2 Corinthians 4
Glory Through Suffering.
SUMMARY.--Paul's Sincerity and Earnestness in the Ministry.
The Eyes of Some Blinded by the God of the World.
Troubles and Persecution Redound to the Glory of God.
Paul's Sufferings for the Gospel's Sake.
Exposed to Death in Order to Carry Life.
The Present Affliction Working Glory.
The Unseen Things Eternal.
1-4. Seeing we have this ministry. The ministry of the Spirit
and of Life; of the new covenant, described in the preceding chapter.
As we have received mercy. Christ, though he was a persecutor,
had mercy on him and called him to the ministry. Hence, he was under
obligations to "faint not," though meeting trouble and persecution.
2. But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty. This
glorious ministry was under no "veil" and was not hidden. Its ministers
must turn away from all dishonest practices or teachings. Paul intends
to rebuke, by his example, the false and deceitful teachers who sought
to bring the Corinthians under the old Jewish covenant.
the word of God deceitfully. His enemies not only resorted to
calumny, but perverted the word of the Lord by adulterating it with the
elements of the law, of tradition, and with false ideas of Christ. See
Gal. 6:12, 13.
Commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of
God. He presented the truth and made his appeal directly to the
human conscience, that monitor which God has given to all men.
3. But if our gospel be hid. He has shown
that there is no veil in Christ, and declared
that he preached not things hidden by a veil. But the Judaizing
opposers replied that his gospel was as much veiled to them as he said
that the law was veiled to the Jews. He replies that it is only veiled
to the lost, who are blinded by the god of this world. In order to
understand the allusions the reader must keep in mind Paul's life-long
contest with Judaism in the church. See notes on
4. The god of this world. See
John 12:31, 40; Phil. 3:19.
Satan is called the prince of this world, and the god of this world. By
his devices he blinds the eyes of men so they should not see the light
Image of God. He who would see God may see him in the face of
5, 6. We preach not ourselves. We have no self-seeking sins in
preaching, but only seek to preach
Christ Jesus, the Lord. We know that Paul's preaching was
perverted. He called on the disciples to follow him as he followed
(1 Cor. 11:1; 4:16; 7:6),
and they asserted that he preached himself. Instead he made himself
"the servant of all"
(1 Cor. 9:19)
for Christ's sake.
6. For God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness.
Hath shined in our hearts. By bringing to the light of the
The light of the knowledge, etc. Knowledge is light. The glory
of God is revealed in his Son, who hath shown for the divine
excellency, tenderness and love.
7-9. We have this treasure in earthen vessels. The treasure of
the knowledge of Christ and of the ministry of the gospel of life.
Perhaps his enemies pointed to his sorrows as a proof that he was not
so favored as a minister of Christ. A splendid treasure was placed in a
fragile, cheap earthen vessel. Then it was manifest that the great work
wrought was the
power of God, not of us, the apostles and evangelists.
8, 9. We are troubled on every side. In
verses 8 and 9
are four pairs of contrasts which should the frailty of the instruments
and the greatness of the power: (1) "pressed on
every side" (Revision), but not hemmed in by the pressure; (2) in
apparently overwhelming difficulties, but never reduced to despair; (3)
persecuted by their enemies, but not forsaken and delivered over to
them; (4) overthrown and cast to the earth, but even then rescued from
the enemy, standing over them prostrate, so that they are not
10-12. Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord
Jesus. Always bearing sufferings and danger of death, as the Lord
died, so that we may carry the life which the Lord gives to others. In
constant suffering and peril of death the apostle was the messenger of
11. For we which live are always delivered unto death. This
verse more fully explains the meaning of
The ministers of the gospel were always exposed to death, and at their
cost bore the precious charge of life to men.
12. Death working in us. The ever present image of death,
threatening the gospel ministers, was the means of life to the
13-15. We having the same spirit of faith. Yet in spite of all
the sufferings and peril described, we preach right on. Like the
we are moved by the power of faith;
we also believe, therefore we speak.
14. Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus. Assured that
we shall all be raised and stand together before the Lord, we preach.
This is our faith. If we die for Christ God will raise us.
15. For all things are for your sakes. Our suffering, our dying
daily, and the glorious hope, and the result of these things is that
the thanksgiving of multitudes of the saved should redound to the glory
16-18. For which cause. Moved by faith, hope, the love of souls
and desire for the glory of God,
we faint not; do not for a moment give way and relax our efforts.
Though our outward man perish. Though our body waste away under
the trials, or is threatened with death.
Yet the inward man. His spiritual strength is constantly renewed
by Christ. The "inward man" is the immaterial nature in contrast with
the material body. See
Rom. 7:22 and Eph. 3:16.
17. For our light affliction. Great as his afflictions were, he
calls them light in view of the glorious reward they will bring;
continual as they were, he speaks of them as
but for a moment in view of eternity. They were the more easily
borne for they
work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
Bearing the cross weaves
an eternal crown. Sorrows endured for Christ's sake prepare for eternal
18. While we look not at things which are seen, but, etc. Our
eyes are fixed on the unseen things beyond, the glory that the flesh
cannot behold. Hence, we turn away from present afflictions as
momentary, as belonging to the seen and the transient, and only regard
them as adding to the weight of our unseen, eternal joys. Our goal is
For the things which are seen are temporal. All material things,
and all that the world values, are perishing. All things of sense shall
pass away; Cæsar's greatness, the might of Roman power, the
strength of man, the glory of the magnificence of Corinth; even the
visible heavens and the earth.
But the unseen things are eternal. The things which the senses
see not, but which faith reveals--God, heaven, the unseen spirit. Let
the eye be turned upon the unseen, rather than the things of sense.