Paul was for the Corinthians but he was “against some,” [2 Cor 10:2]. He was against the preachers who had come behind him as false apostles [2 Cor 11:13-15] to deceive the Corinthians and mess them up. Paul was against some:
Who bad-mouthed him for being two-faced – 2 Cor 10:1-2 – they said he was bold when he wrote his letters, but when he was among them he was “base,” implying that he was “afraid of their faces,” [Jer 1:8]. In fact he was very much like Jeremiah [Jer 1:17-19] but he didn’t show them that when he was with them because of “the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” See Paul’s instructions in 2 Tim 2:24-26. His approach with them was like 1 Cor 2:1-5. However, when he wrote his first letter to them he had to rough them up over all their sins that had become apparent. His hope in this letter was that he wouldn’t have to be bold with them when he returned to see them.
Who accused him of walking according to the flesh – 2 Cor 10:2-6 – Paul’s accusers were trying to convince the Corinthians to ignore him. They accused him of “walking according to the flesh.” In fact, he was “in the flesh,” [2 Cor 10:3]. We are all in the flesh until we die and escape these earthly tabernacles [2 Cor 5:6-8]. But walking in the flesh and walking according to the flesh are two different things. We are not to walk “after the flesh,” [Rom 8:1] or “live after the flesh,” [Rom 8:13]. And that’s where the “war” is [Gal 5:16-17]. Paul did not “war after the flesh.” He did not use carnal weapons in his warfare. He used the mighty weapons of God. Those weapons are prayer and the Bible [Eph 6:16-18]. Jehoshaphat’s victory in 2 Chr 20:1-25 was won strictly through prayer. The Bible will clean you [Jn 15:3] and arm you against sin [Ps 119:9, 11]. The weapons also include the blood of Christ [Heb 9:14; 1 Jn 1:9]. With these weapons you con do the following [notice the progression]:
- Pull down strongholds
- Cast down imaginations and every high thing
- Bring into captivity every thought
- Revenge all disobedience [like 2 Cor 7:10-11]
Who judged him on his outward appearance – 2 Cor 10:7 – they judged him like they judged Jesus [Mk 6:2-3]. We should follow Jesus’ instructions when it comes to judgment [Jn 7:24]. Paul was basically saying to them, “If you think you’re Christ’s, then we are Christ’s.” The trouble with the Corinthians is not unique to them. People fall for what looks good [Pharisees Matt 23:5, 27-28].
Who said his letters and words were destructive – 2 Cor 10:8-11 – Paul was given to them as an apostle for edification [Eph 4:11-12. 2 Cor 12:19, 13:10]. He was rough on them but he wasn’t trying to destroy them. Jeremiah had to be rough [Jer 1:9-10]. Paul was compelled to boast but he was not ashamed; he was not not trying to terrify them with his letters. The folks against him said [“Say they”] that Paul’s speech was contemptible [1 Cor 4:12-13]. In 2 Cor 11:6 Paul wrote that he was “rude in speech.” This is plain preaching, not sugar coated speaking. Contrast 2 Cor 1:12 with Rom 16:17-18. In v.11 Paul was warning them that he would be bold when he came if they didn’t straighten up.
Who compared themselves among themselves – 2 Cor 10:12 – they thought they were better than Paul because they used each other as their measure of success in the ministry. Paul wouldn’t dare do this. One great downfall in the ministry is for preachers to compare among themselves. Your sights will always be low because you are comparing to men. Compare to Jesus Christ alone.
Who boasted of things without their measure – 2 Cor 10:13-16 – Paul had laid all this ground work and Apollos had helped [1 Cor 3:5-11]. Now these guys were boasting as if they were the ones responsible for what God was doing in Corinth. This is so typical of people, to take all the credit when so many others had been used of the Lord to do the work. Paul said of himself, he would “not boast of things without our measure” and he was “not boasting… of other men’s labors” and he would “not boast in another man’s line of things made ready to our hand.”
Paul had a rule – his simple rule was “the rule which God hath distributed to us.” God had a field for Paul to work and Paul wouldn’t “stretch” it beyond his measure [Acts 16:6-9, for instance]. Coming to Corinth wasn’t a stretch. His hope was that they would strengthen [faith is increased] and that he would be “enlarged by you… to preach the gospel in regions beyond you.” The idea is that like Macedonia helped Paul when he went to Corinth [2 Cor 11:9] so Corinth would help Paul on his journey [1 Cor 16:6] perhaps to Rome and Spain [Rom 15:26-28].
Who gloried in men and commended themselves – 2 Cor 10:17-18 – it is typical of men to glory in men [1 Cor 1:29, 3:21]. But Paul admonished them to glory in the Lord [1 Cor 1:31]. It does no good to toot your own horn. The only ones who are commended are the ones “whom the Lord commendeth.” Paul’s epistles are scripture. Where are the words of these blowhards?