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2 Corinthians Chapter Ten


I. Content of the Chapter


The Narrative of the Minister

A.  His warfare (v.1-6):

1. The attitude of the warfare ---- lowly, meek and gentle and yet bold in war (v.1-2);

2. The weapons of the warfare ---- not carnal (v.3-4);

3. The goal of the warfare ---- the obedience of Christ (v.5-6);

B.  His authority (v.7-11):

1. The origin of the authority ---- Christ (v.7);

2. The purpose of the authority ---- edification (v.8);

3. The proof of the authority ---- not bodily presence, but words and deeds (v.9-11);

C.  His sphere (v.12-18):

1. The reason for the sphere ---- not measure oneself by oneself (v.12-13);

2. The enlargement of the sphere ----through the preachment of the gospel of Christ (v.14-16a);

3. The approval of the sphere ---- not boast in another man's sphere of accomplishment, but is commended by the Lord (v.16b-18);


II. Verse by Verse Commentary


2Cor. 10:1 Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ--who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you.

YLT: “And I, Paul, myself, do call upon you -- through the meekness and gentleness of the Christ -- who in presence, indeed humble among you, and being absent, have courage toward you,”

Meaning of Words:lowly”: humble, cast down; “bold”: have confidence, exercise courage; “meekness”: gentleness; “gentleness”: suitableness, mildness, clemency;

Literal Meaning: I, Paul, who in presence am lowly among you”, “in presence”, it was during the period of the one year and a half when Paul firstly went to Corinth to preach the gospel (see Acts 18:11); “lowly”: it refers to Paul’s attitude of preaching the gospel and building the church ---- he seems to be humble and lacking in confidence (see 1Cor. 2:3; 4:10-13).

  “But being absent am bold toward you”, “being absent”: it was when the false teachers invaded the church in Corinth and attacked the person and the teachings of Paul and Paul had to face them; “bold”: it is the attitude of Paul toward the enemy. He was a warrior toward the enemy, and rebuked the enemy with great confidence.

“Be bold toward you”, it was because believers in Corinth heard and believed the false teachings and sinned and they were stumbled and distracted from the truth and even criticized Paul boldly when Paul left them. Therefore, Paul had to write to them and reproach them severely.

  Now … Myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ--”, “now”: after the sorrow and repentance of believers in Corinth on account of the severe letter of Paul (see 7:8-9); “the meekness and gentleness of Christ”: the attitude of Christ toward those who are of Him; “meekness”: be soft and gentle; “gentleness”: be mild and clement;

  This verse indicates that Paul treats believers in Corinth with three different attitudes according to the three different stages:

1)    The period from sinners to believers ---- encourage them with a lowly attitude;

2)    The period when they diverge from the truth ---- exhort them with a bold attitude;

3)    The period when they have repented and turned back to the truth ---- encourage with the meekness and gentleness of Christ;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     Humbleness is not cowardice. He who is really humble in spirit can often be bold in the Lord’s truth.

2)     If we have really a humble heart, we can obtain help from any brother or sister in the church. Even though it is a common brother that speaks in the church and his word is flat, once we have touched a word from God, we will profit a lot.

3)     Boldness does not need violent temper nor makes one devoid of self-control. Boldness is holding back nothing of what is profitable (see Acts 20:20).

4)     Boldness is speaking with boldness for the truth of God and not varying one’s attitude because of the environment. Many Christians may dare to rebuke the faults of others but dare not to let others know the sins of their children or family members and yet conceal them. However, those who have committed sins have no chances to confess their sins finally. It is the fleshly love that destroys them.

5)     Humbleness is one’s inner character. Meekness and gentleness are the external morality. He who is humble can be meek and gentle. And he who is meek and gentle must be humble.

6)     Meekness is being able to suffer the harm of others. And peace is not invading or harming others. A meek and gentle character may often cause the misunderstanding of others, especially unbelievers, who may think Christians are cowardly or timid. In fact, the true meekness and gentleness of Christ can only be manifested in those who are strong in spirit ---- keep patient in injustice and humiliation without revenge or enmity.


2Cor. 10:2 But I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.

YLT: “and I beseech , that, being present, I may not have courage, with the confidence with which I reckon to be bold against certain reckoning us as walking according to the flesh;”

Meaning of Words: “walk”: go, live;

Literal Meaning: “against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh”, “some”: those who attack Paul by criticism; “walked according to the flesh”, there are two meanings: 1) walk in the physical body as the common people (see v.3); 2) walk according to the evil flesh and what the evil thoughts willed to do (see Eph. 2:3).

  They might criticize that Paul was a common man and needed to keep his life by making tent (see Acts 18:3). Therefore, he was not a professional minister (apostle). His words had little spiritual power. They might also vilify Paul for his contemptible speech (see v.10), which is carnal and of no spiritual capacity.

“With that confidence by which I intend to be bold”, Paul thought they were false apostles and the ministers of Satan (see 11:13-15). Therefore, they had to be bold to them as to the enemy. 

  “But I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold”, Paul begged believers in Corinth not to be deceived by those false apostles so that when he visited them again they would not treat him as an enemy.

  Here, we can infer that Paul will soon visit Corinth again.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     Christians who are of the flesh can not distinguish the true spiritual ones and often criticize those who are really spiritual. They are carnal themselves and yet condemn others.

2)     In the spiritual warfare, the spirit of the apostle Paul is “bold”. Yes, if our spirit is timid or nervous, when we meet some difficulties, we will surrender or compromise and can not keep firm. 


2Cor. 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.

YLT: “for walking in the flesh, not according to the flesh do we war,”

Literal Meaning: “for though we walk in the flesh, here, “flesh” does not mean corruption, but means that we Christians live in the physical body and are restricted by the flesh and live as the common people.

“We do not war according to the flesh.” “War”: spiritual warfare. The object of our warfare is not those who are of the flesh, but the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places behind men (see Eph. 6:12), namely, Satan and its followers. Therefore we do not war according to the flesh.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     Believers can not rely on the means of men of the flesh in the world in spiritual battles or the dealing with things of God.

2)     The first enemy that believers should deal with in the spiritual battle is the flesh of oneself. Of course, he can by no means rely on his flesh (see Rom. 8:6-8).


2Cor. 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,

YLT: “for the weapons of our warfare not fleshly, but powerful to God for bringing down of strongholds,”

Literal Meaning: “for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal”, “the weapons of our warfare”, the weapons through which the enemy is defeated; the object of our warfare is the whole spiritual system (see v.3 the commentary). Therefore, the weapons that we should use should be of the spirit, not of the flesh.

“But mighty in God”, the power of our warfare is not of us, but of the spirit of God (Zech. 4:6).

“For pulling down strongholds”, “strongholds”: the fortress of Satan, which is used to hinder its captives from being recaptured by God. The chief scheme of Satan’s defense is putting some self-exalted or disobedient thoughts into men’s mind (see v.5) so that men will be overcome by stubbornness (see Rom. 11:7), which is rather difficult to be pulled down. Therefore, it is called “strongholds” in this verse.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     He who is saved is a warrior of Christ. However, our warfare is not physical but spiritual. We do not war against those who live in the physical bodies, but against spiritual of wickedness in the heavenlies (Eph. 6:12). Therefore, we shall not war according to the power of flesh, but “be mighty in God”.

2)     If we have not been totally delivered from the “flesh” in spiritual warfare, once we have slightly touched the flesh, we will be stirred up and thus have no spiritual “power” to overcome.

3)     Satan has built many strongholds in man’s heart. Many times we are not touched by the Lord’s words, finding that there are many reasons defending us or thinking that the words are too plain to excite any interest, it proves that there are strongholds in us.

4)     If we want to pull down the strongholds of Satan, we should not rely on the products of man’s thoughts and mind, but on the mighty weapons of God’ power, namely the prayers before God, the words in the Scriptures and the power of the Spirit.

5)     The negative purpose of spiritual warfare is “pulling down the strongholds”. If the object or goal of our warfare is not fixed, we may fight against each other, not the deceitful enemy.


2Cor. 10:5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

YLT: “reasonings bringing down, and every high thing lifted up against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of the Christ,”

Meaning of Words:arguments”: computation, thought, imagination, reasoning; “high thing”: an elevated place, barrier; “thought”: device, mind, purpose;

Literal Meaning:casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, the most efficacious way of making men against the knowledge of God that Satan deeply knows is to instill various devices or arguments and every high thing that exalts oneself into men’s mind, thus forming many strongholds (see v.4).

“Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”, “bringing every thought into captivity”, it shows that Satan is making the thoughts of believers in Corinth stray from the knowledge of God and obedience of Christ through the false apostles.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     Knowledge puffs up (1Cor. 8:1). The tradition and philosophy of men and many preconceived ideas have often become the biggest barrier of the knowledge of God. The obedience of man’s thoughts is the first step of man’s knowledge of God.

2)     The “arguments” in one’s “thought” and the pride in the flesh ---- “every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” are the “strongholds” of Satan in men (v.4), which hinder men from obedience of Christ and are the enemy of Christ.

3)     “Arguments” refer to the different reasons in us. Once we have overcome a reason, another reason appears and makes us feel difficult to receive God. Those reasons are seemingly important, but they cannot be counted as reasons. Once we have seen through the schemes of Satan, all the reasons will vanish as if by evaporating.

4)     “Arguments” can also be translated as “imaginations”. Satan often imposes an illusion or imagination on man. If one does not refuse it, it will be his own thought. Many sins or mistakes in the life of Christians originate from imaginations.

5)     Many Christians know that they should not have any filthy thought or any thought that loves the world in secret. However, they neither know many other thoughts also hinder them from obeying Christ, nor how to control their thoughts. Therefore, there are many disordered and wandering thoughts.

6)     “Every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God”, it is our pride and prejudice ---- we are so pride that we look down upon everything and cannot be subject to anything. It is the old Adam that is behind such thoughts ---- the old man and self. Therefore, the best way of dealing with it is taking up the cross and denying one’s self (see Matt. 16:24).

7)     Man’s mind is the object for which God wars against the devil. He who occupies more is the one who overcomes. In man’s mind, there are the strongholds of Satan (see v.4), namely, the thoughts of disobedience of God. We can say that how much one has been saved is decided by how many of his thoughts are recaptured by God.

8)     The scheme of Satan is making men forsake Christ and disobey Christ. We who war for the Lord should “bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”. However, have we, the warriors, firstly turned to and obeyed Christ?

9)     The positive purpose of spiritual warfare is bringing every “thought” into captivity to “the obedience of Christ”. If we do not know we war for Christ but war aimlessly, we only combat as beating the air and get no spiritual value.

10)  Christ lives a life of warfare on the earth. The purpose of warfare is to bring everyone into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Therefore, in order to win such a war, we shall obey Christ in everything in our own life.

11)  What Paul opposes is the thoughts of believers in Corinth that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, not believers in Corinth. May we not regard brothers or sisters as enemies in the church.


2Cor. 10:6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

YLT: “and being in readiness to avenge every disobedience, whenever your obedience may be fulfilled.”

Literal Meaning:and being ready”, it indicates that Paul has made up his mind to take disciplinary actions.

“When your obedience is fulfilled”, “your”: that of believers in Corinth; “obedience”: the obedience of Christ (see v.5); “be fulfilled”: the obedience without arguments.

“To punish all disobedience”, “all disobedience”: the false apostles and some believers in Corinth who were deceived and still did not wake up.  

Paul deeply knew that if believers in Corinth had not been dealt with or had not completely obeyed the truth, he could not deal with those who disobeyed God.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     Our obedience makes the Lord’s dealing with the disobedience of others reasonable. Are we willing to break our hearts and deny ourselves but let the Lord overcome?

2)     If brothers and sisters in the church are rather obedient, the gospel will be more powerfully preached so that many unbelievers will also obey Christ.


2Cor. 10:7 Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ's, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ's, even so we are Christ's.

YLT: “The things in presence do ye see? if any one hath trusted in himself to be Christ's, this let him reckon again from himself, that according as he is Christ's, so also we Christ's;”

Literal Meaning: “do you look at things according to the outward appearance? It means that you see the outward appearance without deeper considerations. 

If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ's, let him again consider this in himself, “if anyone”, it may refer to the ordinary men or the opponents of Paul, namely, the false apostles who deceived believers in Corinth. It is supposed to refer to the latter one according to the context (see v.2, 10-11).

“Be Christ’s”, it indicates that: 1) he obeys Christ (see v.5) and keeps the commandments of Christ; 2) he has the morality and virtues of Christ (see v.1); 3) he keeps his position and regards the preachment of the gospel of Christ as his work (see v.14). 

“Let him again consider this in himself”, it shows that anyone who is convinced in himself that he is Christ's should examine himself whether he is “Christ’s”.

“That just as he is Christ's, even so we are Christ's”, Paul means that at least he and his opponents are equal ---- “be Christ’s”. If it is true, everything will be easy, for he who is Christ’s must accept other ones who are also Christ’s, according as the Christ also has received him (see Rom. 15:7). However, in fact, they do not accept Paul and yet attack him, so they lack the supposed performance of those who are Christ’s.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     If men can only look at things or judge “according to the outward appearance”, they may often draw wrong conclusions. Therefore, we should always “consider again” and discern in the light of the Lord so as to avoid mistakes.

2)     Many people often see man according to his outward appearance. However, what is really important is not his appearance, but whether he is of Christ.

3)     Many people are convinced that they are Christ's and yet lack the mind, views, works and image of Christ. If one confesses with his mouth Christ as Lord and does not hearken to the words of Christ in his heart, let him again consider and awake soon so as not to be chastened by the Lord.

4)     Everyone, by nature, desires to prevail. When a man emphasizes that “he is Christ’s”, he often has the exclusive inclination and has deprived other Christians of their rights, suggesting that others are not Christ’s. Likewise, if a church declares that they are “Christ’s”, they may also unconsciously regard other Christians as strangers.


2Cor. 10:8 For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed--

YLT: “for even if also anything more abundantly I shall boast concerning our authority, that the Lord gave us for building up, and not for casting you down, I shall not be ashamed;”

Meaning of Words:authority”: power, right, liberty, strength; “edification”: building, confirmation; “destruction”: pull down, demolition;

Literal Meaning: “our authority, which the Lord gave us”, the Lord Himself is the origin of all spiritual authority.

“For edification”, authority is applied to rule others according to the sight of the flesh. However, the Lord gives the spiritual authority to His servants to edify the believers. For this sake, when the Lord’s workers exercise the spiritual authority in the church, believers will mostly feel that their words are weighty and powerful (see v.10), just like when the Lord taught on the earth ---- the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes (see Matt. 7:29).

“And not for your destruction”, it is not going to destroy believers or the church. Therefore, the Lord’s workers would rather not take disciplinary actions by the authority at will and treat believers severely (see 13:10; 1Cor. 4:21) if they do not have to.

“For even if I should boast somewhat more about”, “boast somewhat more about”, there are two aspects of meaning: 1) boast that he has the authority; 2) boast that he does not misapply the authority; according to the context, it more relates to the latter one, which indicates that he always uses the authority much carefully and can even boast of it.

I shall not be ashamed--”, it shows that he believes that his attitude of his using authority is totally right. Even though he is forced to defend the authority or he boasts about it, he still feels that he can see the Lord with boldness in a conscience without offence.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     He who really has authority shall in no wise use the authority flippantly. Even though he is despised or slandered by others, he is unwilling to use the authority lest he should destroy others.

2)     Paul has spiritual authority, which is rather weighty and powerful” (see v.10). However, this authority is not for “destruction”, but for “edification”. Destruction is negative, for its origin is hate. And edification is positive, for it is out of love. The spiritual authority in the church should be applied in the principle of providing love, not arrogance, or offense, or destruction.

3)     Christians often have two extreme responses to the authority ---- one is disobedience of the Lord’s authority, the other is blind obedience of man’s authority. The former is openly resisting the Lord’s authority, and the latter is blindly following man’s authority, thus replacing the Lord with man. Therefore, the latter is also resisting the Lord’s authority.


2Cor. 10:9 lest I seem to terrify you by letters.

YLT: “that I may not seem as if I would terrify you through the letters,”

Literal Meaning:terrify”: make men know that one has the authority of destruction; it follows the previous verse, showing that he has two purposes of writing: 1) not for destruction, but for edification (see v.8a); 2) not to manifest that he has the authority, but to manifest that he does not misuse the authority (see v.8b). Therefore, believers in Corinth need not to think that Paul terrifies them.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     “Terrify” and “publicize” are ways mostly favored by the rulers of this world (see Acts. 25:13). However, they do not work in the church and may arouse the antipathy of brothers or sisters.

2)     Spiritual authority is given according to the stature of life. The more one desires to use authority to terrify others, the more he can not obtain the authority.


2Cor. 10:10 "For his letters," they say, "are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible."

YLT: “`because the letters indeed -- saith one -- weighty and strong, and the bodily presence weak, and the speech despicable.'”

Meaning of Words:weighty”: burdensome, grave, heavy; “powerful”: strong, forcible, mighty, valiant; “presence”: a being near; “weak”: strengthless, feeble, impotent, sick; “contemptible”: least esteemed, see at nought;

Literal Meaning:"for they say,they”: those who criticize and attack Paul;

“His letters," "are weighty and powerful, the words of Paul in his letters are rather powerful. “Weighty”: it refers to the tone; “powerful”: it relates to the effect;

Here Paul quotes the words of his objectors, and both of them have overtones in their words. As far as Paul’s objectors are concerned, their purpose is to criticize the apostle Paul for his incorrespondence between his words and actions. For Paul himself, he intends to lead believers in Corinth not to know man according to the flesh (see 5:16), but to judge whether his words are of God and Christ.

“But his bodily presence is weak, bodily presence”: it refers to Paul’s outward appearance, expression, style of conversation and demeanor when he is present. At that time, the Greeks rather emphasized the philosophers’ demeanor and speech in public speaking, through which they showed whether they received the theory or not.

“Is weak”, it indicates that he has no impressive or imposing appearance and yet even looks ill. It can be inferred from the circumstantial evidence that the Gentile people in Lystra called Barnabas Jupiter and Paul Mercury (see Acts 14:12, “Jupiter” means king of all gods; “Mercury” means messenger). Paul himself also mentioned that when he preached the gospel in Corinth, he “is in weakness and in fear and in much trembling” (1Cor. 2:3).

“And his speech contemptible"”, it means that he does not speak or preach in excellency of word or wisdom or in persuasive words of wisdom (1Cor. 2:1, 4) and seems common, shallow, vulgar and to be despised by others (see 1Cor. 4:10).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     Paul does not have an amazing appearance ---- “his bodily presence is weak and his speech contemptible”. The measure of Paul is the capacity of Christ in him. This is the testimony of Christ: He has no form nor lordliness nor beauty that we should desire him. However, He has the infinite and eternal life in Him that abides for ever (see Is. 53:2, 10).

2)     The natural appearance of man is only earthen vessel that is unworthy of any boasting. However, we may easily know man according to his appearance. It is said in The Book of James that faith without deeds is dead (see James 2:17, 26). And an important deed that manifests one’s faith is “not with respect of persons” (see James 2:1-10). Whether we have sound faith in the Lord can be seen from how we treat others.


2Cor. 10:11 Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present.

YLT: “This one -- let him reckon thus: that such as we are in word, through letters, being absent, such also, being present, in deed.”

Literal Meaning: “let such a person consider this, such a person”: he who criticizes and attacks Paul; “consider”: be reminded;

“That what we are in word by letters when we are absent, what we are in word”: just like what they have said ---- “weighty and powerful” (see v.10).

“Such we will also be in deed when we are present”, “we will also be in deed”, it means that his actions correspond with his words. Though he can and dares do it, he still waits all the time, for he is unwilling to use the authority if he does not have to (see v.8).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     It is a common problem many Christians have that their actions do not consort with their words, especially many preachers who do not do what they preach (see Matt. 23:3).

2)     The religionists often say one thing and do another ---- “Jacob’s voice, and Esau’s hands” (see Gen. 27:22).


2Cor. 10:12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

YLT: “For we do not make bold to rank or to compare ourselves with certain of those commending themselves, but they, among themselves measuring themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves, are not wise,”

Meaning of Words: “measure”: estimate, mete; “compare”: judge, compare among (with); “wise”: perceptive, understand;

Literal Meaning: “for we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves”, “dare not”, it is a sarcastic tone, which means “it is unnecessary”; “commend themselves”: those false teachers commended themselves or took the commendatory letters of others. Thus, they called themselves apostles and deceived others and announced the vain words everywhere (see 3:1 the commentary). “Class ourselves”: put together or mention together;

But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise”, “measuring themselves by themselves”: they measured themselves according to the standard of themselves, so they regarded them totally qualified. However, no matter what the conditions of others were, they were always unqualified. Such subjective measuring method has no objective vision at all and is not wise.

“Measuring themselves by themselves”, if they measured themselves by themselves, they could definitely not see the difference.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     The crisis of Christianity at present is that there are many those who commend themselves. Someone calls himself the prophet, the apostle or the only spokesman of God. Furthermore, someone even calls himself another Christ, or the coming king or the incarnated god. However, there are some so-called Christians who rather respect them and follow them

2)     In Christianity at present, there are also some groups that are jointed together into a cooperate organization because of the same agreement with one certain truth or method or spiritual giant. They uphold their own banner and despise other Christians, thus forming the exclusive small circle and dividing the church of Christ.

3)     But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, it indicates that one sets himself as the standard of Christians or sets his party as the standard of the church. Such condition is unwise and narrow and makes many Christians lose the supposed wide vision.

4)     Christians should not criticize others according to himself, for only Christ is the center and standard.

5)     It is fall in faith of self-exaltedness (v.5), and self-confidence (v.7), and self-commendation, and self-measuring, and self-comparison as well as self-approval (v.18). He who has any of such conditions is unworthy of the Lord’s disciples.


2Cor. 10:13 We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us--a sphere which especially includes you.

YLT: “and we in regard to the unmeasured things will not boast ourselves, but after the measure of the line that the God of measure did appoint to us -- to reach even unto you;”

Meaning of Words:beyond measure”: far more exceeding; “measure”: mete, degree; “appoint”: part, share, distribute; “include”: extend to, reach, arrive upon;

Literal Meaning: “boast beyond measure”, to speak beyond what he should speak. Paul will not boast beyond measure, or else he will have high thoughts above what he should think (see Rom.12:3).

  “But within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us--a sphere which especially includes you”, it is very difficult to understand this verse in the original. Here, I try to explain it point by point: 1) God is a God of exceeding capacity. He works according to His greatness; 2) God appoints different works to everyone according to His greatness (see Rom.12:3); 3) God distributes the works to everyone by different measure; 4) as long as each one does his utmost according to what God has appointed to him, he is the faithful servant of God; 5) Paul preaches the gospel and serves God according to his own measure, he has also arrived at Corinth.

  Here, “the limits of the sphere” that Paul mentions do not mean “the sphere of domination” or “territory under his control” at all. Apollos who is not in the fellow-worker group of Paul can go to Corinth to work liberally (see Acts 18:27-19:1; 1Cor. 16:12), proving that Paul has not held the sphere for himself at all. The main purpose of this paragraph is to show that Paul preaches the gospel to men in Corinth according to the burden of the gospel appointed by God rather than have part in the effect of the labor of others.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     Some workers of the Lord quote this paragraph in the scriptures to establish his own boundary of works without letting others’ trespass. They have misused the scriptures. It is decided by the elders of the local churches whom they will receive to work among them. The elders take the responsibility of trying the Lord’s workers (see Rev. 2:2).

2)     John Wesley said, “The whole world is his working place”. When God has given you sufficient faith and grace, wherever you go, the sphere will not be the key matter. However, one thing that we have to pay attention to is that the workers should respect the administration of the local churches.

3)     Besides, all the faithful servants of the Lord are governed and sent by God. They have to seek God where to go and what to do instead of working at will. We shall not go beyond the limits of the sphere which God appointed us and interrupt the services of others receiving from God.

4)     Every servant of God has his appointed work distributed by God. If every servant of God can keep his own position and walk according to his measure appointed by God, there will be no division or sects.

5)     Believers should know his own measure appointed by God and be within the limits of his measure. Therefore, there will be no greed or ambition to do what one should not do. He who has extended his measure has trodden others, namely, “beat his fellow-bondmen” (see Matt. 24:49).


2Cor. 10:14 For we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ;

YLT: “for not as not reaching to you do we stretch ourselves overmuch, for even unto you did we come in the good news of the Christ,”

Literal Meaning: “for we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you), according to the context, the “extent” that Paul mentions here refers to his apostleship of the Gentiles, which is appointed by God (see Gal. 2:8). He is entrusted and sent by God to go to work in any sphere of the Gentiles (including Corinth).

“For it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ”, that the Corinthians have become believers is actually the effect of Paul’s preachment of the gospel (see Acts 18:5-11).


2Cor. 10:15 not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men's labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere,

YLT: “not boasting of the things not measured, in other men's labours, and having hope -- your faith increasing -- in you to be enlarged, according to our line -- into abundance,”

Literal Meaning:not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men's labors, it has double meanings: 1) Paul emphasizes his aim before the Lord ---- to announce the glad tidings, not where Christ has been named, that he might not build upon another's foundation (Rom. 15:20). He does not want to enjoy the fruits of the labor of others. 2) Paul here satirizes the hostile false apostles ---- they came to Corinth where they had never labored, but they exalted themselves by running down Paul who built the church in Corinth laboriously before them. In fact, they had been beyond their sphere.

“But having hope, that as your faith is increased, “hope”: refers to believers in Corinth, namely, the fruits of Paul’s labor; “faith is increased, it is a lot to do with bearing the fruits of the gospel (see Acts 11:24; 16:5). The increase of the faith of believers in Corinth indicates that there will be more new fruits through them.

“We shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere”, the burden and sphere of works that Paul has received from God are fulfilling the apostleship among the Gentiles and bearing more fruits of the gospel (see v.13-14). Therefore, the fruits that believers in Corinth bear can also be listed into the total burden and sphere of his works among the Gentiles. Therefore, he says, “be greatly enlarged by you”.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     The “sphere” of ministry appointed by God is not unchangeable, but can “be greatly enlarged”. Here it reveals a principle: God entrusts His ministry to everyone according to the measure of the gift to him. The more grace we have enjoyed, the more service will be entrusted to us. How much Christ we can manifest in service shall be decided by how much Christ we have received. May we know Christ more so that we can provide Christ more.

2)     Believers can enjoy the same sphere through working together with one accord. What is important is to receive the same burden from God so that we can labor together with one soul (see Phil 1:27).


2Cor. 10:16 to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's sphere of accomplishment.

YLT: “in the beyond you to proclaim good news, not in another's line in regard to the things made ready, to boast;”

Literal Meaning:to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, the regions beyond you”, regions where the Gentiles dwelt; Paul has a desire to preach the gospel to the whole world (see Rom. 1:13-15; 15:20-23). And the fulfillment of this desire needs the cooperation of the Gentiles in the same mind with Paul.

“And not to boast in another man's sphere of accomplishment”, “another man's sphere of accomplishment”, it equals to “the labor of others” (see v.15). Here, Paul just repeats the meaning of the first sentence in verse fifteen.


2Cor. 10:17 But "he who glories, let him glory in the LORD."

YLT: “and he who is boasting -- in the Lord let him boast;”

Literal Meaning: in fact, if we have got some accomplishments, or have borne some fruits in the preachment of the gospel, it is the Lord that has done them, for we can do nothing without Him (see John 15:5). We shall own all the contribution and glory to the Lord. This is “he who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     It is God who works in you both the willing and the working according to good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). All is worked and driven and fulfilled by Him alone. Therefore, all glory shall be given unto Him.

2)     When we have done all those things which we are commanded, we shall not boast of ourselves, but say, "We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do."' (Luke 17:10).

3)     Yes, all the benefits of us are gained by Christ. Just as a hymn goes like this, “I live by you (Christ), and I overcome by you”. Should we not give all glory and blessing to Him!


2Cor. 10:18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.

YLT: “for not he who is commending himself is approved, but he whom the Lord doth commend.”

Meaning of Words:approve”: tried, acceptable; “commend”: introduce, exhibit;

Literal Meaning: “for is approved, be approved by God; the purpose of service is to be approved by God;

“Not he who commends himself but whom the Lord commends”, “commends himself”, according to the original, it is the same with the word “approve” (see v.12), showing that he who “commends himself” is “approving himself”.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     Whether one who serves God is approved by God is not decided by whether he commends himself but whether the Lord commends him.

2)     Man likes to boast of him as well as those he adorns. Therefore, it is full of such adulatory words in the church. May the children of God stop such things.


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


The Spiritual Warfare

A.   The attitude of warfare ---- boldness (v.1-2);

B.   The accordance of warfare ---- not war according to the flesh (v.3); 

C.   The weapons of warfare ---- not war according to the flesh, but the spirit (v.4);

D.   The power of warfare ---- the power of God (v.4b);

E.   The object of warfare ---- the strongholds (v.4c);

1.    Arguments (v.5a);

2.    And every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (v.5b);

F.    The goal of warfare ---- bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (v.5c);


That is Christ’s

A.   Have the meekness and gentleness of Christ (v.1);

B.   The obedience of Christ (v.5);

C.   Have fellowship with those who are Christ’s (v.7);

D.   Have the authority given by the Lord (v.8);

E.   Have the sphere measured by God (v.13);

F.    Glory in the LORD (v.17);

G.   Whom the Lord commends (v.18);


The Knowledge of Authority

A.   The performance of authority ---- be ready to punish all disobedience (v.6);

B.   The qualification of authority ---- be Christ's (v.7);

C.   The origin of authority ---- the Lord gives the authority (v.8a);

D.   The function of authority ---- to edify believers, not to destroy them (v.8b);

E.   The reward of authority ---- glory in the LORD (v.8c, 17-18);

F.    The manifestation of authority ---- the mighty words and deeds (v.10-11);



A.   He who boasts shall not be ashamed (v.9);

B.   Not boast beyond measure over the limits of the sphere (v.13);

C.   Not boast of things beyond measure, that is, in other men's labors (v.15);

D.   Not boast in another man's sphere of accomplishment (v.16);

E.   He who glories, let him glory in the LORD (v.17);

F.    He who boasts should be approved and commended by the Lord (v.18).



A.   The definition of sphere:

1.    Not measure themselves by themselves or compare themselves among themselves (v.12);

2.    Be appointed by God (v.13);

B.   The limits of sphere ---- not overextend oneself (v.14a);

C.   The way of enlarging the sphere:

1.    Through the gospel of Christ (v.14b, 16);

2.    Through the increase of those who have received the gospel (v.15);


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

   Translated by Mary Zhou