2 Corinthians 4:11
For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
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(11) We which live are alway delivered unto death.—Better, are always being delivered. The opening clause emphasises the paradox of the statement: “We live, and yet our life is a series of continual deaths. We are delivered as to a daily execution.” The words are often interpreted—but, it is believed, wrongly—of the dangers and sufferings caused by persecution. The whole tenor of the Epistle suggests rather (see Note on preceding verse) the thought of the daily struggle with the pain and weakness of disease. It has been urged that the words “for Jesus’ sake” determine the sense of the context as referring to the trials of persecution. The position is, however, scarcely tenable. The words, of course, as such, include the idea of such trials; but a man who laboured ceaselessly, as St. Paul laboured, as in a daily struggle with death, and yet went on working for the gospel of Christ, might well describe himself as bearing what he bore “for Jesus’ sake.”

In our mortal flesh.—The reason for the change in the last two words has been given in the Note on the preceding verse. The very “flesh” which, left to itself, is the source of corruption, moral and physical, is by the “excellence of the power of God” made the vehicle of manifesting the divine life. As has been well said: “God exhibits DEATH in the living that He may also exhibit LIFE in the dying” (Alford).

4:8-12 The apostles were great sufferers, yet they met with wonderful support. Believers may be forsaken of their friends, as well as persecuted by enemies; but their God will never leave them nor forsake them. There may be fears within, as well as fightings without; yet we are not destroyed. The apostle speaks of their sufferings as a counterpart of the sufferings of Christ, that people might see the power of Christ's resurrection, and of grace in and from the living Jesus. In comparison with them, other Christians were, even at that time, in prosperous circumstances.For we which live - Those of us, the apostles and ministers of the Redeemer who still survive. James the brother of John had been put to death Acts 12:2; and it is probable also that some other of the apostles had been also. This verse is merely explanatory of the previous verse.

Are alway delivered unto death - Exposed constantly to death. This shows what is meant in 2 Corinthians 4:10, by bearing about in the body the dying the Lord Jesus; see the note on 1 Corinthians 15:31.

In our mortal flesh - In our body. In our life on earth; and in our glorified body in heaven; see the note on 2 Corinthians 4:10.

11. we which live—in the power of Christ's "life" manifested in us, in our whole man body as well as spirit (Ro 8:10, 11; see on [2311]2Co 4:10; compare 2Co 5:15). Paul regards his preservation amidst so many exposures to "death," by which Stephen and James were cut off, as a standing miracle (2Co 11:23).

delivered unto—not by chance; by the ordering of Providence, who shows "the excellency of His power" (2Co 4:7), in delivering unto DEATH His living saints, that He may manifest LIFE also in their dying flesh. "Flesh," the very element of decay (not merely their "body"), is by Him made to manifest life.

We who are yet alive, as having breath still in our bodies; in another sense we do not live, viz. as life signifies prosperity and happiness; for we

are always delivered unto death, that is, under continual threats and dangers of death, so that we have always the sentence of death in ourselves;

for Jesus’ sake, for our owning, preaching, and professing Christ, and the doctrine of the gospel. We are not delivered to death for evil doing, nor merely as innocent persons, but for well doing; and that in the noblest sense, for obeying the commands and for publishing the gospel of Christ.

That the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh; and the infinitely wise providence of God permitteth this, that he might make manifest in our mortal flesh, that Christ is risen from the dead, and liveth for ever, making intercession for us; and, as a living Head, giving necessary influences of strength, support, and comfort, as to all those who are his members, so more particularly to us, who are some of the principal members of that mystical body, of which he is the Head. So that our sufferings are so far from being an evidence against the truth of our doctrine and of our ministration, that they are rather an evidence of the truth of both; as testifying, that he whom we preach, having died for our sins, is also risen for our justification, and exalted at the right hand of God; from whence he dispenseth his spiritual influences, as to the souls of all his people, so to our souls in particular, by which we are enabled, without fainting, to suffer such things with boldness, courage, and patience.

Always bearing about in the body,.... The Vulgate Latin, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions, read, "in our body"; and the Syriac version, in this and the next clause, reads, "in our bodies", and some copies in this read, "bodies"; continually carrying about with us, in these mortal bodies of ours, wherever we go,

the dying of the Lord Jesus; by which is meant, not the doctrine of the sufferings and death of Christ, and of salvation by a crucified Saviour, which they bore and carried about with them in a ministerial way, wherever they came and preached, but the sufferings they themselves underwent: so called, because of the likeness there is between the sufferings of Christ, and theirs; as he was traduced as a wicked man, a deceiver, and a stirrer up of sedition, so were they; as he was persecuted, so were they; as he was liable to death, and at last was delivered up to it, so were they: and also because of the union and sympathy which were between them; Christ and they were one body and one Spirit; so that what was endured by the members, the head had a fellow feeling of, and sympathy with; and reckoned what was done to them, as done to himself: and besides, the sufferings they underwent, and death they were exposed unto, were for his sake, as it is explained in the next verse:

for we which live; who are still in the land of the living, though it is almost a miracle we are, considering the circumstances we are in:

are always delivered; that is, continually exposed

to death for Jesus' sake: and the end of all these sufferings, which is expressed alike in both verses is,

that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body, or "mortal flesh"; the meaning of which is, that it might appear that Jesus, though he died, is risen again from the dead, and lives at the Father's right hand, and ever lives to make intercession for us; of which there is a full proof, inasmuch as we are supported by him under all the trials and sufferings we endure for his sake; for because he lives, we live also, amidst so many dangers and deaths, which attend us.

For we which {k} live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our {l} mortal flesh.

(k) Who live that life, that is, by the Spirit of Christ, among so many and so great miseries.

(l) Subject to that miserable condition.

2 Corinthians 4:11. An elucidation, and therewith a confirmation of 2 Corinthians 4:10.

ἀεί (comp. 2 Corinthians 6:10) is distinguished from πάντοτε as respects the form of the conception, just as always or continually from at all times. Comp. the classical ἀεὶ διὰ βίου, Heindorf, ad Plat. Phaed. p. 75 D; also the Homeric οἱ ἀεὶ θεοί.

ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες] brings out, by way of contrast, the ἀεὶ εἰς θάνατον παραδιδόμεθα: we who live, so that in this way the constant devotion to death looks all the more tragic, since the living appear as liable to constant dying. We are continuously the living prey of death! The reference of Grotius, “qui nondum ex hac vita excessimus, ut multi jam Christianorum,” is alien to the context. Further, it can neither mean: as long as we live (Calvin, Beza by way of suggestion, Mosheim, Zachariae, Flatt, de Wette), nor: who still, in spite of perils of death, remain ever in life (Estius, Bengel, Rückert), which latter would anticipate the clause of aim, ἵνα κ.τ.λ. In accordance with his view of 2 Corinthians 4:10, Osiander (comp. Bisping) takes it of the spiritual life in the power of fait.

παραδιδομ.] by the persecutors, 2 Corinthians 4:8 f.

ἐν τῇ θνητῇ σαρκὶ ἡμ.] designation of the σῶμα (2 Corinthians 4:10) as respects its material weakness and transitoriness, whereby the φανερωθῆναι of the ζωὴ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ is meant to be rendered palpable by means of the contrast. In ἐν τῷ σώματι, 2 Corinthians 4:10, and ἐν τῇ θνητῇ σαρκί, 2 Corinthians 4:11, there is a climax of the terms used. Rückert thinks, wrongly, that the expression would be highly unsuitable, if in what precedes he were speaking of nothing but persecutions. It was in fact the mortal σάρξ, which might so easily have succumbed to such afflictions as are described, e.g., in 2 Corinthians 11:23 ff.

ἵνα καὶ κ.τ.λ.] an emphatic repetition of the clause of aim contained in 2 Corinthians 4:10, with a still stronger prominence given to the element there denoted by ἐν τῷ σώματι ἡμῶν, on account of which ἐν τ. θν. σαρκὶ ἡμῶν is here placed at the end. There is implied in it a triumph. Comp. on the thought of 2 Corinthians 4:10-11, Ignatius, Magnes. 6 : ἐὰν μὴ αὐθαιρέτως ἔχωμεν τὸ ἀποθανεῖν εἰς τὸ αὐτοῦ (Christ’s) πάθος, τὸ ζῆν αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν.

11. For we which live] We, the possessors of the Divine life in Christ, the spiritual life which takes the place of the natural. Cf. ch. 2 Corinthians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 3:17, and 1 Corinthians 11:12; 1 Corinthians 11:16; 1 Corinthians 15:45-46, and notes.

are alway delivered unto death] Literally, are alway being delivered unto death, i.e. while we are engaged in this ministry on behalf of Jesus Christ our Lord, calling on us as it does for a perpetual conflict with enemies without, and the weakness of our mortal flesh within.

that the life also of Jesus] Not only is what was stated in the last verse the fact, but it was God’s purpose that it should be so. The labours and trials of the Apostles are due to the working of a principle of death which is ever hostile to life and God. But the operation of that principle in the mortal bodies of the Apostles is destined only to display the working of a still stronger principle, the life that comes from God. See next note.

2 Corinthians 4:11. Οἱ ζῶντες, we who live) An Oxymoron; comp. they who live, ch. 2 Corinthians 5:15. The apostle wonders, that he has escaped so many deaths, or even survived others, who have been already slain for the testimony of Christ, for example, Stephen and James. We who live, and death; life, and mortal are respectively antithetic.—παραδιδόμεθα, we are delivered up) He elegantly and modestly abstains from mentioning Him, who delivers up. Looking from without [extrinsically], the delivering up might seem to be done at random, [whereas it is all ordered by Providence.]

Verse 11. - For Jesus' sake. St. Paul, as Bengel says, constantly thus repeats the name of Jesus, as one who felt its sweetness. The verse contains a reassertion and amplification of what he has just said. In our mortal flesh. This is added almost by way of climax. The life of Jesus is manifested, not only "in our body," but even by way of triumph in its lowest and poorest element. God manifests life in our dying, and death in our living (Alford). 2 Corinthians 4:11
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