Join us as we study through 2 Corinthians verse by verse. Our discussion questions, teaching points, and applications can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.

2 Corinthians 10:1-6 Inductive Bible Study Guide With Questions

Outline:

I. Paul’s communication with the Corinthians (1-2)
II. Waging war according to the spirit (3-6)

I. Paul’s communication with the Corinthians (1-2)

Discussion Questions

  • How was Christ gentle and meek?
  • How was the meekness of Jesus different from most powerful people?
  • What did Paul mean that he was humble when present and bold when absent?
  • Is there any lesson about communication we can learn from this?
  • What response was Paul hoping for among the Corinthians?
  • Why might he need to show boldness to the Corinthians the next time he saw them?

Cross-References

Ephesians 3:12 – In whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Acts 4:13 – Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:7 – For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Teaching Points

1. “I, Paul, entreat you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” – Paul models for us what appropriate Christian encouragement should look like. He has the authority to rebuke or demand, but much of the time he petitions and entreats.

This reveals his heart toward them. Paul cared for them. He was earnest and sincere in his desire to see them grow. It was that sincerity that guided his care for them. Paul invested much time in the Corinthians. He visited. He wrote letters. He prayed for them.

If he did not genuinely care for their spiritual well-being, he would not have persevered in any of these things.

Application: What attitude should we have toward other believers? Like Paul, we should sincerely entreat them to put God first and grow in their Christian faith. We don’t badger or harass people, but we do plead with them to obey God’s Word. Is there someone you have been confronting over sin? Do you need to adjust your attitude toward them?

2. By the meekness and gentleness of Christ – Jesus did not often directly describe his own character. When He did, this is what He said about Himself:

Matthew 11:29 – Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Jesus described Himself as being “gentle” and “humble in heart.” Out of all the character qualities He could have mentioned, He shared these. They personify who He is. Jesus is not a strict or harsh taskmaster. He is kind and humble. Giving up His divine rights, He unselfishly puts others first. When a sinner comes to Him, Jesus does not angrily denounce him for his sins, but graciously accepts him.

Though Jesus Himself has all the power in the universe, He did not use this power to free Himself when people taunted Him on the cross. Neither did He open His mouth to defend Himself.

Isaiah 53:7 – He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

Paul sought to emulate Jesus in his own ministry. Like Jesus, he gently encouraged the Corinthians.

Application: Would your friends say that you are gentle and meek? Or are you harsh and quick-tempered? Pray that God will give you a humble heart like our Lord.

3. Gentle but bold – Paul says that he is “humble when face to face…but bold toward you when I am away.” Why the different behavior? There is a time to be gentle and a time to be bold (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). Paul found it better to confront and rebuke the Corinthians by letter. When confronted, the natural response is to get angry and deny or argue. The letter-writing tactic gave them time to contemplate and allow the Holy Spirit to work in them and bring about genuine repentance. It allowed Paul to say everything he wanted to say without interruption or distraction.

The goal was that the Corinthians would heed his rebukes and repent. If they did, then Paul’s face to face visit would be much more uplifting.

We should not confuse gentleness and humility with a tolerance for sin. Though Jesus described Himself as “gentle” and “humble in heart,” at times He reacted strongly toward sinners. Jesus angrily cleansed the temple. And He courageously pointed out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. His humility did not demand silence in the face of sin.

Thus there is a time to be gentle and a time to be bold. And the two are not mutually exclusive.

Reflect: Who should you treat with gentleness and who should you be bold and firm with?

When a person already recognizes their sin, readily turning from it, that is the time to be gentle. We must not snuff out a smoldering wick. Instead we want to help it burn brighter.

Matthew 12:20 – A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.

When people willfully pursue sin, that is the time to confront them boldly.

4. Who suspect us of walking according to the flesh – Some in the Corinthian church had leveled accusations against Paul. One of these was that he walked according to the flesh, meaning that he indulged himself in a sinful lifestyle. In the next verse Paul uses this accusation to flip the script and talk about spiritual warfare.

II. Waging war according to the spirit (3-6)

Discussion Questions

  • How are believers walking “in the flesh?”
  • What would waging war “according to the flesh” look like?
  • How do believers wage war?
  • Who are we waging war against?
  • What kinds of weapons do we have?
  • Who is the enemy and what are the strongholds that we face?
  • From the context in verse 5, what is one battlefield that we wage war on?
  • What kinds of arguments and opinions are raised against God and His word?
  • What should we do when we hear these attacks?
  • How can we defend the faith from attacks like this outside the church? How can we defend the faith from attacks inside the church?
  • What does it mean to “take every thought captive to obey Christ?”

Cross-References

Romans 8:8 – Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Galatians 5:16 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Romans 8:5 – For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

1 Peter 5:8 – Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

2 Corinthians 11:14 – And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

Teaching Points

1. Though we walk in the flesh – The “flesh” has two meanings. It can mean the “physical body” or the “sinful nature.” Those accusing Paul were referring to the flesh as Paul’s sinful nature. But Paul’s answer referred to the body. He was not admitting to pursuing gratifying the flesh, but he did admit to being a human.

2. We are not waging war according to the flesh – The war Paul refers to is spiritual warfare. At the moment of salvation every believer enters a new battlefield. He has new enemies, Satan and his legions of demons. And he has a new advocate, Jesus Christ. He is a new person, sealed by the Holy Spirit.

Paul’s description of the Christian life as “war” is important.

Reflect: What does the word “war” imply about the Christian walk?

A war is a serious thing. In a war there are extremely high stakes. To lose means death. One has to be constantly alert for attacks from the enemy: including frontal assaults, sabotage missions, traps, and even propaganda. The soldier has to train, readying his body and mind for battle. And a soldier must fight. The choices are fight or lose.

That is what the Christian enters into when he comes to the Lord. There is no middle ground. The enemy will not show quarter.

The believer must not give ground or retreat. Instead, he “wages war.”

Application: You are in a battle. Are you trying to be a spectator or are you waging war? What is one specific thing you can do to be a better warrior?

3. Not of the flesh – The believer does not wage war according to the flesh.

Reflect: What does it look like if a person tries to fight this war in the flesh? What does it look like if he tries to fight this war in the spiritual plane?

By our own strength, we cannot attain victory. Satan is supernatural as are his demons. Their influence in this world is too strong for us to overcome. Our own flesh is too weak.

So what is Satan’s goal? He wants your mind and soul. He wants you to sin and fall away from the Lord.

1 Peter 5:8 – Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

To fight successfully against a superior adversary, we need some help. And God gives that help to us. He is by our side, supporting and sustaining us. The first step in a successful battle plan is to come to God and say, “I need help. I can’t win by myself. I am weak and I need you.”

That is the heart of what it means to not fight in our own flesh. We don’t trust in ourselves. Instead we come to the only one who can give us the victory. And we come to Him over and over and over again. Day after day we come back to the cross asking for His deliverance. We must live in complete dependence upon Him.

4. The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh –

When we come to God and ask for His help, He gives us some new and powerful weapons.

Ephesians 6:11-18 – Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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. 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. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 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.

The weapons mentioned above include:

  • Belt of truth
  • Breastplate of righteousness
  • Shoes of the gospel of peace
  • Shield of faith
  • Helmet of salvation
  • Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God
  • Prayer

We operate these weapons in the spiritual realm. Each one tells us an important part of the qualities of the Christian warrior. We must fight for truth. Only truth can set us free. We must live righteous lives, saying “no” to and fleeing temptation. We must go into the world and take the gospel of peace to the lost, bringing them out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light. We must believe God’s promises. As we do the faith in His Word will quench Satan’s fiery attacks.

We must put on the helmet of salvation. With this, we identify ourselves as warriors for the Lord. The Word of God will be our offensive weapon to go on the attack and break down those enemy strongholds controlling the minds of the unbelieving.

And at all times, we must pray, humbly depending on God to intervene on our behalf.

Application: Identify one area in your life you are responding to Satan’s attacks in your own flesh. It may be a response to your children’s wrong behavior. It may be trying to convince your spouse to believe in God or change some behavior. It may be preparing a sermon or Bible study with your own intelligence. After you identify what area you struggle with self-reliance bring it to God. Then write down one way you will depend on the weapons from God in the future when you face this situation.

5. But have divine power to destroy strongholds – These strongholds are not castles or fortifications. It is a spiritual battle. So they are spiritual strongholds.

A stronghold is an area that the enemy thinks is under his control. It could be an addiction such as: pornography, drug abuse, alcoholism, etc. The person caught in such things might think there is no way out.

It could be a soul that Satan believes is firmly in his kingdom. The person might look like a lost cause. Perhaps that person has rejected Christ and gone his own way for decades.

It could be a wrong way of thinking which insidiously spreads through a culture, a family, or even a church.

It could be a nation or tribe which as a group is enslaved to sin and darkness.

These are strongholds of the enemy. But they can be broken. The power of God can rescue the lost, free from addiction, break off the chains of sin, and open eyes to the truth.

As warriors of Christ, those are the battles we are to fight. We should fight them in our own lives, not tolerating any sin or wrong thinking. But we should also take the fight to those strongholds in others’ lives.

The gospel, prayer, faith, salvation, the Word of God, righteous living, truth: these are our weapons. These can set us and others free. That should excite you! God wants you to live in victory and He makes it possible.

Application: Identify one stronghold. How will you use the weapons from God to destroy it?

6. Destroy argument and opinion and take every thought captive to Christ – Paul identifies a key battleground in this spiritual war. It is the mind.

Nations understand this battle. Throughout history governments have harnessed the power of propaganda. If they can win the mind of their citizens, they can control them. Extreme examples of this include Japanese pilots in WWII who became kamikazes and sacrificed themselves in service to the emperor. Many others killed themselves rather than be captured since they were convinced through propaganda that this was the honorable thing to do.

Satan understands this as well. He tries to control the minds of the masses through his own propaganda machine. In the Garden of Eden he first launched his attacks asking Eve, “Did God really say?” and “you will not surely die.” He won over her mind. And then rebellion against God followed.

Reflect: What methods does the enemy use to influence people’s minds? What are some arguments and “lofty opinions” which set themselves up against the knowledge of God?

Here are few examples of mainstream arguments that set themselves against God:

  • Evolution
  • Hedonism
  • Live and let live
  • Universalism
  • All religions are good as long as you are sincere
  • God is harsh and capricious
  • Look out for number one
  • You are a self-made man
  • Traditional family values are outdated
  • People are basically good

These are only a few out the many heinous belief systems that reverberate around the globe. So what is our role when we face these arguments?

We are warriors in His army. That means we have to fight these ideas while praying for people’s souls to be set free from their grip. Using the truth of God’s Word, we face these ideas and defeat them. Just like Jesus responded to Satan by quoting Scripture, so we can use Scripture to destroy these lies.

Our own minds are battleground number one. You need to make sure that you don’t allow Satan’s deceptions to gain a foothold there. The next battlegrounds are our families and churches. Then our circle of friends. And beyond that, the whole world.

Take every thought captive to obey Christ – This phrase is often quoted as to how to deal with lust or any other sinful thought. But to properly understand it, we need to take it in context.

The context is this spiritual warfare. As soldiers in His army, we fight against wrong belief systems and ideas wherever we find them. Every wrong thought needs to be exposed by the light of Scripture.

Thus this phrase is far broader in its application than we often think if we just quote it without considering the context. It means that in every single place we encounter wrong thinking, we need to fight against that with the truth of God’s Word. That does include our minds. In fact, it starts with our minds.

Lustful fantasies are one kind of wrong thinking which sets itself against God’s Word. It is a lie that indulging in this can give any joy or lasting satisfaction. Thus you should destroy this wrong thinking. And you should destroy it everywhere you encounter it.

Application: What deceptive argument or lofty opinion have you encountered recently? How will you “destroy” it?

7. Being ready to punish every disobedience when your obedience is complete – Paul was not just going to be a spectator as enemies of the gospel infiltrated and destroyed the Corinthian church. That would go against everything he just said about fighting in this spiritual war. Believers should destroy strongholds, especially those in the church. And that is what Paul intended to do. The willfully disobedient would be disciplined for the good of the church.

One real example of a lofty opinion that set itself against God is the idea that immorality and even incest should be allowed to show one’s tolerance. This idea was nuked by Paul in 1 Corinthians 5 as the disobedient were dealt with.

2 Corinthians 10:7-18

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