2 Corinthians 10:6
And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience.—The idiom, having in a readiness, is perhaps, somewhat too archaic, and it might be better to render being ready, or holding ourselves ready. The words that follow imply the thought that those with which the verse opens were somewhat too unqualified. When he spoke of “avenging all disobedience,” he was not thinking of those to whom he writes, and whose repentance and obedience had filled him with so much joy (2Corinthians 7:6-13), but only of the rebellious remnant. He would wait till all had obeyed who were willing to obey. He does not indicate what form of vengeance he thought of taking, but we may think of some such severe discipline as that indicated by “delivering to Satan,” in 1Corinthians 5:5; 1Timothy 5:20, with a view, if it were possible, to their ultimate restoration. (Comp. 2Corinthians 13:3-10.)

10:1-6 While others thought meanly, and spake scornfully of the apostle, he had low thoughts, and spake humbly of himself. We should be aware of our own infirmities, and think humbly of ourselves, even when men reproach us. The work of the ministry is a spiritual warfare with spiritual enemies, and for spiritual purposes. Outward force is not the method of the gospel, but strong persuasions, by the power of truth and the meekness of wisdom. Conscience is accountable to God only; and people must be persuaded to God and their duty, not driven by force. Thus the weapons of our warfare are very powerful; the evidence of truth is convincing. What opposition is made against the gospel, by the powers of sin and Satan in the hearts of men! But observe the conquest the word of God gains. The appointed means, however feeble they appear to some, will be mighty through God. And the preaching of the cross, by men of faith and prayer, has always been fatal to idolatry, impiety, and wickedness.And having in a readiness ... - I am ready to punish all disobedience, notwithstanding all that is said to the contrary; see the notes on 2 Corinthians 10:1-2. Clothed as I am with this power; aiming to subdue all things to Christ, though the weapons of my warfare are not carnal, and though I am modest or timid 2 Corinthians 10:1 when I am with you, I am prepared to take any measures of severity required by my apostolic office, in order that I may inflict deserved punishment on those who have violated the laws of Christ. The design of this is, to meet the objection of his enemies, that he would not dare to execute his threatenings.

When your obedience is fulfilled - Doddridge renders this: "now your obedience is fulfilled, and the sounder part of your church restored to due order and submission." The idea seems to be, that Paul was ready to inflict discipline when the church had showed a readiness to obey his laws, and to do its own duty - delicately intimating that the reason why it was not done was the lack of entire promptness in the church itself, and that it could not be done on any offender as long as the church itself was not prepared to sustain him. The church was to discountenance the enemies of the Redeemer; to show an entire readiness to sustain the apostle, and to unite with him in the effort to maintain the discipline of Christ's house.

6. Translate, "Having ourselves (that is, being) in readiness to exact punishment for all disobedience," &c. We have this in store for the disobedient: it will be brought into action in due time.

when your obedience, &c.—He charitably assumes that most of the Corinthian Church will act obediently; therefore he says "YOUR obedience." But perhaps some will act otherwise; in order, therefore, to give all an opportunity of joining the obedient, he will not prematurely exact punishment, but wait until the full number of those gathered out to Christ has been "completed," and the remainder have been proved incorrigible. He had acted already so at Corinth (Ac 18:6-11; compare Ex 32:34; Mt 13:28-30).

The apostle certainly means by this, excommunication; which was the rod which he had before mentioned, asking them if they would he should come unto them with a rod. This rod he here threateneth them with; telling them, that he had another weapon of his warfare, of a spiritual nature too, to be used against such as preferred themselves to be believers, but walked disorderly; only he at present spared them, because though a great part of them were obedient, yet there were some amongst them of whose obedience he could not yet glory; but yet he hoped well, and therefore should wait until, by the use of all fair means, (such as exhortations and arguments), he had reduced as many of them as he could unto obedience. But that being done, God had intrusted him with another weapon, with which he would, in the name and by the authority of God, revenge his glory upon the disobedience of others. Herein the apostle hath set a rule and a pattern to all churches, where are multitudes that walk disorderly; not to be too hasty in excommunicating them, but to proceed gradually; first using all fair means, and waiting with all patience, for the reducing them to their duty, who will by any gentle and fair means be reduced; and then revenging the honour and glory of God only upon such as will not be reclaimed. And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience,.... Not with the temporal sword, as the civil magistrate, but with the spiritual one; meaning either censures and excommunication, which a faithful minister of the Gospel, with the suffrage of the church, has at hand, and a power to make use of, for the reclaiming of disobedient persons; or rather that extraordinary power which was peculiar to the apostles, of inflicting punishments on delinquents, such as what was exercised by Peter upon Ananias and Sapphira, by the Apostle Paul on Elymas the sorcerer, the incestuous person, and Hymenaeus and Philetus, and which still continued with him; it was ready at hand, he could exercise it whenever he pleased, he only waited a proper time:

when your obedience is fulfilled: till they were thoroughly reformed from the several abuses, both in doctrine and practice, they had fallen into, and were brought into a better order and decorum, and appeared to have been in all things obedient to the directions he had given; being unwilling, as yet, to use the awful authority he had from Christ, lest any of the dear children of God, who were capable of being restored by gentler methods, should suffer with the refractory and incorrigible.

And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 10:6. The reverse side of the αἰχμαλωτίζοντες κ.τ.λ. just expressed. Although, namely, the αἰχμαλ. πᾶν νόημα εἰς τ. ὑπακ. τοῦ Χριστοῦ is the result of the apostolic warfare on the whole and in general, yet there remain exceptions—persons, who do not surrender themselves captive to Christ’s dominion; there remains παρακοή in contradistinction to the ὑπακοή of others. Hence it is a part also of the complete work of victory to punish every παρακοή. And this, says Paul, we are in readiness to execute, so soon as, etc. Bengel well says: “Zelus jam adest; prometur, cum tempus erit.” Paul does not speak of the action of war-captives at variance with the duty of obedience, to which they are taken bound (Hofmann). For this the threat, which would amount, in fact, to the avenging of every sin, would be too strong, and the following ὅταν κ.τ.λ. would not be suitable. The παρακουοντες must still be enemies who, after the victory, do not submit to the victo.

ἐν ἑτοίμῳ ἔχοντες] in promptu habentes, also in Polyb. ii. 34. 2, and Philo, Leg. ad. Caj. p. 1011, 1029. See, in general, Wetstei.

ὅταν πληρωθῇ ὑμῶν ἡ ὑπακοή] With this he turns to apply what was previously said of a general tenor (ἐκδικ. πᾶσαν παρακ.) specially to the circumstances of the Corinthians, so that the conduct of the Judaistic teachers, who had intruded into Corinth and directed their doings against Paul, appears especially to be included in πᾶσα παρακοή; and the Corinthian church, a part of which had been led astray by those persons, is represented as not yet completely obedient, but as in the course of developing this complete obedience. When this development shall be completed (which till then makes a claim on my patience, “ne laedantur imbecilliores,” Bengel), that ἐκδίκησις of every disobedience shall—even as respects the situation of things at Corinth—ensue.[301] Thus the apostle separates the interest of the church from that of the intruding seducers, and presents his relation to the church as one of forbearance and confidence, while his relation to his opponents is one of vengeance delaying its execution only for the sake of the church, which has not yet attained to full obedience—a wise manipulation of the Divide et impera!

How he means to execute the ἐκδικεῖν (Romans 12:19), he does not say; he might do so by ordaining excommunication, by giving them over to Satan (1 Corinthians 5:5), or by other exercise of his miraculous apostolic powe.

ὑμῶν] is placed first with emphasis, to distinguish the church from those whose παρακοή was to be punished. Hofmann, without ground, denies this emphasis, because ὙΜῶΝ does not stand before ΠΛΗΡΩΘῆ. The emphasis certainly falls, in the first instance, on πληρ., and next not on ἡ ὑπακ., but on ὙΜῶΝ.

[301]
Lachmann, by a full stop, separates ὅταν πληρ. ὑμ. ἡ ὑπακ. wholly from what goes before, and connects it with what follows, so that the meaning results: “When your obedience shall have become complete, see to what lies before your eyes.” A precept strangely conditioned! And why should we give up the common punctuation, which yields a delicate touch quite characteristic of Paul?2 Corinthians 10:6. καὶ ἐν ἑτοίμῳ ἔχοντες κ.τ.λ.: and being in readiness (cf. ἑτοίμως ἔχω chap. 2 Corinthians 12:14) to avenge all disobedience (cf. Matthew 18:17), sc., if there remain any still disobedient, when your obedience, i.e., to me and to my Apostolic authority (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:9, 2 Corinthians 7:15), shall be fulfilled. The word ὑπακοή in 2 Corinthians 10:5 brings him back to this, the primary object of his letter. He does not wish to arrive in Corinth until the Church as a whole is firm in its loyalty to him.6. and having in a readiness] The expression is equivalent to our holding ourselves in readiness.

to revenge] Better, to avenge. Literally, to do justice, execute sentence upon.

when your obedience is fulfilled] St Paul was ready to wait until his exhortations and rebukes had had time to work. He would not ‘come to them in heaviness’ (ch. 2 Corinthians 2:1). He called ‘God to witness that if he did delay to come to Corinth it was to spare them’ (ch. 2 Corinthians 1:23). He wrote while absent that he might not have to use sharpness when present (ch. 2 Corinthians 13:10). But when all had been done that could be done, it was his intention to come and ‘not spare’ those who refused to listen to his voice (ch. 2 Corinthians 13:2).2 Corinthians 10:6. Ἐν ἑτοίμῳ ἔχοντες) viz., ἡμᾶς, he says, we are ready [having ourselves in readiness]. We have zeal already; and it will be brought forth into action at the proper time.—πᾶσαν, all) This has a more extensive meaning than ὑμῶν, your, presently after.—ὅταν, when) lest the weaker should be injured,[66] 2 Corinthians 10:8. This is the principal point of pastoral prudence. [Paul had already done something of this sort at Corinth, Acts 18:7. On a similar principle, GOD exercises so great long-suffering as He does, in regard to an immense multitude of wicked men, till those things which can be gained thereby, have been drawn forth. See Exodus 32:34.—V. g.]

[66] Were I prematurely before the time to revenge disobedience.—ED.Verse 6. - Being in a readiness; i.e. being quite prepared. My sternness of purpose is ready, but my hope is that it may not be called into action. To revenge; rather, to do justice upon. In any case, in this infliction of justice, whatever form it might take, he would only be an agent of God (Romans 12:19). When your obedience is fulfilled. St. Paul is confident that he will overcome the mazes of those opposed to him, and win them to Christ's obedience; but if there were any who should obstinately refuse to submit, they must be reduced to submission by action, not by words. To avenge all disobedience, etc.

The military metaphor continued. After most have surrendered and thus fulfilled their obedience, some rebels may remain, and these will be punished.

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