Have you ever had verbal warfare with someone exceptionally skilled in the fine art of debate? Even if we’re gifted in this area, it can be extremely difficult to engage with the silver-tongued who dances circles around us with lofty notions, scientific studies, and other wordplay designed to crush our perspective into a fine dust.
That’s what the Apostle Paul and the early church were encountering in first-century Greece as they sought to spread the Way of Jesus among the educated and opinionated people there.
In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul writes to the early church in Corinth, encouraging them to stay strong and reminding them, “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” (NIV).
Why should Christians demolish every argument, as it says in 2 Corinthians 10:5? The short answer: for the sake of spreading the gospel and glorifying God to all who can hear.
What Is 2 Corinthians About?
Let’s first take a look at the entirety of Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth, called the Book of 2 Corinthians.
Thought to have been written in roughly AD 55 to early Christians there, the letter largely dealt with the many challenges the church was facing at that time, particularly with dissension, strife, disunity, spiritual immaturity, and improper teaching.
Paul, once called Saul, used to be an enemy of the cross, but on the road to Damascus, Jesus Christ appeared to him, and Paul did a spiritual about-face. He devoted the rest of his life to winning others to Christianity, even being willing to be executed for his faith.
His letters, also known as epistles, comprise a large portion of the New Testament and are instrumental in guiding and otherwise helping Christians understand what it means to live like Jesus in a broken world.
What Does 2 Corinthians 10:5 Mean?
In the tenth chapter of the book, Paul is basically telling the church that the world doesn’t always fight fairly, but God’s people operate in a different manner. In fact, he says, God’s supernatural powers are so great they can break down any barrier, win any war, and smash any stronghold.
Strongholds were essentially massive, protective walls around cities, and Paul is saying that God’s Word is powerful enough to crumble these walls. As he notes in verse 4, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”
Then he follows this with his reminder that we, the followers of Jesus, also known as “people of the Way,” similarly have the ability, because of God, to demolish, completely, all arguments in opposition to the Lord.
The Greek word Paul uses here for argument is logismos, which means reasoning or thoughts. He’s speaking here of the falsities people use to oppose Christianity, whether that’s false teachings or dissension or logic or any other things people of the day were drawing from.
The word he uses for demolish is kathaireō, which is to overthrow, tear down, or destroy.
In essence, Paul is saying that no amount of fancy wordplay, sophisticated speech, or so-called reason can stand up against the spiritual truths of the cross. The wisdom of the world simply cannot win out, and as Christians, we are to do our part to demolish these arguments.
Why Must We Demolish Every Argument?
As followers of Christ, we must model the life and words of Jesus Christ himself, who always pointed to the Father. We must do the same.
That means being willing to defend our faith at any time.
The Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 3:15 urges us to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
And earlier in 2 Corinthians, in chapter 5, Paul tells believers, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
As ambassadors, we are not only to represent Jesus well by living in line with His teachings, and modeling our lives after Him, but by offering a Christian defense spoken with love, respect, gentleness, and kindness. After all, we don’t use the “weapons of the world.” We’re on Team God.
How Can We Demolish Arguments Today?
One important way we can demolish arguments is by defending our faith. In 1 Peter 3:15, the Greek word for “answer” is apologia, which translates to defense, reason, or eagerness to defend or clarify.
When someone questions our faith and asks why we believe what we do, it isn’t enough to smile, shrug, and sail off with self-righteous smugness that we are on the winning team.
Nor is it enough to mumble something about how “it’s just the truth,” or “it says so in the Bible,” or “I was raised to believe this.” Those aren’t prepared answers, prepared defenses of the promises of God that we stand upon.
Rather, we are called to prepare for this question, to give the genuine reason for our hope, to testify about the truth and the way God works in our lives and our hearts.
It’s important to know we are not simply “winning an argument” but rather sharing the gospel with unbelievers, which is what Jesus commands us to do in Matthew 28:19 (“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”).
When we do this in a loving way, rather than a judgmental, annoying, worldly way with sophisticated reasoning, we reflect the light and love of Christ, which has the power to demolish the wall of falsity and make way for the Truth.
And make no mistake: people need Jesus. They desperately need the life-saving eternal salvation He offers us all.
Where Do These Arguments Come From?
It’s also important to demolish arguments against the Lord because of where they come from —the enemy or Satan. In this chapter, Paul is addressing spiritual warfare. Worldly, or human-made, arguments are not of God.
Scholars of the day might spin all sorts of philosophies differing from the truth of Jesus, but anything that contradicts God’s Word is a sin, an enemy, something to be fought against.
We are in a spiritual war, but by aligning our thoughts with God and centering every bit of ourselves in Him — indeed, every single thought — we allow ourselves to be instruments of Christ Jesus.
All thoughts, doctrines, opinions, and philosophies not in line with the Lord will be fully and completely overwhelmed and struck down by the spiritual weapons used by God.
A Prayer for Demolishing Every Argument
If you are struggling today with how you can demolish arguments against God, thinking you are one tiny person in a big world, rest assured: the power of God through the advocate Christ sent, the Holy Spirit, is alive and working within every believer.
As we know from Acts 4:13, the Apostles Peter and John were unschooled, uneducated, ordinary men, yet they taught with such authority because of the Holy Spirit that the rulers and elders were astonished.
It’s the same with us.
Here, I offer a prayer we all can pray together:
Dear Lord, I believe in you. I desire with all my heart to live my life and bend my soul to Your will and Your way. Use me any way You wish to share the gospel and stand strong against earthy opponents.
Use me as Your instrument and ambassador to demolish every argument and pretense against You, shining Your light in the world so all can see the Truth. In Your hold and precious name, I pray, Amen.
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Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at jessicabrodie.com. She has a weekly YouTube devotional, too. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
These verses serve as a source of renewal for the mind and restoration for the heart by reinforcing the notion that, while human weakness is inevitable, God's strength is always available to uplift, guide, and empower us.
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