The Second to the Corinthians 10:1-18

10  Now I myself, Paul, appeal to you by the mildness and kindness of the Christ,+ lowly though I am when among you face-to-face,+ but bold toward you when absent.+  I beg that when present, I may not have to be bold and take the strong measures that I expect against some who view us as if we walked in a fleshly manner.+  For though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage warfare according to what we are in the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly,+ but powerful by God+ for overturning strongly entrenched things.  For we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God,+ and we are bringing every thought into captivity to make it obedient to the Christ;  and we are prepared to inflict punishment for every disobedience,+ as soon as your own obedience is complete.  You look at things according to their face value. If anyone is confident in himself that he belongs to Christ, let him reflect again on this fact: Just as he belongs to Christ, so do we also.  For even if I should boast a bit too much about the authority that the Lord gave us to build you up and not to tear you down,+ I would not be put to shame.  For I do not want to seem as though I were trying to terrify you by my letters. 10  For they say: “His letters are weighty and forceful, but his presence in person is weak and his speech contemptible.” 11  Let such a man consider that what we say* by letters when absent, this we will also do* when present.+ 12  For we do not dare to class ourselves or compare ourselves with some who recommend themselves.+ But when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.+ 13  However, we will not boast outside our assigned boundaries, but within the boundary of the territory that God measured out to us,* making it reach even as far as you.+ 14  Really, we are not overextending ourselves as if we did not reach you, for we were the first to reach as far as you with the good news about the Christ.+ 15  No, we are not boasting outside our assigned boundaries about the labors of someone else, but we hope that as your faith continues to increase, what we have done may be made to increase, within our territory. Then we will abound still more, 16  so that we may declare the good news to the countries beyond you, so as not to boast in what has already been done in someone else’s territory. 17  “But the one who boasts, let him boast in Jehovah.”+ 18  For it is not the one who recommends himself who is approved,+ but the one whom Jehovah recommends.+

Footnotes

Lit., “what we are in word.”
Lit., “also be in action.”
Or “apportioned by measure to us.”

Study Notes

kindness of the Christ: Paul was not harsh when writing to the Christians in Corinth about some of their shortcomings. Instead, he appealed to them in a mild, kind, Christlike manner. The Greek word here translated “kindness” literally means “yieldingness,” and it could also be translated “reasonableness.” This quality is an outstanding characteristic of Christ Jesus. When here on earth, Jesus perfectly reflected his Father’s supreme example of reasonableness. (Joh 14:9) Similarly, although the Corinthians needed strong counsel, Paul tried to appeal to them kindly rather than simply issue commands.

some who view us as if we walked in a fleshly manner: It seems that some members of the congregation in Corinth had lost their spiritual viewpoint and held a critical view of Paul and his associates. They may have judged Paul and the others by their appearance, natural abilities, personalities, and so forth, instead of regarding them as spiritual men. The critics failed to recognize that God’s spirit was operating in the congregation and that men like Paul and Apollos accomplished what they did by means of God’s spirit and for His glory.

overturning strongly entrenched things: The Greek verb here rendered “overturning” is rendered “tear down” at 2Co 10:8; 13:10. In the Septuagint, this Greek verb is used to translate a Hebrew word rendered “demolish.” (Ex 23:24) For “strongly entrenched things,” Paul uses a Greek word (o·khyʹro·ma) that occurs nowhere else in the Christian Greek Scriptures. Although Paul uses the term figuratively, it generally denotes a fortress or a fortified city. The Septuagint uses it at Pr 21:22, and some scholars say that Paul alludes to that verse here. The Septuagint also uses the term in reference to the famed fortified city of Tyre and other fortresses. (Jos 19:29; La 2:5; Mic 5:11; Zec 9:3) So the word picture brought to mind is that of “overturning” or “tearing down” a massive fortress, as when conquering a fortified city.

we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing: In waging spiritual warfare inside the congregation, Christians need to overturn, or destroy, any wrong reasonings or false teachings. These and other obstacles stand like imposing walls in the way of those who seek to gain accurate knowledge of God. Even within the Christian congregation, “injurious reasonings” might hinder a person from having a relationship with God. (Mr 7:21) Literal swords and spears are useless against such reasonings, so “the weapons of our warfare” include “the sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word.” (2Co 10:4; Eph 6:17) By using this sword, Christians are able to expose false doctrines, harmful practices, and philosophies that reflect human thinking.​—1Co 2:6-8; Eph 6:11-13.

though we walk in the flesh: In one sense, Paul and his fellow workers, such as Apollos and Cephas (Peter), lived their lives like every other human, subject to the limitations common to imperfect humans. (1Co 1:11, 12; 3:4, 5) However, they did not carry out their Christian warfare according to what [they were] in the flesh, that is, guided by fleshly inclinations, motives, and imperfect human reasoning.

we do not wage warfare: Lit., “we are not doing military service.” At 2Co 10:3-6, Paul often used military terminology to describe the spiritual warfare that he and his fellow believers needed to wage to protect the congregation from destructive, false reasonings and teachings.​—1Co 9:7; Eph 6:11-18; 2Ti 2:4; see study notes on 2Co 10:4, 5.

overturning strongly entrenched things: The Greek verb here rendered “overturning” is rendered “tear down” at 2Co 10:8; 13:10. In the Septuagint, this Greek verb is used to translate a Hebrew word rendered “demolish.” (Ex 23:24) For “strongly entrenched things,” Paul uses a Greek word (o·khyʹro·ma) that occurs nowhere else in the Christian Greek Scriptures. Although Paul uses the term figuratively, it generally denotes a fortress or a fortified city. The Septuagint uses it at Pr 21:22, and some scholars say that Paul alludes to that verse here. The Septuagint also uses the term in reference to the famed fortified city of Tyre and other fortresses. (Jos 19:29; La 2:5; Mic 5:11; Zec 9:3) So the word picture brought to mind is that of “overturning” or “tearing down” a massive fortress, as when conquering a fortified city.

we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing: In waging spiritual warfare inside the congregation, Christians need to overturn, or destroy, any wrong reasonings or false teachings. These and other obstacles stand like imposing walls in the way of those who seek to gain accurate knowledge of God. Even within the Christian congregation, “injurious reasonings” might hinder a person from having a relationship with God. (Mr 7:21) Literal swords and spears are useless against such reasonings, so “the weapons of our warfare” include “the sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word.” (2Co 10:4; Eph 6:17) By using this sword, Christians are able to expose false doctrines, harmful practices, and philosophies that reflect human thinking.​—1Co 2:6-8; Eph 6:11-13.

superfine apostles: Paul here uses an expression that may also be rendered “super-apostles” or “superlative apostles.” He uses this somewhat sarcastic designation to describe those arrogant men who apparently saw themselves as superior to the apostles whom Jesus himself had appointed. Paul calls them “false apostles” because they were actually ministers of Satan. (2Co 11:13-15) They taught their own version of the good news about Christ. (2Co 11:3, 4) They also belittled and slandered Paul, challenging his God-given authority as an apostle.

Hermes: A Greek god, said to be the son of Zeus, Hermes was regarded as the messenger of the gods. He was believed to be the discreet counselor of the mythological heroes and considered to be the god of commerce, skillful speech, gymnastic skill, sleep, and dreams. Because Paul took the lead in speaking, the inhabitants of the Roman city of Lystra identified Paul with the god Hermes. This identification harmonizes with their conception of Hermes as a divine messenger and a god of skillful speech. In fact, various words related to this name are used in the Scriptures referring to translation as well as to interpretation. (Some examples are the Greek verb her·me·neuʹo, rendered “translated” at Joh 1:42 and Heb 7:2, and the noun her·me·niʹa, rendered “interpretation” at 1Co 12:10; 14:26; see also study note on Lu 24:27.) Among the archaeological finds in the vicinity of ancient Lystra are a statue of the god Hermes; an altar dedicated to Zeus and Hermes has also been discovered in that area. The Romans identified Hermes with their god of commerce, Mercury.

during his presence: This term is first used at Mt 24:3, where some of Jesus’ disciples ask him about “the sign of [his] presence.” It refers to the royal presence of Jesus Christ from the time of his invisible enthronement as Messianic King at the beginning of the last days of this system of things. The Greek word rendered “presence” is pa·rou·siʹa, and while many translations render it “coming,” it literally means “being alongside.” His presence would span a period of time rather than simply involve a momentary coming or arrival. This meaning of pa·rou·siʹa is indicated at Mt 24:37-39, where “the days of Noah . . . before the Flood” are compared to “the presence of the Son of man.” Also, at Php 2:12, Paul used pa·rou·siʹa to describe his “presence” in contrast with his “absence.” (See study note on 1Co 16:17.) Thus, Paul explains that the resurrection to life in heaven for those who belong to the Christ, that is, Christ’s spirit-anointed brothers and joint heirs, would occur some time after Jesus was installed as heavenly King in God’s Kingdom.

the presence of: Here Paul uses the Greek word pa·rou·siʹa regarding three of his fellow workers who were with him. It is used in a similar sense five times elsewhere in the Christian Greek Scriptures. (2Co 7:6, 7; 10:10; Php 1:26; 2:12) This term is also used in connection with the invisible presence of Jesus Christ. (Mt 24:3; 1Co 15:23) The term pa·rou·siʹa, or “presence,” can refer to an invisible presence, as indicated by Jewish historian Josephus, writing in Greek, when he refers to God’s pa·rou·siʹa at Mount Sinai. God’s invisible presence was made evident by thunder and lightning. (Jewish Antiquities, III, 80 [v, 2]) Paul uses the related verb paʹrei·mi (“to be present”) when he speaks about being “present in spirit” but “absent in body.” (1Co 5:3) Although many translations render this term “arrival” or “coming,” the rendering “presence” is supported by the way Paul uses it at Php 2:12 to describe his “presence” in contrast with his “absence.”​—See study note on 1Co 15:23.

For they say: Paul here introduces a quote that appears to come from some of his critics in Corinth, perhaps the “superfine apostles” or those under their influence. (See study note on 2Co 11:5.) They claim that Paul’s “presence in person is weak and his speech contemptible.” However, in Lystra, the Lycaonian people mistook Paul for Hermes, a mythical Greek god of skillful speech. (See study note on Ac 14:12.) And Paul’s speeches recorded in the book of Acts show his outstanding speaking ability. (Ac 13:15-43; 17:22-34; 26:1-29) So the criticism coming from Paul’s opponents in Corinth may have been as unfounded as it was unkind and disrespectful.

his presence in person: Paul contrasted “his presence [Greek, pa·rou·siʹa] in person” with his being “absent.” (2Co 10:11) He used pa·rou·siʹa here in the sense of being present with the brothers rather than in reference to his approach or arrival. The Greek word is used in a similar sense six times in the Christian Greek Scriptures. (1Co 16:17; 2Co 7:6, 7; 10:10; Php 1:26; 2:12) The same Greek word is also used in connection with the invisible presence of Jesus Christ. (Mt 24:3; 1Co 15:23) Although many translations render it “arrival” or “coming” when referring to Jesus’ presence, the rendering “presence” is supported by the way Paul uses the Greek word.​—See study notes on 1Co 15:23; 16:17.

territory: Here the word “territory” is translated from the Greek word ka·nonʹ. The word is derived from the Hebrew word for “a reed” (qa·nehʹ), which served as a rule or a measuring device. (Eze 40:3-8; 41:8; 42:16-19; see Glossary, “Canon [Bible canon].”) At 2Co 10:13, 15, 16, Paul applied the word to the assignment that God measured out. Paul would boast only about what he could accomplish within the boundary of the territory, the sphere of his activity within his God-given assignment.

let him boast in Jehovah: In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the Greek verb rendered “boast” (kau·khaʹo·mai) could also be translated “take pride; rejoice; exult.” It is used in both a negative and a positive sense. Paul says, for example, that we may “rejoice [or, “boast”], based on hope of the glory of God.” (Ro 5:2) To “boast in Jehovah” means to take pride in Jehovah as our God, rejoicing over his good name and reputation.​—Jer 9:23, 24.

Jehovah: In this quote from Jer 9:24, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text. Paul quotes the same scripture at 1Co 1:31.​—See App. C1 and C2.

but the one whom Jehovah recommends: Paul’s words here are connected with the preceding verse, where he refers to the words of Jer 9:23, 24. There Jeremiah showed that it is not proper for a person to boast about his own wisdom, mightiness, or riches. The only thing a person should boast about is that he “has insight and knowledge of me, . . . declares Jehovah.” Paul here expands on the quote by saying that God approves, or recognizes, not those who are recommending themselves and boasting about themselves (Pr 27:2), but those whom Jehovah “recommends.” Since the divine name occurs in the original Hebrew text of Jer 9:24, it is used both in the preceding verse (2Co 10:17) and here.​—For the use of the divine name in this verse, see App. C3 introduction; 2Co 10:18.

Media