The word of the day is “weapons.” If you have ever tried with your own this-worldly strength to defeat the assaults of the devil, then the reading of 2 Corinthians 9:12-10:7 is for you. In this passage, Paul speaks of the spiritual warfare in which he is engaged. He relates that he is contending against his opponents who have taken over the congregation at Corinth. We might think that this is a human struggle over leadership, a rivalry that can only be won by exercising authority, control, and power. But the apostle maintains that it is a spiritual struggle, a battle to win the hearts, minds, and souls of the church members.
Paul Does not Wield the Weapons of the Flesh But of the Spirit
If it is such a spiritual battle, then Paul must use spiritual weapons; as the apostle says, his armaments are “mighty in God” (vs. 4). St. John Chrysostom lists the weapons “of the flesh” that worldly persons use to seize power and control: “Wealth, glory, power, fluency, cleverness, circumventions, flatteries, hypocrisies,” etc. (NPFP 1:12, 376). But Paul discloses that he is not using the weapons of his own talents, education, strength, and knowledge. He is wielding powers that are of God and from God (vs. 4). By their divine strength, they pull down every exalted argument, capture every line of human reasoning, and put it in its place “in obedience to Christ” (vs. 5).
For Reflection: The Whole Armor of God
Do not think that the weapons of the Spirit that Paul used are only for the martyrs and saints who possess the unique gifts of the Spirit. But know that God provides a spiritual arsenal to all believers as St. Paul says, “Put on the whole armor of God” (OSB Ephesians 6:11). The term “whole armor” is a compound of the Greek words for “all” and “weapons.” Thus, the “whole armor” is a complete outfit of armaments (Strong’s #3833). These arms include the “belt of truth,” the “breastplate of righteousness,” the “shoes of the Gospel of peace,” the “shield of faith,” “the helmet of salvation,” and the “sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Ephesians 6:14-17).
The Purpose of Our Spiritual Arsenal
Note the primary purpose of this spiritual weaponry. Paul teaches us to put on this “whole armor” “…so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (OSB Ephesians 6:11). The Greek word refers to a “method” and gives the sense of the crafty and deceitful ways that the devil does his work of defying God and undermining believers.
In our struggle with the devil and despite the frailties of our human nature, the Spirit gives us all the equipment that we need for doing God’s will (Hebrews 13:21). But in times of temptation, we need to remember to use these gifts of spiritual wisdom and power. To do this, we need to prepare our armor of the Spirit by prayer, devotional reading, the study of the scriptures and church fathers, and frequent use of the church’s Holy Mysteries (sacraments).