The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 10, 2017


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 Jerusalem. 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 which can 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.


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