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3Indeed, we live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards; 4for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments 5and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ. 6We are ready to punish every disobedience when your obedience is complete.

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3. For—Reason why they should regard him "beseeching" them (2Co 10:2) not to oblige him to have recourse to "bold" and stern exercise of authority. "We walk IN the flesh," and so in weakness: but not "ACCORDING TO the flesh" (2Co 10:2). Moreover, though we WALK in it, we do not WAR according to it. A double contrast or antithesis. "They who accuse us of walking after the flesh, shall find [to their cost] that we do not war after the flesh; therefore compel us not to use our weapons" [Alford].

4. A confutation of those who try to propagate their creed by force and persecution (compare Lu 9:54-56).

weapons—for punishing offending members (2Co 10:6; 1Co 4:21; 5:5, 13); boldness of speech, ecclesiastical discipline (2Co 10:8; 2Co 13:10), the power of the word, and of the sacraments, the various extraordinary gifts of the Spirit.

carnal—Translate, "fleshly," to preserve the allusion to 2Co 10:2, 3.

mighty through GodGreek, "mighty to God," that is, mighty before God: not humanly, but divinely powerful. The power is not ours, but God's. Compare "fair to God," that is, divinely fair (Ac 7:20, Margin). Also above (2Co 2:15), "unto God a sweet savor." "The efficacy of the Christian religion proves its truth" [Bengel].

pulling down—As the Greek is the same as in 2Co 10:5, translate, "casting down." Compare Jer 1:10: the inspired servants of God inherit the commission of the Old Testament prophets.

strongholds—(Pr 21:22); namely, in which sinners entrench themselves against reproof; all that opposes itself to Christ; the learning, and eloquence, and philosophical subtleties on which the Corinthians prided themselves. So Joshua's trumpet blast was "mighty" under God to overthrow the walls of Jericho.

5. imaginations—rather, "reasonings." Whereas "thought" expresses men's own purpose and determination of living after their own pleasure [Tittmann].

high thing—So it ought to be translated (Ro 8:39). A distinct Greek word from that in Eph 3:18, "height," and Re 21:16, which belongs to God and heaven from whence we receive nothing hurtful. But "high thing" is not so much "height" as something made high, and belongs to those regions of air where the powers of darkness ::exalt themselves" against Christ and us (Eph 2:2; 6:12; 2Th 2:4).

exalteth itself2Th 2:4 supports English Version rather than the translation of Ellicott, &c., "is lifted up." Such were the high towers of Judaic self-righteousness, philosophic speculations, and rhetorical sophistries, the "knowledge" so much prized by many (opposed to "the knowledge of God"), which endangered a section of the Corinthian Church.

against the knowledge of God—True knowledge makes men humble. Where there is exaltation of self, there knowledge of God is wanting [Bengel]. Arrange the words following thus: "Bringing every thought (that is, intent of the mind or will) into captivity to the obedience of Christ," that is, to obey Christ. The three steps of the apostle's spiritual warfare are: (1) It demolishes what is opposed to Christ; (2) It leads captive; (3) It brings into obedience to Christ (Ro 1:5; 16:26). The "reasonings" (English Version, "imaginations") are utterly "cast down." The "mental intents" (English Version, "thoughts") are taken willing captives, and tender the voluntary obedience of faith to Christ the Conqueror.

6. Translate, "Having ourselves (that is, being) in readiness to exact punishment for all disobedience," &c. We have this in store for the disobedient: it will be brought into action in due time.

when your obedience, &c.—He charitably assumes that most of the Corinthian Church will act obediently; therefore he says "YOUR obedience." But perhaps some will act otherwise; in order, therefore, to give all an opportunity of joining the obedient, he will not prematurely exact punishment, but wait until the full number of those gathered out to Christ has been "completed," and the remainder have been proved incorrigible. He had acted already so at Corinth (Ac 18:6-11; compare Ex 32:34; Mt 13:28-30).