The Gentle and Meek Warrior (2 Corinthians 10:1-6)
1. An Example (verses 1-2)
Out of his pastoral love and care for this body of believers, Paul urges and appeals to the Corinthians to receive the true gospel and deny false teaching. His appeal to them is based on the example of Christ Jesus. Though Christ is the Son of God who possesses all authority as Creator and upholds all things by the word of His power, He is also the meek and gentle warrior. Too often gentleness and meekness are misunderstood. The terms tend to conjure up pictures of weakness, cowardice, fear, or passivity. But in the Bible, gentleness and meekness are described as power that is controlled and used beneficially. Meekness does not retaliate and is patient when wronged. Gentleness is the ability to correct without harshness, to treat with tenderness and kindness.
Jesus displayed both His meekness and gentleness in His willingness to reach out to the outcast and marginalized, to love sinners and those who are rejected by society. For those who are burdened with the weight of their sins, He offers rest and strength as He yokes Himself up with the weak and upholds them (Matt 11:28).
– Consider the comfort that it brings us to know that Christ is both meek and gentle. What would be different if he were not? How would it affect our relationship with Him? In what areas do you recognize a need in your own life to grow in meekness and gentleness?
2. A Metaphor (verses 3-6)
In these verses, Paul uses a military metaphor to describe the fight of faith. The metaphor is of a military siege that happens in three stages. First, we “destroy” every lofty thought raised against the knowledge of God, every argument that counters the gospel that Paul has proclaimed. This is the first stage of a military siege, surrounding or destroying the city. Second, Paul says that we “take captive” our thoughts. When the city was surrounded or destroyed, those who were inside would be taken captive. Taking captive our thoughts means viewing the world rightly and transforming our lives by the renewing of our mind. Third, Paul says that he is ready to “punish” the false teachers. Those that would not surrender when a city was sieged would be punished. Though Paul’s desire and goal for the church in Corinth is that they would oppose the false gospel themselves and administer discipline where repentance was lacking, if they refused to repent Paul would use his apostolic authority to bring punishment (c.f. Acts 13:8-12).
We too are called upon to engage in this spiritual warfare. We are to do so not through worldly weapons, such as our intellectual ability or power, but through the Word of God, which God uses to bring people to a knowledge and persuasion of the truth in Christ.
– What does it mean that we are in a spiritual war? Why should we not trust in our intellectual ability to convince people of the truth? How can we be sure that God’s Word is a sufficient weapon to overcome spiritual blindness and ignorance?
3. An Analogy (verses 1-6, 10)
When Paul came to Corinth he came with humility, but many misinterpreted his meekness and gentleness for weakness. Therefore, he gives a word of caution saying that if they do not repent, his next coming will not be in meekness and gentleness, but with the intention to punish the wicked among them. This can also serve as a picture of the first and second comings of Christ. At His first coming, He was misunderstood, viewed merely as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. But now that He has finished His work of salvation and ascended to the right hand of God, He is calling all men to turn to Him in repentance and faith. On the other hand, if any person refuses to repent, Christ will return not in meekness and gentleness, but in judgment and wrath to punish all who have refused Him.
– What will be different about Christ’s second coming as compared to His first coming? In light of the nature of His second coming, how should we respond to Him now?