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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
2 Corinthians 4

 

 

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Verse 1

1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;

Ver. 1. As we have received mercy] Since we have so freely been called to the ministry of mere mercy, we show forth therein all sedulity and sincerity. When I was born, said that French king, thousand others were born besides myself. Now what have I done to God more than they, that I should be a king, and not they Tamerlane having overcome Bajazet, asked him whether ever he had given God thanks for making him so great an emperor; who confessed ingenuously he never thought of it. To whom Tamerlane replied, that it was no wonder so ungrateful a man should be made a spectacle of misery. For you, saith he, being blind of one eye, and I lame of a leg, was there any worth in us why God should set us over two such great empires of Turks and Tartars? (Leunclav. Annal. Turc.) So may ministers say, What are we that God should call us to so high an office? &c.

We faint not] We droop not, we flag not, ουκ εκκακουμεν, we hang not the wing, though hardly handled. For, Praedicare nihil aliud est quam derivare in se furorem totius mundi, as Luther said.


Verse 2

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.

Ver. 2. The hidden things of dishonesty] All legerdemain {a} and underhand dealing. They that do evil hate the light, love to lurk. But sin hath woaded an impudence in some men’s faces, that they dare do anything.

To every man’s conscience] A pure conscience hath a witness in every man’s bosom. See 1 Corinthians 14:24. St Paul did so preach and live, that every man’s conscience could not choose but say, Certainly Paul preacheth the truth, and liveth right; and we must live as he speaketh and doeth. One desired a misliving preacher to point him out a nearer way to heaven than that he had taught in his sermons; for he went not that way himself. Of such a one it was once said, That when he was out of the pulpit, it was pity he should ever go into it; and when he was in the pulpit, it was pity he should ever come out of it. St Paul was none such, as all knew.

{a} Sleight of hand; the performance of tricks which by nimble action deceive the eye; magic; conjuring tricks. ŒD


Verse 3

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

Ver. 3. To them that are lost] It is a sign of a reprobate goat, John 8:43; John 8:47 "Sensual, having not the Spirit," 1:19. The devil holds his black hand before their eyes, that they may fall blindling into hell. Herein he dealeth as the eagle, which setting on the hart, saith Pliny, lights upon his horns, and there flutters up and down, filling his eyes with dust borne in her feathers, that at last he may cast himself from a rock.


Verse 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.

Ver. 4. The god of this world] The devil usurps such a power, and wicked men will have it so. They set him up for God: if he do but hold up his finger, give the least hint, they are at his obedience, as God at first did but speak the word, and it was done. All their buildings, ploughings, plantings, sailings, are for the devil. And if we could rip up their hearts, we should find written therein, The god of this present World.


Verse 5

5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

Ver. 5. We preach not ourselves] We are Christ’s paranymphs or spokesmen, and must woo for him. Now if we should speak one word for him and two for ourselves, as all self-seekers do, how can we answer it?


Verse 6

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.

Ver. 6. Hath shined] The first work of the Spirit in man’s heart is to beat out new windows there, and to let in light, Acts 26:18. And then, Semper in sole sita est Rhodes, qui et calorem et colorera nobis impertit. Always in the sun was Rhodes placed which bestowed to us both warm and colour. (Aeneas Sylv.)


Verse 7

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

Ver. 7. In earthen vessels] Gr. εν οστρακινοις, in oyster shells, as the ill-favoured oyster hath in it a bright pearl. Vilis saepe cadus nobile nectar habet. In a leather purse may be a precious pearl.


Verse 8

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

Ver. 8. We are troubled on every side] This is the world’s wages to God’s ministers. Veritas odium parit. Opposition is Evangelii genius, said Calvin. Truth goes ever with a scratched face.

We are perplexed] Pray for me, I say, pray for me, saith Latimer; for I am sometimes so fearful, that I could creep into a mouse hole; sometimes God doth visit me again with comfort, &c. There is an elegance here in the original that cannot well be rendered ( απορουμενοι αλλ ουκεξαπορουμενοι. Tertullian hammers at it in his Indigemus, sed non perindigemus. Beza hath it Haesitamus at non prorsus haeremus. Mr Dike "staggering," but not wholly sticking.


Verse 9

9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

Ver. 9. Persecuted, but not forsaken] The Church may be shaken, not shivered; persecuted, not conquered. ( Concuti, non excuti.) Roma cladibus animosior, said one; it is more true of the Church. She gets by her losses, and, as the oak, she taketh heart to grace from the maims and wounds given her. Duris ut ilex tonsa bipennibus.

" Niteris incassum Christi submergere navem:

Fluctuat, at nunquam mergitur illa ratis:"

as the pope wrote once to the Great Turk.

Cast down, but not destroyed] Impellere possunt, said Luther of his enemies, sed totum prosternere non possunt: crudeliter me tractare possunt, sed non extirpare: dentes nudare, sed non devorare: occidere me possunt, sed in totum me perdere non possunt. They may thrust me, but not throw me; show their teeth, but not devour me; kill me, but not hurt me.


Verse 10

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.

Ver. 10. The dying of the Lord] A condition obnoxious to daily deaths and dangers.

Might be made manifest] As it was in Paul, when being stoned, he started up with a Sic, sic oportet intrare, So so proper to enter. Thus, thus must heaven be had, and no otherwise.


Verse 11

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.

Ver. 11. For we which live, &c.] Good men only are heirs of the grace of life, 1 Peter 3:7. Others are living ghosts and walking sepulchres of themselves.


Verse 12

12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

Ver. 12. Death worketh in us] It hath already seized upon us, but yet we are not killed with death, as those were, Revelation 2:23. As a godly man said, that he did aegrotare vitaliter; to be mortally ill so as to give life, so the saints do mori vitaliter, die to live for ever.

But life in you.] q.d. You have the happiness to be exempted, while we are tantum non interempti, yet not killed, little less than done to death.


Verse 13

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;

Ver. 13. The same spirit] That you have, and shall be heirs together of heaven with you, though here we meet with more miseries.

I believed, and therefore, &c.] The spirit of faith is no indweller where the door of the lips open not in holy confession and communication.


Verse 14

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

Ver. 14. Shall present us with you] Shall bring us from the jaws of death to the joys of eternal life.


Verse 15

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

Ver. 15. That the abundant grace] This is one end wherefore God suffers his ministers to be subject to so many miseries, that the people might be put upon prayer and praise for their deliverance.


Verse 16

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

Ver. 16. Yet the inward man] Peter Martyr dying, said, "My body is weak, my mind is well, well for the present, and it will be better hereafter." This is the godly man’s motto.


Verse 17

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

Ver. 17. For our light affliction] Here we have an elegant antithesis, and a double hyperbole, beyond translation. For affliction, here is glory; for light affliction, a weight of glory; for momentary affliction, eternal glory.

Which is but for a moment] For a short braid only, as that martyr said. Mourning lasteth but till morning. It is but winking, and thou shalt be in heaven presently, quoth another martyr.

Worketh unto us] As a causa sine qua non, as the law worketh wrath, Romans 4:15. If our dear Lord did not put these thorns into our bed, we should sleep out our lives and lose our glory: affliction calls to us as the angel to Elijah, Up, thou hast a great way to go.

A far more exceeding] An exceeding excessive eternal weight. Or, a far more excellent eternal weight. Nec Christus nec caelum patitur hyperbolen, saith one. Here it is hard to hyperbelize. Words are too weak to express heaven’s happiness. The apostle heard wordless words, ρηματα ρρητα, 2 Corinthians 12:4, when he was there, and in speaking of it commonly useth a transcendent super-superlative kind of language. The Vulgate interpreter’s supra modum in sublimitare, Erasmus’ mire supra modum, Beza’s excellenter excellens, falls a far deal short of St Paul’s emphatic Grecism here. διπλασιαζει, saith Chrysostom. He could not comprise it in one single word, he doubleth it therefore, and yet attaineth not to what he aimeth at.

Weight of glory] The apostle alludeth to the Hebrew and Chaldee words which signify both weight and glory, בבוד יקר. Glory is such a weight, as if the body were not upheld by the power of God, it were impossible it should bear it. Joy so great, as that we must enter into it; it is too big to enter into us. "Enter into thy Master’s joy," Matthew 25:21. Here we find that when there is great joy, the body is not able to bear it, our spirits are ready to expire; what shall it then be in heaven?


Verse 18

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.

Ver. 18. Whiles we look not] Gr. σκοπουντων, while we make them not our scope, our mark to aim at. Heaven we may make our mark, our aim, though not our highest aim.

At the things that are seen] While we eye things present only, it will be with us as with a house withouf pillars, tottering with every blast, or a ship without anchor, tossed with every wave.

But at the things which are not seen] Pericula non respicit martyr, coronas respicit; plagas non horret, praemium numerat; non videt lictores inferno flagellantes, sed angelos superne acclamantes, saith Basil; who also tells us how the martyrs that were cast out naked in a winter’s night being to be burned the next day, comforted themselves and one another with these words, Sharp is the cold, but sweet is Paradise; troublesome is the way, but pleasant shall be the end of our journey; let us endure cold a little, and the patriarch’s bosom shall soon warm us; let our foot burn awhile, that we may dance for ever with angels; let our hand fall into the fire, that it may lay hold upon eternal life. δριμυς ο χειμων, &c., Basil. εις τους μαρτ.

But the things which, &c.] The Latins call prosperous things res secundas, because they are to be had hereafter; they are not the first things, these are past, Revelation 21:4.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-corinthians-4.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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