2 Cor. 10 Sermon
A Defense of Paul’s Ministry
2 Corinthians 10:1-6
Intro: In this letter Paul weaves his way through various issues facing the Cor. Church. Throughout the epistle, however, he defends his ministry. This passage is one of them
1. In vs. 1a – Paul entreats (begs) them through meekness and gentleness of Christ. – This is the appropriate way to minister to one a another – as much as possible
2. In the 2nd half of the verse, Paul uses what is most likely a degree sarcasm toward the false apostles in the church who were making these accusation about Paul’s approach – “he’s humble when face to face but bold when he is away.”
a. Implied here is an accusation of hypocrisy in Paul (He is not what he appears to be)
b. But primarily this is their way of substantiating the claim of weakness in Paul’s speech, his bodily appearance and general character
i. As to the first, Paul had already defended his speech - 1 Co 2:1-5 - (1) And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. (2) For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (3) And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, (4) and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, (5) that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
ii. And concerning his bodily appearance: Paul’s words to the Galatians’ openly described his condition in Ga 4:12-16 - (12) Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. (13) You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, (14) and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. (15) What then has become of the blessing you felt? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. (16) Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?
iii. Paul also answered the charge of his general character, 2 Co 12:9-10 - (9) . . .“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
3. Now look at Paul’s following words – (2)
i. He pleads with them to submit properly to his god-given authority that he might not have to show boldness (2a)
ii. Which apparently, was not going to be the case – “I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh (making a show, promoting self, (2b)
4. Paul then engages in the fundamental cause of the false apostles arguments (3-6)
i. In vs 3, He derails their false notions of superiority as super-apostles and their method of operating in the church through the use of the flesh and outward appearances – They don’t understand God’s method
1. Vs. 3 – Paul uses a play on words relating to the preceding words of accusation – “walking according to the flesh” – “For though we walk in the flesh” – we’re in the body that is corruptible but most importantly, though we have within us such remaining corruption as to cause us to engage in unlawful acts toward God, the Lord guides us in the inner
2. Furthermore, when he says “for though we walk in the flesh” – he is reminding them of what he had said to them previously in chapter 4, vs. 7- “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” – It is our frailty that most firmly establishes the source of the gospel’s power and a Christian’s usefulness. – remember again Paul’s words “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
ii. Now he explicitly states the root of rebellion and the ensuing warfare of the saints (4-6)
1. Key word “warfare” (4)
a. What is this warfare we are engaged in? Spiritual warfare – Described by the Apostle Paul in Eph 6:10-12 - (10) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. (11) Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (12) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
b. What are the primary weapons that the enemy utilizes in this warfare? “arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” (5)
c. What weapons must we employ in this warfare? – Spiritual weapons that possess to divine power:
i. Eph 6:13-18 - (13) Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
ii. (14) Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
iii. (15) and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
iv. (16) In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
v. (17) and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
vi. (18) praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
d. What is the objective in this engagement of warfare? It is unsound to engage in warfare without a goal – Destroy and capture!