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 10:12-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 12, 2017


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, will 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 boasting
of 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 1018. 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.


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