Saturday, April 28, 2018

Father Callan's Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10:12-18

Text in red are my additions.


A Summary of 2 Corinthians 10:12-18~The reason why the Apostle can speak of boasting, as well by his presence as by his letters, is that he glories in the Lord, without exceeding the limits of the province committed to him by God. He and Timothy, therefore, unlike their opponents who commend themselves, wi ll glory only in the work which God has entrusted to them, which work includes the Corinthians. If then he glories concerning them, he is not boastingof other men's labors. Moreover, he hopes to extend his preaching farther west, and thus have more converts in whom to glory. Those who glory, should not do so on the strength of other men's labors. Let him who glories, glory in the Lord, as if commended by the Lord Himself who gives success to one's work.

2 Cor 10:12. For we dare not match, or compare ourselves with some, that commend themselves; but we measure ourselves by ourselves, and compare ourselves with ourselves.

Match. Better, "class," "number with" (ἐγκρῖναι = enkrinai). The Apostle is ironically referring to his enemies.

But we measure, etc. Our version, like the Vulgate, has perhaps missed the meaning here, because it has failed to take account of the words οὐ συνιοῦσιν (= ou syniasin). they do not understand, which occur in nearly all the MSS. and in the citations of many of the Fathers. Hence the clause should read: "They measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, and (so) they do not understand." The general sense is: "They make fools of themselves, measuring themselves by their own standards" (Rick.).

The reading of our version and of the Vulgate here is doubtless explained by the fact that several MSS. and Fathers omit not only the two final words of this verse, but also the two opening words of verse 13, But we. In this way the second clause of the present verse could easily refer to St. Paul and Timothy, and would read: "But we, measuring ourselves by ourselves, etc., will not glory beyond our measure."

2 Cor 10:13. But we will not glory beyond our measure; but according to the measure of the rule, which God hath measured to us, a measure to reach even unto you.

Which God hath measured to us, i.e., the measure God has assigned to us (οὗ ἐμέρισεν ἡμῖν ὁ Θεὸς μέτρου = ou emerisen hemin ho theos metron). This is the best reading, and the verse should run: "But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of our commission, the measure God hath assigned to us, to reach even unto you." Unlike his adversaries, the Apostle would not glory, except in his own labors, but those labors included the Corinthians. He was the divinely appointed Apostle of the Gentiles (Acts 11:15; 22:21; Gal. 2:7-9; Eph. 3:7, 8), and hence his preaching and labors were directed by the Holy Ghost (Acts 16:6-9).

2 Cor 10:14. For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as if we reached not unto you. For we are come as far as to you in the gospel of Christ.

Here the Apostle simply says that if he glories in the Corinthians, it is because he has a right to do so, since they fall within his province, and since he first brought the Gospel to them. The punctuation of the verse is uncertain. Some put an interrogation point after the first half ending with unto you; more probably there should be only a comma or semi-colon. It is also doubtful whether ἐφικέσθαι (= ephthasamen) should retain its original meaning, "we came first"; or, "we came as far as," Corinth. It seems more natural to understand the Apostle to mean that he was the first to bring the Gospel to the Corinthians.

2 Cor 10:15. Not glorying beyond measure in other men's labours; but having hope of your increasing faith, to be magnified in you according to our rule abundantly;
2 Cor 10:16. Yea, unto those places that are beyond you, to preach the gospel, not to glory in another man's rule, in those things that are made ready to our hand.

These two verses form but one sentence in Greek, and consequently should not be separated by a full stop. The Apostle is referring to his opponents at Corinth who have obtruded themselves into the field of his own labors and commission, and he says literally: "Not boasting beyond our measure in other men's labors, but having hope that, as your faith increaseth, We shall be magnified in you according to the province allotted to us, so as to preach the Gospel to places that are beyond you, and not to boast of things already done in another man's province."

Your increasing faith. An increase of faith at Corinth would be a help in spreading the Gospel to others, and thus through the Corinthians the Apostle's labors would be increased. Doubtless St. Paul was thinking of Rome and Spain.

Things . . . made ready, etc., i.e., places already evangelized.

2 Cor 10:17. But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

See on 1 Cor. 1:31. In glorying only of the work done in the field assigned to him by God St. Paul does not mean that the credit of his labors is due to himself, but only to God who gave him the work and enabled him to perform it. The only right way to glory, therefore, is in the Lord, and this is St. Paul's rule (cf. 1 Cor. 15:10; Rom. 15:17-19; Gal. 2:8; Eph. 3:7).

2 Cor 10:18. For not he who commendeth himself, is approved, but he, whom God commendeth.

Here the Apostle says for the benefit of his adversaries, the false teachers, that he who commends himself, instead of giving all glory and credit to God, is not approved, i.e., tried, genuine; whereas he whom God commends, as happened in his own case in being divinely called, is reliable and solid and true.

Father Callan's Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10:7-11

Text in red are my additions. 


A Summary of 2 Corinthians 10:7-11~From what St. Paul has just said about the spiritual weapons with which he is armed, it is plain that he is not to be despised. His enemies have underestimated his powers and his determination, saying that he was terrible when absent, but cringing when present. He therefore warns his readers not to mistake his threats. Since he is not less a minister of Christ than others who boast of that dignity, he could have said more about his authority than he has done. And if he has boasted of his authority in his letters, he will do so in person when he comes.

2 Cor 10:7. See the things that are according to outward appearance. If any man trust to himself, that he is Christ's, let him think this again with himself, that as he is Christ's, so are we also.

See βλέπετε (= blepete). Whether the verb here is imperative, interrogative, or merely declarative is uncertain. Probably it is merely declarative, "You look." The Apostle means to say that his adversaries look merely at things external, they consider only outward appearances, and hence they thought he was weak and cowardly, not like a true Apostle. But he cautions them to reflect that, if anyone considers himself a minister of Christ, he must not overlook the fact that Paul and Timothy are also equally ministers of Christ and preachers of the Gospel.

2 Cor 10:8. For if also I should boast somewhat more of our power, which the Lord hath given us unto edification, and not for your destruction, I should not he ashamed.

The Apostle has just said that he is at least as much a minister of Christ as his enemies; and he now observes that if he should choose to boast that he is even more, which he will shortly do (2 Cor 11:23 ff; 12:11-12), his contention will not be found without reason and truth ; and hence he will not be ashamed, i.e., he will not be shown to be a pretending impostor.

Also (Vulg., et before si amplius) should most probably be omitted.

2 Cor 10:9. But that I may not be thought as it were to terrify you by epistles,

This verse may depend on the preceding one, and if so, some such expression as, "I say this"; or, "I will not make any further claims, that I may not be thought," etc., is to be supplied. Such a connection seems very probable, especially in view of the fact that but (Vulg., autem) at the beginning is likely not genuine. However, it makes very good sense to regard this verse as a protasis, of which verse 11 is the apodasis, verse 10 being taken as parenthetic.

This is the only place in the New Testament where ὡς ἂν (= hos an) is followed by an infinitive. Perhaps the two words should be united, ὡςἂν (= hosan), giving the sense of the Latin quasi (to appear as, to seem like, etc.).  Instead of relating to the infinitive, "terrify" (frighten) the two words hos an can be combined and are then related to the verb "thought" (seem). This makes somewhat better sense. The NABRE reads May I not seem as one frightening you through letters.  The RSVE has I would not seem to be frightening you with letters.

By epistles. The plural doubtless refers to the several letters that had preceded this one to Corinth, namely, First Corinthians, the lost letter of 1 Cor. 5:9, and the lost severe letter between 1 and 2 Cor.

2 Cor 10:10. (For his epistles indeed, say they, are weighty and strong; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible).

Say they. The weight of authority is in favor of, it is said; but in either case we should most probably not understand a particular individual, but an indefinite expression referring to the Apostle's critics.

His speech contemptible, i.e., of no account, lacking in polish and elegance.

2 Cor 10:11. Let such a one think this, that such as we are in word by epistles, when absent, such also we will be indeed when present.

The Apostle warns that when he comes, there will be no lack of correspondence and consistency between his letters and his actions; his vigor in the one will not be found greater than in the other.
We will be is not in the Greek; but it, or something equivalent is to be understood.

The absentes of the Vulgate agrees with sumus and not with epistolas.

Father Callan's Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10:1-6

Text in red are my additions,


In the first main division of the present letter (1 Cor 1:12-7:16) St. Paul gave a general apology for his life and actions; and in the second portion (2 Cor 8:1-9:15) he treated of the collection to be made in Corinth for the poor Christians of Jerus alem. These matters being sufficiently dealt with for the understanding and appreciation of those who were well disposed toward him, the Apostle now turns his attention, in the third part of the body of his letter (2 Cor 11:1-13:10), to his inveterate enemies, the Judaizers, and defends his personal life with a vigor and energy whichcan be felt even by those hardened adversaries. See Introd., iii (b). In the first place he begs them (1 Cor 10:1-6) to mend their ways, so that when he arrives among them he may not be forced to call upon the spiritual powers which God has given him.

2 Cor 10:1. Now I Paul myself beseech you, by the mildness and modesty of Christ, who in presence indeed am lowly among you, but being absent, am bold toward you.

Now I Paul myself, etc. The original is much more emphatic: Αὐτὸς δὲ ἐγὼ Παῦλος (= autos de ego Paulos). Putting autos, myself, at the beginning does not mean that St. Paul now ceased to dictate and began to write. It probably is intended to indicate the introduction of personal matters, or to emphasize that he himself is the person accused and attacked by his adversaries. 

Mildness and modesty, etc., i.e., the meekness and gentleness of Christ. Out of regard for these beautiful virtues of our Lord, which the Apostle wishes to imitate, he asks his adversaries not to force him to call into play the opposite virtues.

Am lowly, i.e., mean, contemptible. This is what his enemies had said about him.
Confido in vobis (bold toward you) of the Vulgate ought to be audax sum in vos, to express the bad sense intended here. Note: Audax in the second Latin phrase can be a synonym for confido, however, it can also have a pejorative sense such as foolhardy, presumptious, rash.

2 Cor 10:2. But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present, with that confidence wherewith I am thought to be bold, against some, who reckon us as if we walked according to the flesh.

But I beseech you, etc. Better, "But I pray" (δέομαι δὲ  = deomai de), etc. The preceding verse is now completed with a strengthened appeal, "I pray." The Apostle begs that his enemies may not compel him to use against them, when he comes, some of that boldness which they say is characteristic of him when absent.

Against some. The Apostle does not wish all to feel the weight of his authority, but only those who accuse him of living and acting according to the flesh, i.e., according to carnal and worldly principles. See on Rom. 8:4, 5.

2 Cor 10:3. For though we walk in (en) the flesh, we do not war according (kata) to the flesh.

Here St. Paul says that while it is true that he and his companions are mortal men, living in their bodies, they do not by any means war according to the flesh, i.e., they do not discharge their ministry according to human and carnal standards and ways. The flesh is a temporary abode (Εν  = en); it is not a law (κατὰ = kata) with the Apostles.

2 Cor 10:4. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty to God unto the pulling down of fortifications, destroying counsels,
2 Cor 10:5. And every height that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ;

He now calls attention to the arms he and his companions make use of in the exercise of their ministry. Their weapons are not carnal, i.e., weak, human; but mighty to God, i.e., powerful before God, or in the service of God (τῷ Θεῷ = tou theou). These spiritual arms were all special gifts which the Apostles had received from God to enable them worthily to discharge their ministry, and to pull down the fortifications, i.e., the obstacles, and to destroy the counsels (λογισμοὺς = logismous) , i.e., evil designs, of men against the preaching and propagation of the Gospel.

Every height, etc., i.e., we destroy and overthrow all pride of human spirits that seeks to hinder or corrupt the Gospel, the true knowledge of God; and we bring into subjection every understanding, etc., i.e., all the designs and workings of the natural reason that are opposed to the Gospel, making all obedient to the faith of Christ. True faith consists not only in the assent of the intellect, but also in the submission of the will to God's revelation. The evidence for faith is not sufficient to force the intellect, but the will freely determines to move the intellect to accept revelation and give its assent.
Verse 5 should begin with destroying counsels. Destroying, i.e., overthrowing (καθαιροῦντες = kathairountes), looks back to "we walking" (περιπατοῦντες = peripatountes) of verse 3.

2 Cor 10:6. And having in readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be fulfilled.

Having in readiness, etc., i.e., being in readiness, etc. The Apostle will allow time for all the Christians at Corinth to be led "unto the obedience of Christ" and His teachings, but after that he is ready to punish all who remain disobedient. He implies that his readers are or soon will be obedient, and hence severe measures will not be necessary.