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2Corinthians 10

Thursday Evening Bible Study

November 13, 2014


Do people see Jesus?  Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Target 3300 words

Paul had spent nearly three years in Ephesus, during which he wrote his first letter to the Corinthians.

Paul’s stay in Ephesus ended abruptly when a riot broke out in the city because of how the Christian revival was affecting the business of those who made idols.

After the riot, Paul headed up north to Macedonia.

The year is AD 56, almost a year after Paul had written his first letter to the Corinthians.

For the last two chapters, Paul has been talking about money, trying to collect funds to help the poor in Jerusalem.  We’re not done with the talk about money…

10:1-6 Spiritual War

: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.

:1 in presence being absent

(2 Corinthians 10:1 NLT) Now I, Paul, appeal to you with the gentleness and kindness of Christ—though I realize you think I am timid in person and bold only when I write from far away.

There were a group of false apostles who were making charges against Paul, and this is one of them.

They said that Paul was not very “bold” or “strong” when he was actually in person.

They were accusing him of being wimpy when actually confronting people face to face, but when he wasn’t around, he appeared to be strong.
Kind of like the Wizard of Oz.
Video:  Wizard of Oz – Behind the curtain

:1 the meekness and gentleness of Christ

This was how Paul was pleading with the Corinthians.

meeknessprautes – mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness

This is more of a passive word describing your reaction to people’s acts towards you.
It is not being effeminate, but the blending of spiritual poise and strength.  It’s the gentleness of strength.
Jesus was “meek”
(Matthew 11:29 NKJV) Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
It’s a fruit that the Spirit produces in us.
(Galatians 5:22–23 NKJV) —22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.
It’s how we ought to be correcting one another.
(Galatians 6:1 NKJV) Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
(1 Peter 3:15 NKJV) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
(2 Timothy 2:24–25 NKJV) —24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,

gentlenessepieikeia – mildness, gentleness, fairness

This describes how a superior will treat an inferior.  It is about the relaxing of strict legal requirements concerning others, but only doing it so there is a real carrying out of the spirit of the law.
Paul used this word when he presented his defense before governor Felix, talking about Felix’ “gentleness”
(Acts 24:4 NKJV) Nevertheless, not to be tedious to you any further, I beg you to hear, by your courtesy, a few words from us.


Responding to criticism

This is all about how Paul is responding to his critics.
He’s not there to tear them apart.
He is responding with meekness, like Jesus.
Jesus said there was a blessing in being meek.
(Matthew 5:5 NKJV) Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
Jesus demonstrated meekness when He was on the cross.

(Luke 23:34 NKJV) Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

I tend to get mad when I face criticism.
Paul responded initially with meekness and gentleness.
In J. Oswald Sanders’ Book, Spiritual Leadership (pg.120), he writes:
Samuel Brengle was a man known for his sense of holiness.  He knew what it was like to be criticized.  Once, instead of rushing to defend himself, he replied:

“From my heart I thank you for your rebuke. I think I deserved it. Will you, my friend, remember me in prayer?”

When another critic attacked his spiritual life, Brengle replied:

“I thank you for your criticism of my life. It set me to self-examination and heart-searching and prayer, which always leads me into a deeper sense of my utter dependence on Jesus for holiness of heart, and into sweeter fellowship with Him.”

What’s your first response when someone corrects 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.

:2 I begdeomai – to want, lack; to desire, long for; to ask, beg

:2 boldtharrheo – to be of good courage, be of good cheer; to be bold

:2 confidencepepoithesis – trust, confidence, reliance

:2 intendlogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over; to reckon inward, count up or weigh the reasons, to deliberate

:2 intend to be boldtolmao – not to dread or shun through fear; to be bold; bear one’s self boldly, deal boldly

Paul uses two different words for “bold”

:2 who thinklogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over; to reckon inward, count up or weigh the reasons, to deliberate

(2 Corinthians 10:2 NLT) Well, I am begging you now so that when I come I won’t have to be bold with those who think we act from human motives.

Those who thought that Paul was just a wimp would see a different Paul, unless they would pay attention to the words he’s saying and change first.

:2 as if we walked according to the flesh

It’s not talking about “fleshly” or “sinful” ways.

The critics were only looking at Paul in human terms. 

:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.

:3 though we walk in the flesh

Paul isn’t talking about his sin nature, but his human body.

:3 we do not war according to the flesh



warstrateuomai – to make a military expedition, to lead soldiers to war or to battle; be a soldier; to fight
Like it or not, we’re in the middle of a war.
Video:  Saving Private Ryan – Omaha Beach.
We think of warfare in terms of physical combat, but some conflicts are not in the physical realm.
(Ephesians 6:10–18 NKJV) —10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

We tend to put a human “face” on our enemies.

We tend to look at certain people and feel they are the “enemy”.

Yet Paul is describing the enemy in terms of spiritual beings, demonic powers.

Some of our enemies are invisible, spiritual entities.

Spiritual enemies require spiritual weapons.

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints

When the enemy is a spiritual ones, we need to use spiritual weapons.

Truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, God’s Word, and prayer are part of our spiritual weaponry.

Yet as we’ll see, some of our enemies are in the mind, our thoughts.

:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,

:4 weaponshoplon – any tool or implement for preparing a thing; arms used in warfare, weapons

This is also the word used to describe a type Greek shield, carried by citizen soldiers known as hoplites.

The main tactic used by the hoplites was to band together with their shields and form a phalanx.

This is how the Spartans were able to eventually defeat Persia at the battle of Marathon (490 BC).

:4 warfarestrateia – an expedition, campaign, military service, warfare; metaph. Paul likens his contest with the difficulties that oppose him in the discharge of his apostolic duties, as warfare

This is the noun form of “war” in vs. 3.

:4 mightydunatos – able, powerful, mighty, strong

:4 pulling down strongholds

pulling downkathairesis – a pulling down, destruction, demolition

strongholdsochuroma – a castle, stronghold, fortress, fastness; anything on which one relies; of the arguments and reasonings by which a disputant endeavours to fortify his opinion and defend it against his opponent

Paul is painting a picture of an army conquering a fortified city and then tearing down the walls of the city.

: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.

:5 casting downkathaireo – to take down; to pull down, demolish

This is the verb form of “pulling down” in vs. 4.

:5 high thinghupsoma – thing elevated, height

(2 Corinthians 10:6 NLT) And after you have become fully obedient, we will punish everyone who remains disobedient.

:5 bringing … into captivityaichmalotizo – to lead away captive; metaph. to capture one’s mind, captivate

From aichme, “spear” a halosis, “capture”.

:5 thoughtnoema – a mental perception, thought

:6 to punishekdikeo – to vindicate one’s right, do one justice; to avenge a thing; to punish a person for a thing

:6 disobedienceparakoe – a hearing amiss; disobedience

:5 bringing every thought into captivity


Battle for the mind

Paul’s weapons were not literal spears or swords. 
They were words and thoughts.
You could make the case that Paul is talking about things like “logic”.
:5 argumentslogismos – a reckoning, computation; a reasoning: such as is hostile to the Christian faith; a judgment, decision
:2 intend … thinklogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over; count up or weigh the reasons, to deliberate

The word is used again in vss. 7, 11 as “consider”.

The atheist likes to claim that they are the smarter folks in the room.  Listen to atheist Richard Dawkins –
Video:  Dawkins and Craig pt.1
William Lane Craig is one of many who provide a logical reply.
Video:  Dawkins and Craig pt.2

My point in showing these clips was not to convince the skeptic, but simply to let you know that there are some deep thinkers who have plenty of “logic” to show that it is actually the smarter thing to believe in God.

Next week Dave Ritner will be leading a class on logic.

It will stretch your brain.

Some of our moral battles start in the mind as well.
Jesus said,

(Matthew 5:27–28 NKJV) —27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

The heart and the mind are intertwined.

James wrote,

(James 1:13–15 NKJV) —13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

Temptation starts with that “thought” that comes into our mind. That’s where the battle begins.

10:7-18 Defining Authority

: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.

:7 outward appearanceprosopon – the face; the appearance one presents by his wealth or property, his rank or low condition; outward circumstances, external condition

:7 let him … considerlogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over; to reckon inward, count up or weigh the reasons, to deliberate; by reckoning up all the reasons, to gather or infer

: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.

:8 authorityexousia – power of choice; the power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege); the power of rule or government (the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed)

:8 edification … destruction

edificationoikodome – (the act of) building, building up; metaph. edifying, edification

destructionkathairesis – a pulling down, destruction, demolition

This is the same word (or form of) used in vs. 4 “pulling down” and vs. 5 “casting down”.
Paul has weapons that can “pull down” spiritual strongholds and can “cast down” arguments against God, but God hasn’t given him authority like this just to destroy people.


Build or destroy

Apologetics can be used as a weapon for the purpose of destroying people.
God would rather that we build them up.
Here, Paul is talking specifically about his authority over the church, given by God.
Peter wrote to those in authority in the church, the elders …
(1 Peter 5:2–3 NKJV) —2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;

Sometimes having a place of authority over other people can go to your head.

You start acting the part of the “lord” of the manor.

Leaders are to be examples, not “lords”.

Video:  Values – Teaching by Example

(Mark 10:42–45 NKJV) —42 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

:9 I seem to terrify you by letters

(2 Corinthians 10:8–9 NLT) —8 I may seem to be boasting too much about the authority given to us by the Lord. But our authority builds you up; it doesn’t tear you down. So I will not be ashamed of using my authority. 9 I’m not trying to frighten you by my letters.

:10 “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.”

:10 they sayphemi – to make known one’s thoughts, to declare; to say

:10 weightybarus – heavy in weight; burdensome; severe, stern; weighty

:10 powerfulischuros – strong, mighty; violent, forcibly uttered, firm, sure

:10 weakasthenes – weak, infirm, feeble

:10 speechlogos - word

:10 contemptibleexoutheneo – to make of no account, despise utterly

(2 Corinthians 10:10 The Message) “His letters are brawny and potent, but in person he’s a weakling and mumbles when he talks.”

:10 bodily presence is weak…speech contemptible

Some of the Corinthians preferred the more eloquent preacher Apollos, but thought that Paul wasn’t so impressive in his speaking abilities.  (1Cor.1:17; 2:1,4; 2Cor.11:6).

It is interesting to note that Paul left different impressions on different people.

He spoke like a god at Lystra (Acts 14:8-12)
He put Eutychus to sleep (Acts 20:9)


Innie or outie

Where does your power or authority come from?
When the prophet Samuel went to Jesse’s house to find the next king over Israel, the first candidate was the oldest son, Eliab.
(1 Samuel 16:6–7 NKJV) —6 So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him!” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Some of us make too much of how a person looks.
If they are tall and have a commanding presence, we think they would be a good leader.
Paul’s physical appearance was unimpressive.
In the second century Acts of Paul and Thecla he is pictured as small, short, bow-legged, with eye-brows knit together, and an aquiline nose.

Paul wasn’t known for being tall, dark, and handsome.

But his words (letters) were powerful.

How do I develop the correct kind of authority?
Pay attention to your heart.  Pay attention to the spiritual disciplines – prayer, reading God’s Word, worship, filling of the Holy Spirit.

: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.

:11 considerlogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over; to reckon inward, count up or weigh the reasons, to deliberate; by reckoning up all the reasons, to gather or infer

This is the fourth time this word has been used.

Twice in vs. 2 (“think, consider”), vs 7 (“consider”), and here.

(2 Corinthians 10:11 NLT) Those people should realize that our actions when we arrive in person will be as forceful as what we say in our letters from far away.

:12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

:12 class ourselvesegkrino – to reckon among, judge among; to judge one worthy of being admitted to a certain class

:12 compare ourselvessugkrino – to joint together fitly, compound, combine; to interpret; to compare

:12 commendsunistao – to place together, to set in the same place, to bring or band together; to set one with another; to put together by way of composition or combination, to teach by combining and comparing

:12 measuringmetreo – to measure, to measure out or off

:12 comparing themselvessugkrino – to joint together fitly, compound, combine; to interpret; to compare

:12 not wisesuniemi – to set or bring together; to put (as it were) the perception with the thing perceived; i.e. to understand: the man of understanding

(2 Corinthians 10:12 NLT) Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!

If you want to measure yourself, don’t use your own standards, use God’s standards.

Some of us are too easy on ourselves.
People say, “I am going to go to heaven because I am a good person”.

According to whose standards?  Not God’s.

Others say, God could never forgive a person like me.

According to whose standards?  Not God’s.

We tend to be either too rough on ourselves, or too easy.
God’s Word is the perfect standard, neither too soft or too tough.

This also says something about our standards of ministry.  We need to be careful to not compare ourselves with other people.

Use God’s standards.  Let Him be the one to commend you (vs.18)

:13 We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us—a sphere which especially includes you.

:13 the spherekanon – a rod or straight piece of rounded wood to which any thing is fastened to keep it straight; a definitely bounded or fixed space within the limits of which one’s power of influence is confined; one’s sphere of activity

:14 For we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ;

:14 extendephikneomai – to come to

:14 overextendinghuperekteino – to extend beyond the prescribed bounds, stretch out beyond measure, stretch out overmuch

:14 we camephthano – to come before, precede, anticipate; to come to, arrive at; to reach, attain to

Paul is not boasting too much to say that his missionary journeys took him as far as Corinth.

Paul was even the first to preach Jesus to the Corinthians.

:15 not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere,

:15 laborskopos – a beating; labor; trouble; intense labor united with trouble and toil

:15 increasedauxano – to cause to grow, augment

:15 enlargedmegaluno – to make great, magnify

:15 greatlyperisseia – abundance, superabundantly, superfluously

:15 spherekanon – a rod or straight piece of rounded wood to which any thing is fastened to keep it straight; a definitely bounded or fixed space within the limits of which one’s power of influence is confined; one’s sphere of activity

:16 to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s sphere of accomplishment.

:16 regions beyondhuperekeina – beyond: the regions lying beyond the country of one’s residence

:16 to boastkauchaomai – to glory (whether with reason or without)

:17 But “he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

(2 Corinthians 10:15–17 NLT) —15 Nor do we boast and claim credit for the work someone else has done. Instead, we hope that your faith will grow so that the boundaries of our work among you will be extended. 16 Then we will be able to go and preach the Good News in other places far beyond you, where no one else is working. Then there will be no question of our boasting about work done in someone else’s territory. 17 As the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”

:17 glories … glory

Paul is quoting from Jeremiah:

(Jeremiah 9:24 NKJV) But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord.

It is very hard to listen to a person who likes telling you all about the things they did for the Lord that day.

If you’re going to boast, boast in what God has done.

:18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.

:18 commendssunistao – to place together, to set in the same place, to bring or band together; to set one with another; to put together by way of composition or combination, to teach by combining and comparing

Same word translated “commend” in vs. 12

:18 approveddokimos – accepted, particularly of coins and money; accepted, pleasing, acceptable

In the ancient world there was no banking system as we know it today, and no paper money. All money was made from metal, heated until liquid, poured into molds and allowed to cool. When the coins were cooled, it was necessary to smooth off the uneven edges. The coins were comparatively soft and of course many people shaved them closely. In one century, more than eighty laws were passed in Athens, to stop the practice of shaving down the coins then in circulation. But some money changers were men of integrity, who would accept no counterfeit money. They were men of honor who put only genuine full weighted money into circulation. Such men were called “dokimos” or “approved”. (Donald Barnhouse)


Ultimate Approval

We are all looking for some sort of approval.
Though it is nice to find approval from people, the ultimate approval is from God.
Writing a good recommendation about yourself doesn’t make you approved before God.
I know that I spend way too much time trying to impress people with things that I know or have done.
Why do I do this?

Because I want people to like me.

Sometimes I do it right after someone else has shared something wonderful that has happened in their life, and I want to show that I’m kind of special too.

Very sad.

Sometimes it’s much, much better to let God take care of the recommendations, instead of always trying to recommend myself.

The praise we want to be aiming for is not the praise of people, but the praise of God.
We want to hear what the faithful servants heard in the parable of the talents.

(Matthew 25:21 NKJV) His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’