2 Corinthians 10
The Passion Translation
Paul’s Defense of His Ministry
10 Now, please listen, for I need to address an issue. I’m making this personal appeal to you by the gentleness[a] and self-forgetfulness of Christ. I am the one who is “humble and timid” when face-to-face with you but “bold and outspoken” when a safe distance away.[b] 2 Now I plead with you that when I come, don’t force me to take a hard line with you (which I’m willing to do) by daring to confront[c] those who mistakenly believe that we are living by the standards of the world, not by the Spirit’s wisdom and power. 3–4 For although we live in the natural realm, we don’t wage a military campaign employing human weapons, using manipulation to achieve our aims. Instead, our spiritual weapons are energized with divine power to effectively dismantle the defenses behind which people hide.[d] 5 We can demolish every deceptive fantasy[e] that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought[f] and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One. 6 Since we are armed with such dynamic weaponry, we stand ready to punish[g] any trace of rebellion, as soon as you choose complete obedience.[h]
Paul Responds to Criticism
7 You seem to always be looking at people by their outward appearances.[i] If someone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should remind himself of this: we belong to Christ no less than he does. 8 I am not ashamed, even if I’ve come across as one who has overstated the authority given to us by the Lord. For it is the authority to help build you up, not tear you down. 9 I don’t want to seem as though I’m trying to bully you with my letters. 10 For I can imagine some of you saying, “His letters are authoritative and stern, but when he’s with us he’s not that impressive[j] and he’s a poor speaker.”[k] 11 Such a person should realize that when we arrive, there will be no difference in the actions we take and the words we write.
Paul’s Apostolic Mandate
12 Of course, we wouldn’t dare to put ourselves in the same class or compare ourselves with those who rate themselves so highly. They compare themselves to one another[l] and make up their own standards to measure themselves by, and then they judge themselves by their own standards. What self-delusion! 13 But we are those who choose to limit our boasting to only the measure of the work[m] to which God has appointed us—a measure that, by the way, has reached as far as you. 14 And since you are within our assigned limits, we didn’t overstep our boundaries of authority by being the first to announce to you the wonderful news of the Anointed One. 15 We’re not trying to take credit for the ministry done by others, going beyond the limits God set for us. Instead, our hope soars as your faith continues to grow, causing a great expansion of our ministry among you. 16 Then we can go and preach the good news in the regions beyond you without trespassing on the ministry sphere of other laborers and what they have already done. 17 For:
The one who boasts must boast in the Lord.[n]
18 So let’s be clear. To have the Lord’s approval and commendation is of greater value than bragging about oneself.
- 10:1 The Aramaic can be translated “peace” or, literally “by the oasis rest.”
- 10:1 Paul is apparently quoting their own words that they used to describe him.
- 10:2 Literally “Don’t force me to be severe with the confidence with which I reckon to dare.” Paul pleads with them not to mistake his humility as weakness or an unwillingness to act with authority.
- 10:3–4 Or “strongholds.” The Aramaic word for strongholds can also be translated “rebellious castles.” Paul seems to be referring to demonic strongholds or centers of opposition to the light of the gospel.
- 10:5 Or “citadels of argumentations,” which include fantasies.
- 10:5 Or “every scheme.” Paul is using the concept of taking prisoners of war, but in this case the prisoners held captive are faulty patterns of thought that defy God’s authority.
- 10:6 Or “court martial.”
- 10:6 This completes one long, complicated Greek sentence that began in v. 3. In this passage Paul describes four arenas of our warfare: (1) We are empowered by grace and with the gospel to dismantle strongholds. (2) We demolish arguments, opinions, theories, and philosophies. (3) We take captive every thought to insist that it become obedient to the mind of Christ. (4) We stand ready and willing to wage war and defeat the enemy (Eph. 6:10–18).
- 10:7 The Aramaic can be translated “You focus on people’s faces.”
- 10:10 Or “he’s weak.”
- 10:10 Greece was known as a land of eloquent speakers. Orators were professionally trained to address crowds. It seems some people were judging Paul by comparing his speaking gift to the eloquent speeches of others. Yet Paul was a brilliant teacher, not a trained orator. True leadership is much more than our speaking ability. Our influence is not limited to a rousing sermon, but we will affect the lives of many if we walk in purity, led by the Holy Spirit. Both Moses and Jeremiah saw themselves as poor speakers. See Ex. 4:10–12; Jer. 1:6.
- 10:12 The Aramaic can be translated “copying one another.” God has made each of us unique and given us spiritual gifts that are unique. It is never wise to copy or compare yourself to another believer. Pride will result if we see ourselves as better than someone else, or discouragement if we see ourselves as less valuable than someone else. We don’t live by comparison to others but by Christ’s life in us.
- 10:13 Or “the sphere of the allocation” (given to us). Paul uses the Greek word metron, which was the length of a race course (Gr. dromos). It was the word used to define the boundaries of a Greek stadium. One could say that Paul stayed within his lane and knew the limits of his measure (metron) of spiritual authority.
- 10:17 See Jer. 9:24.