Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. I Paul myself--no longer "we," "us," "our"
I who am represented by depreciators as "base," I, the same
Paul, of my own accord "beseech you"; or rather "entreat,"
"exhort" you for your sake. As "I beseech you" (a distinct
for my sake.
by the meekness and gentleness of Christ--He mentions these graces
of Christ especially
as on account of his imitation of them in particular he was despised
[GROTIUS]. He entreats them by these, in order to
show that though he must have recourse to more severe measures, he is
naturally inclined to gentle ones after Christ's example [MENOCHIUS]. "Meekness" is more in the mind internally;
"gentleness" in the external behavior, and in relation to others; for
instance, the condescending yieldingness of a superior to an
inferior, the former not insisting on his strict rights [TRENCH]. BENGEL explains it, "By
the meekness and gentleness derived by me from Christ," not from
my own nature: he objects to understanding it of Christ's
meekness and gentleness, since nowhere else is "gentleness" attributed
to Him. But though the exact Greek word is not applied to Him,
the idea expressed by it is (compare
Mt 12:19, 20).
in presence--in personal appearance when present with you.
base--Greek, "lowly"; timid, humbly diffident: opposed to
"bold." "Am" stands here by ironical concession for "am reputed to be"
2. I beseech you--Intimating that, as he can beseech in letters,
so he can be severe in their presence.
that I may not be--that I may not have to be bold, &c.
with that confidence--that authoritative sternness.
I think--I am minded to be.
as if we walked according to the flesh--His Corinthian detractors
judged of him by themselves, as if he were influenced by fleshly
motives, the desire of favor or fear of giving offense, so as not to
exercise his authority when present.
3. For--Reason why they should regard him "beseeching" them
not to oblige him to have recourse to "bold" and stern exercise of
authority. "We walk IN the flesh," and so in weakness: but not
"ACCORDING TO the flesh"
Moreover, though we WALK in it, we do not
WAR according to it. A double contrast or
antithesis. "They who accuse us of walking after the flesh, shall find
[to their cost] that we do not war after the flesh; therefore
compel us not to use our weapons" [ALFORD].
4. A confutation of those who try to propagate their creed by force
and persecution (compare
weapons--for punishing offending members
1Co 4:21; 5:5, 13);
boldness of speech, ecclesiastical discipline
the power of the word, and of the sacraments, the various extraordinary
gifts of the Spirit.
carnal--Translate, "fleshly," to preserve the allusion to
2Co 10:2, 3.
mighty through God--Greek, "mighty to God," that is,
mighty before God: not humanly, but divinely powerful. The power is not
ours, but God's. Compare "fair to God," that is, divinely fair
Margin). Also above
"unto God a sweet savor." "The efficacy of the Christian
religion proves its truth" [BENGEL].
pulling down--As the Greek is the same as in
translate, "casting down." Compare
the inspired servants of God inherit the commission of the Old
namely, in which sinners entrench themselves against reproof; all that
opposes itself to Christ; the learning, and eloquence, and
philosophical subtleties on which the Corinthians prided themselves. So
Joshua's trumpet blast was "mighty" under God to overthrow the walls of
5. imaginations--rather, "reasonings." Whereas "thought" expresses
men's own purpose and determination of living after their own
high thing--So it ought to be translated
A distinct Greek word from that in
which belongs to God and heaven from whence we receive nothing hurtful.
But "high thing" is not so much "height" as something made high,
and belongs to those regions of air where the powers of darkness
::exalt themselves" against Christ and us
(Eph 2:2; 6:12;
supports English Version rather than the translation of ELLICOTT, &c., "is lifted up." Such were the high
towers of Judaic self-righteousness, philosophic speculations, and
rhetorical sophistries, the "knowledge" so much prized by many (opposed
to "the knowledge of God"), which endangered a section of the
against the knowledge of God--True knowledge makes men humble.
Where there is exaltation of self, there knowledge of God is wanting
[BENGEL]. Arrange the words following thus: "Bringing every thought
(that is, intent of the mind or will) into captivity to the
obedience of Christ," that is, to obey Christ. The three steps of the
apostle's spiritual warfare are: (1) It demolishes what is opposed to
Christ; (2) It leads captive; (3) It brings into obedience to Christ
(Ro 1:5; 16:26).
The "reasonings" (English Version, "imaginations") are utterly
"cast down." The "mental intents" (English Version, "thoughts")
are taken willing captives, and tender the voluntary obedience of faith
to Christ the Conqueror.
6. Translate, "Having ourselves (that is, being) in readiness to
exact punishment for all disobedience," &c. We have this in store for
the disobedient: it will be brought into action in due time.
when your obedience, &c.--He charitably assumes that most of the
Corinthian Church will act obediently; therefore he says
obedience." But perhaps some will act otherwise; in order, therefore, to
give all an opportunity of joining the obedient, he will not prematurely
exact punishment, but wait until the full number of those gathered out
to Christ has been "completed," and the remainder have been proved
incorrigible. He had acted already so at Corinth
7. Do ye regard mere outward appearance (mere external
recommendations, personal appearance, voice, manner, oratory of
teachers present face to face, such as they admired in the false
teachers to the disparagement of Paul,
Even in outward bearing when I shall be present with you
(in contrast to "by letters,"
I will show that I am more really armed with the authority of Christ,
than those who arrogate to themselves the title of being peculiarly
A Jewish emissary seems to have led this party.
let him of himself think this again--He may "of himself," without
needing to be taught it in a more severe manner, by "thinking again,"
arrive at "this" conclusion, "that even as," &c. Paul modestly demands
for himself only an equal place with those whom he had begotten in the
8. "For even if I were to boast somewhat more exceedingly
(than I do,
of our (apostolic) authority
. . . I should not be put to shame (by the fact; as I should
be if my authority proved to be without foundation: my threats of
punishment not being carried into effect)."
for edification . . . not for . . . destruction--Greek, "for
building up . . . not for . . .
CASTING DOWN" (the same Greek as in
the image of a building as in
2Co 10:4, 5.
Though we "cast down reasonings," this is not in order to destroy, but
really to build up ("edify"), by removing those things which are
hindrances to edification, and testing what is unsound, and putting
together all that is true in the building [CHRYSOSTOM].
9. I say this lest I should seem to be terrifying you, as children,
with empty threats [BENGEL].
ESTIUS explains, "I might boast more of my
authority, but I forbear to do so, that I may not seem as if," &c.
But this ellipsis is harsh: and
2Co 10:10, 11
confirm BENGEL'S view.
10. letters--implying that there had been already more letters of
Paul received by the Corinthians than the one we have, namely, First
Corinthians; and that they contained strong reproofs.
say they--Greek, "says one," "such a one"
seems to point to some definite individual. Compare
a similar slanderer was in the Galatian Church.
There was nothing of majesty or authority in his manner; he bore
himself tremblingly among them, whereas the false teachers spoke with
authoritative bearing and language.
11. think this--"consider this."
such will we be--or "are," in general, not merely shall we be at
our next visit.
12. "We do not presume (irony) to judge ourselves among, or in
comparison with, some of them that commend themselves." The charge
falsely brought against him of commending himself
(2Co 3:1; 5:12),
really holds good of the false teachers. The phrase, "judge ourselves
of the number," is drawn from the testing of athletes and senators, the
"approved" being set down on the roll [WAHL].
measuring themselves by themselves--"among themselves": to
correspond to the previous verb, "judge ourselves among them."
Instead of measuring themselves by the public standard, they measure
themselves by one made by themselves: they do not compare themselves
with others who excel them, but with those like themselves: hence their
high self-esteem. The one-eyed is easily king among the blind.
are not wise--with all their boasted "wisdom"
they are anything but "wise."
13. not boast . . . without . . .
measure--Greek, "to unmeasured bounds." There is no limit to
a man's high opinion of himself, so long as he measures himself by
and his fellows, and does not compare himself with his superiors. It
marks the personal character of this Epistle that the word
"boast" occurs twenty-nine times in it, and only twenty-six times in
all the other Epistles put together. Undeterred by the charge of
vanity, he felt he must vindicate his apostolic authority by facts
[CONYBEARE and HOWSON]. It
would be to "boast of things without our measure," were we to boast of
conversions made by "other men's labors"
a measure--as a measure [ALFORD].
to reach--"that we should reach as far as even to you": not that he
meant to go no further
Paul's "measure" is the apportionment of his sphere of Gospel
labors ruled for him by God. A "rule" among the so-called
"apostolic canons" subsequently was, that no bishop should appoint
ministers beyond his own limits. At Corinth no minister ought to have
been received without Paul's sanction, as Corinth was
apportioned to him by God as his apostolic sphere. The
Epistle here incidentally, and therefore undesignedly, confirms the
independent history, the Acts, which represents Corinth as the extreme
limit as yet of his preaching, at which he had stopped, after he
had from Philippi passed southward successively through Amphipolis,
Apollonia, Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens [PALEY,
14. "We are not stretching ourselves beyond our measure, as
(we should be) if we did not reach unto you:
(but we do), for as far as even to you have we come in preaching the
15. "Not boasting to unmeasured bounds (that is, not exceeding our own
bounds by boasting) of
(literally, 'in') other men's labors."
when--"As your faith goes on increasing." The cause of his not yet
reaching with the Gospel the regions beyond Corinth, was the weakness as
yet of their faith. He desired not to leave the Corinthians before the
proper time, and yet not to put off preaching to others too long.
enlarged by you--Greek, "in your case." Our success in your case
will give us an important step towards further progress beyond you
according to our rule--according to our divinely assigned
apportionment of the area or sphere of our work; for "we stretch not
ourselves beyond our measure"
abundantly--Greek, "unto exceeding abundance": so as to exceed
the limits we have yet reached
16. To--that is, so as to preach . . . beyond you (and) not to
in another man's line of things made ready to our hand--Do not connect
"line of things," &c.; but "boast of things," &c. To make this
clearer, arrange the words thus, "Not to boast as to things (already
made by the preaching of others) ready to our hand in another man's line
(that is, within the line, or sphere of labor, apportioned by God to
17. glorieth--Translate, to accord with
"boasteth." In contrast to his opponents' practice of boasting in
another's line or sphere, Paul declares the only true boasting is in
(1Co 1:31; 15:10).
whom the Lord commendeth--to whom the Lord has given as His "Epistle
of commendation," the believers whom he has been the instrument of
converting: as was Paul's case
is approved--can stand the test of the final trial. A metaphor from
So on the other hand those finally rejected by the Lord are termed