Christianity -- Christian Living/2 Cor 10:6
I do hope all is well with you and yours.
And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
My question: what exactly does this refer to? Who is to be punished? Believers or non-believers?
Also, why does it come here in this context i.e. after the previous verses which speak of demolishing strongholds?
PS More context:
By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away! 2 I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. 3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 6 And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
Thank you, Simon, we are quite well. I hope you and yours are also. It is good to hear from you. Interesting question...as all of yours are. :)
This passage isn't so much applicable to us today by direct translation. We can infer things from it, but Paul was speaking here specifically to those within the church at Corinth who were slandering him. Most of the church had been won over after Paul's first letter, but there were still a few bad apples hanging on the tree. He speaks of his first letter in 2 Cor 7:8 and following. Most of the members of the church at Corinth repented.
But since some false teachers still remained, Paul was dealing with them again in a letter by writing 2 Corinthians. And if necessary, he planned to do so again in person. Basically these false teachers who had infiltrated the church wanted those who had repented to fall away again by their saying [Barbara paraphrase] "Paul is nothing but a fraud. He's real brave and bold when he's not here and doesn't have to face you. He rides his moral high horse and points his fingers when he's not here. Hypocrite! Yeah, he can say all this stuff long distance, but he's nothing but a liar. It's why he is a wimp when he's here face to face. Paul argues well in print, but person to person, he's nothing but a fraud. Don't listen to him anymore! The proof is that he doesn't earn a living from teaching like real teachers in Corinth."
That's why Paul says that he'll deal with people when he gets there. The false teachers appealed to the world's standards of how instructors who were authentic earned their living. But Paul says that he has weapons that they know nothing about.
Paul sees beyond the surface of what is going on and sees that underneath it all is a spiritual battle. Strongholds of sexual license and idolatry were--at their very core--disobedience to God. And he sees the false teachers as those opposed to God. Their desire is to take captives from among the members of the church and lock them up in these spiritual strongholds by making them question the truth.
So Paul says that he's got weapons that are divine. The Holy Spirit, the Word of God, prayer, etc. have a power unlike anything the world offers. Christ is already enthroned in heaven and we take every thought captive to Christ. Since He is the Word made flesh and the truth sets the captive members free, these strongholds are no match for the power of God.
That's why he launches into a major defense of his ministry in chapters 10-12. They drove him to defend his apostleship and he states in 11:6-7 that he's not a regular well trained Greek teacher with all the credentials and high speakers' fees. He boasts in nothing but the Lord and preaches the gospel for free...because it's what an evangelist does with the message.
So, the bottom line is not that my role is to find false teachers, dig them out of their burrows and beat them up with the Word of God to teach them a lesson. Rather, my role is to speak the truth at all times and to speak boldly. When accusations are made, I need to have a well reasoned defense resting solely on Christ. When persecuted for the faith, I need to stand firm and trust that the weapons I have are doing battle in a realm I cannot see.
Everything that stands against God is not just worldly, but also spiritually against God. I wish everyone could see the world the way Paul does. It's not just gay marriage, it's spiritual. It's not just abortion, it's spiritual. It's not just lies and deception, it's spiritual. It's not just all religions coexisting happily, it's a spiritual battle. And because it's a spiritual battle, we fight it with spiritual weapons of prayer and the Word and the Holy Spirit.
Does that help? I find far too few Christians understand the spiritual battle, so I was glad to have received your question. I have been strengthened even as I answered. Thank you! If I can clarify anything, obviously always happy to do that. So good to hear from you, Simon.
Blessings, Barbara <><