The Vital in Character
2 Corinthians 10:11-18
Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent…

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.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present.

WEB: Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such are we also in deed when we are present.

The False and True Method of Estimating Men
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