In Second Corinthians chapter 10 Paul appeals to the Corinthians "by the humility and gentleness
of Christ," to accept his apostolic teaching and to live according to the standards of the Word of God.
Some of the Corinthian leaders have challenged Paul's authority during his three year absence in Ephesus. Paul spent those three years corresponding with the Corinthians by letter and apostolic representatives such as Timothy and Titus. These challengers to Paul's authority have said that Paul was "timid" when face to face with them in Corinth, but then once he got across the Aegean Sea Paul suddenly got "bold" in his letters. Paul, again pleads with them and says:
"I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world." - 2 Corinthians 10:2
Many of the Corinthians had become believers, but had rejected Paul's apostolic doctrine and
had instead opted for a blend of spiritualized Christianity mixed with their Greek philosophy (early Gnosticism). Paul warns them that he is not going to do battle with them like the worldly philosophers or politicians who mix and match words and ideas to unite a group of people in order to gain a following for a particular cause or project. Paul says that his teaching is not negotiable, nor can it be sifted through and picked over for favorite parts that are then mixed with other philosophies. "On the contrary," Paul's apostolic doctrine has:
"divine power to demolish strongholds,...arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ!"
The Corinthians are being warned that they are fighting against the sword of the Word of God. They are in danger of being "demolished" by the "divine power" of the Word of God.
Those sound like threatening, fighting words, Paul? Did he mean to sound so aggressive? Yes, indeed, those are fighting words spoken by Paul to the Corinthian church, so he says, "I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters" (here the letter of Second Corinthians) but Paul warns them again that just because:
"some say, 'His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.' Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present."
So, if they thought his letters seemed threatening and aggressive, Paul says:
"People should realize that what we are in our letters...we will be in our actions when we are present."
So, Paul doesn't retract, apologize or try to explain his "weighty and forceful" letters, and instead, simply says we meant what we said and he plans on backing up his words with his actions!
Paul's hope is that when the Corinthians come in line with the word of God in their doctrine and their actions then:
"our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you."
Strategically, Paul wants Corinth to be a base of operation to reach into the rest of Achaia, but he can't have Corinthian church doctrine corrupted with Greek philosophy and their lifestyles a mere reflection of their culture instead of the transforming power of the Word of God.