2 Corinthians 10

2 Corinthians 10

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Paul Defends His Ministry

10 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!—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. 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. 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.

Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed. I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present. Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.


2 Corinthians 10 Commentary

by Hank Workman

The tone of Paul changes as he begins to wind down his letter. If he hasn’t been bold before, he holds nothing back in regards to the false teachers in the Corinthian church who are undermining his authority, placement in Christ and calls things out. His direct words begin with the heart of the issue – the tactics of the enemy to destroy the church through thought and perception.

Using military-style wording he speaks of the spiritual warfare that is taking place. It’s a call for them to open their eyes to fact the only Commander in Chief is God not man. They will have to wrestle with their thoughts and inward decisions as they move forward if they are to stand firm.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.”

2 Corinthians 10:3-6

Usually, weapons of war were swords and spears but this was a realization that they needed to be suited up for the spiritual war that surrounded and in this case was winning the battle. Manipulative and deceitful tactics his opponents had were setting the stage for the behaviors that followed. The church was embracing these false teachings and consequently and taking every word to trap the people. As in Ephesians 6 Paul brilliantly pulled back the nature of the spiritual battle, he called the Ephesian church to put on the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel, take up the shield of faith, wear tightly the helmet of salvation and grab the sword of the Spirit. These would and are the only gear and weapons to pull down strongholds.

“Our spiritual weapons are scorned by the world, but feared by demonic powers. When we fight with truth, righteousness, evangelism, faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer, no principality or power can stand against us.”

John Trapp

The stronghold he speaks to is in the context of wrong thoughts, perceptions, and ultimately arguments against the ways and movement of God. When we look at things from our fleshly eyes, our faith becomes stifled, our thinking skewed and it goes completely counter to the movement to faith.

There are many strongholds of thought today. Sadly it is our natural instinct to buy into something that makes sense. These strongholds are what bring division against denominations, competition between the Body of Christ; they are thoughts that set us out in individualism rather than corporate worship and uniting together. They are the thoughts of bullheaded independence and waywardness rather than humility and obedience. Oh the battle fought is high and many don’t seem to recognize their losing ground because they have embraced such thought and behavior. It is nothing more than thinking of the flesh.

Paul’s answer to them and how we too can win this war is the daily taking every thought captive under the obedience of Jesus. For thoughts to be arrested, we must be obedient to Jesus and relinquish the hold of such arguments and wrong thinking that have held us captive. Ironic isn’t it? We’re to take captive the thoughts that have held us in captivity!

As Paul wrote to the church in Rome in chapter 12, we are not to be conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. There is the answer to all this. People who operate in the laurels of their past relationship with Jesus, not meeting with Him daily and letting the Word of God soak into our thought for that day, will lose. We lose. The renewing of our mind in Jesus helps us to see the nature of the battle we’re in and gives us the correct perspective to act and stand as we go forward.

2 Corinthians 10 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

Most likely, Paul was dealing with a false teacher or many false teachers who had infiltrated the Corinthian church and discredited his ministry and teaching. He pivots here in chapter 10 to bring correction to the false teacher(s). The topic of contention was Paul’s so-called two-faced persona. Some of the Corinthians believed that Paul was a poser because he was (in their opinion) meek in person but bold in his letters. They thought Paul was too meek to confront in person and that’s why he was so bold in his letters. We read this in verse 10.

For it is said, “His letters are weighty and powerful, but his physical presence is weak and his public speaking amounts to nothing.”

2 Corinthians 10:10 CSB

The problem facing the Corinthian church was that they didn’t understand servant leadership. They saw a contradiction between his gentleness and his boldness and labeled him a fake. People do this all the time today. Many naturally gravitate toward leaders who are arrogant and boastful, and if we sense even a tiny bit of meekness, that person is not fit to lead. The problem is that Paul was modeling Jesus Christ who was both meek and bold.

The weapons Paul fought with were spiritual by nature, not carnal. He was not concerned with being the most charismatic or popular pastor. His primary concern was building the church and God had given him the authority to do just that.

When we read all of Paul’s letters, it is clear that he refrained from talking about himself unless it was absolutely necessary. When you look at the disobedient justification and sinful questioning that was going on in Corinth, this was one of those times. What is ironic to consider is that the Corinthians were being critical of Paul because they believed he lacked something.

For we don’t dare classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. But in measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves to themselves, they lack understanding.

2 Corinthians 10:12 CSB

“They are not sent of God; they are not inspired by his Spirit; therefore they have no rule to think or act by. They are also full of pride and self-conceit; they look within themselves for accomplishments which their self-love will soon find out; for to it real and fictitious are the same.”

Adam Clarke

By their own statement of complaining and criticizing, the church at Corinth revealed their priorities were not aligned with God. Being without understanding, they were trying to bring themselves up while tearing Paul down. But he would not play their games.

So let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. [18] For it is not the one commending himself who is approved, but the one the Lord commends.

2 Corinthians 10:17-18 CSB

Paul was confident the Lord had called Him. He was secure in who he was and what he was called to do. His identity was firmly planted in Christ.

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