SUMMARY.--Paul's Personal Appeal. His Weapons Spiritual. What was Said of His Bodily Presence. What He will be When Present. Concerning Boasting. The Saint May Glorify in the Lord Only.
1, 2. Now I Paul. Thus far in this epistle Paul has associated himself with Timothy (1:1) and his fellow-laborers. He has spoken in the plural. Now he uses the singular, and there will be seen in the 10th and 11th chapters a tone of severity contrasted with the gentleness and love of those that precede. Those chapters are addressed to the church which had as a body cleared itself of fault. There was, however, a faction who opposed him, who disparaged his claims as an apostle, and he now speaks for the benefit of these. This accounts for the change of style and tone. Since the opposition was to him personally, he speaks in person. I repeat what has been before said, that this opposition came mainly from the Judaizing Christians who thought Paul had gone wrong in not requiring Gentile Christians to come under the bondage of the Jewish law. Who in presence am base. Lowly. His first letter had been stern (1 Cor. 5). The opposers said that he was very gentle when present, but bold when absent. 2. I beseech you. He asks that, when he comes, he may not have to exercise that boldness which he fears he will have to use in censuring some opposers. He desires that all may so act that he can be lowly and gentle when present. As if we walked according to the flesh. Were led by worldly motives.
3-6. We walk in the flesh. He is in the body, but though in the flesh does not use fleshly weapons in his warfare. 4. For the weapons of our warfare. Since these were not carnal, the might was not in human strength, but in God who gave them power to overcome the strongholds of sin. 5. Casting down imaginations. The sophistries of philosophy. By these weapons the soul is rescued, delivered, and brought to the obedience of Christ. 6. To revenge all disobedience. These spiritual weapons are ready to punish all disobedience at Corinth, when time had been given for all who are disposed to be obedient to show it.
7-11. Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? The Revision omits the question. Perhaps his opposers claimed some external advantages, that they were from Judea, had been disciples of Christ on earth, etc. If such an one claimed to be Christ's on this, or any ground, Paul had equal claims. 8. Though I should boast, etc. A comparison of claims to privilege and authority would not put him to shame. Not for your destruction. His power and authority were given to save men; he desires not to have to use them to fulminate censures. 9, 10. That I may not seem, etc. His enemies said that his letters were weighty and stern, but his presence was very different. In other words, he terrified by empty threats. 11. Let such an one think this. Let all who make such statements know that when I come I will in presence do just as I have written.
12-18. We dare not make ourselves of the number. This no doubt ironically alludes to teachers who had come to Corinth making lofty claims, to whom repeated allusions are made. These set themselves up as the standard by which all Christian teachers were to be tried. 13. We will not boast of things without our measure. Will not, like those just alluded to, suffer our boasting to carry us beyond all bounds. But according to the measure. We confine ourselves simply to the line of action assigned to us by the Lord. To reach even unto you. The line assigned by the Lord (Gal. 2:7-9) sent Paul to the Gentiles. 14. For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure. This verse renders clearer the thought in those preceding. The Judaizers said that Paul had exceeded his commission in coming to Corinth, that he had no authority there. He asserts that not he, but they had gone beyond the measure. Others were apostles to the circumcision; he and Barnabas to the uncircumcision. When he came to Europe he was sent by the Spirit (Acts 16:9). 15. Not boasting . . . of other men's labors. It was Paul's uniform course to preach where no one before him had preached the gospel. Having hope, etc. The passage expresses the hope that his success at Corinth and the support of the church will enable him to carry the gospel beyond. That city, at this time, was the western limit of his work. The thought is made clear by verse 16. 16. To preach the gospel . . . beyond you. Where no man has yet preached. 17. But he that glorieth, let him, etc. Quoted from Jer. 11:23. It gives the true rule of boasting. Let the Lord be our boast, for we are nothing. 18. He whom the Lord commendeth is the one who hath approval; not he who commends himself; a hint to every disciple and preacher. Let our works and life speak for us, not our lips.