2 Corinthians 4:1
Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
IV.

(1) Therefore seeing we have this ministry.—The ministry referred to is that of which such great things have just been said: the ministry of the new covenant, of the Spirit, of righteousness, of glory (2Corinthians 3:6; 2Corinthians 3:8-9). Two thoughts rise up in the Apostle’s mind in immediate association with this: (1) His own utter unworthiness of it, which finds expression in “as we have received mercy” (comp. 1Timothy 1:12); and (2) the manifold trials and difficulties in the midst of which it had to be accomplished. The very fact that he has been called to such a work is, however, a source of strength. He cannot faint or show cowardice in discharging it.

2 Corinthians 4:1-2. Therefore, seeing we have this ministry — Spoken of from 2 Corinthians 4:6-11 of the preceding chapter, with which this is closely connected; a ministry so superior to that wherewith Moses was intrusted; as we have received mercy — To be accounted faithful; as God has in mercy accepted us as his servants, and supported us in our work; we faint not — Under any of those sufferings which we are called to endure; nor desist, in any degree, from our glorious enterprise. But have renounced — Or set at open defiance; the hidden things of dishonesty — Or of shame, as της αισχυνης properly signifies; all things which men need to hide or be ashamed of; not walking in craftiness — Using no disguise, subtlety, or guile; nor handling the word of God deceitfully — Not privily corrupting the pure truth of God by any additions of our own, or alterations, or by attempting to accommodate it to the taste of our hearers. But, by manifestation of the genuine and unsophisticated truth, commending ourselves to every man’s conscience — Appealing to the consciences of sinners for the truth and importance of our doctrine; or acting in such a manner as all men, in their consciences, if rightly informed, must approve of; in the sight of God — Whose eye we know is upon us, observing the secrets of our hearts, and therefore we desire, by the most perfect integrity and uprightness, to approve ourselves to him. The apostle does not mean that they actually recommended themselves to the conscience of every man, so that they had the approbation of every man; but that they behaved in such a manner as ought to have convinced every man of their honesty and fidelity in their preaching, and in the exercise of every other branch of their ministry.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.Therefore - Διὰ τοῦτο Dia touto. On account of this. That is, because the light of the gospel is so clear; because it reveals so glorious truths, and all obscurity is taken away, and we are permitted to behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, 2 Corinthians 3:18. Since the glories of the gospel dispensation are so great, and its effects on the heart are so transforming and purifying. The object is, to show the "effect" of being entrusted with such a ministry, on the character of his preaching.

Seeing we have this ministry - The gospel ministry, so much more glorious than that of Moses 2 Corinthians 3:6; which is the ministry by which the Holy Spirit acts on the hearts of people 2 Corinthians 3:8; which is the ministry of that system by which people are justified 2 Corinthians 3:9; and which is the ministry of a system so pure and unclouded, 2 Corinthians 3:9-11, 2 Corinthians 3:18.

As we have received mercy - Tyndale renders this: "even as mercy is sure in us." The idea is, that it was by the mere mercy and favor of God, that he had been entrusted with the ministry, and the object of Paul is doubtless to prevent the "appearance" of arrogance and self-confidence by stating that it was to be traced entirely to God that he was put into the ministry. He doubtless had his eye on the fact that he had been a persecutor and blasphemer; and that it was by the mere favor of God that he had been converted and entrusted with the ministry, 1 Timothy 1:13. Nothing will more effectually humble a minister, and prevent his assuming any arrogant and self-confident airs, than to look over his past life; especially if his life was one of blasphemy, vice, or infidelity; and to remember that it is by the mere mercy of God that he is entrusted with the high office of an ambassador of Jesus Christ. Paul never forgot to trace his hope, his appointment to the ministerial office, and his success, to the mere grace of God.

We faint not - This is one of the effects of being entrusted with such a ministry. The word used here (ἐκκακοῦμεν ekkakoumen) means, properly, to turn out a coward; to lose one's courage; then to be fainthearted, to faint, to despond, in view of trial, difficulty, etc. - Robinson. Here it means, that by the mercy of God, he was not disheartened by the difficulties which he met; his faith and zeal did not flag; he was enabled to be faithful, and laborious, and his courage always kept up, and his mind was filled with cheerfulness; see note on 2 Corinthians 2:14. He was deterred by no difficulties; embarrassed by no opposition; driven from his purpose by no persecution; and his strength did not fail under any trials. The consciousness of being entrusted with "such" a ministry animated him; and the mercy and grace of God sustained him.

CHAPTER 4

2Co 4:1-18. His Preaching Is Open and Sincere, though to Many the Gospel Is Hidden.

For he preaches Christ, not himself: the human vessel is frail that God may have the glory; yet, though frail, faith and the hope of future glory sustain him amidst the decay of the outward man.

1. Therefore—Greek, "For this cause": Because we have the liberty-giving Spirit of the Lord, and with unveiled face behold His glory (2Co 3:17, 18).

seeing we have this ministry—"The ministration of the Spirit" (2Co 3:8, 9): the ministry of such a spiritual, liberty-giving Gospel: resuming 2Co 3:6, 8.

received mercy—from God, in having had this ministry conferred on us (2Co 3:5). The sense of "mercy" received from God, makes men active for God (1Ti 1:11-13).

we faint not—in boldness of speech and action, and patience in suffering (2Co 4:2, 8-16, &c.).2 Corinthians 4:1,2 Paul declareth his unwearied zeal and integrity in

preaching the gospel,

2 Corinthians 4:3-6 so that if any see not the truth of it, it must be owing

to their corrupt hearts, not to want of clear light.

2 Corinthians 4:7-11 The weakness and sufferings he was exposed to

redounded to the praise of God’s power.

2 Corinthians 4:12-18 That which animated him in undergoing them for the

church’s sake, was the assurance of a more exceeding

and eternal reward.

It is the opinion of Beza, that the traducers of this great apostle took advantage from his great trials and afflictions, by reason of them, to conclude him no such man as he was by some represented; and that the apostle upon that takes advantage to magnify his office. God (saith he) having intrusted us with so glorious a ministration, as I have proved that of the gospel to be, according to the measure and proportion of gifts and graces which God hath bestowed upon us, or by reason of that infinite grace and mercy which God hath showed us, in calling us to so honourable a station and office, though we meet with many adversaries, many afflictions, many difficulties, yet we bear up and sink not under them, nor faint in our spirits because of them.

Therefore seeing we have this ministry,.... The apostle having largely insisted on the difference between the law and the Gospel, the ministration of the one and of the other, proceeds to give an account of his own conduct, and that of his fellow apostles and ministers: "we", says he, "faint not"; under all the reproaches cast upon us, persecutions raised against us, and tribulations that attend us; we do not sink in our spirits, or give out from the ministry; we go on cheerfully in our work, in the thee of all opposition, encouraged by the consideration of the excellency of the ministry, which they had from the Lord, were put into, and continued in; which was so valuable in itself, and so useful in its effects; being the ministration of the Spirit and of righteousness, having in it such an excelling glory to the law, and attended with so much light and liberty: to which he adds the consideration of the mercy of God they were partakers of,

as we have received mercy; which may refer either to the grace and mercy of God, which they had received in conversion; a sense of which abiding upon them, so influenced their minds, to hold forth the riches of abounding grace and mercy to poor sinners in the Gospel, that nothing could deter them from it; or to the grace, favour, and good will of God, in making, supporting, and continuing them as ministers of the word; all which, they were sensible, was owing not to men, but God; not to their merit, but to his mercy; not to their worthiness, parts, learning, &c. but to his free gift, favour, and grace, by which only they were what they were, as preachers of the Gospel.

Therefore {1} seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we {a} faint not;

(1) Now he plainly witnesses that both he and his associates

(through the mercy of God) do their vocation and duty uprightly and sincerely, neglecting all dangers.

(a) Though we are broken in pieces with miseries and calamities, yet we do not yield.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 4:1. Διὰ τοῦτο] Paul now reverts, it is true, to what had been begun in 2 Corinthians 3:12 f., but had, owing to the comparison with Moses and the discussion thence arising about the hardening of the Jews and the freedom contrasted with it (2 Corinthians 3:14-18), remained without further elucidation, but reverts in such a way that he attaches it to what immediately precedes by διὰ τοῦτο. Therefore, since the Christians are so highly privileged as was specified in 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, we become, in the possession of the office, which ministers to this Christian freedom and glorification … not dejected.

καθὼς ἠλεήθ.] a modal definition, full of humility (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:10; 1 Corinthians 7:25), to ἔχουτες τ. διακ. ταύτ.: “having this ministry in accordance with the (divine) mercy imparted to us.” The important practical bearing of this addition is aptly indicated by Bengel: “Misericordia Dei, per quam ministerium accipitur, facit strenuos et sinceros.”

οὐκ ἐκκακοῦμεν] Lachmann, Teschendorf, and Rückert, following A B D* F G א, read ἐγκακοῦμεν (comp. 2 Corinthians 4:16; Luke 18:1; Galatians 6:9; Ephesians 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:13). But this appears to be a correction, since only ἐγκακεῖν, and not ἐκκακεῖν (which is here the reading of C D*** E K L), occurs for certain out of the N. T. and the Fathers and ancient lexicographers. Polyb. iv. 19. 10; Theodotion, Proverbs 3:11; Symmachus, Genesis 27:46; Numbers 21:5; Isaiah 7:16. Comp. ἐγκάκησις, Symmachus, Psalm 119:143. Probably ἐκκακεῖν was at that time only in oral use, and came first through Paul and Luke into the language of ecclesiastical writings. It means, however, to become cowardly, to lose courage. Hesychius, ἠδημόνησεν· ἐξεκάκησεν; Suidas, ἐξεκάκησα· ἀπηγόρευσα. The contrast in 2 Corinthians 4:2 is not adverse to this signification; for the becoming dejected through any kind of difficulties (with Pelagius, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Beza, and others, to think only of sufferings is arbitrary) leads easily to κρυπτὰ τῆς αἰσχύνης, while bold, brave, unweakened courage disdains such things. Comp. the demeanour of Luther. Hence Rückert is mistaken in holding that, for the sake of the contrast, we must assume the general signification: to abandon oneself to badness, a signification which cannot elsewhere be made good for ἐγκακ. or for ἐκκακ. (in Polybius, iv. 19. 10, ἐνεκάκησαν means, “they were lazy”). Chrysostom is in substance correct: οὐ κστσπίπτομεν, ἀλλὰ καὶ χαίρομεν καὶ παῤῥησιαζόμεθα. The opposite is the preservation of the holy ἀνδρία (1 Corinthians 16:13).2 Corinthians 4:1-6. HE DELIVERS WITH FRANKNESS HIS MESSAGE OF CHRIST THE TRUE LIGHT.Ch. 2 Corinthians 4:1-15. Entrusted with so glorious a mission, the Ministers of the Gospel shrink from neither danger nor difficulty

1. Therefore] The connection between this and what precedes is sufficiently obvious. Sustained by so great and glorious a mission, the Apostles of Christ are daunted by no trials.

as we have received mercy] St Paul not only bears in mind the glory of his commission, but the mercy, of which he never fails to feel himself undeserving (1 Corinthians 15:9; Ephesians 3:8; 1 Timothy 1:12-16). Thus there is a double reason for not sinking under the burden of his ministry.

we faint not] It is to be noted that in both these Epistles the Apostle now uses the singular and now the plural. He uses the first when his vindication is distinctly personal to himself, the second when he speaks of Christian ministers in general. This is clear from the two passages (ch. 2 Corinthians 1:19 and 1 Corinthians 9:6) in which he defines who ‘we’ are. The genuine Apostles of Christ, he would say, do not lose heart when all does not go smoothly with them. Nay, the very fact that they have sufferings to undergo stamps them the more unmistakeably as followers of Christ.2 Corinthians 4:1. Τήν διακονίαν ταύτην, this ministry) of which 2 Corinthians 3:6, etc.—καθὼς ἠλεήθημεν, as we have received mercy) The mercy of God, by which the ministry is received, makes men active and sincere. Even Moses obtained mercy, and hence he was permitted to approach so near, Exodus 33:19.—οὐκἀλλʼ, not—but) A double proposition; the second part is immediately brought under our consideration by chiasmus;[18] the former from 2 Corinthians 4:16. Wherefore ΟὐΚ ἘΚΚΑΚΟῦΜΕΝ, we faint not, is there repeated; we admit of no serious falling off in speaking, in acting, in suffering.

[18] See App.Verse 1. - Therefore. Because of the freedom and open vision of the gospel. As we have received mercy. Gratitude for a mercy so undeserved (1 Timothy 1:13) makes us fearless and vigorous in a ministry so glorious (Acts 20:23, 24). We faint not. The word implies the maintenance of a holy courage (1 Corinthians 16:13) and perseverance (2 Thessalonians 3:13). It occurs again in ver. 16, and in Luke 18:1; Galatians 6:9; Ephesians 3:13. As we have received mercy

Construe with we have this ministry. Having this ministry as a gift of divine mercy. Compare 1 Corinthians 7:25. Bengel says: "The mercy of God, by which the ministry is received, makes us earnest and sincere."

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