Evening Bible Study
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
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
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
: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
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.
:1 the meekness and gentleness of Christ
This was how Paul was pleading with the Corinthians.
meekness – prautes – mildness
of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness
It is not being effeminate, but the blending of spiritual poise and
strength. It’s the gentleness of
Jesus was “meek”
(Matthew 11:29 NKJV)
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.
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.
(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,
gentleness – epieikeia – mildness,
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 demonstrated meekness when He was on the cross.
23:34 NKJV) Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what
I tend to get mad when I face criticism.
Paul responded initially with
meekness and gentleness.
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 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.
: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
war – strateuomai – to
make a military expedition, to lead soldiers to war or to battle; be a soldier;
Like it or not, we’re in the middle of a war.
We think of warfare in terms of physical combat, but some conflicts are not
in the physical realm.
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
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.
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
When the enemy is a spiritual ones, we need to use
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 weapons – hoplon – 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 pulling down strongholds
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
:6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is
(2 Corinthians 10:6
NLT) And after you have become fully obedient, we will punish everyone
who remains disobedient.
:5 bringing … into captivity – aichmalotizo
– to lead away captive; metaph. to capture one’s mind, captivate
From aichme, “spear” a halosis, “capture”.
: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 arguments – logismos –
a reckoning, computation; a reasoning: such as is hostile to the Christian
faith; a judgment, decision
:2 intend … think – logizomai –
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
William Lane Craig is one of many who provide a logical reply.
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
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.
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.
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.
: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
:9 lest I seem to terrify you by letters.
:8 edification … destruction
destruction – kathairesis –
a pulling down, destruction, demolition
This is the same word (or form of) used in vs. 4 “pulling down” and vs. 5
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”.
– Teaching by Example
:9 I seem to terrify you by letters
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
:10 “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful,
but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech
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).
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
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
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.
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
People say, “I am going
to go to heaven because I am a good person”.
to whose standards? Not God’s.
Others say, God could never
forgive a person like me.
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.
: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
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,
:16 to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not
to boast in another man’s sphere of accomplishment.
:17 But “he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”
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)
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
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
:18 approved – dokimos – 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)
We are all looking for some sort of approval.
Though it is nice to find approval from people, the ultimate approval is
Writing a good recommendation about yourself doesn’t make you approved
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.
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
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.’