Copr. 1998, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All Scripture references are to

the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984

International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations

from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes

the teacher uses a blackboard.

INTRODUCTION: This week Paul changes course in his letter to the

Corinthians. In our study this week and the next two weeks we will

find that Paul is defending himself and verbally “spanking” the

Corinthians. Let’s see what lessons we can learn for our lives!


     A. Read 2 Corinthians 10:1-5. When you have
a conflict with
someone else, do you find it easier to resolve
the conflict
with a letter or a face-to-face meeting?

          1. What are the
advantages of a letter? (You can think
very carefully
about your words. The person who gets the
letter can carefully
consider your words without the
potential conflict
of you being present. Some people
better in writing.)

          2. What are the
advantages of a face-to-face encounter?
(You can see
how the person reacts and make instant
or changes in your tactics. Some people
better orally.)

          3. Based on what
we just read, do you think Paul
better in writing or face-to-face? (His
opponents suggest
that he is a lot stronger in his
letters than
in person. If you skip down to v.10 Paul
says that “some”
say his letters are much better than his
oral presentations.)

a. How possible is it that Paul is being sarcastic
here?  That he is scoffing at the idea (presented
by his opponents?) that he is timid, unimpressive
and a poor speaker in person?

     B. Leaving aside the issue of Paul’s writing
versus his
speaking abilities, verse 2 gives us the problem
that he seeks
to address in the Corinthian church.
What is that problem?
(“[S]ome people who think that we live by
the standards of
this world.”)

          1. What comes
to mind when you hear the phrase “living by
the standards
of the world?”

a. When verse 2 refers to “some people who think we
live by the standards of the world…,” do you
understand this to be an attack upon Paul? Paul
lives by the standards of the world? Or is this
Paul’s criticism of some in the church? For
example, if you said, “Some people in this church
think we should live like animals,” you would be
criticizing them, not repeating a criticism leveled
against you, right? (At first I thought Paul was
criticizing others. Now, I am not sure. Whichever
it is, I do not think it matters to the underlying
point Paul is trying to make.)

          2. Notice in
vv.3-4 Paul speaks of using the world’s
standards to
“wage war.” Think of the last serious
problem that
you faced. How did you try to solve it?

a. Did you use “world” weapons or “spiritual”

b. What are “world” weapons as opposed to
“spiritual” weapons?

          3. My most recent
problem was that my son (an academy
freshman) was
the victim of a “hazing” incident that
involved threats
of physical violence and minor theft.
My initial (and
recurrent) solution was that I would find
these kids and
beat them up. As incredibly stupid as
this “solution”
was (especially for a lawyer), I kept
actually visualizing
myself in fights with teen-agers!
(Of course,
in these mental battles I always won!) My
next “solution”
was to use my influence and my “insiders”
get these kids dismissed from school. It
actually took
me several days to realize that I should
pray for the
kids who were involved in what was probably
a relatively
harmless breach of the rules; that I should
rely on the
Lord’s power and not my “power” to resolve
this problem.)

a. Is it “OK” to use your “influence” to solve
problems? At what point do you cross the line into
becoming like the world in “waging war?”

          4. Do you find
that your first “solution” to a problem is
to rely on your
own power?

a. Is there a logical connection between
“righteousness by works” and using the “weapons of
the world” to solve problems?

b. Is the impulse to “fix problems” through the use
of “power” an occupational hazard for lawyers,
doctors or politicians? Is it a hazard for very
large men? (Although lawyers, doctors and
politicians have tremendous “power” over the lives
of others, anyone who has the world’s tools
(weapons) to change things (for example money,
influence, physical intimidation) faces the
temptation to personally “fix” problems. This may
be the reason why Jesus said in Matthew 19:24 that
it was very difficult for a rich man to go to

     C. Why do you think Paul is writing to the
Corinthians about
“waging war?” What can we learn by reading
“between the lines”
here? (There is certainly some conflict in
the Corinthian
church. Whether this is a criticism
of Paul that he is using
improper tactics, or whether others are using
the “weapons of
the world” to attack Paul is not clear to
me. What is clear
is that Paul suggests that we should use spiritual
instead of the weapons of the world to address
the problems in
our lives.)

     D. Verse 5 is very interesting. Should we follow
example of “demolishing arguments and every
pretension that
sets itself up against the knowledge of God?”

          1. How would
you “demolish arguments … against the
knowledge of
God? How would you do this using spiritual
weapons as opposed
to weapons of the world?

          2. How would
you “demolish … every pretension …
against the
knowledge of God?”

a. Do you have “pretensions” in your life that
interfere with others learning about God?

          3. Notice that
Paul says that he wants to “take captive
every thought
to make it obedient to Christ.” Is that a
goal in your

a. What methods, what spiritual weapons would you
use to “take captive every thought?”

b. What kind of activity in your life prevents or
inhibits you from taking captive every thought?

(1) How is your television or your VCR involved
in this effort?

(a) How important is your remote control
to your salvation?


     A. Read 2 Corinthians 10:7-11. Paul tells the
Corinthians that
they are “looking only on the surface of things.”
When it
comes to deciding what is truth, what does
it mean to “look
only at the surface of things?” (We give a
great deal of
regard to how a person appears. The attack
on Paul (v.10) was
that he did not have an impressive presence
or an impressive
delivery with his sermons.)

          1. If Paul’s
speech and appearance are not impressive,
how can he say
(v.11) that they are as good as his
impressive letters?
(Paul is directing the Corinthians to
the underlying
message — which is the same whether he is
writing or speaking.)

          2. What can we
do to focus on the content of a sermon
rather than
the looks and speaking talents of our

          3. Should our
pastors take Paul’s advice to mean that
appearance and
speaking ability are not important? (No!
We are out to
reach the unconverted: people who judge
based on ability
and appearance. A pastor should strive
to make both
the “packaging” and the “content” of the
sermon the very
best. On the other hand, the converted
should realize
that it is the message that is important.)

     B. In verse 7 Paul says that when we get into
disputes in the
church, we should consider that other members
of the church
“belong to Christ” just as much as we do.
Is that our first
impulse: to believe that the other person
is just as converted
as us?

1. Or are we
more likely to attack the sincerity of the
religious beliefs
of our opponents?

          2. How would
controversies in the church be different if
each side started
out with the presumption (rebuttable,
of course) that
both sides were earnestly seeking to
follow God’s

     C. Read 2 Corinthians 10:12, 17-18. How could
we (v.12)
measure ourselves by ourselves? Can you give
me an example of

          1. What effect
does measuring ourselves by ourselves and
comparing ourselves
with ourselves have on our pride?
(This is the
center of the problem. If we compare
ourselves with
our fellow church members (especially if
we are looking
on the surface) we may decide that we are
really pretty
good. That results in boasting about what
we have done.
Instead, Paul suggests that we make our
Lord our point
of reference. We should ask, “How we
measure up to
His perfect standard?”)

a. When anything is done to advance the gospel, is
it because of our ability or the blessing of the

(1) If you are tempted to say, “our ability,”
who gave you your talents?

     D. What will you do this week to increase your
arsenal of
“spiritual weapons” and impose a unilateral
arms control on
your “worldly weapons?”

III. NEXT WEEK: “Engaged in Ministry.” Study 2 Corinthians 11:1-33! who gave you your talents?

     D. What will you do this week to increase your
arsenal of
“spiritual weapons” and impose a unilateral
arms control on
your “worldly weapons?”

III. NEXT WEEK: “Engaged in Ministry.” Study 2 Corinthians 11:1-33!