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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 4

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-9

6 The covenant of the letter is the law of Moses which was engraven in stone, to symbolize its unyielding sternness. There is no reference to the letter of Scripture. It is the law that kills, just as it is the spirit (through the letter of Scripture) that gives life. The sayings that Christ spoke are both spirit and life to all who believe them.

7 The account of Moses' reception, after his forty-day session on Sinai, is found in Exo_34:28-35 . It is evident that they saw Moses' face even though they could not look intently at it.

Moses did not hide the glory from them. He did not put the covering on his face till he had done speaking with them, but when he had finished ( Exo_34:33 ). Later he put it on again " until he went in to speak with Him". He hid the fading of the glory, which indicated the transient, fading character of the law. As Paul says (verse 2Co_3:13 ), it was done so that the sons of Israel should not observe the consummation of that which is vanishing. Now, instead of a covering on Moses' face, there is one on Jewish hearts, which hides from them the true character of the covenant of Sinai. It had a glory once, but it has long since been eclipsed in Christ. This they will not discover until they turn back to the Lord.

9 A bright torch, which will illuminate the night, becomes black when held up to the noonday sun. So the law, a bright exhibition of the righteous character of God, turns to blackness before the transcendent effulgence of grace which is now revealed. It had a glory but lost it all by contrast to the glory excelling. Since, then, the law's glory is darkened by a greater glory, how much greater must be the glory of this dispensation of grace!

12 Moses, finding that the glory of his face was not permanent, hid the fact by covering his face until he went into the Lord's presence again. Not so Paul. He had no need of any covering, for the dispensation of the spirit is not like the law. The law led from glory to gloom.

Grace leads from glory to glory. One deals out condemnation and death. The other dispenses righteousness and life.

18 The ancient mirror was a burnished metal surface which reflected the light as well as the image of the one who used it. Paul did not climb the steeps of Sinai and bring back a transient reflection of the Lord's glory, as Moses did. He beheld Him continually, as we behold our faces in a mirror. The glory of the Lord irradiated him. It did not fade, but became brighter and brighter. Contemplation of the Lord led to likeness to Him. This is a beautiful epitome of Paul's ministries. He began with grace on the road to Damascus. He dispenses justification at Pisidian Antioch. He reveals the conciliation to the Corinthians. He teaches the truth transcendent from his Roman prison. Grace upon grace and glory upon glory! His successive ministries led onward to the transcendent glories contained in his Perfection Epistles.

4 The evangel of the glory of Christ!" Would that our evangelism reached to this altitude! And why are Christ's glories so lacking in the gospel efforts of today? Because the god of this eon not only blinds the minds of the unbelievers, but he centers the gospel on sin and self and sanitation-anything except Christ and His glories.

4 Few subjects for meditation will be found so full of blessing as that of the Image of God. John presents Him to us as the Word of God, through Whom we hear Him; Paul shows us the One in Whom we can see God. God Himself cannot be seen, for He is invisible. Hence it is that He has given us an Image of Himself which we can discern. And just as we give the picture or statue of a person the same place in our minds and in our speech as the person himself, so Christ is seen in the Scriptures, addressed as God as if equal to God. Unlike the inflexible image of a lifeless photograph, He is instinct with the life of God, and changes to accord with the divine assumptions ( Heb_1:3 ).

7 The present pathway of God's saints and slaves is not calculated to glorify us, but God. And this is often best accomplished by contrast, for God will not give His glory to any of His creatures. We must be broken if we would be bearers of His blessing.

Verses 10-18

10 The widespread fiction that the life of a Christian must be one of settled calm and contentment, prosperous and in every way advantageous in this life, is proven utterly fallacious by the experience of the apostle Paul. The carnal Corinthians may live and reign,

but he is afflicted, perplexed, persecuted and cast down. As in Job's case, little was left him but his life. If we are faithful to God we will find but little in this life, and will look forward to resurrection life in Christ. Apart from resurrection we should be the most pitiable of all mankind. The reason that this conception of the believer's experience has been lost is the wide spread apostasy and conformity to the world. Do you see a servant of Christ persecuted and despised? Do not judge him hastily. He may be manifesting the life of Jesus, Who was despised and rejected because the world did not know him.

17 How shall we characterize our trials if Paul's were only momentary and light? At times he even despaired of life. Just before this he had been crying to God to remove the thorn in he flesh. But what is all this to him, in view of the transcendent revelations of the future of which he had become the depository and dispenser? We would speak of our present burdens and of the lightness of our load in the resurrection, but he reverses this. The glory of that day would be an unbearable burden to our present bodies. Our burdens are light indeed in view of that transcendent outcome.

18 The usual translation, "temporal" or "temporary" throws a false light on the context. That which we are observing does not endure for the course of time but only for a brief season. The stony ground hearer ( Mat_13:21 ; Mar_4:17 ) and the enjoyment of sin ( Heb_11:25 ) are temporary not temporal. These are the only passages in which his word occurs.

1 Our present soulish body is here compared with the temporary tent of the Bedouins, but our spiritual bodies, which will be our eonian habitations, are compared to a house.

2 Our present condition is aptly expressed in the two words, groaning and longing . We groan to be rid of our temporary tabernacle. We long to enter our eonian habitation. We have, however, no desire for any intermediate condition. Death is always viewed as an unwelcome enemy, in Scripture. Resurrection, vivification, is the true expectation of the believer. Even the apostle, in his infirmity and distress, never chooses death, but always suggests a far better alternative, the coming of Christ, when the mortal shall be swallowed up by life.

6 The article "the" in Greek, sometimes has almost the force of our "this". "The body" is not simply a body, but a particular body, that is, this body in which we are at home now. We have two homes. The tabernacle in which we now live and the eonian house in the resurrection; the soulish body and the spiritual body. We may be away from one home yet present in the other. Now we are away from home, from the Lord. Yet we would much prefer to be away from this home and be at home in our spiritual body, with the Lord. We have no third home, and if we had, the apostle has just made it clear that the naked, unsheltered condition is not at all to be desired. He could hardly reverse that conviction without some further explanation.

10 The dais, or raised platform from which games were judged and awards given, must not be confused with a judicial bench. The quality of our acts may determine the award to which we are entitled, but the question of condemnation is entirely foreign to such a tribunal. We are absolutely absolved from all condemnation, but we are eligible to an award for meritorious service. These awards will be distributed at the dais of Christ, according to our acts in "the" body, that is, our present soulish bodies.

14 The apostle looks upon the world as one vast charnel house. Since Christ died for the sake of all, then all died. He sees the end of all physical privilege and pretension in this great fact. This is the basis of the new departure in his ministry at this time.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/2-corinthians-4.html. 1968.
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