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Word Study Wednesday

God bless you in the name of Jesus Christ who ascended up on high and led captivity captive (Ephesians 4:8).

II Corinthians 10:5-6 establish three important aspects of Paul and Timothy’s spiritual warfare.  Their warfare included:  casting down imaginations, bringing into captivity every thought, and having a readiness to revenge all disobedience…

All three of these verbs are present participles.  They go on at the same time as the main verb, war, in verse 4.  This is how Paul and Timothy warred, which was not after or according to the flesh.  Their weapons were not fleshly, but mighty.

“Casting down” is the verb form of the noun used in the previous verse translated “pulling down,” meaning a destruction.  What they cast down are the thoughts, ideas, and concepts held in the mind.  They pulled down fortifications in people’s minds.

“Bringing into captivity” is the Greek word aichmalotizō, “to lead away captive.”  It comes from aichmalotos; a captive, which is used only in Luke 4:18 “to preach deliverance to the captives…”  The root word for captive is aichmē, a spear.  It is only used three times.

It paints a very dramatic mind picture.  Roman soldiers leading away prisoners of war with spears.  The effectiveness of the leading captive increases as the power of the weapon increases.  (If you have ever got robbed at gun-point or have had someone pull a knife on you, you know how traumatic this can be.)  But we have to be careful to recognize that people are not the enemy led away at gun-point.  Rather, the enemies are ideas… the thoughts, imaginations, speculations, and reasonings that form the philosophies, the vain deceit, and the doctrines of devils that proceed from the father of lies, the devil himself.

The two other occurrences of aichmalotizō are in Luke and Romans.

Luke 21:24:
And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive [aichmalotizō] into all nations and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

Romans 7:23:
But I see another law in my members, warring against [antistrateuomai] the law of my mind [nous], and bringing me into captivity [aichmalotizō] to the law of sin which is in my members.

What do we allow to captivate our minds?  Those are decisions we all make personally, and so are the decisions to reverse the captivity and free our minds from the deceitful and malicious thoughts.

The NIV translates that phrase, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. . . .”  The NAS translates it, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God. . . .”  These lofty arguments and speculations may sound all high and mighty.  It may engender the strongest of resolve and determination.  But, if they stand in opposition to God’s Word they must be cast down, brought into captivity, and revenged.

The RSV renders it, “We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God. . . .”  People have obstacles in their minds that keep them from the Word.  The adversary puts up “speed-bumps” and “road-blocks” to keep them from God’s Word.  We need to remove the barriers and clear the path for them.  If you believe that one person or one group has “all the answers” or somehow “has a corner on the truth” or has a special dispensation or revelation which gives them access to God denied to others, what kind of obstacle is that to learning the truth of God’s Word?

Here are some more:  DBY:  Overthrowing reasonings and every high thing that lifts itself up against the knowledge of God.  BBE:   Putting an end to reasonings, and every high thing which is lifted up against the knowledge of God.  NLT:  With these weapons we break down every proud argument that keeps people from knowing God. With these weapons we conquer their rebellious ideas, and we teach them to obey Christ.  NJB:  Every presumptuous notion that is set up against the knowledge of God.  CNT:  We are engaged in confuting arguments and pulling down: every barrier raised against the knowledge of God.  MOF:  I demolish theories and any rampart thrown up to resist the knowledge of God.  KNX:  Yes, we can pull down the conceits of men, and every barrier of pride which sets itself up against the true knowledge of God.  PHI:  Our battle is to bring down every de­ceptive fantasy and every imposing defense that men erect against the true knowledge of God.  NEB:  We demolish sophistries and all that rears its proud head against the knowledge of God.

If I had time, I’d take a good English dictionary and look up each one of those words and read it to you.  Do you see that they all refer to what goes on within the mind?  Our challenge is to get people to think right or logically according to the Word.

II Corinthians 10:6:
And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience [to the Word], when your obedience [to the Word] is fulfilled.

The words disobedience and obedience in Greek come from a root word meaning to hear.  Disobedience is an unwillingness or refusal to hear or listen and hence obey.  Obedience is a favorable or willing hearing that results in obeying.  As long as people refuse to even listen to you or hear what you have to say, how can you help them?  You can only help them when they are willing to listen and consider what you are saying.  People often fortify their strongholds by not listening to what we have to say.  Paul and Timothy were ready to help anyone who was willing to listen, and we should, too.

“Revenge” is the Greek word ekdikeō.  It means to help someone secure justice; to give justice to someone who has been wronged; to protect or defend one person from another; to avenge someone treated wrongly.  The way we give justice to someone who has been wronged, the way we protect or defend someone from another is by speaking the truth of God’s Word.  The right teaching will correct the wrong teaching after people are willing to listen.  We can bring justice with the truth, but they must be willing to hear and obey.  When people finally do listen they get delivered… the strongholds are demolished… their freedom of thought is returned.  The revenge comes in the reversal.  The good guys become the bad guys and the bad guys become the good guys.  Another way to say it would be, that the lies they once believed was the truth are realized to be lies, and what they didn’t accept as truth before, they now accept as the truth.  The light makes manifest the darkness, and people begin to see the truth.  Paul was not the bad guy, the false apostles were.  The revenge is satisfied when things are set right.

II Corinthians 10:7-8:
Do ye look on things after the outward appearance?  [That’s how the world judges, but God looks upon the heart.]  If any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s. 8 For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority [exousia], which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction [kathairesis], I should not be ashamed:

Paul built up God’s people and tore down deceptive strongholds of wrong thinking.  He had been given authority to do so, and he did.  Look what Paul says in Philippians:

Philippians 3:17-19:
Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly [seat of the emotional life], and whose glory is in their shame, who mind [phroneō, think] earthly things.)

We can spare people the destruction if they will only listen to the truth.  However some people have a mote in their own eye that prevents them from seeing circumspectly.  It takes spiritual warfare with weapons of might to help people entrenched in these strongholds of vicious and malicious thinking.

Don’t disarm people who are facing their enemies.  They will need all the weapons at their disposal.  We should follow Paul’s example and war a good warfare using all the armor of God.

Philippians 3:20-21:
For our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

God and the Lord Jesus Christ are able to subdue all things.  There is no stronghold of the adversary that cannot be retaken by God’s people.  It might not be easy.  It may take some work.  Paul said the weapons of his warfare were mighty, and he was able to pull down strongholds.  Are you armed with those same weapons?  Are you ready to go to battle?  We have a lot of work to do.