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2 Corinthians Chapter Ten


2 Corinthians 10

The apostle returns to the subject which pre-occupied him-his connections with the Corinthians, and the truth of his apostleship, which was questioned by those who seduced them, throwing contempt on his person. He was weak, they said, when present, and his speech contemptible, though bold when absent (his letters being boastful, but his bodily presence contemptible). "I beseech you," says the apostle, "by the meekness and gentleness of Christ [shewing thus the true character of his own meekness and humility when among them], not to compel me to be bold among you, as I think of being with regard to some who pretend that I walk after the flesh." The strength of the war that he waged against evil was founded on spiritual weapons, with which he brought down all that exalted itself against the knowledge of God. This is the principle on which he acted, to seek to bring to obedience all who hearkened to God, and then severity to all disobedience, when once obedience should be fully established, and those who would hearken were restored to order. Precious principle! the power and the guidance of the Spirit acting in full, and with all patience, to restore to order, and to a walk worthy of God; carrying the remonstrances of grace to the utmost, until all those who would hearken to them and willingly obey God were restored; and then to assert divine authority in judgment and discipline, with the weight which was added to the apostolic action by the conscience and common action of all those who had been brought back to obedience.

Observe, that the apostle refers to his personal authority as an apostle; but that he uses it in patience (for he possessed it for the purpose of edification and not for destruction) in order to bring back to obedience and uprightness all those who would hearken; and thus, preserving christian unity in holiness, he clothes the apostolic authority with the power of the universal conscience of the assembly, guided by the Spirit, so far as there was a conscience at work.

He then declares that such as he is in his letters, such shall they find him when he is present; and he contrasts the conduct of those who took advantage of his labours, beguiling a people who had already become Christians, in order to stir them up against him, with his own conduct in going where Christ had not yet been known, seeking to bring souls to the knowledge of a Saviour of whom they were ignorant. Also he hoped that, when he visited the Corinthians, his ministry would be enlarged among them by their increase of faith, in order that he might go on beyond them to evangelise regions that still lay in darkness. But he who gloried, let him glory in the Lord.

── John DarbySynopsis of 2 Corinthians


2 Corinthians 10

Chapter Contents

The apostle states his authority with meekness and humility. (1-6) Reasons with the Corinthians. (7-11) Seeks the glory of God, and to be approved of him. (12-18)

Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10:1-6

(Read 2 Corinthians 10:1-6)

While others thought meanly, and spake scornfully of the apostle, he had low thoughts, and spake humbly of himself. We should be aware of our own infirmities, and think humbly of ourselves, even when men reproach us. The work of the ministry is a spiritual warfare with spiritual enemies, and for spiritual purposes. Outward force is not the method of the gospel, but strong persuasions, by the power of truth and the meekness of wisdom. Conscience is accountable to God only; and people must be persuaded to God and their duty, not driven by force. Thus the weapons of our warfare are very powerful; the evidence of truth is convincing. What opposition is made against the gospel, by the powers of sin and Satan in the hearts of men! But observe the conquest the word of God gains. The appointed means, however feeble they appear to some, will be mighty through God. And the preaching of the cross, by men of faith and prayer, has always been fatal to idolatry, impiety, and wickedness.

Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10:7-11

(Read 2 Corinthians 10:7-11)

In outward appearance, Paul was mean and despised in the eyes of some, but this was a false rule to judge by. We must not think that none outward appearance, as if the want of such things proved a man not to be a real Christian, or an able, faithful minister of the lowly Saviour.

Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10:12-18

(Read 2 Corinthians 10:12-18)

If we would compare ourselves with others who excel us, this would be a good method to keep us humble. The apostle fixes a good rule for his conduct; namely, not to boast of things without his measure, which was the measure God had distributed to him. There is not a more fruitful source of error, than to judge of persons and opinions by our own prejudices. How common is it for persons to judge of their own religious character, by the opinions and maxims of the world around them! But how different is the rule of God's word! And of all flattery, self-flattery is the worst. Therefore, instead of praising ourselves, we should strive to approve ourselves to God. In a word, let us glory in the Lord our salvation, and in all other things only as evidences of his love, or means of promoting his glory. Instead of praising ourselves, or seeking the praise of men, let us desire that honour which cometh from God only.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on 2 Corinthians


2 Corinthians 10

Verse 1

[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:

Now I Paul myself — - A strongly emphatical expression. Who when present am base among you - So, probably, some of the false teachers affirmed. Copying after the meekness and gentleness of Christ, entreat - Though I might command you.

Verse 2

[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.

Do not constrain me when present to be bold - To exert my apostolical authority.

Who think of us as walking after the flesh — As acting in a cowardly or crafty manner.

Verse 3

[3] For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

Though we walk in the flesh — In mortal bodies, and, consequently, are not free from human weakness. Yet we do not war - Against the world and the devil.

After the flesh — By any carnal or worldly methods. Though the apostle here, and in several other parts of this epistle, speaks in the plural number, for the sake of modesty and decency, yet he principally means himself. On him were these reflections thrown, and it is his own authority which he is vindicating.

Verse 4

[4] (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

For the weapons of our warfare — Those we use in this war.

Are not carnal — But spiritual, and therefore mighty to the throwing down of strong holds - Of all the difficulties which men or devils can raise in our way. Though faith and prayer belong also to the Christian armour, Ephesians 6:15, etc., yet the word of God seems to be here chiefly intended.

Verse 5

[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;

Destroying all vain reasonings, and every high thing which exalteth itself - As a wall or rampart.

Against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought — Or, rather, faculty of the mind.

Into captivity to the obedience of Christ — Those evil reasonings are destroyed. The mind itself, being overcome and taken captive, lays down all authority of its own, and entirely gives itself up to perform, for the time to come, to Christ its conqueror the obedience of faith.

Verse 6

[6] And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

Being in readiness to avenge all disobedience — Not only by spiritual censure, but miraculous punishments.

When your obedience is fulfilled — When the sound part of you have given proof of your obedience, so that I am in no danger of punishing the innocent with the guilty.

Verse 7

[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.

Do ye look at the outward appearance of things — Does any of you judge of a minister of Christ by his person, or any outward circumstance? Let him again think this of himself - Let him learn it from his own reflection, before I convince him by a severer method.

Verse 8

[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:

I should not be ashamed — As having said more than I could make good.

Verse 9

[9] That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.

I say this, that I may not seem to terrify you by letters - Threatening more than I can perform.

Verse 10

[10] For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.

His bodily presence is weak — His stature, says St. Chrysostom, was low, his body crooked, and his head bald.

Verse 12

[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.

For we presume not — A strong irony.

To equal ourselves — As partners of the same office.

Or to compare ourselves — As partakers of the same labour.

They among themselves limiting themselves — Choosing and limiting their provinces according to their own fancy.

Verse 13

[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.

But we will not, like them, boastingly extend ourselves beyond our measure, but according to the measure of the province which God hath allotted us - To me, in particular, as the apostle of the gentiles. A measure which reaches even unto you - God allotted to each apostle his province, and the measure or bounds thereof.

Verse 14

[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:

We are come even to you — By a gradual, regular process, having taken the intermediate places in our way, in preaching the gospel of Christ.

Verse 15

[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,

Having hope, now your faith is increased — So that you can the better spare us.

To be enlarged by you abundantly — That is, enabled by you to go still further.

Verse 16

[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.

In the regions beyond you — To the west and south, where the gospel had not yet been preached.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on 2 Corinthians


Chapter 10. The Authority of the Apostle

His Looks Is Unimpressive
His Speaking Amounts to Nothing

I. Make People Obedient to Christ

  1. Bold to Fight
  2. To Demolish Strongholds
  3. Capture Every Thought

II. How to Exert Authority

  1. To Build Up
  2. Not to Pull Down
  3. Exert Properly

III. The Ministry Assigned by God

  1. The Commissioned Ministry
  2. Marked Out by God's Grace
  3. Greatly Expand
── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament
Chapter Ten General Review
1) To understand the nature of the war in which we are engaged, and to
   appreciate the weapons we have that are "mighty in God"
2) To see the folly of judging others by outward appearance, and in 
   comparing ourselves with others
Having concluded his discussion on the collection for the saints, Paul
now returns to his own defense, especially as it pertains to his
conduct and authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ.  He pleads with 
them in the meekness and gentleness of Christ, hoping that by so doing
it will not be necessary to use boldness in their presence against some
who think Paul conducts himself according to the flesh (1-2).  While he
admits that he walks in the flesh, he does not war according to the
flesh since he has weapons that are mighty in God and effective for
winning arguments and bringing others to obey Christ (3-6).
He then responds directly in regards to his detractors.  Some were 
evidently judging Paul on outward appearance, that while he sounded 
weighty and powerful in his writing, his physical presence was weak and
contemptible.  But Paul's authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ was
real, and what he was in word when absent, he could be in deed when
present (7-11).
We can also infer that some of Paul's detractors took pride in 
comparing themselves with others.  Such a practice was unwise, and Paul
was one who would boast only in those areas in which God had appointed 
him to serve.  That would include the Corinthians themselves, for Paul 
would only go to areas where the gospel had not been preached and that 
is how they had come to believe.  Reminding them of this, Paul had hope
that they would assist him in preaching the gospel in regions beyond 
them.  He then admonishes them to boast only in the Lord, and to 
remember that not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the 
Lord commends (12-18).
      1. With great emphasis, he stresses that he himself is pleading
         with them by the meekness and gentleness of Christ (1a)
      2. It appears that some misread Paul's humility in person as 
         weakness, and that only in absence was he bold (1b)
      3. But he is hoping that it not be necessary for him to have the
         confident boldness he is prepared to use against those who 
         misread Paul (2)
      1. While walking in the flesh, he does not war according to flesh
      2. For the weapons he uses are not carnal, but they are mighty in
         God (4a)
      3. Such weapons are capable of:
         a. Pulling down strongholds (4b)
         b. Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts
            itself against the knowledge of God (5a)
         c. Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of
            Christ (5b)
         d. Being ready to punish all disobedience when their obedience
            is fulfilled (6)
      1. No matter how it might look, rest assured that Paul is 
         Christ's (7)
      2. Even if it were necessary to boast about the authority the
         Lord gave him, Paul would not be ashamed (8)
      3. There were some who thought Paul hid behind his letters, while
         in person he was weak (9-10)
      4. Yet Paul was ready to be in person what he was in his letters
      1. Paul considered it unwise to compare himself with those who
         measured themselves by others around them (12)
      2. If Paul boasted, it would only be in that area God had chosen
         for him, which included the Corinthians themselves (13-14)
      3. He would not boast in other men's labors (15a)
      4. He had hope that the Corinthians would help him to preach the
         gospel where others had not gone (15b-16a)
      5. In that way he would not boast in another's man 
         accomplishments, but only in that which the Lord enabled him
      6. In the end, only the one whom the Lord commends is approved
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Paul provides an explanation for his conduct (1-6)
   - Paul's response to his detractors (7-18)
2) With what two qualities of Christ-like character does Paul plead 
   with the Corinthians? (1)
   - Meekness
   - Gentleness
3) What does Paul hope would not be necessary when he was with them in
   person? (2)
   - To act in a bold manner against some
4) Though Paul walks in the flesh, what does he not do? (3)
   - War according to the flesh
5) In what four ways are the weapons of our warfare "mighty in God"?
   - Pulling down strongholds
   - 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
   - Ready to punish all disobedience when one's obedience is fulfilled
6) Upon what basis were some people evidently evaluating Paul? (7)
   - His outward appearance
7) What accusations were being made against Paul? (10)
   - His letters are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is
      weak and his speech contemptible
8) What did Paul tell such people to consider? (11)
   - That what he was in letters when absent, so he will be in deed 
     when present
9) What did Paul say was an unwise practice? (12)
   - To measure one's self by others
10) In what area was Paul willing to boast? (13-16)
   - That in which God had appointed him (i.e., preaching the gospel
     where others had not gone), and not in other men's labors
11) In whom should we glory? (17)
   - The Lord
12) In the end, who is it that is approved? (18)
   - He whom the Lord commends


Weapons Mighty In God (10:3-5)
1. In our text, Paul writes of a "war" in which Christians are 
   a. A war where weapons are used that are "mighty in God"
   b. A war that has as its objective to:
      1) "pull down"
      2) "cast down"
      3) "bring into captivity"
2. Exactly what is this "war"?  What "weapons" do we use?
3. Understanding the answers to these questions can help us be more 
   useful and productive "soldiers" in the "army" of God
[Let's begin our study by first identifying...]
      1. It is not quite the same war described in Ro 7:23 or 1 Pe 2:11
      2. In those passages, a different war is being discussed
         a. One in which there is a battle raging inside each one of us
         b. In those passages, the warfare is one that is INTERNAL
      1. In which we are engaged in battle with OTHERS
         a. The context of 2 Corinthians should make this clear
         b. For Paul is defending his apostleship and ministry against
            false teachers
      2. This "war" is one which involves:
         a. "arguments"
         b. "knowledge"
         c. "thoughts"
         -- Such is the "field of battle" in this war
      3. This is a war that is fought whenever we try to...
         a. Lead a brother out of error
         b. Convert someone to Christ
      4. The "objective" in this war as described by Paul:
         a. To defeat any argument or position which is "against the
            knowledge of God" (what He has revealed) - 2 Co 10:5a
         b. To bring a person who has held such thoughts...
            1) "into the captivity to the obedience of Christ" - 2 Co
            2) I.e., to become a "servant of Christ"
[Such is the "warfare" of this passage.  You might not have thought of
it in this way, but every time we are trying to teach someone we are
engaged in a "battle" for Christ!  How are we to "fight" this war?]
      1. E.g., weapons that may be used "AGAINST" the flesh...
         a. Such as the sword, gun, bomb, etc.
         b. These weapons may take "people" captive, but not 
            necessarily their "thoughts"!
         c. Their "bodies" may be enslaved, but not their "minds"
         -- This was the flaw inherent in the Crusades
      2. E.g., weapons that are "OF" the flesh...
         a. E.g., hatred, contentions, outbursts of wrath, selfish 
         b. Such emotions are "works of the flesh" and are referred to
            in Ga 5:19-21
         c. Unfortunately, these "works of the flesh" are often used as
            "weapons" to win arguments
            1) At best all they can do is silence the opposition 
               (through intimidation)
            2) But at what cost?
               a) The opposition is not saved (which should be our 
               b) And the Christian who uses such "weapons" falls under
                  the condemnation of Ga 5:21
      -- So our weapons are not to be "carnal", either against the 
         flesh or of the flesh
      1. First and foremost, we have "the sword of the Spirit" - Ep 6:
         a. Which is the Word of God
         b. Unless we use this Word, all our efforts will be in vain
         c. For it is the Word of God that is...
            1) Living and powerful - He 4:12
            2) Able to produce faith - Ro 10:17; Jn 20:30-31
            3) Able to save our souls - Ja 1:21
            4) Able to cause one to be born again - 1 Pe 1:23
      2. We must also "speak the truth in love" - cf. Ep 4:15
         a. I.e., presenting the Word with a Christ-like attitude
         b. This involves such qualities as:
            1) The "meekness and gentleness of Christ" (as used by Paul
               himself, 2 Co 10:1)
            2) Also "patience" and "humility" (as Paul taught in 2 Ti 
         c. These "qualities of character" are indeed powerful 
            1) They can do wonders to diffuse volatile situations
               a) Notice Pr 15:1
               b) In contrast, consider Pr 26:21
            2) They can make it possible for people to:
               a) Discuss controversial issues without controversial
               b) Disagree without being disagreeable
               c) Argue without being argumentative
               d) Contend without being contentious
      1. As soldiers of Christ, we need...
         a. Not just the "sword" of the Spirit
         b. But also the "fruit" of the Spirit - cf. Ga 5:22-23
         -- Otherwise, we might do ourselves harm in mishandling the 
            Word of God!
      2. We need to "adorn" the truth of God with meekness, gentleness,
         patience and humility
         a. Do not think that we are going to persuade people by the
            "force" of our actions
            1) Such is likely only to intimidate them into silence or
               reluctant acquiescence
            2) Unless they come to "believe with all their heart", any
               obedience is futile - cf. Ac 8:36-37
         b. If they are teachable, they must be won over by the "truth"
            of our arguments, assisted by the "application" of that 
            truth in our own conduct
1. So the weapons that we have which are "mighty in God" include such
   graces as "meekness," "gentleness," "patience," and "humility"
2. Such "weapons" greatly enhance the opportunities for our greatest
   weapon (TRUTH) to do its job; and should be utilized whether it be 
   a. Our evangelistic efforts
   b. Our Bible classes
   c. Our church business meetings
   d. Our personal discussions
   e. Public debates in defense of the truth
3. This is not to suggest there is never a time for "righteous 
   indignation"; but I fear that what is often excused as righteous 
   indignation may really be:
   a. SELF-righteous indignation
   b. Our CARNAL nature
   ...getting in the way of the progress of truth!
May we be quick to use the "meekness and gentleness of Christ" in all
our efforts to win others to the truth, for they are truly "Weapons 
Mighty In God"!


--《Executable Outlines


The Authority of the Apostle

His Looks Is Unimpressive

His Speaking Amounts to Nothing


I.  Make People Obedient to Christ

1.    Bold to Fight

2.    To Demolish Strongholds

3.    Capture Every Thought

II.How to Exert Authority

1.    To Build Up

2.    Not to Pull Down

3.    Exert Properly

III.       The Ministry Assigned by God

1.    The Commissioned Ministry

2.    Marked Out by God’s Grace

3.    Greatly Expand

-- Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament