Paul has something to say in 2 Corinthians 10! It was something he had been building toward the entire letter. It concerned a problem that had been brewing at Corinth for quite some time. Things weren’t as they should have been because there were some people who weren’t as they should have been. They complained, they criticized, and they questioned Paul’s authority. Paul turns to address them beginning in this in the final section of his letter which begins in chapter 10.
He appeals to them “by the humility and gentleness of Christ” (v. 1). As Scott notes, no one could accuse Paul of “weakness” with this appeal because he links it to the Lord and however they might have looked at Paul, no one thought there was anything weak about Jesus! What a lovely appeal this is! In a better world, this would lead to the end of whatever needed resolving because in the name of Christ we’d all be motivated to work out whatever the problem or issue was. But sadly, in the world we live in that’s not always the case, and neither was it in Paul’s time. Some of the Corinthians had said that Paul was bold in his letters but “timid” in person—but if things didn’t change with some of them, they were going to find out how wrong they were (v. 2)!
He would wage war—but not in the way the world did because the weaponry he used was not of this world. That should get our attention. Paul could write, teach, argue and debate with the best of them but that’s not what he relied on. He had weapons that were not of this world. He had revealed truth, prayer, and other forms of divine assistance.
These weapons of divine power were capable of “demolishing strongholds” (v. 3). He has alluded to them earlier in his letter (6:7 – “with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left”) and gives his fullest exposition of them in Ephesians 6:10-18. But we shouldn’t make the mistake of getting caught up trying to identify the exact weaponry he is referring to here. The bigger point to see is that they were weapons of mass destruction. They brought no harm to humans but absolutely obliterated the sinful facades and structures fabricated my man and utilized by demonic powers (1 Corinthians 10:18-22).
When Paul arrived in Corinth—a city not far removed from Athens and its rich philosophical tradition of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, he encountered the speculative wisdom of the world that exalted and magnified man’s understanding. The gospel of Jesus destroyed this and pointed people away from themselves and upward to God (see 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, 2:1-5). Was it the idols and the immorality that went with it? The message of Jesus laid waste to its underpinnings and showed them the holiness that came through Christ (1 Corinthians 8-10). Was it the imperial cult of Rome that declared emperors gods upon their death? Paul brought it nothing by proclamation of the One who was declared the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:3-4).
In all of this Paul was demolishing “arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” and taking “captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ” (v. 5). And it still works today as it brings people out of the darkness of materialism, addiction, worldliness or whatever false structure they have built their life around. And in its place, God brings about new creation in Christ.
I heard someone recently pushing an outdoor public event that was about to take place. This individual wanted a big crowd to be there so a drone could take an overhead shot to give people a view of what things looked like from above. I think that’s exactly what disciples need. We need to see things from God’s point of view! We need to understand we’re part of a kingdom that cannot be shaken. We’re part of tearing down strongholds and structures utilized by the “powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil.” We’re being used by God to build a new creation.
But the alarming fact is that too many of us live lives uninformed of these truths. Instead of having a view from above, we see things in a flat, one-dimensional way. Too often our status quo is to see ourselves as a nice group of nice people doing nice things. A curse on that! Instead of seeing God at work through us in staggering, cosmic ways, we yawn our way through life. And then we wonder why our churches struggle to keep young people. They want nothing to do with our anesthetized existence! Maybe the better question is how we hang on to anyone at all.
There’s nothing compelling about being part of a nice group of nice people doing nice things. There’s nothing in it that reaches out to grab us and make us feel that this is something we must be a part of. Instead, we’ll be a part of as much or as little as we have the time and inclination to, but if anything bigger comes calling, we won’t be there. In short, that’s how Jesus Christ loses out to ballgames, weekends at the lake and a host of other things.
I believe that most people, in their heart of hearts, long to give themselves to something bigger than themselves. They want to experience sacrifice and commitment at deep levels. But they’re not going to do this for just anything—it must be something worthy.
We need to bring them face-to-face with the living, breathing Lord Jesus and His call for us to be involved in demolishing strongholds and building new creation with God. We need to help them see that whether it’s being a good husband or wife, loving your family, working hard on your job or in school or whatever we do, we are called to live at a level that touches the eternal and has cosmic significance. That’s the way it looks from God’s point of view!