The Meekness and Gentleness of Christ- 2 Corinthians 10:1

As we begin an examination of this chapter, we must first look at the context, which will guide us in our interpretation. In this letter, Paul had faced opposition in the Corinthian church from those who claimed to be apostles as well. They had taught many things in contradiction with the teaching of Paul, and had entered into a personal attack on Paul, referring to him as weak and timid, as not one who should be listened to, but as one who should be disregarded, with them being listened to instead. In this chapter, Paul begins a direct address to the issue of these “super-apostles”, exposing them as the frauds which they were and exhorting the church in Corinth to ignore them and their false teaching. What is of primary interest here is the way in which Paul begins his “fight” against these opponents. He begins here by first of all appealing to the “meekness and gentleness of Christ”. It would at first seem rather contradictory and counter-intuitive to enter a “fight” by adopting the traits of meekness and gentleness, which hardly seem appropriate for battle. But, as Paul will explain in greater detail shortly, believers are part of a new “kingdom”, a new way of looking at and living in the world around them. In all things, our primary example is our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one we are to follow and seek to emulate, and doing so requires that we conduct ourselves in this world as He did, with meekness and gentleness. This is how Paul here conducts himself in dealing with the believers in the church in Corinth as he “wages war” with these false apostles. Now at first blush, meekness and gentleness do not seem like very good traits for one who is at war to adopt, but Paul’s example here is always Christ, and He did wage war against all who opposed Him with meekness and gentleness. As we have already mentioned, Paul is a citizen of a different kingdom, and in this kingdom, in the church of Jesus Christ, leaders cannot lead in the way which leaders in the world do, they cannot lead by manipulation or intimidation. This is how his opponents were attempting to “lead”, and Paul here both explains and models how “leadership” functions within the church of Jesus Christ. It is at this point at which we must examine what Paul means by the “meekness and gentleness of Christ”. The Greek word “meekness” is prautes. The English dictionary defines this primarily as submissiveness, but in its Biblical usage it refers to submissiveness before God, not necessarily before other people. It refers to an acceptance of the circumstances due to a reliance on God, and the subsequent absence of the attempt at manipulation of either the circumstances of life or other people. In “meekness”, Paul would simply present the truth to the church and rely solely upon God for the outcome of this struggle in Corinth. The Greek word “gentleness” is epieikeia. The English dictionary defines this as primarily “tender or mild”, but in its Greek usage, it referred to one who chose to not live strictly by the “letter of the law”, one who chose to show mercy or clemency and not strictly enforce the set laws or rules. In “gentleness”, Paul would not choose to assert his God-given authority as an Apostle, would not turn to the “letter of the law” and command the believers in Corinth to ignore his opposition and listen to him, but would instead “appeal” to them, rather than trying to intimidate them into submission to him. So what we find here is Paul both explaining and modeling for us how “leadership” is to be conducted within the church of Jesus Christ. Just as we do not wage war as the world does, we do not lead as the world does either. Leaders in the church are not to lead as the world does, through intimidation and manipulation, but in meekness and gentleness, through making an appeal rather than issuing an order, trusting God to work through them just as He did through Christ.

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