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Saturday, May 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 4

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


Has given us this service. Since 2 Corinthians 2:17, Paul has been talking about his capacity for the service of the Spirit. Paul had a special service as an apostle, but every Christian is a servant of God in a general sense. Paul’s opponents said he was too weak to fulfill his service (see 2 Corinthians 10:10). But God, in his mercy, has given to Paul this service! Compare 1 Corinthians 7:25. Because Paul is involved in such a glorious service, nothing can seriously discourage him (2 Corinthians 4:16)!

Verse 2


We put aside. The false teachers used secret and shameful deeds, deceit, and falsified the word of God. Paul never used such methods, even when he was trying to destroy the church. In the full light of truth. Truth and love are two weapons which false teachers cannot use!!!

Verse 3


For if. False teachers speak to confuse the hearer (1 Timothy 6:3-5). If the Good News is hidden, it is only because the hearer has made himself a veil from prejudice and evil desires!

Verse 4


Because their minds. The world is a battleground where truth and error are locked in struggle for men’s minds! But God is always in control, and Christ has already won the victory! But those who construct veils for themselves from prejudice and evil desires, allow themselves to be blinded by the evil god of this world, who then uses them to try to prevent others from seeing the light shining on them! The exact likeness of God. The false teachers probably called themselves servants of light and boasted about their wisdom, which Jewish literature described as God’s likeness and reflection. Paul declares that the light shining in the world comes from the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God!!!

Verse 5


For it is not ourselves. “Even though we apostles are the likeness of Christ, we do not preach ourselves. We preach Jesus Christ as your Lord, and ourselves as your servants!” For Jesus’ sake. Compare 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.

Verse 6


The God who said. Paul paraphrases Genesis 1:3 to show that the same God who was the only source of light in the beginning, is the same God who made his light shine in our hearts! The light is the message which God spoke through his Son (Hebrews 1:2).

Verse 7


Like common clay pots. Paul speaks in irony! Who would store treasure in common clay pots!!! Yet God has done just this, to show that the supreme power is His!!! The false teachers boasted about how great they were, and how weak Paul was. But Paul shows that God’s power comes through in human weakness!!!

Verse 8


We are often troubled. Paul is an optimistic-pessimist. For each word which shows weakness, there is one which shows strength. Trouble? Yes, but not crushed and put out of the battle! In doubt? Yes, but we do not despair, God will make a way out!

Verse 9


Many enemies? Yes, but God is still our friend! Badly hurt? Yes, but not killed!

Verse 10


The death of Jesus. Paul sees his suffering (and his weakness???) as sharing in the death of Jesus! Compare Galatians 6:17; 2 Corinthians 13:4. So that his life. Compare Romans 8:10-11; Galatians 2:20. Paul was a messenger of life, in a world of death!

Verse 11


Always in danger. The servants of the Good News were always in danger from the enemies of Christ! At great risk they transmitted the life of Christ to mankind! Compare 1 Corinthians 4:9-13. No one could accuse the apostles of working for selfish motives!!!

Verse 12


This means. The death that attacks the servants of Christ in many ways, was the means of spreading the message of life! Paul’s work brought suffering to him, but life to those who heard the Good News!

Verse 13


The scripture says. Psalms 116:10 Septuagint. MacKnight reconstructs the thinking of the Psalmist: “Though I have been in great affliction, yet faith in God’s promises hath supported me, so that I can say, I believed, therefore I have spoken in praise of his goodness.” Paul points to this example of faith, and says this is what motivates and sustains he and the other servants of Christ!

Verse 14


We know. Notice how sure Paul is that God will do as He promised! Will also raise us up. Christ is the guarantee of this (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)! Together with you. The total messianic community. See note on Matthew 16:18.

Verse 15


All this. The suffering and work of the Christian servants. When suffering and work points to a definite goal and purpose, man’s ability to endure is almost limitless!!! Prayers of thanksgiving. Paul sees Christian prayer as praise to God!!! Compare Revelation 8:3-4.

Verse 16


For this reason. 2 Corinthians 4:15. Our physical being. Paul’s service to Christ cost him something in physical strength (2 Corinthians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 11:23-28). Yet our spiritual being. This is the part of every person that is morally responsible. See Romans 7:20; Romans 7:23; Ephesians 3:16. Probably Paul is not thinking about progressive spiritual growth, but the fact that even though his physical strength is being drained away, his spiritual strength is renewed day after day!


And this. “Besides, we can endure this small and temporary trouble! What does it amount to, when you compare it with the tremendous and eternal glory which this suffering will bring us!” Salvation is seized, not achieved!

Verse 18


For we fix our attention. “We pay no attention to the glory that this world has to offer (1 John 2:15-17). The power, honor, and glory of this world are only temporary!!! But the unseen things of God, which we see through faith, are eternal and last forever!!!”

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/2-corinthians-4.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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