2 Corinthians 4
Paul's Defense of His Ministry
Paul Defends His Message (1-5)
Paul returns to the defense of his ministry outlining the integrity in which he had ministered. He was being accused of failing to preach the whole message and emphasizing faith over works and especially the work of circumcision. He was also being accused of enduring so much difficulty because God's favor was not longer on him, having corrupted the message.
Paul begins his defense by noting that his ministry was given to him by God's mercy, and based on God's lavish mercy, will not lose heart (1). Paul then refutes those who have been accusing him stating that his apostolic team had renounced doing anything they would be ashamed of, especially saying one thing in public but revealing far different motives when they were in secret. His team refused to distort the Word of God to win influence and friends. Instead, the team preached in such a way where they welcomed people to scrutinize the message if their conscience bothered them about anything he was saying (2). Paul then took another poke at his accusers stating that if what he had to say about the gospel was veiled, it was being veiled from those who were perishing in their lusts (3). Paul explained that the god of this world was blinding their minds, keeping their minds from seeing the Good News as being from God and being about Jesus the Christ Who was the perfect expression of God (4).
Paul returns to his defense claiming it was Jesus Christ as Lord Who he was proclaiming and himself as a servant. He was not the kind of leader who was seeking to make his ministry about himself (5).
Paul Explains the Light (6)
Paul then injects a comment about the supremacy of Christ over the messengers who tell others about Him. Paul reaches all the way back to the Genesis account where God called "Light" (Genesis 1:3) to shine so it could overthrow the primordial darkness of the world to bring about the creation of the world. Here, Paul sees a comparison to the light of revelation showing the human heart Who Jesus is and the light of creation revealing to the world God as its Creator. The light in the heart was revealing Jesus as the Messiah, the Face and Person of God, the very Reflection of God's image Who is recreating the human soul (6).
Paul Shows How the Light Works (7-10)
Paul goes on to state that once the revelation of Who Jesus is lights up the hearts, that treasured light shrouded in such a humble earthen vessel will ultimately light up and show the world, the power of God (7).
Paul then gives a list, by way of explanation, of how the light works. The external jar of human life undergoes some fairly difficult experiences but God's power does some fairly unexpected miracles.
a) battered not demoralized
b) confused not disheartened (8)
c) terrorized not abandoned
d) defeated not broken (9)
e) going through the process of death but doing so in the death of Jesus so that the resurrection life of Jesus could be manifest in their dying bodies (10)
How the Light Works in Paul's Ministry (11-12)
Paul goes on to recognize that his body was still dying but at the same time the resurrection life of God was working within him. The same light and power that began the creation process in Genesis is the same light and power beginning a new creation in Paul (11). Paul sees death working in him but as he dies he also sees resurrection life working in others (12).
Paul's Confidence in Suffering and Dying (13-15)
By "light" Paul means the revealing to the human heart Who Jesus is and even though death and difficulty occur all suffering and death will be answered by faith in resurrection life experienced within. Paul quotes Psalm 116:10 and claims the same faith as the Psalmist.
In Psalm 116:10, the Psalmist cries out in affliction; even being entangled in the cords of death, the Psalmist believed his prayer would be heard.
Not only did Paul, like the Psalmist, believe his prayer would be heard, but he believed every difficulty would be an opportunity for God to show off His resurrection life within his life (13).
Not only did Paul believe resurrection life would be seen in suffering, but he believed someday their sowing of their lives with endurance during difficulties would be evidence of God's resurrection power. Paul viewed ultimate resurrection power as the moment when believer was raised (14).
Paul sums up his perspective in verse fifteen on the purpose of suffering: so those who are being served by those doing the suffering can experience God's grace more and more leading to a whole lot more people coming to Christ and giving thanks (15).
Conclusion: This Is Why We Don't Lose Heart (16-18)
Paul points out, “Yes, we are dying and at the same time our inner man is coming more to life" (16). Affliction is momentary and easy lifting when compared to the eternal weight of glory to come (17).
Paul does not concentrate on his trials or what can be seen; instead, he focuses his attention on what can’t be seen, what has been promised, what is yet to come, what is eternal. For Paul, enduring death and suffering in faith is evidence of Christ's resurrection power within (18).