2 Corinthians 10:10

10 For they say, "His letters are weighty and strong, but 1his bodily presence is weak, and 2his speech of no account."

2 Corinthians 10:10 Meaning and Commentary

2 Corinthians 10:10

For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful
These words contain the reason why he did not choose to say any more of his authority as an apostle to punish offenders, that he might give no occasion for such a calumny, some among them, or the false apostles, had cast upon him; that his epistles, referring particularly to his former epistle, and that part of it which respected the incestuous person, and his delivery to Satan, were blustering and thundering; were laden with sharp reproofs and severe menaces; were heavy with charges, were filled with great swelling words, with boasts of power and authority, and with threatenings what he would do, when he came among them; whereas when present, as at his first coming to them, he was mild and gentle, even to a degree of meanness and baseness, as they suggested; and so they concluded he would be, should he come again; and therefore his letters were not to be regarded:

but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible:
he made a mean figure, being of a low stature, and having an infirm body: the account the historian F13 gives of him is this, that

``he had a small and contracted body, somewhat crooked and bowed, a pale face, looked old, and had a little head; he had a sharp eye; his eyebrows hung downwards; his nose was beautifully bent, somewhat long; his beard thick and pretty long; and that, as the hair of his head, had a sprinkling of gray hairs:''

hence one in Lucian F14 scoffingly says of him,

``when the bald headed Galilean met me, with his hook nose, who went through the air to the third heaven:''

though the words of this text rather regard his mind and mien than the make of his body; and suggest that he was not a man of that greatness of soul, and largeness of mind, not possessed of those abilities and gifts, and of that freedom of speech, and flow of words, his letters promised; but instead of that, was a man of a mean spirit, very abject and servile, and to be despised; his conduct weak, and carrying no majesty and authority with his presence, his words without weight, his language vulgar, and style neglected; and, upon all accounts, a person worthy of no notice, and not at all to be either feared or regarded.


F13 Nicephorus, l. 2. c. 37.
F14 In Philopatr.

2 Corinthians 10:10 In-Context

8 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.
9 I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters.
10 For they say, "His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account."
11 Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present.
12 Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

Cross References 2

  • 1. 2 Corinthians 11:21; [2 Corinthians 12:7]
  • 2. See 1 Corinthians 1:17
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.