Please begin with prayer for an open heart, before you read the passage below. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5– 3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
This is an interesting text---someone told me a while ago that ‘a text without a context is a pretext for a proof-text.’ Basically, we can pick verses out of their Scriptural context to mean what we want them to mean. In studying the context a little, the meaning changed tremendously for me.
Paul had sent multiple letters to the Corinthian believers and scholars estimate there were 4 (2 in Scripture) that Paul sent. The letters he was inspired to write were typically in response to what the believers in Corinth had already written to him and how they were behaving. There were people within the Corinthian church that were opposing Paul, stirring up trouble, and denying His right and authority he was attempting to exercise. V.1 shows some of the tension---Paul is quoting their comments about him in that he was ‘bold’ when far away, but ‘timid’ when in person. They were discrediting Paul through slander, arrogance, and pride, my guess is because Paul’s ministry was a threat to their own authority and power.
The above details add new insights into verses 3-5. To me, it spoke that Paul was not going to respond and fight with the same measures that people were using against him during this tension. He makes his appeal in V.1---‘By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you…’ Christ’s ways were so superior to the ways we typically operate in our broken humanity. He is claiming that their opposition, through arguments and pretension, sets itself up against the knowledge of God. We must take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ! Paul faced tremendous persecution because of his faith, mainly through people that were not followers of Christ. Unfortunately, this time it is from supposed believers within the church that he helped plant.
In my few years on this Earth, my perception is that the American (and global) church is fragmented and disjointed because of arrogance, pride, and self-preservation. Denominations can be a really, really bad thing, or a really, really good thing. When we unite under the Lordship of Jesus, we come under His authority and there is little room for arrogance, pride, or our agendas. We should celebrate the commonalities between denominations that significantly outweigh the petty disputes over practice or minor doctrine and realize we are united in the same mission. (The term minor differences is relative---there are obviously major issues right now relating to sexuality, the nature of Jesus, and salvation) Instead though, we wage war against other denominations and churches, as the world wages war. We must humble ourselves to the ‘knowledge of God’ revealed in the person of Jesus and recorded in His word. We too often take liberties with what feels right to us and twist Scripture to support our proclivities. How dare we think we are authoritative over the word of God!
Christian, as we wage war, let us remember who the war is against and who the war is not against. We are not tasked with fighting Christians within our local body or globally, but are tasked against the forces of evil in the heavenly realms. This is why we come together and pray for the persecuted church as we battle on their behalf. As we fight, let us receive the meekness and gentleness of Christ and set our aim on the proper enemy. We come humbly under His authority and let the knowledge of God guide and direct our thoughts, intentions, and behaviors. As the verse says, Christ’s ways have divine power when we subject ourselves to them.
Have you felt and experienced the infighting that Paul is discussing? If you have been involved in this infighting, have you stepped back to check your motivation and manner of ‘fighting’? What are the limits of agreement with other denominations & where do we draw the line? I would love to hear your journey and how this passage impacted you.