Let Him Glory in the Lord
2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us--a sphere which especially includes you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ; 15 not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men's labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, 16 to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's sphere of accomplishment. 17 But "he who glories, let him glory in the Lord." 18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends. (NKJV)
On his third missionary journey, after ministering in Ephesus for two years and three months, the Apostle Paul left for Macedonia in May, A.D. 56. In Macedonia he visited churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea.
Paul was in Macedonia from June to November of A.D. 56. It was there that he wrote the letter of 2nd Corinthians, likely in September and October of A.D. 56.
This letter was written to the church at Corinth, Greece, in response to events happening in the church there. While Paul was in Macedonia Titus came to him from Corinth with news from the church there.
The church in Corinth had been beset by false teachers. These false teachers, Judaizers, were undermining Paul’s teachings and questioning his apostolic authority.
Titus arrived with good news. The church has now rejected the false teachers and returned to the teachings of Paul. However, Paul still has some concern about the issue of his apostolic authority and addresses it again in this letter.
Paul began this letter by defending his apostolic authority. After moving on to other subjects, he now concludes this letter by returning to defend his apostolic authority in the last four chapters.
In this passage, Paul compares his ministry with that of the false teachers, the Judaizers. The Judaizers had a habit of coming from Jerusalem and hijacking the early churches by adding Jewish customs and practices to the Gospel.
In doing so, they would build up their own teaching and tear down the previous teaching. In this case the teaching they were attempting to tear down was the teaching of Paul, the Gospel.
So, Paul begins by stating that “we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves” (v. 12a). He is saying that he is not going to join in with the Judaizer’s boasting of themselves. They were breaking their arms trying to pat themselves on the back.
They did not feel the approval of God, the Holy Spirit, so they felt it necessary to boast of themselves. This feeling alone should have convinced them that they were not teaching the true Gospel.
They were “measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves” (v. 12b). The Judaizers were not comparing themselves to God, but to themselves.
The Judaizers were “not wise” (v. 12c). Wisdom is comparing ourselves to God, and not to men. We do not measure up to God. We fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
Paul and the other apostles working with him “will not boast beyond measure” (v. 13a), They will not boast beyond what God has given them to boast about.
They will only boast “within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us--a sphere which especially includes you” (v. 13b). God appointed Paul to take the Gospel to the gentiles. This would include the Greeks of Corinth.
Paul and his workers will only boast within the limits which God has appointed them and will not be “overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you)” (v. 14a). Paul’s authority did extend over the Corinthian believers, whereas the Judaizers were not appointed authority over them.
After all, Paul was the one who “came with the gospel of Christ” (v. 14b). Paul and his helpers brought the Gospel to the Corinthians and established the church, not the Judaizers. Paul established the church in Corinth on his previous visit, during his second missionary journey.
Paul was “not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men's labors” (v. 15a). He was not boasting of something over which he did not have authority, like the Judaizers. He was not boasting of other men’s labors, like the Judaizers. Instead he was boasting of his own authority and labors under the Lord.
Paul had “hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere” (v. 15b). Paul’s hope was that the Lord would enlarge his scope of influence since Paul had been faithful in the areas that the Lord had already given him.
It was Paul’s hope that he would “preach the gospel in the regions beyond you”, such as Italy and Spain (v. 16a). And, indeed, Paul preached the gospel to Rome in his next letter. So far, Paul had preached the Gospel westward, from Jerusalem to Syria, to Galatia, to Asia Minor, to Macedonia, and to Greece.
Paul would endeavor “not to boast in another man's sphere of accomplishment”, like the Judaizers (v. 16b). Instead he would only boast in what the Lord had given him and enabled him to do.
In conclusion, Paul quotes from the Prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 9:24) when he writes "he who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (v. 17). Those who work for the Lord should give the glory to Him, and not take it upon themselves. After all, the Lord convicts and converts, not us. We are only the instrument He uses.
Therefore, “not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends” (v. 18). Our approval comes from the Lord and not from ourselves. The Lord is who we should be trying to impress, not ourselves or any other man.
Online Bible Commentary