“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” (2 Corinthians 10:3–6, KJV)
When I served in the United States Army, I was trained in a variety of combat roles. In 1973, I completed the Airborne and Ranger courses. Later, I completed training at the Armor school and ended up commanding a tank platoon in Germany. I learned much about the armament used by soldiers in the field from the weapons of an infantry man, field artillery, and the main battle tank. These were fierce weapon systems that had massive destructive power. I learned that one main battle tank had the equivalent firepower of an entire infantry platoon. In Germany, I commanded five main battle tanks. You might ask, “With the massive fire power of each main battle tank, why even have infantry men?” The reason we have infantry, armor, and artillery and not just one is because each has a role depending upon the enemy and combat situation that we would encounter.
Here Paul wrote of the ministry in terms of spiritual warfare. Paul had those who opposed his ministry. Apparently, these false teachers spoke out against him, surmising that he conducted ministry according to the flesh.
Paul explained that while they walked “in the flesh,” they did not conduct the work of ministry “after the flesh.” In other words, while they lived in a physical body in a world governed by fleshly principles, they lived and conducted ministry by the principles of the kingdom of God. Thus, the weapons of their warfare were not of the flesh, but of the Spirit. Paul realized that the real war was not in the physical dimension, but in the unseen spiritual realm. At Paul’s disposal was a weapon more powerful than any earthly power and more powerful than any spiritual power arrayed against him. Paul’s weaponry was mighty. It had divine power to “the pulling down of strong holds.”
What did Paul use to wage war in the spiritual realm? He indicates this by explaining that his weapons would result in the “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God. The word “imaginations,” logismos, refers to reasoning (Strong G3053). Paul’s weapons were designed to tear down vain human reasoning and arguments that were against the truth of God. To this end, it was the power of God’s word.
The goal of this warfare was to bring people to obey the gospel, that is to understand and believe the truth. Realizing this, the other weapon in Paul’s kit must have been the power of prayer. It was the ministry of the word of God and prayer that would result in victory in the battles of ministry.
When we look at Ephesians chapter six regarding the “Armor of God,” we see two offensive weapons. After mentioning all the defensive pieces of armor, Paul wrote of these two, the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17, KJV) and prayer (Eph 6:18). In the world in which we live, we think that eloquent speech, cunning arguments, even shouting matches might win the day. They will not. The spiritual person realizes that there is no greater weapon system available than the word of God and prayer.