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.
 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.
 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.
 (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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.