God has armed believers with powerful ὅπλον (hoplon) “weapons.” Greeks applied this word as a title for heroic citizen-soldiers armed with long spears and shields. The Captain of the Lord’s hosts has called believers, as citizens of Heaven, into active military service. These weapons are not associated with the fallen, earthly real (σαρκικός (sarkikos), but “mighty” through God. Worldly leaders, at every level, seek to raise higher by means of pulling others down. Soldiers of the cross seek to lift others higher even at their own expense.
Not a single weapon of God is designed to lift up his army by debasing other people. The Lord never funds, energizes, or even gives the nod to ego inflating activities. The church possesses weapons for pulling down prideful demonic positions in order to lift up hurting humanity.
The word translated “mighty” here comes from the Greek term δυνατός (dunatos) meaning “strong” or “immensely powerful.” However, this word can also mean “possible.” The Lord gives every solider weapons against which the enemy’s attacks cannot possibly stand. God has thought of every possible scenario hell might plan. In his infinite wisdom, the Lord has blessed the Church with weapons πρός (pros [in the accusative case])—meaning ‘for the purpose of’—assaulting, dismantling, and decimating the place where once stood demonic ὀχύρωμα (ochuroma), or ‘stoutly built fortresses.’”
2 Corinthians 10:5
We are dismantling false reasoning and every high place raised up in opposition to the knowledge of God. We capture these ungodly thoughts and bring them into obedience to Christ.
Many think of strongholds consisting of seemingly unshakable, destructive addictions. Satan strategizes in a much more cleaver manner. He knows that wrong thinking automatically produces wrong behavior. Lies serve as the building blocks of every stronghold. In the garden, the serpent did not start with “beat your wife, manufacture an idol, and begin worshiping it.” One lie, lodged in the mind, left unchecked against the Word opened the door more than wide enough. The stronghold of “you will not die if you eat; you will be like God” unleashed an incalculable number of wicked actions into Adam’s descendants.
In Ephesians 6, Paul catalogues the hierarchy of demonic forces (Eph. 6:12). True to form, Satan copied the chain of command the Lord created for his angels (Col. 1:16). The “rulers of the darkness of this world” comprise one of the top levels for evil spirits. These unclean spirits plan strategies for advancing the kingdom of darkness in the earth. They know that wrong thinking produces twisted value systems and twisted value systems bear the fruit of evil behaviors. These spirits seize hold of various platforms for dispensing their dark philosophies. Some of their favorite platforms include the entertainment industry, universities, and, sadly at times, churches. In large part, it’s a matter of demonic economics: the larger the audience, the more valuable to the devil’s workers.
Again, the “strongholds” are built, not from bad behavior, but ungodly value systems. The entertainment industry peddles the lie that women serve as nothing more than sexual objects. This, in turn fuels behaviors such as addiction to pornography. Universities teach that humans originated from chance collisions of nonessential matter. This makes way for a value system lacking destiny. If humanity arrived on the scene without purpose, we must exit the stage, not into an eternal Heaven or hell, but into nothingness. Politicians put forth the philosophy that life begins at some arbitrary point instead of conception. This produces the belief that unborn babies bear some kind of standing below a full human being. This manner of thinking has, to Satan’s delight, splashed massive buckets of blood onto the canvas of history.
If a church believes the false philosophy that certain parts of Scripture are inspired and others lack inspiration, certain destruction will follow. Strongholds involving false beliefs concerning God’s Word prove the strongest variety of all. When a person chooses gives lies a place of prominence in their mind, those lies can take root in the heart. The false reasoning (λογισμός(logismos) expounded on here results, not so much from unintentional ignorance, but open rebellion. These prideful thoughts ἐπαιρόμενον (epairo) are lifting themselves up in opposition to the knowledge of God.
When writing to Timothy, Paul urges Timothy to wield the weapon of truth to those encased in strongholds to “come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him” (2 Tim. 2:25–26 NLT). The “capturing” of deceptive thoughts makes way for the freeing of the bewitched. Capturing such thoughts allows one to view them juxtaposed with the truth, against which they appear truly hideous. Paul calls these deceptive thoughts ὕψωμα (hupsoma), or “(high) things,” that ἐπαιρόμενον (epairo), “lift themselves up.”
In the natural, any wise military strategist builds the city’s strong- hold on very high ground. In Corinth, the city’s highest point, comprised of a massive rock formation is known as the Acrocorinth (seen on the cover of this commentary). Generals wisely built a massive, nearly impenetrable fortress on this very site. Several times through- out history, soldiers defended the region from invaders by utilizing this sturdy fortress.
In addition to Corinth, the building of cities on high places remained a penchant of Hellenistic city planners throughout Greek expansion. Although this architectural obsession became most glaring during Alexander’s time and shortly thereafter, its roots go down below the strata of the Classical period and sink into the Mycenaean era. Here, among the ruins, archeologists have uncovered high places whereupon lie the remains of fortresses. Not just any high, level area of rock proved a suitable place for constructing a fortress. The building of a stronghold required two things: a water source and fertile ground. Once a location met such criteria, city walls and other defenses went up around well-watered, fertile high places. In similar fashion, demonic strongholds require both a stream of lies and fertile ground for receiving seeds of deception.
In the Classical period, the Parthenon, Erechtheion, and temple of Athena, Nike proudly perched on the Acropolis in Athens all serve as testimonies of supposedly “high and lifted up” deities. It is no coincidence that the twelve great gods of Greece’s pantheon reside nearly 3,000 feet up on Mount Olympus.
When an army mounted a successful attack on a city’s perimeter, the city’s forces would flee into the walls of its stronghold. There, they would regroup in order to launch a counterattack. When God begins to break down deception in a person, demonic forces often refuse to immediately surrender. Instead, they retreat, for the purpose of formulating a counter-strike into the stronghold of the mind.
When writing to the Ephesians, Paul commands them to “give no territory to the devil” (Eph 4:23). This happens first at the entry points of one’s life. The word translated “territory” comes from the Greek term τόπος (topos) meaning “a distinct region or area.” Writers also use it to connote “a seaport” (c.f. Acts 27:2). The enemy first assails believers at the entry ports of their eyes, ears, and mouths before entrenching in their minds. Once on the land of the soul, Satan begins seeking out mental “high places” as locales for πλεονεκτέω (pleonekteo) “deceptively exploiting” his victims by means of νόημα (noema) or “reasoning schemes” (2 Cor 2:11). πλεονεκτέω is a compound word comprised of the Greek terms πλείων (pleion) and ἔχω (echo). The adjective πλείων (pleion) signifies “a great degree of something” and translates to “much” or “many.” The oft used verb ἔχω (echo) connotes the concept of “to have, hold tightly to, or forcefully grab for something.” Therefore, πλεονεκτέω (pleonekteo) means “to seek claim to more than what one is rightfully due.” The word also finds frequent usage to describe a “greedy” person. The devil relentlessly seeks to take more than he already possesses. His greed for territory respects no boundary and contains no stop button.
Interestingly, Paul places πλεονεκτέω (pleonekteo) in the passive verb form πλεονεκτηθῶμεν. The enemy can only take unauthorized ground from believers bowing down to his pressure and allowing him to take it. Cowering down and accepting the “victim” label makes way for Satan’s greedy grasping. Believers possessing a revelation of their position in Christ can reject the victim label for the banner of victory. Paul stands as a living example that, no matter how tough things get, Christians can always take ground and never lose it.
The obsession with high places signifying the power of an empire’s military, economy, and deities carried over from Greece to Rome. Indeed, twin demigods founded the nation upon a series of tall hills. The very name Ρώμῃ (Rhome), meaning “strength,” displays itself in the final four letters of ὀχύρωμα (ochuroma) (“strongholds”)
The theme of constructing “high places” remains woven into both the character and history of Satan. Shorty after the flood, he inspired Nimrod to construct an immense, high tower later called Babel. Later, he spurred rouge priests to set up “high places” where initiates would worship idols. Even the Acrocorinth, had, at its highest point, an altar to the false goddess Aphrodite. This fact corresponds well with both the theology of chapter 10 and the cultural malaise greatly corrupting the church at Corinth. Aphrodite (Venus) displays a feverish, out of control sexual obsession. In nearly every context she appears totally nude. Aphrodite shows no hesitation proving regularly unfaithful to her husband Hephaestus.
As stated before, deceitful thoughts give birth to twisted beliefs, and such beliefs result in dastardly behaviors. The temple of Aphrodite housed a financially prosperous and morally bankrupt prostitution enterprise. Sea captains from every sector of the Empire spun sordid tales of escapades in Corinth with exploited “female companions” (ἑταῖραι/hetaera). Paul’s repeated admonitions against a putrid parade of sexual dysfunctions in Corinth reveal the beast of sexual perversion, so pervasive in Corinthian society, beginning to lock down a chokehold upon the throat of the church.
Interestingly, the lust-immersed, self-admiring gorgon Medusa shares a close connection to Venus (Aphrodite). It comes as no surprise that a bevy of vipers nest upon Medusa’s head (thought life). None of this should come as a surprise when coming from the one who, during his rebellion, cavalierly proclaimed, “I will set my throne above the stars of God!” (Isa. 14:13).
The believer possesses weapons designed by God for “pulling down” high thoughts by “capturing” (αἰχμαλωτίζοντες/aichmalotizo) them and forcing them to stand in the balance against the truth of God’s Word. The light of truth then fully exposes all lies no matter how well camouflaged. This enables one to “stop conforming to this world’s false value system and be transformed through getting the mind to think right” (Rom. 12:2). The fog of confusion, especially regarding the will of God, moves out and clarity sets in.
In other words, “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom. 12:2 NIV). In Romans, Paul describes a man engaged in a heated battle with ”high thoughts.” Although he “loves God’s law with his innermost being (spirit), he recognizes another law in his body, warring against his mind, and capturing (αἰχμαλωτίζοντά) him to serve the law of sin” (Rom. 7:22–23). In this instance, as in all instances, the mind serves as the place where the battle rages. The enemy seeks to move past the mind and into the heart. He knows that “as a man thinks in his heart, so he becomes” (Prov. 23:7). Paul places both καθαιροῦντες (kathaireo), or “tearing down,” and αἰχμαλωτίζοντες in the active verb voice. This means the believer must choose to unsheathe and use these exceedingly powerful weapons. Satan will not roll over and play dead out of pity. He, like all bullies, only responds to force.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]