Mighty in God
2 Corinthians 10:1 Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ--who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you. 2 But I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. 7 Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ's, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ's, even so we are Christ's. 8 For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed-- 9 lest I seem to terrify you by letters. 10 "For his letters," they say, "are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible." 11 Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present. (NKJV)
On his third missionary journey, after ministering in Ephesus for two years and three months, the Apostle Paul left for Macedonia in May, A.D. 56. In Macedonia he visited churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea.
Paul was in Macedonia from June to November of A.D. 56. It was there that he wrote the letter of 2nd Corinthians, likely in September and October of A.D. 56.
This letter was written to the church at Corinth, Greece, in response to events happening in the church there. While Paul was in Macedonia Titus came to him from Corinth with news from the church there.
The church in Corinth had been beset by false teachers. These false teachers were undermining Paul’s teachings and questioning his apostolic authority.
Titus arrived with good news. The church has now rejected the false teachers and returned to the teachings of Paul. However, Paul still has some concern about the issue of his apostolic authority and addresses it again in this letter.
Paul began this letter by defending his apostolic authority. After moving on to other subjects, he now concludes this letter by returning to defend his apostolic authority in the last four chapters.
In this passage, Paul begins by “pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (v. 1). This is one of the few times that Paul refers to the humanity of Christ. Paul is committed to being Christ like, even to Christ’s behavior on earth.
Christ was meek and gentle, for the most part, during his ministry on earth. Then there were times when the situation called for more boldness, such as when Christ overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple.
Paul states that he, like Christ, is usually meek and gentle, “lowly” with the Corinthian believers, but then he also may be more “bold toward them”, in his letters (v. 1b). He explains that when he is with them in person, he may not need to be bold like he may need to be “bold against some”, a reference to the false teachers and their followers (v. 2a).
The false teachers have accused Paul of walking “according to the flesh”, a reference to his boldness as being wordly and not Christ like (v. 2b). Paul explains that he does “walk in the flesh”, after all he is in the world. But he does “not war according to the flesh”, he does not minister according to the ways of the world (v. 3).
His weapons “are not carnal”, not of the world, but are “mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (v. 4). The “mighty in God” weapons: are faith, prayer and Scripture. Those are his weapons for pulling down strongholds, for spiritual warfare.
Next, Paul identifies these strongholds: “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (vv. 5-6). In other words, when we are walking in obedience to the Lord, we are called to put down these strongholds against the word of God.
Some may appear to be, may present themselves as, being superior in the eyes of Christ, and yet Paul states “that just as he is Christ's, even so we are Christ's” (v. 7). Do not be fooled by appearances. Christ does not play favorites.
Paul writes “if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed” (v. 8). Here Paul is asserting his and the other apostles’ apostolic authority over the false authority of the false teachers.
He is asserting this authority in order to teach them and not to destroy them. He is “not ashamed”, not apologetic, for asserting this authority. He does not want to “terrify” the Corinthian believers with his letters (v. 9).
In conclusion, Paul answers the accusations of the false teachers. They complain that he is bold in his letters but his physical presence is meek (v. 10). They are more concerned about appearances than God’s power.
Paul’s answer is to not confuse his physical appearance with his determination. He is consistent. His words will always match his deeds (v. 11).
This is a reminder to all of us not to be confused by appearances. The men used greatest by God were usually not physically impressive. Moses had a fear of public speaking. David was too short. And Paul was meek.
Their power was not their own, but God’s. They were “mighty in God”, with weapons of faith, prayer and Scripture.
Online Bible Commentary