Passion and Principle.

2 Corinthians 10:1-6 cover several spiritual virtues that protect both churches and the Gospel upon which the church is founded. These virtues should be owned and lived by every believer.

As a review, we are beginning the 3rd section of this letter in which Paul is confirming his heart for the Corinthians. First, he wrote about the value of their gospel relationship. Second, he addressed pursuing gospel progress among churches through sharing resources. Now he writes about the protection of the church from the ever-present possibility of unbelief in its midst.

Paul doesn’t directly address those who don’t know Christ in most of his letters; instead, he addresses believers to be aware so they can continue to grow in renewed fellowship with God. For enemies of the free grace of God, Christ and His Word are never enough; they always want to add something. Paul shepherds flock for their protection and the progress of the Gospel.

Paul uses several militaristic references in these 6 verses. Sometimes this stance is necessary when facing enemies of the Gospel that restores sinful man back to God. Satan wants to distract people from that message. The war against unbelief is real, necessary, and often unavoidable. This is a spiritual, not physical, battle. Every Christian soldier should be properly armed.

Passionate (2 Corinthians 10:1)

The word “now” indicates that we are entering the final section of the letter. Unbelief still looms in the church, and gospel progress is worth protecting.

The verb “urge” means to call alongside. Paul is asking the Corinthians to partner with him in an ongoing spiritual military operation, to follow him as long as he’s following the Lord Jesus Christ. A Christian's first virtue is defending the honor of the gospel with meekness and gentleness that imitates Christ’s.

God’s people are to be passionate about being meek and gentle. The use of force is a last resort. Meekness is not harsh, brusque, or suddenly angered. It is having authority but being lenient first; having the ability to act with force but showing restraint; power under control.

“The meekness to which Paul appeals is that exemplified in the life and ministry of Christ. His meekness was not a condescending softness by which the demands of God’s law were lowered. He showered meekness when he dealt gently and compassionately with sinners without in any way minimizing their sin.”

The word “gentle” means reasonable or suitable, fair and kind. No protection of the gospel should be undertaken without first having a right disposition. There is too much collateral damage when someone enters a conversation ready to fight.

Principled (2 Corinthians 10:1-3)

It is okay for meekness and gentleness to confront accusations. But God’s servants do not enter with boxing gloves. The word “bold” means Paul is willing to stand in the face of danger if necessary; he does not need to currently since the Corinthians have responded well. Christian protectors withhold force unless the Gospel and its content are at risk; then they must address with sound doctrine while maintaining the unity of the local church.

Being distracted from the mission of the Gospel is subtle. We must defend more than the Gospel content; the message has to be put into action in witnessing and discipling. Human ideologies seek progress of their own. The saddest reality in our world today is not the decline of America or a lack of social justice, but that people are dying without Christ. We must be about that one mission.

The word “courageous” means to dare. Paul is willing to confront and correct when doctrine is at stake.

Beware of any Christian who first talks negatively about another Christian when the other person is not present. Paul was being accused of a worldly lifestyle by the unbelievers seeking to persuade the Corinthians. True believers seek to maintain the right disposition and conviction (2 Cor 1:24, 3:1-6, 4:16-18). Don’t ever let conviction make meekness expendable.

Application Points

  • A true Christian soldier knows how to properly defend the content and progress of the Gospel. What does this look like in position and disposition?

  • Are you passionate about introducing people to Jesus? What is your disposition? Learn from the life of Jesus and the apostle Paul how to engage with people who need Jesus.

  • Are you seeking to make disciples? If not, consider whether you have been distracted by a human ideology other than the Gospel.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 2 Timothy 2:4, Philemon 1:1-2, Ephesians 6:21-24, Jude 1:3 – Passages where a military theme is also used.
  • Matt 11:28-29, 1 Peter 2:21-25, 1 John 2:1-3 – Jesus’ meekness.

  • 1 Corinthians 3:1-5 – Paul’s explanation of his first entrance to the Corinthian church.