Letters, Weighty and Strong
2 Corinthians 10:10
For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.

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.

Parallel Verses
KJV: For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.

WEB: For, "His letters," they say, "are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech is despised."

The Corinthian Criticism of St. Paul
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