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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 4

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

We faint not (ουκ εγκακουμεν). Present active indicative of εγκακεω, late verb (εν, κακος) to behave badly in, to give in to evil, to lose courage. In Symmachus (LXX), Polybius, and papyri. It is the faint-hearted coward. Paul speaks of himself (literary plural). Can he not speak for all of us?

Verse 2

But we have renounced (αλλα απειπαμεθα). Indirect middle second aorist (timeless aorist) indicative of απειπον (defective verb) with α of first aorist ending, to speak forth, to speak off or away from. Common verb in the active, but rare in middle and only here in N.T.

The hidden things of shame (τα κρυπτα της αισχυνης). They do attack the minister. His only safety is in instant and courageous defiance to all the powers of darkness. It is a terrible thing to see a preacher caught in the toils of the tempter.

In craftiness (εν πανουργια). Old word from πανουργος (παν, εργον), a doer of any deed (good or bad), clever, cunning, deceitful. See on Luke 20:23.

Handling deceitfully (δολουντες). Present active participle of δολοω, from δολος, deceit (from δελω, to catch with bait), old and common verb, in papyri and inscriptions, to ensnare, to corrupt with error. Only here in N.T. Used of adulterating gold or wine.

To every conscience of men (προς πασαν συνειδησιν ανθρωπων). Not to whim, foible, prejudice. See 2 Corinthians 3:1-6 for "commending" (συνιστανοντες).

Verse 3

It is veiled in them that are perishing (εν τοις απολλυμενοις εστιν κεκαλυμμενον). Periphrastic perfect passive of καλυπτω, to veil in both condition (first class) and conclusion. See on 2 Corinthians 2:15 for "the perishing."

Verse 4

The god of this world (ο θεος του αιωνος τουτου). "Age," more exactly, as in 1 Corinthians 1:20. Satan is "the god of this age," a phrase nowhere else in the N.T., but Jesus uses the same idea in John 12:31; John 14:30 and Paul in Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12 and John in 1 John 5:19. Satan claimed the rule over the world in the temptations with Jesus.

Blinded (ετυφλωσεν). First aorist active of τυφλοω, old verb to blind (τυφλος, blind). They refused to believe (απιστων) and so Satan got the power to blind their thoughts. That happens with wilful disbelievers.

The light (τον φωτισμον). The illumination, the enlightening. Late word from φοτιζω, to give light, in Plutarch and LXX. In N.T. only in 2 Corinthians 4:4; 2 Corinthians 4:6. Accusative case of general reference here with the articular infinitive (εις το μη αυγασα that should not dawn). That is, if αυγασα is intransitive as is likely, though it is transitive in the old poets (from αυγη, radiance. Cf. German Auge=eye). If it is transitive, the idea would be "that they should not see clearly the illumination, etc."

Verse 5

For we preach not ourselves (ου γαρ εαυτους κηρυσσομεν). Surely as poor and disgusting a topic as a preacher can find.

But Christ Jesus as Lord (αλλα Χριστον Ιησουν Κυριον). Κυριον is predicate accusative in apposition.

As your servants for Jesus' sake (δουλους υμων δια Ιησουν). Your bond-slave for the sake of Jesus. This is the sufficient reason for any preacher's sacrifice, "for Jesus' sake."

Verse 6

God who said (ο θεος ο ειπων). Paraphrase of Genesis 1:3.

Who shined (ος ελαμψεν). Like a lamp in the heart (cf. Matthew 5:15). Miners carry a lamp on the forehead, Christians carry one in their hearts lit by the Spirit of God.

To give the light (προς φωτισμον). For the illumination.

In the face of Jesus Christ (εν προσωπω Ιησου Χριστου). The Christian who looks on the face of Jesus Christ as Moses looked upon the glory of God will be able to give the illumination of the knowledge of the glory of God. See 2 Corinthians 2:10 for προσωπον.

Verse 7

This treasure (τον θησαυρον τουτον). On θησαυρον see Matthew 6:19-21. It is the power of giving the illumination of the knowledge of the glory of God (verse 2 Corinthians 4:6). "The power is limitless, but it is stored in very unlikely receptacles" (Plummer). This warning Paul gives in contrast (δε) with the exultation of verse 2 Corinthians 4:6 (Bernard).

In earthen vessels (εν οστρακινοις σκευεσιν). This adjective is common in the LXX with σκευοσ, αγγος and αγγειον. It occurs again in 2 Timothy 2:20 with σκευη. It is found also in the papyri with σκευος as here. It is from οστρακον, baked clay (same root as οστεον, bone), so many fragments of which are found in Egypt with writing on them. We are but earthen jars used of God for his purposes (Romans 9:20) and so fragile.

The exceeding greatness (η υπερβολη). See on 1 Corinthians 12:31 for this word, "the preeminence of the power." This is God's purpose (ινα--η). God, not man, is the

dynamo (δυναμις). It comes from God (του θεου, ablative) and does not originate with us (μη εξ ημων).

Verse 8

Pressed (θλιβομενο). From θλιβω, to press as grapes, to contract, to squeeze. Series of present passive participles here through verse 2 Corinthians 4:9 that vividly picture Paul's ministerial career.

Yet not straitened (αλλ' ου στενοχωρουμενο). Each time the exception is stated by αλλ' ου. From στενοχωρεω (στενοχωρος, from στενος, narrow, χωρος, space), to be in a narrow place, to keep in a tight place. Late verb, in LXX and papyri. In N.T. only here and 2 Corinthians 6:12.

Yet not unto despair (αλλ' ουκ εξαπορουμενο). Late perfective compound with εξ- of εξαπορεω. A very effective play on words here, lost, but not lost out.

Verse 9

Forsaken (εγκαταλειπομενο). Double compound of old verb εγ-κατα-λειπω, to leave behind, to leave in the lurch.

Smitten down (καταβαλλομενο). As if overtaken.

Destroyed (απολλυμενο). Perishing as in verse 2 Corinthians 4:3. Was Paul referring to Lystra when the Jews stoned him and thought him dead?

Verse 10

Bearing about (περιφεροντες). Ignatius was called Θεοφορος, God-bearer. See 1 Corinthians 15:31 where Paul says "I die daily" and Philippians 3:10; Colossians 1:24.

The dying of Jesus (την νεκρωσιν του Ιησου). Late word from νεκροω, to put to death. In Galen. In N.T. only here and Romans 4:19.

Verse 11

Are alway delivered unto death (εις θανατον παραδιδομεθα). This explains verse 2 Corinthians 4:10.

Verse 12

Death worketh in us (ο θανατος εν ημιν ενεργειτα). Middle voice present tense of the old verb to operate, be at work. Physical death works in him while spiritual life (paradox) works in them.

Verse 13

According to that which is written (κατα το γεγραμμενον). This formula in legal documents in the papyri (Bible Studies, p. 250). Paul makes adaptation of the words in Psalms 95:1.

We also believe (κα ημεις πιστευομεν). Like the Psalmist. And therefore can speak with effect. Otherwise useless.

Shall present us with you (κα παραστησε συν ημιν). This shows that Paul was not certain that he would be alive when Jesus comes as has been wrongly inferred from 1 Corinthians 7:29; 1 Corinthians 10:11; 1 Corinthians 15:51.

Verse 15

Being multiplied through the many (πλεονασασα δια των πλειονων). Late word πλεοναζω from πλεον, more, "making more through the more," with play on πλεον. One can think of Bunyan's Grace Abounding.

Verse 16

Wherefore we faint not (διο ουκ εγκακουμεν). Repeats from verse 2 Corinthians 4:1.

Our outward man (ο εξω ημων ανθρωπος),

our inward man (ο εσω ημων). In Romans 7:22; Colossians 3:9; Ephesians 4:22, we have the inward man and the outward for the higher and the lower natures (the spirit and the flesh). "Here the decay (διαφθειρετα) of the bodily organism is set over against the growth in grace (ανακαινουτα, is refreshed) of the man himself" (Bernard). Plato (Republ. ix, p. 589) has ο εντος ανθρωπος. Cf. "the hidden man of the heart" (1 Peter 3:4).

Day by day (ημερα κα ημερα). This precise idiom is not in LXX nor rest of N.T. It may be colloquial use of locative in repetition.

Verse 17

Our light affliction which is for the moment (το παραυτικα ελαφρον της θλιπεσεως ημων). Literally, "the for the moment (old adverb παραυτικα, here only in N.T.) lightness (old word, in N.T. only here and Matthew 11:30)."

More and more exceedingly (καθ' υπερβολην εις υπερβολην). Like piling Pelion on Ossa, "according to excess unto excess." See on 1 Corinthians 12:31.

Eternal weight of glory (αιωνιον βαρος δοξης). Careful balancing of words in contrast (affliction vs. glory, lightness vs. weight, for the moment vs. eternal).

Verse 18

While we look not (μη σκοπουντων ημων). Genitive absolute with participle of σκοπεω from σκοπος, goal.

Temporal (προσκαιρα). Rather temporary, for a season (προς καιρον). Late word. See on Matthew 13:21. See 1 Corinthians 13:12; Hebrews 11:1.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/2-corinthians-4.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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