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Word Pictures in the New Testament - 2 Corinthians
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Chapter 4

4:1 We faint not [ouk egkakoumen]. Present active indicative of [egkakeō], late verb [en, kakos] to behave badly in, to give in to evil, to lose courage. In Symmachus (LXX), Polybius, and papyri. It is the faint-hearted coward. Paul speaks of himself (literary plural). Can he not speak for all of us?

4:2 But we have renounced [alla apeipametha]. Indirect middle second aorist (timeless aorist) indicative of [apeipon] (defective verb) with [a] of first aorist ending, to speak forth, to speak off or away from. Common verb in the active, but rare in middle and only here in N.T. The hidden things of shame [ta krupta tēs aischunēs]. They do attack the minister. His only safety is in instant and courageous defiance to all the powers of darkness. It is a terrible thing to see a preacher caught in the toils of the tempter. In craftiness [en panourgiāi]. Old word from [panourgos] [pan, ergon], a doer of any deed (good or bad), clever, cunning, deceitful. See on Lu 20:23. Handling deceitfully [dolountes]. Present active participle of [doloō], from [dolos], deceit (from [delō], to catch with bait), old and common verb, in papyri and inscriptions, to ensnare, to corrupt with error. Only here in N.T. Used of adulterating gold or wine. To every conscience of men [pros pāsan suneidēsin anthrōpōn]. Not to whim, foible, prejudice. See 3:1-6 for “commending” [sunistanontes].

4:3 It is veiled in them that are perishing [en tois apollumenois estin kekalummenon]. Periphrastic perfect passive of [kaluptō], to veil in both condition (first class) and conclusion. See on 2:15f. for “the perishing.”

4:4 The god of this world [ho theos tou aiōnos toutou]. “Age,” more exactly, as in 1Co 1:20. Satan is “the god of this age,” a phrase nowhere else in the N.T., but Jesus uses the same idea in Joh 12:31; 14:30 and Paul in Eph 2:2; 6:12 and John in 1Jo 5:19. Satan claimed the rule over the world in the temptations with Jesus. Blinded [etuphlōsen]. First aorist active of [tuphloō], old verb to blind [tuphlos], blind). They refused to believe [apistōn] and so Satan got the power to blind their thoughts. That happens with wilful disbelievers. The light [ton phōtismon]. The illumination, the enlightening. Late word from [photizō], to give light, in Plutarch and LXX. In N.T. only in 2Co 4:4, 6. Accusative case of general reference here with the articular infinitive [eis to mē augasai] that should not dawn). That is, if [augasai] is intransitive as is likely, though it is transitive in the old poets (from [augē], radiance. Cf. German Auge = eye). If it is transitive, the idea would be “that they should not see clearly the illumination, etc.”

4:5 For we preach not ourselves [ou gar heautous kērussomen]. Surely as poor and disgusting a topic as a preacher can find. But Christ Jesus as Lord [alla Christon Iēsoun Kurion]. [Kurion] is predicate accusative in apposition. As your servants for Jesus’ sake [doulous humōn dia Iēsoun]. Your bond-slave for the sake of Jesus. This is the sufficient reason for any preacher’s sacrifice, “for Jesus’ sake.”

4:6 God who said [ho theos ho eipōn]. Paraphrase of Ge 1:3. Who shined [hos elampsen]. Like a lamp in the heart (cf. Mt 5:15). Miners carry a lamp on the forehead, Christians carry one in their hearts lit by the Spirit of God. To give the light [pros phōtismon]. For the illumination. In the face of Jesus Christ [en prosōpōi Iēsou Christou]. The Christian who looks on the face of Jesus Christ as Moses looked upon the glory of God will be able to give the illumination of the knowledge of the glory of God. See 2:10 for [prosōpon].

4:7 This treasure [ton thēsauron touton]. On [thēsauron] see Mt 6:19-21. It is the power of giving the illumination of the knowledge of the glory of God (verse 6). “The power is limitless, but it is stored in very unlikely receptacles” (Plummer). This warning Paul gives in contrast [de] with the exultation of verse 6 (Bernard). In earthen vessels [en ostrakinois skeuesin]. This adjective is common in the LXX with [skeuos, aggos] and [aggeion]. It occurs again in 2Ti 2:20 with [skeuē]. It is found also in the papyri with [skeuos] as here. It is from [ostrakon], baked clay (same root as [osteon], bone), so many fragments of which are found in Egypt with writing on them. We are but earthen jars used of God for his purposes (Ro 9:20ff.) and so fragile. The exceeding greatness [hē huperbolē]. See on 1Co 12:31 for this word, “the preeminence of the power.” This is God’s purpose [hina—ēi]. God, not man, is the dynamo [dunamis]. It comes from God [tou theou], ablative) and does not originate with us [mē ex hēmōn].

4:8 Pressed [thlibomenoi]. From [thlibō], to press as grapes, to contract, to squeeze. Series of present passive participles here through verse 9 that vividly picture Paul’s ministerial career. Yet not straitened [all’ ou stenochōroumenoi]. Each time the exception is stated by [all’ ou]. From [stenochōreō] [stenochōros], from [stenos], narrow, [chōros], space), to be in a narrow place, to keep in a tight place. Late verb, in LXX and papyri. In N.T. only here and 2Co 6:12. Yet not unto despair [all’ ouk exaporoumenoi]. Late perfective compound with [ex-] of [exaporeō]. A very effective play on words here, lost, but not lost out.

4:9 Forsaken [egkataleipomenoi]. Double compound of old verb [eg-kata-leipō], to leave behind, to leave in the lurch. Smitten down [kataballomenoi]. As if overtaken. Destroyed [apollumenoi]. Perishing as in verse 3. Was Paul referring to Lystra when the Jews stoned him and thought him dead?

4:10 Bearing about [peripherontes]. Ignatius was called [Theophoros], God-bearer. See 1Co 15:31 where Paul says “I die daily” and Php 3:10; Col 1:24. The dying of Jesus [tēn nekrōsin tou Iēsou]. Late word from [nekroō], to put to death. In Galen. In N.T. only here and Ro 4:19.

4:11 Are alway delivered unto death [eis thanaton paradidometha]. This explains verse 10.

4:12 Death worketh in us [ho thanatos en hēmin energeitai]. Middle voice present tense of the old verb to operate, be at work. Physical death works in him while spiritual life (paradox) works in them.

4:13 According to that which is written [kata to gegrammenon]. This formula in legal documents in the papyri (Bible Studies, p. 250). Paul makes adaptation of the words in Ps 95:1. We also believe [kai hēmeis pisteuomen]. Like the Psalmist. And therefore can speak with effect. Otherwise useless. Shall present us with you [kai parastēsei sun hēmin]. This shows that Paul was not certain that he would be alive when Jesus comes as has been wrongly inferred from 1Co 7:29; 10:11; 15:51.

4:15 Being multiplied through the many [pleonasasa dia tōn pleionōn]. Late word [pleonazō] from [pleon], more, “making more through the more,” with play on [pleon]. One can think of Bunyan’s Grace Abounding.

4:16 Wherefore we faint not [dio ouk egkakoumen]. Repeats from verse 1. Our outward man [ho exō hēmōn anthrōpos], our inward man [ho esō hēmōn]. In Ro 7:22; Col 3:9; Eph 4:22f., we have the inward man and the outward for the higher and the lower natures (the spirit and the flesh). “Here the decay [diaphtheiretai] of the bodily organism is set over against the growth in grace [anakainoutai], is refreshed) of the man himself” (Bernard). Plato (Republ. ix, p. 589) has [ho entos anthrōpos]. Cf. “the hidden man of the heart” (1Pe 3:4). Day by day [hēmerāi kai hēmerāi]. This precise idiom is not in LXX nor rest of N.T. It may be colloquial use of locative in repetition.

4:17 Our light affliction which is for the moment [to parautika elaphron tēs thlipeseōs hēmōn]. Literally, “the for the moment (old adverb [parautika], here only in N.T.) lightness (old word, in N.T. only here and Mt 11:30).” More and more exceedingly [kath’ huperbolēn eis huperbolēn]. Like piling Pelion on Ossa, “according to excess unto excess.” See on 1Co 12:31. Eternal weight of glory [aiōnion baros doxēs]. Careful balancing of words in contrast (affliction vs. glory, lightness vs. weight, for the moment vs. eternal).

4:18 While we look not [mē skopountōn hēmōn]. Genitive absolute with participle of [skopeō] from [skopos], goal. Temporal [proskaira]. Rather temporary, for a season [pros kairon]. Late word. See on Mt 13:21. See 1Co 13:12; Heb 11:1.

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