His Preaching Is Open and Sincere, though to
Many the Gospel Is Hidden.
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
1. Therefore—Greek, "For this
cause": Because we have the liberty-giving Spirit of the Lord, and with
unveiled face behold His glory (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 on us (2Co 3:5). The sense of "mercy" received from
God, makes men active for God (1Ti 1:11-13).
we faint not—in boldness of speech and
action, and patience in suffering (2Co 4:2, 8-16, &c.).
2. renounced—literally, "bid farewell
of dishonesty—rather, "of shame." "I
am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ" (Ro 1:16). Shame would lead to hiding
4:3); whereas "we use great
plainness of speech" (2Co 3:12);
"by manifestation of the truth." Compare 2Co 3:3, "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" (2Co 2:17; compare 1Th 2:3, 4).
recurring to 2Co 3:1.
to—to the verdict of.
every man's conscience—(2Co 5:11). Not to men's carnal judgment, as those
alluded to (2Co 3:1).
in the sight of God—(2Co 2:17; Ga
3. But if—Yea, even if (as I grant is
hid—rather (in reference to 2Co
3:13-18), "veiled." "Hid"
(Greek, Col 3:3) 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said of that withdrawn from view altogether.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 quite plain.
that are lost—rather, "that are
perishing" (1Co 1:18). So
the same cloud that was "light" to the people of God, was "darkness" to
the Egyptian foes of God (Ex 14:20).
4. In whom—Translate, "In whose
god of this world—The worldly make
him their God (Php 3:19). He
is, in fact, "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit
that ruleth in the children of disobedience" (Eph 2:2).
perceptions," as in 2Co 3:14.
them which believe not—the same as
"them that are lost" (or "are perishing"). Compare 2Th 2:10-12. South quaintly says, "when the malefactor's eyes are
covered, he is not far from his execution" (Es 7:8). Those perishing unbelievers are not
merely veiled, but blinded (2Co 3:14, 15): Greek, not "blinded," but
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 (Joh 1:18; Col 1:15; Heb 1:3). He who desires to see "the glory
of God," may see it "in the face of Jesus Christ" (2Co 4:6; 1Ti
6:14-16). Paul here recurs to
3:18. 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 light" (Ge 1:3).
hath shined—rather, as Greek,
"is He who shined." (It is God) who commanded
light, &c., that shined, &c., (Job 37:15): Himself our Light and Sun, as well as
the Creator of light (Mal 4:2; Joh 8:12). The physical world answers to the
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 2Co 4:4).
the glory of God—answering to "the
glory of Christ" (see on 2Co 4:4).
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 (Joh 14:9). 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 Jesus" (Heb 1:3).
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" (2Co 4:16;
4:10), liable to afflictions
and death. So the light in Gideon's pitchers, the type (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"
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
2:4) 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; Joh 3:30).
may be of God … not of
us—rather, as Greek, "may be God's (may be seen
and be thankfully [2Co 4:15]
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," 2Co 4:7).
on every side—Greek, "in every
respect" (compare 2Co 4:10,
"always"; 2Co 7:5). This
verse expresses inward distresses; 2Co 4:9, outward distresses (2Co 7:5). "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
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
cast down—or "struck down"; not only
"persecuted," that is, chased as a deer or bird (1Sa 26:20), but actually struck down as
with a dart in the chase (Heb 11:35-38). The Greek "always" in this
verse means, "throughout the whole time"; in 2Co 4:11 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
(2Co 4:11; 2Co 1:5; compare 1Co 15:31). Doubtless, Paul was exposed to more
dangers than are recorded in Acts (compare 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 2Co 4:11 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; see on 2Co 4:10;
5:15). Paul regards his
preservation amidst so many exposures to "death," by which Stephen and
James were cut off, as a standing miracle (2Co 11:23).
delivered unto—not by chance; by the
ordering of Providence, who shows "the excellency of His power" (2Co 4:7), 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
12. The "death" of Christ manifested in
the continual "perishing of our outward man" (2Co 4:16), 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 having, &c.
the same spirit of faith, according as it,
&c.—Compare Ro 8:15, on
the usage of "spirit of faith." The Holy Spirit acting on our spirit.
Though "death worketh in us, and life in you" (2Co 4:12), 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" (Ps 116:10). 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" (2Co 4:17).
14. Knowing—by faith (2Co 5:1).
shall raise up us also—at the
resurrection (1Co 6:13, 14).
by Jesus—The oldest manuscripts have
present us—vividly picturing the scene
before the eyes (Jude 24).
1:14; 1Th 2:19, 20; 3:13).
15. For—Confirming his assertion "with
4:14), and "life …
worketh in you" (2Co 4:12).
all things—whether the afflictions and
labors of us ministers (2Co 4:8-11), or your prosperity (2Co
4:12; 1Co 3:21, 22; 4:8-13).
for your sakes—(2Ti 2:10).
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 (2Ch 20:19-22; Ps 18:3; 50:23).
16. we faint not—notwithstanding our
sufferings. Resuming 2Co 4:1.
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 (2Co 4:11) "manifests the life of Jesus."
is renewed—"is being renewed," namely,
with fresh "grace" (2Co 4:15),
and "faith" (2Co 4:13),
and hope (2Co 4:17, 18).
17. which is but for a moment—"Our PRESENT light (burden of) affliction" (so the
Greek; compare Mt 11:30),
[Alford]. Compare "now for a
season … in heaviness" (1Pe 1:6). 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" [Ellicott, 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"
3:19). 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 Ro 1:20, 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."