Spiritual Warfare, part 1
Sadly, summer is just about gone, and our Summer Sermon Series is done. After a 3-month break, we are now ready to get back into our study of 2 Corinthians. We’ve thus far made our way slowly through the first two major sections of the book, and so now we’ll consider the last part.
Just by way of review, we might remember that
- Chapters 1-7 focus on the relationship Paul has with the church in Corinth. In these chapters, Paul explains what he’s been doing and why he’s been doing it.
- Chapters 8-9 describe an offering Paul is collecting for the poor saints at Jerusalem. The Corinthian church had agreed to participate in this offering, but they needed some encouragement to fulfill what they had promised. Paul warmly appeals to his readers to be generous in their support for this important project.
- In the final part of the letter, Paul defends his ministry and denounces those who opposed him. Some of this material is the most personal writing that we have from Paul in all of Scripture.
- Paul’s tone changes dramatically in this last part of the book. He transitions from a warm-hearted appeal to a strong and vigorous attack of his enemies. In the first two verses, he uses the word “bold” three times. This gives us a hint about what is to come—a bold, vigorous defense of himself against accusations coming from a small group of false teachers who had infiltrated the church.
- The Corinthian church had a number of serious spiritual problems. It was beset by disunity and false doctrine. Some of the members had rebelled against apostolic authority.
- In attacking these problems, Paul saves the worst for the last; his most severe criticism is in the last part of the letter. In this section of the letter, Paul is ready to wage war against his enemies in the church. He will answer their false charges and expose their error and rebellion.
The first part of chapter 10 deals with spiritual warfare. Note the language here: vs. 3 “war,” vs. 4 “weapons of our warfare,” “pulling down strongholds,” “bringing into captivity.” This is military language. There are distinct parallels between what the Roman military did and what Paul was threatening to do. But what kind of warfare is he talking about? A spiritual battle, and he describes it in military terms.
The main verb in this passage seems to be “we war” (.3). The word (στρατευόμεθα) means “to engage in a military campaign, to fight as a soldier.” In verse 4, he describes this struggle as “our warfare.” So Paul is telling us here how he wages spiritual warfare. He’s ready to fight against the false teachers who had infiltrated the church.
Like Paul, we are engaged in a great spiritual struggle. Our situation is not the same as Paul’s, but we are part of the same war. We have the same goals as Paul. We use the same weapons in this spiritual battle. Hopefully, we don’t have to deal with false teachers; but if we did, Paul gives us an example of how to fight them.
This passage tells us some things about how to wage war in the spiritual struggle for the faith against our spiritual enemies.
This rather short passage, vss. 1-6, contains a great deal of information and application, so we’ll break it down into two parts (I have 20+ pages of notes!).
Let’s consider how we wage spiritual warfare.