STUDY II Corinthians
10:1-11 (click here for
By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you-I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face with you, but "bold" when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 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. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
You are looking only on the surface of things. If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as he. For even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than pulling you down, I will not be ashamed of it. I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. For some say, "His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing." Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present. (NIV)
Paul again changes focus in his letter. He follows his detailed exhortation regarding giving with a generous heart with a renewed defense of his ministry. While the tone of many of the early passages in this letter suggest that many Corinthians have returned to loyalty to Paul and again believe in his integrity and his God-appointed role in their lives, there are still those who doubt him. They find the seduction of the false teachers' accusations of Paul to be more titillating and interesting that the truth of Paul's constancy and dedication to Christ. They have believed his detractors suggestions that he is bold and forceful when he's not with them, but when he's with them he has no authority or power. In short, they accuse him of having no apostolic authority over them. In this passage Paul defends his God-given authority and his legitimate boasting of the Corinthians and of his relationship with them.
Accused of Hypocrisy and Unbelief
1. Since Paul's accusers were saying he was weak and powerless in person, why did he appeal to them "by the meekness and gentleness of Christ"? (see Matthew 11:28-30; Jeremiah 6:16; Psalm 116:7)
2. While Paul clearly preferred dealing with people through love and persuasion, how bold is he suggesting he may be if necessary? (see 1 Corinthians 4:21)
3. Paul says that some people think he lives "by the standards of this world." Of what are these people really accusing Paul? (see 1 Peter 1:14; Romans 12:1-3; 1 Corinthians 1:20; 1 John 2:15)
Paul now states his refusal to defend himself in the way the world defends itself.
4. How did Paul earlier in this letter refer to the weapons with which he fights? (see 2 Corinthians 6:7)
5. What exactly is the "divine power" which is the force behind Paul's weapons, and how does is "look" in real life? (see 1 Corinthians 2:4-5; 2 Corinthians 4:7-10; 6:4-10)
6. What are the "strongholds" which Paul's weapons of divine power will demolish? (see v. 5; Romans 1:18-23; 1 Corinthians 2:13-14; Colossians 2:9-10; 13-15)
7. How does God equip Paul (and all his people) to demolish strongholds? (see v. 8; Ephesians 6:10-18; Jeremiah 1:10; 23:28-29; 2 Corinthians 13:10)
8. Paul is asserting to believers that he is demolishing strongholds. What sorts of strongholds can occur among the body of believers and deceive them? (see Isaiah 2:11-12; 5:15-17; Nehemiah 9:29-31; 1 Corinthians 1:19-21; 2:6, 8; 3:18-23; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; Galatians 3:1-5; 4:8-11, 15-20; 5:26; 6:1-5; Romans 12:16; Philippians 2:3; 1 Peter 5:5-9; 2 Peter 2:1-3, 9-11)
9. Given the context of this letter so far, what is the nature of the complete obedience to which Paul is urging the Corinthians?
Paul continues by directly addressing the skewed understanding of Paul which the Corinthians have accepted from the false teachers.
10. What is Paul asking the Corinthians to do when he says, "You are looking only on the surface of things"? (see also John 7:24; 2 Corinthians 5:12; Isaiah 11:3-4; 1 Samuel 16:7)
11. Paul is calling the Corinthians to exercise spiritual discernment in their judgment of him and of the false teachers promulgating false rumors about him. Why should the Corinthians, who are doubting his integrity, believe him? (see 1 Corinthians 1:11-17; 14:37-38; 2 Corinthians 11:19-33; 1:12-14; 3:3-6; 4:2)
12. What about Paul's teaching and preaching caused people to say he was unimpressive in person? (see v.1; 1 Corinthians 2:3-5; 4:10; 9:22; 2 Corinthians 12:5, 9-10; 13:9)
13. Why does the power of God, which motivated and enabled Paul's ministry, look weak and unimpressive to those who work against him? (see 1 Corinthians 1:19-31-2:1-3)
14. How were the Corinthians able to know that Paul's message was true as opposed to the false teachers' messages? (See verses 12-18; 1 Corinthians 2:14-16; 2 Corinthians 3:2-3)
15. How do you react when people criticize you falsely? Do you defend yourself and expose the truth?
16. In what ways or circumstances do you have trouble making "right judgments" or being spiritually discerning?
17. Describe a time when God "fought a battle" for you without your intervening on your own behalf.
18. What is the most difficult relational problem you face since submitting to Jesus and being born again?
19. What do you most fear would happen if you were to give up your "right" to defend and protect yourself in the face of slander and criticism?
20. What stands in your way of making accurate judgments-or being spiritually discerning-about situations and about people who claim to come in the name of Christ?
21. In what area of your life do you need "divine weapons"? What do you fear losing if you were to give up your rights in this area and trust God to deal with the situation?
22. As God to show you what you prize in your life that you need to surrender to him. Ask him to be your identity and to help you to trust him enough to open to him the things you most value about yourself and release them to him. Ask him to help you to let his reputation by yours and to make you willing to take the arrows for him. Ask him to give you his discernment and wisdom. Ask him to be your strength and to fight his battles in your life. Ask him to protect you in his love and to be content in him even when your life is full of chaos and loss. Ask him to supply your needs and to trust him for your peace and fulfillment.
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CA USA. All rights reserved. Posted September 7, 2002.