Lectionary Calendar
Friday, June 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 4

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary

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Verses 1-6

2 Corinthians 4:1-6 . In this paragraph the apostle recurs to the thought of 2 Corinthians 3:12, 2 Corinthians 2:16, 2 Corinthians 1:12; a ministry of such surpassing splendour demanded in himself and his comrades unflinching courage, and a life that commended itself by uprightness and straightforwardness to the judgment of other men. There were those who were still blind to the truth. They were “ blinded by the god of this world,” i.e. by Satan. This striking phrase calls attention to the practical dualism of Paul’ s view of the world. It had fallen under the dominion, into the grasp ( 1 John 5:19) of the Evil One. The present age (or world) was wholly evil. Men were waging a real struggle with spiritual forces of evil ( Ephesians 6:12), with “ angels, potentates, and powers” ( Romans 8:38), who formed a veritable kingdom of darkness under the sovereignty of “ the prince of the power of the air” ( Ephesians 2:2). It was part of Christ’ s great redeeming work that He had fought and worsted this whole host of evil forces ( Colossians 2:15 *); and the issue of the great process of salvation is to be the complete and final subjugation of this temporary kingdom of evil ( 1 Corinthians 15:24). Through this blindness men are deprived of that illumination which comes from the glorious gospel of Christ, which finds its parallel in the miracle of creation itself. For the coming of this light to the soul is like nothing else than the birth of light in the world; and it is reflected from the face of Christ ( Hebrews 1:3).

Verses 7-18

2 Corinthians 4:7-18 . It is true that the splendid character of this ministry is for the present obscured by the earthly and physical conditions under which it is discharged. Paul is conscious that this disability is specially marked in his case. His opponents had probably good reason for saying “ his bodily presence is weak” ( 2 Corinthians 10:10, 1 Corinthians 15:8 *). 2 Corinthians 10 f. refers frequently to “ infirmities,” and specially to the “ thorn in the flesh” ( 2 Corinthians 12:7 *) which was a sore trial to him. But Paul sees in it the working of God’ s will, that there might be no doubt as to the true source of the power he exercised; it came not from Paul but from God. And this Divine power works not only through him but within him, sustaining under experiences that would otherwise crush. Nay, there is a still deeper interpretation of his suffering. Like all his experience since he became a Christian, it is connected with his union with Christ. And if the death of Christ, His pangs and helplessness, are re-enacted, it is only in order that the glorious risen life of Jesus also may be manifested in the apostle. But again— not for his benefit ( 2 Corinthians 1:6). He accepts cheerfully what is physically a living death for him, because its issue is spiritual life for those to whom he ministers.

But the contrast between the real glory of the apostolic ministry and the outward weakness of the minister is, after all, only temporal. The very confidence with which he speaks is a proof of his faith— here he recalls a like thought of the Psalmist ( Psalms 116:10)— and with faith goes the Spirit, at once the firstfruits and the guarantee of full salvation. In the power of this Spirit he sees what is going on concurrently with the wearing out and breaking up of the physical frame, viz. the daily growth of an inner personality, one which is spiritual and eternal. In view of this the affliction of the present is seen to be temporary and felt to be light, at least by those who fix their gaze on the unseen. At 2 Corinthians 4:15 the thought crosses his mind that he may seem to be losing himself in contemplation of his own experience and hopes; and very characteristically he interpolates the reminder of what is his profound conviction— that all this, even his most individual experience, is for their sakes in the first place, and ultimately for the greater glory of God.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/2-corinthians-4.html. 1919.
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