SERIES: 2 Corinthians 10:1-6
In verse 1, Paul begins to address the doubts which the Corinthian believers have allowed to take root in their thinking. His use of the word “myself” – “Now I, Paul, myself” – may signify that he took the pen from his amanuensis (a scribe who would record his dictated letters) to write this portion of the letter himself.
The first verb which appears in our passage is translated “urge” and sets the tone for the entire passage. This article will examine the original Greek from which our English versions are translated, and then I will make some observations about the posture Paul, as a spiritual mentor, takes with those who doubt him.
|WSNT #3870 – παρακαλέω, parakaleo|
|Basic Meaning||to comfort, to beseech, to desire, to pray, to exhort, to entreat|
|Roots||WSNT #3844 – παρα = to the side of, alongside, with
WSNT #2564 – καλέω = to call
|A&G, Page 617||
In 2 Corinthians 10:1, it is primarily the second meaning above which is meant; but the other definitions provide interesting insight I think — especially in the context of Paul’s statement that he urges the Corinthians “by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.”
|Vine’s, Volume I, Pages 119-120||
Literally denotes to call to one’s side, hence, to call to one’s aid. It is used for every kind of calling to a person which is meant to produce a particular effect, hence, with various meanings, such as comfort, exhort, desire, call for. Parakaleo has a stronger force than aiteo (to ask).
|Kittel’s, Volume V, Pages 773-799||
In classical Greek, the sense is never “to call to (someone)” (which would be epikalein) but “to call someone to oneself.”
In 2 Corinthians 10:1, the inclusion of “by the meekness and gentleness of Christ” distinguishes the usage from a mere moral appeal by the reference back to the work of salvation as its presupposition and basis.
|Parallel New Testament||
The actual word used in the text of the Greek New Testament is παρακαλῶ. This is a verb with the following properties: present tense, indicative mood, active voice, 1st person, singular.
Parakaleo is a call to relationship! And Paul’s use of this word highlights the importance of healthy relationships in combatting depression and anxiety.
In a December 16, 2018 article in the New York Post, Karol Marcowicz writes of how the lack of tight-knit communities in society is contributing to increases in the rate of suicide in the United States:
(We) have lost the ability to cope. The power to persevere and go on is an important one to develop. It helps to have people to turn to in times of trouble.
But many Americans are bereft of people to lean on. The demise of tight-knit communities has had a profound effect on us. We’re increasingly living our lives on the Internet, alone amid vast digital crowds. Social media have replaced socializing. We’re all guilty of staring too often at our phones. We curl up at night with the latest Chrome browser.
The loneliness is killing us.
It has been my observation that some who struggle with depression do so at least partially because of too much focus on what others think of them. Paul could have stumbled in this regard – he was being criticized and those he was mentoring were tempted to believe his critics. But when Paul encounters such resistance, instead of distancing himself from those who are criticizing him and instead of giving up on those who are doubting him, he calls his critics and doubters to relationship with himself. He befriends his critics. He practices the teaching of Jesus to love our enemies.
Christian community—serving God and growing in Him alongside one another—is vital for the believer if they are to effectively struggle against depression and anxiety.An ongoing experience of deep Christian community is vital for a believer’s effective struggle against depression and anxiety. #everythoughtcaptive Click To Tweet
The book of 2 Corinthians actually provides us with three examples of how a deep experience of Christian community can be a weapon against depression and anxiety.
- In 2 Corinthians 2:12-13, Paul says that when he came to Troas, he had no rest for his spirit (he suffered from anxiety) because he did not find his brother Titus. So he left Troas to travel to Macedonia.
- In 2 Corinthians 7:5-6, Paul tells the Corinthian believers that in Macedonia, he was depressed and battled anxiety (his flesh had no rest) until Titus joined him.
- 2 Corinthians 7:13b-16 implies that joy—an antidote for depression—is contagious within the Christian community.
When others are criticizing me (or when I simply believe they are criticizing me, whether they actually are or not), do I distance myself from them or do I call them to relationship? When my friends are believing the criticisms others are leveling against me, do I give up on my friendships and further isolate myself or do I call my friends to closer relationship? My choices in this regard can either serve to improve my mental health or cause me to tumble more deeply into depression.
Resources Used for This Article (or additional resources you may find helpful)
- The Word Study New Testament (I label this resource "WSNT" in word study tables)
- The Word Study Concordance (I label this resource "WSNT" in word study tables)
- A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (I label this resource "A&G" in word study tables)
- An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (I label this resource "Vine's" in word study tables)
- Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (I label this resource "Kittel's" in word study tables)
- The Zondervan Parallel New Testament in Greek and English
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