Paul Toseland patoseland1 at
Tue Aug 1 06:11:08 EDT 2000

Mark Wilson wrote:

> >2 Cor. 1:24
> >Can someone help me understand this idea?
> >What is the sense or meaning of “ruling over someone’s faith?”
> >I can understand ruling over someone, but ruling over someone’s faith seems
> >odd.
> I think I can no better than quote from A. E. Harvey*,

Paul certainly did have authority - and precisely how that authority was to be
exercised in the context of a relationship between Christians is a question that
propels the argument again and again in 2 Corinthians.  But one thing that it
was not was that of a Lord (‘KURIOS’) over what they believed (their faith) ...
He had made no attempt to use authority to correct belief.  The question, as so
often in Paul's correspondence, was rather how to act in a particular situation in
a way that would be consistent with that belief.  It was here that he claimed

> .

The situational context of 2 Corinthians is hotly disputed, as is its literary
unity. My own view is, very briefly, as follows.:

Paul canceled a planned visit to Corinth in order to 'spare' the Corinthians
(1:23). He clearly believed that a visit at that time would have resulted in a
painful confrontation (2:1-2). Though he was prepared to use his apostolic
authority to support a fundamentally sound church in its struggle for holiness,
'to build you up, not to tear you down' (10:8; 13:10), he was not prepared to
use his power 'wholesale', to bring to heel a church which, as a result of false
teaching, was in a state of open rebellion. Some rich and powerful members
of the church had adopted a form of teaching which, they believed, justified them
in disregarding Paul's moral teaching. They had received perfect wisdom, and so
could make up their own minds regarding moral issues such as sex and idolatry.
They had hired their own 'apostles', sophists who were more than happy to
preach with great rhetorical power precisely what they wanted to hear. Paul
wanted to win the battle for their hearts and minds by persuasion, not force; only
then would he come to Corinth, and then, with the church restored to gospel
obedience, he would be prepared to deal severely with any remaining delinquents
(cf. 10:6).

Hope this helps.

*Harvey, A. E., 1996, 'Renewal Through Suffering: A Study of 2 Corinthians', p 43

> Edinburgh: T&T Clark

Paul Toseland (PhD Bristol)
Post-doctoral student

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