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the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 4

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

2Co 4:1. Paul calls the new covenant system a ministry, which means a service under Christ. He regards it as being so rich and glorious in contrast with that under Moses, that he is determined to faint not. It means he will not falter in his service for Christ, since there is so much to be gained by serving Him.

Verse 2

2Co 4:2. To renounce means to give up and completely turn from a thing. All dishonesty (shame) is wrong, but so much has been said about hiding or covering the face, the apostle specifies that form of wrongdoing in this passage. The servant of Christ should not resort to any craftiness (trickery) in his teaching of the truth of Christ. To handle the word of God deceitfully means to pervert it and mix it with human traditions in such a way as to deceive the hearer. He would be misled by the appearance of truth that he would see in the mixture. The Juda-izers who had been troubling the Christians were doing that very thing, by mixing a part of the law of Moses with the teachings of the Gospel. Manifestation of the truth means to give the plain unmixed and "unvailed" truth to the people. Such teaching would be commended by every man who conscientiously desired that which is pleasing to God.

Verse 3

2Co 4:3. In this verse we have a comparison that results both in a likeness and a contrast, based on the statements of the preceding chapter. The likeness is in the fact that something is hid or covered ("vailed"), and the contrast is that the hiding pertains to a different class from those indicated at Sinai.

Verse 4

2Co 4:4. The Gospel is hid to the people who are lost, and yet they are the ones who most need it. However, it is not the fault of the Lord that these people are lost, but it is caused by their own blind unbelief. This condition is caused by a being whom Paul calls the god of this world. Luk 4:6; Joh 12:31 Joh 14:30 Joh 16:11; Ephe-sians 2:2 shows us that Satan is the one referred to by Paul. Certainly he does not want anyone to be influenced by the Gospel, for therein is reflected the spiritual image of Christ, and when men see that and admire it, they will become like Him and hence will reject Satan.

Verse 5

2Co 4:5. Paul's own personality or importance was not the subject of his preaching, for he claimed only to be the servant of the church for the sake of Jesus to whom the church belongs. The subject of all his preaching was Christ as the Saviour and Lord of all who will believe and obey.

Verse 6

2Co 4:6. Light to shine out of darkness refers to the condition prior to the six days of creation described in Genesis 1. Verse 2 of that chapter says that "darkness was upon the face of the deep" [the sea], and verse 3 states that God said, "let there be light." This material event is used to illus trate the condition of spiritual darkness that all men have before they receive the light of divine truth. This light is displayed upon the divine face of Jesus Christ and is communicated to those who will open their hearts to receive the truth. When that is done the spiritual darkness that enshrouded the heart of the sinner is penetrated, and in the place of that darkness, or "out of that darkness," will shine the glorious light of the Gospel.

Verse 7

2Co 4:7. The treasure means the light of the Gospel, and the earthen vessel is a human being. When the effects of the great truth concerning Christ are observed by the world, and knowing that man in his natural ability is unable to accomplish such results, it will be concluded that the power has come from God.

Verse 8

2Co 4:8-9. In this paragraph Paul mentions four sets of unfavorable terms, in each pair of which he shows a contrast. The distinction is made between what he is actually experiencing, and what he did not suffer his adversities to do unto him. In other words, what he was forced to endure was bad enough, but the other would have been worse which he would not allow to take place with him; he resolved to surmount all his trials. He did not permit his troubles to distress him, which means to cramp or hinder him in his work. He was sometimes puzzled and wondered "what was coming next," yet he never gave way to despair. In spite of his persecutions, the Lord sustained him and he also had the encouragement of some faithful brethren. To be cast down means to be prostrated, while to be destroyed means to be entirely put out of the contest, and Paul would not let his trials come to that end. He was sometimes "down," but never let himself be counted "out."

Verse 10

2Co 4:10-11. A man does not literally die but once, yet Paul was constantly in danger of death. (See 1Co 15:30-31.) The apostle was willing to face all this threat of death, that he might display the kind of life Jesus led on the earth.

Verse 12

2Co 4:12. On account of his work as an apostle and being on the "firing line," Paul had to face this danger of death constantly. The Corinthian brethren were not thus exposed to death as Paul was, yet they were receiving the spiritual benefit of the sufferings imposed upon the apostle, and it meant spiritual life for them.

Verse 13

2Co 4:13. The same spirit of faith is a quotation from Psa 116:10. David's faith was so strong that he was willing to express it in words, regardless of what his enemies might do unto him. Paul affirms that he has that same spirit of faith, hence he is determined to speak the truth of Christ however much it might endanger his life among his enemies. This is a summing up of the attitude described in the verses beginning with verse 8.

Verse 14

2Co 4:14. Paul's confidence in the resurrection sustained him amid all of his persecutions. Present us with you. All men will be raised from the dead regardless of their manner of life, but the righteous will stand together in the group which Jesus will present as his own to the Father.

Verse 15

2Co 4:15. Paul endured many trials and inconveniences for the sake of his brethren in Corinth. He expected them to react with many expressions of gratitude in their prayers, thus giving God the glory for the grace or favor bestowed upon them.

Verse 16

Verse 16. Faint is the same as that in verse 1, and means to falter or be heartless, and Paul affirms that he would not suffer such to happen to him. That was because of his abiding faith in the promises of God, and the assurance that some day all "earthly things would cease to be, and life eternal fruit should bear." The outward man means the fleshly body that is the subject of persecutions and also is subject to the frailty of age and infirmity. While such changes are going on, the inward man (the soul or spirit) is living on and on and growing stronger each day and gaining much of that strength from the very trials that the enemy thought would cast him down in despair.

Verse 17

2Co 4:17. Light affliction and moment are used in a comparative sense. The first can affect the outward man only (Luk 12:4-5), and the second applies to this life only. On the other hand, the glory that shall be given to the faithful will be eternal in its weight (or worth) and endless in its duration.

Verse 18

2Co 4:18. Look not means not to be unduly concerned about it. Things which are seen means the present physical trials. Not seen means the spiritual reward in the next world, and that will be eternal in character and endless in duration.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/2-corinthians-4.html. 1952.
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