The Incredible Meaning Of 2 Corinthians 10:5 (how to take every thought captive)

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 

Maybe you’ve heard the expression “Take every thought captive.” It’s become a common phrase that’s used in church. And for good reason, it’s a powerful phrase. But despite the popularity of this verse, few actually know the meaning of 2 Corinthians 10:5. 

When you spend a few minutes looking at what this verse means I think you will better understand how taking every thought captive can revolutionize your faith. 

So, let’s take a look at the 2 Corinthians 10:5 meaning and see what we can learn. We will start by looking at what led to this verse. 

The Context Of 2 Corinthians 10:5

2 Corinthians is a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. This church had some serious problems. Really, not too different than the Western church today. Paul wrote this letter to this church, and even visited, to help put them on the right path.

As Paul sought to correct their errors he also made some enemies along the way. These critics argued that Paul was a hypocrite. He was more brash in his letters and unimpressive and calm in person. When he argued he didn’t use eloquent words; instead he just used plain language. They were trying to undermine his authority. 

In response, Paul argues that it’s not about the person, but about God. And for him, he doesn’t need to focus on being impressive and boasting in his own abilities; rather he will only boast in the Lord. 

As we get to 2 Corinthians 10 we see more of Paul’s response to those who oppose him. He refuses to argue their points and instead makes a stand on boldness in Christ and standing against any disobedience. He views this opposition not as physical, but spiritual. And he encourages this church that the way to win this battle is by making our thoughts obey Christ. 

This is what leads us to the verse we are looking at; it’s in response to those who oppose Paul. So, let’s look at the 2 Corinthians 10:5 meaning and see what we can learn. 

2 Corinthians 10:5

The Meaning Of 2 Corinthians 10:5

I’ve broken this verse into two sections so that you can better see the meaning of 2 Corinthians 10:5.

We Demolish Arguments And Every Pretension That Sets Itself Up Against The Knowledge Of God 

Remember the context of this passage, Paul is answering the critics in the Corinthian church. They are not just opposing Paul, but they are trying to undermine his authority within the church. 

It’s clear from Paul’s response that he takes this seriously. But what’s interesting is his response; he doesn’t fight with physical weapons but spiritual. He seeks to demolish the arguments with prayer and God’s Word. 

As Paul sees it the battlefield is in the people’s minds and hearts. And the only way for this church to “win” was to use spiritual weapons to destroy these false beliefs that had taken root. 

We Take Captive Every Thought To Make It Obedient To Christ

“Take every thought captive” is a common saying that’s been thrown around in Christian circles for many years, and it comes from this verse. Here Paul reveals an important truth: there’s a war going on in the minds and hearts of Christians. When we believe something that is false, that will eventually lead to wrong, and destructive, actions. Thus we disobey Christ. 

The solution is to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. This is the opposite of how many Christians go about things. They focus on correcting wrong behavior, but our actions are a symptom of what we believe. Therefore, to fix our actions we need to fix our thoughts. That’s why we take every thought captive; this fixes the root cause of our issues. 

Now, this battle doesn’t just take place in our minds, but all around us. Some false teachings and beliefs are always coming against us. Just as a soldier needs to be aware of attacks that come from the battlefield, a Christian must be on guard ready to combat any thought that comes against them. 

Followers of Jesus are under the constant attack of false teachings and beliefs. We must always be on guard to protect our hearts and minds. Paul wants his readers to live in obedience to Christ. The way to do that is to take every thought captive. 

How To Take Every Thought Captive

Now that we know more about the meaning of 2 Corinthians 10:5, I want to end by looking at how to take every thought captive. 

1. Take Inventory Of Your Thoughts

You can’t take captive what you are unaware of. According to a 2020 study the average person has over 6,000 thoughts per day. Many of those thoughts are non-consequential, but others are impactful. Those set our moods and determine what we do. Our thoughts play a bigger role than many of us think in what we do and who we become. 

That’s why it’s so important to take inventory of our thoughts and to pay attention to our thinking. Why are we thinking negatively today? What is causing us to be joyful? Why are my thoughts angry, sad, or frustrated? 

It’s important to pay attention to your thoughts and to take inventory of what’s running through your mind. Pause for a minute every so often to evaluate your thoughts. You can’t take captive what you are unaware of. 

2. Identify Thoughts That Aren’t True 

Once you know what your thoughts are you need to start identifying thoughts that aren’t true. You create a filter of sorts in your mind. The filter is God’s Word; you compare your thoughts to what God says and let the good pass through and stop the bad. 

Our thoughts tell us all sorts of things about us, our capabilities, our faults, and our identity. Without a proper filter, our thoughts can lead us down dark paths and damage our faith. That’s why it’s so important to identify thoughts that don’t align with God’s Word. 

This takes some work to get started, it’s not something most of us do naturally. But once you put it in practice it will become more natural. 

3. Turn Your Thoughts Over To God 

Once we’ve identified thoughts that aren’t true we turn them over to God. This can be just a simple prayer where we acknowledge our thoughts to God and ask him to direct our thoughts to him. 

Often this can be a quick moment that takes captive the thought and makes it obedient. But you might also notice a pattern where you keep having the same negative, or untrue, thoughts popping up. This would be a good opportunity to share those thoughts with someone you can trust, or maybe a therapist depending on the severity, so that they can help you take those thoughts captive. 

For more check out: How To Depend On God (5 practical tips for relying on God)

4. Reminder Yourself Of What God Says Is True 

We are bombarded with thoughts and outside voices telling us things throughout the day. All we can do is be reactionary to those things. We take the thoughts captive. But we can be proactive by daily reminding ourselves of God’s Word. When we focus on God we will not only strengthen our faith, but we will also be more firm in our identity. 

Take time to pour into your relationship with God. Spend time with him daily, pray, journal, study the Bible, join a small group, serve somewhere, do whatever fills your spiritual tank. When you put that effort in you will see those battles being won more and more frequently. 

Looking for a way to grow your faith and remind yourself of what is true? I HIGHLY recommend Mark Moore’s books Core 52 and Quest 52. These simple 15-minute daily readings will help you connect with God and understand the Bible better. They are INCREDIBLE. Plus there are kids/teen versions as well! 

Jeffery Curtis Poor
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