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2 Corinthians 10:3–4

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”

Once more in Paul’s Corinthian correspondence, Paul must deal with those who attack his Apostolic ministry (see, e.g., 1 Cor. 9). The charge at hand in 2 Corinthians 10 is that Paul is two-faced: timid when present in Corinth but bold when absent (see vv. 1–2). However, we must note that the accusations against the Apostle are more complex than just that he acted in very different ways depending on the context. Given what Paul says in today’s passage as well as in 2 Corinthians 11:5 and 12:11, it seems that accompanying this accusation of two-facedness was a charge that Paul did not conduct his ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. Apparently, Paul’s opponents saw themselves as “super-apostles,” for they did not suffer in the way that Paul did, and this evidenced to them the lack of God’s empowerment of Paul’s ministry. Furthermore, it seems that Paul’s critics lambasted his work for a lack of effectiveness, connecting that to his lack of what they considered an appropriate boldness and to the absence of the Holy Spirit. His suffering and perhaps even the ongoing problems at Corinth led them to conclude that Paul’s ministry lacked divine approval (see 11:16–12:21).

Paul counters these charges in today’s passage by likening his ministry to warfare and identifying his weapons as spiritual. Despite walking “in the flesh”—in the created realm—Paul does not wage war according to the flesh with weapons from the created order but with weapons of “divine power to destroy strongholds.” But what are these weapons? Other passages such as Ephesians 6:10–20 help us here. From that text, we see that the spiritual weapons of the Apostle—and by extension, all true Christians—are the Word of God (particularly the gospel), faith, and prayer. This is confirmed in 2 Corinthians 10:5, for what can destroy arguments and opinions but the truth of God’s Word? By believing this Word we take all thoughts captive to God, and through prayer we ask the Lord to bless the ministry of the Word to transform people through the renewal of their minds (see Rom. 12:1–2).

These weapons, because of their divine power, can “destroy strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:4). This destruction may not seem always to occur in the short term, but in the long term, God and His Word always win. John Calvin makes this application: “There is no reason, therefore, why a servant of Christ should dread anything, however formidable, that may stand up in opposition to his doctrine.”

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

From an earthly perspective, prayer, faith, and the Word of God may not seem like the strongest of weapons. Yet, there are no weapons more powerful than these. These are the weapons that God uses to put down error and to bring dead souls to life as the Holy Spirit accompanies their use. These are the weapons that we must use in every generation as we seek to be faithful servants of God.

For Further Study
  • Psalm 68:11–14
  • Isaiah 55:10–11
  • Luke 17:11–19
  • Romans 1:16–17

Trust to Obey

Taking Every Thought Captive

Keep Reading The Kingdom of God

From the November 2021 Issue
Nov 2021 Issue