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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
2 Corinthians 4

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

1.] διὰ τοῦτο refers to the previous description of the freeness and unvailedness of the ministry of the Gospel, and of the state of Christians in general (ch. 2 Corinthians 3:18).

ἔχοντες τ. δ. ταύτ. further expands and explains διὰ τοῦτο.

καθὼς ἠλεήθ.] even as we received mercy (from God, at the time of our being appointed; cf. ἠλεήθην, 1 Timothy 1:16): belongs to ἔχ. τ. δ. ταύτ., not to what follows, and is a qualification, in humility, of ἔχοντες—‘possessing it, not as our own, but in as far as we were shewn mercy.’

οὐκ ἐγκακοῦμεν] We do not behave ourselves in a cowardly manner, do not shrink from plainness of speech and action. ἐγκακέω is the opposite of παῤῥησιάζω. οὐκ ἐκκακοῦμεν would be, ‘we do not give up through faintness or cowardice.’ It is hardly possible to decide satisfactorily between the two readings. ἐγκ. seems to be universal, except in the N. T. (rec. text) and the Fathers, which have ἐκκ. Did the Fathers borrow this form from the N. T., or was it the usual form of later Greek, and as such introduced into the text by the copyists? In such doubt, I have followed manuscript authority.

But (cowardice alone prompting concealment in such a case, where it does not belong to the character of the ministry itself) we have renounced (so Herod. iv. 125, τῶν ἀπειπαμένων τὴν σφετέρην συμμαχίην: Ælian, N. H. vi. 1, an τὴν ἀκόλαστον κοίτην ἀπείπατο παντελῶς πᾶσαν: and other examples in Wetst.) the hidden things of shame (the having any views, ends, or practices which such as have them hide through shame: not, as De Wette, the hidden things of infamy or dishonesty. αἰσχύνη is subjective, =, as Meyer, φόβος ἐπὶ προσδοκίᾳ ἀδοξίας, Plato Defin. p. 416. It is plain from the context that it refers, not to crimes and unholy practices, but to crooked arts, of which men are ashamed, and which perhaps were made use of by the false teachers), not walking (having our daily conversation) in craftiness (see ref.) nor adulterating (see ch. 2 Corinthians 2:17, note) the word of God, but by the manifestation of the truth (as our only means, see 1 Thessalonians 2:3-4;—the words come first, as emphatic), recommending ourselves (a recurrence to the charge and apology of ch. 2 Corinthians 3:1 ff.) to (with reference to,—the verdict of) every conscience of men (every possible variety of the human conscience; implying, there is no conscience but will inwardly acknowledge this, however loath some among you may be outwardly to confess it. So that the expression is not exactly = πρ. τὴν συν. πάντων ἀνθρώπων. We need hardly extend ἀνθρ. so wide as Chrys. (Hom. viii. p. 493), οὐπιστοῖς μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀπίστοις ἐσμὲν κατάδηλοι:—he is speaking as a teacher, and the men spoken of are naturally his hearers and disciples), in the sight of God (as ch. 2 Corinthians 2:17; not merely to satisfy men’s consciences, but with regard to God’s all-seeing eye which discerns the heart).


Verses 1-6

1–6.] Taking up again the subject of his freedom of speech (ch. 2 Corinthians 3:12), he declares his renunciation of all deceit, and manifestation of the truth to every man (2 Corinthians 4:2), even though to some the Gospel be hidden (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). And this because he preaches, without any selfish admixture,. only the pure light of the Gospel of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:5-6).


Verse 3

3.] But if (‘which I concede;’—see note, 1 Corinthians 4:7) it is even so, that our gospel (the gospel preached by us) is vailed, it is among (in the estimation of) the perishing that it is vailed. The allegory of ch. 3 is continued,—the hiding of the gospel by the vail placed before the understanding.


Verse 4

4.] in whose case (it is true, that) the god of this world (the Devil, the ruling principle in the men of this world, see reff. It is historically curious, that Irenæus (Hær. iv. 39. 2, p. 266), Origen, Tertull. (contra Marc(5), 2 Corinthians 4:11, vol. ii. p. 499), Chrys., Augustine (c. advers. leg. ii. 7 (29), vol. viii. p. 655), Œcum., Theodoret, Theophylact, all repudiate, in their zeal against the Marcionites and Manichæans, the grammatical rendering, and take τῶν ἀπίστων τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου together) blinded (the aor. of a purely historical event) the understandings of the unbelieving (i.e. who, the ἀπολλύμενοι, are victims of that blinding of the understandings of the unbelieving, which the Devil is habitually carrying on. Meyer well remarks, that if it had merely been τὰ νοήματα, it would have only expressed in the concrete the νοήμ. of those signified by ἐν οἷς,—whereas now, by the addition of τῶν ἀπίστ., the blinding inflicted on the ἀπολλ. is marked as falling under its category. The rendering τῶν ἀπίστων ‘so that they believe not,’ Fritz., Billroth, is out of all question) in order that the illumination of (shining from, gen. subj.) the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (recurrence to the allegory of ch. 2 Corinthians 3:18;—Christ is the image of God, ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ, Hebrews 1:3, into which same image, τὴν αὐτὴν εἰκόνα, we, looking on it in the mirror of the gospel, are changed by the Spirit; but which glorious image is not visible to those who are blinded by Satan), might not shine forth ([see var. readd. The object of the god of this world was not merely to prevent them from being illuminated, but to stop the shining forth altogether]:—the rendering, ‘that they might not see,’ Grot., al., is inadmissible).


Verse 5

5.] For we preach not (the subject of our preaching is not) ourselves (Meyer understands κυρίους, ‘as lords;’ but as De W. observes, this would anticipate the development of thought which follows, the contrast between χρ. ἰησοῦν as κύριον, and ourselves as your δούλους, not being yet raised),—but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake (on account of Him and His work).


Verse 5-6

5, 6.] We have no reason to use trickery or craft, having no selfish ends to serve: nor concealment, being ourselves enlightened by God, and set for the spreading of light.


Verse 6

6.] Because (explains and substantiates the last clause,—that we are your servants for Jesus’ sake) (it is) God, who said Out of (not, ‘after the darkness;’ this meaning of ἐκ, though allowable, e.g. ἐκ κυμάτων γὰρ αὖθις αὖ γάληνʼ ὁρῶ, does not occur in N. T.) darkness light shall shine (allusion to Genesis 1:3; the change to λάμψαι appears to have been made because the words cited are not the exact ones spoken by the Creator), who shined (Grot., Fritz., Meyer, would render ἔλαμψεν, ‘caused light to shine,’ using the verb in the factitive sense, as ἀνατέλλω, Matthew 5:45, and ὦ λάμπουσα πέτρα πυρὸς δικόρυφον σέλας, Eur. Phœn. 226. But this usage of the word seems entirely poetical, and the intransitive sense would as well express the divine act) in our hearts (the physical creation bearing an analogy to the spiritual) in order to the shining forth (to others) of the knowledge (in us) of the glory of God in the face of Christ (= τῆς δόξης τ. θεοῦ τῆς ἐν προσώπῳ χρ., ‘the glory of God manifested in Christ’). The figure is still derived from the history in ch. 3, and refers to the brightness on the face of Moses:—the only true effulgence of the divine glory is from the face of Christ. Meyer contends for the connexion of ἐν προσώπ. χρ. with φωτισμόν but his explanation fails to convey to my mind any satisfactory sense. He says that when the γνῶσις is imparted by preaching, it shines, and its brightness illuminates the face of Christ, because it is His face whose glory is looked on in the mirror of preaching. But I cannot think that any thing so very far-fetched would be in the Apostle’s mind.

As to the necessity of the art. τῆς before ἐν, none will assert it who are much versed in the many varieties of expression in such sentences in the Apostle’s style.


Verse 7

7.] τὸν θης. τοῦτ., viz. ‘the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, 2 Corinthians 4:6. ἐπειδὴ γὰρ πολλὰ καὶ μεγάλα εἶπε περὶ τῆς ἀποῤῥήτου δόξης· ἵνα μή τις λέγῃ καὶ πῶς τοσαύτης δόξης ἀπολαύοντες μένομεν ἐν θνητῷ σώματι; φησὶν ὅτι τοῦτο μὲν οὖν αὐτὸ μάλιστά ἐστι τὸ θαυμαστόν, καὶ δεῖγμα μέγιστον τῆς τοῦ θεοῦ δυνάμεως, ὅτι σκεῦος ὀστράκινον τοσαύτην ἠδυνήθη λαμπρότητα ἐνεγκεῖν, καὶ τηλικοῦτον φυλάξαι θησαυρόν. Chrys. p. 496. Some (Calv., al.) think the θης. to be the whole διακονία: but it seems simpler to refer it to that which has immediately preceded, in a style like that of Paul, in which each successive idea so commonly evolves itself out of the last. The σκεῦος is the body, not the whole personality; the ὁ ἔξω ἄνθρωπος of 2 Corinthians 4:16; see 2 Corinthians 4:10. And in the troubles of the body the personality shares, as long as it is bound up with it here.

The similitude and form of expression is illustrated by Wetst. from Artemidorus vi. 25, θάνατον μὲν γὰρ εἰκότως ἐσήμαινε τῇ γυναικὶ τὸ εἶναι ἐν ὀστρακίνῳ σκεύει,—Arrian, Epict. iii. 9, ταῦτα ἔχω ἀντὶ τῶν ἀργυρωμάτων, ἀντὶ τῶν χρυσωμάτων· σὺ χρυσᾶ σκεύη, ὀστράκινον δὲ τὸν λόγον, and Herod. iii. 96, τοῦτον τὸν φόρον θησαυρίζει ὁ βασιλεὺς τρόπῳ τοιῷδε. ἐς πίθους κεραμίους τήξας καταχέει, πλήσας δὲ τὸ ἄγγος περιαιρέει, ἐπεὰν δὲ δεηθῇ χρημάτων, κατακόπτει τοσοῦτον, ὅσου ἂν ἑκάστοτε δέηται.

ἡ ὑπερβ. τῆς δυν. not = ἡ ὑπερβάλλουσα δύναμις, but, the δύναμις contemplated on the side of its ὑπερβολή,—the power consisting in the effects of the apostolic ministry (1 Corinthians 2:4), as well as in the upholding under trials and difficulties. The passage commonly referred to (even by Stanley) to prove the hendiadys, may serve entirely to disprove it: Jos. Antt. i. 13. 4, μαθὼν δὲ αὐτοῦ τὸ πρόθυμον κ. τὴν ὑπερβολὴν τῆς θρησκείας: “the readiness and surpassingness of his obedience.”

ᾖ τοῦ θεοῦ] may belong to (i.e. be seen to belong to) God. Tertull., Vulg., and Estius, render it ‘ut sublimitas sit virtutis Dei, non ex nobis,’ which is hardly allowable, and disturbs the sense by confusing the antithesis between ὁ θεός and ἡμεῖς.


Verses 7-18

7–18.] This glorious ministry is fulfilled by weak, afflicted, persecuted, and decaying vessels, which are moreover worn out in the work (7–12). Yet the spirit of faith, the hope of the resurrection, and of being presented with them, for whom he has laboured, bears him up against the decay of the outer man, and all present tribulation (13–18). We are not justified in assuming with Calvin, Estius, al., that a definite reproach of personal meanness had induced the Apostle to speak thus. For he does not deal with any such reproach here, but with matters common to all human ministers of the word.

All this is a following out in detail of the οὐκ ἐγκακοῦμεν of 2 Corinthians 4:1, already enlarged on in one of its departments,—that of not shrinking from openness of speech,—and now to be put forth in another, viz. bearing up against outward and inward difficulties. If any polemical purpose is to be sought, it is the setting forth of the abundance of sufferings, the glorying in weakness (ch. 2 Corinthians 11:23; 2 Corinthians 11:30), which substantiated his apostolic mission: but even such purpose is only in the background; he is pouring out, in the fulness of his heart, the manifold discouragements and the far more exceeding encouragements of his office.


Verse 8

8.] in every way (see reff.) pressed, but not (inextricably) crushed ( στ. ‘angustias h. l. denotat tales, e quibus non detur exitus,’ Meyer, from Kypke);—in perplexity but not in despair (a literal statement of what the last clause stated figuratively: as Stanley, “bewildered, but not benighted”):—persecuted but not deserted ( ἐγκαταλειπόμενοι, see reff., used of desertion both by God and by man. Hammond, Olsh., Stanley, al., would refer διωκόμ.… to the foot-race, and render it ‘pursued, but not left behind,’ as Herod. viii. 59, οἱ δέ γε ἐγκαταλειπόμενοι οὐ στεφανοῦνται,—but the sense thus would be quite beside the purpose, as the Apostle is speaking not of rivalry from those who as runners had the same end in view, but of troubles and persecutions): struck down (as with a dart during pursuit: so Xen. Cyr. i. 3. 14, θηρία.… τοξεύων καὶ ἀκοντίζων καταβαλεῖς. It is ordinarily interpreted of a fall in wrestling; but agonistic figures would be out of place in the present passage, and the attempt to find them has bewildered most of the modern Commentators), but not destroyed:


Verses 8-10

8–10.] He illustrates the expression, ‘earthen vessels,’ in detail, by his own experience and that of the other ministers of Christ.


Verse 10

10.] always carrying about in our body (i.e. ever in our apostolic work having our body exposed to and an example of: or perhaps even, as Stanley, “bearing with us, wherever we go, the burden of the dead body.” But see below) the killing (the word seems only to occur besides, in ref. Rom., where it signifies, figuratively, utter lack of strength and vital power, in a fragment of the Oneirocritica of Astrampsychus (Meyer), νεκροὺς ὁρῶν, νέκρωσιν ἕξεις πραγμάτων, where the sense is also figurative, and in its primary physical sense in the medical works of Aretæus and Galen. But here the literal sense, ‘the being put to death,’ must evidently be kept, and the expression understood as 1 Corinthians 15:31, and as Chrys.: οἱ θάνατοι οἱ καθημερινοί, διʼ ὧν καὶ ἡ ἀνάστασις ἐδείκνυτο Hom. ix. p. 498. The rendering, ‘the deadness of Jesus to the flesh, as opposed to the vitality, ἡ ζωὴ τοῦ ἰησοῦ below,’—see Dr. Peile’s Annotations on the Epistles, i. 383,—is beside the present purpose, and altogether inconsistent with ἀεὶ εἰς θάνατον παραδιδόμεθα διὰ ἰησοῦν, 2 Corinthians 4:11. See Stanley’s note) of Jesus (as τὰ παθήματα τοῦ χριστοῦ, ch. 2 Corinthians 1:5 :—not ‘ad exemplum Christi,’ as Grot., al.), in order that also the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body: i.e. ‘that in our bodies, holding up against such troubles and preserved in such dangers, may be shewn forth that mighty power of God which is a testimony that Jesus lives and is exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour:’—not, ‘that our repeated deliverances might resemble His Resurrection, as our sufferings His Death,’ as Meyer, who argues that the literal meaning must be retained, as in the other member of the comparison, owing ἐν τῷ σώματι ἡμ. But, as De W. justly observes, the bodily deliverance is manifestly a subordinate consideration, and the ζωή of far higher significance, testified indeed by the body’s preservation, but extending far beyond it.


Verse 11

11.] Explanation and confirmation of 2 Corinthians 4:10. For we who live ( ζῶντες asserting that to which death is alien and strange, an antithesis to εἰς θάνατον παραδ., as in the other clause ζωή to ἐν τῇ θνητῇ σαρκί. No more specific meaning for ζῶντες must be imagined, as ‘tantis mortibus superstitem,’ Bengel, Estius, al.,—or ‘as long as we live,’ Beza, al.,—or ‘qui adhuc vivimus, qui nondum ex vita excessimus ut multi jam Christianorum,’ as Grot.) are alway being delivered to death (in dangers and persecutions, so ch. 2 Corinthians 11:23, ἐν θανάτοις πολλάκις) on account of Jesus (so in Revelation 1:9 John was in Patmos διὰ τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ κ. διὰ τὴν μαρτυρίαν ἰησοῦ), that also the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh (the antithesis is more strongly put by θνητῇ σαρκί than it would be by θνητῷ σώματι, see Romans 8:11, the flesh being the very pabulum of decay and corruption). By this antithesis, the wonderful greatness of the divine power, ἡ ὑπερβολὴ τῆς δυνάμεως, is strikingly brought out: God exhibits DEATH in the living, that He may exhibit LIFE in the dying.


Verse 12

12.] By it is also brought out that which is here the immediate subject,—the vast and unexampled trials of the apostolic office, all summed up in these words: So that death works in us, but life in you; i.e. ‘the trials by which the dying of Jesus is exhibited in us, are exclusively and peculiarly OUR OWN,—whereas (and this is decisive for the spiritual sense of ζωή) the life, whereof we are to be witnesses, extends beyond ourselves, nay finds its field of action and energizing IN YOU.’ Estius, Grot., and apparently Olsh., take ἐνεργεῖται passively, ‘is wrought’ (‘mors agitur et exercetur … perficitur vita.’ Est.): but it is never so used in N. T. Chrys., Calv., al., take the verse ironically, τὰ μὲν ἐπικίνδυνα ἡμεῖς ὑπομένομεν, τῶν δὲ χρηστῶν ὑμεῖς ἀπολαύετε,—but such a sentiment seems alien from the spirit of the passage. Meyer, as unfortunately, limits ζωή to natural life, whereas (as above) the context plainly evinces spiritual life to be meant, not merely natural.

In Romans 8:10-11, the vivifying influence of His Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is spoken of as extending to the body also; here, the upholding influence of Him who delivers and preserves the body, is spoken of as vivifying the whole man: LIFE, in both places, being the higher and spiritual life, including the lower and natural. ‘And, in our relative positions,—of this life, YE are the examples,—a church of believers, alive to God through Christ in your various vocations, and not called on to be θεατριζόμενοι [cf. 1 Corinthians 4:9; Hebrews 10:33] as WE are, who are (not indeed excluded from that life,—nay it flows from us to you,—but are) more especially examples of conformity to the death of our common Lord:—in whom DEATH WORKS.’


Verses 13-18

13–18.] ENCOURAGEMENTS: and (1) FAITH, which enables us to go on preaching to you. Meyer connects this verse with ἡ δὲ ζωὴ ἐν ὑμῖν: for, he says, by means of πιστεύομεν διὸ καὶ λαλοῦμεν, is that ζωὴ ἐν ὑμ. ἐνεργεῖται, wrought. But, not to mention that thus the context is strangely disturbed, in which we and our trials form the leading subject, it would surely be very unnatural that ἔχοντες δέ should apply not to the principal but to the subordinate clause of the foregoing verse. But (contrast to the foregoing state of trial and working of death in us) having the same spirit of faith (not distinctly the Holy Spirit,—but as in reff., not merely a human disposition: the indwelling Holy Spirit penetrates and characterizes the whole renewed man) with that described in the Scriptures ( τὸ αὐτὸ κατὰ τὸ γεγρ., i.e. either as Billroth, τὸ αὐτὸ ( ἐκείνῳ) περὶ οὗ γέγραπται, or as De W., = τὸ αὐτὸ ὡς γέγρ., ὥσπερ being sometimes found after ὁ αὐτός, ἴσος, and the like, and κατὰ here being equivalent to it. I prefer the former: but at all events the connexion of τὸ αὐτό and κατὰ τὸ γεγρ. must be maintained, and we must not, with Meyer, connect κατὰ τὸ γεγρ.… with καὶ ἡμεῖς πιστεύομεν, which makes the Apostle say that his faith is according to the words of the citation, and thus confuses the whole process of thought), I believed, wherefore I spoke (the connexion of the words in the Psalm is not clear, nor the precise meaning of כִּי rendered by the LXX διό. See Pool’s Synopsis in loc. for the various renderings), we too believe, wherefore we also speak (continue our preaching of the gospel, notwithstanding such vast hindrances within and without):


Verse 14

14.] knowing (fixes and expands in detail the indefinite πιστεύομεν, and thus gives the ground of λαλοῦμεν,—not as commonly understood, the matter of which we speak) that He who raised up (from the dead) the Lord Jesus, will raise up us also (from the dead hereafter, see 1 Corinthians 6:13-14 :—not in a figurative resurrection from danger, as Beza, who afterwards changed his opinion, al., and lately Meyer, whose whole interpretation of this passage is singularly forced, and his defence of it unfair, see below) with Jesus ( σὺν ἰησοῦ is not necessarily figurative, as Meyer; even in the passages where a figurative sense is the prevailing one, it is only as built upon the fact of a literal ‘raising with Christ,’ to be accomplished at the great day: see Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 3:1; Colossians 3:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:10) and present us with you (i.e. as in Jude 1:24, τῷ δυναμένῳστῆσαι κατενώπιον τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ ἀμώμους ἐν ἀγαλλιάσει …, and in reff., at the day of His coming).

Meyer’s objection to the meaning above given,—that the Apostle could not thus speak of the resurrection, because he expected (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Corinthians 1:8; ch. 2 Corinthians 1:13-14) to be alive at the day of Christ, is best refuted by this very passage, ch. 2 Corinthians 5:1 ff., where his admission of at least the possibility of his death is distinctly set forth. The fact is that the ἐγερεῖ here, having respect rather to the contrast of the future glory with the present suffering, does not necessarily imply one or other side of the alternative of being quick or dead at the Lord’s coming, but embraces all, quick and dead, in one blessed resurrection-state.

This confidence, of being presented at that day σὺν ὑμῖν, is only analogous to his expressions elsewhere; see ch. 2 Corinthians 1:14; 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20; 1 Thessalonians 3:13.


Verse 15

15.] Explanation of σὺν ὑμῖν as a ground of his trust: with reference also to ἡ δὲ ζωὴ ἐν ὑμῖν, 2 Corinthians 4:12; viz. that all, both the sufferings and victory of the ministers, are for the church: see the parallel expression, ch. 2 Corinthians 1:6-7. For all things (of which we have been speaking; or perhaps hyperbolically, ALL THINGS, the whole working and arrangements of God, as in 1 Corinthians 3:22, εἴτε ἐνεστῶτα εἴτε μέλλοντα, πάντα ὑμῶν) are on your behalf, that Grace, having abounded by means of the greater number (who have received it), may multiply the thanksgiving (which shall accrue), to the glory of God. Such (1) is the rendering of Meyer, and, in the main, of Chrys., Erasm., al., and recently, Rückert and Olshausen. Three other ways are possible; (2) ‘that Grace, having abounded, may, on account of the thanksgiving of the greater number, be multiplied (‘ πλεονάζω habet vim positivi: περισσεύω, comparativi,’ Bengel) to the glory of God.’ So Luther, Beza, Estius, Grot., Bengel, al.:—(3) ‘that Grace, having abounded, may, by means of the greater number, multiply the thanksgiving to the glory of God.’ So Emmerling and De Wette:—(4) ‘that Grace having multiplied (see 1 Thessalonians 3:12, for the transitive sense) by means of the greater number the thanksgiving, may abound to the glory of God.’ This last has not been suggested by any Commentator that I am aware of, but is admissible.

I prefer (1), as best agreeing with the position of the words, and with the emphases. If (2) had been intended, I should have expected ἵνα πλεονάσασα ἡ χάρις,— πλεονάσασα in its present position standing awkwardly alone. The same remark applies to (3), and this besides, that in that case I should expect πλειόνων, and not τῶν πλ., in which the art. rather regards the matter of fact, the many who have received the grace, or who give thanks, than the intention, to multiply the thanksgiving by the (possible) greater number of persons. If (4) had been intended, I should have looked for ἵνα ἡ χάρις τὴν εὐχαριστίαν πλεον. διὰ τῶν πλει., περισς. κ. τ. λ. By adopting (1), we keep the words and emphases just where they stand: ἵνα ἡ χάρις, πλεονάσασα διὰ τῶν πλειόνων (not διὰ τ. πλ. πλεον., which would give an undue prominence to διὰ τῶν πλειόν., whereas those words only particularize πλεονάσασα), τὴν εὐχ. περισσεύσῃ, εἰς τὴν δόξαν τ. θεοῦ. As to the sense, (see the very similar sentiment, ch. 2 Corinthians 1:11,) thanksgiving is the highest and noblest offering of the Church to God’s glory ( θυσία αἰνέσεως δοξάσει με, Ps. 49:23, LXX): that this may be rendered, in the best sense, as the result of the working of grace which has become abundant by means of the many recipients, is the great end of the Christian ministry.


Verse 16

16.] Wherefore (on account of the hope implied in the faith spoken of 2 Corinthians 4:14, which he is about to expand) we do not shrink (as in 2 Corinthians 4:1; but now, owing to despair), but (on the contrary) though even (not ‘even if,’ putting a case; εἰ καί with ind. asserts the fact, as in εἰ καὶ σπένδομαι, Philippians 2:17) our outward man is [being] wasted away (i.e. our body, see Romans 7:22, is, by this continued νέκρωσις and ἐνέργεια τοῦ θανάτου, being worn out:—he is not as yet speaking of dissolution by death, but only of gradual approximation to it), yet ( ἀλλά in the apodosis after a hypothetic clause, introduces a strong and marked contrast:—so Hom. Il. α. 81,— εἴπερ γάρ τε χόλον γε καὶ αὐτῆμαρ καταπέψῃ, ἀλλά τε καὶ μετόπισθεν ἔχει κότον, ὄφρα τελέσσῃ: see other examples in Hartung, Partikellehre, ii. 40) our inner (man) is [being] renewed (contrast, subordinately to διαφθείρεται, but mainly to ἐγκακοῦμεν) day by day ( ἡμ. καὶ ἡμ., so Hebr. יוֹם וָיוֹם, Esther 3:4; an expression not found (Meyer) even in the LXX): i.e. ‘our spiritual life, the life which testifies the life of Jesus, even in our mortal bodies (2 Corinthians 4:11), is continually fed with fresh accessions of grace:’ see next verse. So Chrys.,— πῶς ἀνακαινοῦται; τῇ πίστει, τῇ ἐλπίδι, τῇ προθυμίᾳ, τὸ λοιπὸν δεῖ (al. τῷ λοιπὸν) κατατολμᾷν τῶν δεινῶν. ὅσῳ γὰρ ἂν μυρία πάσχῃ τὸ σῶμα, τοσούτῳ χρηστοτέρας ἔχει τὰς ἐλπίδας ἡ ψυχή, καὶ λαμπροτέρα γίνεται, καθάπερ χρυσίον πυρούμενον ἐπιπλέον. p. 500.


Verses 16-18

16–18.] Second ground of encouragement—HOPE.


Verse 17-18

17, 18.] Method of this renewal. For the present light (burden) of our affliction (the adject. use of παραυτίκα is common with Thucyd., e.g. ii. 64, ἡ παραυτίκα λαμπρότης, καὶ ἐς τὸ ἔπειτα δόξα: viii. 82, τήν τε παραυτίκα ἐλπίδα: vii. 71, ἐν τῷ παραυτίκα, where Schol. ἐν τῷ ἐνεστῶτι τότε χρόνῳ;—and with his imitator Demosthenes, e.g. p. 72. 16, ἡ παραυτίχʼ ἡδονὴ κ. ῥᾳστώνη μεῖζον ἰσχύει τοῦ ποθʼ ὕστερον συνοίσειν μέλλοντος;—see also pp. 34. 24; 215. 10: and more examples in Wetst.

ἐλαφρόν as a substantive, contrasted with βάρος; see reff.), works out for us (‘efficit,’ ‘is the means of bringing about’) in a surpassing and still more surpassing manner ( καθ. ὑπ. εἰς ὑπερ. must belong to the verb, as Meyer and De W.; for otherwise it can only qualify αἰώνιον, the idea of which forbids such qualification, not βάρος, which is separated from it by the adjective:—i.e. so as to exceed beyond all measure the tribulation) an eternal weight of glory ( αἰώνιον βάρος opposed to παραυτίκα ἐλαφρόν).


Verse 18

18.] Subjective condition under which this working out takes place. While we regard not (‘propose not as our aim,’ ‘spend not our care about,’—reff.) the things which are seen (ref. = τὰ ἐπίγεια, Philippians 3:19. Chrys. strikingly says, ubi sup., τὰ βλεπόμενα πάντα, κἂν κόλασις ᾖ, κἂν ἀνάπαυσις· ὥστε μήτε ἐκεῖθεν χαυνοῦσθαι, μήτε ἐντεῦθεν βιάζεσθαι), but the things which are not seen (‘aliud significat ἀόρατα, invisibilia, nam multa quæ non cernuntur, erunt visibilia, confecto itinere fidei.’ Bengel.

μὴ βλ., not οὐ, perhaps because μή stands with participles in clauses of a subjective character, so στήκετεμὴ πτυρόμενοι ἐν μηδενὶ …, Philippians 1:27-28. Winer, edn. 6, § 55. 5. g. β,—or rather perhaps, as ib. α, as hypothetic (see also Moulton’s note, p. 606. 1): τὰ οὐ βλεπόμ. would be the things which as a matter of fact at any given time we do not see, cf. οἱ οὐκ ἠλεημένοι, 1 Peter 2:10; τὰ μὴ βλ., generally and hypothetically, the things not seen. So ὁ μὴ ὢν μετʼ ἐμοῦ, Matthew 12:30, in a case indefinite and hypothetical. This amounts to much the same as when in the ordinary account of such clauses, we say that μή belongs to the subject, οὐ to the predicate,—but is a better explanation, inasmuch as that account gives only the logical fact,—this, the logical reason of the usage): for the things which are seen are temporary (not ‘temporal,’ belonging to time,’ but ‘fleeting,’ ‘only for a time,’ see reff.;—i.e. till the day of Christ): but the things which are not seen are eternal. Chrys. again: κἂν βασιλεία, κἂν κόλασις ᾖ πάλιν· ὥστε καὶ ἐκεῖθεν φοβῆσαι, καὶ ἐκεῖσε (al. ἐντεῦθεν) προτρέψασθαι, ib.

Seneca, Ep. 59 (Wetst.), has a very similar sentiment: ‘ista imaginaria sunt, et ad tempus aliquam faciem ferunt. Nihil horum stabile nec solidum est … Mittamus animum ad ea, quæ æterna sunt.’

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/2-corinthians-4.html. 1863-1878.

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