2 Corinthians 10:12
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
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(12) We dare not make ourselves of the number.—The last five words give the meaning of one Greek verb (enkrînai = to insert), the sound of which seems immediately to suggest the cognate verb (synkrînai = to compare). It is, of course, hard to convey the half-playful assonance in English. In “some that commend themselves” we note a reference to the charge of self-commending, which he has already noticed four times (2Corinthians 3:1; 2Corinthians 4:2; 2Corinthians 5:12; 2Corinthians 7:11). Before he had defended himself against the charge; now he retorts it on his opponents. In “we dare” we trace a reference to the charge of cowardice, as in 2Corinthians 10:2.

Measuring themselves by themselves.—The Greek MSS. present many various readings, some of the best MSS. omitting “are not wise, but,” and some giving “not boasting” for “we will not boast;” and the Greek text, on any reading, presents a grammatical difficulty, arising from the fact that the last word may be either the third person plural of a verb in the indicative present, or a participle in the dative case, agreeing with “themselves.” It is hardly necessary to discuss here the various possible constructions rising out of the combination of these phenomena. The English version gives, it is believed, substantially the meaning of the original. In the very act of saying, with a touch of irony, that he will not compare himself with the rival teachers, the Apostle virtually does compare himself. And the point he makes is that they instituted no such comparison. They were their own standards of excellence. Each was “amator sui sine rivali.” Collectively, they formed what has been described in the language of modern literary history as a “Mutual Admiration Society.” Of all such self-admiration—one might almost say, of all such autolatry—St. Paul declares, what the experience of all ages attests, that they who practise it “are not wise.” They lose, as the Greek verb more definitely expresses it, all power of discernment.

10:12-18 If we would compare ourselves with others who excel us, this would be a good method to keep us humble. The apostle fixes a good rule for his conduct; namely, not to boast of things without his measure, which was the measure God had distributed to him. There is not a more fruitful source of error, than to judge of persons and opinions by our own prejudices. How common is it for persons to judge of their own religious character, by the opinions and maxims of the world around them! But how different is the rule of God's word! And of all flattery, self-flattery is the worst. Therefore, instead of praising ourselves, we should strive to approve ourselves to God. In a word, let us glory in the Lord our salvation, and in all other things only as evidences of his love, or means of promoting his glory. Instead of praising ourselves, or seeking the praise of men, let us desire that honour which cometh from God only.For we dare not make ourselves of the number - We admit that we are not bold enough for that. They had accused him of a lack of boldness and energy when present with them, 2 Corinthians 10:1, 2 Corinthians 10:10. Here in a strain of severe but delicate irony, he says he was not bold enough to do things which the had done. He did not dare to do the things which had been done among them. To such boldness of character, present or absent, he could lay no claim.

Or compare ourselves ... - I am not bold enough for that. That requires a stretch of boldness and energy to which I can lay no claim.

That commend themselves - That put themselves forward, and that boast of their endowments and attainments. It is probable that this was commonly done by those to whom the apostle here refers; and it is certain that it is everywhere the characteristic of pride. To do this, Paul says, required greater boldness than he possessed, and on this point he yielded to them the palm. The satire here is very delicate, and yet very severe, and was such as would doubtless be felt by them.

But they measuring themselves by themselves - Whitby and Clarke suppose that this means that they compare themselves with each other; and that they made the false apostles particularly their standard. Doddridge, Grotius, Bloomfield, and some others suppose the sense to be, that they made themselves the standard of excellence. They looked continually on their own accomplishments, and did not look at the excellences of others. They thus formed a disproportionate opinion of themselves, and undervalued all others. Paul says that he had not boldness enough for that. It required a moral courage to which he could lay no claim. Horace (Epis. 2 Corinthians 1:7. 98) has an expression similar to this:

"Metirise quemque sue modulo ac pede verum est."

The sense of Paul is, that they made themselves the standard of excellence; that they were satisfied with their own attainments; and that they overlooked the superior excellence and attainments of others. This is a graphic description of pride and self-complacency; and, alas! it is what is often exhibited. How many there are, and it is to be feared even among professing Christians, who have no other standard of excellence than themselves. Their views are the standard of orthodoxy; their modes of worship are the standard of the proper manner of devotion; their habits and customs are in their own estimation perfect; and their own characters are the models of excellence, and they see little or no excellence in those who differ from them. They look on themselves as the true measure of orthodoxy, humility, zeal, and piety; and they condemn all others, however excellent they may be, who differ from them.

And comparing themselves ... - Or rather comparing themselves with themselves. Themselves they make to be the standard, and they judge of everything by that.

Are not wise - Are stupid and foolish. Because:

(1) They had no such excellence as to make themselves the standard.

(2) because this was an indication of pride.

(3) because it made them blind to the excellences of others. It was to be presumed that others had endowments not inferior to theirs.

(4) because the requirements of God, and the character of the Redeemer, were the proper standard of conduct. Nothing is a more certain indication of folly than for a man to make himself the standard of excellence. Such an individual must be blind to his own real character; and the only thing certain about his attainments is, that he is inflated with pride. And yet how common! How self-satisfied are most persons! How pleased with their own character and attainments! How grieved at any comparison which is made with others implying their inferiority! How prone to undervalue all others simply because they differ from them! - The margin renders this: "understand it not," that is, they do not understand their own character or their inferiority.

12. "We do not presume (irony) to judge ourselves among, or in comparison with, some of them that commend themselves." The charge falsely brought against him of commending himself (2Co 3:1; 5:12), really holds good of the false teachers. The phrase, "judge ourselves of the number," is drawn from the testing of athletes and senators, the "approved" being set down on the roll [Wahl].

measuring themselves by themselves—"among themselves": to correspond to the previous verb, "judge ourselves among them." Instead of measuring themselves by the public standard, they measure themselves by one made by themselves: they do not compare themselves with others who excel them, but with those like themselves: hence their high self-esteem. The one-eyed is easily king among the blind.

are not wise—with all their boasted "wisdom" (1Co 1:19-26), they are anything but "wise."

This whole verse is a reflection upon the false teachers of the church of Corinth, from whose manners Paul purgeth himself. I (saith he) durst not, as some others, magnify myself, nor compare myself with those that do so. Neither is it any wisdom in them to contemn and despise others, in comparison of themselves; for observe what measures they take, they only measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves amongst themselves, that is, with birds of their own feather, such as are like unto themselves, and of their own faction and party; which no wise men would do. For we dare not make ourselves of the number,.... Some understand this as spoken ironically, as if the apostle jeeringly should say, he would not pretend to join, or put himself upon a level, who was a poor, little, mean, despicable person, with such great men as the false apostles were, men of such large gifts, and of such great learning and eloquence; though they may be understood without an irony, that the modesty of the apostle and his fellow ministers would not suffer them to mingle with such persons, and act the vainglorious part they did: or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves; they were not so vain and foolish, as to give high encomiums of themselves, therefore would not boast even of the authority they had, and much less say that in letters, which they could not make good in fact:

but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise, or "understand not"; how foolish they are, how ridiculous they make themselves; they do not understand what they say, nor whereof they affirm; they do not understand themselves, what they really are; for to form a right judgment of themselves, they should have considered the gifts and abilities, the learning and knowledge of others, and thereby might have taken an estimate of their own; but instead of this, they only consulted themselves, and measured and compared themselves with themselves; which was acting just such a foolish part, as if a dwarf was to measure himself not with any kind of measure, or with another person, but with himself; only surveys himself, and his own dimensions, and fancies himself a giant. Just the reverse is this, to what is said in Philo the Jew (o),

"thn gar ouyeneian thn emautou metrein emayon, "I have learned to measure the nothingness of myself", and to contemplate thy exceeding great bounties; and moreover, perceive myself to be dust and ashes, or if there is any thing more abject.''

(o) Quis rer. divin. Haeres, p. 485.

{5} For we {h} dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by {i} themselves, and {k} comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

(5) Being forced to refute the foolish braggings of certain ambitious men, he witnesses that they are able to bring nothing, but that they falsely think highly of themselves. And as for himself, although he brags of excellent things, yet he will not pass the bounds which God has measured him out. And according to these bounds he came even to them in preaching the Gospel of Christ, and trusts that he will go further, when they have so profited that he will not need to remain any longer among them to instruct them. And to this is added an amplification, in that he never followed the labours of other men.

(h) This is spoken in a taunting manner.

(i) Upon a vain persuasion that they have of themselves, they attribute to themselves anything at all.

(k) They condemn others, and measure all their doings only by themselves.

2 Corinthians 10:12.[305] Reason assigned for this assurance (οἷοί ἐσμεντῷ ἔργῳ): for we are not like our boastful opponents, but, etc. If we were such people as they are, word and work might doubtless not harmonize in our cas.

οὐ γὰρ τολμῶμεν κ.τ.λ.] for we do not venture to number ourselves among, or compare ourselves with, certain people among those who commend themselves; but they,[306] measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves, are not rational; we, on the other hand, will not make our boast beyond measure, but, etc., 2 Corinthians 10:13. In οὐ τολμῶμεν is implied an irony which shows the want of humility in those people. Bengel aptly says: “sepem inter se et illos ponit.”

ἐγκρῖναι] annumerare, to place in one category; inserere, as the Vulgate rightly has it (Hor. Od. i. 1. 35); construed with εἰς, μετά, ἐπί with genitive, and with the simple dative of the persons joined (Apoll. Rhod. i. 48. 227). See Wetstein and Kypke, II. p. 264.

συγκρῖναι] might mean the same (Morus, Rosen-müller, Flatt, Reiche, and several, following the Peshito), but is defined by συγκρίνοντες in the contrasting clause as having the meaning comparare (Vulgate), which it very often has in later Greek, as also in Wis 7:29; Wis 15:18, equivalent to παραβάλλειν in Polyb. i. 2. 1, xii. 12. 1.[307] See, in general, Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 278. Comp. Loesner, Obss. p. 273. Observe, moreover, the paronomasia of the two verbs, something like inferre aut conferre, the German zurechnen oder gleichrechnen; Ewald: eingleichen oder vergleichen [reckon to or reckon like].

τισι] as in 2 Corinthians 10:2, not: even the least of them (Hofmann).

τῶν ἑσυτ. συνιστ.] This is the class of men, to which the τινές belon.

ἀλλά] introduces the opposite in such a way that the procedure of the two parties is placed antithetically in juxtaposition: “We do not venture to reckon ourselves to or compare ourselves with them, but they proceed thus, we, on the other hand, thus.” We do not venture, etc., but between them and us there subsists the contrast, which does away with that ἐγκρῖναι ἢ συγκρῖναι κ.τ.λ., that they, etc., whereas we, et.

αὐτοί down to οὐ συνιοῦσιν applies to the hostile τινές, and on this point one half of the expositors are agreed. But συνιοῦσιν, which is therefore not to be accented συνίουσιν (comp. on Romans 3:11), is not a participle (Chrysostom), so that it would be definition of quality to ἑαυτοῖς, which would quite unnecessarily make an anacoluthon, but it is the third person plural (Matthew 13:13) for the Attic συνιᾶσιν, which is read by Lachmann, following B א**—so that ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἑαυτοὺς μετροῦντες κ. συγκρ. ἑαυτ. ἑαυτοῖς is the point, in which the opponents show their irrationality (inasmuch as they measure themselves by themselves … they are irrational), and not the object of Οὐ ΣΥΝΙΟῦΣΙΝ (they do not know that they measure themselves by themselves), as Erasmus, Castalio, Beza, Estius, Grotius, Er. Schmid, Wolf, and several have held. To this last view, indeed, there is no grammatical objection (Valckenaer, ad Herod. III. 1, and on the distinction from the infinitive construction, Kühner, II. p. 357), but it would yield an inappropriate meaning; for the contrast ἩΜΕῖς ΔῈ Κ.Τ.Λ. shows that Paul did not mean to bring into prominence the blindness of his opponents towards their foolish conduct, but the folly of this procedure itself, whereas he proceeds quite otherwise. When those people measure themselves by themselves, judge themselves by their own personality, and compare themselves with this instead of with persons working more and better,[308] they are in this presumption of theirs (comp. Chrysostom 1) irrational, ineptiunt, οὐ συνιοῦσι. This, however, is not to be defined more precisely by arbitrary additions, such as: they do not know how ridiculous they make themselves (Chrysostom 2, Theophylact), or, how arrogant they are (Oecumenius), or what they are talking about (Augustine). Comp. rather Romans 3:11; Matthew 13:13, al. Hofmann prefers the reading of א* 2Co 93: συνίσασιν (comp. on this Attic form, Acts 26:4, and see Buttmann, Ausf. Sprachl. p. 548 ff.), and attaches ἙΑΥΤΟῖς to it: they are not conscious of this, that they only measure themselves and compare themselves, i.e. that only within their own selves they form their judgment respecting themselves, how far they are capable of apprehending, and to whom they are entitled to rank themselves equal. But the reading ΣΥΝΊΣΑΣΙΝ can only be regarded as a copyist’s error, through which, instead of ΣΥΝΙᾶΣΙΝ (Lachmann), there crept in the word ΣΥΝΊΣΑΣΙΝ well known from the Attic writers (e.g. Soph. El. 93; Xen. Cyrop. iii. 1. 9), and this in turn was at once amended by the corrector A. And in no case can ἑαυτοῖς be separated from συγκρίνοντες, since συγκρίνειν in itself is an incomplete notion, which necessarily requires a specification of that with which comparison is made. Hofmann’s view is at once uncritical and illogical, apart from the fact that it very much disturbs the purposely chosen symmetry of the two participial definitions; hence it is also formally unsuitable.

The second half of the expositors (Chrysostom hesitates between the two views) refer ΑὐΤΟῚΣΥΝΙΟῦΣΙΝ to Paul, and consider συνιοῦσιν (to be written συνίουσιν) as a participle, so that the measuring self by self, etc. appears to be the right kind of judgment.[309] Comp. Horace, Ep. i. 7 98: “Metiri se quemque suo modulo ac pede verum est.” In this case either (a) οὐ συνιοῦσιν is considered as in contrast with ἙΑΥΤΟῖς: with ourselves, not with wise people, by which the conceited opponents would be ironically meant (Bos, Homberg, Schrader). Or (b) ἀλλὰἑαυτοὺς ἑαυτοῖς is taken as parenthesis, and Οὐ ΣΥΝΙΟῦΣΙ as one conception in apposition to ΤΙΣῚ ΤῶΝ ἙΑΥΤ. ΣΥΝΙΣΤ. (Schulz). Or (c) οὐ συνιοῦσιν is taken as apposition to the preceding ἙΑΥΤΟῖς: “neque existimo ex me, homine, ut istis placet, insipido,” Emmerling, whom Olshausen follows. All these views take the participles for the finite tenses (or rather as anacoluthic); but against them all the following ἡμεῖς δέ is decisive, which makes it logically necessary to refer ΑὐΤΟΊ to the opponents; for it cannot, as Emmerling and Olshausen think, form a logical contrast to the charge which is alleged to be implied in οὐ συνιοῦσιν, since ἩΜΕῖς ΔΈ would require to be put in antithesis to the accusers, and not to the accusation (which, besides, would only be expressed quite cursorily and indirectly by Οὐ ΣΥΝΙΟῦΣΙΝ). Further, there may be urged against (a), that it would require οὐ τοῖς συνιοῦσιν with the article; against (b), that this interpretation is involved; against (c), not so much the want of the article—for οὐ συνιοῦσιν need not be in apposition, but might also be an accompanying definition of ἙΑΥΤΟῖς—as the fact that there is no hint in the context of any ironical adducing of such a charge, and hence it is not to be compared with 2 Corinthians 11:1; 2 Corinthians 11:16; 2 Corinthians 11:19, 2 Corinthians 12:11.

[305] This passage is most thoroughly discussed by Fritzsche, Dissert. II. p. 33 ff. (whom Billroth has entirely followed), and by Reiche, Commentar. Crit. I. p. 375 ff. Theodoret remarks: ἀσαφῶς απαν τὸ χώρημα τοῦτο γέγραφεν, and for this he advances as a reason: ἐναργῶς ἐλέγξαι τοὺς αἰτίους οὐ βουλόμενος.

[306] This emphasized they (αὐτοί, they on their part) is fully justified in contrast to the following ἡμεῖς; hence it is not, with Osiander, to be taken in the sense of soli, n its limitation to themselves.

[307] The objects compared may be of similar or dissimilar nature. On this point the word does not determine anything.

[308] Such an one thinks: what a great man I am, for how much I know and can do! how I even excel myself, etc.! His own ego is thus object and canon of the measuring and judging. Calvin aptly illustrates this by the example of the ignorant and yet so conceited monks. The juxtaposition of αὐτοὶ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἑαυτούς palliates the conceit of the selfish nature. Comp. Plato, Protag. p. 347 E: αὐτοὶ δʼ ἑαυτοῖς σύνεισι διʼ ἑαυτῶν. It is well paraphrased by Reiche, p 380: “sibi ipsis e vana sua de se opinione virtutum meritorumque modulum constituentes atque se sibi solis comparantes, non potioribus meliusque meritis, quod si fecerint, illico quam sint nihil ipsi cognoscerent.” Hofmann, again, deals in subtleties, referring ἐν ἑαυτοῖς not only to the first, but also to the second participle, and (see against this, below) connecting the concluding ἑαυτοῖς with the following verb.

[309] According to Emmerling, μετρ. ἑαυτ. ἐν ἑαυτ. applies to abstinence from promises which transcend their powers, and the συγκριν. ἑαυτ. ἑαυτοῖς to the “judicium ferre de se ad normam virium suarum, factorum et meritorum.” According to Olshausen, ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἑαυτοὺς μετροῦντες is intended to mean: we measure ourselves by what the Lord has imposed on us!


Against our explanation (which is found in substance also in Augustine, Chrysostom 1, Theodoret, Theophylact, Luther, Calvin, Hammond, Wetstein, Zachariae, and others, including Rückert, Reiche, Neander, Osiander, Kling, partly also in Hofmann), it has been objected (see especially Fritzsche and Billroth) that ἀλλὰ αὐτοὶ κ.τ.λ. cannot apply to the opponents, because manifestly different modes of dealing, and not different persons, would be opposed to each other, in which case Paul could not but have written: ἡμεῖς γὰρ οὐἀλλὰ αὐτοὶ κ.τ.λ. But by this very contrast of persons first introduced by ἀλλά (ἀλλὰ αὐτοὶἡμεῖς δέ) the opposite of the mode of action previously negatived is exhibited in a truly concrete and vivid way, and by no means illogically, seeing that in fact by the previous ἑαυτοὺς τισί the contrast of persons introduced with ἀλλά was very naturally suggested. On the other hand, it would not have been logical, if Paul had written ἡμεῖς γὰρ οὐ τολμῶμενἀλλὰ αὐτοὶ κ.τ.λ., since then doubtless the persons, but not that which is asserted of the persons, would stand in logical contrast with one another; for what is asserted would need to be substantially in both clauses one and the same thing, which would be denied of the ἡμεῖς, and affirmed of the αὐτοί. It has been objected to our explanation of οὐ συνιοῦσιν that it is against the context; but it is, in point of fact, to be observed, that on the one hand it gives a very delicate explanation concerning the ironical οὐ τολμῶμεν, and that on the other hand the following ἡμεῖς δὲ κ.τ.λ. with logical accuracy opposes to the previous ἀλλὰ αὐτοὶ κ.τ.λ. the thought: we, however, abide by the measure which God has imparted to us, so that in κατὰ τὸ μέτρον τοῦ κανόνος, οὗ ἐμέρ. ἡμ. ὁ θεὸς μέτρου there lies the contrast to the irrational procedure of the opponents measuring themselves by themselves. He who measures himself by himself, seeing that in fact he lacks an objective standard, falls with his boasting εἰς τὰ ἄμετρα, like those opponents; but not he, who knows himself determined by a limit set by God. Finally, the objection, that by our interpretation οὐ συνιοῦσιν gets a thought imported into it which its literal tenor does not actually present (Hofmann), is quite groundless, since οὐ, by a quite common usage, turns the συνιοῦσιν into its opposite, consequently οὐ συν. expresses the ἀσυνεσία, the irrationality and folly of those men in their procedure.


By leaving out oh οὐ συνιοῦσιν· ἡμεῖς δέ, but retaining καυχησόμεθα, 2 Corinthians 10:13 (see the critical remarks), the meaning results; “sed me ex meo modulo metiens mihique me conferens, non praeter modum, sed ad modum ita mihi praefiniti spatii, ut ad vos quoque pervenirem, gloriabor” (Fritzsche).[310] But if καυχησόμεθα also is left out, as Fritzsche and Billroth approve, Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:15 turns back to ΟὐΚ ΕἸς ΤᾺ ἌΜΕΤΡΑ in 2 Corinthians 10:13, and then adds the still necessary verb anacoluthically in the participle: “sed me ipse mihi conferens, non praeter modum2 Corinthians 10:15, non praeter modum inquam me efferens” (Fritzsche). The suitableness of the meaning and of the antithetic character in the several parts, as well as the unexceptionable warrant of the anacoluthon, have been aptly shown by Fritzsche, pp. 41, 43 f. But the rejected words cannot thereby be deprived of their critical title to exist.

[310] Comp. Ewald: “but modestly and cautiously measuring ourselves by ourselves and our abilities, and comparing ourselves with ourselves and our labours already achieved and clear before the world and before God, we will not (like those intruders) boast without measure, but at most will boast according to the measure of the standard which God imparted to us as measure, and which accordingly among other things authorized and strengthened us, that we attained even unto you and founded you.”2 Corinthians 10:12. οὐ γὰρ τολμῶμεν κ.τ.λ.: for we do not venture (an ironical refusal to put himself on a level with his adversaries, whose shallow pretensions he thus quietly exposes) to number or compare ourselves (note the paronomasia in the Greek) with certain of them that commend themselves (the charge made against him—see on 2 Corinthians 3:1—he retorts with great effect on his opponents); but they themselves measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves with themselves are without understanding (cf. Proverbs 26:12). This sentence is so much involved, that it is not surprising to find the Western authorities (see crit. note) giving it a quite different turn by the omission of the words οὐ συνιοῦσιν (or συνιᾶσιν) ἡμεῖς δὲκαυχησόμεθα. Following this shorter text, the meaning would be: “but we are measuring ourselves by ourselves and comparing ourselves with ourselves, not going into spheres beyond our measure,” etc. This gives a connected sense, and is favoured by the fact that the balance of the sentence leads us to expect that αὐτοὶ after ἀλλὰ shall refer to the Apostle, and not to his opponents, as it must do with the longer reading. Nevertheless we believe that the omission is simply an attempt to evade the difficulty of the true text; it would be quite unlike St. Paul to speak of himself as his own standard of conduct, and would not be harmonious with the thought of 2 Corinthians 10:13. Others take συνιοῦσιν as a dative participle and adopt the rendering: “but we (i.e., St. Paul) measure ourselves by ourselves, and compare ourselves with ourselves, unwise as we are” (sc., in their opinion). This, however, is not only open to the objection just mentioned, but would require τοῖς before οὐ συνιοῦσιν. On the whole, therefore, we prefer to follow the best MS. authority by reading συνιᾶσιν, and to treat the Western text as an abbreviation, which misses the point of the argument in the attempt to simplify the construction.12. For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves] i.e. ironically, we dare not venture to number or compare ourselves with certain persons who have of late been claiming great authority among you. After St Paul’s manner (see ch. 2 Corinthians 1:13, 2 Corinthians 3:2) there is a play upon words here, which is difficult to translate.

commend themselves] As has been said, the Greek word here used has in the N. T. the sense of praise; but probably here the leading idea as in ch. 2 Corinthians 3:1 is of recommending themselves, by such means as are indicated in chapters 1–3 of the first Epistle, and of having their own selfish objects in view in so doing.

but they measuring themselves] The idea suggested by the A.V. is of men whose motives are centred in self. They judge themselves by their own standard, they take advantage of other men’s labours, they even, St Paul seems to hint (2 Corinthians 10:16), boast of other men’s labours, they give other men no credit for what they have done. And all this, like the Galatian teachers (Galatians 4:17), that they may occupy the principal place in the Corinthian Church. There is another reading here, however, which is accepted by many editors and preferred by Dean Stanley, which gives an entirely different turn to the sentence. Omitting the words ‘are not wise, but we’ the passage runs, ‘but measuring ourselves by ourselves, and comparing ourselves with ourselves, we do not boast beyond measure.’ This reading may have been caused by the transcriber’s eye passing from ΟΥΣ to ΟΥΚ in the Greek, and omitting the intervening words, while it is difficult to see how St Paul can describe himself as avoiding the danger of boasting beyond measure by the very process which experience shews to be the commonest mode of causing such boasting, namely by taking oneself as the sole standard of comparison. And the testimony of MSS. and versions is much in favour of the received text. See however next note but two.

by themselves] Literally, in themselves, i.e. if we accept the A.V., having their thoughts perpetually turned inwards in complacent self-contemplation. Meyer quotes the expression Metiri suo modulo from Horace Ep. 1. 7. 98.

amongst themselves] Rather, with themselves.

are not wise] These words are omitted by the Vulgate and Wiclif. It must be confessed that they are not in the Apostle’s manner, and that they have a suspicious appearance of having been inserted to fill up some supposed deficiency in the sense. But see last note but two. If we omit them, together with the words ‘But we’ in the next verse, the Apostle’s meaning will be, ‘We do not compare ourselves with some who have lately appeared among you. We keep within the bounds of our own labours, of the work that God has marked out for us. We do not ‘build on another man’s foundation’ (Romans 15:20) or challenge comparison by intruding into another man’s sphere of work.’ See also 2 Corinthians 10:15-16. The balance of probability, in spite of the difficulties enumerated above, is in favour of this reading. St Paul seems to imply that he avoids all comparison by keeping within his own bounds. See Analysis, Introduction, ch. 11.2 Corinthians 10:12. Οὐ γὰρ τολμῶμεν, for we dare not) Paul very fully vindicates his apostolic authority, under which the Corinthians are also placed: and he refutes the false apostles who, [2 Corinthians 11:13-14] assuming any specious form whatever, also obtruded themselves among them, and put the sickle into Paul’s harvest. Reproving the bold daring of these drones, he says, we dare not; in which, while he tells what he himself does not do, he marks by implication, what they are doing. I, says he, claim nothing to myself from them [I own no connection with them]; let them in turn cease to join themselves to us [identify themselves with us], even at Corinth. He puts a hedge between himself and them.—ἐγκρῖναι ἢ συγκρῖναι) to place [ourselves] on the same level, as sharers of the same office; or to compare [ourselves] as partakers of the same labour; both, in respect to you: ἐγκρίνονται, things are placed on the same level with one another, which are of the same kind; συγκρίνονται, things are compared, which, though they differ in kind, are supposed to have at least the same relative aspect [rationem]. μετροῦντες presently after corresponds to ἐγκρῖναι, as συγκρίνοντες to συγκρῖναι.—τῶν) The Genitive. Of those, who commend themselves, the boldest ἐγκρίνουσι, place themselves on the same level, etc.—καὶ συγκρίνοντες, and comparing) This expression is put at the beginning of the clause for the sake of emphasis.—ἑαυτοῖς,[68] οὐχὶ, κ.τ.λ.) See Appendix. Crit. on this passage. This phraseology does not indeed apply to the false apostles, who really attempted to measure themselves by others, and to obtrude themselves among them. Paul, on the contrary, says of himself and those like himself, we measure ourselves by ourselves, not by them, the false apostles; we compare ourselves with ourselves, not with them.[69]

[68] D(Λ)Gfg Vulg. Lucif. omit οὐ συνιοῦσιν. But B reads the words (συνιᾶσιν, which Lachm. prefers): so also Memph. and both Syr. Versions.—ED.

[69] It is consistent with this, that the Ger. Ver., although it expresses the words ὀυ συνιοῦσιν ἡμεῖς δὲ, yet so arranges the agreement of the words, that the same sense comes out, which the Gnomon gives.—E. B.Verse 12. - We dare not. They are in this respect of self-praise much bolder than I. Make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves; literally, judge ourselves among or judge ourselves with. There is a play on the words, like the Latin, inferre or conferre, or the German, zurechnen oder gleichrechnen. That commend themselves. The verb rendered "commend" is that from which is derived "the commendatory letters" (2 Corinthians 3:1) at the arrogant and intrusive use of which he had glanced already. St. Paul is once more rebutting the charge of self-commendation (2 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Corinthians 5:12; 2 Corinthians 6:11). But they measuring themselves...are not wise. The clause is difficult; for

(1) to compare ourselves with others in order to learn what we can and cannot do is usually accounted wise;

(2) some manuscripts and editions, omitting οὐ συνιοῦσιν ἡμεῖς δὲ, render, "But we ourselves (αὐτοὶ), measuring ourselves by ourselves, and comparing ourselves with ourselves, will not boast above measure;"

(3) some, for συνιοῦσιν (they are not wise) read συνίουσιν (with ourselves, who are not wise). The reading, however, of the Authorized Version is undoubtedly right, and most probably the rendering also. The meaning is that the little cliques of factious religionists, never looking outside their own narrow circles, became inflated with a sense of importance which would have been annihilated if they had looked at higher standards. Hence they thought themselves at liberty to intrude and lay down the law and usurp a claim to infallibility which there was nothing to justify. Such conduct is the reverse of wise. It is a mixture of selfishness, Pharisaism, and conceit, and there have been abundant examples of it among religious parties in all ages. St. Paul, on the other hand, keeps within his own measure, because he has learnt to adopt larger and loftier standards. Make ourselves of the number (ἐγκρῖναι ἑαυτούς)

Rev., better, to number ourselves. Lit., to judge ourselves to be among: to place in the same category with.

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