What does 2 Corinthians 10:4 mean?
ESV: For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
NIV: The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
NASB: for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
CSB: since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments
NLT: We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.
KJV: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Verse Commentary:
Opponents to Paul's ministry have, perhaps, challenged his authority as an apostle or maybe even his qualifications to be an apostle. Paul has agreed that he and his co-workers for the gospel are limited by fleshly human bodies that are wasting away (2 Corinthians 4:16), but he wrote in the previous verse that they do not wage war with their physical bodies. The body is involved, of course, but it's not the primary way we battle in the spiritual realm.

The fact that Paul introduces warfare into the conversation signals the seriousness he gives this conflict. Those among the Corinthians challenging his authority are not merely competing, they are disrupting the growth and health of the church. Paul knows this is not a simple contest for power. It is a spiritual battle with eternal consequences. He and his friends take on this battle armed with spiritual weapons, not physical or "fleshly" ones.

These powerful weapons can "destroy strongholds," translated quite literally from the Greek kathairesin ochyrōmatōn. This phrase implies the ability to overcome resistance and break through barriers. The Greek root word ochuroma also referred to arguments used during a debate; this adds a focus to Paul's statement. In other letters, Paul describes prayer and the Word of God as spiritual weapons (Ephesians 6:17–18). These weapons access God's power to destroy concentrated resistance of God's enemies, particularly by demonstrating that they are false.
Verse Context:
Second Corinthians 10:1–18 contains Paul's response to charges against him from critics in Corinth. They claim that though his letters are potent, he is pathetic in person. Paul does not argue either point. However, he issues a stern warning: that he will arrive prepared for boldness in Christ in punishing every disobedience. He describes the conflict with the false apostles as a spiritual war. He and his associates plan to win that battle by capturing the thoughts of the Corinthians again so they will obey Christ. He will not boast to defend himself except in the Lord.
Chapter Summary:
Critics and other opponents in Corinth argue that though Paul's letters are strong and weighty, he is unimpressive in person. In response, Paul warns the Corinthians not to make him show how bold he can be when he arrives. Paul and his partners fight for the truth about God and the gospel. They battle using spiritual weapons that destroy false arguments. He won't trade boasts with the false apostles, but will only boast in the Lord, who approves of him. The Corinthians should know that—they came to Christ as a result of Paul's ministry to them as an apostle.
Chapter Context:
Second Corinthians 10 continues the pattern of Paul's letter, as he deals with one topic after another in an orderly way. After concluding his comments about the contribution to the Christians in Jerusalem, Paul tackles a personal charge against him: that he is too unimpressive in person to be a true apostle of Christ. He insists he will follow through on the strong words in his letters when he comes to see them. He is fighting a spiritual war for the minds of the Corinthians and their obedience to Christ and will not stoop to the blatant self-promotion of the false apostles. This counter of false teachers continue into chapter 11.
Book Summary:
Second Corinthians returns to similar themes as those Paul mentioned in his first letter to this church. Paul is glad to hear that the church in Corinth has heeded his advice. At the same time, it is necessary for Paul to counter criticisms about his personality and legitimacy. Most of this text involves that subject. The fifth chapter, in contrast, contains comforting words which Christians have quoted often in times of hardship. Paul also details his expectations that the church in Corinth will make good on their promise to contribute to the needs of suffering believers in Jerusalem.
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