Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
SINCERE, THOUGH TO
For he preaches Christ, not himself: the human vessel is frail that God
may have the glory; yet, though frail, faith and the hope of future
glory sustain him amidst the decay of the outward man.
1. Therefore--Greek, "For this cause": Because we have the
liberty-giving Spirit of the Lord, and with unveiled face behold His
(2Co 3:17, 18).
seeing we have this ministry--"The ministration of the Spirit"
(2Co 3:8, 9):
the ministry of such a spiritual, liberty-giving Gospel: resuming
2Co 3:6, 8.
received mercy--from God, in having had this ministry conferred
The sense of "mercy" received from God, makes men active for God
we faint not--in boldness of speech and action, and patience in
(2Co 4:2, 8-16,
2. renounced--literally, "bid farewell to."
of dishonesty--rather, "of shame." "I am not ashamed of
the Gospel of Christ"
Shame would lead to hiding
whereas "we use great plainness of speech"
"by manifestation of the truth." Compare
"manifestly declared." He refers to the disingenuous artifices
of "many" teachers at Corinth
(2Co 2:17; 3:1; 11:13-15).
handling . . . deceitfully--so "corrupt" or
adulterate "the word of God"
1Th 2:3, 4).
commending--recommending ourselves: recurring to
to--to the verdict of.
every man's conscience--
Not to men's carnal judgment, as those alluded to
in the sight of God--
3. But if--Yea, even if (as I grant is the case).
hid--rather (in reference to
"veiled." "Hid" (Greek,
is said of that withdrawn from view altogether. "Veiled," of a thing
within reach of the eye, but covered over so as not to be seen.
So it was in the case of Moses' face.
to them--in the case only of them: for in itself the Gospel is
that are lost--rather, "that are perishing"
So the same cloud that was "light" to the people of God, was "darkness"
to the Egyptian foes of God
4. In whom--Translate, "In whose case."
god of this world--The worldly make him their God
He is, in fact, "the prince of the power of the air, the
spirit that ruleth in the children of disobedience"
minds--"understandings": "mental perceptions," as in
them which believe not--the same as "them that are lost" (or "are
SOUTH quaintly says, "when the malefactor's eyes
are covered, he is not far from his execution"
Those perishing unbelievers are not merely veiled, but blinded
(2Co 3:14, 15):
Greek, not "blinded," but "hardened."
light of the glorious gospel of Christ--Translate, "The illumination
(enlightening: the propagation from those already enlightened,
to others of the light) of the Gospel of the glory of Christ." "The
glory of Christ" is not a mere quality (as "glorious" would express)
of the Gospel; it is its very essence and subject matter.
image of God--implying identity of nature and essence
He who desires to see "the glory of God," may see it "in the face of
Paul here recurs to
Christ is "the image of God," into which "same image" we, looking on it
in the mirror of the Gospel, are changed by the Spirit; but this image
is not visible to those blinded by Satan [ALFORD].
5. For--Their blindness is not our fault, as if we had self-seeking
aims in our preaching.
preach . . . Christ . . . the Lord--rather, "Christ as Lord,"
and ourselves as your servants, &c. "Lord," or "Master," is the
correlative term to "servants."
6. For--proof that we are true servants of Jesus unto you.
commanded the light--Greek, "By speaking the word, commanded
hath shined--rather, as Greek, "is He who shined."
(It is God) who commanded light, &c., that shined,
Himself our Light and Sun, as well as the Creator of light
The physical world answers to the spiritual.
in our hearts--in themselves dark.
to give the light--that is, to propagate to others the
light, &c., which is in us (compare Note, see on
the glory of God--answering to "the glory of Christ" (see on
in the face of Jesus Christ--Some of the oldest manuscripts retain
"Jesus." Others omit it. Christ is the manifestation of the glory of
God, as His image
The allusion is still to the brightness on Moses' "face." The only true
and full manifestation of God's brightness and glory is "in the face of
7. "Lest any should say, How then is it that we continue to enjoy
such unspeakable glory in a mortal body? Paul replies, this very
fact is one of the most marvellous proofs of God's power, that an
earthen vessel could bear such splendor and keep such a treasure"
[CHRYSOSTOM, Homilies, 8.496, A]. The treasure or "the light of the
knowledge of the glory of God." The fragile "earthen vessel" is the
body, the "outward man"
liable to afflictions and death. So the light in Gideon's pitchers, the
(Jud 7:16-20, 22).
The ancients often kept their treasures in jars or vessels of
earthenware. "There are earthen vessels which yet may be clean; whereas
a golden vessel may be filthy" [BENGEL].
that the excellency of the power, &c.--that the power of the
ministry (the Holy Spirit), in respect to its surpassing "excellency,"
exhibited in winning souls
and in sustaining us ministers, might be ascribed solely to God, we
being weak as earthen vessels. God often allows the vessel to be
chipped and broken, that the excellency of the treasure contained, and
of the power which that treasure has, may be all His
(2Co 4:10, 11;
may be of God . . . not of us--rather, as Greek,
"may be God's (may be seen and be thankfully
acknowledged to belong to God), and not (to come) from
us." The power not merely comes from God, but belongs to
Him continually, and is to be ascribed to him.
8. Greek, "BEING
hard pressed, yet not inextricably straitened;
reduced to inextricable straits" (nominative to "we have,"
on every side--Greek, "in every respect" (compare
This verse expresses inward distresses;
"Without were fightings; within were fears." The first
clause in each member of the series of contrasted participles, implies
the earthiness of the vessels; the second clause, the
excellency of the power.
perplexed, but not in despair--Greek, "not utterly perplexed."
As perplexity refers to the future, so "troubled" or "hard pressed"
refers to the present.
9. not forsaken--by God and man. Jesus was forsaken by both; so
much do His sufferings exceed those of His people
cast down--or "struck down"; not only "persecuted," that is,
chased as a deer or bird
but actually struck down as with a dart in the chase
The Greek "always" in this verse means, "throughout the whole
the Greek is different, and means, "at every time," "in every
case when the occasion occurs."
10. bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus--that is,
having my body exposed to being put to death in the cause of Jesus (the
oldest manuscripts omit "the Lord"), and having in it the marks of such
sufferings, I thus bear about wheresoever I go, an image of the
suffering Saviour in my own person
Doubtless, Paul was exposed to more dangers than are recorded in Acts
2Co 7:5; 11:26).
The Greek for "the dying" is literally, "the being made a
corpse," such Paul regarded his body, yet a corpse which shares
in the life-giving power of Christ's resurrection, as it has shared in
His dying and death.
that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body--rather,
"may be." The name "Jesus," by itself is often repeated here as Paul
seems, amidst sufferings, peculiarly to have felt its sweetness. In
the same words occur with the variation, "in our mortal flesh.
The fact of a dying, corpse-like body being sustained amidst such
trials, manifests that "the (resurrection) life also," as well as the
dying, "of Jesus," exerts its power in us. I thus bear about in my own
person an image of the risen and living, as well as of the
suffering, Saviour. The "our" is added here to "body," though not in
the beginning of the verse. "For the body is ours not so much in
death, as in life" [BENGEL].
11. we which live--in the power of Christ's "life" manifested in us,
in our whole man body as well as spirit
(Ro 8:10, 11;
Paul regards his preservation amidst so many exposures to "death," by
which Stephen and James were cut off, as a standing miracle
delivered unto--not by chance; by the ordering of Providence, who
shows "the excellency of His power"
in delivering unto DEATH His living saints,
that He may manifest LIFE also in their dying
flesh. "Flesh," the very element of decay (not merely their "body"), is
by Him made to manifest life.
12. The "death" of Christ manifested in the continual
"perishing of our outward man"
works peculiarly in us, and is the means of working spiritual
"life" in you. The life whereof we witness in our bodily
dying, extends beyond ourselves, and is brought by our very
dying to you.
13. Translate as Greek, "BUT
having," &c., that is, not withstanding the trials just mentioned, we
the same spirit of faith, according as it, &c.--Compare
on the usage of "spirit of faith." The Holy Spirit acting on our
spirit. Though "death worketh in us, and life in you"
yet as we have the same spirit of faith as you, we therefore
[believingly] look for the same immortal life as you [ESTIUS], and speak as we believe. ALFORD not so well translates, "The same
. . . faith with that described in the Scriptures"
The balance of the sentence requires the parallelism to be this,
"According to that which is written, I believed, and therefore have I
spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak," namely, without fear,
amidst "afflictions" and "deaths"
14. Knowing--by faith
shall raise up us also--at the resurrection
(1Co 6:13, 14).
by Jesus--The oldest manuscripts have "with Jesus."
present us--vividly picturing the scene before the eyes
1Th 2:19, 20; 3:13).
15. For--Confirming his assertion "with you"
and "life . . . worketh in you"
all things--whether the afflictions and labors of us ministers
or your prosperity
1Co 3:21, 22; 4:8-13).
for your sakes--
abundant grace, &c.--rather, "That grace (the grace which
preserves us in trials and works life in you), being made the greater
(multiplied), by means of the greater number (of its recipients), may
cause the thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God." [CHRYSOSTOM]
(2Co 1:11; 9:11, 12).
The Greek is susceptible also of this translation, "That grace,
being made the greater (multiplied) on account of the thanksgiving of
the greater number (for grace already received), may abound (abundantly
redound) to," &c. Thus the Greek for "abound" has not to be
taken in an active sense, but in its ordinary neuter sense, and so the
other Greek words. Thanksgiving invites more abundant grace
Ps 18:3; 50:23).
16. we faint not--notwithstanding our sufferings. Resuming
outward man--the body, the flesh.
perish--"is wearing away"; "is wasted away" by afflictions.
inward man--our spiritual and true being, the "life" which even in
our mortal bodies
"manifests the life of Jesus."
is renewed--"is being renewed," namely, with fresh "grace"
(2Co 4:17, 18).
17. which is but for a moment--"Our PRESENT
light (burden of) affliction" (so the Greek; compare
[ALFORD]. Compare "now for a season
. . . in heaviness"
The contrast, however, between this and the "ETERNAL weight of glory" requires, I think, the
translation, "Which is but for the present passing moment." So
WAHL. "The lightness of affliction" (he
does not express "burden" after "light"; the Greek is
"the light of affliction") contrasts beautifully with the
"weight of the glory."
worketh--rather, "worketh out."
a far more exceeding and--rather, "in a surpassing and still
more surpassing manner" [ALFORD]; "more and more exceedingly"
TRENCH, and others]. Greek, "in excess and to excess." The glory
exceeds beyond all measure the affliction.
18. look not at--as our aim.
things . . . seen--"earthly things"
We mind not the things seen, whether affliction or refreshment come, so
as to be seduced by the latter, or deterred by the former [CHRYSOSTOM].
things . . . not seen--not "the invisible things" of
but the things which, though not seen now, shall be so hereafter.
temporal--rather, "for a time"; in contrast to eternal.
English Version uses "temporal" for temporary. The Greek is
rightly translated in the similar passage, "the pleasures of sin
for a season."