1 Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you.
Chapter 10 is a new section of 2 Corinthians–the authentication of Paul’s apostleship. In the last four chapters, he defended his apostolic authority. False teachers tried to undermine his jurisdiction over the Corinthian church.
In the first nine chapters, Paul had met the needs of the Corinthian church as a whole. In the last four chapters, he addressed the concern over Judaist interlopers invading the church with false doctrine. These people wanted to combine legalism with the liberty Christians have by grace. These “super-apostles” attacked both Paul’s authority as an apostle and his person. The upshot of this was that the spiritual dynamics of the church was at stake.
Verses 1-18 set forth Paul’s God-given authority. His authority as an apostle was from God, who equipped him uniquely for his office (2 Co 10:7-11).
The word “now” indicates that here Paul began a new and final section of 2 Corinthians.
I, Paul, myself [emphatic]
Paul changed here from “we,” “us,” and “our” to “I” and “myself.” Previously when he had represented himself in 2 Corinthians, he referred to his team as “we” and such. Now Paul shifted to himself because now the emphasis was on his apostleship. The apostle’s reference to himself with these three terms, “I, Paul, myself,” indicates he was dealing with a serious topic. He used this intense language only in our passage here, in Galatians 5:2, and in 1 Thessalonians 2:18. The challenge to his apostleship was a very grave issue.
am pleading with you
Paul pleaded with the Corinthian church that they consider his authority as an apostle. Some members were thinking of defecting from him and his authority. His opponents had steadily undermined his authority. They attempted to drive a wedge between him and the church.
by the meekness and gentleness of Christ
When Paul confronted his enemies, he did not do it angrily. Instead, he encountered his enemies like Christ did, with “meekness and gentleness.” He wanted to approach the situation at Corinth like Christ did (Mt 11:29). This does not mean that he was passive toward the Corinthians but that his attitude was like his Lord’s.
“Meekness” means that Jesus was not harsh in dealing with others; He had a calm disposition. He dealt with those who wronged Him without personal agitation. He was others oriented and free from malice. Our Lord was grace oriented in dealing with others.
“Gentleness” carries the idea of forbearing and fairness. Some people might construe “gentleness” as weakness. Paul did not spoil for a fight with his enemies. He was reasonable in his approach to confrontation.
Leadership requires stability in conflict.
Paul did not seek the approval of the many but that of His Savior. He determined to be godly in this crisis. The apostle rose above petty politics in the church. He wanted Christlikeness to dominate all his affairs. He did not lose self-control; the Lord controlled his attitudes and actions. No Christian is exempt from conflict and trouble. We can deal with these problems biblically or unbiblically.
Ministry requires characteristics such as slowness to offend, ability to bear reproach, generous estimation of others, and lack of self-interest. These were manifested in the life of Christ.
On the other hand, ministers should be no Uriah Heep, cringing when confronted by others but bold behind their backs. Christ was not like that. He confronted those in the wrong and was merciful to those who were merciful. Paul was ready to punish violators of God’s Word (2 Co 10:6). However, his primary purpose was to build others up, not tear them down (2 Co 10:8). If the situation demands being tough, then it would be necessary.