“Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s” (2 Corinthians 10:7).
The great fictional detective Sherlock Holmes solved many seemingly impossible cases by seizing upon important details that others failed to observe. Dr. John Watson (Holmes’ friend and investigative associate) once commented upon his ability to see what others did not…
“When I hear you give your reasons,” (Watson) remarked, “the thing always appears to me to be so ridiculously simple that I could easily do it myself, though at each successive instance of your reasoning, I am baffled until you explain your process. And yet I believe that my eyes are as good as yours.”
“Quite so,” (Holmes) answered, lighting a cigarette, and throwing himself down into an armchair. “You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear. For example, you have frequently seen the steps which lead up from the hall to this room.”
“Well, some hundreds of times.”
“Then how many are there?”
“How many? I don’t know.”
“Quite so! You have not observed. And yet you have seen. That is just my point. Now, I know that there are seventeen steps, because I have both seen and observed.” (1)
Much like the bewildered Dr. Watson, the Apostle Paul’s detractors within the Corinthian church “saw but did not observe” in regard to his calling as an apostle. While these critics saw him perform the signs of an apostle, they did not associate those works with the Authority who stood behind them. Thus, Paul’s response in the verse quoted above can be understood in two ways.
First, he might be referencing his apostolic authority as a fact that should have been obvious, as in “Look at what is right in front of your eyes.” Or he may be identifying a tendency within the church to judge strictly by external appearance. If that was the case, then these members of the Corinthian church had disregarded Jesus’ counsel from John 7:24: “Do not judge according to external appearance, but judge with proper judgment.”
Regardless of their motive, Paul’s critics were probably employing a double standard; they apparently claimed authority from Christ while denying Paul’s apostolic authority at the same time. As we’ll see in the next two chapters, Paul will go on to invest a considerable amount of time in debunking that argument in order to establish his credentials as a genuine apostle.
(1) A Scandal In Bohemia http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1661/1661-h/1661-h.htm