2 Corinthians 4:4
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
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(4) In whom the god of this world . . .—The word sounds somewhat startling as a description of the devil, but it has parallels in “the prince of this world” (John 14:30), “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). The world which “lieth in wickedness,” perhaps in the evil one (1John 5:19), worships the spirit of hate and falsehood and selfishness, and in so doing it practically deifies the devil. And the work of that god of this world is directly in antagonism to that of God. He seeks to lead men back from light to darkness. “He blinded” (the Greek tense indicates an act in past time without necessarily including the idea of its continuance in the present) “the minds of the unbelievers.” The noun is probably used, as in 1Corinthians 6:6; 1Corinthians 7:12-15; 1Corinthians 10:27; 1Corinthians 14:22-24, with a special reference to the outside heathen world. Their spiritual state was, St. Paul seems to say, lower than that of Israel. The veil was over the heart of the one; the very organs of spiritual perception were blinded in the other.

Lest the light of the glorious gospel.—Better to the end that the radiance (or, light-giving power) of the gospel of the glory of God . . . The words describe not merely a purpose, but a result. The word for “light” here, and in 2Corinthians 4:6, is not the simple noun commonly used, but a secondary form, derived from the verb “to give light” or “illumine.” The English version “glorious,” though a partial equivalent for the Greek idiom of the genitive of a characteristic attribute, lacks the vigour and emphasis of the original, which expresses the thought that the gospel is not only glorious itself, but shares in the glory of Christ, and has that for its theme and object. But even that gospel may fail of its purpose. The blind cannot see even the brightness of the noon-day sun. The eye of the soul has to receive sight first. So, in the mission to the Gentiles given to the Apostle on his conversion, his first work was “to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light” (Acts 26:18).

Christ, who is the image of God.—The Greek word is used in the LXX. of Genesis 1:26 for the image of God, after which man was created. So in 1Corinthians 11:7 man is spoken of as “the image and glory of God.” (Comp. Colossians 1:15; Colossians 3:10.) In Hebrews 10:1 it stands as intermediate between the object and the shadow, far plainer than the latter, yet not identical with the former, however adequately representing it.

Should shine unto them.—Literally, should irradiate, or, cast its beams upon them.

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.In whom - In respect to whom; among whom; or in whose hearts. The design of this verse is to account for the fact that the glory of the gospel was not seen by them. It is to be traced entirely to the agency of him whom Paul here calls "the god of this world."

The god of this world - There can be no doubt that Satan is here designated by this appellation; though some of the fathers supposed that it means the true God, and Clarke inclines to this opinion. In John 12:31, he is called "the prince of this world." In Ephesians 2:2, he is called "the prince of the power of the air." And in Ephesians 6:12, the same bad influence is referred to under the names of "principalities, and powers," "the rulers of the darkness of this world," and "spiritual wickedness in high places." The name "god" is here given to him, not because he has any divine attributes, but because he actually has the homage of the people of this world as their god, as the being who is really worshipped, or who has the affections of their hearts in the same way as it is given to idols. By "this world" is meant the wicked world; or the mass of people. He has dominion over the world. They obey his will; they execute his plans; they further his purposes, and they are his obedient subjects. He has subdued the world to himself, and was really adored in the place of the true God; see the note on 1 Corinthians 10:20. "They sacrificed to devils and not to God." Here it is meant by the declaration that Satan is the god of this world:

(1) That the world at large was under his control and direction. He secured the apostasy of man, and early brought him to follow his plans; and he has maintained his scepter and dominion since. No more abject submission could be desired by him than has been rendered by the mass of people.

(2) the idolatrous world particularly is under his control, and subject to him; 1 Corinthians 10:20. He is worshipped there; and the religious rites and ceremonies of the pagan are in general just such as a mighty being who hated human happiness, and who sought pollution, obscenity, wretchedness, and blood would appoint; and over all the pagan world his power is absolute. In the time of Paul all the world, except the Jews and Christians, was sunk in pagan degradation.

(3) he rules in the hearts and lives of all wicked people - and the world is full of wicked people. They obey him, and submit to his will in executing fraud, and rapine, and piracy, and murder, and adultery, and lewdness; in wars and fightings; in their amusements and pastimes; in dishonesty and falsehood. The dominion of Satan over this world has been, and is still almost universal and absolute; nor has the lapse of 1,800 years rendered the appellation improper as descriptive of his influence, that he is the god of this world. The world pursues his plans; yields to his temptations; neglects, or rejects the reign of God as he pleases; and submits to his scepter, and is still full of abomination cruelty, and pollution, as he desires it to be.

Hath blinded the minds of them which believe not - Of all who discern no beauty in the gospel, and who reject it. It is implied here:

(1) That the minds of unbelievers are blinded; that they perceive no beauty in the gospel. This is often affirmed of those who reject the gospel, and who live in sin; see the 2 Corinthians 2:13 note; Matthew 23:16-17, Matthew 23:26 notes; Luke 4:18 note; John 9:39; John 12:40 notes; Romans 11:7 note. The sense is, that they did not see the spiritual beauty and glory of the plan of redemption. They act in reference to that as they would in reference to this world, if a bandage were over their eyes, and they saw not the light of the sun, the beauty of the landscape, the path in which they should go, or the countenance of a friend. All is dark, and obscure, and destitute of beauty to them, however much beauty may be seen in all these objects by others.

(2) that this is done by the agency of Satan; and that his dominion is secured by keeping the world in darkness. The affirmation is direct and positive, that it is by his agency that it is done. Some of the "modes" in which it is done are the following:

(a) By a direct influence on the minds of people. I do not know why it is absurd to suppose that one intellect may, in some way unknown to us, have access to another, and have power to influence it; nor can it be proved that Satan may not have power to pervert the understanding; to derange its powers; to distract its attention; and to give in view of the mind a wholly delusive relative importance to objects. In the time of the Saviour it cannot be doubted that in the numerous cases of demoniacal possessions, Satan directly affected the minds of people; nor is there any reason to think that he has ceased to delude and destroy them.

(b) By the false philosophy which has prevailed - a large part of which seems to have been contrived as if on purpose to deceive the world, and destroy the peace and happiness of people.

(c) By the systems of superstition and idolatry. All these seem to be under the control of one Master Mind. They are so well conceived and adapted to prostrate the moral powers; to fetter the intellect; to pervert the will; to make people debased, sunken, polluted, and degraded; and they so uniformly accomplish this effect, that they have all the marks of being under the control of one mighty Mind, and of having been devised to accomplish His purposes over people.

(d) By producing in the minds of people a wholly disproportionate view of the value of objects. "A very small object held before the eye will shut out the light of the sun." A piece of money of the smallest value laid on the eye will make everything appear dark, and prevent all the glory of mid-day from reaching the seat of vision. And so it is with the things of this world. They are placed directly before us, and are placed directly between us and the glory of the gospel. And the trifles of wealth and of fashion; the objects of pleasure and ambition, are made to assume an importance in view of the mind which wholly excludes the glory of the gospel, and shuts out all the realities of the eternal world. And he does it:

(e) By the blinding influence of passion and vice. Before a vicious mind all is dark and obscure. There is no beauty in truth, in chastity, or honesty, or in the fear and love of God. Vice always renders the mind blind. and the heart hard, and shrouds everything in the moral world in midnight. And in order to blind the minds of people to the glory of the gospel, Satan has only to place splendid schemes of speculation before people; to tempt them to climb the steeps of ambition; to entice them to scenes of gaiety; to secure the erection of theaters, and gambling houses, and houses of infamy and pollution; to fill the cities and towns of a land with taverns and dram-shops; and to give opportunity everywhere for the full play and unrestrained indulgence of passion; and the glory of the gospel will be as effectually unseen as the glory of the sun is in the darkest night.

Lest the light ... - This passage states the design, for which Satan blinds the minds of people. It is because he "hates" the gospel, and wishes to prevent its influence and spread in the world Satan has always hated and opposed it, and all his arts have been employed to arrest its diffusion on earth. The word "light" here means excellence, beauty, or splendor. Light is the emblem of knowledge, purity, or innocence; and is here and elsewhere applied to the gospel, because it removes the errors, and sins, and wretchedness of people, as the light of the sun scatters the shades of night. This purpose of preventing the light of the gospel shining on people, Satan will endeavor to accomplish by all the means in his power. It is his "grand" object in this world, because it is by the gospel only that people can be saved; by that that God is glorified on earth more than by anything else; and because, therefore, if he can prevent sinners from embracing that, he will secure their destruction, and most effectually show his hatred of God. And it is to Satan a matter of little importance what people "may be," or "are," provided they are not Christians. They may be amiable, moral, accomplished, rich, honored, esteemed by the world, because in the possession of all these he may be equally sure of their ruin, and because, also, these things may contribute somewhat to turn away their minds from the gospel. Satan, therefore, will not oppose plans of gain or ambition; he will not oppose purposes of fashion and amusement; he may not oppose schemes by which we desire to rise in the world; he will not oppose the theater, the ballroom, the dance, or the song; he will not oppose thoughtless mirth; but the moment the gospel begins to shine on the benighted mind, that moment he will make resistance, and then all his power will be concentrated.


4. In whom—Translate, "In whose case."

god of this world—The worldly make him their God (Php 3:19). He is, in fact, "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that ruleth in the children of disobedience" (Eph 2:2).

minds—"understandings": "mental perceptions," as in 2Co 3:14.

them which believe not—the same as "them that are lost" (or "are perishing"). Compare 2Th 2:10-12. South quaintly says, "when the malefactor's eyes are covered, he is not far from his execution" (Es 7:8). Those perishing unbelievers are not merely veiled, but blinded (2Co 3:14, 15): Greek, not "blinded," but "hardened."

light of the glorious gospel of Christ—Translate, "The illumination (enlightening: the propagation from those already enlightened, to others of the light) of the Gospel of the glory of Christ." "The glory of Christ" is not a mere quality (as "glorious" would express) of the Gospel; it is its very essence and subject matter.

image of God—implying identity of nature and essence (Joh 1:18; Col 1:15; Heb 1:3). He who desires to see "the glory of God," may see it "in the face of Jesus Christ" (2Co 4:6; 1Ti 6:14-16). Paul here recurs to 2Co 3:18. Christ is "the image of God," into which "same image" we, looking on it in the mirror of the Gospel, are changed by the Spirit; but this image is not visible to those blinded by Satan [Alford].

Though some, by the god of this world, understand the true and living God, the Lord of heaven and earth; yet the notion of the most interpreters, that it is the devil who is here called the god of this world, because he ruleth over the greatest part of the world, and they are his servants and slaves, is most consonant to Scripture: for though we no where else find him called the god of this world, yet our Saviour twice calls him the prince of this world, John 12:31 14:30; and our apostle, Ephesians 2:2, calls him the prince of the power of the air. The effect also doth more properly belong to the devil, than unto God, who no otherwise blindeth the eyes of them than either permissively, by suffering them to shut their own eyes, or judicially. And the apostle declares, that those who are so blinded are such persons as

believe not. He further declareth the end of the devil’s agency in blinding men’s eyes with errors, malice, and prejudice,

lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, the express image of his person, (considered as to his Divine nature),

should shine unto them, that is, into their hearts.

In whom the god of this world hath blinded,.... The description of the persons to whom the Gospel is hid, is here further carried on; in which the character of Satan is given, who is here styled "the god of this world"; just as he is by Christ, "the prince of this world", John 12:31 not because he had any hand in the making of it, or has any concern in the government of it, or in the disposal of men or things in it; but because of his influence over the worst, and greatest part of the world; which lies in wickedness, under the power of this wicked one, being led captive by him at his will; who have voluntarily given themselves up to him, and whose lusts they will do; and so declare themselves to be his children, and him their Father, yea, their god: the influence he has over them is, he

hath blinded the minds of them that believe not. The apostle here seems to refer to one of the devils, which the Jews (l) frequently speak of "Samael"; who they say is the head of all the devils; a very malignant spirit, and who deceived our first parents; the word is compounded of "god", and "to blind"; him they call the angel of death, and say (m), that he hath , "brought darkness upon the face of the world", or the creatures, the Gentiles: agreeably to which the apostle calls the devil, "the god that hath blinded"; what he blinds in men, is "their mind": the more excellent and knowing part of man; not the eyes of their bodies, but of their understandings; which shows the near access Satan has to the souls of men; he penetrates into their very hearts and minds, and has an influence there: the persons whose minds he blinds, are those "who believe not"; which distinguishes them from others that perish, who never enjoyed the Gospel, and therefore he says, "in", or "among whom"; and from true believers, on whom Satan can have no such influence; and is a reason of these men's perishing, and of Satan's influence over them; and must be understood of reprobates, and final unbelievers: the influence he has over them is expressed by "blinding" them; which he does, by diverting them from hearing the Gospel, and by stirring up the enmity of their minds against it, and by increasing their natural darkness and blindness with respect to it. The end which Satan has in doing this is,

lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them; here many things are hinted, in commendation of the Gospel, as that it is the Gospel of Christ; because he was not only the greatest and best preacher of it that ever was, but also is the author and subject of it; Christ is the sum and substance of the Gospel, the principal thing in it, or person that is spoken of therein; and then Christ who is the grand subject of the Gospel is described, in order to recommend it the more, as "the image of God". The Jews (n) call the Messiah, , "the image of God"; some copies, and the Complutension edition, and the Arabic version, read, "the image of the invisible God", as in Colossians 1:15. So Christ is as the Son of God, being the natural, substantial, essential, eternal, not created, and perfect image of his Father; and so he is as man and Mediator: further, the Gospel is said to be the "glorious" Gospel of Christ, as it must needs be, since it so clearly and illustriously sets forth the glory of Christ; contains such glorious doctrines and promises in it, and is attended with such glorious effects, where it comes with power: add to all this, that "light" is attributed to it; the Jews (o) speak of the "light of the law", and the law is called light; and say, that , "there is no light but the law"; but this may be more truly said of the Gospel, by which not only persons may be notionally enlightened, who never were made really partakers of the grace of God, but is the means of spiritual and saving illumination to thousands, when it is attended with the demonstration of the Spirit: now all these excellent characters of the Gospel serve to enhance the spite and malice of Satan, in endeavouring all he can to kinder the bright shining of this glorious Gospel, to and upon any of the sons of men; and his reason for so doing is, because he knows, that should the Gospel shine unto them, the interest and glory of Christ would be advanced, and his own would decline.

(l) Targum Jon. ben Uzziel in Genesis 3.6. Zohar in Gen. fol. 37. 2. Vajikra Rabba, fol. 162. 3. Debarim Rabba, fol. 245. 3. Tzeror Hammor in Gen. fol. 6. 2. & 7. 3. Vid. Irenaeum. adv. Haeres. l. 1. p. 136. (m) Zohar in Gen. fol. 31. 1. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 93. 3.((n) Zohar in Gen. fol. 31. 1.((o) Targum in Job 3.16. T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 7. 2. Tzreor Hammor, fol. 89. 4.

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the {d} light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the {e} image of God, should shine unto them.

(d) The light of plain and enlightening preaching, which shows forth the glory of Christ.

(e) In whom the Father sets himself forth to be seen and beheld.

2 Corinthians 4:4. A statement to establish the ἐν τοῖς ἀπολλυμ. ἐστι κεκαλ., so that ἐν οἶς is equivalent to ὅτι ἐν τούτοις (comp. on 2 Corinthians 3:6): in whom the devil has made blind, i.e. incapable of the perception of the truth, the thoughts of the unbelieving (νοήματα, as in 2 Corinthians 3:14[189]). It is his work to make the unbelieving blind, as respects the bringing forward their power of thought to confront the light of the gospel; and this his characteristic ἔργον he has carried out in the ἀπολλύμενοι; in their souls he has succeeded in his devilish work of blinding the thoughts of the unbelieving. Observe, accordingly, that the conception of the ἀπολλύμενοι is a narrower one than that of the ἄπιστοι. Not with all ἄπιστοι does the devil gain in presence of the preaching of the gospel his object of blinding them and making them ἀπολλύμενοι; many so comport themselves towards this preaching that they become believing and σωζόμενοι (1 Corinthians 14:24 f.; Acts 13:48; Acts 2:40; Acts 2:47; Matthew 13:8; Matthew 13:23). Hence τῶν ἀπίστων is neither aimless (the objection of Hofmann), nor is it, with Rückert, to be referred to a negligence of expression, so that Paul would, in order to round off the sentence and to make his opinion quite clearly prominent, that the ἀπολλύμενοι are the ἄπιστοι, have appended the appositional clause ungrammatically and tautologically. Fritzsche, whom Billroth follows, takes τῶν ἀπίστ. proleptically: “hoc effectu ut nullam haberent fidem.” But the proleptic use of adjectives (see on 1 Corinthians 1:8) is nowhere found with the genitive of an adjective used substantively; it must have run ἐτύφλωσε τὰ νοήματα ἄπιστα.[190] Comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Php 3:21. Quite arbitrarily, most of the older expositors (also Grotius, Wolf, Emmerling, Flatt) explain it in such a way that ΤῶΝ ἈΠΊΣΤΩΝ fills the place of an apposition to ἘΝ ΟἿς. In that case it must have run: ἘΝ ΤΟῖς ἈΠΊΣΤΟΙς (see, especially, Bornemann, Schol. in Luc. p. 173). According to Ewald, Paul has inserted the addition τῶν ἀπίστ., as if he meant thereby merely to say: “the Gentile thoughts,” because the Jews regarded the Gentiles only as the unbelievers. But such a reference would have needed all the more a precise indication, as the reader had to find in τοῖς ἀπολλυμ. Gentiles and Jews, consequently in τῶν ἀπίστ, no special reference to the Gentile character. According to Hofmann, ἐν οἷς is intended to be the domain within which, etc., and this domain is in view of the preaching of the apostle the Gentile one, in which there has taken place that which this relative clause asserts of the unbelieving. To this the context is opposed, which gives no justification whatever for limiting the ἀπολλύμενοι to the sphere of the Gentile world; they form, in general, a contrast to the σωζόμενοι, as also at 2 Corinthians 2:15, 2 Corinthians 1:18, and to the ἩΜΕῖς ΠΆΝΤΕς, 2 Corinthians 3:18, who are just the σωζόμενοι. Finally, it is to be observed as a mere historical point, that Irenaeus (Haer. iv. 48), Origen, Tertullian (contra Marc. iv. 11), Chrysostom, Augustine (c. advers. leg. ii. 7. 8), Oecumenius, Theodoret, Theophylact (also Knatchbull), with a view to oppose the dualism of the Marcionites and Manichaeans, joined τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου with ΤῶΝ ἈΠΊΣΤΩΝ (infidelium hujus saeculi).

ὁ θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτ.] the God of this (running on till the Parousia) period. On the subject-matter, comp. John 8:44; John 12:31; John 14:30; Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:9 f. The devil, as ruling principle, is called god. Comp. Php 3:19. Among the Rabbins, also, it is said: “Deus primus est Deus verus, sed Deus secundus est Samael,” Jalkut Rubeni, f. 10. 4, ad Genesis 1:27. Comp. the passages in Eisenmenger, Entdecht. Judenth. I. p. 827, where he is called the strange god and the other god. There is not something ironical in the expression here (Olshausen), for that would be quite alien to the connection; on the contrary, with the utmost earnestness the great anti-Christian power of the devil is intended to be made palpably evident. Comp. Benge.

εἰς τὸ μὴ αὐγάσαι κ.τ.λ.] Purpose of the devil: in order that the illumination should not shine, etc. For that which illumines does not shine for the blinded.[191] Hence it is quite unnecessary to explain αὐγάσαι, to see, or to have an eye upon (Luther, Grotius, Emmerling, Rückert, Ewald, Hofmann), which signification (more exactly, to direct the light of the eyes to anything) undoubtedly occurs in Greek poets (Soph. Phil. 217; Eur. Rhes. 793; more frequently in the middle, as Iliad, xxii. 458; Elmsley, ad Bacch. 596; Jacobs, ad Anthol. VIII. p. 338), but is foreign even to the LXX. (Leviticus 13:25 f., Leviticus 13:28; Leviticus 13:39; Leviticus 14:56). Besides, the simple αὐγάζειν does not occur in the classic writers with the neuter meaning fulgere (though the compounds καταυγάζειν and διαυγάζειν, which are the readings of several uncials, do so occur), but only in the active sense: irradiate, illumine, as e.g. Eur. Hcc. 637.

φωτισμός] illumining, is found in Sextus Empiricus, 522. 9; Plut. Mor. 920 D; more often in the LXX., in Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus. Without figure, the meaning is: in order that the enlightening truth of the gospel might not he known and appropriated by them.

τῆς δόξης τοῦ Χριστοῦ] The glory of the exalted Christ (comp. 2 Corinthians 3:18) is here denoted as the contents of the Messianic preaching; elsewhere (1 Corinthians 1:18) it is the word of the cross. Both meanings are used according to the requirement of the context, and both rightly (Romans 4:25; Romans 5:10, al.); for the δόξα is the consequence of the death of the cross, by which it was conditioned (Php 2:6 ff.; Romans 8:34, al.; Luke 24:26; often in John), and it conditions the future completion of the work of the cross (Php 2:10 f.; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; 1 Corinthians 15; Colossians 3:3 f.).

ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τ. θεοῦ] for Christ in the state of His exaltation[192] is again, as He was before His incarnation (comp. John 17:5), fully ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ and ἴσα θεῷ (Php 2:6), hence in His glorified corporeality (Php 3:21) the visible image of the invisible God. See on Colossians 1:15; comp. Hebrews 1:3. It is true that in the state of His humiliation He had likewise the divine δόξα, which He possessed κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης (Romans 1:4), which also, as bearer of the divine grace and truth (2 Corinthians 4:4. ἐν οἷς ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος: among whom the god of this world, sc., Satan. αἰών is an “age,” a certain limit of time, and so ὁ αἰὼν οὑτός (1 Corinthians 1:20; 1 Corinthians 2:6) is “this present age,” over which the devil is regarded as having power (cf. Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12). We have the expression αἱ βασιλεῖαι τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου in Ignatius (Romans , 6). Wetstein quotes a Rabbinical saying, “The true God is the first God, but Sammael (i.e., the evil angel who was counted Israel’s special foe) is the second God”. Many early writers, beginning with Origen and Irenæus, through dread of Gnostic speculations, dissociate ὁ Θεός from τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου, which they join with τῶν ἀπίστων. But this is a mere perversity of exegesis, suggested by controversial prejudice. Beliar is twice called “the ruler of this world” in the Ascension of Isaiah (ed. Charles, pp. 11, 24).—ἐτύφλωσε τὰ νοήματα τῶν ἀπίστων: hath blinded (the “ingressive aorist” again; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:2) the minds (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:14) of the unbelieving. Out of sixteen occurrences of the word ἀπιστος in the Pauline Epistles, fourteen are found in the Epp. to the Corinthians; it consistently means “unbelieving,” and is always applied to the heathen, not to the Jews (except, perhaps, Titus 1:15).—εἰς τὸ μὴ αὐγάσαι κ.τ.λ.: to the end that the light (lit. “the illumination”) of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the Image of God, should not dawn upon them. This is the force of αὐγάσαι, even if, as we seemingly must do, we omit αὐτοῖς from our text; αὐγή is the “dawn,” and αὐγάσαι is to be taken intransitively. The R.V. marginal rendering “that they should not see the light,” etc., does not suit the context so well. The A.V. “the light of the glorious gospel of Christ” is inadequate, as it does not bring out the force of the phrase τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τῆς δόξης. δόξης is the genitive of contents (cf. the similar phrase, 1 Timothy 1:11); the substance of the good tidings preached is the δόξα, the glorious revelation of Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:6 below). That Christ is the Image or εἰκών of God is the statement of St. Paul which approaches most nearly in form to the λόγος doctrine of St. John (see reff. and, for the general sense, 1 Corinthians 11:3, Php 2:6; cf. Hebrews 1:3). P. Ewald, who maintains that St. Paul was acquainted with a Johannine tradition of our Lord’s words, finds in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 reminiscences of conversations reported in the Fourth Gospel. Thus we have in consecutive verses (John 8:44-45) ὑμεῖς ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ διαβόλου ἐστὲοὐ πιστεύετέ μοι, and the expression ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου is comparable with ὁ ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου (John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11). The parallels are certainly interesting; cf. also the phrase εἰκὼν τοῦ Θεοῦ with John 8:19; John 8:42.

4. in whom the god of this world] i.e. the devil, who is called the prince or ruler of this world in John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11. So also Matthew 4:9; Luke 4:6; Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12. He is so called because for the present he has power in it, Revelation 12:12. The early fathers, in their zeal against the two gods (one good and one evil) of the Manichaeans and some sects of the Gnostics, repudiate this interpretation, and render, in defiance of the plain meaning, ‘God hath blinded the understandings of the unbelievers of this world.’ On this Calvin makes some wise remarks: “We see what the heat of controversy does in such disputes. If all these men had read the words of Paul with a tranquil mind, it would never have come into their mind so to wrest his words into a forced sense. But because their adversaries bore hardly on them, they thought more of vanquishing them than of endeavouring to ascertain the mind of Paul.”

hath blinded the minds of them which believe not] The meaning is either (1) that all were perishing alike (John 3:18), but that some believed and Satan blinded the minds of the rest, or (2) that all were formerly unbelieving, but that some, by rejecting the good tidings of salvation through Christ, passed over into the category of the perishing. In support of (1) we may render ‘in whom’ by ‘among whom.’ The word here translated ‘them which believe not’ is used in 1 Corinthians 6:6; 1 Corinthians 7:12-15; 1 Corinthians 10:27; 1 Corinthians 14:22-24, of those who do not believe in Christ. For the word translated ‘minds,’ see note on ch. 2 Corinthians 2:11. The word translated ‘blinded’ is not the same as that used in ch. 2 Corinthians 3:14.

lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ] Rather, lest the enlightenment (Rhemish, illumination) of the Gospel of the glory of Christ. The word translated ‘light’ in the A. V. signifies rather the result of light than light itself. The words translated ‘glorious gospel’ are so translated in virtue of the constant occurrence of Hebraisms of this kind in the N. T. But it seems impossible to doubt that there is here a reference to the ‘glory’ so frequently mentioned in the last chapter, as in the word ‘blinded’ there is an obvious reference to the vail.

who is the image of God] Cf. ch. 2 Corinthians 3:18, Colossians 1:15. The word in the original is exactly equivalent to our word likeness. An image or likeness is a visible representation of an object. So Christ in His humanity (cf. Genesis 1:27; 1 Corinthians 11:7) is a visible representation of the unseen God. Cf. John 1:1-14 (especially the last verse), and Hebrews 1:3. Also John 14:8-9. No revelation of the wisdom and power of God that man has received can compare with that made in the Life, Death and Resurrection of the Incarnate Son. Also as the ‘Mediator of the New Covenant’ (Hebrews 12:24), glory, the glory of the Invisible God, streams from His Face, a glory far brighter than that with which Moses’ face shone after communing with God.

2 Corinthians 4:4. Ἐν οἷς, as concerns whom, [in whom])—ὁ θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου, the god of this world) A great, but awful description of Satan [corresponding to his great but awful work, mentioned here.—V. g.], comp. Ephesians 2:2, respecting the fact itself: and Php 3:9, respecting the term. Who would otherwise think, that he could in the case of men obstruct so great a light [as that which the Gospel affords]? But there is somewhat of a mimesis;[19] for those that perish, especially the Jews, think, that they have God, and know Him. The ancients construed ΤΟῦ ΑἸῶΝΟς ΤΟΎΤΟΥ with ΤῶΝ ἈΠΊΣΤΩΝ, as if it were, the unbelievers of this world, in order that they might give the greater opposition to the Manicheans and the Marcionites.[20]—τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου, of this world) He says, of this, for the devil will not be able always to assail.—ἐτύφλωσε, blinded) not merely veiled [ch. 2 Corinthians 3:14-15].—τῶν ἀπίστων, of them who believe not) An epithet,[21] by supplying the relative pronoun ἐκείνων, of them; for among those, that perish, are chiefly those, who, though they have heard, do not believe. The Gospel is received by faith unto salvation.—εἰς τὸ μὴ αὐγάσαι[22]) lest should shine.—τὸν φωτισμὸν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, Κ.Τ.Λ., the enlightening [illumination] of the Gospel, etc.) He afterwards calls it the enlightening of the knowledge, etc.—φωτισμὸς, enlightening, is the reflection or propagation of rays from those, who are enlightened, for the purpose of enlightening more. The Gospel and knowledge are correlatives, as cause and effect.—τῆς δόξης, of the glory) 2 Corinthians 3:18, note.—εἰκὼν τοῦ Θεοῦ, the image of God) From this we may sufficiently understand how great is the glory of Christ, v. 6; 1 Timothy 6:15. He, who sees the Son, sees the Father, in the face of Christ. The Son exactly represents and reflects the Father.

[19] See Append. Allusion to an opponent’s words or sentiments.

[20] Both which sects regarded matter as essentially evil and under the power of the devil, which the rendering, god of this world, seemed to sanction.—ED.

[21] Beng. would make it thus, The unbelieving lost, spoken of above.

[22] The Germ. Ver. also exhibits the pronoun αὐτοῖς, which is more highly esteemed in the margin of the 2d Ed. than in the larger Ed.—E. B.

ABCD corrected, G Vulg. f Orig. Iren. omit αὐτοῖς. Except one passage of Origen there is none of the oldest authorities in support of it.—ED.

Verse 4. - The god of this world; rather, the god of this age. It is, as Bengel says, "a great and horrible description of the devil." He is not, however, here called a god of the kosmos, but only of the olam hazzeh, the present dispensation of things as it exists among those who refuse to enter that kingdom in which the power of Satan is brought to nought. The melancholy attempt to get rid of Manichean arguments by rendering the verse "in whom God blinded the thoughts of the unbelievers of this world" is set aside by the fact that the terrible description of Satan as "another god" (El acheer) was common among the rabbis. They knew that his power was indeed a derivative power, trot still that it was permitted to be great (Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12). In John 12:31 (John 14:30) our Lord speaks of him as "the ruler of the kosmos." Hath blinded; rather, blinded. The verb here has no other meaning than "to blind," and is quite different from the verb "to harden," rendered by "to blind" in 2 Corinthians 3:14 with the same substantive. They are blind from lack of faith, and so being "unbelieving" they are" perishing" (Ephesians 5:6), seeing that they "walk in darkness" (John 8:12) and are in Satan's power (Acts 26:18). Blindness of heart," says St. Augustine, "is both a sin and a punishment of sin and a cause of sin." The light of the glorious gospel of Christ; rather, the illumination of the gospel of the glory of the Christ. The word photismos in later ecclesiastical Greek was used for "baptism." Who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3). Should shine unto them; or, as in the Revised Version, should dawn upon them. The other rendering, "that they should not see the illumination," gives to the verb augazo, a rarer sense, only found in poetry, and not known to the LXX. 2 Corinthians 4:4The god of this world (ὁ θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου)

The phrase occurs only here. Compare Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12; John 12:31; John 14:30. Satan is called god in the rabbinical writings. "The first God is the true God; but the second god is Samael." "The matron said, 'Our god is greater than thy God; for when thy God appeared to Moses in the bush, he hid his face; when, however, he saw the serpent, which is my god, he fled."'

The light (τὸν φωτισμὸν)

Only here and 2 Corinthians 4:6. Lit., the illumination, act of enlightening.

Image of God

Compare Colossians 1:15; John 17:5; Philippians 2:6; Philippians 3:21. Christ's light is also God's. Compare Hebrews 1:3, Rev., effulgence (ἀπαύγασμα, compare αὐγάσαι shine, in this passage). Theodoret says: "The effulgence is both from the fire and with the fire, and has the fire as its cause, yet is not divided from the fire; for whence comes the fire, thence also comes the effulgence."

Shine (αὐγάσαι)

Only here in the New Testament. From αὐγή brightness, which also occurs but once, Acts 20:11, daybreak. In classical Greek of the sun especially. Rev., dawn is legitimate as a translation, but hardly here, since Paul is going back to the figure of 2 Corinthians 3:18.

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