2 Corinthians 10:15
Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly,
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(15) Not boasting of things without our measure . . .—The words are not merely defensive. He presses home the charge of intrusion. They, not he, were finding ground for their boasts in other men’s labours. The context leads, however, to the conclusion that it was a charge that had been brought against him. They had spoken of him as pushing on from point to point, as with a measureless ambition. Perhaps the fact that he had worked at Antioch, where the gospel had been preached by men of Cyprus and Cyrene (Acts 11:20), at Troas, where it had been preached by St. Luke (see Notes on 2Corinthians 2:12; Acts 16:8), to the Romans whom he found at Corinth, and who, like Aquila and Priscilla, had been already converted (see Notes on Acts 18:2), were thought to give a colour to the charge that he was boasting in other men’s labours.

Having hope, when your faith is increased.—The verb is in the present tense, and should be translated, as your faith grows. The words are spoken in the spirit of one—

“Nil actum reputans si quid superesset agendum”

[“Who thinks nought done while aught remains to do”]—

who seeks for fresh provinces to annex to the territory of his king. The growth of their faith will give him fresh courage, perhaps also fresh resources. But what does he mean by his “hope that we shall be enlarged according to” (or, perhaps, in relation to) “our rule”? The words seem to imply something more than a mere extension of labours, and suggest the probability that in his journey to Jerusalem, with the large and liberal gifts of the Gentile churches, he had an intention, here half-avowed, to endeavour to modify the terms of the concordat referred to in Galatians 2:9, and to get the sanction of the Church of Jerusalem for his mission work at Rome: though there the gospel had been preached by others, and it was, primarily, at least, one of the Churches of the Circumcision. It will be seen that this supposition explains better than any other the apologetic tone of Romans 15:20-29. It was his reluctance even to appear to build on another man’s foundation that had hitherto kept him from them. He does not intend to appear, when he comes, in the character of the founder of this Church, or even as building the superstructure, but only as a friend, seeking mutual help and counsel. Spain is his goal. He takes Rome as a parenthesis. But he is going to Jerusalem, and he hopes that the difficulty which has hitherto hindered him will be removed.

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.Not boasting of things without our measure - There is here probably an allusion to the false teachers at Corinth. They had come after Paul had been there, and had entered into his labors. When he had founded the church; when he had endured trials and persecutions in order to reach Corinth; when he had labored there for a year and a half Acts 18:11, they came and entered the quiet and easy field, formed parties. and claimed the field as their own. Paul says that he had not courage to do that; see note, 2 Corinthians 10:12. That required a species of boldness to which he could lay no claim; and he did not assume honor to himself like that.

That is, of other men's labors - Not intruding into churches which we did not establish, and claiming the right to direct their affairs, and to exclude the founders from all proper honors and all influence, and endeavoring to alienate the affections of Christians from their spiritual father and guide.

But having hope ... - So far from this; so far from a desire to enter into the labors of others and quietly enjoying the avails of their industry; and so far even from a desire to sit down ourselves and enjoy the fruit of our own labors, I desire to penetrate other untrodden regions; to encounter new dangers; to go where the gospel has not been planted, and to rear other churches there. I do not, therefore, make these remarks as if I wished even to dispossess the teachers that have entered into my labors. I make them because I wish to be aided by you in extending the gospel further; and I look to your assistance in order that I may have the means of going into the regions where I have not made known the name of the Redeemer.

When your faith is increased - When you become so strong as not to need my presence and my constant care; and when you shall be able to speed me on my way and to aid me on my journey. He expected to be assisted by them in his efforts to carry the gospel to other countries.

That we shall be enlarged - Margin, "Magnified by you." Bloomfield supposes that this means. "to gain fame and glory by you;" that is, as the teacher may justly by his pupils. So Robinson renders it. "to make great, to praise." But to me the idea seems to be that he wished them to enlarge or magnify him by introducing him to larger fields of action; by giving him a wider sphere of labor. It was not that he wished to be magnified by obtaining a wider reputation, not as a matter of praise or ambition, but he wished to have his work and success greatly enlarged. This he hoped to be enabled to do partly by the aid of the church at Corinth. When they became able to manage their own affairs; when his time was not demanded to superintend them; when their faith became so strong that his presence was not needed; and when they should assist him in his preparations for travel, then he would enter on his wider field of labor. He had no intention of sitting down in ease as the false teachers in Corinth seem disposed to have done.

According to our rule - Greek, "According our canon;" see on 2 Corinthians 10:13. The sense is, according to the rule by which the sphere of his labors had been marked out. His rule was to carry the gospel as far as possible to the pagan world. He regarded the regions lying far beyond Corinth as coming properly within his limits; and he desired to occupy that field.

Abundantly - Greek, Unto abundance. So as to abound; that is, to occupy the field assigned as far as possible.

15. "Not boasting to unmeasured bounds (that is, not exceeding our own bounds by boasting) of (literally, 'in') other men's labors."

when—"As your faith goes on increasing." The cause of his not yet reaching with the Gospel the regions beyond Corinth, was the weakness as yet of their faith. He desired not to leave the Corinthians before the proper time, and yet not to put off preaching to others too long.

enlarged by you—Greek, "in your case." Our success in your case will give us an important step towards further progress beyond you (2Co 10:16).

according to our rule—according to our divinely assigned apportionment of the area or sphere of our work; for "we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure" (2Co 10:14).

abundantly—Greek, "unto exceeding abundance": so as to exceed the limits we have yet reached (2Co 10:16).

So that although we have boasted of you, we have not boasted

of things without our measure; that is, of things that are not, or (as the apostle expounds himself) of things that were not done by him but by other men; for his line did reach unto them, and his labours had been employed and made successful amongst them. And he declares his hope, that when the gospel should have had its full success amongst them, and their

faith should be increased, ( either by the addition of more persons to the church amongst them, or by the perfecting of their faith, and other graces), they, who were apostles and the ministers of the gospel to them, should by it be magnified, or made great; to wit, by their means, who using much navigation, would have opportunities to comment the gospel, and the ministry of it, to other people, amongst whom they should come: wherein yet they should not exceed their rule; for though ordinary ministers be fixed in particular churches and places, yet the apostles’ rule was to go and preach the gospel over the whole world, being tied to no certain people or places.

Not boasting of things without our measure,.... The apostle here asserts what he had done before, 2 Corinthians 10:13 with a view to explain it, as he does, saying,

that is of other men's labours; when they boasted of the Corinthians as their converts and children, whom they had begotten through the Gospel of Christ, they did not boast of other men's labours, as did the false apostles; who when they came to Corinth, found a church already planted by the apostle, and a multitude of believers, of whose conversion and faith he had been an instrument; and yet these men claimed them as their own, and an authority over them, when they were the fruit of the apostle's labours:

but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly; the sense is, that the apostle hoped, for he could not be sure, this lying in the secret will of God, that when the faith of the Corinthians was grown stronger, and more settled and established, and so would not stand in so much need of their care and instruction, they should be enlarged through their means; and that they should not stop here, but that the line, measure, or rule of their ministry, should be drawn to a greater length, and the bounds of it extended and carried abundantly further. The apostle intimates, that the weakness of their faith, and the disorders and divisions that were among them, were a hinderance to the spread of the Gospel; and that if their church state were in a better and a more settled condition, as it would give the apostles more leisure to preach the Gospel elsewhere, so it would serve to recommend it to other places beyond them; which would be an enlargement of the bounds of their ministry, and a means of magnifying of Christ and his Gospel, and of them also.

Not boasting of things {m} without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly,

(m) As though God had divided the whole world among the apostles to be governed.

2 Corinthians 10:15. As οὐκ εἰς τὰ ἄμετρα καυχ. is evidently intended to resume the οὐχὶ εἰς τὰ ἄμετρα καυχ. in 2 Corinthians 10:13, and as 2 Corinthians 10:14 is merely a confirmatory statement occasioned by ἐφικέσθαι ἄχρι κ. ὑμῶν, it is most natural and logically most suitable, with Lachmann, Osiander, Ewald, to place the whole of 2 Corinthians 10:14 in a parenthesis (not the second half of the verse merely, as is done by Griesbach, Scholz, de Wette, Hofmann), so that καυχώμενοι depends on the καυχησόμεθα to be supplied in the second clause of 2 Corinthians 10:13, not on οὐ γὰρὑπερεκτείν. ἑαυτούς (de Wette, Hofmann). To attach it, with Rückert (comp. Tischendorf), to ἐφθάσαμεν is quite unsuitable, because the latter contains an historical remark,—only made, moreover, in passing,—and thus heterogeneous elements would be combine.

ἐν ἀλλοτρίοις κόποις] object of the negatived εἰς τὰ ἄμετρα καυχᾶσθαι. With his opponents it was the case that their unmeasured boasting referred to labours which were done by others, but were boasted of by them as their work.

ἐλπίδα δὲ ἔχοντες] but having doubtless hope, when your faith increases, to become large among you according to our rule abundantly, i.e. but doubtless hoping, with the growth of your faith, to attain among you this, that starting from you we may be able still further abundantly to extend our working according to the measure of our destination. This meaning Paul expresses figuratively, and that with faithful adherence to the figure used in 2 Corinthians 10:13-14. He, namely, who can work far off, is a man of great stature, who without overstretching himself reaches afar; hence μεγαλυνθῆναι.[312] Further: because Paul still thinks of working forth to distances indefinitely remote, he hopes to become large εἰς περισσείαν (comp. Proverbs 21:5). Still he knows that this wide working, on which he cherishes the hope of being able to enter, will be in keeping with the line drawn for him by God—i.e. the spatial limit divinely appointed for him—and thus will be no ὑπερεκτείνειν ἑαυτ.; hence κατὰ τὸν κανόνα ἡμῶν,[313] which Beza ought not to have taken for ἘΝ Τῷ ΚΑΝΌΝΙ ἩΜ. (comp. 2 Corinthians 10:13). Further: the possibility of this wider working will not set in, if the faith of the Corinthians does not grow, namely, intensively, by becoming always purer, firmer, and more living than now, because Paul will not sooner be able to leave Corinth and travel onward; hence αὐξανομ. τῆν πίστεως ὑμῶν,[314] so that thus—and what a wholesome impulse ought this to be to them—it is the Corinthians themselves, among whom he will see himself brought to the point of being able to extend his working further; hence ἐν ὑμῖν[315] μεγαλυνθ.: among you to become large in order to further abundant workin.

εἰς περισσείαν] for Paul knew that he was destined to preach the gospel among all nations (Romans 1:14-15, and see on Romans 15:23; Romans 15:33; Acts 19:21); hence beyond doubt he had already at that time the intention of proceeding by way of Rome to Spain. Thus in μεγαλυνθῆναιεἰς περισσείαν the whole grand feeling of his apostolic destiny finds earnest and true expression. Rückert, on the contrary, sees a touch of irony, as if Paul would say: if the Corinthians would become a church as perfect as he wishes and expects, there will thence accrue a gain also for him; he, too, will then grow with them, and become capable not only of doing in the midst of them what is necessary, but also of doing yet something more, of growing, as it were, beyond the proper stature, etc. But both κατὰ τὸν κανόνα ἡμῶν and εἰς περισσείαν are at variance with the character of irony. If Paul had wished to express himself ironically, he would have written possibly ἐν ὑμῖν μεγαλυνθῆναι ὀλίγον or the like, which would have expressed something different from what he properly meant.

[312] μεγαλ. is by most taken as celebrari, which departs from the figure and hence is at variance with the context (Luke 1:46; Acts 5:13; Acts 10:46; Acts 19:17; Php 1:20). So Flatt, Billroth, and Ewald: “to be exceedingly praised, instead of being bitterly blamed,” to which κατὰ τ. κανόνα ἡμῶν is not suitable. The whole figure demands the explanation to become large (Matthew 23:5; Luke 1:58), and only thus does it stand in its right relation to, and bearing on, αὐξανομ. τ. πιστ. ὑμ. Theodoret seems to have understood μεγαλ. rightly, since he explains it: περαιτέρω πορευθῆναι. Comp. Luther: “proceed further,” which explains the figurative expression no doubt, but does not translate it. Osiander understands under it an actual glorifying of the office,—that its influence, greatness, and glory shall become advanced. Hofmann: that the continuation of the preaching in the far West will make him still greater, whereby he will have still more ground for boasting—a view made impossible by the fact that ἐν ὑμῖν must be joined with μεγαλ. κ.τ.λ. With all such interpretations the bold, concrete figure, which is set forth in μεγαλυνθ., is—in opposition to the connection—abandoned according to a subjective standard of taste, as if it were too strong and harsh. Erasmus in his Annot. (not in the Paraphr.) aptly says: “Significat se sperare futurum ut in dies crescente fide Corinthiorum creseat et ipse et major majorque fiat.”

[313] Rückert, at variance with the context, understands under κανών here the apostle’s rule of not working where others had already wrought. See against this, ver. 13.

[314] Bengel rightly remarks on the present participle: “Paulus Corinthios neque ante tempus omittere voluit, neque alios diutius differre.” Olshausen erroneously thinks that Paul was waiting for the completion of faith among the Corinthians. The apostle rather means the proportionate increase of the faith of the readers, which hitherto had not attained such a degree of development as to make it possible for him to withdraw his working from them and extend the sphere of his activity further. This delicate reference of αὐξανομ. τ. πίστ. ὑμῶν, which appeals to the whole sense of honour in the readers, and according to which Paul makes his further working at a distance depend on their Christian progress, is missed by Hofmann, who explains αὐξανομ. κ.τ.λ. merely in the sense of coincidence in time (while faith grows). This is bound up with his incorrect joining of ἐν ὑμῖν with αὐξανομ. See the following note.

[315] This ἐν ὑμῖν is not, with Luther, Castalio, Beza, Mosheim, Billroth, de Wette, Hofmann, to be joined to αὐξανομ. (whereby either ὑμῶν or ἐν ὑμῖν at any rate, even with the meaning imported into it by Hofmann: “within your own sphere,” would seem very superfluous); nor yet is it to be taken as per vos (Erasmus, Grotius, Flatt), which only impairs the vividness and completeness of the figure, and in substance is already contained in αὐξανομ. τ. πίστ. ὑμ.

2 Corinthians 10:15. οὐκ εἰς τὰ ἄμετρα κ.τ.λ.: not glorying beyond our measure (the argument is resumed from 2 Corinthians 10:13), that is, in other men’s labours. This he steadily avoided (cf. Romans 15:20); even Rome itself was to be visited en route to Spain (Romans 15:24). But his Corinthian opponents were not so scrupulous about intruding into another man’s sphere (1 Corinthians 3:10; 1 Corinthians 4:15).—ἐλπίδα δὲ ἔχ. κ.τ.λ.: but having hope that, as your faith groweth (see Ephesians 2:21; Ephesians 4:15, Colossians 1:10; Colossians 2:19. for intrans. use of αὐξάνειν, and cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 9:10), we shall be magnified in you (cf. Acts 5:13) according to our rule, i.e., our “line,” our apportionment of Apostolic work, unto further abundance, so as, etc.

15. not boasting of things without our measure] The Apostle now repeats what he has before said in 2 Corinthians 10:13, but directs his remarks more pointedly against the false teachers by adding ‘in other men’s labours.’ For they, as Meyer remarks, were adorning themselves with strange feathers as they intruded themselves into other men’s spheres of work. See also for St Paul’s line of conduct Romans 15:20, Galatians 2:9.

when your faith is increased] Two reasons may be assigned for this reservation; (1) that as we have seen (ch. 2 Corinthians 2:12-13), St Paul could not settle himself to any other work while the Corinthian Church was in such an unsatisfactory condition, and (2) that the consistent conduct of one Christian community was an immense help to the first missionaries of the Gospel in founding another. See Titus 2:8; 1 Peter 2:12.

enlarged] The Apostle seems to identify himself with his work as he has before identified himself with the Corinthian Church. See ch. 2 Corinthians 3:2, 2 Corinthians 7:3. He is enlarged when the Church is enlarged by his means.

by you] Literally, in or among you. Some connect these words with ‘when your faith is increased,’ i.e. among yourselves.

abundantly] Literally, unto superabundance.

2 Corinthians 10:15. Οὐκ εἰς, not in relation to) This is the beginning of the second member [See beginning of note 2 Corinthians 10:13], which, so far as the construction is concerned, is connected with the end of the first: comp. notes on Romans 8:1. We will not make an advance into any other man’s province, saying: These are mine.—αὐξανομένης, increasing) The present [as your faith is now increasing. But Engl. V. When your faith is increased]. Paul wished neither to leave the Corinthians before the proper time, nor to put off [preaching to] others too long.—ἐν ὑμῖν, in your case, [by you]) Our altogether solid and complete success in your case will give us an important step towards still farther successes.—μεγαλυνθῆναιεὐαγγελίσασθαι) to be truly enlarged by preaching the Gospel [lit. So as to preach the Gospel]. To boast is in antithesis to both verbs conjointly, but especially to enlarged.—εἰς περισσείαν) abundantly.

Verse 15. - That is, of other men's labours. Not to thrust himself obtrusively into spheres of labour which legitimately belonged to others was a part of St. Paul's scrupulously chivalrous rule (2 Corinthians 3:10; Galatians 2:9; Romans 15:20). It contrasted with the usurping arrogance of these Jerusalem emissaries. When your faith is increased; rather, increases or grows. He delicately implies that their lack of faith prevents the extension of his labours. He could not leave in his rear an unstormed fortress of opposition to the gospel. The spread of the gospel depends on them. We shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly. The Revised Version renders it more clearly, "We shall be magnified in you according to our province unto further abundance." 2 Corinthians 10:15Be enlarged by you - according to our rule abundantly (ἐν ὑμῖν μεγαλυνθῆναι - εἰς περισσείαν)

Paul means that, as the faith of the Corinthians increases, he hopes that his apostolic efficiency will increase, so that Corinth shall become the basis of larger efforts, extending into other regions. The verb μεγαλύνω also means to praise or celebrate, as Luke 1:46; Acts 5:13; Acts 10:46, and is so explained by some interpreters here. But this would be inconsistent with the figure, to which Paul adheres. "He who can work far off is a man of great stature, who, without overstretching himself, reaches afar" (Meyer).

According to our rule

His wider labors will still be regulated by God's measuring-line.

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