2 Corinthians 10:13
But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God has distributed to us, a measure to reach even to you.
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(13) But we will not boast of things without our measure.—The words imply, of course, that his opponents were doing this. He refers in it to the concordat established between himself and Barnabas, on the one hand, and Peter, James, and John on the other, to which he refers in Galatians 2:9. He had not transgressed the terms of that concordat by thrusting himself upon a Church which had been founded by one of the Apostles of the circumcision. He had gone, step by step, seeking “fresh fields and pastures new,” till he had reached Corinth as, at present, the farthest limit of his work. In that apportionment of work, though it was a compact with human teachers, he saw the guidance of God; his opponents, on the other hand, had systematically violated it. They had come to the Church of Antioch, which had been founded by Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:1); they had followed in his footsteps in Galatia (see Introduction to Epistle to the Galatians); they were now stirring up strife and disloyalty at Corinth. We note as an undesigned coincidence that a few weeks or months later, as in Romans 15:19, he had preached the gospel as far as Illyricum, but this was during the time immediately following on the despatch of this Epistle, during which, on his way to Corinth, whence he wrote to Rome, he had “gone over those parts, and given them much exhortation” (Acts 20:2).

2 Corinthians 10:13. But we will not, like them, boast of things without measure — Assume the credit of other men’s labours, (2 Corinthians 10:15,) nor meddle with those converted by them; but according to the measure of the rule, or province, which God hath distributed, or allotted, to us — To me, in particular, as the apostle of the Gentiles; a measure which reaches even to you — Here “God is represented as measuring out, or dividing to, the first preachers of the gospel, their several offices, and their several scenes of action, that they might labour each in the parts assigned to them. To the apostles he allotted the charge of converting the world, and endowed them with gifts suited to the greatness of that work. To them, therefore, it belonged to form their converts into churches, and to appoint rules for their government. They had authority to dictate the religious faith and practice of mankind. In short, they had the supreme direction, under Christ, of all religious matters whatever. Yet none of them interfered in the labours of the others, except by common consent. The province assigned by God to the evangelists, and other inferior ministers, was to assist the apostles; to build upon the foundation laid by them; to labour in the gospel under their direction, and in all things to consider themselves as subordinate to the apostles.” 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.But we will not boast of things without our measure - Tyndale renders this:" But we will not rejoice above measure." There is great obscurity in the language here, arising from its brevity. But the general idea seems to be plain. Paul says that he had not boldness as they had to boast of things wholly beyond his proper rule and his actual attainments and influence: and, especially, that he was not disposed to enter into other people's labors; or to boast of things that had been done by the mere influence of his name, and beyond the proper limits of his personal exertions. He made no boast of having done anything where he had not been himself on the ground and labored assiduously to secure the object. They, it is not improbable, had boasted of what had been done in Corinth as though it were really their work though it had been done by the apostle himself. Nay more, it is probable that they boasted of what had been done by the mere influence of their name. Occupying a central position, they supposed that their reputation had gone abroad, and that the mere influence of their reputation had had an important effect. Not, so with Paul. He made no boast of anything but what God had enabled him to do by his evangelical labors, and by personal exertions. He entered into no one else's labors and claimed nothing that others had done as his own. He was not bold enough for that.

But according to the measure of the rule ... - Margin, Or, "line." The word rendered "rule" (Greek, κανὼν kanōn, whence our English word canon) means properly a reed, rod, or staff employed to keep anything stiff, erect, asunder (Hom. ii. 8. 103): then a measuring rod or line; then any standard or rule - its usual meaning in the New Testament, as, for example, of life and doctrine, Galatians 6:16; Philippians 3:16 - Robinson's Lexicon. Here it means the limit, boundary line, or sphere of action assigned to anyone. Paul means to say that God had appropriated a certain line or boundary as the proper limit of his sphere of action; that his appropriate sphere extended to them; that in going to them, though they were far distant from the field of his early labors, he had confined himself within the proper limits assigned him by God; and that in boasting of his labors among them he was not boasting of anything which did not properly fall within the sphere of labor assigned to him. The meaning is, that Paul was especially careful not to boast of anything beyond his proper bounds.

Which God hath distributed to us - Which in assigning our respective fields of labor God has assigned unto me and my fellow-laborers. The Greek word rendered here as "distributed" (ἐμερίσεν emerisen) means properly to measure; and the sense is, that God had measured out or apportioned their respective fields of labor; that by his providence he had assigned to each one his proper sphere, and that in the distribution Corinth had fallen to the lot of Paul. In going there he had kept within the proper limits; in boasting of his labors and success there he did not boast of what did not belong to him.

A measure to reach even unto you - The sense is, "the limits assigned me include you, and I may therefore justly boast of what I have done among you as within my proper field of labor." Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles Acts 26:17-18; and the whole country of Greece therefore he regarded as falling within the limits assigned to him. No one therefore could blame him for going there as if he was an intruder; no one assert that he had gone beyond the proper bounds.

13. not boast … without … measure—Greek, "to unmeasured bounds." There is no limit to a man's high opinion of himself, so long as he measures himself by himself (2Co 10:13) and his fellows, and does not compare himself with his superiors. It marks the personal character of this Epistle that the word "boast" occurs twenty-nine times in it, and only twenty-six times in all the other Epistles put together. Undeterred by the charge of vanity, he felt he must vindicate his apostolic authority by facts [Conybeare and Howson]. It would be to "boast of things without our measure," were we to boast of conversions made by "other men's labors" (2Co 10:15).

distributed—apportioned [Alford].

a measure—as a measure [Alford].

to reach—"that we should reach as far as even to you": not that he meant to go no further (2Co 10:16; Ro 15:20-24). Paul's "measure" is the apportionment of his sphere of Gospel labors ruled for him by God. A "rule" among the so-called "apostolic canons" subsequently was, that no bishop should appoint ministers beyond his own limits. At Corinth no minister ought to have been received without Paul's sanction, as Corinth was apportioned to him by God as his apostolic sphere. The Epistle here incidentally, and therefore undesignedly, confirms the independent history, the Acts, which represents Corinth as the extreme limit as yet of his preaching, at which he had stopped, after he had from Philippi passed southward successively through Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens [Paley, Horæ Paulinæ].

The apostle may be understood as speaking both of spiritual gifts, and also of his travels to the several places whither he had gone preaching the gospel. He reflecteth still upon the false teachers who were crept into this church; who (as it should seem) had much boasted of their gifts and abilities, and of their labours and successes. In opposition to whom, he saith, that he boasted not

without his measure, or, (as it is in the Greek, ta ametra) unmeasurable things; but he kept himself within the measure of the rule; that is, according to that regular measure which God hath set us. Which

measure extendeth even to you. You have those amongst you who boast unmeasurably of the gifts which they have, and of the great things which they do; I durst not do so (saith the apostle); God hath given me a measure and a rule, according to that I have acted, and of those actings only I will glory. And in my so doing I can boast of you, for to you my measure and line hath reached; God hath made me an instrument to raise him up a church amongst you. But we will not boast of things without our measure,.... Or things unmeasurable; meaning not doctrines, the knowledge of which they had not attained to, and which were not to be measured by reason or revelation, such as the Gnostics boasted of; but the sense is, that they would not glory in, and boast of actions, that were never done by them, within the compass of their ministration, as the false apostles did; who pretended that they had been everywhere, and had preached the Gospel, and had made converts in all parts of the world; but the apostle and his fellow labourer, desired only to speak of those things which were done of them, and of their successful labours:

according to the measure of the rule; not the measure of the gift of Christ, or of faith bestowed upon them; nor the measuring rule and canon of the Scriptures, though both are truths; but the places or parts of the world, which God in his secret purpose had fixed, and in his providence directed them to preach in: or as he says,

which God hath distributed to us; parted and divided to them; assigning such and such places to some, and such and such to others, as he himself pleased, to discharge their ministerial office in; drawing as it were a line, or setting a bound, by which and how far each should go, and no further:

a measure to reach even unto you; the line of their ministration was drawn, or the bounds of their preaching were carried from Judea, and through all the intermediate places to Corinth, so that the Corinthians were properly under the jurisdiction of the apostles, and in their district; wherefore the false apostles had really no right nor claim to be among them; nay, their measure reached to the ends of the world, according to Psalm 19:4 "their line" "is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world".

But we will not boast of things without our {l} measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.

(l) Of those things which God has not measured to me.

2 Corinthians 10:13. Εἰς τὰ ἄμετρα] so that we with our καυχᾶσθαι go beyond measure, go into limitless extravagance. This is what is done by the man who measures himself by himself, because in that case no check external to himself is put on his imagination and self-exaltation. Such a man certainly has an object of the καυχᾶσθαι, and is not simply aiming at the having one (Hofmann), which would yield an absurd idea; but he has no bounds in the manner and degree of his καυχᾶσθαι; he is wanting in μετριότης. Regarding the use of εἰς with an adjective of degree and the article, see Viger. ed. Herm. p. 596; Matthiae, p. 1349. On the expression itself, comp. Homer, Il. ii. 212, where Thersites is called ἀμετροεπής.

καυχησόμεθα] The future asserts that this case will not occur. Comp. Romans 10:14, al.; Dissen, ad Dem. de Cor. p. 369.

ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὸ μέτρον τοῦ κανόνος, οὗ κ.τ.λ.] sc. καυχησόμεθα: but according to the measure of the boundary-line, which God (not our own choice) has assigned to us as measure, to reach even unto you, i.e. but our boasting will restrict and measure itself according to the limit which God has drawn for us, and by which He has measured off the sphere of our activity, in order that we should reach even to you with our working. By this Paul is manifestly aiming at the vaingloriousness of the false apostles, who decked themselves with extraneous feathers, inasmuch as they intruded into the provinces of others, into spheres which had not been assigned to them by God as the measure of their activity: as, indeed, in particular they had come also to Corinth, which lay within the boundary-line of Paul’s apostolic action, and were now boasting as if the church-life in Corinth were chiefly their work. For, although they could not give themselves out to be the founders of the church (Baur, Tüb. Zeitschr. 1832, 4, p. 101), they could still put forward as their merit the rapid growth of the church and many points of detail, and thereby presume to put the apostle in the shade. Olshausen thinks that the false apostles had appropriated to themselves Corinth as their province, because they had already been at work there before Paul; but that the latter had still felt himself at liberty to preach in Corinth, because no apostle had been there before him. This is an hypothesis quite as superfluous as it is unhistorical, since neither in the Book of Acts is there found any trace of Christianity at Corinth before Paul’s arrival, nor in the Epistles, in which, on the contrary, he states expressly that he was the first to preach there (1 Corinthians 3:6; 1 Corinthians 3:10), and that all other teachers had entered later into the work (1 Corinthians 4:15).

κατὰ τὸ μέτρον τοῦ κανόνος] Here τὸ μέτρον is the measure defined for the καυχᾶσθαι, as is clear from the previous οὐχὶ εἰς τὰ ἄμετρα καυχ.,—and τοῦ κανόνος is the genitivus subjecti: the measure given by the drawn measuring-line. And the subsequent μετροῦ[311] is an apposition to τοῦ κανόνος not at all unnatural (as Hofmann declares it), but attracted by the relative clause according to a very frequent Greek usage (see Bernhardy, p. 302; Pflugk, ad Eur. Hec. 771; Stallbaum, ad Plat. Phaed. p. 66 E; Rep. p. 402 C; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 246 [E. T. 286]); consequently not again the measure of the boasting, but, as appears from the definition of the object aimed at ἐφικέσθαι ἄχρι κ. ὑμῶν, the spatial measure, namely, how far one is to reach (see what follows), or, dropping the figure: the measure of extent of the destined working. Paul, namely, conceives of the local extension assigned to his official working as a space marked out by God with a measuring-line, in which he takes his stand and is able to reach to all points of it without unduly stretching or straining himself, 2 Corinthians 10:14. Hence: ἐφικέσθαι ἄχρι καὶ ὑμῶν, which is not simply exegetical (Hofmann), nor does it express the consequence (Rückert, de Wette), but is, in accordance with the notion of ἐμέρ., to be taken as infinitive of definition of οὗ ἐμέρ. ἡμ. ὁ θεὸς μέτρου.

κανών does not mean sphere of vocation (Flatt and many others), but measuring-rod, measuring-line. Here the latter. Comp. Galatians 6:16; Aq. Job 38:5; Psalm 18:4. See in general, Duncan, Lex. ed. Rost. p. 587 f. On μερίζειν τινί τι, to impart something to one, assign as one’s share, comp. Romans 12:3; 1 Corinthians 7:17; Hebrews 7:23; Polyb. xi. 28. 9, xxxi. 18. 3. The ἐφικνεῖσθαι is, in keeping with the figurative representation of the state of the matter (see especially 2 Corinthians 10:14), not to arrive at (Hofmann), which is only expressed by ἐφθάσαμεν, but to reach to, pertingere, as the Vulgate aptly renders it. The word is found nowhere else in the N. T., and is here selected for the sense indicated. Comp. Xen. Cyr. i. 1. 5, v. 5. 8; Plut. Mor. p. 190 E; Lucian, Jup. conf. 19, al.; also Sir 43:27; Sir 43:30. The Corinthians, because not to be found beyond the bounds of his κανών, were to the apostle ἐφικτοί, reachable.

[311] For which Grotius ought not to have conjectured μέτρον. But the most mistaken view as regards μέτρον is that lighted on by Hofmann, who attaches it to ὁ θεός: “the God of measure,” by which, in his view, it is affirmed that “to everything God sets some sort of measure.” As if this singular way of designating God (altogether different from such appellations as: the God of glory, of peace, of love, of hope, and the like) were even possible without the article before μέτρον! In Wis 9:1, πατέρων required no article, according to the well-known anarthrous usage of πατήρ in the singular and plural; and in Sir 33:1, πάντων without the article is quite according to rule.2 Corinthians 10:13. ἡμεῖς δὲ οὐχὶ κ.τ.λ.: but we will not glory beyond our measure (εἰς τὰ representing the direction and extent of his boasting), but according to the measure of the rule which (οὗ for ὅν by attraction) God hath apportioned (see reff.) to us as a measure, to reach (the infin. of purpose) even unto you. κανών is a line of direction (see reff., and cf. Clem. Rom., § 41, μὴ παρεκβαίνων τὸν ὡρισμένον τῆς f1λειτουργίας αὐτοῦ κανόνα), and so here represents the “province” or sphere in which St. Paul conceives himself as appointed by God to proclaim the Gospel. He especially emphasises this here; to Corinth he has a “mission,” as the Apostle of the Gentiles; his authority over the Corinthian Church is not usurped, but has been divinely given him.13. of things without our measure] Literally, unto the measureless things, i.e. ‘beyond the measure which God has meted out to us,’ ‘beyond the region of our own work, which was ever, save in the case of Rome, among Churches which we ourselves have founded.’ Nor was Rome really an exception. For the Church there seemed not to have been formally founded by any one, but to have grown up of itself through the gravitation of persons from all parts to the great metropolis. This is why St Paul, on his way into Spain, desires to ‘impart some spiritual gift’ to a Church which had not had the privilege of the personal superintendence of an Apostle. See Romans 1:11; Romans 15:23-24.

rule] This word is translated line in 2 Corinthians 10:16. It means (1) a measuring rod and then (2) the line marked out by such means. It has become an English word familiar to our ears (3) as a rule or precept of Ecclesiastical Law, known as a Canon. A cognate word in English is cane.

which God hath distributed to us, a measure] Better, a measure which God apportioned, i.e. which is His work, not man’s.

to reach even unto you] That God had done this was very evident. The Corinthians owed their existence as a Church to St Paul. See ch. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3; 1 Corinthians 3:6; 1 Corinthians 3:10; 1 Corinthians 9:2. The metaphor, says Estius, is derived from handicraftsmen, who have a rule prescribed to them by the master, which they are not permitted to go beyond.2 Corinthians 10:13. Οὐχι, not) From 2 Corinthians 10:13-16, both the ἔγκρισις and the σύγκρισις [alleged by the false apostles as subsisting] between the apostle and the false apostles are utterly set aside. This is the summary of his argument: οὐχὶ εἰς τὰ ἄμετρα καυχησόμεθα ἐν ἀλλοτρίοις κόποις. The first member, οὐχὶ εἰς τὰ ἄμετρα, is put in antithesis to the ἐν ἐαυτοῖς μετροῦντες, and is treated of 2 Corinthians 10:13-14, the word μέτρον being often repeated. The second, οὐχι ἐν ἀλλοτρίοις κόποις, is put in antithesis to the ἑαυτοῖς συγκρίνοντες, and is treated of 2 Corinthians 10:15-16, the word ἀλλοτρίοις being repeated. Paul has a measure; they boast as to things that are without measure [in immensa gloriantur], and Paul will proceed to preach the Gospel among the untutored [rudes, heretofore untaught] Gentiles; they boast εἰς τὰ ἓτοιμα, of things made ready for them [2 Corinthians 10:16].—εἰς) as to, concerning; comp. 2 Corinthians 10:15, note.—ἄμετρα, things without measure) an acute amphibology; ἄμετρον is that which either does not keep, or else has not a standard or measure. Paul keeps his measure; the false apostles have none at all.—ἀλλὰ) but, viz., we will act.—τὸ μέτρον τοῦ κανόνος, the measure of the rule) Μέτρον καὶ κανὼν is a phrase sometimes used as a combination of synonyms: here they differ. Μέτρον is said in respect of God who distributes the several functions, κανὼν, in respect of the apostle who labours in the discharge of his function. Therefore κανὼν is determined by μέτρον; for μέτρον with Eustathius is τάξις; and μέτρον and μερίζω are conjugates, because both are from μείρω, comp. Clavis Homerica, p. 222. Their respective provinces were apportioned to each of the apostles.—μέτρου, a measure) This word is repeated, so that the οὗ may be explicitly recognised as having relation to μέτρον.—τοῦ κανόνος is put absolutely. After the accusative μέτρον the genitive μέτρου is put, to mark the part [μέρος taken out of ἐμέρισεν, i.e. the province assigned to Paul] among the Corinthians.—ἐμέρισεν, distributed) By this verb the false apostles are openly excluded.—ἐφικέσθαι) i.e. τοῦ ἐφικέσθαι.—ἄχρι καὶ ὑμῶν) even to you. Meiosis.[70]

[70] See App.Verse 13. - Will not boast of things without our measure. This might be rendered, "will not indulge in these immeasurable boastings;" but ver. 15 points to the sense, "we will not glory beyond our measure." Of the rule; i.e. of the measuring line. I will keep to the province and limit which God has assigned to me in my proper mea- sure. St. Paul declines the favourite office of being "other people's bishop ἀλλοτριοεπίσκοπος)" (1 Peter 4:15). Hath distributed; rather, apportioned. Of things without measure (εἰς τὰ ἄμετρα)

Of things is wrong; the translators failing to see that the article forms, with the following word, an adverbial phrase. Rev., correctly, glory beyond our measure.

Rule (κανόνος)

Used by Paul only. Originally, a straight rod or ruler. Hence a carpenter's rule. Metaphorically, that which measures or determines anything, in morals, art, or language. The Alexandrian grammarians spoke of the classic Greek authors collectively as the canon or standard of the pure language. In later Greek it was used to denote a fixed tax. In christian literature it came to signify the standard of faith or of christian teaching; the creed; the rule of Church discipline, and the authorized collection of sacred writings. Hence canon of Scripture.

To understand this expression, it is to be remembered that Paul regarded his ministry as specially to the Gentiles, and that he habitually refused to establish himself permanently where any former Christian teacher had preached. The Jewish teachers at Corinth had invaded his sphere as the apostle to the Gentiles, and had also occupied the ground which he had won for himself by his successful labors among the Corinthians, as they did also at Antioch and in Galatia. He says here, therefore, that his boasting of his apostolic labors is not without measure, like that of those Jewish teachers who establish themselves everywhere, but is confined to the sphere appointed for him, of which Corinth, thus far, was the extreme limit. Hence the measure of the rule is the measure defined by the line which God has drawn. The image is that of surveying a district, so as to assign to different persons their different parcels of ground. I see no good reason for Rev. province. The measure is given by God's measuring-line: "Which God hath apportioned to us as a measure;" and his boasting extends only to this limit.

To reach even unto you

Corinth being thus far the extreme limit of the field measured out for him.

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