For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds); casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full.2 Corinthians 10:3-6 ASV
“Flesh” is used in two senses here, a distinguishing Pauline trademark. Although still in the body (the flesh), his warfare is not according to the nature of unregenerated and sinful people, whose works are governed by material and secular considerations (according to the flesh).
What were Paul’s weapons?
“Casting down of strongholds” This phrase is essentially military; and the imagery is that of a bitter and relentless warfare.
The strongholds were those entrenched and fortified positions of institutionalized sin which dominated the Corinthian culture, and indeed the whole social fabric of the ancient Roman Empire. Satan had organized evil on a worldwide scale; and the teachings of Jesus Christ were leveled against every form of wickedness, no matter how securely it was embedded in the gross culture of that era.
“Mighty before God” Paul’s meaning here is that he had the proper ammunition to blow up and destroy the entrenched positions of the devil. History demonstrated that Paul’s evaluation of the weapons at his disposal was correct.
“Imaginations” appear here in company with other evils; and despite the fact of man’s imagination being a glorious distinction between himself and the lower creations, the misuse of it is superlatively sinful.
It was true then, and it is true now. It is the “imagination” of scholars which seeks to challenge the unity of this epistle; and there is hardly any attack ever launched against Christianity that has not been grounded in the evil imagination of its enemies.
The word “thought” shows that the conflict is not physical, but it is in the realm of ideas and imaginations against the truth.
People have always had trouble with their imagination, the deluge itself having been the God-imposed penalty for man’s imagination, which was “only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
“Your obedience shall be made full” This does not mean, as some assert, that “the church’s obedience is here yet to come”; but that it was to be made COMPLETE when Paul had disposed of “some” who were enemies of the truth.
There is in this passage an implied admission that their obedience, even at that time, was approaching fullness. The thing that would complete it was Paul’s determination, or “readiness,” to destroy the influence of the “some” who were still holding out against the truth.