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In 2 Cor. 10:6, it is written,

And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. KJV, 1769

καὶ ἐν ἑτοίμῳ ἔχοντες ἐκδικῆσαι πᾶσαν παρακοήν ὅταν πληρωθῇ ὑμῶν ἡ ὑπακοή TR, 1550

Question: What is the meaning of the expression "obedience is fulfilled"? Furthermore, is the apostle Paul imploring his audience to "revenge all disobedience"?

  • I understand this is your first question, so welcome to the forum. This is an excellent question. For the moment I'd just point out that the word translated "fulfilled" has more of the sense of "being made complete". "Complete obedience". I'll look forward to the responses, so thanks for raising this question. – user10231 Apr 27 '16 at 15:48
  • On the second question, since I am not satisfied with any of these answers, I think some of the verses before this help to give better insight into its meaning: "I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ--I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!-- I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh" (2 Corinthians 10:1-3). – Andrew Apr 15 '18 at 2:05
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If you study this in the Greek you will see that the words we, ready, and punish are not there. What it says in the Greek, in context, is "and will have vindication for every act of disobedience once your obedience is complete" So by taking your thoughts captive and conforming to the thought processes of Christ you will have legal justification over your past disobedience.
Refer to Biblehub.com for further study of the words incorrectly translated as ready and punish and the absence of we.
This is very similar to romans 8:13 but about thoughts instead of deeds.

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This verse in the context of a discussion about the Corinthians struggling with false Apostles. He is basically telling the Corinthians that he will take care of the false Apostles, but at the same time they need to tend to themselves as well.

This is explained (in Greek) in the 21st Homily on the Epistle by John Chrysostom (349-407). His commentary, in English translation, reads:

Here he alarmed these [the Corinthians] also, not those [the false Apostles] alone: ‘for,’ says he, ‘we were waiting for you, that when by our exhortations and threatenings we have reformed you, and purged and separated you from their fellowship; then, when those only are left who are incurably diseased, we may visit with punishment, after we see that you have really separated from them.'

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The verse that follows (verse 7) puts verse 6 into perspective, as it speaks of Christ and that we are Christ's. The meaning then is that we are Christ's (meaning we are his) because our obedience is fulfilled. Now to understand the phrase "obedience is fulfilled", we need to have a proper understanding of Christ fulfilling the law. Because the two are tied together, and we are expected to fulfill the law - just as Jesus did. Proof of the idea that we, as believers, are expected to fulfill the law is found in the apocrypha book entitled 2 Esdras. 2 Esdras 2:40 reads: Take thy number, O Sion, and shut up those of thine that are clothed in white, WHICH HAVE FULFILLED THE LAW OF THE LORD. The number of thine children whom thou longest for, is fulfilled.

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  • Hi TrustinJC, can you please explain what you mean by "fulfilling the law" and how that might relate to Paul taking vengeance on the Corinthians "when their obedience is fulfilled"? Thanks. – user10231 Apr 27 '16 at 18:39
  • The revenge portion does not have to do with obedience being fulfilled, but rather with avenging disobedience. Obedience fulfilled is another way of saying fulfilling the law. Fulfilling the law means you keep it. That you obey it in the same way that all righteous people do. This is the meaning of the passage from 2 Esdras. It tells us people (not just Jesus) will fulfill the law. So you fulfill the purpose of the law by keeping it. Another way to think of it is that the law keeps you save and on the narrow difficult path. – TrustinJC Apr 28 '16 at 13:51
  • So what you're saying is that when the Corinthians completely obey the law then Paul will avenge those who don't? In the context, isn't Paul talking about their obedience to him, rather than the law? – user10231 Apr 28 '16 at 14:45
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I think we need to keep Ephesians 6:12 in the back of our minds when we answer this. To my mind the two scriptures are referring to the same idea.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Then 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 is saying that as spiritual beings we should war according to the spirit, not the flesh.

4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

but then he adds a bit And having in a readiness ( "and finally if necessary" is way is the way I read it) he's saying that when we have been obedient in this regard ( once your obedience is fulfilled) - or "as long as you've first done all that" - then we should always be ready to also carry the fight through to putting down disobedience should it come to that.

And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

To me this makes sense because going by the Ephesians scripture we're not dealing primarily with disobedience in either those around us or in ourselves, but rather spiritual wickedness in high places - but once the stronghold is pulled down - or once the strong man has been bound "Mark 3:27" then anything that remains is disobedience; which also needs to be dealt with.

I am not a Greek scholar but I suspect translating ἐκδικέω as revenge might be wrong. Surely it should be more along the lines of punish?

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