2 Corinthians 10:11
Such people should consider that what we are in our letters when absent, we will be in our actions when present.
Continuation of His DefenceC. Lipscomb 2 Corinthians 10:8-11
The False and True Method of Estimating MenD. Thomas, D. D.2 Corinthians 10:11-18
The Vital in CharacterD. Thomas, D. D.2 Corinthians 10:11-18
In this passage St. Paul records the impression which, according to his adversaries, was made by his personal presence and by his epistolary writings. Although the reference is to the feeling at Corinth as a result of his First Epistle to the Church in that city, the language applies to the apostle generally as a minister discharging his ministry by the pen. There was nothing commanding in Paul's appearance, and there were in his delivery some drawbacks to the impressiveness of his speech; but with regard to his letters, there was no room for difference of opinion. They were masterpieces, and their effectiveness was undeniable. In what does this effectiveness consist?

I. ST. PAUL'S EPISTLES ABOUND IN VIGOROUS REASONING. It is sufficient to refer to the First Epistle to the Corinthians in order to establish this assertion. On a doctrinal question such as the resurrection of the dead, on a practical question such as that connected with the sacrificial feasts, he proved himself a master of argument. As Christianity is a religion appealing to the intelligence, it has been wisely ordered that in its authoritative documents there should be much reasoning which commends itself to the wisest understanding and the soundest judgment.

II. ST. PAUL'S EPISTLES ABOUND IN MANIFESTATIONS OF THE FINEST FEELING. Far from sentimental, the apostle was yet a man of tender affections, of emotional susceptibilities. Take, for example, the panegyric of charity in his First Epistle to these Corinthians. Take the personal references to his friends and fellow labourers, to be found in most of his letters. Many readers or hearers, who were not capable of appreciating his argumentative power, would feel deeply the appeals to their best and purest sentiments. If we feel thus now, at this distance of time, and when imagination is necessary in order to throw ourselves into the circumstances in which these letters were written and read, how much more must this have been the case when all was fresh and recent!

III. PAUL'S EPISTLES HAVE PROVED THEIR POWER BY THE PRACTICAL RESULTS THEY HAVE PRODUCED. They were not written to be approved and admired, but to convince, to persuade, to induce to prompt and cheerful action in compliance with their counsels. And this result followed these documents when first perused. And every age attests their moral authority, and proves that their weight and power are still undiminished. - T.

Such as we are in word... will we be also in deed.
Here is —

I. A TRAIT OF CHARACTER THAT IS VITAL (ver. 11). The apostle claims for himself thorough and inflexible honesty. His enemies implied that he would not say in their presence what he wrote in his epistles. He denies this. A good man is incarnate honesty, always, everywhere, and with all. A splendid attribute of character this, albeit rare. Truculency and time-serving are, alas! rampant; they are a cancer that is eating up the life of the social body.


1. They had represented Paul as cowardly. With oblique irony he says, "We dare not make ourselves of the number," as if he had said, "Of course we cannot compare ourselves with men of your transcendent courage." Satire is often a serviceable element in conveying truth; it cuts its way into the heart, and makes the nerves of self-conceit quiver,

2. But the point to be noticed is contained in the last clause of the verse, that is their foolish test of self-judgment, viz., the character of others. Nothing can be more unwise than for a man to make the character of another the standard by which to try his own, because —(1) It would lead to a wrong estimate of self. The best of men are imperfect, and conformity to them would leave us far from what we ought to be.(2) It will exert a pernicious influence. It will nurse vanity in the soul. Those who are conspicuously vain have their settled society among those who are inferior to themselves. On the other hand, the presence of the great humbles us.


1. The teachers at Corinth who were calumniating Paul had gone into his "measure" or province of labour; they had gone to the Church at Antioch, which he had founded, and to the Church at Galatia, now they were stirring up strife at Corinth. They did not break up fresh ground. Paul did so everywhere; his commission was to the whole Gentile world; therefore he did not "stretch" himself beyond his province; therefore he did not "boast of things" without his "measure," or of other men's labours.

2. The conduct which the apostle here deprecates is pursued in these times —

(1)In interfering in other men's spheres of labour.

(2)In appropriating other ministers' sermons,


1. Glorying in the Lord (ver. 17). This implies —

(1)Supreme appreciation. We can only glory in that which we value.

(2)Soul-appropriation. As a rule we can only "glory" in that which belongs to us. He who can say, "The Lord is my portion" may well glory.

2. Seeking the approval of the Lord (ver. 18). To please Him is our highest duty and sublimest happiness

(D. Thomas, D. D.)


1. To judge by public report is a wrong method. There was an impression in Corinth that not only was Paul's "bodily presence" contemptible, but that his letters displayed a heroism of which the writer was destitute, and hence he was judged to be a boaster and charlatan. How common it is for people to judge by general report! But a miserably false standard of judgment is this. I have often received impressions concerning a person I have never seen, which a subsequent personal acquaintance has completely dispelled.

2. To judge by personal knowledge is the true method. "Wait, until I come, and you will find that I am true to the character of my letters." A man's letters, even when rightly interpreted, will not give a complete idea of the author. The author is greater than his book, and one hour with him will give a better idea of him than all the productions of his pen.


1. The false method is comparing our own character with the character of others (ver. 19).(1) This is the general tendency of mankind. When we are accused we are prone to say we are not worse than so-and-so. A false standard this, because —

(a)The mass of mankind are corrupt.

(b)The best of men are more or less imperfect.

(c)There is only one perfect character — Jesus Christ.(2) In these words Paul indicates —

(a)That it is a terrible thing thus to judge ourselves. "We dare not (are not bold enough) make ourselves of the number." It is a terrible thing, for it leads to fearful issues.

(b)An unwise thing.

2. The true method is judging ourselves by the will of God (ver. 13). Though the apostle by the expression "rule which God hath distributed" primarily refers to the Divine limits or his apostolic work, as will appear again, the "rule" applies also to his personal character. God's will is the standard or canon by which all characters are to be determined. Conclusion: "Search me, O God, and know my heart," etc.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

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