- Commentary: 2 CORINTHIANS 4 – COMMENTARY
vv.1-2 “This is confirmed by the parallel between 4:2 and 2:17b, which makes it clear that Paul’s preaching with sincerity has resulted from God’s conversion-call in his life and from the knowledge that he stands ‘in the sight of God,’ that is, before God as judge. Paul goes on to delineate three ways in which he has renounced the duplicitous maneuvers of his opponents, two negative and one positive. Negatively, Paul need not ‘use deception’ (lit., walk around in a cunning way) or ‘distort the word of God’ (4:2b). Positively, ‘by setting forth the truth plainly,’ Paul can ‘commend [himself] to every man’s conscience’ (4:2c). Because of his own clear conscience (cf. 1:12), he can boldly appeal to the conscience of others (cf. 3:12). Conversely, all whose consciences are likewise clean because of God’s mercy will accept this divine commendation of Paul’s ministry (cf. 2:15–16a). ”
vv.7-12 “Paul’s understanding of God’s sovereign design for affliction, once embraced, will dramatically transform our own experience whenever we too find ourselves in situations of suffering. When Christians suffer, they too, like Paul, can take courage from the fact that their lives will mediate to others the power of the resurrection, either through God’s act of deliverance or, even more profoundly, through the testimony of their endurance and holiness. Even though the circumstantial suffering that was an essential part of Paul’s call may be an occasional aspect of God’s will for all believers, all of us can follow Paul’s example of incurring the suffering that comes from considering the needs of others more important than our own.”
vv.13-18 “At the same time, it must be emphasized that suffering in and of itself is not the revelation of God’s power. Paul never glorifies affliction. Although the revelation of Christ’s power takes place in the paradox of Paul’s suffering, this paradox is not absolute. The cross is not itself glory, death is not itself life, weakness is not power (cf. 4:8–11, 16–18). Instead, Paul posits that deliverance, power, and renewal also exist in, through, and after suffering. Paul’s suffering is not the glory of Christ; Christ’s glory is mediated through Paul’s suffering. Believers are therefore to avoid circumstantial suffering and persecution whenever such avoidance does not hinder or compromise their calling, and to pray for healing and deliverance when sick (cf. Rom. 12:17–18; 1 Cor. 7:15; Phil. 4:4–7; 1 Tim. 5:23).
“But the righteous do suffer (cf. Ps. 116:10 in 2 Cor. 4:13). And some, like Paul, are even called to do so for the sake of the gospel. God makes known his sovereignty and love by handing Paul over ‘to death for Jesus’ sake’ (4:11–12; cf. 1 Cor. 4:9; 2 Cor. 2:14) and then by sustaining him through it so that he may be able to endure in faith (2 Cor. 4:8–10; cf. 1 Cor. 10:13; Phil. 2:15–28). It is Paul’s ability to endure and rejoice in the midst of adversity that reveals ‘the life of Jesus’ to others. Anyone can worship Santa Claus. In stark contrast, the ultimate testimony to God’s power is the praise that arises in the midst of affliction because of our conviction that God is at work in and through our suffering for a future good so great that all present suffering seems ‘light and momentary’ (4:14–17).”
 Hafemann, Scott J. ‘Paul’s Confident Boldness in Spite of Rejection (4:1 – 6)’ In NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: 2 Corinthians. By Scott J. Hafemann, 175-176. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, © 2000.
 Hafemann, Scott J. ‘Contemporary Significance’ In NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: 2 Corinthians. By Scott J. Hafemann, 196. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, © 2000.
 Hafemann, Scott J. ‘Contemporary Significance’ In NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: 2 Corinthians. By Scott J. Hafemann, 197. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, © 2000.
Bible Text: 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 (ESV)
1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Reflection & Application
2 Corinthians 4:1-5
- Why did Apostle Paul not “lose heart”?
- How has “the god of this world […] blinded the minds of unbelievers”? What evidence of this do we find in our world?
2 Corinthians 4:2-3
- Reflect on Apostle Paul’s description of proper ministry in vv. 2-3. What did he renounce, what did he refuse, and what did it mean for him to “commend [himself] to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God”?