For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 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. (verses 3-5)
Whether or not Paul ever saw Roman troops in action on a battlefield, he would certainly have been well acquainted with their banners, armour, shields, swords, strength and brutality. He knew the reality of weaponry and warfare. He had seen its effectiveness in enforcing Roman rule throughout the empire.
The Romans got stuff done. Powerfully. Effectively.
Paul says that he himself doesn’t have such weapons in hand. Nor do we. Neither is worldly warfare the sphere in which we’re operating. The field of battle, rather, is in the spiritual sphere, and in the realm of thinking and argument and knowledge and understanding.
This, of course, is where Paul engaged himself for the whole of his ministry. He was intently focused on presenting the truth of the gospel, seeking to make known “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). This is what he was about. This is the battle in which he engaged.
But he wasn’t merely using human intellect. No indeed. He was resourced with “divine power” (verse 4). While the Romans engaged weapons that were consistently effective on the earthly battlefield, Paul knows that he has been equipped by God himself to take territory from the dominion of darkness and lead captives alive into the Kingdom of Light, the Kingdom of the Beloved Son. What glory.
Divine power. The Apostle Peter uses a similar phrase to tell us that we, as followers of Jesus, have been divinely equipped with everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Here, Paul sees this provision applied specifically to the great forward movement of the gospel. He has God-given weaponry capable of tearing down strongholds of wrong-thinking and destroying arguments that pretentiously set themselves up against the knowledge of God himself. It’s not earthly weaponry. It’s not Paul’s own ability. It’s divinely given, for the good of the Kingdom.
I think of recent conversations I’ve had with a young man enamoured with Islam. He’s watched many debates on YouTube with powerfully persuasive proponents. How could I possibly match that line-up? Yet, there is divine power. It’s not mine, it’s the Lord’s. I am trusting the Lord himself to put these weapons of warfare into my hands, beyond myself, to take captive every thought that presently causes imprisonment in the kingdom of darkness.
O Lord, may it be. May there be fresh obedience to you.
Lord Jesus, I affirm again that apart from you I can do nothing. Fill my empty hands with weapons that have divine power to demolish strongholds for the good of your Kingdom – for the good of those currently outside.
Thank you for the weaponry you put into Paul’s hands, weapons which continue to be effective to take every thought captive to make it obedient to you. I submit to that ongoing process in my own life. May it be.
Pray: In your own life, or in the life of someone you know, is there a stronghold of thinking that needs to be demolished and brought captive to Christ? Pray into that need. Submit your own hands to the Lord for his equipping.