2 Corinthians 10:5
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) Casting down imaginations.—The participle is in agreement with the “we war not” of 2Corinthians 10:3. In the Greek word rendered “imaginations,” we have the noun derived from the verb rendered “think,” or reckon, in 2Corinthians 10:2. It would be better, perhaps, to carry on the continuity by rendering it thoughts, or even reckonings.

Every high thing that exalteth itself.—The noun probably belongs, like “stronghold,” to the language of military writers, and indicates one of the rock fortresses, the

“Tot congesta manu præruptis oppida saxis,”

[“Towns piled high on rocks precipitous,”]

—Virgil, Georg. i. 156.

which were so conspicuous in all ancient systems of defence.

Against the knowledge of God.—The parable and the interpretation are here obviously blended. The thoughts of men resist the knowledge of God as the stronghold of rebels resists the armies of the rightful king.

Bringing into captivity every thought.—The verb is used by St. Paul again in Romans 7:23; 2Timothy 3:6. There can be no doubt that “the obedience of Christ “means “obedience to Christ,” and it had better, therefore, be so translated.

2 Corinthians

A MILITANT MESSAGE

2 Corinthians 10:5-6 {R.V.}.

None of Paul’s letters are so full of personal feeling as this one is. It is written, for the most part, at a white heat; he had heard from his trusted Titus tidings which on one hand filled him with a thankfulness of which the first half of the letter is the expression; but there had also been tidings of a very different kind, and from this point onwards the letter is seething with the feelings which these had produced. There was in the Corinthian Church a party, probably Judaisers, which denied his authority and said bitter things about his character. They apparently had contrasted the force of his letters and the feebleness of his ‘bodily presence’ and speech. They insinuated that his ‘bark was worse than his bite.’ Their language put into plain English would be something like this, ‘Ah! He is very bold at a distance, let him come and face us and we shall see a difference. Vapouring in his letters, he will be meek enough when he is here.’

These slanderers seem to have thought of Paul as if he ‘warred according to flesh,’ and it is this charge, that he was actuated in his opposition to the evils in Corinth by selfish considerations and worldly interests, which seems to have set the Apostle on fire. In answer he pours out quick, indignant questionings, sharp irony, vehement self-vindication, passionate remonstrances, flashes of wrath, sudden jets of tenderness. What a position for him to have to say, ‘I am not a low schemer; I am not working for myself.’ Yet it is the common lot of all such men to be misread by little, crawling creatures who cannot believe in heroic self-forgetfulness. He answers the taunt that he ‘walked according to the flesh’ in the context by saying, ‘Yes, I live in the flesh, my outward life is like that of other men, but I do not go a-soldiering _according_ to the flesh. It is not for my own sinful self that I get the rules of my life’s battle, neither do I get my weapons from the flesh. They could not do what they do if that were their origin: they are of God and therefore mighty.’ Then the metaphor as it were catches fire, and in our text he expands the figure of a warfare and sets before us the destruction of fortresses, the capture of their garrisons, and the leading of them away into another land, the stern punishment of the rebels who still hold out, and the merciful delay in administering it. It has been suggested that there is an allusion in our text to the extermination of the pirates in Paul’s native Cilicia which happened some fifty or sixty years before his birth and ended in destroying their robber-holds and taking some thousands of prisoners. Whether that be so or no, the Apostle’s kindled imagination sets forth here great truths as to the effects which his message is meant to produce and, thank God, has produced.

I. The opposing fortresses.

The Apostle conceives of himself and of his brother preachers of Christ as going forth on a merciful warfare. He thinks of strong rock fortresses, with lofty walls set on high, and frowning down on any assailants. No doubt he is thinking first of the opposition which he had to front in Corinth from the Judaisers to whom we have referred, but the application of the metaphor goes far beyond the petty strife in Corinth and carries for us the wholesome lesson that one main cause which keeps men back from Christ is a too high estimate of themselves. Some of us are enclosed in the fortress of self-sufficiency: we will not humbly acknowledge our dependence on God, and have turned self-reliance into the law of our lives. There are many voices, some of them sweet and powerful, which to-day are preaching that gospel. It finds eager response in many hearts, and there is something in us all to which it appeals. We are often tempted to say defiantly, ‘Who is Lord over us?’ And the teaching that bids us rely on ourselves is so wholly in accord with the highest wisdom and the noblest life that what is good and what is evil in each of us contribute to reinforce it. Self-dependence is a great virtue, and the mother of much energy and nobleness, but it is also a great error and a great sin. To be so self-sufficing as not to need externals is good; to be so self-sufficing as not to need or to see God is ruin and death. The title which, as one of our great thinkers tells us, a humourist put on the back of a volume of heterodox tracts, ‘Every man his own redeemer,’ makes a claim for self-sufficiency which more or less unconsciously shuts out many men from the salvation of Christ.

There is the fortress of culture and the pride of it in which many of us are to-day entrenched against the Gospel. The attitude of mind into which persons of culture tend to fall is distinctly adverse to their reception of the Gospel, and that is not because the Gospel is adverse to culture, but because cultured people do not care to be put on the same level with publicans and harlots. They would be less disinclined to go into the feast if there were in it reserved seats for superior people and a private entrance to them. If the wise and prudent were more of both, they would be liker the babes to whom these things are revealed, and they would be revealed to them too. Not knowledge but the superciliousness which is the result of the conceit of knowledge hinders from God, and is one of the strongest fortresses against which the weapons of our warfare have to be employed.

There is the fortress of ignorance. Most men who are kept from Christ are so because they know neither themselves nor God. The most widely prevailing characteristic of the superficial life of most men is their absolute unconsciousness of the fact of sin; they neither know it as universal nor as personal. They have never gone deeply enough down into the depths of their own hearts to have come up scared at the ugly things that lie sleeping there, nor have they ever reflected on their own conduct with sufficient gravity to discern its aberrations from the law of right, hence the average man is quite unconscious of sin, and is a complete stranger to himself. The cup has been drunk by and intoxicated the world, and the masses of men are quite unaware that it has intoxicated them.

They are ignorant of God as they are of themselves, and if at any time, by some flash of light, they see themselves as they are, they think of God as if He were altogether such an one as themselves, and fall back on a vague trust in the vaguer mercy of their half-believed-in God as their hope for a vague salvation. Men who thus walk in a vain show will never feel their need of Jesus, and the lazy ignorance of themselves and the as lazy trust in what they call their God, are a fortress against which it will task the power of God to make any weapons of warfare mighty to its pulling down.

II. The casting down of fortresses.

The first effect of any real contact with Christ and His Gospel is to reveal a man to himself, to shatter his delusive estimates of what he is, and to pull down about his ears the lofty fortress in which he has ensconced himself. It seems strange work for what calls itself a Gospel to begin by forcing a man to cry out with sobs and tears, Oh, wretched man that I am! But no man will ever reach the heights to which Christ can lift him, who does not begin his upward course by descending to the depths into which Christ’s Gospel begins its work by plunging him. Unconsciousness of sin is sure to lead to indifference to a Saviour, and unless we know ourselves to be miserable and poor and blind and naked, the offer of gold refined by fire and white garments that we may clothe ourselves will make no appeal to us. The fact of sin makes the need for a Saviour; our individual sense of sin makes us sensible of our need of a Saviour.

Paul believed that the weapons of his warfare were mighty enough to cast down the strongest of all strongholds in which men shut themselves up against the humbling Gospel of salvation by the mercy of God. The weapons to which he thus trusted were the same to which Jesus pointed His disciples when, about to leave them, He said, ‘When the Comforter is come He will convict the world of sin because they believe not in Me.’ Jesus brought to the world the perfect revelation of the holiness of God, and set before us all a divine pattern of manhood to rebuke and condemn our stained and rebellious lives, and He turned us away from the superficial estimate of actions to the careful scrutiny of motives. By all these and many other ways He presented Himself to the world a perfect man, the incarnation of a holy God and the revelation and condemnation of sinful humanity. Yet, all that miracle of loveliness, gentleness, and dignity is beheld by men without a thrill, and they see in Him no ‘beauty that they should desire Him,’ and no healing to which they will trust. Paul’s way of kindling penitence in impenitent spirits was not to brandish over them the whips of law or to seek to shake souls with terror of any hell, still less was it to discourse with philosophic calm on the obligations of duty and the wisdom of virtuous living; his appeal to conscience was primarily the pressing on the heart of the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. When the heart is melted, the conscience will not long continue indurated. We cannot look lovingly and believingly at Jesus and then turn to look complacently on ourselves. Not to believe on Him is the sin of sins, and to be taught that it is so is the first step in the work of Him who never merits the name of the Comforter more truly than when He convicts the world of sin.

For a Christianity that does not begin with the deep consciousness of sin has neither depth nor warmth and has scarcely vitality. The Gospel is no Gospel, and we had almost said, ‘The Christ is no Christ’ to one who does not feel himself, if parted from Christ, ‘dead in trespasses and sins.’ Our religion depends for all its force, our gratitude and love for all their devotion, upon our sense that ‘the chastisement of our peace was laid upon Him, and that by His stripes we are healed.’ Since He gave Himself for us, it is meet that we give ourselves to Him, but there will be little fervour of devotion or self-surrender, unless there has been first the consciousness of the death of sin and then the joyous consciousness of newness of life in Christ Jesus.

III. The captives led away to another land.

The Apostle carries on his metaphor one step further when he goes on to describe what followed the casting down of the fortresses. The enemy, driven from their strongholds, have nothing for it but to surrender and are led away in captivity to another land. The long strings of prisoners on Assyrian and Egyptian monuments show how familiar an experience this was. It may be noted that perhaps our text regards the obedience of Christ as being the far country into which ‘every thought was to be brought.’ At all events Paul’s idea here is that the end of the whole struggle between ‘the flesh’ and the weapons of God is to make men willing captives of Jesus Christ. We are Christians in the measure in which we surrender our wills to Christ. That surrender rests upon, and is our only adequate answer to, His surrender for us. The ‘obedience of Christ’ is perfect freedom; His captives wear no chains and know nothing of forced service; His yoke is easy, not because it does not press hard upon the neck but because it is lined with love, and ‘His burden is light’ not because of its own weight but because it is laid on us by love and is carried by kindred love. He only commands himself who gladly lets Christ command him. Many a hard task becomes easy; crooked things are straightened out and rough places often made surprisingly plain for the captives of Christ, whom He leads into the liberty of obedience to Him.

IV. Fate of the disobedient.

Paul thinks that in Corinth there will be found some stiff-necked opponents of whom he cannot hope that their ‘obedience shall be fulfilled,’ and he sees in the double issue of the small struggle that was being waged in Corinth a parable of the wider results of the warfare in the world. ‘Some believed and some believed not’; that has been the brief summary of the experience of all God’s messengers everywhere, and it is their experience to-day. No doubt when Paul speaks of ‘being in readiness to avenge all disobedience,’ he is alluding to the exercise of his apostolic authority against the obdurate antagonists whom he contemplates as still remaining obdurate, and it is beautiful to note the long-suffering patience with which he will hold his hand until all that can be won has been won. But we must not forget that Paul’s demeanour is but a faint shadow of his Lord’s, and that the weapons which were ready to avenge all disobedience were the weapons of God. If a man steels himself against the efforts of divine love, builds up round himself a fortress of self-righteousness and locks its gates against the merciful entrance of convictions of sin and the knowledge of a Saviour, and if he therefore lives, year in, year out, in disobedience, the weapons which he thinks himself to have resisted will one day make him feel their edge. We cannot set ourselves against the salvation of Jesus without bringing upon ourselves consequences which are wholly evil and harmful. Torpid consciences, hungry hearts, stormy wills, tyrannous desires, vain hopes and not vain fears come to be, by slow degrees, the tortures of the man who drops the portcullis and lifts the bridge against the entrance of Jesus. There are hells enough on earth if men’s hearts were displayed.

But the love which is obliged to smite gives warning that it is ready to avenge, long before it lets the blow fall, and does so in order that it may never need to fall. As long as it is possible that the disobedient shall become obedient to Christ, He holds back the vengeance that is ready to fall and will one day fall ‘on all disobedience.’ Not till all other means have been patiently tried will He let that terrible ending crash down. It hangs over the heads of many of us who are all unaware that we walk beneath the shadow of a rock that at any moment may be set in motion and bury us beneath its weight. It is ‘in readiness,’ but it is still at rest. Let us be wise in time and yield to the merciful weapons with which Jesus would make His way into our hearts. Or if the metaphor of our text presents Him in too warlike a guise, let us listen to His own gentle pleading, ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him.’2 Corinthians 10:5-6. Casting down imaginations Λογισμους καθαιρουντες, literally, demolishing reasonings, namely, such as were fallacious and sophistical, by which vain men endeavoured to controvert, disprove, or even expose to contempt and ridicule, the doctrine of the gospel, and the whole Christian system. For the reasonings which the apostle speaks of, and says they threw down, were not the candid reasonings of those who attentively considered the evidences of the gospel, but the sophisms of the Greek philosophers, and the false reasonings of the statesmen, and all others who, from bad dispositions, opposed the gospel by argument and sophistry. And these the apostles overturned; not by forbidding men to use their reason, but by opposing to them the most convincing arguments, drawn from the evident accomplishment of the Old Testament prophecies, the miraculous powers and gifts with which the apostles and first preachers of the gospel were endowed, the manifest excellence and salutary tendency and influence of the gospel, the blessed effect produced by it on the hearts and lives of multitudes, Jews and heathen, who had before been vicious and profane, but were now evidently reformed in principle and practice, and from the exemplary, useful, and holy lives of all those who in truth embraced the gospel. And every high thing that exalteth itself — In any way whatever; against the knowledge of God — That divine and spiritual acquaintance with him, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, wherein consisteth eternal life. The apostle, Macknight thinks, alludes to the turrets raised on the top of the walls of a besieged city or fortress, from which the besieged annoyed their enemies. To these high structures the apostle compared the proud imaginations of the enemies of revelation, concerning the sufficiency of men’s natural powers in all matters of religion and morality. And, we may add, all other vain conceits which men are wont to entertain of themselves, with regard to their natural or moral excellences, in consequence of which they disbelieve and disobey, or neglect the gospel, and live without God in the world. These, and such like imaginations, the apostles cast down by the force of the spiritual weapons which they made use of: and similar imaginations have, in all ages, been cast down by the faithful preaching of the true and genuine gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, accompanied by the influence of his Divine Spirit: and bringing into captivity every thought — Every proud and haughty notion of the mind of man; to the obedience of Christ — The true King of his people, and the Captain of our salvation. For, the evil reasonings above mentioned being destroyed, the mind itself is overcome and taken captive, lays down all authority of its own, and entirely gives itself up to perform, for the time to come, to Christ its conqueror, the obedience which he requires: and the various thoughts which arise in it, from that time forth, are made subservient to the will of Christ, as slaves are to the will of their lords. “In this noble passage, the apostle, with great energy, describes the method in which wicked men fortify themselves against the gospel, raising, as it were, one barrier behind another to obstruct its entrance into their minds. But when these are all thrown down, the gospel is received, and Christ is obeyed implicitly; every thought and reasoning taking its direction from him.” And having in readiness to revenge — Say, rather, avenge, or punish; all disobedience — Not only by spiritual censure, but by miraculous chastisements; when your obedience is fulfilled — When the sound part of you have given proof of your obedience, and thereby have distinguished yourselves from the others, that the innocent may not be punished with the guilty. “His love to the Corinthians, whom he desired to spare, and the infirm state of their church at present, made him choose to defer the punishment of these offenders till he had drawn off the affections of the Corinthians from their false apostles, and made them more unanimous in their regards to him. And this is the best excuse that can be made for the neglect of discipline in any church; namely, ‘that there is no place for severe remedies, when a disease hath infected the whole church.” — Whitby. It is to be remembered, it was before this time that the apostle had smitten Elymas with blindness; and it is highly probable, from this text, and others of a like nature, that some other miracles of this awful kind had been wrought by him, though they are not recorded in Scripture.10:1-6 While others thought meanly, and spake scornfully of the apostle, he had low thoughts, and spake humbly of himself. We should be aware of our own infirmities, and think humbly of ourselves, even when men reproach us. The work of the ministry is a spiritual warfare with spiritual enemies, and for spiritual purposes. Outward force is not the method of the gospel, but strong persuasions, by the power of truth and the meekness of wisdom. Conscience is accountable to God only; and people must be persuaded to God and their duty, not driven by force. Thus the weapons of our warfare are very powerful; the evidence of truth is convincing. What opposition is made against the gospel, by the powers of sin and Satan in the hearts of men! But observe the conquest the word of God gains. The appointed means, however feeble they appear to some, will be mighty through God. And the preaching of the cross, by men of faith and prayer, has always been fatal to idolatry, impiety, and wickedness.Casting down imaginations - Margin, reasonings. The word is probably used here in the sense of device, and refers to all the plans of a wicked world; the various systems of false philosophy; and the reasonings of the enemies of the gospel. The various systems of false philosophy were so intrenched that they might be called the stronghold of the enemies of God. The foes of Christianity pretend to a great deal of reason, and rely on that in resisting the gospel.

And every high thing ... - Every exalted opinion respecting the dignity and purity of human nature; all the pride of the human heart and of the understanding. All this is opposed to the knowledge of God, and all exalts itself into a vain self-confidence. People entertain vain and unfounded opinions respecting their own excellency, and they feel that they do not need the provisions of the gospel and are unwilling to submit to God.

And bringing into captivity ... - The figure here is evidently taken from military conquests. The idea is, that all the strongholds of paganism, and pride, and sin would be demolished; and that when this was done, like throwing down the walls of a city or making a breach, all the plans and purposes of the soul, the reason, the imagination, and all the powers of the mind would be subdued or led in triumph by the gospel, like the inhabitants of a captured city. Christ was the great Captain in this warfare. In his name the battle was waged, and by his power the victory was won. The captives were made for him and under his authority; and all were to be subject to his control. Every power of thought in the pagan world; all the systems of philosophy and all forms of opinion among people; all the purposes of the soul; all the powers of reason, memory, judgment, fancy in an individual, were all to come under the laws of Christ, All doctrines were to be in accordance with his will; philosophy should no longer control them, but they should be subject to the will of Christ. All the plans of life should be controlled by the will of Christ, and formed and executed under his control - as captives are led by a conqueror. All the emotions and feelings of the heart should be controlled by him, and led by him as a captive is led by a victor. The sense is, that it was the aim and purpose of Paul to accomplish this, and that it would certainly be done. The strongholds of philosophy, paganism, and sin should be demolished, and all the opinions, plans, and purposes of the world should become subject to the all-conquering Redeemer.

5. imaginations—rather, "reasonings." Whereas "thought" expresses men's own purpose and determination of living after their own pleasure [Tittmann].

high thing—So it ought to be translated (Ro 8:39). A distinct Greek word from that in Eph 3:18, "height," and Re 21:16, which belongs to God and heaven from whence we receive nothing hurtful. But "high thing" is not so much "height" as something made high, and belongs to those regions of air where the powers of darkness ::exalt themselves" against Christ and us (Eph 2:2; 6:12; 2Th 2:4).

exalteth itself—2Th 2:4 supports English Version rather than the translation of Ellicott, &c., "is lifted up." Such were the high towers of Judaic self-righteousness, philosophic speculations, and rhetorical sophistries, the "knowledge" so much prized by many (opposed to "the knowledge of God"), which endangered a section of the Corinthian Church.

against the knowledge of God—True knowledge makes men humble. Where there is exaltation of self, there knowledge of God is wanting [Bengel]. Arrange the words following thus: "Bringing every thought (that is, intent of the mind or will) into captivity to the obedience of Christ," that is, to obey Christ. The three steps of the apostle's spiritual warfare are: (1) It demolishes what is opposed to Christ; (2) It leads captive; (3) It brings into obedience to Christ (Ro 1:5; 16:26). The "reasonings" (English Version, "imaginations") are utterly "cast down." The "mental intents" (English Version, "thoughts") are taken willing captives, and tender the voluntary obedience of faith to Christ the Conqueror.

Casting down imaginations; logismouv, reasonings; and every high thing, every height of reasoning,

that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God. The great troublers of this church of Corinth were the heathen philosophers, and such as had sucked in their principles; with whose notions, which were conclusions drawn from reason not sanctified and subdued to the will of God, divers doctrines of faith would not agree. St. Paul tells them, that the gospel, (which was the great weapon of his warfare), through the power of God, was mighty to pull down the strong holds which unbelief had in the carnal understanding of men, to overthrow their reasonings, the heights of them, which exalted themselves against the doctrine of faith; and to bring pan nohma,

every thought, or counsel into a captivity to the obedience of Christ: so as whatsoever was revealed by the apostles from the Spirit of God, men readily agreed and yielded obedience to; whatever their thoughts or reasonlings about it were, they gave credit to it; not because it appeared rational to them, but upon the Divine authority of the revelation; submitting their reason to that, and believing it the most rational thing in the world, that they should believe what God affirmed, and do what God commanded; and this blessed effect the gospel had in all those who heartily embraced it: for indeed to give an assent to a proposition, merely upon a sensible or rational demonstration, is no faith, that is, no Divine faith. Truly to believe, in a Divine sense, is to assent to a proposition upon the credit of the revelation, though we cannot make it out by our reason: and this it is to have our thoughts brought into a captivity to the obedience of Christ. That whereas reason, as it is since the fall subjected in man, riseth up in arms against several Divine propositions, and saith: How can these things be? How can one be three, and three one? How could the Divine and human nature unite in one person? How can the dead rise? &c.: The believer audit verbum Dei et tacet, readeth these things, and others of the like nature, plainly asserted in holy writ, and chides down his reason; resolving to give credit to these things merely because God hath said them, who cannot lie. Thus our nohmata, thoughts, counsels, reasonings, deliberations, conclusions, all the product of our understanding, is brought into a captivity to the obedience of Christ; and reason itself, which is the governess and mistress of the soul of man, is made a captive to revelation. And in this appeared the mighty power of the weapons of the apostle’s warfare. Casting down imaginations,.... Or "reasonings"; the carnal reasonings of the minds of natural men against God, his providences and purposes, against Christ, and the methods of salvation, and every truth of the Gospel; which are all disproved, silenced, and confounded, by the preaching of the word, which though reckoned the foolishness and weakness of God, appears to be wiser and stronger than men; and whereby the wisdom of the wise is destroyed, and the understanding of the prudent brought to nothing:

and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God; every proud thought of the heart, every great swelling word of vanity, every big look, even all the lofty looks and haughtiness of men, with every airy flight, and high towering imagination, reasoning, and argument advanced against the Gospel of Christ; which is here meant by the knowledge of God, and so called, because it is the means of leading souls into the knowledge of God, even into a better knowledge of him than can be attained to, either by the light of nature, or law of Moses; to a knowledge of him, and acquaintance with him in Christ the Mediator, in whom the light of the knowledge of the glory of God is given; and with which knowledge of God eternal life is connected, yea, in this it consists; it is the beginning of it, and will issue in it.

And bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; or "carrying captive the whole understanding"; that is, so illustrating it with divine light, that it clearly sees Christ to be the alone, able, willing, full, and suitable Saviour, and so becomes obedient to him, both as a Saviour and a King; such an enlightened soul looks to him alone for life and salvation, ventures on him, and relies upon him, and is desirous and willing to be saved by him in his own way; he receives and embraces all his truths and doctrines with faith and love, and obeys them from the heart, and cheerfully and willingly submits to all his commands and ordinances; for though he is taken by the grace of God, and all his strong holds, reasonings, and high thoughts are demolished by the power of God in the Gospel, and he himself is carried captive, yet not against, but with his will, to be a voluntary subject of Christ, and cheerfully to submit to the sceptre of his kingdom.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, {3} and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

(3) An amplification of this spiritual power, which conquers the enemies in such a way, be they ever so crafty and mighty, that it brings some of them by repentance to Christ, and justly avenges others that are stubbornly obstinate, separating them from the others who allow themselves to be ruled.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 10:5. How the πρὸς καθαίρ. ὀχυρωμ. is executed by the ἡμεῖς (the logical subject in 2 Corinthians 10:4): inasmuch as we pull down thoughts (Romans 2:15), i.e. bring to nothing hostile deliberations, resolutions, plans, calculations, and the like, raising themselves like fortresses against Christ. More precise definitions (Grotius and many others: “ratiocinationes philosophorum,” comp. Ewald; “subtleties,” Hofmann; “thoughts of their own,” behind which men screen themselves from the urgent knowledge of God) are not warranted by the context, nor yet by the contrast of γνῶσις τ. θ., since this is meant objectively (in opposition to de Wette, who understands thoughts of self-conceited wisdom). Also against Olshausen’s opinion, that Paul is censuring specially the pretended wisdom of the Christ-party, it is to be observed that he is speaking, not simply of the working against Corinthian opponents, but against enemies in general. The figurative expression of destruction by war, καθαιροῦντες, was very naturally suggested by the image which had just gone before, and which is immediately afterwards taken up again by ὕψωμα (ἐπέμεινε τῇ τροπῇ, ἵνα πλείονα ποιήσῃ τἠν ἔμφασιν, Chrysostom); and the subsequent ἐπαιρόμ. emphatically corresponds to i.

καὶ πᾶν ὕψωμα κ.τ.λ.] and every exalted thing (rampart, castle, tower, and the like, comp. Aq. Psalm 18:34, and see in general, Schleusner, Thes. V. p. 427), which is lifted up against the (evangelical) knowledge of God (the knowledge of God κατʼ ἐξοχήν), that this may not become diffused and prevailing. The real meaning of the figurative ὕψωμα is equivalent to that of ὀχύρωμα, 2 Corinthians 10:4; the relation to λογισμούς is, however, correctly defined by Bengel: “cogitationes species, altitudo genus.”

The enemy, who is thus vanquished by the destruction of his high places, is πᾶν νόημα, i.e. not all reason (Luther; comp. Vulgate: “omnem intellectum”), as if πάντα νοῦν were used, but (comp. on 2 Corinthians 3:14, 2 Corinthians 4:4) every creation of thought, every product of the human thinking faculty. The λογισμοί before named belong to this, but Paul here goes on to the whole general category of that, which as product of the νοῦς takes the field against Christianity. All this is by Paul and his companions brought into captivity, and thereby into subordination to Christ, after the bulwarks are destroyed, etc. Thus the holy war comes to the goal of complete victor.

εἰς τὴν ἱπακοὴν τοῦ Χ.] so that this πᾶν νόημα, which previously was hostile to Christ, now becomes obedient and subject to Christ. By this is expressed the conversion to Christ, which is attained through the apostolic working, consequently a leading captive ἀπὸ δουλείας εἰς ἐλευθερίαν, ἀπὸ θανάτου πρὸς ζωὴν, ἐξ ἀπωλείας πρὸς σωτηρίαν, Chrysostom. The condition ὑπακοὴ τοῦ Χριστοῦ is conceived of as a local sphere, into which the enemy is led captive. Comp. Luke 21:24; Tob 1:10; 1 Kings 8:46; 3 Esdr. 2 Corinthians 6:16; Jdt 5:18. Apart from this conception, Paul would have written τῇ ὑπακοῇ τοῦ Χριστοῦ, or simply τῷ Χριστῷ. Comp. Romans 7:23. Kypke, Zachariae, Flatt, Emmerling, Bretschneider, connect εἰς τ. ὑπακ. τ. Χ. with πᾶν νόημα, and take εἰς as contra. But in that case Paul would have written very unintelligibly, and by the change of the preposition (previously κατά) would have simply led the reader astray; besides, the αἰχμαλωτίζοντες, without εἰς τ. ὑπακ. τ. Χ., would remain open and incomplete; finally, 2 Corinthians 10:6 shows that he conceived the ὑπακοὴ Χριστοῦ as the goal of the working, consequently as belonging to αἰχμαλ. Comp. also Romans 1:5; Romans 16:26.2 Corinthians 10:5. λογισμοὺς καθαιροῦντες κ.τ.λ.: casting down, as if they were centres of the enemy’s force, reasonings (St. Paul’s message, as he told the Corinthians at 1 Corinthians 2:4 was not ἐν πειθοῖς σοφίας λόγοις, but “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power”; he ever regards the Gospel as a revelation, not a body of doctrine which could be reasoned out by man for himself from first principles—not, to be sure, an irrational system, but one which is beyond the capacity of reason to discover or to fathom to its depths), and every high thing (carrying on the metaphor by which the “towering” conceits of speculation are represented as fortifications erected against the soldiers of the Cross) that is exalted, or “elevated,” “built up,” against the knowledge of God, sc., which is revealed in Christ, and leading captive (for αἰχμαλωτίζειν the more correct Attic form is αἰχμαλωτεύειν) every thought into the obedience of Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 9:13). All through this passage the Apostle has directly in view the opposition of gainsayers at Corinth, and so it is not safe to interpret his phrases as directed without qualification against the claims of the intellect and conscience in the matter of doctrine. Yet it must be remembered that he regarded the message which he preached as directly revealed to himself, and not derived from tradition or interpretation, and hence as possessed of a certainty to which the demonstrations of philosophy, however cogent, could not attain. All Truth must be loyal to “the obedience of Christ,” who was Himself “the Truth” (cf. 2 Corinthians 13:8).5. casting down] This is not spoken of the weapons, but of the Apostles.

imaginations] Rather, as margin, reasonings (consilia, Vulgate, counceilis, Wiclif).The rendering ‘imaginations’ comes from Tyndale. St Paul refers to the efforts of human reason to deal with things beyond it, the best corrective of which is and always will be the simple proclamation of God’s message to man.

exalteth itself] Or, is exalted.

against the knowledge of God] For this phrase see Proverbs 2:5; Hosea 6:6; 1 Corinthians 15:34; Colossians 1:10, and the kindred phrase in Isaiah 11:9; 2 Peter 2:20. Here it signifies that by which we know God, i.e. the Gospel. See 1 Corinthians 2:10; 1 Corinthians 13:12; Galatians 4:9.

bringing into captivity] Another military metaphor. See note on 2 Corinthians 10:3.

every thought] The word is the same as in ch. 2 Corinthians 2:11, 2 Corinthians 3:14, 2 Corinthians 4:4. It occurs only in Php 4:7 and in this Epistle.2 Corinthians 10:5. Λογισμοὺς [imaginations, reasonings] thoughts) those very thoughts of which he speaks, 2 Corinthians 10:2.[64]—ΚΑΘΑΙΡΟῦΝΤΕς, casting down) This expression might be construed with 2 Corinthians 10:3, but it rather depends on 2 Corinthians 10:4, the pulling down [καθαίρεσιν]. Again, the nominative is used for an oblique case, as in ch. 2 Corinthians 9:13, note.—ΠᾶΝ ὝΨΩΜΑ, every high thing) Thoughts is the species; high thing, the genus. He does not say, ὕψος; comp. Romans 8:39, note.[65]—ἐπαιρόμενον, exalting itself) like a wall and a rampart.—κατὰ τῆς γνώσεως τοῦ Θεοῦ, against the knowledge of God) True knowledge makes men humble [attributing all power to GOD alone.—V. g.] Where there is exaltation of self, there the knowledge of God is wanting.—αἰχμαλωτίζοντες πᾶν νόημα) ΝΌΗΜΑ implies the faculty of the mind, νοός, of which ΛΟΓΙΣΜΟῚ, the thoughts, are the acts. The latter, hostile in [of] themselves, are cast down; the former vanquished and taken captive is wont to surrender itself, so that it necessarily and willingly tenders the obedience of faith to Christ the conqueror, having laid aside all its own authority, even as a slave entirely depends on the will of his master.

[64] Λογισμοὺς alludes, by Mimesis, to the Corinthians, τοὺς λογιζομενους, etc., 2 Corinthians 10:2.—ED.

[65] ὕψος the primitive, height absolutely: ὕψωμα a kind of verbal, not so much high, as a thing made high, elevated, elated.—ED.Verse 5. - Casting down. This agrees with "we" understood, not with "weapons." Imaginations; rather, disputations, or reasonings. Every high thing that exalteth itself; rather, every height that is exalted. Against the knowledge of God (see 1 Corinthians 15:34). There, however, we have passive ignorance, here active opposition. Bringing into captivity. When the fortresses are razed, their defenders will be taken prisoners, but for a beneficent end. Every thought. Even intellectual result. The word (noema) is not common in the New Testament. It occurs five times in this Epistle (2 Corinthians 2:11; 2 Corinthians 3:14; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 2 Corinthians 10:5; 2 Corinthians 11:3), but elsewhere only in Philippians 4:7. Casting down (καθαιροῦντες)

Not the weapons, but we: we war, casting down, etc.

High thing (ὕψωμα)

Only here and Romans 8:39. Falling in with the metaphor of strongholds. High military works thrown up, or lofty natural fastnesses with their battlements of rock. The word is also used in the Septuagint and Apocrypha of mental elevation, as Job 24:24, where the Septuagint reads "his haughtiness hath harmed many."

Exalteth itself (ἐπαιρόμενον)

Rev., is exalted. Aeschylus uses a similar metaphor in Atossa's dream of the two women whom Xerxes yoked to his chariot: "And the one towered (ἐπουργοῦτο) loftily in these trappings" ("Persae," 190).

Bringing into captivity (αἰχμαλωτίζοντες)

Or leading away captive. The military metaphor is continued; the leading away of the captives after the storming of the stronghold. See on captives, Luke 4:18. The campaign against the Cilician pirates resulted in the reduction of a hundred and twenty strongholds and the capture of more than ten thousand prisoners.

Thought (νόημα)

See on 2 Corinthians 3:14.

To the obedience of Christ

In pursuance of the metaphor. The obedience is the new stronghold into which the captives are led. This is indicated by the preposition εἰς into or unto.

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