2 Corinthians 10

Paul’s Authority from the Lord

Now I, Paul, appeal to you
The Greek pronoun (“you”) is plural.
The word “personally” is supplied to reflect the force of the Greek intensive pronoun αὐτός (autos) at the beginning of the verse.
by the meekness and gentleness
Or “leniency and clemency.” D. Walker, “Paul’s Offer of Leniency of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:1): Populist Ideology and Rhetoric in a Pauline Letter Fragment (2 Cor 10:1–13:10)” (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1998), argues for this alternative translation for three main reasons: (1) When the two Greek nouns πραΰτης and ἐπιείκεια (prautēs and epieikeia) are used together, 90% of the time the nuance is “leniency and clemency.” (2) “Leniency and clemency” has a military connotation, which is precisely what appears in the following verses. (3) 2 Cor 10–13 speaks of Paul’s sparing use of his authority, which points to the nuance of “leniency and clemency.”
of Christ (I who am meek
Or “who lack confidence.”
when present among
Or “when face to face with.”
you, but am full of courage
Or “but bold.”
toward you when away!) –
now I ask that when I am present I may not have to be bold with the confidence that (I expect) I will dare to use against some who consider us to be behaving
Grk “consider us as walking.”
according to human standards.
Grk “according to the flesh.”
For though we live
Grk “we walk.”
as human beings,
Grk “in the flesh.”
we do not wage war according to human standards,
Grk “according to the flesh.”
for the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons,
Grk “are not fleshly [weapons].” The repetition of the word “warfare” does not occur in the Greek text, but is supplied for clarity.
but are made powerful by God
Or “but (are) divinely powerful,” “but they have divine power,” or “but are powerful for God’s [service]”; Grk “but are powerful to God.”
for tearing down strongholds.
Ultimately Paul is referring here to the false arguments of his opponents, calling them figuratively “strongholds.” This Greek word (ὀχύρωμα, ochurōma) is used only here in the NT.
We tear down arguments
Or “speculations.”
and every arrogant obstacle
The phrase “every arrogant obstacle” could be translated simply “all arrogance” (so L&N 88.207).
that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey
Grk “to the obedience of Christ”; but since Χριστοῦ (Christou) is clearly an objective genitive here, it is better to translate “to make it obey Christ.”
We are also ready to punish every act of disobedience,
Or “punish all disobedience.”
whenever your obedience is complete.
You are looking at outward appearances.
The phrase is close to a recognized idiom for judging based on outward appearances (L&N 30.120). Some translators see a distinction, however, and translate 2 Cor 10:7a as “Look at what is in front of your eyes,” that is, the obvious facts of the case (so NRSV).
If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should reflect on this again: Just as he himself belongs to Christ, so too do we.
For if I boast somewhat more about our authority that the Lord gave us
The word “us” is not in the Greek text but is supplied. Indirect objects in Greek were often omitted when clear from the context, and must be supplied for the modern English reader.
for building you up and not for tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of doing so.
Grk “I will not be put to shame,” “I will not be ashamed.” The words “of doing so” are supplied to clarify for the reader that Paul will not be ashamed of boasting somewhat more about the authority the Lord gave him (beginning of v. 8).
I do not want to seem as though I am trying to terrify you with my letters, 10 because some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but his physical presence is weak
Or “unimpressive.”
and his speech is of no account.”
Or “is contemptible”; Grk “is despised.”
11 Let such a person consider this: What we say
Grk “what we are in word.”
by letters when we are absent, we also are in actions when we are present.

Paul’s Mission

12  For we would not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who recommend themselves. But when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.
Or “they are unintelligent.”
13 But we will not boast beyond certain limits,
Or “boast excessively.” The phrase εἰς τὰ ἄμετρα (eis ta ametra) is an idiom; literally it means “into that which is not measured,” that is, a point on a scale that goes beyond what might be expected (L&N 78.27).
but will confine our boasting
The words “will confine our boasting” are not in the Greek text, but the reference to boasting must be repeated from the previous clause to clarify for the modern reader what is being limited.
according to the limits of the work to which God has appointed us,
Grk “according to the measure of the rule which God has apportioned to us as a measure”; for the translation used in the text see L&N 37.100.
that reaches even as far as you.
14 For we were not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach as far as you, because we were the first to reach as far as you with the gospel about Christ.
Grk “with the gospel of Christ,” but since Χριστοῦ (Christou) is clearly an objective genitive here, it is better to translate “with the gospel about Christ.”
15 Nor do we boast beyond certain limits
Or “boast excessively.” The phrase εἰς τὰ ἄμετρα (eis ta ametra) is an idiom; literally it means “into that which is not measured,” that is, a point on a scale that goes beyond what might be expected (L&N 78.27).
in the work
Or “in the labors.”
done by others, but we hope
Grk “but we have the hope.”
that as your faith continues to grow, our work may be greatly expanded
Or “greatly enlarged.”
among you according to our limits,
That is, Paul’s work might be greatly expanded within the area of activity assigned to him by God.
16 so that we may preach the gospel in the regions that lie beyond you, and not boast of work already done in another person’s area. 17 But the one who boasts must boast in the Lord .
The traditional translation (“let the one who boasts boast in the Lord”) can be understood as merely permissive by the English reader, but the Greek verb καυχάσθω (kaucasqō) is a third person imperative.
A quotation from Jer 9:24 (also quoted in 1 Cor 1:31).
18 For it is not the person who commends himself who is approved, but the person the Lord commends.

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