Now I, Paul, urge you by the gentleness and graciousness of Christ—I who am meek [so they say] when with you face to face, but bold [outspoken and fearless] toward you when absent! I ask that when I do come I will not be driven to the boldness that I intend to show toward those few who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh [like men without the Spirit]. For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man. The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ, being ready to punish every act of disobedience, when your own obedience [as a church] is complete. – 2 Corinthians 10:1-6
This group accused Paul of the things they themselves were doing. Because Paul did not talk like a politician (2 Corinthians 11:6), and because he was meek and mild, they said he was no true apostle and did not have the Spirit.
Not guided by the Holy Spirit of God, and the directions of his word, but by some external, carnal considerations, respecting my own profit, pleasure, or reputation, indulging my own passions or corrupt affections. Walking after the flesh is opposed to a walking after the Spirit, Romans 8:1. He walketh after the flesh, to whom the fleshly appetite is the principle, rule, and end of his actions; as he, on the contrary, to whom those habits of grace which are wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit himself more immediately by his motions or impulses, are the principle of his actions, and the word dictated by the Spirit is the rule of his actions, and the glory of God is the end of his actions, is truly said to walk after the Spirit. – Matthew Poole
Personally, one of the most difficult times to draw on the supernatural resource of the Godhead–to experience the amazing grace of Jesus, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit–is when I am being personally attacked or unfairly criticized. It’s difficult to maintain our spiritual equilibrium when we face false accusations. But that’s the exact circumstance Paul found himself in as he wrote this closing section of 2 Corinthians. A group within the church was trying to undermine Paul’s influence. They had accused him of hypocrisy, impure motives, and manipulative methods. – Doug Goins
Just because Paul is a mere man does not mean he fights on mere physical terms. He didn’t rely upon his fleshly attributes or human strengths to accomplish spiritual ministry, but his strength and confidence was in the Lord. He understood that he fought a spiritual battle against the spiritual fortresses of the enemy, and thus victory was only possible through the strength and grace of Christ. Since the war was spiritual, the weapons of battle must also be spiritual, namely prayer, the Spirit of God, and the Word of God. These are the means by which the devil is stopped in his tracks. He doesn’t fear mere man, but he does fear Christ. He is defeated as sound doctrine is fought for and contended for. Mere human wisdom, speculations, and supposed “lofty” understanding which is nothing but lies and human arrogance must be displaced with the truth of God’s Word. When these deceptions of man and of the devil are raised up in an attack against the Lord, these need to be brought down with the truth of God’s Word. Every thought that is wrong must be challenged so that God’s people think rightly and then live accordingly. Wrong theology leads to wrong living, whereas right doctrine leads to obedience. Thus, Paul’s purpose in coming is to see that the church as a whole is living obediently and in accordance to the truth, and if there are any in opposition, it is God and His Word which must put them in their place. Once it was clear who was going to follow Christ, then those who rejected sound doctrine were to be disciplined by being put out of the fellowship. This purging was for the good and preservation of the church, and this honored Christ because He demands obedience. – Brent Barnett