2 Corinthians 10:1–11 (NKJV)
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. 2 But I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
7 Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s. 8 For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed—9 lest I seem to terrify you by letters. 10 “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” 11 Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present.2 Corinthians 10:1-11
Paul has praised Corinth for their handling of the offending brother earlier. He has told how he boasted of them to other churches in their walk of faith. Now he addresses just one or two people who have complained about Paul, that he was timid (too timid) while in their presence, but bold (too bold) in his letters to them. Paul responds by saying that his choice is to be gentle and meek in their presence. However, if they mean to sow dissension or question Paul’s authority, he is very willing to be strong and bold in their presence as well. He will punish their disobedience just like the good father that he has been to this church in Corinth. He makes sure that they know that his focus is not truly on them as individuals, but rather against the forces of destruction and demonic activity. His weapons are mighty, casting down arguments and rhetoric and pride. Therefore, all enemies will be in captivity, and brought into the obedience of Christ.
Paul then warns them not to judge by outward appearance. Paul’s boasting and his severe critique–in the now lost letter–are right and warranted. Paul’s authority is from the Lord, and he is operating as His messenger. Paul warns them not to look at his appearance as a beaten, worn, even weak man. Inside the heart of that weakly form is a man of God, powerful, full of fire, called to lead, and his presence will be formidable when he comes to Corinth. This warning is issued from a position of spiritual leadership and power, not from a position of physical weakness. Paul is the pastor, loving and kind when possible, but powerful and authoritative when needed. This, again, is a picture of a strong leader who longs to see the church move forward in the power of the Holy Spirit.