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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
2 Corinthians 4



Other Authors
Verse 1

We faint not (ουκ εγκακουμενouk egkakoumen). Present active indicative of εγκακεωegkakeō late verb (εν κακοςenkakos) to behave badly in, to give in to evil, to lose courage. In Symmachus (lxx), Polybius, and papyri. It is the faint-hearted coward. Paul speaks of himself (literary plural). Can he not speak for all of us?

Verse 2

But we have renounced (αλλα απειπαμεταalla apeipametha). Indirect middle second aorist (timeless aorist) indicative of απειπονapeipon (defective verb) with αa of first aorist ending, to speak forth, to speak off or away from. Common verb in the active, but rare in middle and only here in N.T.

The hidden things of shame (τα κρυπτα της αισχυνηςta krupta tēs aischunēs). They do attack the minister. His only safety is in instant and courageous defiance to all the powers of darkness. It is a terrible thing to see a preacher caught in the toils of the tempter.

In craftiness (εν πανουργιαιen panourgiāi). Old word from πανουργοςpanourgos (παν εργονpanergon), a doer of any deed (good or bad), clever, cunning, deceitful. See note on Luke 20:23.

Handling deceitfully (dolountes). Present active participle of δολουντεςdoloō from δολοωdolos deceit (from δολοςdelō to catch with bait), old and common verb, in papyri and inscriptions, to ensnare, to corrupt with error. Only here in N.T. Used of adulterating gold or wine.

To every conscience of men (δελωpros pāsan suneidēsin anthrōpōn). Not to whim, foible, prejudice. See note on 2 Corinthians 3:1-6 for “commending” (προς πασαν συνειδησιν αντρωπωνsunistanontes).

Verse 3

It is veiled in them that are perishing (εν τοις απολλυμενοις εστιν κεκαλυμμενονen tois apollumenois estin kekalummenon). Periphrastic perfect passive of καλυπτωkaluptō to veil in both condition (first class) and conclusion. See note on 2 Corinthians 2:15. for “the perishing.”

Verse 4

The god of this world (ο τεος του αιωνος τουτουho theos tou aiōnos toutou). “Age,” more exactly, as in 1 Corinthians 1:20. Satan is “the god of this age,” a phrase nowhere else in the N.T., but Jesus uses the same idea in John 12:31; John 14:30 and Paul in Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12 and John in 1 John 5:19. Satan claimed the rule over the world in the temptations with Jesus.

Blinded (ετυπλωσενetuphlōsen). First aorist active of τυπλοωtuphloō old verb to blind (τυπλοςtuphlos blind). They refused to believe (απιστωνapistōn) and so Satan got the power to blind their thoughts. That happens with wilful disbelievers.

The light (τον πωτισμονton phōtismon). The illumination, the enlightening. Late word from ποτιζωphotizō to give light, in Plutarch and lxx. In N.T. only in 2 Corinthians 4:4, 2 Corinthians 4:6. Accusative case of general reference here with the articular infinitive (εις το μη αυγασαιeis to mē augasai that should not dawn). That is, if αυγασαιaugasai is intransitive as is likely, though it is transitive in the old poets (from αυγηaugē radiance. Cf. German Auge =eye). If it is transitive, the idea would be “that they should not see clearly the illumination, etc.”

Verse 5

For we preach not ourselves (ου γαρ εαυτους κηρυσσομενou gar heautous kērussomen). Surely as poor and disgusting a topic as a preacher can find.

But Christ Jesus as Lord (αλλα Χριστον Ιησουν Κυριονalla Christon Iēsoun Kurion). ΚυριονKurion is predicate accusative in apposition.

As your servants for Jesus‘ sake (δουλους υμων δια Ιησουνdoulous humōn dia Iēsoun). Your bond-slave for the sake of Jesus. This is the sufficient reason for any preacher‘s sacrifice, “for Jesus‘ sake.”

Verse 6

God who said (ο τεος ο ειπωνho theos ho eipōn). Paraphrase of Genesis 1:3.

Who shined (ος ελαμπσενhos elampsen). Like a lamp in the heart (cf. Matthew 5:15). Miners carry a lamp on the forehead, Christians carry one in their hearts lit by the Spirit of God.

To give the light (προς πωτισμονpros phōtismon). For the illumination.

In the face of Jesus Christ (εν προσωπωι Ιησου Χριστουen prosōpōi Iēsou Christou). The Christian who looks on the face of Jesus Christ as Moses looked upon the glory of God will be able to give the illumination of the knowledge of the glory of God. See note on 2 Corinthians 2:10 for προσωπονprosōpon f0).

Verse 7

This treasure (τον τησαυρον τουτονton thēsauron touton). On τησαυρονthēsauron see note on Matthew 6:19. It is the power of giving the illumination of the knowledge of the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:6). “The power is limitless, but it is stored in very unlikely receptacles” (Plummer). This warning Paul gives in contrast (δεde) with the exultation of 2 Corinthians 4:6 (Bernard).

In earthen vessels (εν οστρακινοις σκευεσινen ostrakinois skeuesin). This adjective is common in the lxx with σκευοσ αγγοςskeuosαγγειονaggos and σκευηaggeion It occurs again in 2 Timothy 2:20 with σκευοςskeuē It is found also in the papyri with οστρακονskeuos as here. It is from οστεονostrakon baked clay (same root as η υπερβοληosteon bone), so many fragments of which are found in Egypt with writing on them. We are but earthen jars used of God for his purposes (Romans 9:20.) and so fragile.

The exceeding greatness (hē huperbolē). See note on 1 Corinthians 12:31 for this word, “the preeminence of the power.” This is God‘s purpose (hinȧ̇ēi). God, not man, is the dynamo (ιναηιdunamis). It comes from God (δυναμιςtou theou ablative) and does not originate with us (του τεουmē ex hēmōn).

Verse 8

Pressed (τλιβομενοιthlibomenoi). From τλιβωthlibō to press as grapes, to contract, to squeeze. Series of present passive participles here through 2 Corinthians 4:9 that vividly picture Paul‘s ministerial career.

Yet not straitened (αλλ ου στενοχωρουμενοιall' ou stenochōroumenoi). Each time the exception is stated by αλλ ουall' ou From στενοχωρεωstenochōreō (στενοχωροςstenochōros from στενοςstenos narrow, χωροςchōros space), to be in a narrow place, to keep in a tight place. Late verb, in lxx and papyri. In N.T. only here and 2 Corinthians 6:12.

Yet not unto despair (αλλ ουκ εχαπορουμενοιall' ouk exaporoumenoi). Late perfective compound with εχeẋ of εχαπορεωexaporeō A very effective play on words here, lost, but not lost out.

Verse 9

Forsaken (εγκαταλειπομενοιegkataleipomenoi). Double compound of old verb εγκαταλειπωeġkatȧleipō to leave behind, to leave in the lurch.

Smitten down (καταβαλλομενοιkataballomenoi). As if overtaken.

Destroyed (απολλυμενοιapollumenoi). Perishing as in 2 Corinthians 4:3. Was Paul referring to Lystra when the Jews stoned him and thought him dead?

Verse 10

Bearing about (περιπεροντεςperipherontes). Ignatius was called ΤεοποροςTheophoros God-bearer. See 1 Corinthians 15:31 where Paul says “I die daily” and Philemon 3:10; Colossians 1:24.

The dying of Jesus (την νεκρωσιν του Ιησουtēn nekrōsin tou Iēsou). Late word from νεκροωnekroō to put to death. In Galen. In N.T. only here and Romans 4:19.

Verse 11

Are alway delivered unto death (εις τανατον παραδιδομεταeis thanaton paradidometha). This explains 2 Corinthians 4:10.

Verse 12

Death worketh in us (ο τανατος εν ημιν ενεργειταιho thanatos en hēmin energeitai). Middle voice present tense of the old verb to operate, be at work. Physical death works in him while spiritual life (paradox) works in them.

Verse 13

According to that which is written (κατα το γεγραμμενονkata to gegrammenon). This formula in legal documents in the papyri (Bible Studies, p. 250). Paul makes adaptation of the words in Psalm 95:1.

We also believe (και ημεις πιστευομενkai hēmeis pisteuomen). Like the Psalmist. And therefore can speak with effect. Otherwise useless.

Shall present us with you (και παραστησει συν ημινkai parastēsei sun hēmin). This shows that Paul was not certain that he would be alive when Jesus comes as has been wrongly inferred from 1 Corinthians 7:29; 1 Corinthians 10:11; 1 Corinthians 15:51.

Verse 15

Being multiplied through the many (πλεονασασα δια των πλειονωνpleonasasa dia tōn pleionōn). Late word πλεοναζωpleonazō from πλεονpleon more, “making more through the more,” with play on πλεονpleon One can think of Bunyan‘s Grace Abounding.

Verse 16

Wherefore we faint not (διο ουκ εγκακουμενdio ouk egkakoumen). Repeats from 2 Corinthians 4:1.

Our outward man (ο εχω ημων αντρωποςho exō hēmōn anthrōpos), our inward man (ο εσω ημωνho esō hēmōn). In Romans 7:22; Colossians 3:9; Ephesians 4:22., we have the inward man and the outward for the higher and the lower natures (the spirit and the flesh). “Here the decay (διαπτειρεταιdiaphtheiretai) of the bodily organism is set over against the growth in grace (ανακαινουταιanakainoutai is refreshed) of the man himself” (Bernard). Plato (Republ. ix, p. 589) has ο εντος αντρωποςho entos anthrōpos Cf. “the hidden man of the heart” (1 Peter 3:4).

Day by day (ημεραι και ημεραιhēmerāi kai hēmerāi). This precise idiom is not in lxx nor rest of N.T. It may be colloquial use of locative in repetition.

Verse 17

Our light affliction which is for the moment (το παραυτικα ελαπρον της τλιπεσεως ημωνto parautika elaphron tēs thlipeseōs hēmōn). Literally, “the for the moment (old adverb παραυτικαparautika here only in N.T.) lightness (old word, in N.T. only here and Matthew 11:30).”

More and more exceedingly (κατ υπερβολην εις υπερβοληνkath' huperbolēn eis huperbolēn). Like piling Pelion on Ossa, “according to excess unto excess.” See note on 1 Corinthians 12:31.

Eternal weight of glory (aiōnion baros doxēs). Careful balancing of words in contrast (affliction vs. glory, lightness vs. weight, for the moment vs. eternal).

Verse 18

While we look not (μη σκοπουντων ημωνmē skopountōn hēmōn). Genitive absolute with participle of σκοπεωskopeō from σκοποςskopos goal.

Temporal (προσκαιραproskaira). Rather temporary, for a season (προς καιρονpros kairon). Late word. See note on Matthew 13:21. See 1 Corinthians 13:12; Hebrews 11:1.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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