For an introduction to this series, click here.
There are some who think this chapter is the beginning of a third letter that came to the Corinthian church before the first part of this book. Paul does mention another letter, but there are several other letters he mentions that are not part of the Biblical canon. As we said before, it doesn't really matter as long as you recognize that these chapters are just as inspired as the rest of the book.
Much of this second section of this book deals with Paul's ministry. Paul defends his apostleship and his ministry in general:
"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. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete." (10:1-6)
This is a very interesting statement. Paul says that he is always bold in confronting sin and false doctrine, but he does not want to be. He says that he wants to just come and teach and not stir up anything. Yet many of his critics were accusing him of doing exactly that. They accused him of being a troublemaker and Paul said he did not want to be stirring things up but he had to when it came to defending the faith.
Paul continues: "For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed. I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. For they say, 'His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.' Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present." (10:8-11)
This gives us a lot of insight into Paul's personality. He apparently was not the striking figure and was not very impressive when he taught personally. A lot of people thought he was pushing people around with his letters but they underestimated him in person. Paul said he tried to be the same way when he wrote and when he personally taught.
"But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another's area of influence. 'Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.' For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends." (10:13-18, ESV)
Apparently another criticism of Paul's ministry by the critics was that he was always bragging about the churches he had started and the places he had been. Paul said he had something to brag about: the fact that the Lord was doing the work and that he just happened to be a part of it. Paul was always looking for new frontiers where the gospel had never been preached, and that meant he was always on the cutting edge. His critics said Paul was seeking glory for himself, but Paul said his aim was to glorify the Lord in whatever he did.