“We are also ready to punish every act of disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete” (2 Corinthians 10:6 NET).
A hammer can be an effective tool, but it may not be the best tool to use in every instance. While a young or inexperienced worker might immediately reach for a hammer to complete a task, a wise craftsman knows it is sometimes best to leave the hammer in the toolbox until he or she has exhausted other options. But even though an experienced professional may begin with other, more gentle methods to achieve a desired result, it doesn’t mean that he or she will not resort to the use of a hammer if it becomes necessary.
In a similar manner, 2 Corinthians 10:6 tells us why Paul the Apostle had not yet disciplined those who had been disobedient within the Corinthian church. You see, it appears that there were many within the congregation were open to acting upon Paul’s counsel. Unlike those who dismissed Paul’s meek demeanor as a sign of weakness, these individuals were receptive to his guidance and were actively working to implement it- and once those members of the Corinthian fellowship had come to full repentance, Paul was ready to discipline those who remained.
One source offers some additional insight on this passage…
“Paul was ‘ready’ to come to Corinth, and to ‘punish all disobedience’ to God’s will and his own apostolic authority. However, he wanted to do that only after the whole church had made a clean break with the rebels in its midst (‘whenever your obedience is complete’). If the church would not stand with him in disciplining his unrepentant opponents, his discipline would not be effective. Unless any church as a whole is willing to support the discipline of its member or members, the discipline that its leaders seek to impose will be ineffective.” (1)
This passage also recalls God’s preferred means of interacting with His people as expressed in Psalm 32…
“The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control'” (Psalm 32:8-9 NLT).
So this passage served as a warning for those who were willing to accept it. To quote from Paul’s earlier letter to the Corinthian church, “God’s kingdom is not just talk, it is power. When I come to visit you, would you prefer that I punish you or show you love and a gentle spirit?” (1 Corinthians 4:20-21 GW).
(1) Constable, Thomas. DD. Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition (10:6) “http://www.planobiblechapel.org/tcon/notes/html/nt/2corinthians/2corinthians.htm” Copyright © 2017 Thomas L. Constable.