Today we’re going to study the Scripture passage that speaks of taking thoughts captive and casting down imaginations. We’ll look up the meanings of these phrases and check out the background of why Paul wrote this passage to the believers at Corinth.
Grab your coffee and your Bible and notebook and let’s begin. It’s a Bible study day!
Casting Down Imaginations and Taking Thoughts Captive in Context
You know I’m not about to take a Scripture verse out of context so let’s look at the whole of 2 Corinthians 10:3-6.
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
5 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;
6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
Paul teaches us that our weapons are not carnal weapons as they are powerful weapons that we have through God. So what are these weapons?
The Matthew Henry Commentary states: (2.) The doctrines of the gospel and discipline of the church are the weapons of this warfare, and these are not carnal: outward force, therefore, is not the method of the gospel, but strong persuasions, by the power of truth and the meekness of wisdom.
I want to add here two Scripture references that support this, Ephesians 6:15, And your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace, and Ephesians 6:17, And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
With regard to strongholds, Matthew Henry also states that ignorance, prejudices, beloved lusts, are Satan’s strong-holds in the souls of some; vain imaginations, carnal reasonings, and high thoughts, or proud conceits, in others, exalt themselves against the knowledge of God… and, these strong-holds are pulled down by the gospel as the means, through the grace and power of God.
What is powerful? The Gospel is powerful. Let’s keep studying this.
Casting Down Imaginations
Look at what Paul says in verse 5, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against God.
I looked up the word “imaginations” in the Greek Lexicon and it isn’t what I thought it was. It isn’t about things we imagine in our minds like planning an outing, but instead, it is reasoning that is hostile to the Christian faith.
Before we go any further, let’s look at the background for Paul’s writing on this subject.
Paul’s heart was for believers everywhere to walk in spirit and truth and he was especially concerned with those in the church at Corinth for he had heard of many things that agitated him as they were contrary to the Gospel. There were “fightings without” and “fears within” the church, 2 Corinthians 7:5.
As Paul continued to write to the believers, he talked about spiritual warfare against spiritual strongholds and the importance of casting down imaginations and everything that exalts itself against God.
He wasn’t talking about himself, he was talking about those who are exalting themselves against God, those who are spreading their own carnal reasonings or proud and conceited thoughts that are hostile to the Gospel. They needed correction and Paul was going to teach them and let the power of the Gospel correct their faulty thinking.
So, this means that while we are to recognize false teachings so we won’t be deceived, we are, through the power of the Gospel, to break down the strongholds that have been built up in others. We are to teach them the truth of the Gospel, dispelling any and all incorrect teachings they received and believed in. Deeply rooted errors need to be uprooted through God’s power and through the Word of God.
Taking Thoughts Captive
I also looked up the phrase and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. Here’s what I discovered: thoughts that have an evil purpose, thoughts that lead people astray from the Gospel, thoughts that keep people in bondage to false teachings, thoughts that teach against God are to be brought captive to the obedience of Christ.
The same question arose, whose thoughts are we talking about? My thoughts or someone else’s thoughts?
Again, these are thoughts that others have believed that are contrary to the Gospel and are against God. We are, as stated above, to tear down arguments and ideas that be-little God and all thoughts or teachings that exalt themselves against God. And again, we do this through the power of Holy Spirit and the Word of Truth teaching them to obey Christ.
What About Your Own Thoughts?
Does this text that we’re studying mean that this isn’t about your own thoughts? Primarily, it isn’t. It is about the imaginations and thoughts of others in the Church that are spreading out in the Body of Christ. These (the thoughts and imaginations) are like cancer and can infect and maim others within hearing distance as the false teachings are spread around.
With regard to your own thoughts, it is a good thing to check in on yourself to what you are hearing, believing, and inadvertently passing on to others. This passage is about spiritual warfare, not about the things you think about on a day-to-day basis.
You more than likely know that the devil has one job description and that is to kill, steal and destroy, John 10:10. He will use anything and everything at his disposal to accomplish that task. He will whisper lies to you and attempt to cause you to have evil thoughts that go against the Gospel and against the knowledge of God. When you recognize this, you must take those thoughts captive.
Sometimes you’ll think thoughts that are so subtle that you slowly begin to believe them. Thoughts such as a new interpretation of a scripture passage or doctrinal belief. These reasonings can come through reading a book or hearing a sermon online, or even through a friend who heard it from another friend.
These are evil thoughts intended to lure you away from the Gospel truth. They are lies whispered to you from the father of lies, satan and or his demons. Do not believe them! Satan isn’t omnipresent, he cannot be everywhere at once so he uses his minions to do his work and spread lies. And most importantly, you need to know that satan does not have the ability to read your mind.
Paul taught in 2 Corinthians 2:11, Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. Be aware of the enemy’s tactics! Don’t let him fill your mind with garbage.
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That’s a Wrap
We are in a spiritual battle and it needs to be fought with spiritual weapons. The battle we’ve been studying is in regard to carnal reasonings and thoughts that rise against the purity of the Gospel. This passage teaches us that taking thoughts captive is to the take them to the obedience of Christ. Whether it is your thoughts that are leading you astray concerning the Gospel Truth or someone else you know who is infecting the Body of Christ with false teaching.
Be diligent to protect your mind and protect your belief in the sound doctrine of Jesus Christ.
Has studying this passage in context been a help to you concerning this passage in 2 Corinthians 10? Let me know as I’d love to hear from you.
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Cindy Barnes has been called by God in the early 80s to be a teacher of His Word. She is a serious student of the Word, focusing on the Inductive Bible Study Method since 2007. Her passion is to teach women how to study the Bible using this method. In addition, she desires for women to develop an intense yearning to draw closer to God through reading and writing out the Bible.
Cindy teaches hundreds of women in her private online Bible Study Group who express their joy of growing deeper in their spiritual walk.
You can stay in touch with Cindy on Liberty Circle – 215 Ministry.