|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:1-7 The best of men would faint, if they did not receive mercy from God. And that mercy which has helped us out, and helped us on, hitherto, we may rely upon to help us even to the end. The apostles had no base and wicked designs, covered with fair and specious pretences. They did not try to make their ministry serve a turn. Sincerity or uprightness will keep the favourable opinion of wise and good men. Christ by his gospel makes a glorious discovery to the minds of men. But the design of the devil is, to keep men in ignorance; and when he cannot keep the light of the gospel of Christ out of the world, he spares no pains to keep men from the gospel, or to set them against it. The rejection of the gospel is here traced to the wilful blindness and wickedness of the human heart. Self was not the matter or the end of the apostles' preaching; they preached Christ as Jesus, the Saviour and Deliverer, who saves to the uttermost all that come to God through him. Ministers are servants to the souls of men; they must avoid becoming servants to the humours or the lusts of men. It is pleasant to behold the sun in the firmament; but it is more pleasant and profitable for the gospel to shine in the heart. As light was the beginning of the first creation; so, in the new creation, the light of the Spirit is his first work upon the soul. The treasure of gospel light and grace is put into earthen vessels. The ministers of the gospel are subject to the same passions and weaknesses as other men. God could have sent angels to make known the glorious doctrine of the gospel, or could have sent the most admired sons of men to teach the nations, but he chose humbler, weaker vessels, that his power might be more glorified in upholding them, and in the blessed change wrought by their ministry.
Verse 3. - But if our gospel be hid. This is added to avoid the semblance of a contradiction. He has spoken of "manifestation of the truth," and yet has spoken of all Jews as unable to see it because they will not remove from their hearts the veil which hides it from them. How can "a veiled gospel" be a "manifested truth"? The answer is that the gospel is bright, but the eyes that should gaze on it are wilfully closed. Similarly in 2 Corinthians 2:16, he has compared the gospel to a fragrance of life, yet to the doomed captives - "to the perishing" - it comes "like a waft from the charnel house." A better rendering would be, But even if our gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1; Romans 2:16) is a veiled one. it is veiled only among the perishing (comp. 1 Corinthians 1:18). Be hid; rather, has been veiled. To them that are lost; rather, to the perishing (see note on 2 Corinthians 2:15).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But if our Gospel be hid,.... When the Gospel is called ours, the meaning is, not that ministers are the authors or subject of it; but it is so styled, because they are intrusted with it; it is preached by them; and is in opposition to another Gospel, the Gospel of the false apostles. Here an objection is obviated, which the apostle saw would be made against the clearness and perspicuity of the Gospel, asserted by him in the foregoing chapter; taken from some persons, who though they sat under the ministry of the word, were not enlightened by it, saw no glory nor excellency in it, nor were their minds in the least affected with it: to which he replies, saying, "if our Gospel be hid",
it is hid to them that are lost. But why should the apostle put an if upon its being hid? is it not hid? is it not "the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom?" To which may be answered, that it was hid in God from the beginning of the world; and in Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; and in the ceremonial law, which contained types and shadows of many things in it; and was hid from whole nations, and for whole ages formerly: but now God has made known the mystery of his will; Christ is manifest in the flesh; the ceremonial law is done away, and the Gospel is preached to Jews and Gentiles; so that it is hid to none, as to the outward ministration of it: and if the internal, spiritual, and saving knowledge and experience of it is hid from any, eventually and finally, it is "to them that are lost": all mankind are in a lost and perishing condition through sin; though some will not be lost eternally, whom God has chosen, Christ has redeemed, and who by the Spirit are brought savingly to believe in Christ; but there are others, that will be lost for ever; and to these the Gospel is hid; and they are such, who are left to the native blindness of their minds, and are given up to a reprobate mind, to judicial darkness, and are suffered to be under the influence of the prince of darkness, as in the following verse; now such instances are no more an objection to the clearness and perspicuity of the Gospel, and the ministration of it, than men born blind, who never could, nor never will see light, are to the bright and clear shining of the sun noon day.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. But if—Yea, even if (as I grant is the case).
hid—rather (in reference to 2Co 3:13-18), "veiled." "Hid" (Greek, Col 3:3) is said of that withdrawn from view altogether. "Veiled," of a thing within reach of the eye, but covered over so as not to be seen. So it was in the case of Moses' face.
to them—in the case only of them: for in itself the Gospel is quite plain.
that are lost—rather, "that are perishing" (1Co 1:18). So the same cloud that was "light" to the people of God, was "darkness" to the Egyptian foes of God (Ex 14:20).
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