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2 Corinthians 10:7–8

“Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed.”

Having established true ministry as spiritual warfare in which weapons such as the Word of God and prayer are used to persuade people of the Lord’s truth (2 Cor. 10:1–6), Paul moves in today’s passage to address his critics head-on. Paul was facing persistent criticism in Corinth that he was not a true Apostle or at least that his Apostleship was lacking, and that charge helps us explain exactly what Paul means in today’s passage.

The Apostle refers in 2 Corinthians 10:7 to one who “is Christ’s.” Some commentators believe that Paul has a particular individual in mind, a man who was a particularly vociferous critic of the Apostle. It could also be that Paul is using the one man to represent the entire contingent of false teachers or that he is personifying the group of opponents as an individual person. What is most important in verse 7, however, is identifying what Paul means by “he is Christ’s.” Almost certainly, the Apostle refers not to someone or some people who claim merely to be true Christians but to an individual or a group making a claim to possess the special Apostolic office.

Paul urges the Corinthians to look around them and see that just as his opponents are Apostles, he is an Apostle as well—“just as he is Christ’s, so also are we” (v. 7). Of course, Paul does not actually endorse their claim to be true Apostles; he merely uses their claim as a springboard from which to assert his own Apostolic authority and defend his Apostolic ministry. Granting their claims for the sake of argument gives Paul a place to begin to counter their accusations.

In verse 8, Paul claims that because he is an Apostle, he has real authority even if some in Corinth did not think so or did not think he was exercising it properly. Moreover, he gives us a basic outline of his authority—namely, that it was given to him by the Lord and that its purpose was to build up the church, not destroy it. Indeed, this is the basis for all true authority in the church, for even though the office of Apostle has passed away, Paul tells us elsewhere that Jesus has given the continuing offices in the church such as shepherd and teacher for the purpose of “building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:1–16). Elders, ministers, deacons, teachers, and others who exercise authority in the church must therefore seek to promote the welfare of the whole and not to advance themselves or create their own little kingdoms.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

John Calvin comments, “In lawful [ecclesiastical] authority these two things are required—that it be given by God, and that it be exercised for the welfare of the Church.” The Lord appoints elders in His church, which the church confirms through the laying on of hands, and these officers are to build up the church in faith and love. Let us encourage our church leaders as they fulfill this call and beware of false self-appointed shepherds who seek to destroy the church.

For Further Study
  • Proverbs 29:4
  • Jeremiah 23:1–4
  • 1 Corinthians 14:12
  • 1 Peter 5:1–5

Taking Every Thought Captive

Paul’s Consistency

Keep Reading The Kingdom of God

From the November 2021 Issue
Nov 2021 Issue