following verse.

Verse 16. To preach the Gospel in the regions beyond you] He

probably refers to those parts of the Morea, such as Sparta, &c.,

that lay southward of them; and to Italy, which lay on the west;

for it does not appear that he considered his measure or province

to extend to Libya, or any part of Africa. See the Introduction,

sec. xii.

Not to boast in another man's line] So very scrupulous was the

apostle not to build on another man's foundation, that he would

not even go to those places where other apostles were labouring.

He appears to think that every apostle had a particular district

or province of the heathen world allotted to him, and which God

commissioned him to convert to the Christian faith. No doubt

every apostle was influenced in the same way; and this was a wise

order of God; for by these means the Gospel was more quickly

spread through the heathen provinces than it otherwise would have

been. The apostles had deacons or ministers with them whose

business it was to water the seed sown; but the apostles alone,

under Christ, sowed and planted.

Verse 17. He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.]

Instead of boasting or exulting even in your own success in

preaching the Gospel, as none can be successful without the

especial blessing of God, let God who gave the blessing have the

glory. Even the genuine apostle, who has his commission

immediately from God himself, takes no praise to himself from the

prosperity of his work, but gives it all to God. How little cause

then have your uncommissioned men to boast, to whom God has

assigned no province, and who only boast in another man's line of

things made ready to their hand!

Verse 18. Not he that commendeth himself] Not the person who

makes a parade of his own attainments; who preaches himself, and

not Christ Jesus the Lord; and, far from being your servant for

Christ's sake, affects to be your ruler; not such a one shall be

approved of God, by an especial blessing on his labours; but he

whom the Lord commendeth, by giving him the extraordinary gifts of

the Holy Spirit, and converting the heathen by his ministry.

These were qualifications to which the false apostle at Corinth

could not pretend. He had language and eloquence, and show and

parade; but he had neither the gifts of an apostle nor an

apostle's success.

1. DR. WHITBY observes that the apostle, in the 13th, 14th,

15th, and 16th verses, 2Co 10:13-16 endeavours to advance

himself above the false apostles in the three following


(1.) That whereas they could show no commission to preach to

the Corinthians, no measure by which God had distributed the

Corinthians to them as their province, he could do so. We have a

measure to reach even to you, 2Co 10:13.

(2.) That whereas they went out of their line, leaping from one

Church to another, he went on orderly, in the conversion of the

heathens, from Judea through all the interjacent provinces, till

he came to Corinth.

(3.) Whereas they only came in and perverted the Churches where

the faith had already been preached, and so could only boast of

things made ready to their hands, 2Co 10:16, he had laboured to

preach the Gospel where Christ had not been named, lest he should

build on another man's foundation, Ro 15:20.

2. We find that from the beginning God appointed to every man

his promise, and to every man his labour; and would not suffer

even one apostle to interfere with another. This was a very wise

appointment; for by this the Gospel was not only more speedily

diffused over the heathen nations, as we have already remarked,

but the Churches were better attended to, the Christian doctrine

preserved in its purity, and the Christian discipline properly

enforced. What is any men's work is no man's in particular; and

thus the work is neglected. In every Church of God there should

be some one who for the time being has the care of it, who may be

properly called its pastor; and who is accountable for its purity

in the faith, and its godly discipline.

3. Every man who ministers in holy things should be well

assured of his call to the work; without this he can labour

neither with confidence nor comfort. And he should be careful to

watch over the flock, that no destroying wolf be permitted to

enter the sacred fold, and that the fences of a holy discipline be

kept in proper repair.

4. It is base, abominable, and deeply sinful, for a man to

thrust himself into other men's labours, and, by sowing doubtful

disputations among a Christian people, distract and divide them,

that he may get a party to himself. Such persons generally act as

the false apostle at Corinth; preach a relaxed morality; place

great stress upon certain doctrines which flatter and soothe

self-love; calumniate the person, system of doctrines, and mode of

discipline, of the pastor who perhaps planted that Church, or who

in the order of God's providence has the oversight of it. This is

an evil that has prevailed much in all ages of the Church; there

is at present much of it in the Christian world, and Christianity

is disgraced by it.

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