John Wesley's Explanatory Notes
Verse 1. 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. 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. 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. 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, &c., yet the word of God seems to be here chiefly intended.
Verse 5. 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. 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. 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. I should not be ashamed - As having said more than I could make good.
Verse 9. I say this, that I may not seem to terrify you by letters - Threatening more than I can perform.
Verse 10. His bodily presence is weak - His stature, says St. Chrysostom, was low, his body crooked, and his head bald.
Verse 12. 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. 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. 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. 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. In the regions beyond you - To the west and south, where the gospel had not yet been preached.
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