2 Corinthians 4:18


Friday, 31 July 2015

while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

In his words, Paul is looking ahead to the “eternal weight of glory” which he mentioned in the preceding verse. The present light afflictions that they faced are not what he and the other apostles were focused on, but rather their eyes were steadily fixed on what lies ahead. These light afflictions and all of the rest of this temporary earthly life are the “things which are seen.” In contrast to them are “the things which are not seen.” The Pulpit commentary describes it this way –

“The negative is the subjective negative. It expresses not only the fact that now these things are not seen, but that it is their nature to be unseen by the bodily eyes.”

In other words, what they are looking to is a complete state of hope which resides in their spiritual minds’ eye. This is the same expression that is given as the very definition of faith in the book of Hebrews –

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

Again, Paul’s words reflect the same sentiment that he wrote to those in Rome –

“For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?” Romans 8:24

The “things which are seen” are those things which we encounter in this life. Be they good or be they evil, they are actually “temporary.” And so Paul questions the logic of focusing on that which is passing away. Instead, he would have us focus on “the things which are not seen.” With our spiritual selves we should hope and even long for those things that Christ offers which are “eternal.”

This is why we are to conduct ourselves in holiness, and why we refrain from worrying about pains, ills, or persecutions. All of these things will pass and there is a far greater reward which lies ahead of us. Let us focus on such things!

Life application: Right now, we don’t actually see Jesus. And yet, the Bible asks us to “fix our eyes on Jesus” in the book of Hebrews. This means that we are to look to the reward which lies ahead and to study and cherish His word now because it reveals those things to us. Let us fix our thoughts, hearts, and minds on Jesus!

Lord God Almighty, you have made “faith” our means of salvation and being declared righteous before You. Abraham looked up at the stars, believed Your promise, and was declared righteous. And this pattern follows through all of the Bible. Help me to be one of the greats, recorded in Your hall of fame. Help me to have even faith the size of a mustard seed that I might be pleasing to You not just in salvation, but in every step I take. Amen.

2 Corinthians 4:17


Thursday, 30 July 2015

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 2 Corinthians 4:17

Using language which is filled with beautiful expressions and contrasts, Paul now explains the words of the previous verse concerning the perishing outward man and the renewed inward man. He tells the Corinthians that “our light affliction” is “but for a moment.” The idea of a light affliction is something that is troublesome without being overly burdensome. He is shrugging off the life of death which they live with words that say, “Heck, this is just temporary and not that bad at all.”

In support of such a thought he says that it “is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Not only was the current state temporary and merely a “light affliction,” it was serving a good purpose towards a glorious end. In their trials they were heading towards a time of magnificent wonder. The words he uses for “far more exceeding” are hyperbolen eis hyberbolen – “in excess unto excess.” It is a superlative way of saying that what is a trial now can’t even compare to the glory which lies ahead.

It should be noted how Paul’s words contrast in the two clauses – “moment” with “eternal,” “light” with “weight,” and “affliction” with “glory.” Further, the word “glory” to the Hebrew mind of Paul would have a higher meaning. It comes from another word meaning “weightiness, and so he was most likely thinking of the surpassing glory which would make any weight in this life seem like nothing at all.

Paul’s words of this verse are of comfort and reassurance in a world which is filled with trials and hardships. Despite what we often hear, Christians are not intended to be exempt from difficulties. We are not saved to “thrive” in any earthly sense. We are saved to continue on in this veil of trials and tears until the day we truly thrive in our new heavenly abode.

Life application: If the world seems to be over burdensome, remember that no matter what you face, it is incomprehensibly light in comparison to the majestic glory which lies ahead. Everything here is temporary and passing, but because of the promises of God in Christ we have a permanent and eternal joy set before us. Let us not be downhearted, but instead let us try to look for the gracious hand of God in all things, even the trials, which is directing us to that wondrous time ahead.

Heavenly Father, I know that this present life and all that it contains is passing away. And so why should I worry about the trials I face? Why should I struggle for wealth and possessions? Why should I strive for power or fame? Who cares! The world and those who belong to the world can have all of that. Me… I have Jesus and an exceedingly exceeding weight of glory awaiting me. I have an eternal hope and a home decorated by the hand of the Master. Nothing for me here! I am on my way to streets of gold and the water of life which flows on eternally. Amen.

2 Corinthians 4:16


Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

Here Paul returns to the thought of the first verse of this chapter –

“Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.” 2 Corinthians 4:1

In the ministry they received mercy and in this they were able to remain steadfast. To continue with that thought after discussing the continuous challenge to their lives for the sake of that gospel ministry, he now says, “Even though our outward man is perishing…” This is what he has been alluding to, particularly in verses 7-11. They had faced many trials and death was always at hand, and “yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.”

The physical body was continuously degrading and would eventually end, but the spiritual man in them was growing more in the likeness of Christ with each passing day. And so it was understood that the daily death they lived was only a temporary thing which was ultimately leading to eternal life.

An analogy to hopefully make this understandable would be taking a massive amount of fill which contains precious ore and passing it through a purification process. As the fill (the outward man) is taken away, the ore (the inward man) is coming more and more into focus. At first there was tons of dirt. Eventually there is a pile of unrefined gold. From there, the gold is placed in a furnace and it melts. Eventually it is brought out and the impurities are skimmed off. This is repeated until there is only the purest of gold left.

Paul and the other apostles (and we who are in Christ) are being refined, even in a body which is impure and perishing with time. But inside of us, because of Christ, is something pure and wonderful. As we are renewed day by day we are molded more and more into His image until only that which is perfect is left.

Life application: Let us never tire of striving to learn about Christ, to pursue Christ, and to emulate Christ. In so doing, a marvelous change is taking place which will have an eternal glory associated with it.

Heavenly Father, as the impurities of my life are removed, I am being molded into the image of Your Son. Help me to continuously strive to learn more about Him and then to put that knowledge into emulation of Him. Keep me from going backwards. Instead help me to keep my eyes fixed on Him, my heart attuned to Your wishes for me, and my mind ever striving to be conformed to His image. Thank You for guiding me in this most noble of goals. Amen.

2 Corinthians 4:15


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:15

Paul’s words here reflect the many trials that the apostles had faced and which he named in verses 7-12. All of these things, and in fact “all things,” were for the sake of their hearers. The apostles worked in a unified way, forsaking their own selves in order to ensure that grace would abound to the many who received it.

In turn, and at the reception of such abundant grace, the many would then show forth thanksgiving “to the glory of God.” The mental picture his words make shows heartfelt appreciation by Paul that all of the many ordeals he and the other apostles faced were worth the effort. When his hearers glorified God through thanksgiving, the feeling of death working in them was worth the life working in their hearers. The words of 1 Corinthians 3 may have been on his mind as he conveyed these thoughts in this second epistle –

“Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. 23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” 1 Corinthians 3:21-23

As a side note, there are numerous ways that translators have chosen to structure this verse. Is the word “abound” tied to “grace” or is it tied to “thanksgiving?” What tense should the “abound” be rendered? Each decision changes the meaning slightly. However, despite the disagreements, the general idea remains. The apostles worked for the sake of others, grace was involved and shared, it permeated to their hearers, and thanksgiving was the result which thus glorified God.

Life application: If you encounter difficulties in your life as you attempt to share the gospel, look at those trials as badges of merit when your efforts are successful. In the end, if a soul is saved and he in turn glorifies and thanks God for his salvation, then you have been a part of that. The final result is that all should be to the glory of God. As He is in control of all things, He has honored you with trials in order to perfect you while also bringing others to Himself in the process.

Lord God! How good it is when my hardships result in someone else turning to you. I may be inconvenienced in some way in order to make the gospel known, but when it is received, how can I look back and say “It wasn’t worth it”? Of course it was! And so why should I worry about any difficulty that comes as I share the knowledge of Christ? If one human soul is worth more than all the riches of earth, then whatever I do towards their salvation is worth it. With this knowledge, I shall press on. Amen.

2 Corinthians 4:14


Monday, 27 July 2015

…knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 2 Corinthians 4:14

Paul has been speaking of the death which is manifested in him and the apostles. They died in their lives for the sake of those they minister to. Eventually, actual death would overtake them, but even in this there is a sure and firm hope. Death is of no true consequence to a believer and the apostles were completely certain of this, “…knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus.”

As apostles, they had seen the risen Lord, they had seen His victory over death, and they knew that this too was promised to them. This is why they were so willing to die for Christ. Nothing could stop the inevitability of their resurrection, just as He was resurrected. The power of God raised Him up and that same power would also raise them up. This same sentiment is found in 1 Corinthians 6:14 –

“And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.”

But this promise was not just to those apostles who had first-hand knowledge of the Lord’s work. It is true with all who believe. Together with the apostles, all who believe will be presented alive for all eternity by the power of God. Again, Paul writes of this in Romans 8:11 –

“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

This wondrous moment is described in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4. Take time today to read those passages and have confidence that they will be fulfilled exactly as written. Eternal life is guaranteed to all who have placed their trust in Christ Jesus!

Life application: What fear should you have about death? If you have called on Christ, then show that your faith is more than just a superficial proclamation. Instead, if you face even the prospect of death, let the world know that death has no permanent authority over you. Christ is risen; you are in Christ; you too shall rise to eternal life.

Glorious God of all hope – You have spoken and Your word is true. Christ is risen from the dead and I am in Christ due to faith in His work. In this, I have the absolute assurance that I too will be raised to new and eternal life by You. There is no fear here. Rather, there is the eager anticipation of putting off this old tired tent and the excitement of a new, incorruptible, and eternal one. Christ is risen! Hallelujah and Amen!