Tuesday, June 21, 2005
The Weapons of Our Warfare
The whole theme of chapter 10 (and beyond) is Paul’s defense of his calling and ministry against people in Corinth who belittled him. These detractors were counting on the “meekness” of Paul in person. They thought he would not stand up to them, which would allow them to get away with distortions and false accusations. The verses in question assert that Paul, while not following a worldly approach to self-defense, will use divinely powerful weapons against his attackers.
The “strongholds” Paul is talking about are the charges of his critics. Their arguments and pretensions are not only against him, but also against the knowledge of God. He intends to take them on with reasoning from the Gospel itself. It is not a matter of comparing one preacher with another and passing human judgments. It is a matter of looking for evidence of God’s call and assignment for each one. Paul anticipates that such reasoning will demolish the negative insinuations they are spreading.
Paul is reluctant to put forward his own credentials, especially in terms of the world’s standards. He prefers to allow the Lord to commend him, through the fruits of Paul’s Gospel ministry. Of course, most of the believers in Corinth are the direct result of his ministry (the “letters of recommendation” he refers to in 3:1-3). The “credentials” he personally boasts about are his sufferings for the sake of the Gospel, because they show that God’s power and not his own ability causes success.
Paul’s plan for his next visit is to demonstrate once and for all that God has called and is using him to transform lives. Then, he hopes, the church will be completely obedient and ready to punish the wicked troublemakers. As long as the church keeps listening to these unwise complaints, the work of the Gospel will be hindered.
The Bible might talk about spiritual weapons against evil spiritual forces, but it isn’t in this chapter. Let’s read with our eyes open.