The Corinthian Criticism of St. Paul
2 Corinthians 10:8-10
For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord has given us for edification, and not for your destruction…

is really of moral import, although it has been read in a physical sense. It does not say anything at all about the apostle's physique, or about his eloquence or want of eloquence; it tells us that (according to these critics), when he was actually present at Corinth, he was somehow or other ineffective, and when he spoke there people simply disregarded him. An uncertain tradition no doubt represents Paul as an infirm and meagre person, and it is easy to believe that to Greeks he must sometimes have seemed embarrassed and incoherent in speech to the last degree (what, e.g., could have seemed more formless to a Greek than vers. 12-18?). Nevertheless, it is nothing like this which is in view here. It is simply this — as a man bodily present he could get nothing done; he talked, and nobody listened. It is implied that this criticism is false, and Paul bids any one who makes it consider that what he is in word by letters when be is absent, that he will also be in deed when he is present. The double role of potent pamphleteer and ineffective pastor is not for him. To this kind of criticism every preacher is obnoxious. An epistle is, so to speak, the man's words without the man, and such is human weakness that they are often stronger than the man speaking in bodily presence. The character of the speaker, as it were, discounts all he says, and when he is there and delivers his message in person, the message itself suffers an immense depreciation. This ought not to be, and with a man who cultivates sincerity will not be. He will be as good as his words; his effectiveness will be the same whether he writes or speaks. Nothing ultimately counts in the work of a Christian minister but what he can say and do and get done when in direct contact with living men. In many cases the modern sermon really answers to the epistle as it is referred to in this sarcastic comment; in the pulpit, people say, the minister is impressive and memorable; but in the ordinary intercourse of life, and even in the pastoral relation, where he has to meet people on an equal footing, his power quite disappears. He is an ineffective person, and his words have no weight. When this is true, there is something very far wrong; and though it was not true in the case of Paul, there are cases in which it is. To bring the pastoral up to the level of pulpit work — the care of individual souls and characters to the intensity and earnestness of study and preaching — would be the saving of many a minister and many a congregation.

(J. Denney, B. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:

WEB: For though I should boast somewhat abundantly concerning our authority, (which the Lord gave for building you up, and not for casting you down) I will not be disappointed,

God's Gift of Special Power to Man
Top of Page
Top of Page