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Theme; Authentication of Paul's apostleship
This chapter brings us to the last great division of this Letter, which is the calling of the apostle Paul. Division #1 was Christian living, division #2 was Christian giving, and this last division #3 is Christian guarding.
There was a major change when Paul began to write about Christian giving. Here we come to a completely new section, and again, it brings a radical or drastic change in tone and style that many critics have thought that this is the beginning of a third Letter. I cannot accept that idea. Paul’s change in tone can be explained easily on another basis.
As we have seen thus far, the church in Corinth was a divided church. Paul said when he first wrote to them: 1 Cor.1:11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. (KJV) . . . Most (the majority) of the church respected Paul’s authority . . . but there were some who opposed Paul and really rejected his authority. It seems that in the first nine chapters of 2 Corinthians, Paul addressed the majority. In chapters 10, 11 and 12 he will be addressing the offending minority. It will be like changing from daylight to darkness.
In this section we will find the apostle Paul opening his heart of love, his heart as a missionary and as a human being. We will see Paul as we have not seen him before because here, Paul defends his apostleship.
The Apostle States His Authority with Meekness and Humility
As He Describes His Spiritual Power and Authority
Which Arms Him Against His Enemies (2 Cor.10:1-6)
2 Cor.10:1 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: (KJV)
Now I Paul myself beseech you . . . (Rom.12:1). I plead with you who are members of the church not to give me a reason to use severe discipline. I have just spoken my confidence in the church in general, and my belief is that you will act according to the rules of the Gospel. But Paul goes on . . . I cannot speak this way of all, because some among you who have spoken with disrespect and disapproval of my authority and my claims as an apostle. Of these, I cannot speak in this manner; but instead of commanding them, I entreat (beg) them not to give me reason for discipline.
By the meekness and gentleness of Christ . . . because of the humility and gentleness of the Blessed Redeemer, it is my desire to imitate His meekness and kindness. Paul wanted so very much to imitate that, as we all should! Paul did not want to bring a severe rebuke; his main desire at all times was to imitate and to exhibit the gentleness of the Saviour. He had no pleasure in being cruel and harsh; and he did not want to exhibit it.
Who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you . . . thismay mean either that when present among them he appeared, according to their picture of him, to be humble, mild, gentle (verse 10), or that in his external appearance he had this feature. Most likely it means that they had represented Paul as timid when among them, and afraid to exercise discipline, no matter how much he had threatened it. Am base among you . . . base usually means low, humble, poor, but here it means timid, modest, the opposite of boldness. It was applied to those of low degree or rank; of humble birth; and stood opposed to those of elevated rank or dignity. Today it is commonly used to mean that which is degraded or worthless, of unkind spirit, vile, and stands opposite of that which is manly and noble. But Paul did not mean to use it here in that sense. I think that he means to say that they regarded him as timid, and was afraid to execute the punishment which he had threatened, and as manifesting a spirit which was the opposite of boldness. This was doubtless one charge which they brought against him; but we cannot really say that it was true. All that it proves is, that he was modest and humble, and that they interpreted this as timid and lacking spirit.
But being absent am bold toward you . . . meaning in my letters (verse 10). This they charged Paul with, that he was bold enough when away from them, but that he would be tame enough when he should meet them face to face, and that they had nothing to fear from him.
We must remember that Paul had written a strong letter of correction to the Corinthians. There were some who criticized him severely: Paul writes boldly, but when he is among us he is meek and timid. Paul had the authority of an apostle, and had a divine mission assigned to him. He spoke with authority. He was conscious of supernatural power within him, and he exercised that power. Paul urges them not to force him to exercise his authority. He wanted so much to come again in meekness and gentleness. He urges them not to think of him simply in the flesh.
I do NOT think a preacher of the Gospel needs to wear a fancy robe or button his collar in the back to prove he is a preacher of the Lord Jesus Christ. He can prove it by his life and in the fact that he preaches the Word of God. We still find the same tendency among some people as was present in Corinth. They want desperately to degrade the man who teaches the Word of God. The devil is very clever! He tries to discredit the man. That is what happened to Paul.
2 Cor.10:2 But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. (KJV)
But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh . . . Paul says: some, 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 . . . but to bully and threaten when absent; and to be very submissive in the presence of the strong and courageous. This is the kind of conduct they seem to have charged the apostle Paul with, which he calls here walking after the flesh . . . acting as a man who had worldly ends in view, and would use any means possible to accomplish them.
Paul tells them that they should NOT think of him as walking according to the flesh because he made tents for a living, and his hands got dirty and he sweat as he worked. This seems to be the way they had evaluated him.
2 Cor.10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (KJV)
For though we walk in the flesh . . . although we (Paul and his co-workers) are mortal, like other men; and though we dwell like them, in mortal bodies, and we need to give some care to our temporal wants; and though, being in the flesh, we are conscious of our imperfections and frailties like others. Paul did NOT claim exemption from the common wants and frailties of nature (Rom.7:14-25). The best of men are subject to sinful desires and frailties; the best of men are likely to err.
We do not war after the flesh . . . the warfare in which Paul was engaged was spiritual warfare (Eph.6:10-17) . . . spiritual war with sin, idolatry, immorality and all forms of evil. Paul means that in conducting this war, he was NOT motivated by worldly views or policy, or by any such ambitious and interested aims that controlled the men of this world. This refers primarily to the warfare in which Paul was himself engaged as an apostle; and the idea is, that he went forth as a soldier under the great Captain of his salvation, to fight his battles, and to make conquests for Him. A similar allusion occurs in: 2 Tim. 2:3-4 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. (KJV) . . . BUT, we must remember something that it is true, NOT only all pastors, but ALL Christians, are engaged in spiritual warfare; and it is equally true that they do not maintain their conflict after the flesh, or on the principles that govern the men of this world.
The Greek word for flesh can be used in different ways. It can speak of the body, the physical body that we have, the meat that is on the bones. It can speak of weakness, meaning that which is psychological. It can also mean that corrupt nature which you and I have, that fallen nature we received from Adam. That is the spiritual meaning. So this word can be used in a physical sense, in a psychological sense, and in a spiritual sense.
Paul uses the word flesh in all three senses but more often in the sense of the old Adamic, fallen nature. Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. (KJV)
He is referring to the corrupt nature . . . he is using flesh in the spiritual sense. When he says, For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh, he is using flesh in the psychological sense. Paul says that he walked in the flesh . . . weakness. I do not think that Paul came to Corinth in the energy of the flesh. The warfare was spiritual warfare. In his letter to the Ephesians he wrote: Eph. 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (KJV)
He did not come to Corinth to clean up the city. He did not come at the invitation of the Christians to put on a campaign. Paul wrote: 1 Cor. 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. (KJV) . . . Paul had an outstanding view of the entire battlefield. There was a Heaven to gain, and there was a Hell to shun. He was in a big war, that was spiritual and that needed spiritual weapons.
2 Cor.10:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) (KJV)
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal . . . the means by which we hope to achieve our victory are NOT those of the flesh, not like the men of the world use. The saints are not like those employed by conquerors; nor are they such as men in general rely on to advance their cause. Saints do not depend on eloquence, talent, learning, wealth or beauty, or any of the external aids on which the men of this world rely. Saints do not receive any advantage from any power within themselves. Their strength comes from God alone.
But mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds . . . spiritual weapons are considered mighty or powerful by the agency of God. They depend on Him for their effectiveness. Paul has not here specified the weapons on which he relied; but he had before specified them: 2 Cor.6:6-7 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, (KJV) . . . So there was no danger of a mistake. The weapons were such as were furnished by truth and righteousness, and these were considered mighty by the attending agency of God. God is the Author of the doctrines which we preach, and that he attends them with the agency of His Spirit, and accompanies them to the very hearts of men. It is extremely important for all preachers to feel that their weapons are mighty ONLY through God. Conquerors and earthly warriors go into battle depending on their own power, and on their wisdom and skill which plans the battle. The Christian goes to his war, having NO hope of victory EXCEPT in God. And if God does not attend him, he is sure of certain defeat. To the pulling down of strong holds . . . the word strongholds means a fort, fortress, strong fortification. It is here used to mean the different obstacles resembling a fortress which exist, and which are intended to oppose the truth and the triumph of the Christian's faith. All those obstacles are strongly fortified. The sins of the heart are fortified by a long continuation and tolerance, and by the hold which they have on the soul. The wickedness of the world which saints oppose is strongly fortified by the fact that it has seized human passions. The idolatry of the world is strongly fortified by prejudice, and the views of the world are entrenched with false philosophy and subtle arguments. The whole world is fortified against TRUE Christianity! The TRUE Christian faith continually goes up against the combined and concentrated powers of resistance of the whole world, and the war is to be waged against every strongly fortified place of error and of sin. These strong fortifications of error and of sin must be battered down and this can be done only by our spiritual weapons. The weapons of spiritual warfare: (Rom.13:12; 2 Cor.6:7; Eph.6:10-17; 1 Thes.7:8; 1 Tim.1:18; 2 Tim.2:3-5).
Verse 4 is a parenthesis (additional info). In this verse Paul does not even list any of the spiritual weapons. My friend, spiritual warfare means that we have an actual spiritual enemy, and a spiritual enemy requires spiritual weapons. You CANNOT win a spiritual war without spiritual weapons! We are told that we have spiritual weapons available to us, and they are mighty and that they are very effective. Do you know what those spiritual weapons are that we need?
#1. Our first weapon is the Word of God. We must have confidence in our God and the Word of God. It is the sword of the Spirit. We must have a firm confidence in the Word of God. We must believe the Bible from the beginning to the end. It is the sword of the Spirit.
#2. Our second tremendous weapon is the Presence of the Holy Spirit (Rom.8:9). We must recognize our human weakness, and we must understand that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit and empowered by Him (2 Cor.1:22; Eph.1:13; 4:30).
#3. Another weapon is the whole armor of God (breastplate of righteousness; the gospel of peace; the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation).
#4. Another great weapon of spiritual warfare is prayer, for without it, you will fail. Ephesians 6:10-17 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (KJV)
2 Cor.10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (KJV)
Casting down imaginations . . . imaginations means reasonings or opinions, and is probably used here in the sense of a device, and refers to all the plans of a wicked world: the different systems of false philosophy, and the reasoning of the enemies of the Gospel. The various systems of false philosophy were so fixed and rooted, that they might be called the stronghold of the enemies of God. The enemies of TRUE Christianity pretend to a lot of reasoning, and they rely on that in resisting the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
And every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God . . . every high and lofty opinion regarding the dignity and purity of human nature; all the pride and arrogance of the human heart . . . all this opposes the knowledge of God, and it all raises itself to a foolish and hopeless self-confidence. Men entertain stupid and baseless opinions regarding their own excellence, which makes them feel that they do not need the provisions of the Gospel, which makes them unwilling to submit to God (Jam.4:7-10).
And bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ . . . the symbol here is clearly taken from military conquests. The indication is, that the strongholds of the heathens, and pride, and sin, all would be demolished, like throwing down the walls of a city, all the plans and purposes of the soul, the reason, the imagination, and all the powers of the mind, would be subdued or led to victory by the Gospel, like the inhabitants of a captured city. My friend, Christ is the great Captain in this spiritual warfare. ONLY in His Name, is the battle waged, and ONLY by His power can the victory be won! The captives were made for Him, and under His authority; and all were to be subject to His control. For a TRUE Christian to win the spiritual war, every power of thought in the heathen world; all philosophy, and all the powers of reason, memory, judgment, in a person, must come under the laws of Christ. All doctrines were to be in accordance with the will of Christ, and we must be subject to Him. The strongholds of philosophy, heathenism, and sin should be demolished, and all the opinions, plans, and purposes of the world should become subject to the all-conquering Redeemer. In this spiritual battle the warriors are successful, because of Christ!
2 Cor.10:6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. (KJV)
And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience . . . Paul said: I am ready, through this mighty armor of God, to punish those who oppose of the doctrine of Christ, and the stubborn disobedience which has been produced by them. Paul was clothed with godly power; aiming to subdue all things to Christ. Paul says: the weapons of my warfare are not carnal, and though I am modest or timid (verse 2), when I am with you, I am prepared to take any measures of severe harshness required by my apostolic office, in order that I may inflict deserved punishment on those who have violated the laws of Christ. It seems the plan of this is to meet the objection of his enemies that he would not dare to execute what he threatened.
When your obedience is fulfilled . . . and the sound part of your church restored to order and submission. The church was to stay away from the enemies of the Redeemer, and to show a readiness to sustain the apostle Paul, and to unite with him in the effort to maintain the discipline in the body of Christ (church). The apostle Paul was not in a hurry to pull up the tares, lest he should pull up the wheat also (Mat.13:29-30).
Paul Reasons with the Corinthians, Assuring Them
That His Actions are as Mighty as His Pen (2 Cor.10:7-11)
2 Cor.10:7 Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's. (KJV)
Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? . . . do not be carried away with outward appearances; do not be satisfied with showing off.
If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's . . . if any man think that he is Christ's . . . here, as in several other places of this and the preceding Letter, this person, most clearly refers to the false teacher who made so much disturbance in the Church. Whoever these teachers were, it is evident that they claimed to be on the side of Christ, and were appointed by Him. They probably were Jews, and boasted of their talents and eloquence, and possibly that they had seen the Saviour. Trust to himself, seems to imply that they relied on some special merit of their own, or some special advantage which they had. Possibly Paul may refer here to the fact that he had seen the Lord Jesus (Acts 9; 22:7-8; 26:14-15)), and that he had been directly commissioned by Him. The truth is, no one could produce more proofs of being called to the ministry than Paul could.
2 Cor.10:8 For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed: (KJV)
For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority . . . I have a greater authority and spiritual power than I have yet to show, both to edify (build up) and chastise, rebuke (punish), but I use this this power to edify in righteousness, NOT to destroy any offender.
Which the Lord hath given us for edification . . . a power above all, conferred to build up His people and save them, not to destroy them. Preachers today should use this power only as Jesus Christ used it, for the salvation of souls, NOT for the destruction of souls.
I should not be ashamed . . . I have no reason to be ashamed of the way in which my authority has been exercised.
2 Cor.10:9 That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters. (KJV)
That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters . . . I say that I might boast more of my power in order that I may not appear willing to frighten you with my letters only. Paul says that he does not threaten more than he can perform. He said: I have it in my power to perform all that I have threatened.
2 Cor.10:10 For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. (KJV)
For his letters . . . the letters which he has sent to the church when absent. This probably refers to the first Letter to the Corinthians.
Say they . . . this seems to refer to the one person who had uttered the words, possibly someone who was the main leader of the division opposed to Paul.
Are weighty and powerful . . . sore and strong; heavy and strong. The sense is, that Paul’s letters were enthusiastic and powerful. They overflowed with strong argument, appeals, and striking disapproval and rebuke. Even Paul’s enemies were forced to admit, and this no one can deny who ever read them. Paul's letters take up a considerable portion of the New Testament; and some of the most important doctrines of the New Testament are those which are supported and enforced by him. Paul’s letters have done more to give shape to the religious doctrines of Christianity, than anything else. Paul wrote fourteen Letters to churches and individuals on different occasions, on a great many topics; and his letters are highly regarded in the New Testament (2 Pet.3:15-16), and are regarded as teaching the most important doctrines of Christianity.
But his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible . . . the false teacher said that Paul was a feeble, contemptible mortal; and when you hear him speak, his speechis contemptible (disgraceful), probably his doctrine, is good for nothing. His person, matter and manner are altogether uninteresting, unimpressive, and too disgraceful to be valued by the wise and the learned. This seems to be the heart and design of this slander.
Some comments I came across about Paul:
#1. 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 kindness; his beard long, thick, and sprinkled with grey hairs, as was his head.
#2. Paul was a man of about three cubits in height, (four feet six), and yet, nevertheless, touched the heavens.
#3. Paul was a little man, had a bald head, and a large nose.
Paul could be not be such little person because of the office he filled under the Jewish high priest, in the persecution of the Christian Church; and he certainly did NOT have a speech impediment but was instead, a graceful orator, as we can learn from his whole history, and especially from the account in Acts 14:12, where the Lycaonians took him to be Mercury, the god of eloquence, persuaded of this by his powerful and persuasive speaking. There does not seem to be any adequate evidence of Paul's deformity, small stature, bald head, pale and wrinkled face, large nose, stammering speech, etc., etc. These all are probably fabrications of unbridled and foolish guessing.
As it was with Samson in the time of the judges (Judges chapters 13-16), it was clear that Paul’s strength was not within himself, but came from the Holy Spirit.
2 Cor.10:11 Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present. (KJV)
Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present . . . they should not flatter themselves that there will be any difference between my words and my deeds. They better consider that all which has been threatened will certainly be carried out, unless there is repentance. Paul contradicts the charge that was made against him, and means that all that he had threatened in his letters would be certainly fulfilled, unless there was reform in the church. I think that the evidence here is clear that Paul does not intend to admit what they said about his bodily presence to be true; and most likely all that has been recorded about his deformity is mere stories.
Those people should realize that our actions when we arrive in person will be just as forceful as what we say in our letters from far away.
Paul Seeks the Honor and Glory of God,
And to Be Approved of Him (2 Cor.10:12-18)
2 Cor.10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. (KJV)
For we dare not make ourselves of the number . . . we admit that we are not bold enough for that. They had accused Paul of a lack of boldness and energy when present with them (1 Cor.10:1,10). Here, in a kind of severe but delicate sarcasm, Paul says he was not bold enough to do things that they had done. He did not dare to do the things that had been done among them.
Or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves . . . I am not bold enough for that, for that requires a boldness and energy to which I cannot claim. To such boldness of his character, past, present or future, Paul could lay no claim. The sarcasm here is very delicate, and yet very severe, and would no doubt be felt by them.
But they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise . . . some think that this means that they compared themselves with each other, and that they made the false teachers their standard. Others think this to mean that they made themselves the standard of excellence. They looked only on their own accomplishments, and did not look at the quality in others. They formed a lop-sided opinion of themselves, and undervalued all others. Paul says that he did not have boldness enough for that.
The minority in the church stated the Paul and his co-workers were not sent by God; were not inspired by His Spirit, so they have no authority or power to rule, or to think or act by. These enemies of Paul were so full of pride and self-conceit, they looked within themselves for all the answers. Since they dare not compare themselves with the true apostles of Christ, they compare themselves with each other. There are many people who compare themselves among themselves, which is the reason that many people in our churches think they are saved. They really do think that they are fine, outstanding, spiritual Christians because they compare themselves with other Christians in their group. That is NOT the yardstick we are to use, my friend. This is one of the tragedies today. A person in a cold church, can grow cold himself, and yet not be conscious of it because he compares himself with the cold Christians around him. There are far too many Christians who are in some little faction or group or church, and they feel smug and satisfied because they are all in the same boat. We all need to be around TRUE Christians who challenge us to be like JESUS!
2 Cor.10:13 But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you. (KJV)
But we will not boast of things without our measure . . . we will not rejoice above measure.
There is some difficulty in this and the three following verses. Paul may be speaking both of spiritual gifts, and also of his travels to the several places whither he had gone preaching the gospel. He reflects still on the false teachers who had crept into this church; who (as it seems) had boasted much of their gifts and abilities, and of their work and success.
But according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you . . . that we should reach as far as even to you . . . not that Paul meant to go no further (2 Cor.10:16; Rom.15:20-24). Paul's measure is the distribution of his range of Gospel labors ruled for him by God. A rule among the so-called apostolic canons was, that no bishop should appoint ministers beyond his own limits. At Corinth no minister should have been received into the church without Paul's approval, as Corinth was apportioned to him by God as his apostolic sphere.
Paul criticized the false teachers who were trying to prove their goodness by comparing themselves with others rather than with God's standards. When we compare ourselves with others, we may feel proud because we think we are better that they are. “My sin is not as bad as their sin.” BUT, when we measure ourselves against God's standards, it is quite clear that we have NO basis, whatsoever for pride. We should NEVER worry about other people's accomplishments. Instead, ask yourself: How does my life measure up to what God wants? How does my life compare to that of my Lord Jesus Christ?
2 Cor.10:14 For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ: (KJV)
For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure . . . in coming to preach to you, we have not gone beyond the proper limits assigned to us. We have not tried to enlarge the proper boundaries, to stretch the line which limited us but have kept honestly within the proper limits.
As though we reached not unto you . . . as if our boundaries did not extend as far as to include you. We have not overstepped the proper limits, as if Greece was not within the proper range of action.
For we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ . . . in the regular work of preaching the Gospel, we have come to you. We have gone from place to place preaching the Gospel where we had the chance. We have omitted no important places in the regular discharge of our duties in preaching. We have reached you, and have preached the Gospel to you. We have not omitted other places in order to come to you and enter into the proper field of labor of others; but in the regular work of making the Gospel known as far as possible to all men, we have come to Corinth. As far as it is, therefore, from the place where we started, we have advanced it in a regular manner, and have not gone out of our proper province in doing it.
2 Cor.10:15 Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly, (KJV)
Not boasting of things without our measure . . . there is probably here a reference to the false teachers at Corinth. They had come after Paul had been there and had entered into his labors. When he founded the church; when he had endured trials and persecutions to reach Corinth; when he had labored there for a year and a half (Acts 18:11), they came and entered the quiet and easy field, formed parties, and claimed the field as their own. Paul says that he did NOT have courage to do that (verse 12). That required a boldness that Paul did not have.
That is, of other men's labours . . . not intruding into churches which we did not establish, and claiming the right to direct their affairs, and to exclude the founders from all proper honor and influence, and trying to alienate the affections of Christians from their spiritual father and guide.
But having hope . . . of a desire to sit down ourselves and enjoy the fruit of our own labors. Paul wanted to penetrate new regions; to encounter new dangers; to go where the Gospel has not been planted, and to rear other churches.
When your faith is increased . . . when you become strong enough so as not to need my presence and my constant care; and when you shall be able to help me on my journey. He expected to be assisted by them in his efforts to carry the Gospel to other countries.
That we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly . . . enlarged by you. magnified in you, to gain fame and glory by you . . . as the teacher may justly by his pupils.
2 Cor.10:16 To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand. (KJV)
To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you . . . what regions referred to here can only be guesswork. It may be that Paul wanted to preach in other parts of Greece, and that he planned to go to Arcadia or Lacedaemon. It is certain that he had formed the plan of visiting Spain (Rom.15:24,28), and he no doubt wanted the Corinthians to help him in doing that, and was anxious to do this as soon as conditions would allow it.
And not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand . . . another man's line, rule, the same word that occurs in verse 13. Paul did not mean to boast of what rightly belonged to others. He did not claim what they had done as his own. He did not intend to labor within what was properly their bounds, and then to claim the field and the result of the labor as his. He most likely means here to suggest that this had been done by the false teachers of Corinth; but Paul was so far from planning to do this, for he meant soon to leave Corinth, which was properly within his limits, and the church which he had founded there, to go and preach the gospel to other regions. Whether Paul ever went to Spain has been a question, but it is certain that he went to Rome, and that he preached the Gospel in many other places after this besides Corinth.
Paul tells them they must remember that he came to them first. He was the first one to bring the Gospel to the Corinthians, and he had traveled a long way from home to do that. He tells them that his method is not to come and be a pastor of a church. He had been called to be a missionary. After he would begin a work, he would travel on. He was always moving out to the frontier. Paul never built on another man's foundation or reputation.
2 Cor.10:17 But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. (KJV)
But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord . . . he that boasts. Whatever may be the occasion of Paul’s boasting, whether in planting churches or in watering them; whether in his purposes, plans, toils, or success. Paul himself did not think it improper on some occasions to boast (2 Cor.11:16; 12:5), but it was NEVER of his own power, his attainments, or his righteousness! Paul was very willing to trace everything to the Lord, and to regard Him as the Source of all blessing and all success.
2 Cor.10:18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth. (KJV)
For not he who commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth . . . not he who boasts of his talents and endowments. He is NOT to be judged by the estimate which he shall place on himself, but by the estimate which God shall form and express. There is NO benefit when a person praises them self! Proverbs 27:2 Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips. (KJV)
Comment: If you insist on comparing yourself with another Christian, I would suggest that you compare yourself with those who excel you. This would be a good way to keep you humble. The apostle Paul sets a good rule for his conduct . . . do NOT boast of things outside his measure, which was the measure that God had dispersed to him. There is not a more successful source of error, than to judge persons and opinions by our own prejudices. It is SO common for persons to judge their own religious character, by the opinions and sayings of the world around them! How wonderfully different is the rule of God's Holy Word!
Of all flattery, self-flattery is the worst. So, instead of praising ourselves, we should strive to be APPROVED by God. Let us glory in the Lord our salvation, and in all other things only as proof of His love, or as means of promoting His glory. Instead of praising ourselves, or seeking the praise of men, our earnest desire should be the honor which comes only from God alone.
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