Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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2 CORINTHIANS - Chapter 4

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2 Corinthians 4

Supplemental Commentary:

I.  PERSONAL DEFENSE  1, 15 -- 7, 16 (continued)

2.  The Apostle Defends His Assurance  3, 1 -- 5, 10 (continued)

3, 12 -- 4, 6:  The Veil Is Taken Away (continued).    4, 1.  Mercy means the Apostle's supernatural vocation to preach the gospel.    2.  On the contrary: literally, "But"---a strong adversative.  So it is used often elsewhere.    We avoid: there is no implication here that St. Paul had once lived in moral laxity.    4.  The god of this world: i.e., of this "age," as it is in the Greek.  The reference is to Satan whom our Lord called "the prince of this world" (John 12, 31; 14, 30; 16, 11), and whom St. Paul elsewhere designates as "the prince of the power of the air" (Eph. 2, 2).  Satan is called the god of this wicked age, in so far as it lives according to his maxims, obeys and serves him; and he, in turn blinds the minds of his unbelieving followers, leading them away from the faith by evil suggestions, so that the light of the gospel, whose object is the glory of Christ, does not shine unto them.  The image of God: Christ is the image of God, (a) as having the same nature as the Father; (b) as being the Son of the Father; (c) as being equal to the Father (St. Thomas).

6.  For God, who commanded, etc.: the best Greek reading here is, "For God who said, 'Out of the darkness light shall shine.'"  The radical reason why the Apostles preach Jesus Christ and not themselves, is that such is the will of God, who in the beginning of the world made light shine out of the darkness, and who through Christ had made the light of faith shine in the hearts of the Apostles in order that, through their preaching they might enlighten the world with a knowledge of the glory of God, as it was revealed in the person of Christ, i.e., in His divinity, His actions, His doctrines, etc.

4, 7-18:  Frailty and Support.    7.  This treasure, etc.: the gospel message and the Christian ministry are discharged by frail human beings.    10.  The Christocentric mysticism of St. Paul is said to reach its height here, where it involves bodily, as well as spiritual fellowship with our Lord.    13.  The preachers and believers in the gospel are sustained by the same faith which saved the just of the Old Testament; they believed that Christ would come, we believe that He has come (St. Augustine).    14.  Who raised up Jesus: the best Greek reads, "Who raised up the Lord Jesus."  And will place us with you, in heaven.  The Apostle here, as in 5, 1-8 speaks as if he did not expect to be alive at the Second Coming of Christ; whereas in 1 Cor. 15, 51 f, he speaks as though he might live to see that event.  This shows that he had no revelation in the matter: he knew "not the day nor the hour" (Matt. 25, 13).

17.  The greatness of their future rewards sustains the Apostles and the faithful in the trials and sufferings of the present life.  This verse proves that the good works of the just on earth are meritorious of eternal life, as the Council of Trent teaches.    18.  The passing afflictions of the present life are building up an immeasurable and eternal weight of glory for those whose eyes are fixed, not on the things of the visible universe, but on the lasting realities of the invisible spirit world.  The same thought is found in Rom. 8, 17 f.

Confraternity Bible:

1 Discharging therefore this ministry in accordance with the mercy shown us, we do not lose heart.  2 On the contrary, we renounce those practices which shame conceals, we avoid unscrupulous conduct, we do not corrupt the word of God; but making known the truth, we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.  3 And if our gospel also is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing.  4 In their case, the god of this world has blinded their unbelieving minds, that they should not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  5 For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves merely as your servants in Jesus.  6 For God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts, to give enlightenment concerning the knowledge of the glory of God, shining on the face of Christ Jesus.

Frailty and Support  7 But we carry this treasure in vessels of clay, to show that the abundance of the power is God's and not ours.  8 In all things we suffer tribulation, but we are not distressed; we are sore pressed, but we are not destitute; 9 we endure persecution, but we are not forsaken; we are cast down, but we do not perish; 10 always bearing about in our body the dying of Jesus, so that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodily frame.  11 For we the living are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh.  12 Thus death is at work in us, but life in you.  13 But since we have the same spirit of faith, as shown in that which is written---"I believed, and so I spoke"---we also believed, wherefore we also spoke.  14 For we know that he who raised up Jesus will raise up us also with Jesus, and will place us with you.  15 For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which abounds through the many may cause thanksgiving to abound, to the glory of God.

16 Wherefore we do not lose heart.  On the contrary, even though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  17* For our  present light affliction, which is for the moment, prepares for us an eternal weight of glory that is beyond all measure; 18 while we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen.  For the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal.


17: This verse proves that the good works of the just on earth are meritorious of eternal life, as the Council of Trent teaches.