“Nor do we boast beyond certain limits in the work done by others, but we hope that as your faith continues to grow, our work may be greatly expanded among you according to our limits, so that we may preach the gospel in the regions that lie beyond you, and not boast of work already done in another person’s area” (2 Corinthians 10:15-16 NET).
Paul the Apostle authored the Biblical book of Romans around the same time he wrote this letter to the Corinthian church. In one portion of that letter to the church at Rome, Paul spoke about his future travel plans: “I have strongly desired for many years to come to you whenever I travel to Spain. For I hope to see you when I pass through and to be assisted by you for my journey there, once I have first enjoyed your company for a while” (Romans 15:24 CSB).
Since Corinth represented the outer limit of Paul’s evangelistic work during that time, the opportunity to move beyond the city into other areas (like Spain) must have been very appealing. However, there was at least one problem: Paul was forced to focus his attention upon the spiritual issues that existed within the Corinthian church before he could move forward into other fields of evangelistic work.
Once the church at Corinth was back on a solid spiritual footing, the Corinthians might then participate by assisting Paul in his work. And much like some of Paul’s other traveling companions (like Barnabas, Luke, Silas, Timothy, and several others), perhaps the Corinthian fellowship might eventually produce members who could accompany Paul on his missionary journeys as well. But those things could not take place until the spiritual issues at Corinth were corrected.
This illustrates the cascade effect that may result from poor spiritual choices. You see, Paul was not simply interested in planting churches; he wanted to establish churches that taught and promoted sound doctrine. The problem was that the issues in Corinth served to limit Paul’s ability to move forward into other areas of ministry. That had a negative effect upon those in other areas who might have been receptive to the message of Christ if Paul had not been forced to attend to the situation that existed within the Corinthian church.
So this passage serves to emphasize the need for God’s people to move into spiritual maturity, thus enabling modern-day spiritual leaders to pursue those avenues of ministry that God has opened to them.