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Bible Commentaries

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

2 Corinthians 4

Verse 2

2 Corinthians 4:2. but we have renounced the hidden things of shame those arts for gaining converts (referred to in chap. 2 Corinthians 2:17) which those who practise them are fain to “hide,” from their “shameful” character, not walking in craftiness such as was used to entrap our Lord into some treasonable utterance (Luke 20:23), and of Satan’s subtilty in beguiling Eve (chap. 2 Corinthians 11:3); employed either in adulterating the truth (as in chap. 2 Corinthians 2:17), or in so trimming as to keep out of view or shade off those features of it which are distasteful to the natural mind, and bring into artful prominence whatever may attract,

but by the manifestation of the truths the naked truth, whose intrinsic majesty and Divine claims are its best recommendation,

commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in which it ever finds an echo, when once apprehended, and that even though resisted,

in the sight of God to whom alone we look for judgment upon our work (1 Corinthians 4:3; 1 Corinthians 4:5).

Second reason why “we faint not,” the awful power under which some resist, and some yield to the truth we proclaim:

Verse 4

2 Corinthians 4:4. in whom the God of this world so called from the mysterious power over men, permitted him since the fall (see Luke 4:6; Hebrews 2:14; Revelation 2:13, “where Satan’s throne is;” Ephesians 2:2)

hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God. This He was even in His “emptied” state here below; but it is as “glorified,” now in our own nature, “with the glory which He had with the Father before the world was,” and so held forth in the preaching of the Gospel that He is here spoken of; as having a brightness before which the god of this world cannot stand, knowing that if one ray of it do but enter any soul, his hold over it is gone; and therefore he dreads and strives (in many, too successfully) to hide it from view (see Luke 8:12).

Verse 5

2 Corinthians 4:5. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. Did we preach ourselves, the god of this world would have no cause to fear for his victims: it is in the sinking of ourselves, in our one desire to exalt our Master and save the souls of men, that he knows our strength lies.

Seeing it is God [He] that said, Light shall shine [1] out of darkness, who hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Even we ourselves had never taken in the light of Christ’s glory, had it not burst upon us by the same power that made the light to arise at the beginning on this dark world.

[1] The three oldest MSS. so read. Meyer argues for the received text, on the strength of Versions and Fathers; but being the smoother reading of the two (and differing from the other in only one letter), the less smooth reading is more likely to be the true one.

Verses 8-9

2 Corinthians 4:8-9. we are pressed on every side, etc. and who would expect from such instruments those marvellous transformations of character which our ministry effects, were it not that “it is God that worketh in us”?

Fourth reason why “we faint not,” because, by constant exposure to death in Christ’s service, and thus “dying daily yet behold we live,” we experience “the power of His resurrection as well as the fellowship of His sufferings” (Philippians 3:10), and this only as a prelude to our being eventually “raised up” with Christ to die no more. This thought extends to the end of the chapter.

Verse 10

2 Corinthians 4:10. always bearing about in the body the dying ( Gr. ‘the putting to death’) of Jesus, [1] as virtually dying with Him in our daily exposures to death in His cause: compare 2 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Rom 8:36 ; 1 Corinthians 4:9; 1 Corinthians 15:31; 2 Timothy 2:11-13, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

[1] The received reading “the Lord Jesus” has scarcely any support.

Verse 11

2 Corinthians 4:11. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus sake, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh so as to “reckon” and feel ourselves to be with Him risen again and “alive unto God through Jesus Christ.”

Verse 13

2 Corinthians 4:13. But having the same spirit of faith (as the Psalmist), according to that which is written (Psalms 116:10), I believed, and therefore did I speak; we also believe, and therefore also we speak out of the fulness of our heart’s conviction and experience, “all the words of this life.”

Verse 14

2 Corinthians 4:14. knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus [1] shall raise up us also with Jesus, [2] and shall present us with you the parent in the faith with his spiritual children (see Ephesians 5:27; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:20; Jude 1:24).

[1] Here the received reading is dearly right; that of Lachmann and Tregelles, followed by Stanley and Green, being supported only by one ancient MS.

[2] Not “by Jesus,” as in the received text and Authorised Version on next to no evidence

Verse 15

2 Corinthians 4:15. For all things are for your sakes: ‘Yes; for as I have said, “we are your servants for Jesus’ sake,” and that “He that raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also with Him, and shall present us and you” together, so now I say that the whole economy of redemption and the entire ministry of reconciliation are for the ingathering and perfecting of the redeemed,

that the grace, being multiplied through the many, may cause the thanksgiving to abound unto the glory of God. This clause, thus correctly rendered, is somewhat obscure; but of the three or four ways in which it has been understood, the following alone seems to suit the scope of the passage and the emphasis of the words ‘that the rich fruits of the Christian ministry, raising songs of thanksgiving for the grace which produces them, may yield a like rich revenue of glory to God.’

Verse 16

2 Corinthians 4:16. Wherefore on all the foregoing grounds we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying (see on 2 Corinthians 4:10-12), yet the inward man is renewed day by day under a growing experience of “the power” of His resurrection.

Verse 17

2 Corinthians 4:17. For our light affliction, which is but for the moment only temporary and but momentary, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; while we look that is, not ‘so long as we look,’ or ‘provided we look,’ but ‘looking as we do,’ or ‘inasmuch as 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; but the things which are not seen are eternal. ‘Did we look upon our troubles in the light of “things seen and temporal,” they would seem not “light,” but heavy indeed; looked at in this light, far from “momentary,” they would seem distressingly protracted; and looked at in this light, instead of working for us any good, they would seem to work us only evil and that continually; but looking on them, as we do, in the light of “the things that are unseen and eternal,” their character is entirely changed, and instead of heavy, they seem to be “light;” far from tedious and protracted, they seem but “for the moment,” and in place of doing us any real harm, we find them “working for us more and exceedingly an eternal weight of glory.” O what a change does the point of view make here! But is not this the experience of every one who has been “renewed in the spirit of his mind,” in whom “old things have passed away, and all things have become new”?

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Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.