Bost (halal, means “to praise”; kauchaomai, “to vaunt onself,” is used in a good and bad sense in the Bible. To praise God: “In God we have made our boast all day long” (Psalm 44:8); to praise oneself, to vaunt (Psalm 10:3). Paul describes what it means to boast in a good way in 2nd Corinthians 7:14, “Forwhatever boasts I made to him about you, I was not put to shame. But just as everything we said to youwas true, so also our boasting before Titus has proved true.” Paul also explains why boasting in the sense of self-righteousness is bad in Romans 2:17,23 and Ephesians 2:9.
2nd Corinthians 10:8, 13, 15, and 17 give the fullest picture of boasting in the New Testament. In today’s post we will look at 2nd Corinthians 10:8, 13, 10:15, 17, 11:30, 12:5-6, 12:9 and conclude by applying what we have learned. Tomorrow we will look at 12:9, Galatians 6:4, 13, 14, 2nd Thessalonians 1:4, James 1:9, 3:14, 4:16, and conclude by applying what we have learned.
2nd Corinthians 10:8, 13, 10:15, & 17
2nd Corinthians 10 falls within the context of 2nd Corinthians 10:1-13:10 which is Paul’s appeal to the rebellious minority in Corinth. This is the third major section of the letter, and Paul directly appeals to those who are still rejecting his gospel and apostolic authority. For in his third visit, Paul will be forced to judge those who have not repented. 2nd Corinthians 10:1-11 is Paul‘s defense of his humility as an apostle. Paul directly responds to those who are criticizing his humble appearance in Corinth (vv.1-6) and his refusal to employ the professional rhetoric of his day in order to impress others.
2nd Corinthians 10:8- Since Paul’s ministry is a fulfillment of Jeremiah’s promise of a new covenant (2nd Corinthians 3:6), the primary purpose of Paul’s authority is for building you up and not for destroying you, whereas Jeremiah’s primary purpose under the old covenant was the opposite (Jer. 1:10; 24:6; 31:27-28; 42:10; 45:4). “Building up” the church is a common Pauline description of new covenant ministry (Rom. 14:19; 15:2, 20; 1 Cor. 3:9-14; 14:3-5; 1 Thess. 5:11). Paul frames the last section of 2nd Corinthians with this theme (2 Cor. 10:8 with 13:10 (12:19).
In 2nd Corinthians 10:12-18 Paul gives his defense of his authority as an Apostle. Paul turns to reestablishing his authority in Corinth by 1) defining the proper criterion for apostolic authority and 2) demonstrating that his ministry, not that of his opponents, actually meets that criterion. Paul does so by comparing his opponents’ practice of commending themselves (v.12) with the basis for his own boasting.
In 2nd Corinthians 10:12 Paul is speaking ironically; through is opponents say he is bold and strong in his letters (vs.1-2; 10), Paul does not dare to join them in their kinds of self-recommendation; they are without understanding because their criterion for boasting (one another) is wrong. The opponents recommend each other by comparing their abilities, spiritual gifts, and experiences, all of which are irrelevant for establishing apostolic authority in a church.
In contrast to his opponents, Paul does not boast beyond limits (beyond the sphere of his apostolic authority, which God himself has established) because his apostolic authority in Corinth (the area of influence God assigned to us) was based on the fact that God has sent Paul to establish the church in Corinth (to reach you) (1 Cor. 4:15; 2 Cor. 3:1-3). In 2nd Corinthians 10:15-16, Paul goes on to explain that Paul’s opponents boast, but they are intruders who create problems in the churches he planted. Paul’s aim is to plant churches in areas where Christ has never been preached (Romans 10:14-17), but these false teachers try to pervert the gospel In places where it has already been established (another’s area).
Paul in 2nd Corinthians 10:17 boasts in the Lord. Paul supports his boast as an apostle (vv.12-16) with his citation of Jer. 9:23-24 (1 Cor. 1:31). Since all human abilities and attainments are gifts from God the only true basis for boasting is to boast in the Lord- meaning in what the Lord provides not in one’s own presumed accomplishments. The Lord commends his people by working in and through their lives (2nd Corinthians 3:1; 4:2; 5:12 ; 6:4; 12:11)
Paul in 2nd Corinthians 11:30 teaches that God triumphs amid human weakness, embodying the principle of Christ’s crucifixion (1 Cor. 1:27; 2 Cor. 10:3; 12:5, 9; 13:4, 9). Paul in 2nd Corinthians 12:5-6 does not boast about his unique experience described in 2nd Corinthians 12:5-6 because he wanted the Corinthians to judge him based on their observations of his ministry, not on his visions.
Paul in 2nd Corinthians 12:9-10 says that God’s grace is sufficient (in the present tense) underscoring the ever-present availability and sufficiency of God’s grace, for Paul and for every believer, regardless of how critical one’s circumstances may be (Rom. 8:31-39). Paul was not allowed to speak about his heavenly revelations (2 cor. 12:4, 6), but he quotes Christ’s declaration (My grace is sufficient) to underscore that his earthly weakness (not his revelations) would be the platform for perfecting and demonstrating the Lord’s power. This is the main point of vv.1-13 and the foundation of Paul’s self-defense throughout 2nd Corinthians.
Boasting, Pride and Humility
To boast in 1st Corinthians 1:12 is by no means a bad thing if the object of one’s boasting is not oneself (1 Cor. 1:29; 4:7; Eph. 2:9) but God (Rom. 5:2; 15:17; 1 Cor. 1:31; 2 Cor. 10:17-18). Paul boasts because he acted with simplicity (open uprightness; 4:1-2), which, given human sinfulness, can be true only if God has changed one’s life. So, too, paul’s godly sincerity explicitly refers to God as its source (2:17; 1 Cor. 5:8). Thus, Paul boasts in his conduct because it came about not by earthly (fleshly) wisdom but by the grace of God- a contrast between living according to thinking and values of a fallen world that is in rebellion against its Creator and the believer living in accordance with the death of Christ (2nd cor. 5:14-17) and the transforming presence of the Holy Spirit (2nd Cor. 3:18).
Paul in 2nd Corinthians 4:2 is not motivated by money (2:17), and because he does not crave human approval (Gal. 1:10), Paul refuses to tamper with God’s word by watering it down or changing it to suit what people want to hear (2 Tim. 4:3). Rather Paul’s open statement of the truth commends him to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God as judge (2 Cor. 2:17; 7:12; 12:19) and shows that he does not proclaim a “secret” or hidden gospel only to a select inner group. Three times in this letter Paul refuses to commend himself by external evidence (3:1; 5:12; 10:18), while three times he does not commend himself by pointing to his own conduct although each time he attributes it to the mercy of God (4:2; 6:4; 12:11). Paul writes according to 2nd Corinthians 5:12 so that the Corinthians will be able to respond to false teachers who do not operate on the basis of new covenant ministry.
Paul in 2nd Corinthians 6:4 says we commend ourselves in everyway. Not only through victories and triumphs but also by the way he endures hardship. Paul gives testimony to the truthfulness of his apostolic ministry. The glory of the Gospel shines forth from a Christian’s life in the way he responds to suffering an opposition.
Paul’s divinely enabled endurance is his general testimony to the power of the Spirit in his life and ministry (3:3-8; 12:12), which is then illustrated by the specific examples that follow (6:4b-10) As a ministry of the new covenant, Paul is a servant of God.
2nd Corinthians 10:15-17, “We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that(AA) as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be(AB) greatly enlarged, 16so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence. 17“Let(AC) the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18For it is(AD) not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one(AE) whom the Lord commends.”
There are several things at we conclude today that we can learn from 2nd Corinthians 10:15-17. Paul teaches in verse 15 that the focus of our ministries ought to be God-centered and others focused. God-centered in that as believers our focus ought to be on the person and work of Christ in us and through us. Others-centered because out of the outflow of one’s walk with God one ought to ministered.
Paul’s God-centeredness informed his serving of others. His focus in verse 15 of 2nd Corinthians is that others “faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged”. There’s a purpose to Paul’s statement here that as the Corinthians’ grow in God and His grace- the influence of the Gospel through Paul will also increase. This is a very importance point and one that I do not want us to miss.
Many people get into ministry to have influence or to influence others. Paul’s concern in ministry was that people grow in God not that his name grow famous. Paul’s motivation in 2nd Corinthians 10:15 was that others grow in faith so that the influence of the Gospel may spread so as verse 16 says, “so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence.” Paul’s motivation was to share the Gospel so that people in the area where he ministered would be grounded in and firmly planted in the good soil of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul leaves little doubt of his intention in verse 17-18, “Let(AC) the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18For it is(AD) not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one(AE) whom the Lord commends.” Whether the Lord gives one influence or not- is ultimately up to the Lord. It has been noted by many godly Pastors- that one ought not to be concerned with the breadth (how large one’s ministry is) but concern themselves with the depth of the ministry. Paul is primarily interested in the depth of the Corinthians walk with God. Paul wants them to be established in the Gospel of Christ.
Are you firmly established in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Do you think ministry is all about influence? Or do you believe that ministry is God-centered and others focused? Where is your focus on yourself or on God? When you are God-focused you will be less concerned with your performance for God and more concerned with God getting His glory and making Him famous in your ministry.
Boast only of God and His glory. Pride is the great enemy of our hearts. Pride calls us to rob God of the glory due unto His name. Boast not of what you have done, but of what God has done in and through you for His glory. Humble yourself before Him. You can humble yourself by daily acknowledging His work in your life of grace in your life. You can humble yourself by daily at night praying and thanking Him for all He has done in and through you. May you be thoroughly grounded in the Gospel so that god may use you for the sake of the Gospel. May you be God-centered, and others focused so that as God uses you- your motivation will be like that of Paul in 2nd Corinthians 10:15-17- that God would get all the acclaim, honor and glory for all He does through you.
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