2 Corinthians 10: Defending the Gospel
May 11, 2019
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Is it ever right to defend yourself? Paul apparently thought so. Sometimes Christians can act as if they should be run over by the bus, road kill on the way to someone else’s agenda, all in the name of “self-sacrificial love.” But there is a time to stand up for what you believe in and not let other people push you around. That time is when the gospel is at stake. How does Paul defend himself in order to defend the gospel?
First, he calls out publicly some of the unfair accusations. You can see this happening throughout this chapter, but he begins with it. They apparently were saying that Paul was timid in person but forceful in writing. What a thing to say of the apostle Paul! Who had been braver than he was when facing down stoning and whipping and attacks throughout this ministry. And how they’re saying that Paul is a bit of a wimp! But by calling out the attack Paul implicitly undermines it.
Second, he then challenges the attack on biblical grounds (not worldly grounds). He doesn’t want to be as forceful in person as he could be. But what he means by that is spiritual, not physical or psychological or political. “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” What does he mean by these kinds of spiritual weapons? “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.” In other words, Paul will do battle with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. In these instances, we are then to cite, study, think on, have our minds and our words formed by, the Word of God.
Third, he goes beyond the merely superficial. “You are judging by appearances.” This is not a matter of who looks better, or who has better rhetoric. This is a matter of the power of the gospel, the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Let’s not get stuck in simplistic thinking, in superficial thinking, in materialistic thinking. Let’s take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.
Fourth, he clarifies the reason for his confidence in what God is doing in him. He has been used by the Lord, particularly among the Corinthians. They know this. Some can be too bashful to give testimony to what God is actually doing through their ministries. Paul wants to make it clear that God is at work through him, and that work includes these Corinthians. He wants to remind them of that, so that his defense of himself (and the gospel he preached) is based upon the real work of God that they have seen and experienced.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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