2 CORINTHIANS 10 – COMMENTARY
vv.1-2 “After pleading for the Corinthians to renew their zeal for the collection for the saints of Jerusalem, Paul takes up again his own cause and the issue of his supposed lack of boldness when he is at close quarters with the Corinthians. He makes clear that he is not spoiling for a fight. He does not want to have to be hard on them when he next returns to Corinth, but he does want to remove all doubts about his supposed shortage of courage in face-to-face confrontations. He is fully prepared to confront them in person. Paul launches this appeal to cut off any possible support for the meddling false apostles so that his upcoming visit will not be another painful one. His entreaty in vv. 1–2 introduces two key ideas that he will address: (1) the mistaken opinion of some that he wavers between boldness in his letters and timidity in person, and (2) his own conviction that his style of ministry is modeled after Christ.”
vv.3-6 “The opponents think that Paul is ‘humble,’ but he will not cower and grovel before his detractors. He employs a series of martial metaphors in 10:3-6 to reinforce this point. He wages war (10:3); he has weapons of warfare to destroy strongholds (10:4); he tears down raised obstacles (10:5); he takes captives (10:6); and he stands on military alert, ready to punish the rebels (10:6). […] ‘To wage war according to the flesh’ (NIV, ‘to wage war as the world does’) means that one relies on flimsy human resources that are void of any divine power and that one is likely to resort to shameful, underhanded means to gain the desired victory. Paul’s methods are not fleshly methods. He does not rely on cunning or deception to insure that he will win. His power is God’s power, which means that he fights according to God’s rules of engagement. He has an arsenal of powerful, divine weapons at his disposal. […]
“Paul therefore has every intention of taking captive every thought for Christ. The word translated ‘thought’ (noema) is rendered elsewhere as ‘mind’ and ‘design.’ It is connected in this letter to the activities of Satan, either as part of Satan’s designs to outwit us (2:11), or as the object of Satan’s assault. In 3:14 the minds of the Israelites were hardened, necessitating Moses’ veil. In 4:4 Paul says that the minds of unbelievers have been blinded by the God of this world to keep them from seeing the light of gospel of the glory of Christ. In 11:3 he candidly says that Satan has ensnared the Corinthians ‘thoughts’ in the same way he deceived Eve. Satan holds their minds hostage, and Paul is prepared to fight a pitched battle to liberate them.”
vv.7-18 “Paul continues to answer his critics; and we are faced with the same problem that we are hearing only one side of the argument and can only deduce what the criticisms were from Paul’s reply to them.
“(i) It seems clear that at least some of Paul’s opponents asserted that he did not belong to Christ in the same way as they did. Perhaps they were still casting up at him the fact that once he had been the arch-persecutor of the Church. Perhaps they claimed special knowledge. Perhaps they claimed a special holiness. In any event they looked down on Paul and glorified themselves and their own relationship to Christ.
“Any religion which makes a man look down upon his fellow men and think himself better than they, is not true religion. […] There can be no finer definition of the Church than a fellowship of forgiven sinners. When a man realizes that it is to such a fellowship he belongs there is no longer any room for pride. The trouble with the arrogant Christian is that he feels rather that Christ belongs to him than that he belongs to Christ.”
Garland, D. E. (2001, c1999). Vol. 29: 2 Corinthians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (425). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
Garland, D. E. (2001, c1999). Vol. 29: 2 Corinthians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (433). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
The letters to the Corinthians. 2000, c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. (2 Co 11:1). Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.
2 Corinthians 10:1-6 (ESV)
1 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! — 2 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. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
Reflection & Application
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
- Reflect on the glory and privilege of serving God in the spiritual battle Apostle Paul describes in vv. 3-5. To what extent has Christian history demonstrated the divine power of God’s “weapons” to demolish strongholds, arguments and lofty opinion “raised against the knowledge of God”?
- What are the “weapons” available to every Christian today?
- What steps can I take to better utilize these “weapons” to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” in my life?