Study Notes—Chapter 10
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.
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.
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.