2 Corinthians 10


Paul’s Defence Against The Divisive Of Corinth Who Laid Faulty Claims Against Paul That Were Designed To Persuade The Faithful Not To Have Confidence And Trust In His Words. 2 Corinthians 10:1-17

‘Now I, Paul, appeal to you personally by the meekness and gentleness of Christ (I who am meek when present among you, but am full of courage toward you when away!) now I ask that when I am present I may not have to be bold with the confidence that (I expect) I will dare to use against some who consider us to be behaving according to human standards.’ 2 Corinthians 10:1-2

Notice that instead of using the plural pronoun ‘we’ as he has in the previous chapters, he now used the singular pronoun ‘I’. This was Paul’s personal defence of his apostleship and admonition to divisive brethren in Corinth.

To ‘appeal’, ‘parakaleo’ means to urge or incite by strong argument. Paul appeals to the Corinthian brethren not to be caught up in the talk of the factious.

Paul determined to deal with the divisive and those who had heard the lies they were spewing with ‘the meekness and gentleness of Christ.’ Here we see what Jesus was all about.

Jesus claimed to be meek and lowly, Matthew 11:29-30, however, His speeches were often very bold and abrasive, Matthew 5:20 / Matthew 7:15ff/ Matthew 10:34ff / Matthew 12:30ff / John 8:44.

Paul was meek and lowly, however, meek and lowly does not mean weak and cowardly, as we shall see in this chapter. The word ‘meek’, ‘praus’ means gentle, kind, forgiving.

The very first beatitude states, ‘Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth’. Matthew 5:5.

Paul will begin his defence with a spirit of mildness and gentleness because he understands man’s frail state of being.

Paul admitted to being ‘lowly’ in the presence of the Corinthians, however, his lowliness was not cowardice, as some had charged, but demonstrating the mind of Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:10.

Again, Paul was confident in the Corinthian’s willingness to hear his arguments or defence and make the proper assessment of the situation under consideration, i.e., the divisive charges against him so that the Corinthians would have no trust or confidence in his words.

The word ‘some’ tells us there were just a few divisive brethren in Corinth. Paul was encouraging the faithful brethren to deal with these divisive ones before he came to Corinth and had to deal with them himself.

Secondly, as stated above, he was giving a defence against their accusations so that the faithful would not be persuaded in error by them.

What was the divisive saying? They were discrediting Paul, Titus, Sosthenes and others’ preaching as being that of the ‘human standards.’ The idea is human reasoning, Matthew 16:17 / 2 Corinthians 1:12.

Much of 2 Corinthians is spent in Paul’s defence of divine revelation being opposed to human wisdom, 2 Corinthians 1:12 / 2 Corinthians 2:17 / 2 Corinthians 4:1ff / 2 Corinthians 5:7 / 2 Corinthians 6:4ff / 2 Corinthians 6:14ff.

‘For though we live as human beings, we do not wage war according to human standards, for the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons, but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds. We tear down arguments and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ.’ 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

The first accusation dealt with in 2 Corinthians 10 is the charge that Paul and his preaching companions are teaching by human reason rather than divine revelation. Paul and his preaching companions did not walk ‘according to human standards’. There is a big difference. All of humanity shares in flesh and blood, Hebrews 2:14.

Some of humanity are dependent upon human reasoning for their existence and way of life, while others are dependent upon the word of God for their existence and way of life.

Paul said that his preaching was of divine revelation alone, 2 Corinthians 1:12 / 2 Corinthians 3:5 / 2 Corinthians 4:1-7 / 1 Corinthians 2:3-4 / Galatians 1:11ff.

Paul’s words and defence were divine ‘weapons of warfare’ against the factious. The ‘strongholds’ Paul spoke of are made by Satan. He makes inroads into man’s reasoning by his ‘devices’, 2 Corinthians 2:11 / James 1:13ff.

He captures and enslaves man through ‘arguments and arrogance’, 2 Corinthians 4:2 / 2 Corinthians 11:3. Paul said, ‘we are not ignorant of his (Satan’s) devises’, 2 Corinthians 2:11.

The word of God is able to ‘tear down (the) strongholds’ of Satan. This warfare is not a worldly and physical battle between two governments or kingdoms, it is a spiritual warfare between good and evil.

The Christian is thereby called upon to take a stand and arm themselves to the teeth with the Gospel of Christ, Ephesians 6:10ff. Paul is essentially and effectively letting the Corinthians know that the divisive are doing the work of Satan as they accuse him of speaking after worldly wisdom rather than divine revelation.

Note that the word of God has the power to ‘tear down arguments and every arrogant obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God.’

‘Arguments’, ‘logismos’ means, reckoning, calculation, reasoning power. Any man conceived, dreamed up, plot, contemplation, opinion, or personal reasoning that is opposed to the word of God is ‘tore down’ by divine revelation, knowledge of God.

‘Take every thought captive to make it obey Christ.’ The humble Christian will have his mind and conscience trained by the word of God alone, 2 Corinthians 1:12 / Romans 12:1-2.

‘We are also ready to punish every act of disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. You are looking at outward appearances. If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should reflect on this again: Just as he himself belongs to Christ, so too do we.’ 2 Corinthians 10:6-7

The word ‘punish’, ‘ekdikeo’ means punish a crime. Paul would come ready to punish the ‘disobedient’ with the rod of correction, 1 Corinthians 4:21. This would not be a physical punishment but a spiritual one that the souls of those who were disobedient would be saved, 1 Corinthians 5:1ff / 1 Timothy 5:20 / 2 Corinthians 13:3ff.

Before punishment was to commence, Paul would wait the proper time for all to come to repentance. Paul, in the meekness and gentleness of Christ, would be patient and longsuffering to see whether or not the Corinthians would be obedient in all things, 2 Corinthians 2:9.

This appears to be a questioning on the part of Paul regarding the false statements made by divisive brethren in the church at Corinth, i.e., Paul is inconsistent, preaching his own ideas, is beside himself, deluded and a coward.

Those who would say such things needed to take a look at the spiritual gifts that abounded at Corinth right before their faces. They needed to realize that the church would not be there without the efforts of men such as Paul, Sosthenes, Titus and others.

Paul’s point was that if one claims to belong to Christ, let the same understand that Paul and his preaching companions were no different than Christ when it came to preaching.

This was Paul’s point in 2 Corinthians 10:1. If Christ was not inconsistent, preaching His own ideas, deluded and a coward as one identified as meek and lowly, then neither were Paul and his companions.

‘For if I boast somewhat more about our authority that the Lord gave us for building you up and not for tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of doing so. I do not want to seem as though I am trying to terrify you with my letters, because some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but his physical presence is weak and his speech is of no account.” Let such a person consider this: What we say by letters when we are absent, we also are in actions when we are present.’ 2 Corinthians 10:8-11

Paul wrote and spoke the things he did by divine revelation and therefore by the authority of God, 2 Corinthians 3:5. The purpose of such writings and language used was to build up others in the excellence of the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

The wording of 2 Corinthians 10:8-9 appears to say that the false teachers were saying that Paul only made threats and was not willing to carry out his intimidation factors. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For the first time in this epistle to the Corinthians, Paul quoted from the false teachers. Paul quoted the false teachers in 1 Corinthians when he said, ‘how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead?’ 1 Corinthians 15:12

The primary issue to this point has been the factious’ efforts to discredit Paul’s words as being of his own human reasoning. Now, the divisive brings a personal attack against Paul.

These false teachers called Paul a weakling that should not be listened to. Some believe that Paul had some serious health issues that caused him to look grotesque in the eyes of others, 2 Corinthians 12:7-8 / Galatians 4:13-14.

Whether this is the case or not, it does not take away from the fact that the false teachers were trying everything to discredit Paul’s preaching. Paul assured these critics that he would be just the same in bodily presence as he was in his letters, acting by the authority of Jesus Christ.

‘For we would not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who recommend themselves. But when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. But we will not boast beyond certain limits, but will confine our boasting according to the limits of the work to which God has appointed us, that reaches even as far as you.’ 2 Corinthians 10:12-13

This idea of ‘recommending’ one’s self has been dealt with by Paul on a few occasions already in this epistle, 2 Corinthians 3:1 / 2 Corinthians 5:12.

The word study yielded the results of one who would preach or thrust his own ideas upon others rather than using divine revelation. This is the idea of ‘living according to human standards’, 2 Corinthians 1:12 / 2 Corinthians 10:3. This one charge irritated Paul most because he knew what the ramifications would be if the divisive succeeded in this area.

Paul put the blame back upon the factious. It was not Paul that was preaching his own ideas and commending himself to the brethren, it was factious. The very accusations they made were not against Paul but God.

This reminds us of Israel’s problems with Moses. When Israel rejected the divine direction of Moses they were not rejecting a man but they actually were rejecting God, Numbers 12:1-8.

This reminds us of the zealous spirit of Elijah when contending with Ahab. The king of Israel saw Elijah and ask, ‘When Ahab saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is it really you, the one who brings disaster on Israel?” Elijah replied, “I have not brought disaster on Israel. But you and your father’s dynasty have, by abandoning the LORD’s commandments and following the Baals’. 1 Kings 18:17-18

There may be many today who have problems with certain preachers or men who represent truth but in all reality, their problem is not with men but with God.

To ‘measure’ oneself is to ‘to measure in any way’. The standard by which these teachers were measured was each other’s human reason, the very thing they accused Paul of. Paul would not measure himself by any man’s standards but by the word of God alone.

So he said, ‘But we will not boast beyond certain limits, but will confine our boasting according to the limits of the work to which God has appointed us, that reaches even as far as you’. 2 Corinthians 10:13

Again, Paul boldly proclaims that the origin of his message was divine, i.e., of God. Those who measure each other by human standards in the area of spiritual affairs are ‘without understanding.’

‘For we were not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach as far as you, because we were the first to reach as far as you with the gospel about Christ. Nor do we boast beyond certain limits in the work done by others, but we hope that as your faith continues to grow, our work may be greatly expanded among you according to our limits, so that we may preach the gospel in the regions that lie beyond you, and not boast of work already done in another person’s area.’ 2 Corinthians 10:14-16

Paul and his preaching companions came to Corinth on his second tour of preaching. That which was preached was divine revelation. The foundation of the church of Christ that was established in Corinth was Christ preached by Paul.

Paul did not build upon another man’s labours in Corinth, Romans 15:20. Paul rather came to a city, Corinth, where no church had been established. It was here at Corinth that he began to preach the Word of God in all its purity to these people.

The idea may also be that Paul never wanted to build upon what another man taught but rather go to new areas and introduce the purity of God’s divine revelation. Those who heard would have no preformed ideas of the Gospel message.

The most difficult thing to do is undo errors that other preachers have taught in the realm of religion. The Corinthians were introduced and obeyed that Gospel message of divine revelation, 1 Corinthians 15:1ff.

‘But the one who boasts must boast in the Lord. For it is not the person who commends himself who is approved, but the person the Lord commends.’ 2 Corinthians 10:17-18

Don’t get excited about preaching your own ideas but rather get excited about divine revelation. God does not recognize the man who preaches an unauthorized man-made gospel. God commends or approves of the man that will preach by divine revelation the authoritative word of God.

The standard of truth will expose the teachings of men as being either that of divine revelation or the opinions, personal convictions, or human reasoning of man.


Dealing with the divisive with a spirit of meekness and gentleness. Many of the brethren had repented of their sins which Paul enumerated in 1 Corinthians. The Corinthian’s repentance was cause for great joy on the part of Paul and his companions, 2 Corinthians 7:5ff.

Though many had repented there yet remained divisive men who sought to destroy the reputation of Paul.

They charged him with being inconsistent, 2 Corinthians 1:17, practising self-commendation by preaching his own ideas, 2 Corinthians 3:1 / 2 Corinthians 5:12 / 2 Corinthians 10:12, being ‘beside himself’, deluded, 2 Corinthians 5:13, and being one who lacked courage when in person, 2 Corinthians 10:1 / 2 Corinthians 10:10.

Paul now answered these dissenters in 2 Corinthians 10, with the spirit of meekness and gentleness like Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:1.

2 Corinthians 10 is an apostolic example of how to handle ourselves when others are making false accusations against us and not handling the word of God in truth.

Paul said that he would conduct himself in the spirit of meekness and gentleness that Christ be portrayed in His life, 2 Corinthians 10:1. After we read 2 Corinthians 10 there is no doubt that being meek and gentle is not being weak and cowardly.

Jesus dealt harshly with his critics, Matthew 5:20 / Matthew 7:15ff / Matthew 10:34ff / Matthew 12:30ff / John 8:44, Paul dealt aggressively with his critics, 2 Corinthians 10:11, and so must we deal with those who would pervert the Gospel of Christ today, Philippians 4:9.

There is a standard of truth set by God and the man approved of God will be measured by it and it alone, 2 Corinthians 10:17-18.

Once again, the thrust of Paul’s argument against the divisive brothers of Corinth was the idea of human reason versus divine revelation. Paul denied having preached a message dreamed up by human devices, 2 Corinthians 10:2 / 2 Corinthians 10:12.

This has been a major theme in 2 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 1:12 / 2 Corinthians 2:16-17 / 2 Corinthians 3:1ff / 2 Corinthians 4:1-7 / 2 Corinthians 5:12 / 2 Corinthians 6:4 / 2 Corinthians 7:2.

The words Paul and his preaching companions preached were done by the ‘authority’ given to him by God Himself, 2 Corinthians 10:8 compared to 2 Corinthians 3:5.

The standard Paul lived and preached was the Word of God, 2 Corinthians 10:13. The Word of God is a powerful weapon in the hand of Christians to ‘tear down human reason, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God.’ 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.

The word of God is all one needs to wage an effective battle against Satan, 2 Corinthians 10:3. Let all those who would claim fellowship with the Lord arm themselves to the teeth with the Gospel of Christ and wage war, Ephesians 6:10ff.

2 Corinthians 10 is a chapter of such a battle between the apostle Paul and divisive troublemakers in the church.

We must do the same today and thereby show the world the spirit of meekness and gentleness as did Christ and the apostles, 2 Corinthians 10:1 / Matthew 11:29-30 / Philippians 4:9.

Go To 2 Corinthians 11



"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."