2 Corinthians 10:13-18

In 2 Corinthians 10:13-18 Paul teaches us that God assigns us to certain areas of influence and ministry. “But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you.” Paul’s authority in the church was not unlimited. God had granted him a sphere of authority, and that sphere included the Corinthian Christians, especially since he had founded that church. But he wasn’t going to go outside the area he knew God had ordained as his responsibility. It is important for the person in authority to not exercise that authority outside the sphere, and it is important for the person under authority to recognize the sphere of authority they are under.

Paul is clear that what God originates, He will orchestrate. He doesn’t call the gifted, He gifts the called. Paul knows that he is doing ministry under the power and authority of God. “For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. We were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ.” Paul and his team were there by God’s authority with the purpose of reaching the Corinthians. They brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to the area and were the first to minister to them founding a church to make sure the ministry would continue. But Paul knows it was by God’s grace and power that they were successful.

Paul is pleased with the work that had been done in Corinth. But he’s looking beyond the success they had here. “We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence.” As the Corinthian Christians grew in maturity and in outreach, their church would grow and plant many other churches. This would, by extension, enlarge Paul’s sphere of authority. Paul was looking to take the gospel further because of the Corinthian church.

Paul uses a quotation from Jeremiah 9:24 and rebukes the Corinthian Christians who found their glory either in Paul or by being against Paul. He sweeps all that away, showing we should not take glory in ourselves, in another, or against another – we should only glory in the Lord. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” It doesn’t matter how you testify about your own accomplishments. It is what God says about us that matters and will endure. We have to live for an audience of One. Nothing else matters. It is only what God has to say that will stand the test of eternity!

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