2Corinthians 4

Sunday Evening Bible Study

May 28, 2000


Paul had been contrasting the difference between the "old" and the "new" testaments. The old was the letter, the Law. It resulted in condemnation and death. The "new" was the work of the Spirit, and brought life and liberty.

2Corinthians 4

:1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry

The "ministry" is that of the Spirit (2Cor. 3:8,9).

:1 as we have received mercy, we faint not;

faintekkakeo – to be utterly spiritless, to be wearied out, exhausted

Paul will be talking about his troubles in a few verses. He isn’t going to quit because of the troubles because he has received God’s mercy.

:2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty,

renouncedapeipomen – to speak out, set forth, declare; to forbid; to give up, renounce

dishonestyaischune – the confusion of one who is ashamed of anything, sense of shame; ignominy, disgrace, dishonour; a thing to be ashamed of

or, "the things hidden because of shame"

:2 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.

craftinesspanourgia – craftiness, cunning; a specious or false wisdom

(2 Cor 4:2 NLT) We reject all shameful and underhanded methods. We do not try to trick anyone, and we do not distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know that.

Paul’s method of ministry was not by trying to take advantage of people, but being open and honest with the truth of the Word of God.

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

The only thing hidden about Paul’s ministry might be the truth of the gospel being hidden to those who are lost because …

: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.

should shineaugazo – to beam upon, irradiate; to be bright, to shine forth

Satan blinds the minds of the lost.

Satan is the "god of this world".

Eph 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:


Pray for opening of eyes.

This is one of the things we often pray for those who are lost, that their eyes will be open.

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

servantsdoulos – a slave, bondman, man of servile condition


It’s all about Jesus, not you.

Don’t talk about you.

It’s okay to talk about what Jesus has done for us, but move on from talking about you and talk about Jesus.

We on our own have nothing of any value to offer to people. It’s only getting people connected with Jesus that will help them.

We are only servants.

: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.

commandedepo – to speak, say

God simply spoke and light came into existence.


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

treasurethesauros – the place in which good and precious things are collected and laid up; the things laid up in a treasury, collected treasures

God has hidden a priceless treasure in fragile, ordinary clay pots.

I think this is the key verse to the entire chapter. Everything else in the chapter is an explanation of how God will use our weaknesses for His glory.


God uses our weaknesses

God likes to work through weak, faulty people. That way people will be sure to realize that it’s not the person, but God who is doing the real work.

Do you feel useless? Perhaps that’s when you’re most useable.

(2 Cor 12:6-10 NLT) I have plenty to boast about and would be no fool in doing it, because I would be telling the truth. But I won't do it. I don't want anyone to think more highly of me than what they can actually see in my life and my message, {7} even though I have received wonderful revelations from God. But to keep me from getting puffed up, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from getting proud. {8} Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. {9} Each time he said, "My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. {10} Since I know it is all for Christ's good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.


Focus on the treasure, not the clay pot.

As you’re going to see with Paul’s next series of statements, things can be pretty bleak at times. They can get pretty depressing.

We need to be careful to not get our eyes glued to what’s happening with the clay pots, but to look for what God is doing with the treasure of His work in you.

I think that it’s also important that we learn to draw attention to the treasure, not the clay pot.

When God does a mighty work through us, we need to be clear in drawing attention to the Lord, not to us.

(Mat 5:16 KJV) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Look at Peter’s example:

(Acts 3:1-16 KJV) Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. {2} And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; {3} Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. {4} And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. {5} And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. {6} Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. {7} And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. {8} And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. {9} And all the people saw him walking and praising God: {10} And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. {11} And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering. {12} And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? {13} The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. {14} But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; {15} And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. {16} And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

Peter draws attention to Jesus, not himself.


:8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed

troubledthlibo – to press (as grapes), press hard upon; metaph. to trouble, afflict, distress

distressedstenochoreo – to be in a narrow place; to straiten, compress, cramp, reduce to straits; to be sorely straitened in spirit

I think Paul is saying, "We are pressed in on every side, but we can still move around"

:8 we are perplexed, but not in despair;

perplexedaporeo – to be without resources, to be in straits, to be left wanting, to be embarrassed, to be in doubt, not to know which way to turn; not to know how to decide or what to do, to be perplexed

despairexaporeomai – to be utterly at loss, be utterly destitute of measures or resources, to renounce all hope, be in despair

We may not know which way to turn, but we still have hope.

:9 Persecuted, but not forsaken

persecuteddioko – to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away; in any way whatever to harass, trouble, molest one; to persecute; to be mistreated, suffer persecution on account of something

forsakenegkataleipo – abandon, desert; leave in straits, leave helpless; totally abandoned, utterly forsaken

People may be giving us a hard time, but God hasn’t abandoned us yet.

:9 cast down, but not destroyed;

cast downkataballo – to cast down; to throw to the ground, prostate

destroyedapollumi – to destroy; to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to ruin; to declare that one must be put to death; metaph. to devote or give over to eternal misery in hell; to perish, to be lost, ruined, destroyed

Down, but not out.

(2 Cor 4:9 NLT) We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.

: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.

Jesus died on a cross and rose three days later. There is a sense in which we can identify with that.

But before you get to the resurrection, you need to experience death. I think that’s why God may allow us to go through difficult times, to get us identifying with death, so we can identify with the power of the resurrection.

Paul wrote,

(Phil 3:10-11 KJV) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; {11} If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

Death is good, as long as it’s our old sin nature that is dying.

: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.

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

Ryrie: Paul’s physical sufferings (death worketh in us) are the means by which spiritual life comes to the Corinthians.

: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;

Paul is quoting from:

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

The idea is this – Even though Paul is having tons of trouble, because of his faith in the Lord, he will continue to speak up, preaching the gospel.

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

Paul is confident that if God raised Jesus from the dead, that he would be raised from the dead too. He’s not worried if he dies from all the hardships he’s facing. He’ll be raised one day.

What can you do to a person like this?

Even the fear of death won’t slow him down.

This is just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego:

(Dan 3:17-18 KJV) If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. {18} But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

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

abundantpleonazo – to superabound; to exist in abundance

redoundperisseuo – to exceed a fixed number of measure, to be left over and above a certain number or measure; "Abounding" is used of a flower going from a bud to full bloom.

Paul is living his live entirely for the sake of others.

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

faintekkakeo – to be utterly spiritless, to be wearied out, exhausted. The same word that started off the chapter (2Cor. 4:1).

All these things he’s said between verse 1 and 16 are the reason why Paul doesn’t faint at adversity.

perishdiaphtheiro – to change for the worse, to corrupt; to destroy, ruin; to consume; of bodily vigour and strength; of the worm or moth that eats provisions, clothing, etc.

This body is getting old. The other day we were at the Strawberry Festival and the boys talked me into going on the "Gravitron". I thought I was going to die from a heart attack. The body is dying.

renewedanakainoo – to cause to grow up, new, to make new; new strength and vigour is given to one; to be changed into a new kind of life as opposed to the former corrupt state

Is your inward man being renewed day by day?



What kinds of things renew us day by day?

Here’s the things that renew me:

Yielding to the Holy Spirit

Personal worship

Personal Bible Study

Personal prayer

Fellowship – sharing with others, whether with my wife or friends

:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment

for a momentparautika – for the moment

lightelaphros – light in weight, quick, agile

afflictionthlipsis – a pressing, pressing together, pressure; metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits

I am rather offended at what Paul is labeling "light affliction".

I would feel much better if I could call all my troubles "heavy affliction", something that might provoke a little sympathy in others.

But Paul calls his own troubles "light affliction".

:17 worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

far more exceedinghuperbole – a throwing beyond; superiority, excellence, pre-eminence; beyond measure, exceedingly, preeminently; beyond all measure. Here (kay uperbolhn eiv uperbolhn), literally, "beyond measure unto beyond measure"

weightbaros – heaviness, weight, burden, trouble


God uses difficult times to produce value.

God is in the process of taking our difficult times and making something valuable out of them.

Trials Turned to Gold (K.Green, 1977)

(last verse)

He's brought me low

So I could know

The way to reach the heights.

To forsake my dreams

My self-esteem

And give up all my rights.

With each one that I lay down,

A jewel's placed in my crown.

Because His love

The things above -

Is all we'll ever need.

He's brought me here

Where things are clear,

And trials turn to gold.


While lunching at a friend's house, I had to borrow a spoon and have her bend it so it could be inserted in my hand splint and I could feed myself. Throughout lunch, she glanced at the spoon. Embarrassed, I offered to have my husband straighten it out.

Later I thought, Isn't that the way God works in our lives? He knows he can accomplish his unique plan when he bends us to suit his will. The metal of our souls may be difficult to bend, but when we allow God the privilege of shaping our lives, we discover new depths of purpose and meaning. We become perfectly suited for his use.

-- Joni Eareckson Tada, Today's Christian Woman, "Heart to Heart."

Don’t be afraid of difficult times. God may be using them to bend you, shape you, make you more useable.


"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved."

-- Helen Keller,


We cannot be established except by suffering. It is of no use our hoping that we shall be well-rooted if no March winds have passed over us. The young oak cannot be expected to strike its roots so deep as the old one. Those old gnarlings on the roots, and those strange twistings of the branches, all tell of many storms that have swept over the aged tree. But they are also indicators of the depths into which the roots have dived.

-- Charles Haddon Spurgeon in "A New-Year's Benediction" (War Cry, Jan. 1, 1994). Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 1.

: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.

lookskopeo – to look at, observe, contemplate; to mark; to fix one’s eyes upon, direct one’s attention to, any one; to look to, take heed to thyself

seen … /not seenblepo – to see, discern, of the bodily eye

temporalproskairos – for a season; enduring only for a while; temporary


Keep your eyes in the right place.

If you keep your eyes on the things that you see around you, you’ll get depressed from time to time.


In old age, Pierre Auguste, the great French painter, suffered from arthritis, which twisted and cramped his hand. Henri Matise, his artists friend, watched sadly while Renoir, grasping a brush with only his fingertips, continued to paint, even though each movement caused stabbing pain.

One day, Matise asked Renoir why he persisted in painting at the expense of such torture.

Renoir replied, "The pain passes, but the beauty remains."

He had his eyes on something other than his pain. He saw the goal.