August 14th 2 Corinthians 4 (Suffering for Christ)
Our Testimony to Christ
1: Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; 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. 3: But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 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. 5: For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. 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. 7: But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 8: We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9: Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 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.
Paul says, So then, seeing that we have this ministry and as we have received mercy from the Lord we will not give up or pass out from exhaustion. We have turned away from the dishonesty of secret motives or opinions and we do not live double lives nor do we handle the things of the word of God in a way that leads people astray, but we fully reveal the truth of God bringing it to bear on every mans conscience in the presence of God. You see, if our Gospel is hidden then it is hidden to them that need it. And Satan – the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to prevent the light of the glorious gospel of Christ (who is the image of God) from shining into their minds. We do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus our Lord and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake. This is the central thought in this letter. Paul is very clear to point out that what he and his colleges preach is not Paulism, but Christology. It’s all about Christ. And what they do say about Paul is that he is the servant of the Corinthians. This is a complete reversal of contemporary thinking. Many ministers today are careful to preach their own line of truth and the church is subservient to them – that is, ‘the Minister is in charge’. Paul says no we preach only Christ and that we are your servants – you are in charge of us. Paul says that God, who commanded the light to shine out of the darkness of creations void onto the earth, has also caused the light of Gospel truth to shine in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. This light brings the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. And so we have a wonderful rich treasure put in vessels of clay, so that, the power of God might excel and not us. Paul lays bear his heart. He says, frankly, we are troubled by things that are all around us but we are not upset by them. We are perplexed but we are have not lost all hope. We are persecuted but God has not forsaken us. We are depressed but we are not destroyed by anything. We are carrying around in our bodies the death of the Lord Jesus, so that the life of Jesus Christ might be revealed in our bodies. Never before has Paul revealed his deepest thoughts like this and the reality of his ministry.
- How does Paul describe his mission?
- What does Paul say about the conversion experience?
- How does Paul describe the personal circumstances of the Apostles?