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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
2 Corinthians 4

 

 

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Verses 1-6

Explanation: He Does not Faint With Such a Glorious Ministry - In 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 Paul explains his life of perseverance as he commends himself to every man's conscience. Yet, the Gospel is not accepted by all because Satan has blinded the hearts of many.

2 Corinthians 4:1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;

2 Corinthians 4:2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man"s conscience in the sight of God.

2 Corinthians 4:2 — "But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully" - Comments - By renouncing the hidden things of dishonesty, they had declared ethical boundaries in their lives, determining to avoid past behaviours prior to their conversion. Perhaps the single, most prominent characteristic of a non-Judeo-Christian society is cleverness. While the Western culture was largely founded on Christian values of honesty and integrity, the world lies cloaked in a covering of cleverness, or craftiness, deceiving one's fellowman. This behavior makes its way into the local churches when believers fail to be discipled and grown into maturity, even in the manner in which they handle God's Word.

2 Corinthians 4:3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

2 Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

2 Corinthians 4:4 — "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not" - Comments- Satan is able to blind our minds by speaking his words into our minds. The unbeliever hears these words as subtle thoughts that he ignorantly believes to be his own imaginations. In other words, Satan does not speak to our spirits, or our hearts, but rather to our minds. It is the Spirit of God that speaks to our spirits. Learning to discern between these two voices is an important part of our spiritual development.

2 Corinthians 4:4Comments- In the Garden of Eden God originally gave man dominion over this earth. In other words, as Kenneth Hagin says, Adam was the "god of this world," but he committed treason and handed over his rights and authority to the Devil and then this Deceiver became the god of this world. Although Adam did not have the moral right to do Song of Solomon , he did have the legal right. Until man's lease as steward over this earth is up, Satan will continue to operate as the god of this world. 58]

58] Kenneth Hagin, The Believer's Authority (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c 1984, 1992), 19.

The mind is the gateway to man's heart. If the mind is blinded, his heart cannot know the things of God. When a man's mind is prospering in the Word of God, his entire life prospers ( 2 John 1:2). When the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ shines in our hearts and we are born again, Satan is no longer having dominion over us; because we have been "delivered from the power of darkness, and hath translated into the kingdom of his dear Son." ( Colossians 1:13)

3 John 1:2, "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth."

Illustration- As a young Christian having given my life back to the Lord at the age of twenty-one (21), I asked the Lord how I could have done the sins that I did. I looked back on those six years in which I was out of church after having been raised in church. I wondered how I could have reasoned my way through such ungodly behavior. The Lord quickened this verse to me in 2 Corinthians 4:4 in order to help me understand that I had allowed Satan to blind my mind. Although I could see with my eyes, my heart had become callous to the Spirit of God and I could no longer see, or understand, my sins.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4Comments -The Blindness of Israel and the Gentiles - In 2 Corinthians 3:14-16 Paul mentions the fact that the Jews have been blinded unto this day as to their Messiah. When we refer back to 2 Corinthians 2:16, which describes the Gospel as "the savour of death unto death" unto those who are perishing, we understand that Paul is referring to the Jews who have been blinded ( 2 Corinthians 3:14-16) and to the Gentiles who believe not ( 2 Corinthians 4:3-4). We can see now how 2 Corinthians 4:3 is simply a restatement of part of 2 Corinthians 2:16.

2 Corinthians 2:16, "To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?"

2 Corinthians 4:5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus" sake.

2 Corinthians 4:5Comments- In If any man preaches himself, he is seeking his own glory ( John 7:18).

John 7:18, "He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him."

Illustration- In Esther 5:10-12 Haman speaks of himself.

Esther 5:10-12, "Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife. And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king."

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:6Comments- Now the light that God created on the first day has never ceased to exist so that still shines today. We can understand that the source of this divine light was by the presence of the Holy Spirit hovering over the earth in 2 Corinthians 1:2. However, today we see in the natural realm only so that we only recognize natural sunlight, which sustains the life that is already created by God. This is why some ancient peoples worshiped the sun, because they recognized it as sustaining the life around them. The light that God made on the first day is the same light that creates and gives life to us our spiritual today. It is the same source of power that keeps this present creation intact as God's Word emanates over His creation ( 2 Peter 3:5-7). For example, when we see the supernatural take place in the Scriptures or in modern times, we can recognize the presence of God's creative power which takes place through this divine light which shines on us still today. This is why Jesus Christ could say that He is the Light of the World, or the True Light which lights every man. He was referring to the spiritual realm that we live in. He is the Creator and source of divine light which still shines today in order to illuminate our hearts, or the spiritual realm that we live in. From our natural senses, we call this the supernatural, or the spiritual realm.

Song of Solomon , the creative power and light of God has never ceased to shine upon His creation since the first day. The divine light of God was the method that God used to create life on the third day, by the light that was emitted from the presence and mouth of God. The presence of the Holy Spirit hovering over the earth was the intermediary of this light. We know that heat was a physical manifestation of the presence of light. For example, when people are healed during crusades today, do they not feel a warmth or heat come over their bodies when they are touched by the presence of the Holy Spirit? It is this same heat that emanated from this divine light and divided the vapors and liquid elements on the second day of creation and this same heat that divided the solids from the liquid elements on the third day. It is this same heat that will one day intensify until the elements are burned up with a fervent heat.

2 Peter 3:10, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."

The Scriptures bear witness to the fact that this divine light is still shining upon the earth since the first day of creation. It is the same divine light that shone upon the face of Moses after spending forty days in this divine realm.

Exodus 34:29, "And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses" hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him."

It is the same light that shone down upon the shepherds in their fields to announce the birth of our Saviour.

Luke 2:9, "And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid."

It is the same light that shone down upon Jesus Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration.

Matthew 17:2, "And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light."

It is the same light that shone upon Paul on the road to Damascus.

Acts 9:3, "And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:"

Acts 22:6, "And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me."

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:6 that it is this same light that God commanded to shine out of darkness on the first day of creation that has now shone in our hearts.


Verses 1-16

Perseverance of the Saints: To Persevere- In 2 Corinthians 4:1-16 we again get a glimpse of what a man looks like who is walking in a mature level of sanctification. It is important to note that this passage gives us a perspective of the role of Holy Spirit in helping God's servants to persevere in this sanctified lifestyle. We immediately see a man who has dedicated his life to Christian service. In this passage of Scripture Paul is relating his determination to persevere and not lose heart in his calling. In 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 Paul explains his life of perseverance as he commends himself to every man's conscience. Yet, the Gospel is not accepted by all because Satan has blinded the hearts of many. In 2 Corinthians 4:7-16 Paul illustrates his perseverance by showing his steadfast hope in the fact that the hardships in carrying out his duties are only momentary, light afflictions when compared to the exceeding weigh of glory that is awaiting him.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Explanation — 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

2. Illustration — 2 Corinthians 4:7-16


Verses 7-16

Illustration: Comparing His Hardships to Eternal Glory - In 2 Corinthians 4:7-16 Paul illustrates his perseverance by showing his steadfast hope in the fact that the hardships in carrying out his duties are only momentary, light afflictions when compared to the exceeding weigh of glory that is awaiting him. His ministry is a lifestyle that is given over to death on a daily basis. Such a lifestyle is seen by God's grace reaching greater numbers that resound in more and more thanksgiving unto God. Paul says that with such an excellent ministry he never loses heart as he bears the light of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

2 Corinthians 4:7Comments- This treasure is generally understood as the light of the knowledge of God that is mentioned in the previous verse, while some scholars include the ministry of taking the Gospel to the world. 59] The earthen vessels reflect the mortal bodies of God's servants that have been chosen to carry this priceless message. The common, everyday clay vessels of the ancient world were cheap, fragile, easily broken, and soon discarded. Thus, God has chosen fragile vessels to carry his priceless treasure of the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that man will see the power of God displayed rather than the eloquence of man.

59] James Denney, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, in The Expositor's Bible, ed. W. Robertson Nicoll (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1894), 158.

2 Corinthians 4:8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

2 Corinthians 4:9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

2 Corinthians 4:8-9Comments - Illustration of Earthen Vessels - Paul choses to illustrate the weakness of God's servants in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 by describing their mortality, subject to the same pressures of life as those to whom they preach and minister; yet, in the midst of their frailty, God is always lifting them up, intervening so that they will walk in victory above the circumstances of this world. Paul will sum up these events 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 by describing them as our "light affliction" ( 2 Corinthians 4:17).

2 Corinthians 4:10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

2 Corinthians 4:10 — "that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body" - Comments- This means that people can see Jesus Christ in us.

Galatians 3:1, "O foolish Galatians , who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?"

Philippians 3:10, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;"

Galatians 6:17, "From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus."

2 Corinthians 4:11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus" sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

2 Corinthians 4:11Comments- In the midst of his constant perils, persecutions and sufferings, Paul's life became a constant miracle, a testimony of God's all sufficiency. Paul's body suffered abuse in order that the healing, sustaining, resurrection power of God might be made manifest to all. In other words, the resurrection power of God brings us through life's toils and despair so that men may see Christ in us as His servants.

2 Corinthians 4:12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

2 Corinthians 4:13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;

2 Corinthians 4:13Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament - This is a quote from Psalm 116:10

Psalm 116:10, "I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:"

The context of this passage of Scripture is the same context as that of Psalm 116, from which this verse is quoted. The context is thanksgiving to the Lord delivering his life. Note that 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 would be an excellent conclusion to Psalm 116.

2 Corinthians 4:14 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

2 Corinthians 4:15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

2 Corinthians 4:16"yet the inward man is renewed day by day" - Scripture References- Note similar verses:

Romans 12:2, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

Colossians 3:10, "And have put on the new Prayer of Manasseh , which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:"

2 Corinthians 4:16Comments- Even though our bodies are getting older and frailer, our inner man is growing in the Lord. We do not retire from God's work. We just get better.


Verse 17

Paul's Hope of Glorification- In 2 Corinthians 4:17 to 2 Corinthians 5:10 we again get a glimpse of what a man looks like who is walking in a mature level of sanctification. It is important to note that this passage gives us a perspective of the role of the Godhead in bringing God's servants into glorification after this sanctified lifestyle. We immediately see a man who has dedicated his life to Christian service. In 2 Corinthians 4:17 to 2 Corinthians 5:4 Paul weighs the troubles of this life with the eternal glory that awaits him. Such a lifestyle is manifested by a person who appears to be wasting away outwardly, but being renewed with an inner anointing day by day. Paul explains that he is looking not at things that are seen, but things that are not seen and eternal, while earnestly desiring to be with the Lord. Paul concludes this description of his divine ministry by telling the Corinthians that he labours so earnestly because we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account of our lives ( 2 Corinthians 5:5-10).

2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

2 Corinthians 4:17 — "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment" - Comments - These light afflictions reflect back on 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed." Our earthly sufferings are light when viewed from a heavenly perspective.

Jesse Duplantis, when he was being interviewed by Benny Hinn on Trinity Broadcasting Network, said that when he was caught up in a visitation of heaven, he met Paul the apostle. Jesse tells us that in this conversation Paul told him that the Church has been misinterpreting the phrase, "which is but for a moment." He said that the Church has been teaching that this light affliction lasts for a lifetime. Paul told Jesse to tell them that it refers only to a moment in the Christian life, and not for the entire earthly life of the believer. 60] In his book Heaven: Close Encounters of the God Kind Jesse Duplantis tells us how Paul spoke to him and emphasized the fact that our afflictions in this life are but a moment compared to the eternity that we will spend in Heaven. 61]

60] Jesse Duplantis, interviewed by Benny Hinn, This is Your Day (Irving, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California, July 16, 2002), television program.

61] Jesse Duplantis, Heaven Close Encounters of the God Kind (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Harrison House, 1996), 97-9.

2 Corinthians 4:17 — "worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" - Comments- This sentence describes as set of scales weighing this present life to eternal glory. The scale for "eternity" far outweighs the present time. This present life is lightweight. Eternity is beyond measure.

Paul uses two adjectives to compare this life's trials to eternity:

1. light - insignificant, slight.

2. for a moment- momentary. In the Greek, this phrase is an adverb with an article, which makes it an adjective.

Scripture Reference- Note a similar verse:

Romans 8:17-18, "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."

2 Corinthians 4:18 While 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.

2 Corinthians 4:18Comments- In order to understand that the afflictions of this life are brief compared to our eternal heavenly glory ( 2 Corinthians 4:17), we must look at things with the spiritual eyes of faith. We must look at this life from the view of the entire narrative of redemptive history. We must learn to see the big picture so that we can better understand the events that surround us daily. We can life our heads above the cloud of circumstances and see the clear, heavenly vision of God's wonderful redemption story. We can have no hope otherwise. We need hope of eternal things in order to balance the things of this life ( Romans 8:24-25, Colossians 1:23).

Romans 8:24-25, "For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."

Colossians 1:23, "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;"

2 Corinthians 4:17-18Comments - Sharing in Christ's Agony in Hopes of Future Glory- Note these insightful words from Frances J. Roberts:

"For I shall reign over kings and nations and peoples, yea, I shall be ruler over all the earth; but ye shall have a special place of honor, for thou art My prize possession. As it is written, having shared My agony, ye shall that day share My glory; having born for Me the cross, ye shall then share with Me the throne. (Know ye not that ye shall even judge angels?) Rejoice now, that ye have been chosen out and counted worthy to suffer for My sake. We share one common destiny, and we walk one single path. At this present time, it may hold sorrow and isolation; but cheer thine heart with the raptures that lie ahead. Some live now in the revelries and riches of this present world who shall that day be mourners and paupers. Will ye exchange places? Would ye desert Me now and be rejected then? Would ye ignore Me now, and be in that day rejected by Me? Nay, ye would not! Rather, ye will do as Paul: ye will glory in the midst of suffering and affliction, because ye know these things shall in that day be counter-balanced by an exceeding greater portion of joy (weight of glory)." 62]

62] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 122.

Scripture References- Note a similar passage on our eternal hope in glory:

1 Peter 1:6-9, "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."

2 Corinthians 5:5Comments- The "self same thing" refers to our being clothed with the resurrection body.

2 Corinthians 5:7Comments- This walk of faith that Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians 5:7 has been illustrated in the preceding passages. Paul has just described his Christian journey as a minister of the Gospel reconciling the world unto God. Truly, it was a walk of faith.

Illustrations - There are a number of illustrations in the Scriptures where people were led by their spiritual discernment more than by their five physical senses.

2 Kings 6:17, "And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha."

The disciples failed to recognize Jesus at first in a number of recorded appearances following His resurrection until their spiritual eyes were opened ( Matthew 28:17, Mark 16:12, Luke 24:16; Luke 24:37, John 20:14; John 21:4).

Matthew 28:17, "And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted."

Mark 16:12, "After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country."

Luke 24:16, "But their eyes were holden that they should not know him."

Luke 24:37, "But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit."

John 20:14, "And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus."

John 21:4, "But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus."

Scripture References - Note the following Scriptures:

1 Corinthians 2:14, "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

2 Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

2 Corinthians 5:9Comments- Paul is saying that when he is absent from the body, he will still be labouring, that he may be accepted by Him. This means that in heaven, we will all have jobs to do, labours of love, while we serve our blessed Saviour.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

2 Corinthians 5:10Comments- It is interesting to note that there was a "judgment seat" in ancient Corinth during the time of Paul's ministry there. Archeologists have identified a number of structures in the ancient ruins of Corinth. There is an ornamented gateway that leads to a marketplace where many shops were located. In the center of this large area (600 ft. long and 300 ft. wide) has been found the judicial bench or tribunal platform of the city. There speakers would address the crowds that had gathered in the market center. On either side were built rooms where cases were heard by the judicial magistrates. 63] We read in Acts 18:12-17 how the infuriated Jews drug Paul before this platform and condemned him before Gallio, the proconsul of the city at that time. Thus, Paul was able to use this analogy of a judgment seat to illustrate the future judgment of Christ that all believers must face.

63] W. Harold Mare, 1 Corinthians , in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol 10, eds. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, and Dick Polcyn (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976-1992), in Zondervan Reference Software, v 28 [CD-ROM] (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corp, 1989-2001), "Introduction."

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/2-corinthians-4.html. 2013.

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Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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