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2 Corinthians 10:5–6

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”

The opponents of the Apostle Paul in Corinth criticized his ministry for a lack of effectiveness. Most likely, they grounded their criticism in Paul’s suffering and the fact that his ministry did not bring about changes in his entire audience as quickly as these critics thought it should. We infer this from Paul’s lengthy defense of his suffering as a sign of his Apostleship and his references to ongoing sin in the Corinthian church (see 2 Cor. 11–12).

Many people in Corinth were starting to believe Paul’s opponents, as we have seen in 10:1–2, so Paul addresses their concerns. Ultimately, we see in verses 3–6, the critics made these charges because they misunderstood the nature of the tools God has ordained for gospel ministry. The Apostle speaks of his work as spiritual warfare, and his tools are weapons fit for it—prayer, faith, the Word of God (see also Eph. 6:10–20). We must also note in verses 3–6 that the kind of warfare that Paul uses as an analogy for ministry is siege warfare. This is not the kind of “shock and awe” warfare that we often see in our day wherein an army moves quickly and uses overwhelming force to accomplish an objective. Siege warfare is a long, drawn-out process. In the ancient world, armies might surround and do battle with a city for years before the city finally fell.

This metaphor of siege warfare helps us see that the effectiveness of ministry cannot be judged immediately. God the Holy Spirit, from our perspective, often seems to move slowly in sanctification. Christian maturity does not happen overnight, which should not surprise us given the nature of our spiritual weapons and the kind of fighting we engage in. For instance, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that using our spiritual weapons, the church is to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God.” Arguments are destroyed only by better, more truthful arguments developed over time and that often persuade only gradually. Matthew Henry comments, “The doctrines of the gospel and discipline of the church are the weapons of this warfare; and these are not carnal: outward force, therefore, is not the method of the gospel, but strong persuasions, by the power of truth and the meekness of wisdom.”

Spiritual truth works through persuasion, not coercion, and persuasion can be a slow, painstaking process. Paul’s opponents misunderstood the Apostle’s effectiveness because they expected quick results, but that is not how the gospel usually works.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Sound doctrine is vital for gospel ministry and spiritual warfare. Charles Hodge writes, “It is the indispensable condition of salvation that our understanding should be brought into captivity, led submissive, as though bound, into the obedience of Christ.” We must learn biblical doctrine because it is the means God uses to save people, and we must understand that doctrine often takes time, from our perspective, to do its full work.


For Further Study
  • Proverbs 25:15
  • Isaiah 43:26
  • Matthew 13:31–33
  • 2 Timothy 4:1–2

Weapons with Divine Power

The Nature of Ecclesiastical Authority

Keep Reading The Kingdom of God

From the November 2021 Issue
Nov 2021 Issue