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Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical Lange's Commentary
2 Corinthians 4
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ lcc/ 2-corinthians-4.html. 1857-84.
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
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VIII.—GLORY OF THE APOSTOLIC MINISTRY, WHOSE DUTIES WERE OPENLY AND HONESTLY PERFORMED, NOTWITHSTANDING THE INJURIOUS INFLUENCE OF ITS ENEMIES
2 Corinthians 4:1-6
1Therefore, seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not1; 2But [we] have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty [shame, τῆς αἰσχὐνης, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully [falsifying (δολοῦντες) the word of God]; but by manifestation of the truth, commending2 ourselves to every 3man’s conscience [conscience of men] in the sight of God. But if [and even if] our Gospel be hid [veiled, κεκαλυμμένον it is hid [veiled] to them that are lost [perishing]: 4In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel [gospel of the glory] of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine3 unto them [should shine forth]. 5For we preach not ourselves, but 6Christ Jesus [as] the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For [that same] God, who commanded the light to shine4 out of darkness, [said out of darkness light should shine] hath shined in our hearts, to give the light [in order to the shining forth, πρὸς φωτισμὸν] of the knowledge of the glory of God5 in the face of Jesus [om. Jesus]6 Christ.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
2 Corinthians 4:1-2. [Paul “now resumes the thread of the general argument, which he had twice before taken up (2 Corinthians 3:4; 2 Corinthians 3:12); but with the difference that from the confidence which he possesses in the greatness of his task, he now draws a new conclusion; not ‘we use great plainness of speech,’ as in 2 Corinthians 3:12, but ‘we faint not;’ a conclusion which, as it is more directly an answer to the original question, ‘who is sufficient for these things?’ in 2 Corinthians 2:16, so is it the basis of the ensuing chapters 2 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 5:10. But with one of the inversions peculiar to this Epistle, he has hardly entered on this new topic before he drops it again. The charge of insincerity which had occasioned the digression in 2 Corinthians 3:1-18, still lingers in his recollection, and accordingly he turns round upon it, as if to give it one parting blow before he finally dismisses it from his mind. Hence 2 Corinthians 4:2-6 are still closely connected with 2 Corinthians 3:1-18, while the new subject begun in this first verse is not resumed till 2 Corinthians 4:7, where it is expanded in all its parts, so that the true apodosis or close of the sentence commenced here does not occur till 2 Corinthians 4:16, where the same words are repeated: for this cause we faint not.” Stanley]. Returning from his digression respecting the hardening of the Jews, he now resumes his account (2 Corinthians 3:12; 2 Corinthians 3:15) of that course of action which he was now pursuing, and which he thought suitable to the glory of the evangelical ministry (and to the Apostolic office).—Therefore having, through the mercy of God, received this ministration, we faint not.—What he means by διὰ τοῦτο is more distinctly expressed in what follows: having received this ministration. This ministration (διακονία) he had spoken of as a ministration of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:8), of righteousness (2 Corinthians 4:9), that which remaineth (2 Corinthians 4:11), and that which produced the results described in 2 Corinthians 3:18. Διὰ τοῦτο therefore finds its original reference as far back as 2 Corinthians 3:7. The boasting (καύχησις) which seems implied in this, is reduced immediately to a glorying in the Lord, and made to involve an actual humiliation of himself, when he adds the words, as we have received mercy; implying that he had been personally unworthy of such a ministry, and owed it entirely to Divine grace that he had been called and ordained to it (comp. 1Co 7:25; 1 Corinthians 15:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:12-16; Galatians 1:15-16). The course of conduct which he had suggested in 2 Corinthians 3:12, and which was suitable to a ministry thus graciously bestowed upon him, he describes first negatively: οὐκ ἐκκακοῦμεν we are not faint-hearted or cowardly. The reading ἐγκακοῦμεν would have substantially the same significance. [The former word can hardly have in this place a strictly moral signification (κακός, bad, wicked) as Rückert contends it should have, contrary to its usage and the connection; but it seems to signify here that the consciousness of such a high calling would not allow him to turn out bad, to prove recreant, or to act inconsistent with it (Luke 18:1; Galatians 6:9). Osiander notices that the word has two distinct meanings: the one to slacken or flag, and the other to be discouraged or dispirited. The former agrees very well with the explanation in the next clause; but perhaps the latter agrees equally well, since the discouragement is evidently one which springs from an anxiety about difficulties and opponents, and so leads to deceit and an adulteration of the word of truth. The etymology of the word also confirms this meaning, since the word κακός signifies bad not only in a moral sense, but especially with respect to war. Accordingly the Greek expositors and the more modern strict philologists (Billroth, Meyer, de Wette), embrace both meanings in the rendering: segnescere, to become slow and dull. The connection with the subsequent negative may be regarded as a litotes in which he modestly expresses a high degree of courage by denying the contrary. Thus Theodoret (and Chrysostom, see below): Οὗ δὴ χάριν, φησὶ; φέρομεν γεννάιως τὰπροσπίπτοντα λυπηρά “On which account, he says, we endure what befalls us with a noble spirit.” ̓Εγκακοῦμεν signifies the opposite of παῤῥησιάζω i. e. to shrink from plainness of speech or action (Alford), to behave in a cowardly manner]. The positive contrast to what is here claimed, is not dulness or indolence in the performance of his duties (and above all, Rückert’s interpretation, which makes it involve something generally and morally base, is entirely inadmissible, or at least not proven), but from what we find is repelled in 2 Corinthians 4:2, we are led to believe that it is discouragement or faint-heartedness under difficulties. Chrysostom: We are so far from being without heart, that we are rather full of joy, and bold in speaking and in labors].—But we have renounced the secret things of shame (2 Corinthians 4:2).—These secret or hidden things of shame (τὰ κρυπτὰ τῆς αἰσχύνης) were either, in accordance with the original meaning of αἰσχύνη a feeling of shame, or that sense of honor which hides its own shame, and will not let that come to the light which may cause dishonor (Meyer after Chrysostom); or better and more in accordance with predominant usage in the New Testament (Philippians 3:19; Hebrews 12:2; Jude 1:19; Revelation 3:18; Luke 14:9), a dishonor, the concealment of a disgrace, i. e. of a dishonor done; or, still better (inasmuch as the emphasis lies upon τὰ κρυπτὰ) disgraceful secrets, hidden things which would produce or bring dishonor if they were known (comp. Romans 1:26).
There is no need of supposing that the Apostle had his eye directly as yet upon particular acts, such as plots, intrigues, suppressions or perversions of the truth, or even obscenas voluptates; but he probably alludes simply to those general matters which are mentioned in the participial sentence, those secret things which would infallibly cause shame if they were brought to the light. Neander: “those disgraceful and secret arts of carnal wisdom which had been falsely attributed to him.” ̓Απειπάμεθα is an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον so far as it relates to the New Testament. [On the reflexive force of the middle voice, implying that “the act belonged to the inner mental world of the agent rather than the actual world without.” See Jelf’s Gram. § 363, 6; and Winer, Id. § 39, 3, and on the aorist, “as denoting what is done at all times alike, and is habitual,” see Bloomfield]. The word by no means implies that he had acted in this manner at an earlier period of his life, but it simply means that he declined or refused such things (ἱποῤῥίπτεσθαι, παραιτεῖσθαι).—Not walking in craftiness, nor adulterating the word of God.—(Comp. 2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Corinthians 10:2). He refers here to his own official course, but he unquestionably alludes very significantly to a very different kind of conduct in his more sordid opponents. Πανουργία here rendered craftiness [from πᾶς and ἕργω] (1 Corinthians 3:19), signifies adroitness, dexterity; but it is used generally in a bad sense to signify a cunning craftiness, a shrewd use of those intrigues and schemes by which a man makes a way for himself and acquires and maintains influence [“a πανοῦργος is one who can do every thing and is willing to do any thing to accomplish his ends.” Hodge]. A second point in which his conduct differed from that of his opponents, was, that he did not adulterate the word of God (μηδὲ δολοῦντες τὸν λόγοντοῦ θεοῦ), a kind of dealing essentially the same as the καπηλεύειν repudiated in 2 Corinthians 2:17. Men were in the habit of saying: a man adulterates his wine (δολοῦν τὸν οἷνον). In contrast with such deceit, he says of himself and his companions:—but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience.—The truth here spoken of is the word of God, the Gospel in its unadulterated purity; and the way in which he had preached it was the reverse of such adulterations of the word of God. Συνιστάναι ἑαυτόν signifies to gain confidence and esteem in this regular way, as opposed to the self-commendation imputed to him by his opponents (2 Corinthians 3:1). The way he pursued was directed to every man’s conscience (πρὸς πᾶσαν συνείδησιν�; comp. Romans 2:9 : ἐπὶ πᾶσην ψυχὴν�). In this way of interpretation, συνείδησις becomes more prominent. The word is used to signify that mental power which makes us conscious of, and certifies to us those thoughts and emotions which pass through our minds, shows us what is truth and duty, and enforces its assertions and claims only on the ground that every thing it approves must be true and right, and that our spirit and motives must be conformed to our conceptions of truth and duty (Beck, Bibl. Seelenl., p. 75; comp, 73 and 77). The Apostle intended to say, therefore, that the way in which he preached was such that every man’s conscience approved of him, and hence that all who attended to the verdicts of conscience, and were not led by corrupt inclinations to reject such decisions, would be obliged to confess that his conduct sprung from a true and honest heart. Such an explanation seems to us more conformed to the context than that of Osiander, who defines the συνείδησις here to be the “essential organ for the recognition of truth, and which must assent to the Gospel as the truth and power of God, because it corresponds to man’s necessities and is effectual to awaken and tranquilize his moral nature.” The phrase: in the sight of God (ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ comp. 2 Corinthians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 7:12) is not a solemn oath, but simply implies that the assertion he had made respecting his commendation of himself to every man’s conscience, was eminently pure, inasmuch as he made it under a full sense of God’s presence to hear him. Neander: “There is indeed a moral intelligence in every man to which we may appeal as to the impression he receives from us; and yet as every thing human is fallacious, Paul made his final appeal to God himself as the infallible witness of his upright motives and his honest deportment.” [It was not the truth directly which the Apostle says he and his associates commended to the συνείδ. but ἑαυτοὺς themselves, their whole persons, conduct and preaching and this by means of the ἀληθεία which they preached. By recognizing the truth and the honesty of the preaching, men were obliged to commend them. Συνέιδ then is more than “consciousness,” for it recognized the morality and truth of things not only in ourselves, but in others. (See note on 2 Corinthians 1:12). The only condition of the recognition was that truth and its relations should be correctly apprehended, i. e., that each case should be truly presented at the bar of conscience. (See Serm. of Chalmers and J. Howe on this passage). Πᾶσαν συνέιδ.�. is every conscience of man, the universal, or the public conscience. Chrysostom: “not only to believers, but to unbelievers, are we manifested, since we are presented before all, that every thing belonging to us may be scrutinized according to their pleasure.” Nor was it merely “to every good conscience (Grotius), for the Apostle expressly implies that it was even to them that are lost?”].
2 Corinthians 4:3-6. The Apostle now meets (2 Corinthians 4:3) the objection, that what he had just said would hardly harmonize with the fact that his preaching was not successful with a large portion of his hearers, and was not recognized and received by some as the truth. He does not deny this, and he now recurs to the figure of the covering (2 Corinthians 3:14).—But if our Gospel be veiled, it is veiled to them that are perishing (2 Corinthians 4:3).—He concedes no contradiction in this to what he was saying, since those who failed of receiving him were among those who were perishing on account of their blindness by Satan. There was no defect in the requisite clearness of his preaching, but only in the mental perceptions of his hearers (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). The fact objected against him is made emphatic by putting ἕστιν at the very head of the major proposition (the protasis). “Our Gospel” has here the same signification as the manifestation of the truth (2 Corinthians 4:2). The word ἡμῶν tells us who were engaged in proclaiming the Gospel, as in Romans 2:16; Romans 16:25; 1Th 1:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; and it is equivalent to the Gospel which I preached (ὅ εὐηγγελισάμην) in 1 Corinthians 15:1 (comp. Galatians 1:11). In the conclusion the emphasis should rest upon ἐν τοῖς� (among them who are perishing), and hence these words are placed at the beginning. Comp. 3:25; 1 Corinthians 1:18. [’Απολλυμένοις does not necessarily mean the finally lost, those who deserve to be lost (Grotius), but those who are perishing (Alford), those who were then lost. In Matthew 10:6; Matthew 15:24; Matthew 18:11; and Luke 15:4; Luke 15:6; Luke 15:24; Luke 15:32, the lost were such as were at that time lost to the Church, to God and to goodness, but might afterwards in some cases be recovered. Henry: “The hiding of the Gospel was both an evidence and a cause of their ruin, and if the Gospel did not find and save them, they were lost forever]. ̓Εν is equivalent neither to the dative, nor to in respect to, but to, with, coram; since the persons spoken of did not recognize the Gospel on account of inward darkness, a covering on their own hearts, it has the force of in; or, since the ἀπολλυμένοι expresses the sphere or the department within which the Gospel is veiled or not recognized, of, among (inter). Indeed, all these significations come to the same general result. The fact alluded to is still further developed when he goes back (2 Corinthians 4:4) to its original cause.—Among whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving (2 Corinthians 4:4),—i. e., the blinding of the mental perceptions (νοήματα) and the author of the blindness, the god of this world (θεὸςτοῦ αἰώνος τούτου). The blinding of the νοήματα implies that the mental perceptions of these persons had been impaired and so blinded that their understandings were deluded with sophistries until all original inclination to truth was gone (comp. Matthew 6:22), and their minds (νοῦς) had no correct intellectual views (Beck, p. 53, 54). Τὰ νοήματα (comp. 2 Corinthians 3:14) may here very appropriately be translated, “the perceptive powers, the understanding.” The blinding is the work of the god of this world (ό θεὸς τοῦ αἰώνος τοῦτου), by which phrase is meant not the spirit of the age, or anything of that kind, but Satan (as in 2 Corinthians 2:11), the prince of this world (Jno. 12:31; 14:30). Similar expressions occur in Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 4:12. Neander: “It was with a direct purpose that Paul gives Satan this appellation, for he intended to imply that the selfish principle, here represented by Satan, was to such men all that God should have been.” The word θεός in other places signifies the principle which absolutely determines things (comp. Philippians 3:19). Bengel: Grandis et horribilis descriptio Satanæ, grandi ejus, at horribili operi respondents. Quis alias putaret, illum posse in hominibus tantae luci officere? [Augustine tells us that nearly all ancient commentators were of the opinion that the word θεός was too exalted to be applied to any created being, and hence, that it must here have meant the Supreme Jehovah. Chrysostom, in opposition to Marcion and Manichees, says: “We assert of this passage that this is spoken neither of the devil nor of another creator (in distinction from the just and good), but of the God of the universe, and that it is to be read thus: God hath blinded the minds of the unbelievers of this world; for the world to come hath no unbelievers, but the present only. He blinds them, not by working unto this end (away with the thought)! but by suffering and allowing it.” As the Arians argued from this passage that a created being might be called God, even Augustine and others would not concede to them the natural construction of our passage; on which Calvin remarks: “we see how far the spirit of controversy can lead men in perverting Scripture.” Among moderns, Dr. Adam Clarke was of a similar opinion, and he refers to 1 Timothy 1:17, as a similar phrase, reminding us also that αἰῶν does not necessarily mean a wicked age or generation (Matthew 12:32; Luke 20:34). Even on the common rendering, however, it is not implied that God had surrendered to Satan the rightful or actual sovereignty of any one age, but only that men have yielded him such a sovereignty. Archbishop Trench (Synn. 2d ser. p. 40) regrets that the difference between αἰών and κόσμος has not been preserved in the English version. He assigns to the former in all cases a reference to time, but in a secondary and ethical sense; he thinks it embraces all which exists in the world under the conditions of time, the course and current of this world’s affairs, often with an evil significance (Ephesians 2:2). It includes all that floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, at any time current in the world, which it is impossible to seize and accurately to define, but which constitute a most real and effective power, being the moral or immoral atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably to exhale; what we often speak of as “the times,” attaching to the word an ethical signification; or still more to the point, “the age,” the spirit or genius of the age].” Comp. further upon this τοῦ αἰώνος τούτου what is said on 1Co 1:20; 1 Corinthians 2:6. The sphere in which this alienation from God takes place is one which originally was completely dependent (ethically) upon this power. But the expression has a peculiar sharpness in application to the Jews who thought they knew and appropriated to themselves the true God in some special sense, but who were here in their unbelief consigned with the heathen to this mock deity (the simia Dei of Tertullian), as if they belonged to his special department (comp. Jno. 8:44). Instead of ὧν τὰ νιήματα ἐτύφλωσεν (in whose minds) the Apostle writes: among these lost ones, Satan hath blinded the minds of them that believe not (ἐν ὀ͂ις ἐτύφλωσε τὰ νοήματα τῶν�). By them that believe not, we are not to understand those whose unbelief was the direct consequence of the blinding, as if the expression were εἰς τὸ εἷναι αὐτοὺς�. According to the analogy of other places, the word in this case would have been ἄπιστα (comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Philippians 3:2). We may remark also that such an idea does not accord with that which follows εἰς τὸ μὴ αὐγ. etc.). Nor is it precisely a designation of the cause of this blinding, as if the expression had been διὰ τὸ εἶναι αὐτοὺς� implies a self-determination toward falsehood, and a turning away from the truth, the reason of which must be traced finally to a perverted will. In these words is brought forward another aspect of the case, viz., that in this blinding process Satan was not alone active and guilty, but that the subjects of it coöperated with him, and were guilty during the process and before it. (comp. Jno. 3:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:10). [Dr. Hodge, while conceding that the doctrine is Scriptural, that unbelief provokes judicial blindness, contends that the connection here demands a different interpretation, inasmuch as Paul accounts for the hiding of the Gospel to them that are lost, by saying that Satan had blinded their minds. The blindness, therefore, precedes the unbelief, and is the cause of it]. The ἐν οἷς is perhaps equivalent to ὁτι ἐν τούτοις (for, because, etc.), and indicates either the object of the blinding, the persons who could be blinded (Satan’s great work, the blinding of the νοήμ. of unbelievers has to be carried on in the hearts of the lost, for such a work cannot be performed in the hearts of the saved ones, with respect to whom the Gospel is not veiled, Meyer); or, is equivalent to among whom, and so points out the sphere or department in which Satan thus acts. The meaning, however, would be essentially the same on both interpretations. There is no carelessness or tautology in this language. Paul means to give special prominence to the idea that Satan carries on such a work among those who are in απώλεια (perdition). The clause might be translated: in the department of lost souls, where the understandings of unbelievers are blinded by the god of this world.—In order that the shining light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine forth. (2 Corinthians 4:4 b.). Here we are informed what Satan’s design is in all this; but inasmuch as what he accomplished was the infliction of a Divine judgment (Jno. 12:40; 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12), it may also be looked upon as an announcement of God’s purpose. According to the reading of the Rec. αὐγάσαι αὐτοῖς must be rendered: might not irradiate or shine upon them, etc. But αὐτοῖς is very feebly authenticated, and betrays evidence that it is only a gloss. In like manner the compound verbs διαυγάσαι and καταυγάσαι seem at first more appropriate: (to shine through, to beam upon), inasmuch as the simple verb appears never to have been used intransitively among the Greek authors. Others, therefore, take the simple form as equivalent to, to see (properly: to beam upon something with the eyes, to cast the light of the eyes upon an object, sometimes with an accusative and sometimes with πρὸς τι). But as we never meet with it in this sense except among the poets, the intransitive meaning (which is favored by the attempt to make it out by the insertion of the compound forms) is to be preferred, especially as it then gives a more suitable predicate to τὸν φωτίσμόν. The αὐτοίς, which we are sorry to be obliged to throw out, is nevertheless implied by the context. In the later Greek, and frequently in the Septuagint, φωτισμός has the sense of: the imparting of light, an enlightening, light (a translation of אור in Psalms 27:1; Job 3:0. et al.), i.e., light when in movement and in communication. (Osiander). The words τῆς δόξης do not here express merely a quality of the Gospel itself (the glorious Gospel), but rather an attribute of Christ, and hence the object or substance of the Gospel (χριστοῦ). The glory of Christ is the same as the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6), and the glory of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18). We are to understand it not exclusively of Christ in his glorified state, for the glory of the only Begotten Son of God is exhibited during his whole manifestation of Himself among men, full of grace and truth (Jno
2 Corinthians 1:14); and it was shed forth even in His earthly life, and especially in His death on the cross, which is set forth as the very essence of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 1:18). Hence Christ in His glory signifies what the Gospel sets forth as the entire revelation of God through Him in His various conditions. The whole salvation revealed in the Gospel depended on this state of humiliation, including His obedience unto death, and His subsequent exaltation (Philippians 2:6-11; Romans 5:10; Romans 4:25; Romans 8:34; Luke 24:26). Comp. Meyer, Osiander. This Christ, whose glory is revealed in the Gospel, is yet further said to be the image of God. On εἰκών comp. 1 Corinthians 11:7. [“The article is idiomatically omitted after ἕστιν.” Ellicott]. The same expression is used respecting Christ in Colossians 1:15 (from which some manuscripts have borrowed the adjective ἀοράτου), and Heb 1:3.7 We are not necessarily required by what is said in Philippians 2:6; Philippians 3:21; and Jno. 17:5, to refer this with Meyer exclusively to Christ in His exaltation for the glory of God beamed from Him even during His earthly life (Jno. 2:11; 14:9). Although Christ in His exaltedstate is more perfectly the image of God, yet this expression must be looked upon as a particular representation of Christ in every condition. To justify the Apostle’s language in calling his Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:3, τὸ εὐαγγ. ἡμῶν) a proclamation of the Divine glory, and to show how inappropriate were the insinuations referred to in 2 Corinthians 3:1, he now proceeds to say (2 Corinthians 4:5):—For we preach not ourselves but Christ Jesus the Lord.—From the context, we conclude that κυρίους ought to be understood after ἐαυτοὺς κηρύσσομεν, i. e., we do not preach ourselves as your lords (in contrast with δούλους ὑμῶν, your servants). Had he in his preaching set forth himself as a lord (κύριον), and made his authority, his power, and his lordship over them (2 Corinthians 1:24, comp. 2 Corinthians 11:20) his main object, instead of commending Christ in his glory as the only Lord over them, he would have adulterated God’s Word (2 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Corinthians 2:17). If we prefer not to supply κύριους, we may explain the sentence with Osiander thus: “The substance of our preaching is not our own light, or wisdom, or merits, and hence we do not commend ourselves, nor seek our own interests.” Both explanations come to the same thing in the end. Κύριον is here used in the sense of Lord, because in consequence of Christ’s redemption the Church belongs exclusively to Him (comp. Acts 20:28). The positive side in relation to ἑαυτούς (ourselves) is expressed in the phrase—and ourselves your servants (δούλους ὑμῶν) for Jesus’ sake—where there is an allusion to a very different position which some opposing teachers had arrogated to themselves (2 Corinthians 11:20). He thus gives expression to the deep humility which he felt, and shows how entire was the surrender he had made of himself to his work; comp. 1 Corinthians 9:19. The phrase διὰ ̓ Ιησοῦν (through Jesus) gives us the reason he was willing to sustain this servile relation to them; it was because the love of Christ constrained him to be their servant. It is possible that he meant thus to say that it was by the authority of Jesus that, he had been invested with this official dignity (by, on account of); or we may even regard the expression as equivalent to beneficio Jesu (this blessing was due to Jesus). The first of these meanings suits our connection the best, and according to it the sense would be: that the Apostle gave himself to be their servant, for Jesus’ sake, and to retain possession of the property he had already won for the Lord, or to bring them to a better acquaintance and more intimate fellowship with Jesus. The reason assigned in 2 Corinthians 4:6 seems to point to this last interpretation, for it is there implied that this was the Divine purpose regarding him when he was first enlightened:—Because God who called forth the light to shine out of darkness—(2 Corinthians 4:6). It seems quite needless and arbitrary to make this refer back to 2 Corinthians 4:4, and regard 2 Corinthians 4:5 as a parenthesis. But perhaps we may more completely bring in the contents of 2 Corinthians 4:5 in another way. The reason that we preach Christ as our only Lord, and are willing to be your servants for Jesus’ sake, is, that God has enlightened us:—hath shined in our hearts for the shining forth of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.—[Our explanation of this verse will depend on the answer we give to the question, for what purpose the Apostle introduced it. If his object was to assign the reason for his being the servant of the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 4:5, b), then he intended to say here that God, who commanded, etc., had shined into his heart that he might diffuse it to others. But if his object was to give his reason for preaching Christ (2 Corinthians 4:5 a), it was because (ὄτι) God, who commanded; etc., had shined in men’s hearts (as our version has it) to give us the light, etc. On either interpretation the sense is good. The first accords with Galatians 1:16, and is generally adopted. But surely the main idea of the passage is that Paul preached Christ, and the mention of his being a servant to the Corinthians was only incidental; the phrase “our hearts” (plural) can hardly mean here merely Paul’s own heart; and φωτισμός τῆς γνώσεως seems naturally to mean the objective light which came from Christ and would be obstructed by blindness. (Comp. Hodge and Billroth)]. There are also considerable difficulties in the grammatical structure of the sentence, especially on account of the ὂς before ἔλαμψεν. This is probably the reason that this relative has been left out in a number of manuscripts, though for external as well as internal reasons, it must be regarded as unquestionably genuine. The easiest way would seem to be to supply ἐστιν before ὁ εἰπών: q. d. it is God who commanded, etc., who shined, etc. And yet in this way, that which was designed to be merely a type of something higher becomes the principal object of the statement. Certainly the phrase: who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, should be looked upon as describing neither a mental illumination nor a breaking forth of the light of the Gospel from the obscurity of the law, but what took place in the first act of creation (Genesis 1:3); and even then it must be taken in such a way that ἐκ will express not a special, but a causal relation.—The idea then expressed would be that he who was the Creator of physical light, and caused it to break forth out of darkness, is the same Being who has caused a light of a higher nature to rise in the heart of the Apostle. Or, if we take ἔλαμψεν, like λάμψαι in a preceding passage, and every where else in the New Testament, intransitively (for the transitive use of the word is confined to the poets, and even among them is infrequent), the idea will, be: He hath shined into our hearts (dwelling in us by His Spirit; comp. 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 14:25; Jno. 14:23). There will then be no need either of an αν̓τός or of an ὅς, and the preceding ὁ εἰπὼνλάμψαι, which gives a transitive sense, will not stand in the way. That we may gain this sense, we must either supply an ἔστιν or an οὗτος ἔστιν before ὅς ἔλαμψεν: the God who commanded, etc., is the one who has shined, etc. (de Wette); or the ὅς ἕλαμψεν, etc., must be taken from this and repeated in the principal sentence before πρὸς φωτισμὸν, i.e., the God who commanded, etc., and who hath shined in our hearts, hath shined with the light, etc., (or: hath done this with the light, etc., supplying τοῦτο ἐποίησεν). But will not this, after all, be more difficult than to complete the sentence by supplying ἐστιν before ὅς ἕλαμψεν (is the one who hath shined)? The analogy of 2 Corinthians 3:13 would not perhaps be decisive in favor of this, since the completion of the sentence is much easier there. The easiest way would be, to take ὅς as equivalent to ὁ͂υτς or αὐτός: he has shined. But this is only a poetic, and particularly a Homeric usage, and only in special cases is ὅς ever met with as a demonstrative pronoun (comp. Passow s. v. ὅς 1). The logical objection, however, to the completion of the sentence by ἐστιν before ὅς ἕλαμψεν, viz., that this sentence would then have an emphasis which does not belong to it, inasmuch as the principal stress must be laid upon πρὸς φωτισμόν (Meyer), is not very convincing; for we must certainly lay an emphasis also upon the Divine agency which is here so solemnly introduced, and by means of which Paul had been directed to, and fitted for, the φωτισμός. This shining of God into his heart is the same thing which he describes in Galatians 1:15-16, thus: it pleased God to discover (or reveal) His Son in me; for it is his own experience which he probably has uppermost in his mind. What he there says in plain words: that I might preach Him among the Gentiles (comp. Acts 26:16-18), he here expresses by a figure of the light moving itself, thus: by the shining forth of the knowledge, etc. By these words he certainly intended to say that he was the medium through which such a knowledge was communicated to others. But may φωτισμός be regarded as meaning: to make light, to show, or intransitively to shine? The latter is the only meaning which accords with its use in 2 Corinthians 4:4, and the uniform usage, at least, of the Hellenistic writers.—The question may still be raised, whether in the face of Christ (ἐν προσώπῳ Χριστοῦ) ought to be connected immediately with πρὸςφωτισμόν or with τῆς δόξης (i. e., so as to mean the shining in the face of Christ, or the glory which was in the face of Christ)? In the first case, γνῶσις must be taken objectively (not as the subjective knowledge of the Apostle or the Apostolic teachers, but) as the knowledge of the glory of God, irradiated from the face of Christ, the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). The sense then would be: if any one converts others to Christ, he makes the knowledge of the Divine glory beam from the face of Jesus Christ (Meyer after Fritzsche). But this explanation of the γνῶσις (knowledge), as if it were entirely objective, is not indispensable, inasmuch as the words: the glory of God in the face of Christ, so naturally follow: who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4), and so precisely correspond with these, that the article was not necessary before ἐν προσώπῳ, especially as the idea of the glory of God in the face (ἐν προσώπω, τοῦπροσώπου) in the Mosaic type (2 Corinthians 3:7) was yet present to the Apostle’s mind. The knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (love, power, wisdom) was therefore subjective to the mind of the Apostle by a Divine revelation to his heart (ἔλαμψεν ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν), and then it shone around him so as to lead others to know Christ as their Lord, and to have fellowship also with Him. [“Christ is called the image of God in two respects: first (as in Colossians 1:15) with reference to the λόγος which is in him the perfect representation of God; and secondly with reference to that human manifestation in which the λόγος itself was revealed (comp. 2 Corinthians 3:18). We have in this place to think of the latter relation, although the other is included in the idea of the historical Christ. The glory of God is manifested in the absolute image which the historical Christ sets forth.” [Neander.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
The only persons who can so preach that the Divine glory in the Person and life of Christ, shall shine into the hearts of men, and cause them to recognize Him as their Redeemer and Lord, are those who have had their own hearts illuminated by that glory, and have mercifully been delivered from condemnation. But a personal experience of that, grace was never designed to be the limit of this revelation. When once the stream of Divine love has flowed into a single heart, from its very nature, it cannot be confined there, but it must struggle for communication. If I have myself been delivered from destruction, I shall long to commend the mercy which has saved me, to all who need the same experience. For the sake of Him who has saved me, and who has purchased those precious souls which are perishing around me, I shall strive to make men acquainted with Him in whom all fulness dwells, and who can satisfy all their wants. I shall cheerfully give myself to the work of winning souls to Him, and not esteem life itself too dear, if thereby I can bring them to salvation, or confirm them in its possession. In such circumstances the servant of Christ will have no room for preaching himself, that he may take the place of Christ by making His people dependent upon Him, and usurping a lordship over them. He will never wish to impose his opinions upon others, so as to impair the authority of God’s word; and he will never be guilty of those tricks and intrigues which gain esteem at the expense of those who have a better right to confidence and honor. He will have no heart for those hypocritical arts by which others seek to become all things to all men (1 Corinthians 9:19-23), and under the guise of disinterested benevolence, flatter men’s sinful passions, and accommodate themselves to the weak sides of their followers. Never will he think of evading by such arts the real difficulties of the Christian life, and shunning all earnest labor and self-denial in the pastoral work. Those who have a holy calling to bring their fellowmen to behold the Divine glory, and thus to transform them into Christ’s image, will rather encounter all cares, and reproaches, and afflictions with cheerfulness. They will renounce those impure motives which cannot bear the light, and they will so act and speak as to commend themselves to every man’s conscience. All things will be done as in the presence of that God who sees and judges the secrets of the heart.—And yet even when they are most faithful, their words may not get access to every heart. Some love darkness rather than light, and will, therefore, turn away from their testimony. Satan takes advantage of their aversion to truth, to bewitch them and to blind their understanding, so that the light of Christ, the image of God, cannot reach their hearts. God then gives them up to this blindness for their abuse of His testimony. As they would not yield to the attractions of grace, they are cast out of the sphere of gracious influences, and given up to those arts of the father of lies, for which they have such a predisposition. As they had no pleasure in the truth, and would not believe it, they become more and more unsusceptible to its influence, they willingly yield themselves to every kind of delusion, and fall into superstitions in which nothing but lies can be received (comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).
[“The Gospel may be said to be hidden when it is never preached to a people at all, when it is not understood, when it does not take hold of the conscience, and when the heart doth not entertain or give reception to it. Hence this hiding may be either sinful or penal—sinful, when men hear the Gospel but will not set themselves to understand it, or will not receive conviction or a suitable impression from it; and penal, when God gives up such sinners to their chosen way. Such a hiding is a sad token that they are lost, for it is evident that they are not recovered and saved, and hence that they are in a state which both excludes what is necessary to their salvation, and includes what promotes their destruction. There can therefore be no hope that their state will be safe at last who live in the neglect of those methods which the Gospel prescribes for their salvation; and there can be no ground for them to fear that they shall be finally lost, who, with dependence on grace, are using these methods to their uttermost.” Condensed from Howe’s Six Sermons on the Hidden Gospel and Lost souls].
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
2 Corinthians 4:1. The most faithful servant of Christ may become tired in his work but not of it. But he has only to strengthen himself in God and perform his part to the best of his ability. It is upon the end, upon the glorious crown that he should fix his eye.
2 Corinthians 4:2. Luther:—False Apostles sometimes make a fine show, but look within and they are full of filthiness (Matthew 18:27 f.)!—Hedinger:—Many vain talkers cover up their pride, avarice, envy, malice and bitterness, under a pretence of good intentions, and by this very thing show that they are ashamed of their own dishonesty. They therefore paint it up in false colors, and they twist and pervert the word of God so as to please men and sanction their carnal objects (Titus 1:9 ff.; Philippians 2:21).
2 Corinthians 4:3. Alas! that even in the Church the glorious Gospel should be so covered up! How few have so truly turned to the Lord that the glory of the Gospel has dawned upon their spirits!—Luther:
2 Corinthians 4:4. The devil is this world’s prince and god, and therefore God in righteous judgment has given it up to serve and to be ruled by him.—Hedinger:—Dost thou feel, O man, no touch of God’s word? Know then that the enemy is covering up thine eyes and thy heart (Hebrews 3:13). In the voluntary blinding and hardening of the unbeliever’s heart, there is a concurrence of his own guilt and the malignity of Satan; for if he were not guilty Satan could do nothing. Above all things, then, beware of unbelief.—Spener:—Satan can hardly keep men from knowing God simply as God, for all nature proclaims that it has a Creator and a Governor. But the point on which he has a special desire to blind them is the knowledge of Christ the Son of God, and the work of salvation by Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:5. The sum of all true preaching is Jesus Christ. Everything must run into Him (Colossians 1:27).
2 Corinthians 4:6. The best eye can see nothing without light. “In Thy light, O God, shall we see light” (Psalms 36:10).—If we would lead others to Christ, we must ourselves turn to Him, and receive the clear beams of faith into our own hearts. If we would know the mind of our heavenly Father, and specially how he feels toward men, we must direct our eyes to the face , (i.e., to the words and life) of Christ, for there we have the best expression of His heart (Jno. 14:9).
2 Corinthians 4:1. It is a great mercy when God calls a man to such a work. We should not, therefore, make much account of what we have to endure in it.
2 Corinthians 4:2. Ministers should never attempt to draw the people by going around the cross and flattering them. God’s servants have no need of intrigues and impure arts.—God’s word is always the same, but it is very easy to add to it something of our own. It can be corrupted either by addition or by subtraction, especially when one has some evil design, and wishes to accommodate it to a corrupt world. The truth is our own best evidence, but it is effectual only when we coöperate with our consciences and open our hearts to it. The truth and we must meet face to face. No true minister will be without this test of himself: that when he merely manifests the truth, he can appeal to every man’s conscience. If he cannot do this, he can do nothing.
2 Corinthians 4:3. The Gospel is covered to those who spend their lives to no profit and seek for life in the enjoyments of the flesh and in the evil suggestions of a carnal reason.
2 Corinthians 4:4. The god of this world is sure to blind those who believe not and who will not listen candidly to God’s kind invitations. He will suggest to them: “If you choose that way you will never get along in the world.” Such a god they will serve, and we need not wonder that their thoughts and hearts should be so occupied that they can receive no light. Even if the light shines upon them and they feel it, they turn away from it. Though God may penetrate through every obstacle till he reaches the conscience, he never works absolutely, i.e., irresistibly, and the result is not, necessarily saving. Light may shine clearly and yet a man may not perceive it: 1, If the windows of his house are closed and all around him is darkened (false principles and erroneous views); 2, If his eyes (the windows of his body) are so closed that no light can enter them (misunderstandings and perversions of revealed truth). The first obstacle is removed when the armor of light is put on; and when with the help of a Stronger, the strongholds of reason are demolished. The other is removed without violating the established laws of moral and intellectual freedom, when the preventing grace of God destroys Satan’s work in the heart and prepares it to welcome and entertain the light of revealed truth. God therefore first makes an assault upon our wills. When the sun is admitted the darkness flies of course. God does not arbitrarily force us to receive the light, but we must receive it by a free faith. The only reason that many have no light, is, they love the world more than God. The spirit of the world holds possession of them. The arch-deceiver makes the poor soul think: “Surely it is not necessary to give up everything; we may retain this thing and that, and still be Christians; others do so, and are nevertheless very good people; God does not require us to be so very strict.” These are the lies which many admit with greater readiness than they do the truth and the glory of the Gospel. God is resisted by them as if He were an enemy, and was preparing to inflict on them some great calamity and injustice. When the love of self is the reigning principle in the heart, there can be no interest in the glory of Christ, and the image of the sinful Adam will be inscribed over the whole man.
2 Corinthians 4:5. Where shall we find those who preach nothing but Jesus Christ? We meet with many who are eager to obtain honor and personal comfort; but so absorbing is their interest in themselves, that they have very little time or heart to give to Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6. God’s works are all in harmony. The illumination of a soul like that of the natural world is a Divine work, a new creation, and can be effected only by the fiat of the Almighty. Our hearts are at first in chaotic darkness, and the type of the process by which they become temples of God must be sought in what took place at the beginning. As the first day’s work was the separation of the light from the darkness, so the first work of grace in the heart is to give it light. We must allow Christ to break through the darkness of our hearts and discover it to us, or we shall never see the light. But the mere admission of the light is not enough; it must be received into the most secret recess of the heart. Then, when the light of a true knowledge is received, how clearly do we see our poverty, but how clearly also the wonders of grace! The darkness is past and the true light shines (1 Jno. 2:8). But this light of Jesus Christ must necessarily shine beyond ourselves. Others also will see it and be enkindled and won to Christ. One great object of the vocation wherewith we are called is to make us God’s witnesses.—God is to be known only as we look upon the face of the only begotten Son (Jno. 1:18). God never presents Himself to us in an absolute manner, but only through this face. Such is the old but sublime theology which was always so precious to His humble ones. There we may look upon God and our lives be preserved (Genesis 32:30). But such a sight can often be gained only by a wrestling like Jacob’s, and with a painful discovery of our poverty. But no sooner is this sight gained than we are drawn toward God. We can bear to look upon the Deity Himself, even in His glory, when we behold Him in the face of a Mediator (Psalms 89:16; Exodus 29:10 f.; Exodus 33:14).
Rieger, 2 Corinthians 4:1-2 :—The unjust treatment which the word of faith sometimes receives, and the unhappy results which sometimes follow its dispensation, are no reason why those who are called to preach it should renounce their hope or their enjoyment of it; nor should they thus be tempted to use means which are unsuitable to their work. Never should they keep back doctrines or precepts which belong to the mind of Christ, from a fear that they might injure His cause. Let them never show punctiliousness in matters which are known and judged of by their fellowmen, while they tolerate great imperfections in those which none but the eye of God can discern. Let them use no means to please men which would not be commended by God and approved of in the consciences of all who see them, and which would not tend to bring out the truth in still clearer terms.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4. The god of this world has a great variety of instruments conspiring together to promote his wicked purpose of covering up the Gospel from the eyes of men.—The unbelieving world is always inclined to throw out the suspicion that ministers are seeking only their private interests. But those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord, will cheerfully confide in His servants, and in the arrangements He has made respecting them.
2 Corinthians 4:6. In one of His first, acts God acquired a peculiar name: “He who called the light out of darkness.” That ancient name He still maintains by similar manifestations of His power on a larger or smaller scale; but especially by the revelation of His Son in the hearts of men through the Gospel. In the life of Christ we have concentrated as in a single person, and everything given which we need to reveal God to us, and to make us trust in Him as our Father. The Apostles have given us so complete and so credible a testimony of what they saw of Christ, that we may have from their preaching and writings the same impressions which they had from His personal presence. Truly blessed is every reader whose faith looks steadily and with an unveiled face upon Jesus!
Heubner, 2 Corinthians 4:1 :—Keep your eye upon the greatness and sanctity of your calling, and you will be in no danger of falling.
2 Corinthians 4:2. The only way for a preacher, is always to be open and honest.—God’s word should be preached in its purity as it was preached at first, with no recent improvements or disfigurements; for not only must it be a great sin, in the Lord’s sight, to present in His name what is not His, but we shall thus deprive His word of its real power.—Luther: Counterfeiters of money are burned, but falsifiers of God’s word are canonized.
2 Corinthians 4:3. Though the truth and power of the Gospel are hidden from the eyes of many, it is only to them that are lost, and because they would not believe.
2 Corinthians 4:4. A good or an evil spirit rules all men. Why it is by the one rather than by the other, must ever remain one of the mysteries of human freedom, for the result is not always according to the power of the outward influence. The corrupt mind may truly be said to be blinded, when the world is regarded as the only thing real or glorious, when the world’s vanities appear to be all that is substantial, and when the Gospel and Christ’s glories are counted as nothing. Christ, His glory, His love, His holiness, His power, His government, and His Divine excellence, are the substance of the Gospel. He is the image of God, so that as the Son is, the Father must be.
2 Corinthians 4:5. The Gospel has an enlightening power, for it is not a system of human inventions; and those who preach it are not founding systems of philosophy, nor leading off new sects or schools of religious belief; but they present Christ as the Master of every other master, and the only Rock of all wisdom, righteousness and salvation.
2 Corinthians 4:6. When Christ enlightens a soul, it is as great a miracle as the creation of a world. As the physical light enables us to discern God’s power and glory in the natural universe, so the light of faith enables us to recognize His glory in the spiritual universe.—The highest grace is that look of grace God gives us when we experience His grace.—Every thing which belongs to Christ’s manifestation to men, is a reflection of the Deity, What then was the lustre upon Moses’ face compared with the light in which God manifests Himself?
W. F. Besser, 2 Corinthians 4:2 :—An ingenuous deportment is the glory, and an artful concealment is the shame of a minister of Christ. Every man’s conscience recognizes with more or less distinctness what God commands or forbids; and hence when the Gospel is manifested to it, a ready witness there gives an affirmation to the truth; and when this affirmation is withheld, the conscience of the lover of lies feels the penal brand (1 Timothy 4:2). The consciousness of his guilt is indelibly fixed in his soul. The conscience of believers is good; it is polluted with no corruptions, and it is restrained by no fears; while that of unbelievers is vicious, defiled and burdened; it perpetually accuses them that are lost because they obey not the truth.
2 Corinthians 4:3. It may do us no harm to remain ignorant of some truths, but we are lost forever if we know not the Gospel.
2 Corinthians 4:4. The special work of the great Corrupter is to corrupt still more them that are lost. In this work, however, he is only God’s executioner. This blinding is nothing but a punishment for the sin of unbelief (Ephesians 2:2), for loving darkness so much that the light was necessarily hated (John 3:19-20), and for being so much devoted to earthly things, that all the blessings of heaven offered in the Gospel, are rejected with scorn. The blindness itself is effected by covering up the Gospel, by mystifying God’s clear word, by misconstruing the obvious meaning of what God has done, and by closing the eyes against the truth as it is dispensed in the Church.
2 Corinthians 4:6. The very central point of man’s nature, his heart’s treasure (Matthew 12:35), has been darkened ever since he became a sinner; the Spirit of God, the light of his life has been put out. It is indeed true that the heart (where the conscience has its laboratory) is always aware to some extent, that its life and rest should be in God, but this light of conscience cannot give life; it is rather a deadly lightning (Romans 1:32) to those who have fallen from Divine fellowship. If in our hearts there ever springs up a spiritual light by which we recognize spiritual things, just as we behold the works of creation by the natural light, it must be by the act of that same God who in the beginning commanded the light to shine out of darkness (Psalms 18:29). This work of the Almighty Creator, in which He irradiates man’s darkened heart, is just the counterpart of that work of this world’s god in which the mind of the unbeliever is blinded.
[“The Christian ministry: I. As a ministry of Light. It does not make the objects of faith; it only unveils or manifests them as they are. To live in sin is to live a false life—a life of lies—in which a man is untrue to his own nature. The Gospel does not make God our Father; it only reveals Him as He had ever been, is, and ever shall be; not a tyrant but a Father; not a chance or a necessary thing but a Person; and in the life of Christ the love of God has become intelligible to us. So it throws light on man’s nature; shows him with God-like aspirations and animal cravings; a glorious temple in ruins, to be re-built into a habitation of God through the Spirit. It throws light upon the grave and the things of that undiscovered land beyond. Hence our life is to be a perpetual manifestation of the Gospel, and a diffusion of the light of the Gospel; while the evil and worldly heart is ever hiding the truth. This light is the true evidence of Christianity. II. As a reflection, in word, and experience of the life of Christ.” F. W. Robertson, Lect. XL.].
2 Corinthians 4:1; 2 Corinthians 4:1.—The Recep. has ἐκκακοῦμεν, but Lachmann and Tischendorf have ἐγκακοῦμεν. Meyer thinks the latter an emendation to make the text accord with general usage among all Greek writers, with the exception of some doubtful passages of the New Testament, and some writings of the Fathers. [A similar, though not quite the same variety of readings is found for the same word in Luke 18:1; Galatians 6:9; Ephesians 3:13; and 2 Thessalonians 3:13. Meyer thinks that ἐκκακ, was probably more used in oral speech in Paul’s time, though it appears in no Greek writer before him: and that Paul and Luke introduced it into ecclesiastical usage, where it sometimes occurs, but still less frequently than ἐγκακ. The Codd. A. B. D (1st Cor.) F. G. (the three last have it written ἐνκακ). Sinait. and some cursives favor ἐγκακ. but C. D. (3d Cor.) E. K. L. et al. with Chrys., Theodt., Damasc., et al. have ἐκκακ. Among the versions some of the old Ital. have non defecimus, and others with Tertul. and the Vulg. have non deficimus, still others with one copy of the Vulg. and Ambrosiast, have non deficiamus; August, has non infirmemur, the Gothic non fiamus segnes, the Syriac non est nobis tædium, Erasmus non degeneramus. Wycliffe and the Rhemish have we fail not; Tyndale and Geneva with our A. V. and Bib. Union, we faint not; and Cranmer, we go not out of kynde. The difference of meaning between the two readings is not very serious; for which see Exeg. notes]
[2 Corinthians 4:2.—The Rec. has συνιστῶντες with D. (3d Cor.), E. K. L. Chrys., Theodt., et al., A. and B. seem uncertain whether the reading should be -ῶντες or -άνοντες, but C. D. (1st Cor.) F. G. and Sinait. and three cursives, have συνιστάντες, which is edited by Lachm., Tisch. and Alford. Comp. 2 Corinthians 6:5; and 2 Corinthians 10:18].
2 Corinthians 4:4; 2 Corinthians 4:4.—Διαυγάσαι and καταυγάσαι are both glosses to define more precisely the simple verb. [The principal authorrity for the former is A., four cursives, and some copies of some Greek fathers of the Antiochian school: and for the latter, C. D. et al. The Recep. αύγάσαι is sustained by B. F. K. L. Sinait. and the best MSS. of the Greek Fathers]. The Recep, has αὐτοῖς after αὐγάσαι, but without much MSS. authority. It is evidently an interpolation.
2 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Corinthians 4:6.—Lachmann has λάμψει instead of λάμψαι, on the authority of A. B. [D. (1st Cor.) Sinait (1st Cor.) et al.] It is probably a suggestion from Genesis 1:3. [Bloomfield, Meyer, Wordsworth, Tischendorf, agree with the Recep. and most of the versions and fathers in preferring λάμψαι, but Alford and Stanley agree with Kling in thinking this a quotation of the creative fiat. Some respectable MSS. omit ὅς].
2 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Corinthians 4:6.—Lachmann has αὑτοῦ in place of τοῦ θεοῦ. but the MSS. evidence for it is not satisfactory, and the internal evidence is against it, since no one could have been uncertain of the antecedent of αὐτοῦ, [and hence would have had no motive to put τοῦ θεοῦ in its place for an explanation. Its only uncial authorities are F. G. and the 1st Corr. of C. and D].
2 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Corinthians 4:6.—Ἰησοῦ before Χριστοῦ is not genuine. [And yet it is inserted before χριστοῦ by C. K. L. and Sinait., and after χριστοῦ by D. E. F. G., the Italic and Vulgate versions, and the Latin Fathers; A. B. and some Greek writers have only χριστοῦ].
[In Colossians 1:15, and Hebrews 1:3, the reference is to the λόγος, and hence ἀοράτου was appropriate. The word in the latter passage (χαράκτηρ) is different, but the idea is nearly the same. An image is more than a likeness (ὁμοίωσις, Trench, Synn. 1st Ser. p. 77): things may be alike, but not images of one another. An image must have a prototype after which it was drawn, and which it must more than resemble. Greg. Naz.: αν̓́τη γὰρ εἰκόνος φύσις, μίμημα εἶναι τοῦ�. The present ἔστιν signifies that the thing spoken of was always present].
IX.—THE WORTHLESS AND FEEBLE APPEARANCE OF MINISTERS. CONFIDENCE IN VIEW OF THE GLORIOUS RESULT OF THEIR AFFLICTIONS
2 Corinthians 4:7 to 2 Corinthians 5:10
7But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency [exceeding greatness] 8of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side [In every way we are hard pressed], yet not distressed [inextricably straitened]; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord [om. the Lord]8 Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be 12made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then [that]9 death worketh in us, but life in you. 13We [But] having the same Spirit of faith, according as it is written, “I believe, and 14[om. and]10 therefore have I spoken;” we also believe, and therefore speak; knowing that he which raised up the Lord11 Jesus shall raise up us also by [with]12 Jesus, and shall present us with you. 15For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound [that the grace, becoming more abundant in consequence of the greater number, might multiply (περισσεύσῃ) the thanksgiving] to the glory of God. 16For which cause we faint not13; but though our outward man perish [is wasting away, διαφθείρεται], yet the [our] inward14 man is renewed day by day. 17For our light affliction, which is but for a moment15, worketh for us a far more exceeding and [om. and] eternal weight of glory; 18while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal [temporary, πρόσκαιρα], but the things which are not seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 5:1. For we know that, if our earthly house of this tabernacle [tent-dwelling] were dissolved, we have [in the heavens] a building of [from, ἐκ] God, a house not made with hands, eternal [,] in the heavens [om. in the heavens]. 2For in this [also] we groan, earnestly 3desiringto be clothed upon with [to put on over this] our house which is from 4heaven: if so be that [since indeed, εἵγε καὶ]16 being clothed17 we shall not be found naked. For [even] we that are in this [the]18 tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, [because we are not willing to be unclothed], but clothed upon, 5that mortality [our mortal part] might be swallowed up of [by] life. Now [But] he that hath wrought us [out] for the self-same thing is God, who also [om. also]19 hath6given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are [Being] always confident, 7knowing that, whilst we are at [in our] home in the body, we are absent from [our home in] the Lord: for we walk by faith, not by sight [appearance]: 8we are confident, 9I say, and willing [well pleased] rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore [also] we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of [acceptable to] him. 10For we must all appear [be made manifest] before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in [through] his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be [were] good or bad.20
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
2 Corinthians 4:7. [This glorious ministry was intrusted to weak and decaying vessels. “As the Apostle had spoken many and great things of the indescribable glory, there was danger that some would say, ‘How can those who have such glory continue in these mortal bodies?’ He, therefore, says that this is indeed a matter of chief surprise, and a remarkable instance of Divine power, that an earthen vessel should be able to endure such extreme splendor, and to hold in custody so great a treasure.” Chrysostom. He insensibly passes to the Divine supports which he experienced under the weaknesses of his body and the difficulties of his work].—But we have this treasure in earthen vessels.—The δέ leads us on to the exhibition of the contrast between the glory of which he had just been speaking, and the infirmity and afflicted state of those who were its possessors. We can hardly suppose that he is here directly defending himself against objections which had been formally arrayed against him (see Meyer); and yet he doubtless had his eye on those opponents who had endured much less for Christ’s cause. (comp. 2 Corinthians 11:23 ff.).—The word treasure indicates the great value of the Divine illumination (2 Corinthians 4:6), and of course implies the importance of the office which is directed to the diffusion of the light of the knowledge, etc. In contrast with this is the ὀστράκινα σκεύη, clayey vessel, which is of a cheap and fragile nature. We naturally expect that a valuable possession will be deposited in precious and valuable vessels. In this he has no reference to some special insignificance or weakness of his person, or to some peculiar sickliness of his bodily frame, nor indeed to himself exclusively (σκεύεσιν, καρδίαις, 2 Corinthians 4:6), but according to his usage, to the general state of the human body, perishable as it always is, and destined to dissolution. (comp. 2Co 4:16; 2 Corinthians 5:1 ff.).—[The word σκεῦος, as applied to the human body, had almost lost its metaphorical character among the Greeks. (comp. Romans 9:22-23; 1 Peter 3:7; 2 Timothy 2:21). The Platonists spoke of two bodies; one (ὅχημα ψυχῆς) was the external chariot or vehicle of the soul, and the other (ὅστράκινον σκεῦος) was the frail body which the soul inhabits as the testacea do their shell. The substantive ὅστρακον signifies either burnt clay, with any thing made of it, a piece of tile, and especially the tablet used in voting (hence ostracise), or the hard shell of the testacea. The latter seems to have been the most ancient meaning, and the two significations are connected, perhaps because shells were at first used as vessels, or were the material from which vessels were made. Chrysostom: “Our mortal nature is nothing better constituted than earthen ware; for it is soon damaged, and by death and disease, and variations of temperature and ten thousand other things, easily dissolved.” Dr. Hodge, Neander and Billroth think that earthen vessels here signify not the frail bodies merely, but the whole human nature of ministers since it is not solely on account of their corporeal frailty that they are incompetent to produce the effects which flow from their ministrations. But though the fact here assumed is true, the mind of the Apostle was evidently here fixed upon the body alone; as is clear from the usage of ὀστράκινον σκεῦος, and from the equivalent phrases (our outward man, and our earthly tent in which we dwell) in 2 Corinthians 4:16 and 2 Corinthians 5:1.]. In the apparent unsuitableness of such an arrangement, he discovered a Divine purpose of an exalted character.—That the exceeding greatness of the power may be seen to be God’s and not ours.—[On the telic and not ecbatic signification of ἵνα consult Winer § 57, p. 355]. The exceeding greatness of the power (ὑπερβολὴ (found also in 2 Corinthians 12:7) τῆς δυνάμεως) signifies the power which was so triumphant in the whole sphere of the Apostolic ministry to convert and enlighten men, notwithstanding the afflictions, persecutions, difficulties and conflicts which had to be endured. (comp. 2 Corinthians 4:8 ff.). It was in these very circumstances that its superiority to every other agency had been shown (δύναμις 1 Corinthians 4:20).—The ῇ like γένηται in Romans 7:13, and εἷναι in Romans 3:26, has the logical import of φανῇ or εὑρηθῇ οὗσα [i. e., may appear to be.]. The genitive θεοῦ has the force of, belonging to God; and it is contrasted with ἐξ ἡμων: going out from us.
2 Corinthians 4:8-10. [All the sentences in this passage are participial, and yet they are not inappropriately rendered in our A. V. in the first person of the present Indicative. “In each of these pairs of antitheses the signification of the second is cognate to that of the first; in those in 2 Corinthians 6:9-10, contrary: each second is also here the extreme of the first.” Webster & Wilkinson]. They are connected in signification with the preceding verse, in which had been announced the design or end God had in view. He thus asserts that the superabundant power which was exhibited in his Apostolical work belonged entirely to that God who helped him and carried him through all his distresses and infirmities.—We are pressed in every way but not straitened.—̓Εν παντὶ signifies here, not in all places, but in every way and on every occasion, as in 2 Corinthians 7:5. [Dr. Hodge also suggests that the words belong to all the following clauses, and not merely to the first]. Στενοχωρεῖσθαι signifies to be hemmed in a narrow space from which there is no exit. [Stanley: pressed for room, but still having room]. The noun occurs in 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 12:10. As οὐ στενοχωρούμενοι, in which God’s power is displayed, is related to θλιβόμενοι, so is οὐκ ἐξαπορούμενοι to ἀπορούμενοι:—perplexed but not despairing.—The word ἀπορούμενοι signifies, to come into perplexities and ἐξαπορ. to come into such extreme despair, that one knows not what to do or where to look for help. [Stanley: losing our way, but not entirely; bewildered, but not benighted]. There is probably in this antithesis an allusion, not merely to his external, but to his internal state; for under distressing and straitened circumstances, under fatigue and hostile assaults, the mind becomes oppressed, and hence perplexed and in despair. In such a condition God’s power had been revealed, so that in the midst of his human infirmities, he had not been reduced to extremity, nor been without counsel or hope.—Persecuted, but not forsaken (2 Corinthians 4:9).—He here begins to speak of outward circumstances. In διωκόμενοι and ἐγκαταλειπόμενοι the metaphor is not that of a foot-race [pursued, but not left behind, (Olshausen, Stanley,) for the Apostle is speaking, not of rivalry from those who as runners had the same end in view, but of troubles and persecutions” Alford]; for διώκεσθαι, as in 1 Corinthians 4:12, signifies to be persecuted (so διωγμοί in 2 Corinthians 12:10), and ἐγκαταλείπεσθαι, to be left under persecutions, to be abandoned without help (see Meyer). The word occurs also in 2 Timothy 4:16. The figure of a conflict runs through both clauses of the verse:—cast down, but not destroyed; καταβαλλόμενοι is an advance beyond the meaning of διωκόμενοι, for it asserts that he was not only chased, but pulled or stricken down to the ground. Neander: “We have here the comparison of a combatant who is indeed thrown down by his antagonist in the conflict, and is awaiting his death blow, but who, after all, succeeds in rising again.” The Catholic interpretation is: “one who is seized in his flight, and is prostrated, but not slain.” Not being destroyed was the consequence of not being forsaken. In 2 Corinthians 4:10 the apostolic sufferings are set forth in their highest degree of intensity, as an extreme peril of life itself, a perpetual hanging in suspense:—always bearing about in our body the dying of Jesus.(comp. 1 Corinthians 15:31; Romans 8:36).—Νέκρωσις is a killing, or putting to death, but it has also an intransitive signification, a dying; here in a physical and not an ethical sense. (comp. 2 Corinthians 4:11). The dying of Jesus is represented as permanently connected with his body in such a way that he was never without it, and always carried it with him. [It was a perpetual νέκρωσις, a dying, but never a θάνατος, death]. It was something which attached to him in consequence of his common fellowship with Jesus in his mode of life and his office, and accompanied him wherever he was. [Chrysostom: we are shown every day dying, that we may also be seen every day rising again]. Those explanations miss the true sense of the Apostle, which describe it as a violent death from wounds (Galatians 6:17), or a sickness which contained the seeds of death (Rückert). The antithesis is introduced in the following final sentence—that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body—where we are told the purpose or design which God had in view when He permitted such sufferings (comp. 2 Corinthians 4:7). The life of Jesus. the ζωὴ, contrasted with the νέκρωσις, signifies that life which is the triumphant result of the death of Jesus, viz: the life which He had in His resurrection. Its manifestation in the body of the Apostle was probably nothing but the fact that although he was always in danger of death, he always came forth alive out of his deadly perils. The idea is that of unity with Christ or resemblance to Christ in His life, as before in His dying. The context and the contrast suggest this. Though Jesus or the life of Jesus may have been the source of this life, such is not the assertion of the text, and such an assertion would not be suitable to the context. If we attempt to unite the two ideas in one explanation, we only mingle together two distinct representations (life in its unity and resemblance, and life in its energy). In a subsequent part of the Apostle’s discourse (2 Corinthians 4:14 ff.) the glorification of the body in the resurrection is perhaps a topic of consideration, but no allusion is made to it here. Still less is there any reference to a spiritual or moral influence, as though the Apostle would assert that the same living power through which Christ was raised and now lives, might be seen in the invincible energy of soul which he exhibited in the midst of all his adversities (de Wette). It is inconsistent with such a view that he uses the phrase, in our body (ἐν τῷ σώματι ἡμῶν), and the corresponding expression, in our mortal flesh (ἐν τῇ θνῃτῇσαρκί ἡμῶν, 2 Corinthians 4:11, comp. also 2 Corinthians 6:9); and it is not a sufficient explanation of this idea to say, that his official influence is conceived of in its outward manifestation, in connection with and acting through the feeble members of his body (Osiander). [It is, however, against this wholly natural view of the life of Jesus acting in Paul’s body that, in 2 Corinthians 4:12, he speaks of it as acting through him upon the Corinthians, and in them producing spiritual effects (comp. Alford. But see notes on that ver.). “Perhaps Paul does not refer to any single thing in the life of the Lord Jesus, but means that he did this in order that in all things the same life, the same kind of living which characterized the Lord Jesus might be manifested in him; so that he resembled Him in his sufferings and trials, in order that in all things he might have the same life in his body.”—Barnes].
2 Corinthians 4:11. For we which live are ever delivered unto death.—This is an explanation and a confirmation of what had been said in 2 Corinthians 4:10. Corresponding with the bearing about the dying of Jesus in the body, we have here a being delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake. And yet it does not follow that the dying of Jesus was precisely the same as the dying for Jesus’ sake. The thought (2 Corinthians 4:10) of the identity of the dying (in behalf of the same cause) is modified in 2 Corinthians 4:11 by becoming a deliverance unto death for Jesus’ sake. Both ideas, however, are fundamentally the same, so far as the cause of God’s kingdom, for which both Jesus and His Apostle endured such deadly sufferings, and the person and name of Jesus himself, were essentially connected. In διὰ Ἰησοῦν, here rendered, for Jesus’ sake, διά indicates the true reason but not the object had in view (to glorify Jesus), although the cause and the design are closely united. Much less does this preposition mean the same thing as: auctoritate Jesu, for it cannot have reference to the motive of the action, inasmuch as the deliverance (παραδιδόμεθα) is passive, and can have no allusion to the voluntariness of the subject of the action. The being delivered to death (εἰς θάν. παδιδ.) is intensified by the contrast implied in, we who are alive (ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες.), as if they were delivered up to death in full life. Neander: “Now we seem in the midst of life and a moment afterwards we are given up to death.” This is neither an anticipation of what is said in the succeeding final sentence (as if the Apostle had intended to say: we who are kept alive), nor is it the same as to say: “as long as we live;” nor is it a feeble expression by which he would inform us: we who are still alive while so many of our fellow-Christians are dead; nor, moreover, is it to be taken as an emphatic description of the spiritual life (Osiander, Bisping); those in whom Jesus’ life acts to make them His organs of communication with men must have life through the spirit and power of faith (John 3:36; John 11:25; Galatians 2:20). Such a view as is contained in this last mode of interpretation could derive support only from the final sentence in 2 Corinthians 4:10, as it is explained by de Wette. The deliverance to death was accomplished through the agency of men, but it must be referred ultimately to God (ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ), inasmuch as the final sentence indicates that there was a Divine purpose in the case.—that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.—In the inference which is drawn in this final sentence, the words, in our mortal flesh (ἐν τῆ θνητῇ σαρκῖ ἡμῶν), are emphatic, and are an augmentation of the thought expressed in 2 Corinthians 4:10 respecting the manifestation in our body (ἐν τῷ σώματι); or perhaps they are a stronger expression to bring into more striking contrast the revelation of Jesus’ life, inasmuch as this life must become more manifest in the midst of this weakness and frailty of the body.
2 Corinthians 4:12. So then death worketh in as but life in you.—We have here the result of what he had just described, and its relation to the Corinthian Church. We should naturally have expected in such an expression ὁ μὲν θάνατος (lect. rec.), but the particle was probably left out by the Apostle intentionally, that the contrast might be the more striking. Death and life were both active powers (as in every other part of the New Testament ἐνεργεῖται must be taken in an active and not in a passive signification.) Death was working in the Apostle, inasmuch as he was always exposed to death (2 Corinthians 4:10-11), but life was working in the Corinthians. But in what sense was this true of the Corinthians? Not directly but mediately, in the degree in which Jesus’ life was revealed in the Apostle’s body. The connection with 2 Corinthians 4:10-11 seems to demand this. It was by the Apostle’s dangers that he came into just the position to exert his apostolic powers for their good. While, therefore, he felt the continual influence of death, they were receiving a perpetual stream of quickening energies from his death. We are neither compelled to understand (with de Wette and Osiander) the life (ζωή) here spoken of as meaning the higher spiritual life, the Divine power which was glorified in the Apostle’s sufferings and its working (ἐνεργεῖται), as expressing the beneficial influence of his ministry in implanting and strengthening their faith, nor would we be justified in giving such a turn to the thought. [On the other hand Alford contends that the idea of Christ’s natural life acting upon the Corinthians through Paul, is much forced. “In Romans 8:10 f., the vivifying influence of His Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead is spoken of as extending to the body also; here the upholding influence of Him who delivers and preserves the body is spoken of as vivifying the whole man: life, in both places, being the higher and spiritual life, including the lower and natural. ‘And in our relative positions—ye are examples of this life since ye are a church of believers, alive to God through Christ in your various vocations, and not called upon to be θεατριζόμενοι as we are, who are (not indeed excluded from that life—nay, it flows from us to you—but are) more especially examples of conformity to the death of our common Lord, in whom death works.” “Death and life are personified, and the one is operative in Paul and the other in the Corinthians.”—Hodge]. Entirely unsuitable to the whole tenor of the Epistle and of this particular section would be the supposition of an irony in which the Apostle contrasts his own extreme perils with the peace and prosperity of the Corinthians. Comp. 1 Corinthians 4:8 (Chrysostom, Calvin).
2 Corinthians 4:13-14.—But having the same spirit of faith (as it is written, I believed, therefore I spoke).—The Apostle now passes on to the spiritual side of the description he was giving of the Divine power in him (2 Corinthians 4:7). [But though you might think this working of death discouraging to us, it is not so in fact; for we are animated by two great principles: first, an assured faith that we shall participate with you in the benefits of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:13-16), and secondly, a confident hope of a glorious renovation (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Our version omits the connecting particle δέ which expresses the contrast between what follows and what precedes: death worketh indeed in us, but] the same spirit of faith impels us to speak to our fellow-men and to make known the Gospel, which had been expressed in that passage of Scripture, in which it is said: I believed, therefore I spoke. The δέ also introduces an additional point in the discourse. The Spirit of faith denotes, not the spirit or disposition of faith, but the Spirit of God, which produced faith in the heart, the Spirit which he had received, which dwelt in him, and whose organ he was in the ministration of the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:8; comp. the spirit of meekness in 1 Corinthians 4:21; Galatians 6:1, et al. Neander: “the Apostle is here speaking of that peculiar influence of the Holy Spirit by which he acquired a confirmed confidence in God that he would come forth triumphant over all death, and that every thing would promote the welfare of himself and of the whole Church.” Τὸ αὐτό refers not to the faith of the Corinthians (the same which ye have), for the context suggests nothing of this kind, and the Apostle is speaking of the Corinthians only as the receivers or objects of his beneficial agency, but to the τὸ γεγραμμένον with its contents: the same spirit of confidence in God which is expressed in the following passage of the Scriptures. The passage is found in Psalms 116:10, though it is taken from the LXX., and does not give us the precise translation of the original Heb. תֶאֱמַנְתִי כִי אֲדַבֵּר,” believed, for I spoke.” [Comp. Hengstenberg on the Psalms.]. This, however, conducts us essentially to the same idea, for the speech, the discourse of the psalmist, expressive of prayerful submission, thankfulness and hope (2 Corinthians 4:1-9), is something in which faith is shown, and must have proceeded from faith. Bengel says: “No sooner does faith exist than she begins to speak to others, and while speaking recognizes herself and grows in power.”—Like the Psalmist, we also believe and therefore speak.—The believing of the Apostle, like that of the Psalmist, was a firm assurance that the quickening power of the Lord would help him through, and deliver him out of all his distresses. From this proceeds a spirit of praise for the deliverance given him; for in his preaching and in his testimony before the Church, his great object was to glorify God.—But the faith which moved him to speak involved also a confident hope that the power of God would ever afterwards be manifested in him, 2 Corinthians 4:14 :—Knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus.—We have εἰδότες in like manner in 1 Corinthians 15:58. The basis of this hope was the Divine fact on which all his faith and his salvation rested, 1 Corinthians 15:13 ff.; Romans 8:11, et al. The substance of this confidence was, that he who had raised up the Lord Jesus, will raise up us also with Jesus.—The most natural and probably the correct view of this passage leads our thoughts to the general resurrection. The fact that in other passages Paul holds before himself and his fellow-believers of that period the possibility that they might be changed without dying (1Co 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:15 f.), does not militate against such a view, for he also intimates (2 Corinthians 5:8) that they miht possibly be called to die, and we may include under the general idea of being raised up, the more special one of a simple change (comp. on 1 Corinthians 6:14). Instead of σύν one would more naturally have expected διὰ or ἐν, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22. But just as in ἅξει σὺν αὐτῷ 1 Thessalonians 4:14, the fellowship with him into which they were to be introduced, was pointed out, so the resurrection with Jesus in this place is a pattern which, in like manner, is founded upon a fellowship with Him, and is its highest realization and glorification, Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:12; Colossians 3:1. Of a resurrection with Jesus, in some other sense than that of a bodily resurrection, the Apostle never speaks, except in the past tense. No intimation is given of a deliverance from the peril of death (Meyer), and the words, with Jesus, are at least no more fitted to such an idea than they are to ἐγείρειν in the sense of a literal resurrection of the dead. If the former is a common fellowship in the lot of the risen Jesus, the latter is still more so. It is for this reason that he immediately adds:—and will present us with you.—This must refer to a presentation before the judgment seat of Christ for the reception of the great prize (2 Corinthians 1:14; 2 Corinthians 5:10; comp. 2 Timothy 4:8; 2 Timothy 2:0 Thess. 2:19), or, which comes to the same result, a presentation of them as the companions of Christ in His kingdom. [This presentation by Christ is not the same with standing before His bar for judgment. The Apostle has here no allusion to the more awful scenes of the last judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10) but only to the more animating presentation with Christ and by Christ for final acceptance by the Father].
2 Corinthians 4:15. For all things are for your sakes.—This is immediately connected with the preceding phrase, in which he had declared that he would have fellowship with them in the future glory. The all things has reference to what he had said of his afflictions and his deliverances, of his faith and its fruits, and of his speaking and witnessing for the truth in the power of faith. In 2 Corinthians 4:12 he had said that life was energizing in them, and he now declares that all things he had mentioned (τὰ πάντα), would turn out for their good. (comp. 2 Corinthians 1:6; Philippians 1:25; 2 Timothy 2:10). He will present us with you, for all these things take place for your sakes. In the final sentence he tells them of the ultimate result to which all things would be conducted:—in order that the grace which abounds through many, might multiply thanksgivings to the glory of God.—The grace (χάρις) is here not the whole salvation sealed by the resurrection of Christ, for such an idea would not be expressed by a phrase like τὰπάντα, but the gracious assistance of which he had just spoken. (2 Corinthians 4:10 ff.). Πλεονάσασα διὰτῶν πλειόνων signifies that the grace was increased or enlarged by the greater number of those who participate in it, or to whom it is extended. The persons here spoken of are not those who would become interested in the blessing in consequence of the Corinthians’ intercessions in his behalf, for his subject did not call for such an allusion (as in 2 Corinthians 1:11). The same general sense of the passage would be gained if we should connect διὰ τῶν πλειόνων with the following περισσεύσῃ):—that the abounding grace might multiply the thanksgivings by means of many.—In this case the increased number, who participated in the blessing, were those through whom the grace, extended or enlarged by their participation, would be the means of a more abundant thanksgiving. This is certainly better than passing over the intervening τῶν πλειόνων, to govern τήν ἐυχαριστίαν by διά(in which case the genitive would have been more grammatical; comp. 2 Corinthians 9:12), and to take περισσεύσῃ in an intransitive sense. The word, however, is frequently used in either a transitive or an intransitive signification; comp. 2Co 9:8; 2 Corinthians 9:12. On the phrase, to the glory of God, comp. 1 Corinthians 10:31. [Alford presents us with four ways of translating this clause: 1.“that grace having abounded by means of the greater number (who have received it), may multiply the thanksgiving to the glory of God;” 2. “that grace having abounded, may, on account of the thanksgiving of the greater number, be multiplied to the glory of God.” (Luther, Bengel, etc.); 3. “that grace having abounded, may, by means of the greater number, multiply the thanksgiving to the glory of God.” (De Wette); 4. “that grace having multiplied by means of the greater number, the thanksgiving may abound to the glory of God.” (Proposed as possible, but not adopted by himself). He prefers the first as “most agreeable to the position of the words and to the emphasis.”]
2 Corinthians 4:16-18. For which cause we faint not.—Διό refers back to 2 Corinthians 4:14. (2 Corinthians 4:15 was only an explanation of 2 Corinthians 4:14). We faint not (οὐκ ἐκκακοῦμεν) occurs here in the same sense as in 2 Corinthians 4:1. In positive contrast with this, he says:—but even if our outward man is wasted away, our inward (man) is nevertheless renewed day by day.—The outward man (‘ο ἕξω ἅνθρωπος), is an expression found only in this place, and it denotes the whole personal existence, so far as it is embodied in nature and the laws of the external common life. On the other hand, ὁ ἕσωθεν ἅνθρ denotes the same personal existence, so far as it is determined by the Divine law, and participates in the fulness of the Divine life. Comp. Romans 7:22; comp. 23 (where νοῦς is an equivalent word): Ephesians 3:16 comp. 19. (Beck, Seelenl., 68 f. comp. 42, 37). Meyer thinks the former expression denotes that which is visible in us, i.e., our corporeal nature, and the latter, our intellectual, rational and moral selves. Osiander understands by the latter term, the essential nature of man, kindred with God and capable of regeneration. [Hodge: “man’s higher nature—his soul as the subject of the Divine life.”] Comp. Delitzsch, Bibl. Psychol., pp. 145 f. 331, 333. [Alford, Stanley, Barnes and Bloomfield understand by it simply the soul in distinction from the body]. The doctrine of Collenbusch and Menken, that the inner man is an invisible body, existing in some concealed form within us, cannot be sustained by any natural exegesis, or by the plain meaning of these words. The attempt which Osiander has made to devise an intermediate doctrine according to which the inner man is the sphere of the higher spiritual life, which, however, communicates itself to the whole man by perpetually acting in an outward direction, and which, therefore, contains the germ of a higher bodily life and of a corporeal resurrection, is certainly problematical. The wasting away (διαφθείρεσθαι) of our outer man, i. e., the destruction of the outer man by the consuming, fretting, and disintegrating conflicts which his sufferings involved, is here alluded to as an actual process in the εἰ καί (which cannot mean: even supposing that. Rückert), and was an actual fact of the Apostle’s experience, notwithstanding the salvation asserted in 2 Corinthians 4:10 f. In contrast with this perishing of the outer, he now places the renewal (ἀνακαινοῦσθαι) of the inner man. Neander: “the ἀνά presupposes an original image of God in man.” Both processes are represented as perpetually going on, but the inward man is said to be continually endued with new power, i. e., to be renewed, and sustained by the quickening Spirit (πνεῦμα ζωοποιοῦν) which came to him from Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:17 f. and 2 Corinthians 4:6). ̔Ημέρᾳ καὶ ἡμέρᾳ is like the Hebr. יוֹם יוֹם, Psalms 68:20; Genesis 39:10; Esther 3:4). The second ἀλλά is equivalent to: yet, nevertheless, as is frequently the case in hypothetical conclusions in which the apodosis contains a contrast to the protasis. (comp. 2 Corinthians 5:16; 2 Corinthians 9:6; 2Co 13:4; 1 Corinthians 4:15; 1 Corinthians 9:2).—For our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us exceeding abundantly, an eternal weight of glory. (2 Corinthians 4:17).—He here notices what it was which gave such continual refreshment to his inward man, under the exhausting influence of his sufferings. It was the hope of glory with which the Spirit of Christ had inspired him, and which showed him that these suffering were only the momentary and slight inconveniences of a transition state, and the necessary means of attaining a state of glory. (Comp. 2 Corinthians 4:14; Romans 5:6; Romans 8:17 ff.). Inasmuch as this view of his sufferings contained the reason for the renewal of which he had spoken (ἀνακαίνωσις), he introduces it with a γάρ The verse contains a sharp antithesis. There is on the one hand τὸ παραυταίκα ἐλαφρὸν τῆς θλίψεως,the momentary21 (coming and going in a moment) lightness (in respect to weight and therefore easily to be borne) of the affliction (an oxymoron, since θλῖψις, oppression, implies something heavy), and on the other, the eternal weight of glory (τὸ αἰώνιον βάρος δόξης). Βάρος signifies weight, and therefore pressure, and would seem more appropriately connected with the affliction (θλῖψις), but is here applied to the glory (δόξα) on account of the great extent or high degree of the glory. The meaning is: the affliction is soon over and light, while the glory is everlasting and weighty. Possibly the affliction was called momentary on account of the nearness of Christ’s second coming, i. e. the Parousia (Meyer). Certainly the everlasting duration and the magnitude of the glory, when contemplated by a steady eye of faith, would make afflictions seem but momentary and light.—But we must understand the Apostle as implying that the afflictions are the actual cause of the glory. The θλῖψις is the means of producing and bringing to pass the δόξα, i. e. the glory of the heavenly kingdom. This is a consequence of that. What is represented in other passages as a reward (com. Matthew 5:10; Luke 16:25; Rom 8:27; 2 Timothy 2:12; Romans 5:2-5), is here represented as a natural result. The affliction so exercises and purifies the believer, that he is qualified to enjoy the glory, or, it promotes the sanctification of both soul and body. Nothing is said, however, to imply that the sufferings have any merit in themselves, or have any intrinsic value in the matter of our justification.—The qualification καθ ̓ ὐπερβολήν εἰς ὑπερβολήν does not seem applicable to αἰώνιον, and it must therefore be connected with κατεργάζεται; they work in a superabundant manner, even to a superfluity. Meyer explains it as: the measureless energy and the measureless results of the working (κατεργάζεται, comp. 2Co 1:8; 2 Corinthians 10:15; 1 Corinthians 12:31; Galatians 1:13; Romans 7:13, et al.). It may then be indirectly connected with the δόξα (Osiander). A separation of the words so as to make the first καθ ̓ ὑπερβ, have reference to τῆς θλίψεως (the exceedingly intense affliction), and the second εἰς ὑπερβ. to the δόξαν (Bengel) is not sustained by grammatical usage.—Such an accumulation of epithets indicates the highest possible degree, but not a development of the glory from one super-eminent position of glory to another still higher. In 2 Corinthians 4:18 he notices still further the subjective reason for such a result: while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. To take this in the sense of something which must be presupposed is a condition to what had just been said, is not called for, since the Apostle in the context is not exhorting his readers, but is simply describing a fact, and ἡμῶν can be taken only by way of application to a more extensive class (to believers generally). Σκοπεῖν is: to take in sight, particularly to look upon the object of our exertion, as in Philippians 2:4. The things which are seen (τὰ βλεπόμενα) are the blessings of the αἰὼν ον̓͂τος, the things we perceive by our senses; the things not seen (τὰ μὴ βλεπόμενα) are those of the άιυν μέλλων, things which are beyond the perception of our senses, and yet not precisely the same as the ἀόρατα (invisible things). Bengel says: “many things which are at present unseen, will be visible when faith’s journey is accomplished.” The μὴ in connection with μὴ σκοπούντων ἡμῶν describes the subjective position in which believers are supposed to be (Winer 22).—For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).—He here gives the reason for the not looking at, etc., πρόςκαιρα (temporary), is applicable to a definite period of time, that which continues only for a limited season, and hence means not so much temporal as transitory. It occurs also in Matthew 13:21; Mark 4:17; Hebrews 9:25.
2 Corinthians 5:1. For we know that if the earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved.—We have here the reasons assigned for what had been said in 2 Corinthians 4:17 : “We have said that our temporal afflictions worked for us an eternal weight of glory, and the reason is, we know,” etc. Or, it will come to the same end, if we take the idea thus: Our afflictions accomplish the result we have mentioned; for we have, as we know, etc. Οἵδαμεν, “we,” i. e., the Apostle and his companions “know,” for there is no appeal here to the general consciousness of men, as in some other places. ̓Εάν expresses the possible occurrence of an event, the actual occurrence of which he leaves to the future to determine. This event is his not living until the Parousia, the second coming of Christ. It was the death of his present body, here figuratively called the destruction of his earthly tabernacle. Τοῦ σκήνους is here the genitive of apposition, for the house was the same as the (well-known) tabernacle. The body is thus described as a dwelling of the spirit which is easily broken up. There is no allusion, however, to the tent habitations of the Israelites in the wilderness, or the tabernacle of witness there. In the same way we have σκήνωμα in 2 Peter 1:13 f. The word σκῆνος (tent) was frequently used among the Greeks for the earthly habitation or covering of the soul, but invariably with reference to the earthly body, and always with some allusion to the fundamental notion of a temporary tent. (Meyer).1 ̓Επιγέιος, as in 1 Corinthians 15:40, means that which is on earth. [Stanley: “ἐπὶ not of but upon the earth (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:40), opposed to ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς and εξοὐρανοῦ”]. In case this earthly habitation, which was given him only for a time, should be destroyed, he expresses his certain assurance that we have a building (which is) from God—a dwelling not made by hands, eternal, in the heavens.—The words ἐκ θεοῦ are not to be joined with ἔχομεν, as if we received it from God, and yet the dwelling was said to be of a directly Divine origin. This is said in the highest sense, as if it were the result of an immediate Divine agency ( 1 Corinthians 15:38); and was not like the present body, merely of a general Divine origin (1 Corinthians 12:18-24). In this respect it was like the heavenly city of which it is said that its builder and maker is God. Hebrews 11:10. But this building (οἰκοδομή) is not the city of God nor the house of the Father, John 14:3 (in which case the phrase: our earthly dwelling of this tabernacle, would imply that the earth itself is a transient place of residence), but the resurrection body, the result of a new Divine creation. This is still further defined as an house not made by hands (οἰκία�). In this expression, the lower human origin is denied, but in a way corresponding to the figure and not to the thing spoken of. It is not needful here to recur to the original formation of the body in Genesis 2:7-21. Neander: “He is here speaking of a higher heavenly organ to contain the soul, instead of the earthly body.” [“The use of αἰώνιος (comp. 2 Corinthians 4:1 ff.) forbids us to understand by the οἰκία, a temporary lodgment of the soul, to be succeeded by the glorified body at the resurrection. It must mean a permanent spiritual corporeity (so to speak) capable of coexisting with the body of the resurrection. It is something which is not the soul, but essential to its perfect consciousness of personality and identity. The human being, it is probable, cannot exist as pure spirit. A vehicle or form, perhaps an organization, may be necessary to its action. (See Taylor’s Physical Theory of Another Life, chap. 1.). Hence the use of the varied terms οἰκοδομὴ, οἰκία, οἰκητήριον, also the expressions ἐπενδύσ. ἐνδυσάμ. and the deprecatory language of 2 Corinthians 5:3, and ἐπειδὴ—ἐπενδ. 2 Corinthians 5:4.”—Webster and Wilkinson]. But this dwelling is said to be eternal in contrast with the dwelling of this tabernacle. [In our English version a comma should separate “eternal” and “in the heavens.” Fausset]. The last qualification, ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς (opp. ἐπίγειος) should be joined with ἕχομεν so as to say that we have this dwelling in the heavens. But how is this to be understood? The present tense would seem to refer to some period immediately after death. But if the soul is to have a body corresponding to its condition at that time (of which, to say the least, the Scriptures distinctly say nothing), then the dwelling here mentioned cannot be eternal. Nor would what is said in 2 Corinthians 5:2 of our house which is from heaven, agree very well with such an assertion. Comp. Delitzsch, Psychol. p. 374 ff. It is possible indeed that ἕχομεν refers to a mere reversion or expectancy, i. e., to an ideal possession like that which is spoken of when it is said: Thou shalt have treasure in heaven (Luke 18:22). In such a case the dwelling would merely be secured for believers, just as the life mentioned in Colossians 3:3 (comp. 2 Corinthians 1:5, and the crown of righteousness in 2 Timothy 4:8) is said to be. Or it may be alleged that the intermediate state between death and the resurrection is entirely lost sight of in the Apostle’s mind, inasmuch as we know that he looked upon it as altogether temporary, and hence that the perfection to be attained after the resurrection was the absorbing object of his attention in this passage (Osiander). It is hardly probable that such a man would have changed his mind so soon after writing the fifteenth chapter of his former Epistle to the Corinthians, and so should now have believed that he was to pass immediately at death into the blessedness of the resurrection body. And yet how can we reconcile what is here said with what is said in that chapter respecting the development of the resurrection body out of the earthly? It was doubtless his deliberate conviction that in the Parousia, when our Lord shall return, the heavenly bodies prepared for all who belong to Christ, shall be brought down to this earth, and a power shall be imparted to those then alive of changing, and to those then deceased of uniting with, the essential germs of their bodies, and that these shall thus attain their proper fulness and form. Neander: “There is certainly a marked distinction between what Paul here says and what he had taught in his earlier Epistles. During that earlier period his most ardent thoughts had been directed to the second coming of Christ. Now, however, when he was oppressed by apprehensions of death (2 Corinthians 4:10-12), his mind was more impressed with the feeling that he might not live to see this second coming of Christ. In this state of mind he had new and additional discoveries of Divine truth on this subject, either by means of his own reflections under the direction of the Holy Ghost, or by means of direct revelations from heaven. from the promises of Christ, and from the very nature of fellowship with Christ, he was now satisfied that death would be only a progress toward a higher state of existence, and this thought had been developed into a conviction that the soul must come into possession of an organ adapted to the active conscious life immediately after death.”2
2 Corinthians 5:2-4.—For in this also we groan—earnestly desiring to put on over it our house which is from heaven:—We have here one proof or sign that what he had asserted in 2 Corinthians 5:1 was a reality. This proof was the fact that even while we remain in our earthly bodies we have an intense longing for a house from heaven. ̓Εν τούτῷ has here not the sense of therefore, on this account, as in John 16:30, as if the succeeding participial sentence were merely an exposition of the previous verse; nor is its object simply to explain what was meant in 2 Corinthians 5:1 by the dissolution of the earthly habitation. It rather refers (comp. 2 Corinthians 5:4, we who are in this tabernacle) to the tabernacle (σκῆνος) of 2 Corinthians 5:1, and presents a contrast to the supposition there made that it might be dissolved. The accent, therefore, should be placed upon ἐν; and καὶ should be looked upon as belonging to it. The sense would then be: we know this to be so, and the proof of it is in the fact, that even now in these bodies also we show our longings after the object of that confidence by our sighs.—A similar style of argument may be found in Romans 8:22 f. The earnest desire here spoken of gives us the true reason for the sighing. That which he had called in 2 Corinthians 5:1 a building from God, a house which we have in heaven, he here calls a habitation from heaven (οἰκητήριον ἐξ οὐρανοῦ) not merely on account of its origin, but because it was actually to come down from heaven to earth. Οἰκία is somewhat more absolute, whereas οἰκητήριον, a domicile, expresses its proper relation to the inhabitant (Bengel).—̓Επενδύσασθαι (to superimpose, to put on over, in which he passes to the figure of a garment) is not a putting on of one garment after another has been laid aside, but a putting on of one garment over another, comp. 2 Corinthians 5:4. The longing is for a transformation in which the earthly body will not be laid aside (in death), but the heavenly will be thrown over it. The idea is that of a new embodiment without a destruction of the corporeal system which had been possessed on earth. [“ The expression τὸ ἐξ οὐρ. compared with ἐκ θεοῦ ἕχομεν and ἐν τοῖς οὐρ. sufficiently distinguishes the οἰκητήριον spoken of from the resuscitated body.” Web. and Wilk.]—Since, in fact being clothed, we shall not be found naked. (2 Corinthians 5:3). We have here a crux interpretum. If we adopt the two readings, εἵπερ—ἐκδυσαμενοι, we shall have a natural meaning by giving to εἴπερ the sense of: although, albeit; in which case the idea would be: although we may be unclothed, (dead), we shall not be found naked, i. e., without a body; for we shall be clothed with a resurrection body. With the reading ἐνδυσάμενοι we obtain the same general idea, if we contrast that word with ἐπενδύσασθαι, and regard it as the putting on of the resurrection body: If indeed we shall be found clothed and not naked (Flatt). Such a method, however, would be of very doubtful propriety. But it would be quite unallowable to interpret ἔιγε as a concessive particle, or to concede no force to the γε, as if the word were equivalent to εἰ καί. Fritzsche regards ἐνδυσάμενοι as having the same force as ἐπενδυσ., and εἵγε the sense of quandoquidem, and he then looks upon this verse as giving a reason for the longing mentioned in 2 Corinthians 5:2 : since we shall attain the possession of our imperishable bodies just as well by putting on our immortal bodies when we shall be alive, as by putting them on after we have laid aside our earthly bodies (i. e., in consequence of death and the resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15:52). Such an announcement would be grammatically appropriate, but 1, such a use of ἐνθυσάμενοι in connection with ἐπενδύσασθαι before and after it, 2 Corinthians 5:2; 2 Corinthians 5:4, is not very probable; and 2, the remark itself seems so self-evident and trivial, that it would be unworthy of the Apostle. But Rückert’s interpretation. “as it is certain that we shall not be without a body (ἐκδυσάμενοι) after death,” breaks up the logical train of thought, and with many the assertion thus made would not be looked upon as quite certain from the Scriptures. Meyer (who adopts the readings of the Rec. ἕιγε—ἐνδυς.) thinks that the Apostle has reference occasionally in this argument to those who denied a future resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:0.), for otherwise he cannot account for the insertion of 2 Corinthians 5:3. He thinks the Apostle intends to assert here his belief, his absolute certainty (εἴγε) that not only those Christians who shall finally be changed, but those who shall then be raised from the dead, shall meet the Lord at His second coming not destitute of bodies (γυμνοί), but provided with corporeal coverings: “we have these longings (i. e., for the ἐπενδυσασθαι, 2 Corinthians 5:2) on the presumption that, being clothed, we shall not be found naked (ἔιγε has the sense of: if indeed, or if so be, implying a certainty, not by the force of the particle itself, but in consequence of the connection of the idea and the tenor of Paul’s discourse). Και would also have in this case the sense of: “truly.”3 Ἐνδυσάμενοι would denote an act which had taken place before the εὑρεθησόμεθα and it is therefore an aorist participle. Such an interpretation has nothing grammatically against it. But a reference to the deniers of the doctrine of the resurrection cannot be presupposed without a high degree of improbability, and as the whole interpretation becomes feeble and forced without such a reference, it must therefore be considered very doubtful. It is still more difficult to agree with de Wette, who thinks the idea of the passage is: as we confidently expect that our heavenly house will also be a body. For it is evident from the words themselves that those who are ἐνδυσάμενοι are not γυμνοί; but if the idea of the body had been prominent, γυμνοί would have been followed by σώματος. Neander: “We take these words in connection with those which precede them as merely an incidental expression: we are passing on with believing confidence to a higher state of being, for we shall in no event be destitute of a higher organ when we lay aside our earthly body; and it is only to this necessity of laying aside our earthly body that our natures now feel such a repugnance.”—As the participle is really in the aorist and yet must in such a case have the sense of the perfect ἐνδεδυμένοι there are strong reasons against referring ἐνδυσάμενοι and οὐ γυμνοί exclusively to those who shall be alive and clothed in earthly bodies when Christ shall appear in the Parousia (Grotius: if we shall be found among the changed, and not among the dead). Finding all these interpretations unsatisfactory, Osiander gives in his adherence to the figurative meaning which had been proposed by many ancient and some modern commentators. Thus Chrysostom et al. have γυμνοί δόξης: Usteri: “under the presumption that we are clothed, we shall not be found naked in a different sense, i. e., without the crown for which we have struggled.” Ewald: “criminally naked, as Adam and Eve were” (Genesis 3:11). Others make out a similar meaning by taking οὐ γυμνοί as explanatory or epexegetical of ἐνδυσάμενοι and referring both words to Christ or the garment of his righteousness—an idea which Hoffmann (Schriftbeweis), following Anselm, understands of an ethical application of Christ. But neither the authorities which have been adduced for this, nor the arguments by which it has been supported (as e.g. that it is an allusion to the secret Divine reasons or conditions in 2 Corinthians 4:14 ff., and an introduction to the mysteries of faith in 2 Corinthians 5:14 ff.) are sufficient to warrant such an explanation of ἐνδυσάμενοι and οὐ γυμνοί in this connection (where the figure of a garment is used in application to a new heavenly body), without the express addition of some such word as Χριστοῦ or δόξης. We would prefer either to accede to Meyer’s interpretation, or to adopt the very well sustained and ancient reading εἴπερ—ἐκδυσάμευοι, giving ἕιπερ the sense of: although [ i.e.., we earnestly desire to be clothed with our house from heaven, even if (or although) being unclothed we shall not be found naked], (comp. 1 Corinthians 8:5). Here, if anywhere in the explanation of the Scriptures, we may be allowed to say: Non liquet.—In 2 Corinthians 5:4 the assertion in 2 Corinthians 5:2 is again taken up, and is more particularly defined, and confirmed by reasons:—For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened.—The words οἱ ὅντες, being put at the head of the sentence for the sake of emphasis, have the meaning of: we who are in earthly bodies, i. e., while we are yet in them. The word βαρούμενοι, oppressed, feeling ourselves burdened, gives a reason for the groaning. Bengel: “a burden forces out sighs and groans.” This is to be referred partly to the oppressions caused by our earthly bodies (comp. Sir 9:15), and probably also partly to the sufferings which we have to endure while we are in them (but of which no mention is made in the context). ̓Εφ̓ ᾧ would then have to bear the meaning of: wherefore (quare), and perhaps be equivalent to ἐπὶ τούτῳ ὅ—we sigh over that which, etc. This, however, could hardly be allowed, inasmuch as the earthly body would not then be the object which was to be clothed upon (ἐπενδύσασθαι).—Since we do not desire to be unclothed, but (we desire) to be clothed upon.—We may find a partial interpretation of this expression in what follows, which would incline us to make ἐφ̓ ᾧ equivalent to because that (propterea quod), as in Romans 5:12 (not: in which, or although), and to refer it to the oppression which produces sighs on account of the dread of death. And yet this natural horror which all men feel in prospect of being unclothed, must be carefully distinguished from an unmanly fear of death, which would be unbecoming to the Apostle. The phrase οὐ θέλειν ἐκδύσασθαι in the sense of: not wishing to die, is the more intelligible, since the Apostle, perhaps, supposed that he might live till the time of Christ’s coming, and hence he might easily think of being spared the pains of death. (The word ἐκδύεσθαι occurs in profane authors as a figurative expression for death. Comp. Wetstein on the passage). The reason why the Apostle wished to be clothed upon, is given in the final sentence:—that what is mortal might be swallowed up by life.—That which in 1 Corinthians 15:54 is expressed by a putting on of immortality and a swallowing up of death, is here called a swallowing up of all that is mortal in us in the life, i. e., in the new imperishable life which becomes manifest when the body is changed, and its mortality is forever abolished. The earnest desire expressed in 2 Corinthians 5:2 is again alluded to when it is said that they did not desire to be unclothed; but when it is said that they were burdened (βαρούμενοι), the Apostle shows that a feeling of oppression is connected with it, inasmuch as they might be called to encounter the dreaded process of being unclothed (ἐκδύσασθαι). And yet another way of construing it in which ἐφ̓ ᾧ is taken in the sense of since, deserves the preference, inasmuch as it is not easy to see how the oppression caused by our present bodies, so much disturbed by sin and the many evils of our present lot, should make us long not to die, but to be changed. If it be said that it is precisely in death that the oppression of the tabernacle is the greatest, inasmuch as it is then as it were breaking down over the head of the inhabitant (Osiander), we reply that the expression: we that are in this tabernacle, seems to refer rather to troubles to be encountered in the midst of our present earthly life.
2 Corinthians 5:5. Now he who has completely wrought us out for this self same thing is God.—[The δέ here is transitional. The exalted expressions he had used were not made because of any thing in himself, or without a deep foundation being laid in his renewed nature]. He traces all those things of which he had been speaking to a Divine origin. The self same thing (αὐτὸ τοῦτο) of which he speaks, was not the groaning of the previous verse (comp. Romans 8:23), as Bengel and Hoffmann contend it was, for this would compel us to distort the signification of κατεργάζεσθαι so as to make it mean to impair by severe labor (to wear down), to break down the spirits and so to make one sigh over his bodily state and its troubles; the words rather refer to what he had just said about being clothed upon, that our mortal part might be swallowed up by the life. The meaning of the Apostle is: this longing to be clothed upon is not exclusively from an internal source, for it has a profound Divine origin. Κατεργάζεσθαι means to work out, to finish, and so to make ready. [The preposition κατὰ in composition often introduces the idea of completeness, as in καταρτίζω in 1 Peter 5:10. Our word also implies a powerful effort as if against opposition]. In no other place in the New Testament is it used with a personal object. It has reference not to the first or natural creation, but as the further qualifying expression (who hath given us the Spirit) teaches us, to the Divine agency in man’s redemption; and it comprehends that whole process of renovation and sanctification through which we attain and enjoy everlasting glory. But the actual entrance into this everlasting glory, the glorification itself, is accomplished, as the context informs us, by means of a transformation.—Who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.—If we adopt the reading of ὁ καὶ δόυς in the following clause, the καὶ will introduce another qualification, i. e. the warrant on which we expect a state of glorious perfection in the future world. But if we accept the reading ὁ δόυς merely, the sentence becomes an additional point, in the description of Him who had wrought them; i. e. “who has given us the Spirit as an earnest.” The condition for which God had wrought them out, had already been described as one which was not in fact permanent. This temporary character is more distinctly brought forward in the word earnest (ἀῤῥαβῶνα comp. on 2 Corinthians 1:22). But the Spirit itself is the Divine principle by which they were thus wrought and prepared—the Divine Spirit who by the word and all means of grace enables us to attain everlasting glory (comp. 2Co 4:6; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18; Ephesians 1:13-14; Ephesians 4:30-31).
2 Corinthians 5:6-8. Therefore being always confident, and knowing whilst in our home in the body we are absent from our home in the Lord.—We have here an inference (οὗν) from what has been said in 2 Corinthians 5:5, in reference especially to his disposition or frame of mind. He was always confident (2 Corinthians 5:6), and he was willing to be absent from the body (2 Corinthians 5:8). In consequence of this well-founded expectation that we shall be so gloriously perfected, we are willing, in spite of our reluctance to be unclothed, to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). This desire or willingness, however, is founded not merely upon the cheerful confidence in such a prospect, but also upon the knowledge which is expressed in 2 Corinthians 5:6, viz., that while we are in our home, etc.). But as this knowledge was itself founded upon a peculiar faith, the Apostle leaves the construction which he had commenced, that he might give the reason for this knowledge in an independent sentence (2 Corinthians 5:7). The assertion of his confidence (θαῤῥεῖν) is. repeated in a new sentence, but not in a participial form, but in the first person of the Indicative. Originally he was ready to write: being therefore confident and knowing, etc., we are willing to be absent from the body, etc., but he was diverted from his train of thought by his desire to give a reason for this knowledge (2 Corinthians 5:7), so that the original sentence was left unfinished. The passage is therefore anacoluthic; and 2 Corinthians 5:7 is not a parenthesis (still less are 2 Corinthians 5:7-8), but indispensable to the argument. [Being therefore (in consequence of having the earnest of the Spirit) always confident, and knowing by our walk of faith and not of sight, that while we are here in the body we must be absent from the Lord, we are well content to be absent from the body that we may be present with the Lord]. The word θαῤῥεῖν in its various forms occurs frequently in our Epistle, and is used also in Hebrews 13:6; but the older form which predominates in the Gospels and the Acts is θαρσεῖν. It has the sense of, to be full of confidence and courage, to be cheerful and undismayed under disheartening circumstances (comp. 2Co 4:8 ff; 2 Corinthians 6:9-10; 2 Corinthians 12:10). [Tyndale translates it: we are always of good cheere]. The word always (πάντοτε) does not exclude a variety of feelings in the frame of our minds, but only signifies that confidence is always predominant in our hearts (comp. Osiander). The phrase καὶ κἰδότες is not of the same signification as καίπερ εἰδότες [even if, or although we know, etc.], nor should the sentence it introduces be understood as assigning a reason for the courage just expressed, but simply as introducing an additional thought. The substance of this knowledge was that their being at home in the body was the same thing as an absence from the Lord. He returns to the metaphor of a habitation. The first expression (ἐνδημεῖν, etc.) was the same as to say: we are at home in our native place; the other was the same as, to tarry in a strange land, to be in a foreign country. To be at home in the body is to be abroad, or away from home with respect to the Lord. The words ἀπὸ τοῦ κυρίου are a pregnant expression for being away from the Lord. Or, as long as we have our home in the body, we cannot be with the Lord. The same general idea is brought out in Philippians 1:23; Philippians 3:20, and 1 Thessalonians 4:17 (comp. Hebrews 9:13; Hebrews 13:14). He explains himself more fully [with respect to the nature of this ἐκδημοῦμεν] in 2 Corinthians 5:7.—for we walk by faith and not by appearance.—The spheres in which we move are, that of faith (πίστις) on the one hand, and that of sight (εἷδος) on the other. In that faith we have fellowship with the Lord (comp. Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 3:17), but it is a veiled fellowship, in which Christ is beheld not immediately, but concealed in His heavenly glory. In another state of existence our Lord will permit His people to behold Him without obstruction, they shall be at home with Him, and they will participate in His glory (Rom 8:17; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; John 17:24; Colossians 3:3-4). The preposition διὰ directs to the means: we walk by means of faith, Neander. [It generally denotes any attending circumstance or quality, particularly in a state of transition (Webster). Here the states themselves are named those of faith and appearance, because these are the prevailing guides, and we are passing through them]. The life on earth is a walk διὰ πίστεως, inasmuch as Christ having entered into His heavenly glory, is invisible to His people, their corporeal natures prevent them from beholding directly His heavenly form, and they know the fact that he is glorified only by means of His word and their spiritual enjoyment of His power in their hearts (comp. Colossians 3:3; 1 Peter 1:8; Romans 10:14). ̓Εἷδος does not signify either in classical or sacred writers (Luke 3:22; Luke 9:29; John 5:27; and often in the Old Testament) the act of seeing or looking, but the form or prospect beheld (Hebr. מַּרְאֶה ,תֹּאַר,)the meaning is: we are moving in the sphere of visible objects, where our senses have no perception of the form, or the actual appearance of Christ’s person. The general sense, however, of Luther’s translation, “ein schauen,” [and of the authorized English version, “by sight,”] is correct. With reference to the contrast here, comp. 1 Corinthians 13:12 f. (where it is implied that the faith will, in a certain sense, continue even after the seeing has commenced). The interpretation which represents 2 Corinthians 5:7 as intended to give a reason for the confidence (θαῤῥεῖν), and which regards faith here as the certainty itself which we have with regard to the future and the supernatural world, and sight as the phenomenal world, i. e. those things which are present to our senses and are empirically perceived, is certainly in opposition to grammatical usage and to the spirit of the context (comp. on the other hand Meyer and Osiander). Inasmuch as this concealment of our Lord within His glory, and His consequent withdrawal from their immediate possession and enjoyment, might produce despondency on the part of His people, the Apostle proceeds in 2 Corinthians 5:8 to say:—But (δέ is adversative) we are confident and are willing rather to leave our home in the body and to come to our home in the Lord.—The reason for this cheerful confidence is the same as that which had been assigned in 2 Corinthians 5:6. But then from this confidence also, and from the consciousness of the insufficiency of the present life to afford us what we consider our supreme good, there springs up what he here connects with θαῤῥοῦμεν δε viz., the willingness rather to be from home, etc. Εὐδοκεῖν occurs also in 1 Corinthians 1:21, and here means, to be satisfied that something should take place, and hence to wish, to long for it. The μᾶλλον (rather) should be connected with his absence, etc., so as to mean that he was willing rather to be absent, etc. The desire which he had expressed in 2 Corinthians 5:4, had implied that he would prefer to remain in the body (until the Parousia) rather than to be separated from it. In view of the confidence just expressed, and the consciousness that if he were present in the body he must be absent from the Lord, he now changes this desire into a longing (no longer a groaning and being burdened) rather to depart from the body, and hence to die (ἐκδύεσθαι, 2 Corinthians 5:4), and to be present with the Lord. Ἐκδημεῖν is the opposite of ἐνδημεῖν (2 Corinthians 5:6), and hence is not merely a change of the body (2 Corinthians 5:4), but death. The words to be present with the Lord, have the same meaning as to be with Christ in Philippians 1:23, for there also it was necessary to die (ἀναλῦσαι) before he could be with Christ. Πρὸς τὸν κύριον is, in relation to the Lord, a pregnant expression, and it signifies: to depart, to go to another country, in order to be with Christ. He entertained the hope that immediately after death he would be in heaven with Christ. Such was the happy state which he expected in its perfection at the approaching Parousia.
2 Corinthians 5:9-10.—Wherefore we make it our ambition that whether at home or absent from home we may be acceptable to Him.—The particle διό (wherefore) should be connected back with 2 Corinthians 5:8 (εὐδοκοῦμεν). Wherefore, since we have such a desire, and in order that we may realize such a desire, we, etc. The verb φιλοτιμεῖσθαι signifies properly to love and seek for honor, to be ambitious; and with an infinitive, to strive after what one regards as his honor or reputation, and to give one’s self much trouble about it. It is used in the same way in Romans 15:20 and 1 Thessalonians 4:11. If in the phrases εἵτε ἐνδημοῦντες, εἵτε ἐκδημοῦντες, any thing is to be supplied, the two participles should be made to refer to the same noun; and of course this should be either the body (σῶμα), or the Lord (κύριος). The latter seems the most natural from the connection, but the former is probably allowable. As he had last spoken of an absence from the body, it is rather easiest to refer the absence here mentioned to the same object, and such a reference would control also the object of ἐνδημ. The reason that ἐνδημοῦντες is mentioned first is most naturally explained by the fact that being acceptable to the Lord would of course be first thought of when speaking of one who was alive on earth, and would therefore be first sought after by such a one (provided the participles are connected with the finite verb φιλοτιμ., i. e., we strive, whether in or out of the body, etc.). But it must be remembered that ἐκδημ. from its peculiar signification (to leave a country, to set out on a journey) must refer not to the state after death, but to the very process of dying. And we may very well conceive that the Apostle might speak of a laboring to be acceptable to Christ, even in this act of dying, since the mind of a believer is supposed then to be active and to be striving to maintain its hold on Christ and to avoid whatever might displease Him. The idea is furthermore an important and an appropriate one; and we shall find it essentially the same, whether the participles are connected with φιλοτιμ (see above), or with the infinitive sentence (i. e., we strive to be acceptable, whether we are in or out of the body.) [The sense of the passage is in fact virtually the same, whether these participles be joined with the body or with the Lord; for the Apostle assumes that an absence from the one involves a presence with the other. Alford’s objection that we cannot be supposed to labor to be acceptable to Christ after or in death, since we are then saved, is of no great force, inasmuch as the labor is present in this life, that we may be acceptable after this life is closed]. In this way we are not obliged to depart from the meaning which ἐνδημεῖν and ἐκδημεῖν has borne throughout this connection (together signifying the same as πάντως or διὰ πάντος: wherever we may be, without regard to place), and with Meyer to take these words in their original meaning (analogous to that which they bear in 1 Corinthians 5:10; comp. 2 Corinthians 5:6-7), without supplying any thing as understood. In 2 Corinthians 5:10 the Apostle sets forth also the objective side of what he had said in 2 Corinthians 5:9 :—for we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ:—i. e., the reason why he so earnestly endeavored to please the Lord, was because he regarded this as his highest honor; or, (if we prefer to go further back), he shows how the effort to please the Lord would spring from his desire to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). In other words, he here shows that such a desire could only be fulfilled by his being found approved at that tribunal where he and his fellow believers were shortly to appear. The whole connection shows that by τοὺς πάντας ἡμᾶς he means not all mankind, but only all Christians. He enlarges upon this point, probably to excite his readers to diligence and to impress upon their minds the importance of laboring to be acceptable to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:9). Τοὺς πάντας makes the subject apply to the whole body of Christians. Neander: “This is said with special emphasis in relation to the Corinthians, who were disposed to give judgment arrogantly against their fellow men, without remembering how bad their own case was.” To be manifested (φανερωθῆναι) is not precisely equivalent to παραστῆναι (to be presented, Romans 14:10), for it looks to a complete manifestation of all that transpired within us or in the external life (comp. 1 Corinthians 4:5). Our Lord will show that He looks through every individual part as well as the whole body of His people. The words ἕμπροσθεν τοῦ βήματος (as in Romans 14:10), are a solemn expression, and have a real significance; for if we ought not to make the tribunal of Christ merely a cloud, it certainly implies something more than a judicial inquiry with respect to each man immediately after death (Flatt), respecting which we have no intimation elsewhere in Paul’s writings. [In classical Greek, βῆμα always signified, not a judgment seat, but the raised place or step from which public speakers addressed the people at the great πανήγυρεις or other popular assemblies and courts of law. In the Sept. it still retained this signification (Nehemiah 8:4; 2Ma 13:26). In Roman usage it passed from the tribune of the orator to the tribunal of the judge, which was an elevated seat on a lofty platform at one end of the Basilica in the forum. In the New Testament it always means (except in Acts 8:5, where Luke gives it a meaning something like that of the classic Greek), a judgment seat where a formal trial is held. See Stanley’s note]. In 1 Corinthians 4:5 also, it is said that Christ will be our Judge, and in Romans 14:10 [where the true reading is τοῦ θεοῦ] nothing inconsistent with this is necessarily implied, inasmuch as Christ is described as the representative or the organ of the Father (comp. 5:22, 27; Acts 10:42; Acts 17:31; Romans 2:16). But the judicial office of Christ is perfectly consistent with His being the absolute revelation of God and the Redeemer of men.—The necessity of this judgment on the part of God is expressed by δεῖ the only way to secure such a righteous retribution as would be honorable to God, is to have such a revelation of the hearts and conduct of us all. The object of this general manifestation was that all who were thus judged might be properly rewarded, and now in accordance with such a view he points each individual to his own particular interest in such a judgment (comp. Romans 14:12):—that each one may receive the things done in his body.—The meaning of κομίζεσθαι is, to bear away, to receive; also, to bring back (for himself), to receive again; and thus it signifies a reward or recompense. The moral actions of a man are something laid up with God in heaven, and must be received again in a corresponding retribution. Comp. Ephesians 6:8; Colossians 3:25. A similar idea is expressed by the figure of the sowing and reaping in Galatians 6:7, and of the θησαυρίζειν in Matthew 6:20 and 1 Timothy 6:19. A fuller expression may be found in 1 Peter 1:9; 1 Peter 5:4; 2 Peter 2:13.—The things given in this recompense are said to be to τὰ διὰ τοῦ σώματος. The body to be received in the resurrection cannot be the one here intended [as if the Apostle would say: that each one may receive back through or by means of his (resurrection) body according to the things which he did. This view was much favored by some ancient expositors (the Syrian, Tertullian, Theodoret, Chrysostom and Oecumenius). It must be conceded that such a construction avoids some harshness, and Osiander seems inclined to favor it. He, however, concedes that it is difficult to believe that the new body should be designated by the simple word σῶμα] for that word is throughout our passage used for the earthly body. The word to be supplied is not exactly πραχθέντα although this would be consistent with the proper sense of the passage, but ὅντα: that which took place by means of the body as an organ (comp. Plato: ἡδονῶν, αἱ̔ διὰ τοῦ σώματός εἰσιν). Neander: while in this body. The reading of the Italic, the Vulgate and some other versions [:τὰ ἴ δια τοῦ σώματος, propria etc.] may have originated in a mistake, or τὰ διὰ τ. σ. may have seemed difficult of construction. Certainly τὰ διὰ is critically well authenticated—according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.—In this sentence πρός has reference to the rule or standard according to which the reward is given. The ellipsis in εἴτε—κακόν must be supplied by a word from the relative sentence, viz., ἕπραξεν.—If the Apostle had his eye on some mongrel kind of Christianity, κομίσηται might imply that those who adhered to it would be excluded from the kingdom of God. But on the supposition that he was speaking of real Christians in the restricted sense, he must have been distinguishing between different degrees in their rewards according to the different degrees of fidelity on earth. Such distinctions are not inconsistent with the idea of a justification and salvation by grace; for in the economy of grace the law of righteousness prevails. Even if the atonement by Christ extends to the whole life of those who believe in Him, its influence upon individuals must be exerted by means of a progressive repentance (μετάνοια); and though they may be secured against condemnation, and though they may actually be saved, they may yet have their gracious reward diminished in proportion to their want of faithfulness. Such a humiliation will be as nothing in comparison with the gratitude they will feel for a salvation which will be greater in proportion as they recognize it as a free gift of grace (comp. Meyer and Osiander on 2 Corinthians 5:10).
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. It is a fundamental law of the Divine kingdom and the leading aim of the faith by which it is implanted in the heart, that man the creature should be seen and known as the feeble and powerless, and God as the only mighty one. Hence it is that those whom God makes use of for the advancement of His kingdom and His cause must sometimes experience much infirmity of body and of spirit, that all may see that God alone is strong, faithful and wise, and that He will help through every trial, and never will forsake his people. He brings salvation and deliverance when all hope has failed; He manifests the power of a divine life when nothing but death is anticipated, because while death with its distresses and infirmities is seen working in them, that life exhibits all its energies in those who receive it. Thus while the work of grace is witnessed in many and is accomplished in many by such means, abundant thanksgivings redound to that God who achieves such results. In this way they are never left without courage under the greatest difficulties, for though the outward man may waste away, the inward spirit is endowed with ever freshening energies. Then while their eye is directed steadily to the things which are unseen and eternal, and to those heavenly glories which God has promised His people, they are taught by the spirit of humble faith to speak and to confess Christ before men with cheerfulness, and to regard their trials in a very different light from that in which the eye of sense perceives them. Those trials seem exceedingly light and transitory compared with the eternal weight of glory, for which God is preparing them even by such means, and for which no suffering can be properly endured here without fruit there, (comp. Hebrews 12:11).
2. The sure hope of eternal life and the expectation of a perfect bodily nature, must make the Christian breathe forth many a longing sigh while he remains in this mortal body; and the horror which nature feels in prospect of the violent dissolution of its corporeal life, must awaken in him a desire to escape the dying process and to be clothed with a glorious life by an immediate transformation; but such a hope will teach him also to be of good courage under all his trials. Yet this courage arising from the hope’ of future glory on the one hand, and the consciousness that he must be, during his present pilgrimage, without a complete and an immediate fellowship with his Lord on the other, will finally change all such longings (after such a superimposed body) into a single great desire to leave this state of alienation in a foreign land, and to be at home with the Lord. Though in this life we have many animating experiences of Christ’s gracious nearness, and have access by faith to His throne of grace, we have nevertheless to encounter many hinderances in consequence of our life in the flesh (Galatians 2:20) and we cannot behold our Lord in His essential glory. But when a desire for a higher life has been awakened, we shall make the most earnest efforts, in every possible way, to please the Lord. Indeed every thing which is an essential condition to the enjoyment of our future glory will give intensity to such efforts, for every one, without distinction, must expect a full revelation before the judgment seat of Christ. Every action, even of God’s children, during their bodily life, must there be judged according to the law of strict righteousness, and each believer must be rewarded according to his good or evil conduct.
3. Though our passage does not say that “holy obedience is our only title to eternal life” (Emmons), it does distinctly assert that believers are to be fully “manifested” at the judgment seat of Christ, and that the reward of grace will be proportioned exactly to that which they did in (διὰ) the earthly body. These “things done in the body” are neither expressly nor impliedly confined to any period of life after justification, whether this be placed in conversion or baptism].
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Starke, 2Co 2 Corinthians 4:7 :—If God had set angels or glorified men to preach the Gospel, we should easily have been astonished at such instruments, and have ascribed the power to such glorious personages. But now when so much is accomplished by poor and feeble men, the honor must be the Lord’s alone, (comp. 1 Corinthians 2:5).
2 Corinthians 4:8. Enlightened souls are full of courage, and know how to accommodate themselves to crosses, Psalms 3:7 f. Psalms 27:1. If afflictions arise, they suffer not themselves to be overcome nor to cast away their confidence. If they become involved in dangerous circumstances, so that they know not how to extricate themselves, their courage will not fail, for they know that when all human aid is farthest, God’s hand is nearest
2 Corinthians 4:9. God often protects his servants and his children in a wonderful manner, and helps them by means of other men. This is especially accomplished by means of those believers who pray for them (Acts 12:5), minister to their temporal necessities (Philippians 4:14-20), and afford them the means of safety (2 Corinthians 11:33), but it is not unfrequently accomplished also even by means of unbelievers (Acts 21:31 f.).—Observe the blessed fellowship of the members with their head! Christ’s life was nothing but a series of sufferings, a perpetual dying, for he was poor, despised and pained both in body and soul. His followers meet with the same trials, and they get no release but with their lives. Yet he preserves them, makes them joyful, often plucks them from danger as if by miracle, and thus proves that he is indeed alive.
2 Corinthians 4:12. Hedinger:—Faith seeks not concealment, for it speaks, teaches and warns. The nearer we are to death, the more diligent we should be in our callings and our work. Hearers are strengthened and confirmed in their spiritual life by witnessing the sufferings and death of those preachers who steadfastly hold to the Gospel in all their trials.
2 Corinthians 4:13. Faith gives us the right discourse, and therefore the best liberty in speaking. Many speak much, but they will endure nothing in behalf of what they say, for they speak not as they should, and never speak from faith. (Galatians 6:12).
2 Corinthians 4:14. Since Jesus is the head of all true believers, they can no more remain dead than a member can remain separate from the head.—What a joy, when we shall all be presented before Christ and be forever in his society!
2 Corinthians 4:15. Where much suffering, and much consolation and help are experienced, thanksgivings will also abound to the praise of God.
2 Corinthians 4:17. In thy distress thou sayest, Ah! Lord, how long! But it is not long. It is only in thine infirmity that it seems long. What is time to eternity?—Hedinger:—Light, light indeed, is the cross! Thou sayest No, it is heavy. Lift up thine eyes to the glory. What sayest thou now!—The more suffering on earth, the more joy in heaven; and yet all this is of grace and not of works, Romans 6:23. We deserve as little for our sufferings as for our works. God makes use of them as of a file to rasp away all that is useless in us. They are His blessing to make the good seed germinate within us and grow up into glory. Our earth has many beautiful things to the praise of its Creator, but in heaven are things a thousand times more beautiful. Let the believer see and admire the earthly beauty, but let him believe and rejoice in the heavenly far more, for he will possess and refresh himself with them forever and ever. Are all visible things only temporal? then give thy heart to no creature. So use everything you have that it shall fix your heart more on God; and be able and willing to let it go when He shall see fit to remove it. The children of this world seek satisfaction, only in what is visible, in money and property, and reputation and worldly pleasures, but our spiritual natures can never be satisfied with such things. If the Divine light of faith has risen within us, we shall turn our thoughts to our spiritual welfare; we shall be more concerned that we may be sanctified and properly adorned in God’s sight, and that we may have the heavenly joy and glory he has promised; and hence we shall choose a higher and better portion.
2 Corinthians 5:1. We have here a salutary lesson for those who have health, that they may not calculate with confidence upon their health, but frequently think of their perishable tabernacles, and may be always ready for a blessed departure. Equally salutary is it for the sick, that as their tabernacle begins to break up, they may by faith lay hold upon the dwelling God has built for them in heaven, and joyfully be invested with it.
2 Corinthians 5:4. A man must be a great hero who feels no terror at death; and although the saints have overcome it, they are not altogether free from apprehensions.
2 Corinthians 5:5. All do not die happy, because they are not all prepared, and some have not the earnest of the Spirit.—Hedinger:—Heaven will be glorious! Have we the seal and the letter for it? This is the Holy Spirit who convinces us of the truth, and so sweetens the bitterness of death.
2 Corinthians 5:6. Although Christ is every day with his people (Matthew 28:20), and they live in communion with the Father, Son and Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14), they are not yet where they can behold his glory, and are only aliens so far as relates to such a revelation of God.—Hedinger:—Wilt thou not go home, my child? Away, for the danger is pressing! Go home to God and get out of trouble! Array thyself in such garments as will please the Lord! Get ready, O Pilgrim, for thine eternal home! Hebrews 13:14.
2 Corinthians 5:7. To walk by faith is not a perfect life, but it is essentially a great and glorious thing; for whoever desires it must be born of God and be united with him. In the future life of spiritual vision, the brightest object will be the Son of God, in whose glorified humanity we shall behold not only the majesty of his eternal Godhead, but also the Father and the Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 5:8. Our home is where the place of blessedness is, where all believers have their home, where our Father, (James 1:18) our mother (Galatians 4:26), our brethren, Christ, and those who have entered into glory are (Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 12:22 f.); and there is our habitation, for we shall remain in it forever (Hebrews 11:14), and it is our inheritance (1 Peter 1:4).—Rightly to wish for death is a mark of one who belongs to God and is ready for his departure to a blessed eternity (Philippians 1:23). Try thyself by this! Whoever gives all his time and attention to the body, and so thinks nothing of his soul, how can he have pleasure in the thought that he is to journey forth from the body (Romans 13:14)?
2 Corinthians 5:9. Only when we are by faith in Christ, and all our works are from Him, can our walk be pleasing to God. The best evidence that we are entirely acceptable to God is, that we are striving in all things to please Him; and that we are displeased with our own imperfections, and so are always humble.
2 Corinthians 5:10. We are even now perfectly manifest at all times before the Lord, but we need to become manifest hereafter, that the whole world may see what we have been, whether we were good or bad. Many can now play the rogue under their disguises, but in due time every thing shall be revealed before the eyes of angels and the whole world. Without fault of thine own thou mayest suffer, but God sees it, and he will surely bring thine innocence to light. Ye unjust judges who turn aside the righteous cause, and ye Epicurean worldlings who live without shame, and sport yourselves in sin, how will it be when you stand before Christ’s judgment seat? Turn or tremble (2 Chronicles 19:6 f.; 1 Peter 4:5)! In this world it is often with the godly as if they were ungodly, and with the ungodly as if they were godly (Ecclesiastes 9:2 f.). Should not the leaf some day be turned? God is righteous; and He must have a judgment day to give each one his due reward (Romans 2:6-9).
Berlenb. Bible, 2 Corinthians 4:7 :—We need to be convinced of our inability, that grace may shine the brighter, and that we may not confound the creature with the Creator and nature with grace. God is not a God for seasons of prosperity or court favor merely, but a God of patience. We should bless Him for such methods with us as are indicated in Matthew 12:20.
2 Corinthians 4:8. A genuine triumphal song. Let no one ever despair; only be faithful. Though God never overburdens His children, they must expect sometimes to be in perplexity. But when our passions cease to boil, the impurities which might otherwise become sedentary, are driven off. Anxiety and doubt will retire before the spirit of faith.
2 Corinthians 4:9. We must often be thrown like a ball hither and thither, but we need fear no evil for we have a Lord who delivers from death.
2 Corinthians 4:10. We must not be ashamed of a sanctified cross-bearing. But first we must take up the cross, have fellowship in the death of Christ daily, and never shake off from our necks what God lays upon them.—Death before life! such is God’s inviolable law.—Our fallen nature cannot receive the blessed life of God in Christ, until we have given up our own mind and will to God.—Reason Says: “What to me is a life which can be gained only by death?” and it praises the scorner who merrily enjoys the world. Others despise the idea as a vain fancy. But the believer knows better whom he has believed, and by what power it is that he must live.—Unless thou holdest before the eye of thy heart every day, hour and moment, as thy only true glass, the despised cross of Jesus, and His perpetual renunciation of Himself, no permanent rest canst thou know, and the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Christ and not of the world, can never dwell with thee.
2 Corinthians 4:11. Thou art no longer in the state in which God made thee, but thou must be cured of disease before thou canst be blessed. Blame not God then and call Him cruel when He is carrying thee through this process. He never makes us experience the power of this death, until He bestows upon us a power to live a spiritual life. Christ therefore gains over our wills that He may subdue them in spite of the opposition of the flesh. But a Christian always soars in spirit to the eternal and heavenly world, and thence derives strength for a new and secret life.
2 Corinthians 4:12. God allows the Christian, on his first conversion, to enjoy much spiritual delight, that he may perceive the advantages he has gained, and may be encouraged to go forward in face of death.—It often seems a great mystery when the watchman suffers for those committed to his trust (Colossians 1:24). And yet a good shepherd is willing to give his life for the sheep (John 10:12), not indeed to redeem them, for Christ alone can do that, but because He is stronger and must go before them that are weak.
2 Corinthians 4:13. Faith in Christ gives the believer a new life, for it draws down living and active energies from God; and while it allows Him no rest but in God, it gives him true rest there, with life and strength, victory and complete salvation. No one must attempt to live without this Spirit, for nothing else can give us the beams of Divine light and cheer our souls, with the radiancy of a heavenly life. Where this exists deeply in the heart, it will find expression in the lips. It will take away all our timidity, and make us willing not only to confess Christ for ourselves, but to carry the Gospel to our fellow-men.
2 Corinthians 4:14. He who raised up Jesus from the dead, imparts to all who put faith in Him, the confident assurance and lively feeling that they too shall not be left in the grave.—Christ has acquired the right to represent and introduce His members wherever He is Himself. He will hereafter bestow upon us blessings, far surpassing what the Gospel now gives us, for as yet we have had to endure very much of the shame of the cross.
2 Corinthians 4:15. Ministers should strive to make all their sufferings as well as their labors a means of edification to all around them.—In no way is God more glorified than when man gives up himself in his utmost glory as nothing, that he may be made what infinite wisdom and love may think best.
2 Corinthians 4:16. A Christian should not voluntarily bring troubles upon himself, for a false nature may of its own choice involve itself in difficulties, and then make a martyrdom out of it. If our heavenly Father is pleased to let our outward man, in connection with which God has in His wisdom decreed that all our spiritual and corporeal troubles shall take place, fall into decay and perish, His will be done. The renewal of the inner, the hidden man of the heart (1 Peter 3:4), is usually in connection with the decay of the outward man. In proportion as we are daily melted in the fire of affliction, we grow in the kingdom of God. According to the crucifixion of our flesh will be the activity of the spirit and the life of the man in Christ.—Nothing more promotes the daily renovation of even the converted man, than the cross.—Every pain, sorrow and trouble is a needful birth pang, for the production of a new life and for its healthful growth.
2 Corinthians 4:17. The fear of the cross, which young converts and many who are patiently pressing on in the Divine life, are accustomed to feel, outweighs all they can endure in this world, and is not worthy of mention if they think of making a merit or a matter of importance of their afflictions. However long or severe any trial may be, it sinks to nothing, the moment we catch a reflection of the future glory. Our choleric tempers cannot long bear the fire of affliction. The suffering will seem intolerable because our sense and reason cannot get beyond the eternal and temporal.—You who complain so much of the weight of our sufferings, can yet bear very well the weight of glory which is to be found under the cross—Rejoice rather, for death, pain, sickness, and loss of honor, of property, of friends and of comforts, if for conscience’s sake, are nothing but gain. The moment we begin to enjoy the fruits of our sufferings, we see the cross in a new light and are ashamed that we were not always faithful. Indeed, it ought to have been glory enough to bear reproach with the Son of God. But who can tell the glory which in another life follow these brief sufferings? Even a foretaste of these has often been sufficient to carry God’s people altogether beyond themselves, and to cause them to break out into the highest strains of exultation.
2 Corinthians 4:18. We must get accustomed to raise our thoughts above our outward state and seek in God, where our treasure and best portion are, the motives of our daily life, our consolation, our counsel and our peace. Our troubles will then seem very insignificant. As when a man is on a high tower or mountain, objects far below him seem very small and even invisible, so to a mind in communion with God, all temporal things and all sufferings of course will seem small indeed. We very soon find, when our carnal minds try to make something interesting of the things that are seen, that they are indeed fleeting and vain. How easy then to use such things as a test whether we have true faith or not (Hebrews 11:1).
2 Corinthians 5:1. How will it be with us when our present mortal bodies are dissolved ? We say indeed, we hope for the best. But what reason for hope have we ? Those who in this life have been dead to sin, have put off the old man with its affections and lusts, when they come to die, give honor to Him who in His death gave them life; they have put on a new man, which after this life shall be invested with another body, a habitation in the Jerusalem which is above, an angelic body, formed indeed from this earthly one, but endowed with such heavenly attributes that it shall never be destroyed. He who is unwilling to have his old house demolished may well tremble when his Lord shall come, and after all shall break it up against his will.
2 Corinthians 5:2. Our sighs, which seem now so painful, are nevertheless longings which spring from a sight of something better and can be satisfied with nothing here. They are a kind of necessity for man; for after all, a great treasure, something supernatural, is concealed under them. Eternity is thus at work in our souls, for its eternal longings have taken possession of them. These may be faint and confused at first, and hence they must be directed and brought to distinctness. The longings have reference to the great end of our existence, but the sighs to our present condition along the way.
2 Corinthians 5:3. The spirit of man appears to be by itself naked, as it were unclothed. It is therefore incomplete before God until it is invested with a new body of spiritual powers and light. Those who desire to enter the New Jerusalem must have within themselves that spiritual building which belongs to the new creation, viz: the character and image of God, by which this mother can recognize her child.
2 Corinthians 5:4. Our mortality is now a burden, but God so changes its nature that when it is assailed we think of something very different. It is natural for us to wish we could avoid the separation of our souls from our bodies, and by an instantaneous change (1 Corinthians 15:51 f.) be with Christ in the resurrection state. But ere this can be we must be unclothed. The mortal must be dried up, but life must enter its remains. It is right to love life, but we may hasten too, fast, or go in the wrong direction in pursuit of it. Here it is that sense is likely to intermeddle and do mischief. But Christ took upon Himself even this fleshly nature, though without sin. It is no evil in itself, but only a token that a man has life in himself. Christ assumed it not that He might retain it forever, but that he might in due time lay it aside. “Not my will,” He said, “as far as it is a human will, but Thy Divine will.” In that great conflict He maintained His ground, and His success should be our encouragement. We may, indeed, see in Him what it costs to bring the will into its proper state. But just as He overcame, by subjecting the lower to the higher nature, so must we.
2 Corinthians 5:5. God does not abandon His work, and His spirit puts His seal upon our hearts that we may have, what we very much need, a certainty for the future.
2 Corinthians 5:6. Just as far as we succeed in making the present world our home, we shall be absent from the Lord, and without the complete enjoyment of Him.
2 Corinthians 5:7. Faith unites us with God and gives us as high a knowledge of Him as is possible in the present life. But clear as this faith is in itself, it is in fact dark to us. We do not behold the face of God with an unobstructed vision. And yet this obscure faith gives us a far brighter light than can ever be attained by seeking to find out God by the highest exercise of merely human reason.
2 Corinthians 5:8. Though we are yet far from our native land, we are full of cheerful confidence. We are citizens of it still (Ephesians 2:19; Philippians 3:20), and in some respects are already there (Hebrews 12:22).
2 Corinthians 5:9. Wherever we may be, our only honors are in another world; let us, then, for the present be satisfied with God’s allotments, and give ourselves completely up to be led as He pleases.
2 Corinthians 5:10. This is a stimulus which the believer always needs, for he has always some remnants of an evil nature.—Everything which is now concealed must one day come to light, and be either condemned or approved. It is surely a righteous thing that God should recompense to every man what he has thought, spoken, or done, according to all that he has done by means of the body. Everything which men have done—all the evil which the redeemed as well as the good, which the lost have done, will be investigated and scrutinized with the strictest justice.—Blessed, indeed, will they be whose works shall be found right. And yet those in whom Christ Jesus lives, reigns and works will own Him as the source of all their goodness. Such a blessedness and dignity will be of the most exalted nature. No works will then be recognized or accepted before God except those which belong to believers justified by faith, and saved by grace; for all others will be traced to some false principle.
2 Corinthians 4:7. God conceals His choicest instruments under the lowliness of the Cross—not that they may be undervalued, but that they may show their unshaken dependence upon the Lord Jesus.—The ability and disposition to undertake the work of the ministry, the knowledge of Christ by means of a Divine enlightenment, the honesty not to seek our own selves, the willingness to spend and be spent in the service of another, the courage never to be ashamed of any of Christ’s words, the good conscience which nevertheless avoids all private dishonor, the sincerity which never corrupts God’s word, and the untiring patience which never gives out—all this treasure Christ’s servants have in a frail outward man (2 Corinthians 4:16) in an earthly tabernacle which is liable to be broken up at any moment (2 Corinthians 5:1). Such an earthly vessel may have a special fragility of its own (comp. 2 Corinthians 10:10) in addition to the general weakness of its kind. If we are never weary, if our spirit and power is demonstrated in the consciences of other men, and if we are sufficient for all our duties, it is because we continually receive from God a stream of influences which keeps us in dependence upon Him and sustains our inward life. Thus our weakness and the Divine support are always seen in mutual relations.
2 Corinthians 4:8 ff. As the Apostle repeats his “not, not,” we not only see the encouragement which faith supplies and the victory he gained over his own natural feelings, but the happy issue of each trial tends to bring to light and to refute those secret objections which other men are apt to feel with respect to the humiliations of the Cross.
2 Corinthians 4:10 f. The infirmities which our Lord Jesus took upon Himself, and which continued with Him until death, the purpose never to use His Divine powers for His personal relief, whatever contempt might be heaped upon Him on this account by carnal-minded men, are now the proper medium through which we have fellowship with Him in His life, and we must now bear them about with us, and never intentionally conceal them.
2 Corinthians 4:12. It is in Christ’s ministers that we may most impressively see the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings and the likeness of His death; but in the conversion of souls, in the powerful effects of the Gospel, in the awakening life and flourishing condition of the Church, we have a proportionate proof of His life.
2 Corinthians 4:13. Those who openly confess the truth and cheerfully suffer for it, must have a believing spirit and a firm hold upon invisible realities.
2 Corinthians 4:14. Faith always finds access to God only through Christ. The resurrection and glorification of Jesus is the true ground for hoping that God will raise up and present us also. Only in this light shall we be able to estimate what each one gains or loses under the sufferings or unclothings of our present state.
2 Corinthians 4:15. Every thing we ministers acquire by our spiritual treasures is intended to win, to confirm, and to relieve, as much as possible, you the people. The more, then, you observe how this abounding grace of God sustains us under our trials, the more you have reason to give God thanks.
2 Corinthians 4:16. Our bodies, lives, health, strength, comforts, prospects and all that we have on earth, may be gradually wasted in consequence of our fellowship with Christ’s sufferings; but the heart, the spirit which animates us in it, and the willingness to spend every thing in the service of God, will never be changed, because it is always enlivened by hope.
2 Corinthians 4:17. According to the great principle of the Divine kingdom: “Through suffering to glory,” every trouble we have gives us a pledge of the glory, a salutary foretaste of the powers of the world to come, such as we could never obtain without the decay of our outward man.
2 Corinthians 4:18. Every moment, in all our public discourses, testimonies, ministerial work, and intercourse with our people, we are making our choice and laying hold upon and aiming at either the temporal or the eternal.
2 Corinthians 5:1. The word of God and the spirit of faith which it produces tends uniformly to humility, but never to feebleness of spirit; and it teaches men to think but little, but not contemptuously, of the body. Inasmuch as houses, tents, clothing, are very necessary and very convenient, we should learn that our bodies are not to be hated. But as such things can be laid aside and be changed without tearing away any portion of our hearts, we should learn that our bodies ought not to be over-valued.—The house which is from heaven, that portion of the heavenly glory which every believer will have for an ornament and a covering, and the residence in which the inward life of his spirit manifests itself to others and receives from them its highest enjoyments, is not given him until the earthly tabernacle falls off; for it has been prepared, designed and promised only for that occasion. As this is of heavenly origin, it will never be dissolved, and can perceive heavenly things.
2 Corinthians 5:2-4. Our heavenly calling gives us the hope of a house above, while we are enduring the oppression of our earthly tabernacle, that we may under both influences sigh to be clothed upon by the higher house.—Our spiritual nature has always abundant reason to long for a deliverance from our present bodies. Great as our enjoyments may be on earth, we cannot but sigh for something better. Our reluctance to be unclothed may therefore be beneficial in moderating and purifying our longings for deliverance.
2 Corinthians 5:5. By faith and the dealings of His providence, God is always preparing us for this glory, always cherishing our hopes and longings for it, and always chastening and purifying the expression of our desires. Oh, how wisely has God combined together in our worldly and spiritual experience these after throes of our troublesome life and these longings for future glory!
2 Corinthians 5:6-8. True faith prepares us for either alternative; whether to remain in the flesh, or to lay aside our present tabernacles.—We walk by faith, and we are therefore cheerful during our pilgrimage; but the feeling that our Lord is not in sight often makes us forlorn and desolate when we are in trouble.—Nothing that we can do or enjoy on earth can be compared with being absent from the body and at home with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:9 f. The effort to be, and the consciousness that we are, accepted of the Lord, is our strength along the way, and will be our satisfaction when we reach our home.—This Divine approbation will be publicly awarded when we stand at the judgment seat of Christ.—Great power of faith, which makes us joyful even in the day of judgment!
Heubner:—2 Corinthians 4:7. In these dying bodies great and glorious treasures are hidden. We are never perfectly pure and true, except when we ascribe every thing good to God.
2 Corinthians 4:8. The Christian’s superiority to the world and his peculiar skill are owing to his watchfulness, steadfastness of purpose, cheerfulness and calmness of mind.
2 Corinthians 4:9. The more persecution and ill-will we receive from our fellow-men, the more cheering is God’s favor, and the nearer is His aid. When the danger is most imminent, His servants may feel sure of a speedy deliverance.
2 Corinthians 4:10 f. The death and the life of Christ should be revealed in every Christian by a continual self-sacrifice for others, and by a power to overcome all temporal sufferings.
2 Corinthians 4:12. The more a man sacrifices himself, the more power he has over others. In this case life comes from death.
2 Corinthians 4:13. When faith urges thee on, let not thy mouth keep thee back. But without faith, thy speech will displease God and have no blessing. Without faith no one can give a true testimony for God; but with faith no one can refrain from it.
2 Corinthians 4:14. The hope of an eternal life makes us strong to give up a temporal.
2 Corinthians 4:15. The reason that pious men are kept in the world is that they may bring the wandering to the path of safety. God’s grace should be celebrated by well-filled choirs. It is sad to hear His praises from such feeble choirs on earth. Thank God, it will not be so in heaven!
2 Corinthians 4:16. The more our life of sense is renounced, the purer, the stronger and the more triumphant will be the life of the spirit. Piety always rejuvenates the inner man (Isaiah 40:30 f.).
2 Corinthians 4:17-18. Troubles are light when they come from men, and affect only the outward man. All that earth can do is as nothing to him who has God’s grace; but God’s wrath is terrible indeed! Our indemnification for all sufferings and sacrifices is infinitely greater than our pains, our reproaches, and the loss of all earthly things could be; for God gives us everlasting joy and honor. The only condition is a heavenly mind, directed to the eternal world as the needle to the pole. We should see no reality any where else.
2 Corinthians 5:1. The hope of a glorified body comforts the sick and holds the spirit as if it were a foreigner in the (earthly) body.
2 Corinthians 5:2. The worldly man is terrified at the thought of losing his body, and he wishes it might be his home forever; but the Christian sighs for its dissolution. A truly pious longing to die is the Christian’s home-sickness, but the desire which many have to die is only a desire to be free from trouble.
2 Corinthians 5:3. A body is necessary to the soul, and the resurrection of the body will bring an inconceivable augmentation to our bliss. 2 Corinthians 5:4. Nearly all the troubles and oppressions which we experience during our earthly life spring from the body. 2 Corinthians 5:5. God has reserved to man a better portion than this world can give. The Holy Spirit, by a celestial birth, makes us children of God, and, of course, immortal. Whoever knows by experience this Divine life, can never think of its interruption or cessation. A Divine life must be an eternal life.
2 Corinthians 5:6. Our earthly life of care is only a brief pilgrimage.
2 Corinthians 5:7. Our only fellowship with the Lord must be by faith; On earth we cannot behold Him immediately, nor hold direct intercourse with Him through any of our senses. None but a fanatic will think of a visible intuitive enjoyment of Him here.
2 Corinthians 5:8. The Christian’s home-sickness never paralyzes, enfeebles or effeminates him, as a natural home-sickness frequently does the worldly man; but it rather sanctifies and strengthens him.
2 Corinthians 5:9. The assurance of being united to Christ makes the believer long more earnestly to please the Lord. This will not leave him even in the future world, for even there shall he remain in the service of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:10. 2 Corinthians 5:1. We must all stand before Him, for none can escape Him. Whoever is inclined to call this right of Christ in question will surely experience its terror in his own heart. 2. The thought that thy heart will be revealed is either joyful and comforting or terrible (John 5:24. We read elsewhere of a condemning, but here of a revealing judgment. The latter is rather a Christian glorification).
W. F. Besser:
2 Corinthians 4:7. The transcendent power which triumphs over all earthly things, which makes the ministers of Christ superior to all suffering, and which sometimes is communicated from him to others, is owing not to the excellence of the vessel, but to the preciousness of the treasure it contains; not to the person of the preacher, but to the name he proclaims; not to the natural ability of man, but to God’s grace and word of power. The saying the Apostle uses respecting the treasure in earthern vessels is true in general of all Christians who possess the precious pearl, Christ Jesus, in the shell of this natural life.
2 Corinthians 4:8-10. “I shall never die,” says the Church, as she bears forth the treasures of Christ’s kingdom, “but live to make the Lord’s work known to all men” (Psalms 118:17).
2 Corinthians 4:13-14. Though much distress may follow her confession, faith can never withhold the confession itself (Romans 10:10), and in making it she becomes conscious of herself and grows.
2 Corinthians 4:15. The more thanksgiving, the more grace (Psalms 50:23).
2 Corinthians 4:16. At no time do the energies of a new life stream forth so freshly and with such quickening power upon the heart of the Christian as when he is in the vale of adversity. “Day by day!” Paul was not “already perfect.”
2 Corinthians 4:17. In God’s hand is a pair of balances; one scale of which is called Time and the other Eternity. In the former are weighed earthly afflictions, and in the other future glory.
2 Corinthians 5:1. Christ gives Himself to His people, even in this life, in such a way that they may be one spirit and one body with Him spiritually, and also sacramentally by faith; but when we behold Him in our spiritual bodies, He will prove Himself to be that perfect Love which communicates its whole self to its loved ones!
2 Corinthians 5:3. We need to be clothed and covered in this life, or we can never be clothed upon with our house from heaven in the day of the Lord. We must put on the Lord Jesus Christ, as He gives Himself now for a spriritual clothing to all who receive Him by faith through the word and sacraments (Galatians 3:27; Romans 13:14). Only thus shall we be able, in the day of final visitation, to put on the same Christ in His glory (Romans 8:30), over our present mortal nature, whose original nakedness will be covered by grace and so will be capable of the further investiture of a glorious immortality (Romans 3:18).
2 Corinthians 5:4. As in Spring the green branches and leaves are thrown over the trees and transform the rigid mourning habiliments of Winter into the fresh garments of Spring, so will the Lord Jesus Christ, our life from heaven (Colossians 3:4), triumphantly lay hold upon all that is mortal in us and abolish it in an immortal nature (1 Corinthians 15:54 f.).
2 Corinthians 5:6-8. The native citizens of heaven are foreigners on earth, just as the heirs of the promised land were wanderers without a home in the wilderness (Hebrews 11:13-16). Our residence in earthly bodies necessarily implies that we should have possession of and perceive our Saviour in no other way than by faith. Sense and reason cannot apprehend Him; only faith, the new sense which God gives to the new man, and which is conversant with things unseen, can discover or receive Him as He is presented in the Gospel.
2 Corinthians 5:10. Just as in this life our body is the vessel and instrument for all that we have and do by faith, so in another life will the body be the vessel and instrument for possessing and enjoying by means of direct vision. Gloriously will the blessedness of these bodies be manifested, when those features of sorrow which have been imprinted upon our mortal bodies, so as to make us like Christ here, shall be brightened up in our risen bodies with the reflected radiance of our Lord’s glorified body (Romans 8:29).
[Stanley suggests that the mingling of the metaphors of a tent and a garment may have been caused by Paul’s familiarity with the Cilician materials used in tent making. Sometimes these were of skins, which Wetstein thinks were suggestive also of the human body, often called by the Greeks a tent; and sometimes they were of hair cloth, which was almost equally suggestive of a habitation and of a vesture. When such tents were separated into their parts (καταλυθῇ), if they were not strictly dissolved (Stanley), they were at least taken down and made away with (Alford). Chrysostom says that “by these means Paul shows how superior future things were to the present. For to the ἐπίγειον he opposes the οὐρανίαν. and to the οἰκίαν τοῦσκηνους, which was easy to be dissolved and was made for the present occasion, he opposes the αἰώνιαν; for the name of tent often indicated something only for a special emergency; hence John 14:2.”]
[Dr. Hodge has recently very elaborately defended the interpretation which makes the house not made with hands to be heaven itself. In this he agrees substantially with Anselm, Aquinas and Rosenmueller. His arguments are (1), the frequent Scriptural comparison of heaven to a house in which are many mansions (John 14:2), a city in which are many houses (Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 11:14; Hebrews 13:14; Revelation 21:10), or more generally a habitation (Luke 16:9); (2), the appropriateness of the metaphor; (3). the agreement of the description here given with other descriptions of heaven. Hebrews 11:10 (comp. Hebrews 9:11), et. al.; (4), any body after death or in the resurrection could not be spoken of as at present in the heavens, or as to be received from heaven: whereas Christ expressly authorizes such language respecting the mansions He is preparing; (5), the building here spoken of is evidently to be entered upon at death. When Paul died this was to save him from being found naked, and this could not be at the final resurrection; (6), believers are said to pass immediately into glory at death (Matthew 22:32; Luke 16:22; Luke 23:43; Philippians 1:22 f.; Hebrews 12:23). In favor of the common view, which makes the house not made by hands the same as the body to be received at the general resurrection, it is alleged (1), that as the earthly house of this tabernacle is a body, the heavenly house must be a body also. Paul’s object was not to inform his readers that he expected a new place of residence or to be in heaven, but that he looked for something in the place of his present corporeal tenement; (2), the building was not to be heaven, but it was then in the heavens, and was to be received from heaven; (3), the reason why the Apostle did not especially refer to the intermediate state between death and the Parousia, was that he had yet received no revelation on the point whether he and his fellow-Christians of that age would live until the Parousia, and so whether there should be any such state to those of whom he was speaking; (4), in contrast with ἐνδύω in this conection ἐπενδύω must have a special meaning which it need not have in 1 Corinthians 15:53 f. for it seems to have the idea of an investiture over the whole person and state of the individual, and not that of a general inhabitation of a people. In spite of the obvious difficulty that Paul seems to speak of receiving the investiture at death, or at least to regard it as ideally at hand when he should die, we cannot but regard these arguments as conclusive in favor of the common interpretation. Neither Calvin nor Olshausen advocated the idea (sometimes imputed to them and here avowed by Neander.) of a body prepared for the soul at death and to be inhabited until the Parousia. The spiritual interpretation that the building to be received from heaven is the glory of Christ’s righteousness, needs no refutation. It cannot be denied that Paul was familiar with the Rabbinic fancy, that “Adam lost the image of God by his fall, and so became naked.” In the Synop. Sohar, it is said that “when the time draws near in which man is to depart from this world, the angel of death takes off this mortal garment and clothes him with one from Paradise.” We cannot, however suppose that Paul was much influenced by such prevalent opinions.]
[Hermann (ad Viger. p. 834) expounds the difference between the two particles thus: “Εἵπερ corresponds to the Germ. wenn anders (provided that) and εἵγε to the Germ. wenn denn (since). The former is used of a thing which is assumed to be, but the writer leaves it in uncertainty whether it is so or not, while the latter, on the other hand, is used of that which is correctly assumed to be.” Neander says that “in the later Greek this distinction was not always observed, since the words were not unfrequently used in each other’s place.” For Paul’s disregard of the distinction, Dr. Hodge appeals to 1 Corinthians 8:5; Galatians 3:4; Colossians 1:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:6. The Apostle had no doubt about his ἐνδυσασθαι) and we therefore incline to think he must have used εἵγε. This suits the general tone of confidence which runs through the passage. If the other word was used, it must have been because he conceded something either ironically or for the argument’s sake at the time. και connects with the previous clause, and may be rendered with either of the particles, “if in fact,” or “since in fact,” as in 2 Corinthians 3:6, and in 2 Corinthians 5:5. A specimen of the same half doubt on a matter really certain to his own mind may be seen in Philippians 3:11.]
2 Corinthians 4:10; 2 Corinthians 4:10.—Rec. has τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ in opposition to the best authorities [viz.: A. B. C. D. E. F. G. Sin. et al. It is sustained only by K. L. and some versions and three of the best Greek fathers. Sin. has τοῖς σώμασιν instead of the second τῷ σώματι.]
2 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Corinthians 4:12.—Rec. has ὁ μέν θάνατος, but it is feebly sustained. [Alford thinks it was “inserted to correspond to δἐ below.”]
2 Corinthians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 4:13.—Sin. alone has καί after the first δὶο. After γεγραμ. of 2 Corinthians 4:13, the Cod. Alex. (A.) is entirely lost until 2 Corinthians 12:7.]
2 Corinthians 4:14; 2 Corinthians 4:14.—Without sufficient authority, Lachm. has thrown out τὸν κύριον.
2 Corinthians 4:14; 2 Corinthians 4:14.—The διὰ of the Rec. is not as well sustained as σὺν before Ἰησοῦ. It was intended probably for a correction [Alford: “on account of the difficulty found in σὺν Ἰησοῦ being joined to a future verb, his resurrection being past.” Σὺν is given in B. C. D. F. Sin. (1st cor.).]
2 Corinthians 4:16; 2 Corinthians 4:16.—As in 2 Corinthians 4:1, ἐκκακοῦμεν is preferable to ἐγκακοῦμεν, and for reasons similar to those there given.
2 Corinthians 4:16; 2 Corinthians 4:16.—Lachm. has good authorities for his reading: ὸ ἕσω ἡμῶν, and yet his reading is probably not genuine, but arose from an attempt to make it correspond with ὁ ἕξω ἡμῶν [The same reason probably produced the reading ἕξωθεν instead of ἕξω, i. e., to make it correspond with ὁ ἕσωθεν after the latter had been accepted as the true reading. But even ἕσωθεν is not satisfactorily sustained. Ἡμῶν is also inserted by high authority (B. C. D. E. F. Sin.) after ἕσω. Tisch. and Rec. omit it after ἕσωθεν. Alford (but with a doubt) and Stanley insert it with ἕσω. Meyer suggests that it was inserted for uniformity.]
2 Corinthians 4:17; 2 Corinthians 4:17.—Before ἐλαφρὸν D. (1st cor.) E. F. G., the Vulg. Syr. and Goth, versions, and some of the Latin fathers read πρόσκαιρον καὶ, but it was probably a gloss upon παραυτίκα. Comp. διὰ τοῦ παραυτίκα ἕδειξε τὸ βραχύ τε καὶ πρόσκαιρον in Theodt.]
2 Corinthians 5:3; 2 Corinthians 5:3.—Lach. has εἴπερ, Rec. has εἴγε. The latter is sustained by the testimony only of C. K. L., but by the strong authority of nearly all the cursives and all the Greek fathers. Meyer, however, thinks it an arbitrary change by some transcriber. [Sinaiticus has since given its testimony for εἴγε. The great majority of the recent critical editions now adopt εἴγε.]
2 Corinthians 5:3; 2 Corinthians 5:3.—Rec. and Lach. have ἐνδυσάμενοι instead of ἐκδυσάμενοι. Both readings are well supported. See Exeget. Notes.
2 Corinthians 5:4; 2 Corinthians 5:4.—After σκήνει Lachmann inserts τούτῳ; the evidence is not decisive. Meyer thinks it was added more clearly to define σκήνει.
2 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 5:5.—Excellent authorities are in favor of ὁ δούς.—Rec. and Tisch. have ὁ κὰι δούς with equally good authority.
2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10.—Rec. and Lachm. have κᾶκόν. Tisch. has φαῦλον, but without sufficient authority.[B. D. E. F. G. K. L. favor κακόν, and C. and Sin. favor φαῦλον. The Greek and cursives are divided nearly equally.
[Bloomfield notices that the natural meaning of παραυτίκα (παρ’ at, and αὐτἰκα present) is “at present,” and that the Syriac translators and most recent commentators therefore assign to the passage the sense of: “our present light affliction.” But the ancients generally, and almost all the earlier moderns took παραυτίκα to mean momentary. The idea, “for the present,” readily suggests the notion of what is temporary, and such a version seems required by the antithetical αἰώνιον. Chrysostom’s observations on this passage are admirable: “The Apostle opposes things present to things future: a moment to eternity; lightness to weight; affliction to glory. Nor is he satisfied with this, but he adds another word and doubles it, saying, καθ̓ ὑπερβ. εἰς ὑπερβ. This is a magnitude excessively exceeding. The repetition is intensive, after the Heb. בִמְאֹד מְאֹד exceedingly.” Dr. A. Clarke says: “it is every where visible what influence St. Paul’s Hebrew had on his Greek: כָּבַד signifies to be heavy and to be glorious: the Apostle in his Greek unites these two significations, and says, “weight of glory.” Comp. Hodge. Barrow has two passages finely illustrating this favorite text of his, in Sermm. 4th and 40th (Works by Hamilton Vol. I. pp. 38 and 384). Also Bp. J. Taylor, Contemp. on the State of Man, Lib. 2.Chap. 1.].
[What the author alludes to here is expressed in Winer (Gram. § 59, Andover ed. p. 366): “Of the negative particles οὐ stands when the intention is to represent something exactly and directly (as a reality), μὴ stands where something is only conceived of (according to the idea) in the mind; the former is the objective, the latter the subjective negation. This usage, he thinks, is uniform, especially in the New Testament. Thus he points out that in our passage τὰ μὴ βλεπ. signifies the mere idea of what cannot be seen, while in Hebrews 11:1, τἀ οὐ βλεπ. signifies what actually is not seen. (Idd. p. 370), Stanley, on the other hand, thinks that the only reason why μὴ is used in this passage and οἰ in Hebrews 11:1, is “merely from the Greek usage, which requires μὴ after the article, and οὐ where the article is not used.“ Alford thinks that μὴ is used here only to express what is hypothetical: “on the supposition that,” etc. There can be no question that in these two passages Winer’s view throws light and beauty over the thought. Faith (in Hebrews 11:1) looks to that which is beyond the reach of bodily sight and (in 2 Corinthians 4:18) turns away so as not to look upon what might be seen.]