By Doug Bell
2 Corinthians 10:
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.”
We are so caught up today with perceptions, first appearances, and what 'other' people think. And I'm afraid, we care more what our fellow man thinks, than what the Lord God of the heavens wants. Too often we are like the Pharisee in Jesus's parable in Luke 18:
11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’
Always comparing ourselves to other people, rather than against God's Character and all of His Commandments! "Be Holy, as I AM Holy," and "Be Perfect as I AM Perfect." But, isn't it 'Impossible?" To be Completely Holy and Completely Perfect in this life? YES!, But that is STILL the Goal. We are not justified by OUR good works, nor are we to be Sanctified by OUR good works! 1Corinthians 1:
30 And because of him, you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
But, this is exactly what the Corinthians were doing with Paul! They were comparing him to those who came after him (vs 12). So here is where Paul begins his "boast" (which we will look at in CH. 11). But for now let's take a minute to look at Paul the Preacher. There is speculation about what the Apostle may have looked like;
"Some people speculated that Paul was a short man with no outstanding features. Probably plain looking. In the book (non-canonical) called the "Acts of Paul and Thecla", it gives some physical description of Paul. In the 7th sentence, it says that Paul was, "a man short in stature, with a bald head (or shaved head), bowed legs, in good condition (or strongly built), eyebrows that met, a fairly large nose (perhaps crooked), and full of grace." It goes on further and says, "At times he seemed human, at other times he looked like an angel." ^1.
As far as Biblical references, we see in our verses above, this time in the CSB,
9 " I don’t want to seem as though I am trying to terrify you with my letters.
10 For it is said, “His letters are weighty and powerful, but his physical presence is weak and his public speaking amounts to nothing.”
It is also speculated that Paul may have had a speech impediment or stuttered. He even admits this in 1 Corinthians 11:6 "Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things." But, this wasn't part of his strategy, See:
1Corinthians 1:17 "For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power."
And as far as 'his physical presence is weak,' others think that Paul may have had bad eyesight. While some speculate He may have had malaria (no biblical data) causing mucus and distorting his sight. There are teachers that say when Jesus stopped Saul on the Damascus Road, the "bright light" that blinded him, may have impaired his vision (Acts 9:3, 8-9; 22:11). And then we also read in Galatians 4:
13 You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first,
14 and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.
15 What then has become of your blessedness? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me." ^2.
Whatever the obstacles the Apostle Paul had, it didn't keep him from performing the work God had called him to do!
6 ¶ "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing."
(2 Timothy 4)