ICC New Testament Commentary
Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;4:1. Here again, as between 1 and 2, the division of chapters is unintelligently made. The first six verses of this chapter belong to the preceding one, and the close connexion between the two paragraphs is obvious: the opening verses of this chapter show how close it is, for the Apostle is still urging the claims of his office, especially against those who charge him with insincerity and self-commendation.
The six verses run in couplets; the glory of the new ministry (1, 2); the condition of those who are too blind to see the glory of the Gospel (3, 4); the source of the glory (5, 6). A fresh departure is made at v. 7. With 1-6 comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12, which is a similar vindication of Apostolic authority on behalf of St Paul and his colleagues, and contains several similar expressions.
Διὰ τοῦτο. In 1 Corinthians 4:17 both AV and RV have ‘For this cause,’ which might well be retained here, v 7:13, and 13:10, in order to mark a difference between διὰ τοῦτο, διό (4:16), which might be ‘wherefore,’ and οὖν (5:20), which is usually ‘therefore.’ Vulg. has ideo for διὰ τοῦτο, propter quod for διό, and ergo for οὖν, not invariably, but in this Epistle. See Index IV.
καθὼς ἠλεήθημεν. ‘Even as we received mercy.’ The words belong to what precedes; ‘seeing that, in full accordance with God’s mercy, we have this ministry.’ It is of God’s goodness, and not of any merit of his own, that he has a calling of so high an order. Habentes eam, non ex meritis, sed ex Dei misericordia, quae nos ministros suos fecit (Herveius). Cf. the similar use of καθάπερ in 3:18 to show how Divine action is the explanation of wonderful results. Hort, on 1 Peter 2:10, points out that this verb is used “in reference to the signal mercy of the gift of the Gospel.” St Paul uses it several times of his own conversion and call (here; 1 Corinthians 7:25; 1 Timothy 1:13, 1 Timothy 1:16). The use of so humble an expression respecting his appointment to the Apostleship had special point in writing to Corinth, because there he had been accused of being self-asserting and aggressive. Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:9, 1 Corinthians 15:10. For διακονία see on 5:18.
In these six verses, as in the preceding chapter, St Paul is sometimes answering charges which had been brought against himself, and sometimes indirectly bringing charges against his Judaizing opponents by hinting that they do what he declares that he himself does not do; and we cannot always decide which of the two he is doing. In some cases he may be doing both. It is also difficult to decide whether the 1st pers. plur. includes Timothy or anyone else. Apparently the Apostle is thinking mainly of himself.
οὐκ ἐγκακοῦμεν. ‘We do not lose heart.’ The verb indicates the timidity which shrinks from coming forward and speaking out. Such faintheartedness takes refuge in silence and inactivity, in order to escape criticism, and therefore is the opposite of παρρησία. In Ephesians 3:13, μὴ ἐνκακεῖν follows a mention of παρρησία. The consciousness that he owed his ministry to the graciousness of God inspired the Apostle with courage and frankness. Misericordia Dei, per quam ministerium accipitur, facit strenuos et sinceros. Etiam Moses misericordiam adeptus est, et inde tantam invenit admissionem (Beng.). Chrys. paraphrases, οὐ καταπίπτομεν, ἀλλὰ καὶ χαίρομεν καὶ παρρησιαζόμεθα. In short, the Apostle acts up to his own exhortation, ἀνδρίζεσθε, κραταιοῦσθε (see on 1 Corinthians 16:13). Cf. οὐ γὰρ ἔδωκεν ἡμῖν πνεῦμα δειλίας (2 Timothy 1:7).
Excepting Luke 8:1 (where see note), the verb is found only in Paul (v. 16; 2 Thessalonians 3:13; Galatians 6:9; Ephesians 3:13), and everywhere there is a v. l. ἐκκακ. Here we should read ἐγκακ. (א A B D* F G 17, 67*) rather than ἐκκακ (C D3 E K L P). In all five passages D3 K L P have ἐκκακ, in four they are joined by C and E, and in three by F and G. The other uncials vary between ἐνκακ, which is right in Luke 18:1, and may be right in Galatians 6:9 and Ephesians 3:13. The evidence is tabulated by Gregory in Prolegomena to Tisch. Exo_8, p. 78. The verb is not found in LXX, but ἐγκακ is used by Symmachus four times, and ἐκκακ once. Polyb. 4:19:10 has τὸ πέμπειν τὰς βοηθείας ἐνεκάκησαν of the Lacedemonians dishonourably neglecting to send the promised reinforcements; and Philo, De confus. ling. § 13, has οὔτε ἐκκακούμενος ἐκνάμφθην, ἀλλὰ έρρωμένως ὠνείδισα τοῖς ἐξ αὐτῶν μοι καταρωμένοις. Vulg. here has non deficimus, d and e non deficimus, g non fiamus segnes, Ambrst. non infirmemur.
2. ἀπειπάμεθα. The verb both in act. and mid. has a variety of meanings, but there is no doubt as to its meaning here; ‘we have renounced’ or ‘we renounce,’ abdicamus occulta dedecoris (Vulg.). The aor. is timeless, or “ingressive,” J. H. Moulton, pp. 109, 134. This is more probable than that the aor. refers to the same period as ἠλεήθημεν. It is not likely that St Paul means that at his call he definitely renounced certain things. And of course ἀπειπάμεθα does not mean that he had previously practised what he here says that he has renounced, as was the case with St Matthew and Zacchaeus as toll-collectors. He means that these practices are quite alien to the work of an Apostle. On this 1st aor. in -α see WH. App. p. 164; Winer, p. 103; Blass, § 21. 1. The mid. of ἀπεῖπον is not found in classical Attic, and the dictum of Thomas Magister (57) that ἀπειπάμην is better Greek than ἀπεῖπον may be doubted. In Joseph. Ant. XVII. iii. 1 we have ἀπείπεσθαι τήνδε τὴν γαμετήν,—a very rare instance of the 2nd aor. mid.
τὰ κρυπτὰ τῆς αἰσχύνης. The exact meaning of ‘the hidden things of shame’ is not clear; but they are the opposite of παρρησία. ‘The hidden things which bring disgrace when they are known,’ or ‘which make a man ashamed of himself,’ or ‘which shame makes a man conceal.’ The general sense is much the same however we analyse the expression. He is not thinking of heathen vices (Ephesians 5:12), but of the underhand methods of the false teachers. An allusion to circumcision (Thdrt.) is certainly not intended. See on τὰ κρυπτὰ τοῦ σκότους (1 Corinthians 4:5). ‘The hidden things of dishonesty’ (AV) was not far wrong in 1611, when ‘dishonesty’ might mean ‘disgrace,’ and ‘honesty’ (1 Timothy 2:2) might mean ‘decorous behaviour,’ and ‘honest’ (Romans 12:17) ‘honourable,’ or ‘of good report.’ This usage still survives in the expression “to make her an honest woman,” but ‘dishonesty’ here is now misleading.
μὴ περιπατοῦντες ἐν πανουργίᾳ. ‘So that we do not walk in craftiness’; non ambulantes in astutia (Vulg.). This is a result of renouncing τὰ κρυπτὰ τ. αἰσχύνης. By πανουργία is meant unscrupulous readiness to adopt any means in order to gain one’s ends. Excepting Luke 20:23, only in Paul (11:3; 1 Corinthians 3:19; Ephesians 4:14). The Apostle had been accused of being a πανοῦργος (12:16), and if 10-13 is part of the intermediate severe letter, this passage may be a reference to that, or to 11:3. If πανουργία refers to the manoeuvres of the Judaizers, it may point to their efforts to undermine the influence of the Apostle. In our ignorance of the circumstances, there is abundant room for conjectures. See on 1 Corinthians 3:3 for περιπατεῖν of daily conduct, a very freq. use in Paul, = versari; also Hort on 1 Peter 1:15; Milligan on 1 Thessalonians 2:12; Lukyn Williams on Galatians 1:13.
μηδὲ δολοῦντες τ. λόγον τ. Θεοῦ. See on 3:17. The verb occurs nowhere else in N.T. and only twice in LXX (Psalm 15:3, Psalm 36:2). Here, as in 2:17 and 1 Corinthians 14:36, ὁ λόγος τ. Θεοῦ means the Gospel message, which is its usual, though not invariable, meaning in Paul (1 Thessalonians 2:13; Php 1:14; Colossians 1:25; 1 Timothy 4:5; 2 Timothy 2:9; Titus 2:5). See Harnack, The Constitution and Law of the Church, p. 340. By δολοῦντες he means using fallacious arguments and misinterpretations, and falsifying the relation of the old revelation to the new. The Judaizers of course resented his use of the O.T. and his disregard of the letter of the Law.
ἀλλὰ τῇ φανερώσει. ‘But, on the contrary, by manifestation.’ The word occurs in Biblical Greek only here and 1 Corinthians 12:7: it is selected in opposition to τὰ κρυπτὰ τῆς αἰσχύνης Cf. 1:12, 3:12, 11:3.
τῆς ἀληθείας. In opposition to δολοῦντες. ‘By the manifestation of the truth’ stands first with emphasis; by that, and by nothing else, do they commend themselves; no letters of recommendation, no wily arts, no crying of ‘peace’ when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14, Jeremiah 8:11). In Galatians 2:5, Galatians 2:14, where St Paul is dealing with similar opponents, we have the more definite expression ἡ ἀλήθεια τ. εὐαγγελίου, and in Colossians 1:5, ὁ λόγος τῆς ἀληθείας τ. εὐαγγελίου. In all these places the expression is a protest against misrepresentations of the Gospel and spurious substitutes for it, especially such as destroyed Christian liberty. Veritas quam manifestamus nos ipsos effcit commendabiles (Herveius).
συνιστάνοντες ἑαυτούς. This looks back to 3:1-6. Remembering who sent him and made him competent for the work, he is not afraid to magnify his office, although he knows that his doing so may be maliciously misinterpreted. Reflexive pronouns of the 3rd pers. with verbs of the 1st pers. plur. are freq. (v. 5, 5:12, 15, 6:4; 1 Corinthians 11:31; Romans 8:23, Romans 8:15:1; etc.). The simplification is convenient where it causes no ambiguity.
πρὸς πᾶσαν συνείδησιν ἀνθρώπων. ‘Unto the human conscience in all its forms’; see Westcott on Ephesians 1:3, Ephesians 4:8, and cf. Romans 2:9; Ephesians 1:8, Ephesians 1:4:19, 31, Ephesians 1:5:3, Ephesians 1:9, Ephesians 1:6:18; etc. Passion and prejudice are no safe judges; reason cannot always be trusted; even conscience is not infallible, for the conscience of this or that individual, or class, or profession may give a faulty decision. St Paul takes a wider range. He appeals to every kind of conscience among men, confident that they will all admit the justice of his claim; and securus judicat orbis terrarum. For this use of πρός comp. πρὸς τὸν Θεόν in 3:4; for συνείδησις see on 1:12.
ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ. The accumulation of solemn language in this verse here reaches a climax. He has felt the seriousness of the charges which had been openly formulated, or secretly insinuated, against him by his wily opponents, and he meets them seriously and without compromise. He appeals, not only to every form of human conscience, but to Him to whose mercy (v. 1) he owes the high calling which has subjected him to so much criticism, and under whose eye every conscience works: τοὺς εὖ φρονοῦντας ἔχομεν μάρτυρας καὶ τὸν τοῦ συνειδότος Ἐπόπτην (Thdrt.). The appeal can go no higher. Magnum esset, si hoc solummodo de hominibus diceret; sed, quia homines falli possunt, ideo subjunxit quod majus est incomparabiliter (Atto Vercellensis). Cf. 7:13; Romans 14:22.
The reading συνιστάνοντες (A ? B P 47, 67*, 80) is not quite certain; συνιστάντες (א C D* F G 17, 39) is preferred by some editors: either is to be preferred to συνιστῶντες (D3 E K L). Winer, p. 94, note.
3. εἰ δὲ καὶ ἔστιν κεκαλυμμένον τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἡμῶν. ‘But even though the Gospel which we preach really is veiled.’ The use of εἰ καί (v. 16, 5:16, 12:11) rather than καὶ εἰ, and the emphatic position of ἔστιν, which here cannot be enclitic, show that St Paul concedes what is stated hypothetically to be actually a fact. Winer, p. 554. In spite of the φανέρωσις τῆς ἀληθείας, the good tidings were not recognized as such by all. Some denied that there had been any φανέρωσις: his preaching was obscure and shifty. He had said that a veil hid the meaning of the Law from them; it was more true to say that a veil hid his Gospel from them. The Apostle here admits this; a veil has hid and does hide (perf. part.) the Gospel from them, but the veil is on their own hearts (3:15). It is not the fault of the Gospel or of those who preach it that it is rejected by some; it is the hearers’ own fault, because they listen in an attitude that is fatal. They desire, not the truth, but the confirmation of their own views.
The sublimity of St Paul’s teaching and his paradoxical expressions laid him open to the charge of saying ‘things hard to be understood’ (2 Peter 3:16). But that was not the cause of the vehement opposition to his teaching. His chief offence was his declaring the Law to be obsolete, and thereby (his enemies said) opening the door to boundless licence. So they declared that his Gospel was imperfect. He had never known the Christ, nor had been intimate with those who had known Him. They, on the contrary, had authentic information.
ἐν τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις. ‘In the case of those who are perishing’ (see on 2:15). The ἐν is not superfluous (Blass, § 41. 2); nor does it mean ‘in the hearts of,’ for the Gospel had not reached their hearts; nor ‘in their judgment,’ like ἐν ἐμοί, 1 Corinthians 14:11, for the question is one of fact, not of opinion; but ‘in their case.’ The uses of ἐν in late Greek are very various; J. H. Moulton, p. 103. Calvin comments on the confidence of the Apostle in this declaration; magnae fiduciae argumentum est, quod pro reprobis ducere audet omnes qui doctrinam respuunt. And then, perhaps remembering his own attitude towards those who dissented from him, he adds, Verum simili fiducia instructos esse convenit, quicunque pro Dei ministris haberi volunt; ut intrepida conscientia non dubitent omnes doctrinae suae adversarios ad Dei tribunal citare, ut illiuc damnationem certam referant. See on 1 John 4:16, where the writer says that he and his fellow-teachers receive their inspiration from God, and their message is rejected only by those who are not of God and are not striving to know Him.
4. ὁ θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου. The expression occurs nowhere else; but St Paul speaks of τὸν ἄρχοντα τῆς ἐξουσίας τοῦ ἀέρος (see on Ephesians 2:2), while St John, in three utterances attributed to Christ, has ὁ ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου. In Mark 3:22 = Matthew 12:24 and Luke 11:15 (Matthew 9:34), Christ’s opponents say that He casts out demons ἐν τῷ ἄρχοντι τῶν δαιμονίων. In all these cases Satan is meant, and in harmony with these passages St John says that the whole κόσμος, i.e. the whole of the moral and intellectual universe, so far as it is estranged from God, lies in the power of the evil one (see on 1 John 5:19). This does not mean that God abdicates or surrenders any portion of His dominion to Satan, but that those to whom He has granted free will place themselves under the power of darkness.* Here it is not this κόσμος, mundus, but ὁ αἰὼν οὗτος, ‘this age,’ seculum, that is said to have Satan for its god. During the time—believed by St Paul to be short—which would elapse before the Coming of the Lord, Satan reigned wherever there was opposition to the will of God, and this was an enormous sphere.
St Paul speaks frequently of ὁ αἰὼν οὗτος (1 Corinthians 1:20, 1 Corinthians 1:2:6, 1 Corinthians 1:8, 1 Corinthians 1:3:18; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 1:21), or ὁ νῦν αἰών (1 Timothy 6:17; 2 Timothy 4:10; Titus 2:12), or ὁ νῦν καιρός (Romans 3:26, Romans 8:18, Romans 11:5), or ὁ αἰὼν ὁ ἐνεστώς (Galatians 1:4), where it is especially stigmatized as πονηρός, or, in a remarkable expression which combines both terms, ὁ αἰὼν τοῦ κόσμου τούτου (Ephesians 2:2). The opposite of this evil age or world is ὁ αἰὼν μέλλων (Ephesians 1:21; cf. Hebrews 6:5; Luke 15:30, Luke 20:35), which is more commonly designated ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ, the period or realm in which God reigns supreme. If Satan is the ruler of this limited age, God is the King of the countless ages which are to follow it; He is ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν αἰώνων (1 Timothy 1:17; Tob. 13:6, 10; cf. Psalm 145:13, and see J. H. Bernard on 1 Timothy 1:17). In [Clem. Rom.] 2:6 it is said ἔστιν δὲ οὗτος ὁ αἰὼν καὶ ὁ μέλλων δύο ἐχθροί, and as we cannot be friends of both, we must detach ourselves from this one and cling firmly to the other.
It is startling to find one who had all his life held idolatry in abomination, and been zealous for the glory of the one true God, using this grandis et horribilis descriptio Satanae (Beng.) and electing to apply the term θεός to the arch-enemy of God and of mankind (P. Gardner, The Religious Experience of St Paul, p. 203); but what he says about the worship of demons (see on 1 Corinthians 10:20) is some explanation of his view. There was a Rabbinical saying, “The first God is the true God, but the second God is Samael,” and Irenaeus (1. v. 4) says that the Valentinians called the devil Κοσμοκράτωρ. See J. A. Robinson on Ephesians 6:12; Dalman, Words, p. 165.
This verse contains the strongest item of evidence for what is called “the dualistic element in the thinking of St Paul,” i.e. the recognition of a power or powers other than God, external to man, exerting influence over human affairs, and in some sense independent of God; and it has been maintained that on this point the dualism of the N.T. is sharper than that of contemporary Judaism. It may be so. Increased recognition of the mystery of ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’ would lead to a deeper appreciation of ‘the mystery of lawlessness.’
Fear of giving Apostolic support to the Manichaean doctrine of a good God and an evil one caused various Fathers, both Greek and Latin, to interpret this passage of God. Irenaeus (111. vii. 1) and others (Orig. Chrys. Thdrt. Tert. Hil. Aug.) adopt the device of taking τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου as the gen. after τῶν ἀπίστων—‘in whom God has blinded the minds of the unbelievers of this world’; and ‘the unbelievers of this world’ is interpreted to mean those who have no part in the other world, the world of light and bliss. Aug. (c. Faust. xxi. 2) says that plerique nostrum take the sentence in this way. He and others seem to be aware that this is questionable exegesis; but they are of opinion that, as Atto of Vercelli expresses it, because to interpret the words as meaning Satan brings us near to error, we must understand them as meaning God Himself. Calvin’s comment on this is to the point; Videmus quid faciat contentionis fervor in disputationibus: si composito animo legissent illi ones Pauli verba, nemini eorum in mentem venisset ita in coactum sensum torquere: sed quia urgebant adversarii, magis de illis propulsandis quam de inquirenda Pauli mente solliciti fuerunt. See Chase, The Lord’s Prayer in the Early Church, pp. 88 f.
ἐτύφλωσεν τὰ νοήματα τῶν ἀπίστων. ‘Blinded the minds of the unbelieving.’ Nothing is gained by making τ. ἀπίστων proleptic, ‘so that they did not believe’; on the contrary, it spoils what is the probable meaning. It was because they refused to believe that Satan had power to blind them. They resisted the influence of light until they lost the power of appreciating it. If the adjective had been proleptic, we should have had ἄπιστα rather than τωσν ἀπίστων, which is a kind of after-thought added to explain how the disastrous blinding became possible. Neither ἀνεγκλήτους in 1 Corinthians 1:8 (see note there), nor σύμμορφον in Php 3:21 (see note) is parallel to τῶν ἀπίστων here. As in 3:14, νοήματα here must mean ‘minds’ rather than ‘thoughts’ : to speak of blinding men’s thoughts is somewhat incongruous. In LXX ἄπιστος is very rare; in N.T. it is specially freq. in 1 and 2 Cor., and is almost always used of unconverted Gentiles But here there is such constant allusion to the Judaizers that we can hardly limit τῶν ἀπίστων to heathen. Cf. Titus 1:15.
In dictating, St Paul has packed his sentence too full, and the construction is so nearly broken that the meaning is in some respects obscure. It is not clear whether οἱ ἀπολλύμενοι and οἱ ἄπιστοι are coextensive. If not, which of the two includes the other? The latter question can be answered with some certainty, if it arises. It is not likely that οἱ ἀπολλύμενοι is the larger class, of which only some are ἄπιστοι. But it is possible that οἱ ἄπιστοι is a large class, some of whom, by being blinded, become ἀπολλύμενοι. We must translate ἐν οἶς ‘in whose case,’ not ‘among whom’: either ‘in whose case Satan has blinded the understandings of some who believed not’; or, ‘in whose case Satan blinded their understandings because they believed not.’ The latter is more probably correct, as being the simpler construction. If we adopt it, then all the ἄπιστοι are blinded and become ἀπολλύμενοι, and the two classes are coextensive. The interest of the discussion lies in the question whether St Paul contemplated the possibility of ‘unbelievers’ who were not ‘perishing.’
εἰς τὸ μὴ αὐγάσαι. The verb may be either transitive, ‘to see,’ or intransitive, ‘to dawn’; therefore either, ‘that they should not see the illumination of the Gospel of the glory of the Christ,’ or, ‘that the illumination of the Gospel, etc., should not dawn’ upon them. Both AV and RV take the latter meaning; RV. marg. takes the former, which has in its favour the order of the words and the absence of αὐτοῖς, which is not genuine, but has been inserted in some texts in order to make the latter meaning more possible. Qui oculos ad lucem claudunt justum est ut eis lux occultetur (Herveius); or, as Thdrt. puts it, ἀσθενοῦσι γὰρ ὀφθαλμοῖς πολέμιος ἥλιος. The rapid sequence, ‘see’ or ‘dawn,’ ‘illumination,’ ‘good-tidings,’ ‘glory,’ ‘the Christ,’ ‘image of God,’ shows how anxious St Paul is to give some idea of the amazing brightness and beauty which was lost when unbelievers came into the power of Satan. There is something stately both here and in v. 6 in the series of four genitives in succession. In N.T. αὐγάζειν occurs nowhere else, and in LXX it is very rare; φωτισμός occurs here and v. 6 and six times in LXX. It is possible that here we have a trace of the influence of the Book of Wisdom on St Paul; cf. ἀπαύγασμα γάρ ἐστιν φωτὸς αἰδίου, καὶ ἔσοπτρον ἀκηλέδωτον τῆς τοῦ θεοῦ ἐνεργείας (Wisd. 7:26). See on 5:1, 4. In the Testaments (Leviticus 14:4), τὸ φῶς τους νόμου τὸ δοθὲν εἰς φωτισμὸν παντὸς ἀνθρώπον. As we might expect, neither αυηγάζειν nor φωτισμός has been found in papyri; they deal with subjects that do not require the use of such words.
τῆς δόξης τοῦ Χριστοῦ. The Gospel ‘which contains and proclaims the glory of the Messiah.’ This was precisely what the Gospel preached by the Judaizers did not do.* The addition of these words was perhaps suggested by the glory of Moses. In 1 Timothy 1:11 we have ‘the Gospel of the glory of the blessed God.’ Neither expression is inconsistent with ὁ λόγος τοῦ σταυροῦ, which is foolishness τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις (see on 1 Corinthians 1:18). It was the cross which led direct to the glory: ‘He became obedient to the death of the cross; wherefore also (διὸ καί) God highly exalted Him’ (Php 2:9; cf. John 10:17; Hebrews 2:9).†.
ὄς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τους Θεοῦ. Here again, as in ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ (v. 2), we reach the supreme climax. This addition to the sentence, which is complete without it, is made in order to show what ‘the glory of the Christ’ means; hinc satis intelligi potest, quanta sit gloria Christi (Beng.). It means the glory which is shed abroad by the one visible Representative of the invisible God, a glory which cannot be seen by those whom Satan has blinded. See on Php 2:6 and Colossians 1:15, and comp. Χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ (Hebrews 1:3). This is one of the passages in which St Paul comes near to the Johannine doctrine of the Λόγος. See Bernard, ad loc. The Alexandrian school interprets the εἰκὼν Θεοῦ of the Λύγος: see Lightfoot on Colossians 3:10, and Foundations, pp. 192 f. Cf. John 8:19; Wisd. 7:26.
Baljon and others suggest that τῶν ἀπίστων is a gloss; Bachmann, that the original reading may have been αὐτῶν τῶν ἀπίστων or simply αὐτῶν. αὐγάσαι (א B F G K L P) rather than καταυγάσαι (C D E H) or διαυγάσαι (A 17). After αὐγάσαι D2 and 3 E K L P, Syrr. Vulg. Aeth. Goth. add αὐτοῖς, which some editors accept; but א A B C D* F G H 17, Lat-Vet. omit, and insertion to smooth the construction is more probable than accidental omission. For Χριστοῦ C has Κυρίου. After τοῦ Θεοῦ, א3 L P, Syr-Hark. add τοῦ ἀοράτου from Colossians 1:15.
5. οὐ γὰρ ἑαυτοὺς κηρύσσομεν. In spite of such strong disclaimers as 1 Corinthians 1:13, St Paul was accused of preaching himself. His giving himself as a pattern to be imitated (1 Corinthians 4:16, 1 Corinthians 4:7:7, 1 Corinthians 4:11:1; etc.) would serve as a handle for this charge; see on 3:1. It is less probable that by this accusation his enemies meant that his revelations were delusions or deliberate fictions; he had never seen Jesus and knew nothing about Him; what he called “preaching Christ” was preaching his own fancies. This does not suit the context very well. The γάρ refers to the preceding verses. ‘I call it “our Gospel” (v. 3), because we preach it, but its contents are “the glory of Christ” (v. 4); for it is not ourselves that we preach, but (what is very different) Christ Jesus as Lord.’ Ἑαυτούς is emphatic by position, but κυρίους is not to be understood with it. ‘It is not ourselves that we preach as lords, but Christ Jesus that we preach as Lord’ is an antithesis which St Paul would not be likely to make. To ‘preach Christ as Lord’ is to preach Him as crucified, risen, and glorified, the Lord to whom ‘all authority in heaven and earth has been given.’ To confess Him as Lord is to declare oneself a Christian (Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3). Κύριον suggests the δούλους which follows as an antithesis.
ἑαυτοὺς δὲ δούλους ὑμῶν. ‘While (we account) ourselves as your bondservants.’ Grammatically, κηρύσσομεν governs the second ἑαυτοὺς as well as the first, but that is not what the Apostle means. He has just stated that he does not preach himself, which is to be understood absolutely. From no point of view and in no capacity does he do that; but the position which he assumes in relation to his converts is not that of Saviour, but of a slave. In 1 Corinthians 3:5 he said διάκονοι, ‘servants’: in 1 Corinthians 4:1, ὑπηρέται, ‘underlings’; here he says δοῦλοι, ‘slaves.’ Elsewhere he calls himself the δοῦλος of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1; Php 1:1); and the qualifying words which he adds here show that this is his meaning here. It is because Christian ministers are the bondservants of Christ that they are the bondservants of those to whom they minister; and only so far as service to them does not interfere with service to Him, is it allowable to be bondservants to men. This is the only passage in which St Paul speaks of being the δοῦλος of his converts. See Chadwick, Pastoral Teaching of St Paul, p. 128. Cf. 1 Corinthians 7:23, 1 Corinthians 9:19.
διὰ Ἰησοῦν. Propter Jesum, ‘for Jesus’ sake.’ The use of this name without Χριστόν commonly denotes our Lord in the time of His humiliation (vv. 10-14; 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 4:14); see on 1 Corinthians 9:1; J. A. Robinson, Ephesians, pp. 23, 107. It is rare in the Pauline Epistles, but it has special point here. It is not in order to curry favour with the Corinthians, or to flatter their conceit, that he counts himself as their δοῦλος, but he does so for the sake of Him who ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν μορφὴν δούλου λαβών (Php 2:7); for the sake of Him who commanded His Apostles to be ready for the meanest service (John 13:14-16). Non ad gloriam nostram praedicamus Evangelium, sed ad claritatem Christi, cui obedimus, dum vobis in ministerio verbi servimus non propter vestrum meritum, sed propter Domini praeceptum (Herveius). For His sake they made themselves the servants of all, in order to bring the more adherents to Him; see on 1 Corinthians 9:19.
Some editors make vv. 3 and 4 parenthetical and treat this verse as a continuation and explanation of v. 2. Others, with more reason, make this verse a parenthesis. Clearness is not gained by either arrangement. The connexion (γάρ) of v. 5 with vv. 3 and 4 has been pointed out. There is perhaps yet another thought. ‘We do not preach ourselves but Jesus as Lord; therefore those unbelievers who reject our preaching reject, not us, but the Lord Jesus.’ On the other hand, the connexion between v. 4 and v. 6 is close.
This is one of the places in which it is hard to decide between Χριστὸν Ιησοῦν (B H K L, Syr-Pesh. Copt. Arm.) and Ἰης. Χπ (א A C D E, Latt. Syr-Hark. Goth.). F G have Κύριον before Ἰης. Χρ. P omits Κύριον. Vulg-Clem. and some inferior Latin authorities insert nostrum after Dominum; ‘we preach Jesus Christ our Lord.’ For διὰ Ἰησοῦν, א* A** C 17, Latt. (per, not propter) Copt. have διὰ Ἰησοῦ, ‘through Jesus.’
6. ὅτι. This explains why they must preach Christ and not themselves; ‘Because the God who said, Out of darkness light shall shine, is He who shone in our hearts.’ This is another reason for not treating v. 5 as a parenthesis. ‘Out of darkness’ should come before ‘light shall shine’ in English, as in the Greek. To omit ὅς is a needless simplification; ἐστιν is to be supplied with ὅς. The statement is in antithesis to v. 4, which has influenced the structure of this verse. The unbelieving opponents have been blinded by Satan; the Apostle has been illumined by God Himself, the Creator of Light. Satan reduced them from unbelief to total blindness; God has brought him from darkness to light. In this verse the 1st pers. plur. must mean primarily the Apostle, for the reference to his own experiences on the road to Damascus and in Damascus are almost as clear as his reference to ‘Let there be light.’ With regard to that, it is possible that some recollection of ἐξανέτειλεν ἐν σκότει φῶς (Psalm 111:4), or of φῶς ποιήσᾶ ἐκ σκότους (Job 37:15), has influenced his wording. He wants for his purpose ἐκ σκότους as well as φῶς: it was out of darkness, both physical and spiritual, that God rescued him. God blinded his bodily eyes for three days as a means towards healing his spiritual blindness. How could a man who had had these experiences preach himself?
ὁ εἰπών, Ἐκ σκότους φῶς λάμψει. The Apostle reminds his converts of the first creative word that is recorded. The God who is Light (see on 1 John 1:5), the nature of which is to communicate itself and expel darkness, and who is ‘the Father of lights’ (Jam 1:17), and therefore the Source of all intellectual and spiritual illumination, is the God who illuminated the Apostles, and in a special manner St Paul. God did not allow darkness to reign over the material universe. With the first utterance attributed to Him He dispersed it. Magnum opus, as Bengel remarks. It is not likely that He would allow darkness to prevail throughout the spiritual world. From the first He provided means for dispersing that also. The old lamps, however, were going out; but better ones have taken their place, and some of them have been sent to Corinth.
ὃς ἔλαμψεν ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν. ‘Is He who shone in our hearts,’ illuminating our whole moral and spiritual being. He who over the primeval chaos said, ‘Let there be light,’ and provided sun, moon, and stars to preserve and spread it, has shed light into the chaos of our souls, and has thus provided instruments for the perpetual φανέρωσις τῆς ἀληθείας (v. 2). The details of this process in the case of St Paul himself are told us to some extent in Galatians 1:15, Galatians 1:16. As λάμψει must be intransitive in the previous clause, it is probable that ἔλαμψεν also is intransitive. Some, however, understand φῶς, which is the nom. to λάμψει, as the acc. after ἔλαμψεν, ‘made light to shine.’ But in class. Grk. the transitive use of λάμπειν is poetical and somewhat rare.
πρὸς φωτισμὸν τῆς γνώσεως τῆς δόξης τοῦ Θεοῦ. The stately series of genitives is parallel to that in v. 4. In both cases the first genitive is subjective; ‘the illumining which the knowledge of the glory (or, the Gospel of the glory) produces.’* In v. 4, φωτισμὸς τ. εὐαγγελίον cannot mean ‘the enlightenment which produces the Gospel,’ and it is unlikely that φωτ. τ. γνώσεως means ‘the enlightenment which issues in knowledge.’ The knowledge which has this illumining power is in the Apostles, imparted to them by God with a view to (πρός) their employing it to illuminate others. In the account of his conversion given by St Paul to King Agrippa he states that Christ told him of this purpose at the outset; ‘To this end (εἰς τοῦτο) have I appeared to thee, to appoint thee a minister and a witness, delivering thee from the People and from the Gentiles, to whom I send thee, to open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God’ (Acts 26:16-18). ‘With a view to illumining men with the knowledge of the glory of God’ gives the sense. Some would limit the action of φωτισμός to ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν, ‘God shone in our hearts to illumine them, ’ so that the scope of the statement does not extend beyond the Apostles and preachers; but vv. 3 and 4 clearly cover those to whom they preached, and the hearers are probably included here.
ἐν προσώπῳ Χριστοῦ. Like ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τ. Θεοῦ in v. 4, this is an addition to a sentence which would be complete without it, yet an addition which is full of meaning. Christ is the image of God, and in His face is revealed so much of the Divine glory as can be communicated to men, and it is this which Apostles know and have to make known. It may be that St Paul is still thinking of the reflexion of the Divine glory on the face of Moses, and hence says ἐν προσώπῳ Χριστοῦ rather than ἐν Χριστῷ.† But it is more probable that he is thinking of the Divine glory in the face of Christ, which he himself saw on the road to Damascus. Elsewhere he merely affirms that he has seen the Lord (1 Corinthians 9:1, 1 Corinthians 15:8), or that God revealed His Son to him (Galatians 1:15). Here he seems to be desiring to tell, as in the narratives in Acts, the splendour of the vision. Christ was revealed to him by God-in a glory which was Divine. When he speaks of having knowledge ‘of the glory of God in the face of Christ,’ he is speaking of what he himself has seen. See Bousset, ad loc. For προσώπῳ see on 2:10.
On this lofty level St Paul leaves for a while (till v. 11) the glorification of Apostleship, which is a different thing from glorification of himself. God does wonderful work with very humble instruments, and takes His instruments sometimes from very unexpected quarters. St Paul often remarks how true this is of himself. But whatever this demerits may be, they only enhance the glory of the Apostleship. What he has accomplished is due to the grace given to an Apostle, not to the abilities of Saul of Tarsus.
It is often debated whether the experiences which produced his conversion were objective or subjective, whether there was any light that was seen by others and any voice that was heard by others. The accounts agree about the sight, but not about the sound. May there not be an error about both? May not the whole of the experiences have been mental, and confined to the future Apostle?* These questions will continue to be asked, and no answer to them can be proved to be true. What is certain is that these experiences produced in St Paul a conviction, which lasted the whole of his life and influenced his whole life, that he had seen and held a conversation with the risen Lord Jesus. In this passage he himself seems to give us both a subjective and an objective element. In ὃς ἔλαμψεν ἐν καρδίαις ἡμῶν we have an internal experience; in ἡ δόξα τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐν προσώπῳ Χριστοῦ we have an external one. Comp. ἐν ἐμοί (Galatians 1:16) with the one and ἑώρακα (1 Corinthians 9:1) with the other (Klöpper, ad loc.). The reasonableness of believing in both these elements is well put by A. T. Robertson, Epochs in the Life of St Paul, ch. iii.; and by J. H. Ropes, The Apostolic Age, pp. 107-110. See also Ramsay, The Teaching of Paul in Terms of the Present Day, p. 15.
λἀμψει (א* A D* 67**, Syrr. Aeth.) rather than λάμψαι (א3 C D3 E F G H K L P, Latt. Goth. Arm.), which was perhaps substituted because the wording is so different from Genesis 1:3; ‘who commanded the light to shine out of darkness’ avoids divergence as to the form of the command. D* F G Chrys. Tert. Ambrst. omit ὅς before ἔλαμψεν, which simplifies the construction. C* D* F G d e g r Aeth. substitute αὐτοῦ for τοῦ Θεοῦ, έν προσώπῳ Χριστοῦ (A B 17, Arm. (codd.), Orig. Chrys. Tert.) rather than ἐν πρ. Ἰησοῦ Χρ (א C H K L P, Syrr. Copt. Goth.) or ἐν πρ. Χρ. Ἰησοῦ (D E F G, Latt.).
4:7-5:10. The Sufferings and Supports of an Apostle
It may seem strange that so glorious a dispensation should be proclaimed by such frail and suffering ministers; but that proves that the power of it is from God and not from them. They are sustained by God’s power and by the prospect of future blessedness. The sure hope that present suffering leads on to eternal glory enables them to bear all things in the service of Christ.
7 But this glory has another side. This illuminating power is entrusted to unattractive and worthless persons, as treasure is stored in earthen jars, in order that it may be patent to all that the excellence of power which we exhibit is God’s gift, and does not emanate from us. 8 In our conflicts we suffer heavily, but are never utterly defeated. Often hard pressed, yet not driven to surrender; in desperate plight, yet not in despair; 9 chased from the field, yet not left to the mercy of the foe; beaten to the earth, yet not killed outright; 10 always carrying about in the body the imminent danger of dying as Jesus died, in order that by the continual escapes and deliverances of our bodies it might be manifest to the world that Jesus is still alive. 11 Yes, every day that we live we are continually being handed over to death for the sake of Jesus, in order that in just that part of us which is liable to death it might be made manifest to all that the living Jesus is at work. 12 So then it is His death that takes effect in us while it is His life which, through its power in us, takes effect in you. 18 There is a Psalmist who has written, ‘I believed, therefore I spoke.’ That is just our case. We have exactly the same spirit of faith and trust that he had, and therefore we do not keep silence. 14 We also speak with confidence, because we know that He who raised the Lord Jesus from the grave will, in virtue of His Resurrection, raise us up also, and will bring us into His presence, side by side with you. 15 For all that we do and all that we suffer is done and suffered for your benefit, in order that the grace which is bestowed on us, being augmented by the increasing number of those who believe with us and pray for us, may cause a greater volume of thanksgiving to rise both from us and from them to the glory of God.
16 No wonder, therefore, that, with your salvation to work for and this faith to sustain us, we do not lose heart and act as cowards. On the contrary, although our physical powers are wasting away, yet what is spiritual in us is being ceaselessly made fresh and strong. 17 By this I mean that our present afflictions, which may seem heavy and protracted, are really light and momentary compared with the enduring substantiality of glory which they are working out for us in an ever increasingly preponderating degree. 18 And we are sure of this, because we direct our gaze, not towards the fleeting things which we now see around us, but towards the lasting realities which to us are at present unseen.
5. 1 I affirm this because we known well that, if the tentlike body which is our earthly dwelling should be taken down, God supplies us with a better building, a dwelling that is supernatural, lasting, with its site not on earth but in heaven. 2 For truly in this tent-dwelling we sigh and groan, desiring greatly to have our heavenly home put over us, 3 sure that this putting of it on will secure us from being found at Christ’s coming without any house at all. 4 For verily we that are still in our tent, awaiting His return, have reason to sigh and groan, feeling oppressed because, while we shrink from the idea of losing it by death, we desire to have the better dwelling placed over it, in order that all that is perishable in the one may be swallowed up by the imperishable nature of the other. 5 Our feelings may seem to be a poor security for this, but we have a far stronger one. He who has schooled us for this very change is none other than God Himself; and He has given us, as a guarantee that we shall have it, no less than His Holy Spirit.
6 Having, therefore, at all times such a sure ground for confidence, and knowing that so long as we are still at home in the body we are in a sort of exile from our home in the Lord—7 for here we have to guide our steps by means of faith, because the realities which shape our lives cannot be seen—8 we have, I say, a sure ground for confidence, and in that confidence we are well content rather to go into exile from our home in the body, and take up our abode in our home with the Lord. 9 Having such a preference, we are not only well content to leave the body, but we earnestly desire that, whether we are still in it or already out of it, we may find acceptance with Him. 10 This desire, in all conditions of existence to be acceptable to Him, is inevitable, when we remember that, by God’s decree, from which we cannot escape, there is not one of us but will have the whole of his life and character laid bare before Christ at His judgment-seat, in order that he may receive recompense for the things of which his body was the instrument, in exact requital for his conduct, whether it was meritorious or worthless.
Edmund Waller’s lines on Old Age may serve as a prelude to this part of the Epistle.
The soul’s dark cottage, battered and decayed,
Lets in new light through chinks that Time hath made:
Stronger by weakness, wiser men become
As they draw near to their eternal home.
Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view
That stand upon the threshold of the new.
The subject remains the same,—the value of the Apostolic office; but it is regarded from a new point of view. He has shown the exceeding glory of the new dispensation and its superiority to the old, especially with regard to the courage and frankness exhibited by its ministers (3:4-4:6). That does not mean that the ministers are magnificent persons. In the Apostle’s case, so far from external magnificence, there is constant weakness with frequent suffering and depression. But in the weakness of the preachers the Divine power of the Gospel becomes all the more conspicuous, and they know that they may count upon the necessary support here and an eternal reward hereafter.
These sufferings and compensating supports are discussed in three aspects; in reference to the difficulties of ministerial work (7-15), in reference to the hope of resurrection (16-5:5), and in reference to life, death, and judgment (5:5-10). In the first of these he is possibly referring once more to his opponents’ reproaches. They may have said that his frequent sufferings were a judgment on him for his false teaching about the Law. We know that they had laughed at his mean appearance and want of eloquence (10:10). But, he now urges, the contents of a vessel cannot always be inferred from the character of the vessel.
7. Ἔχομεν. The Apostle again and again dwells upon the goodly possessions of the Christian, and especially of the Christian minister; πεποίθησιν τοιαύτην (3:4), τοιαύτην ἐλπίδα, (3:12), τ. διακονίαν ταύτην (4:1), θησανρὸν τοῦτον (4:7), τὸ αὐτὸ πνεῦμα τῆς πίστεως (4:13), οἰκοδομὴν ἐκ Θεοῦ (5:1), πάντα (6:10), ταύτας τὰς ἐπαγγελίας (7:1); and he often builds an argument upon these goodly possessions.
Ἔχομεν δὲ τὸν θησαυρὸν τοῦνον. The δέ marks the contrast between the glory on which he has been enlarging and the humiliations about to be described; ‘But there is a great deal to be said on the other side.’ The contrast is skilfully drawn: I. it confirms the declaration that the preachers do not preach themselves, for in themselves they are despised and persecuted; 2. it works round to a conclusion which is much in favour of the Corinthians (vv. 12-15). ‘This treasure’ is the illumining power of the knowledge of Divine glory. The power is limitless, but it is stored in very unlikely receptacles.
ἐν ὀστρακίνοις σκεύεσιν. The expression σκεῦος ὀστράκινον occurs four times in Leviticus, and ἂγγος or ἀγγεῖον ὀστρ is common elsewhere in LXX. Here we have to determine the literal meaning of σκεύη and from this to reach the metaphorical use. The word in its literal sense has a wide range. Articles of furniture in a house (Luke 17:31), differing greatly in value and use (Romans 9:21-23; Rom_2 Tim. 1:20), are σκεύη. Not only a vessel for holding things (John 19:29), but a sheet (Acts 10:11), is a σκεῦος. A σκεῦος is inanimate; it is an instrument or implement, as distinct from a ζῶον (Plat. Rep. x. 601 D, Gorg. 506 D). It is doubtful whether σκεῦος in its literal sense ever means a body its metaphorical sense in N.T. is commonly assumed to be taken from the meaning ‘vessel,’ but this is not always correct. In Acts 9:15, σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς, ‘a vessel of election,’ ‘a chosen vessel,’ should rather be ‘an elect instrument.’ In 1 Peter 3:7, ὡς ἀσφενεστέρῳ σκεύελ, ‘as to the weaker vessel,’ should rather be ‘as to the weaker chattel’: both husband and wife are articles of furniture in God’s house, and one of them is stronger than the other. In 1 Thessalonians 4:4 the meaning of τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦος remains doubtful and does not help us here. In this passages ‘vessel’ is certainly right; treasure was frequently stored in earthen jars, a fact of which Wetstein gives numerous illustrations. *
If the treasure is the illumining power of the knowledge γῆς δόξης τοῦ Θεοῦ, what are the vessels in which it does its work? We perhaps give too limited an answer when we say, ‘the bodies of the chosen ministers.’ It is quite true that the human body is often spoken of as a mean vessel or vase which holds the much more precious mind or soul. It is one of those metaphors which are so obvious as to be inevitable. Cicero (Tusc. Disp. i. 22), vas animi. Seneca (Ad Marciam Consolatio, 11) Quid est homo? Quodlibet quassum vas, et quodlibet fragile … imbecillum corpus, ad omnem fortune contumeliam projectum. Philo (Quod deterius potiori inside. sol. § 46), τὸ τῆς ψυΧῆς ἀγγεῖον, τὸ σῶμα. And again (De Migr. Abr. § 35) ὁ μὲν γὰρ ἡμέτερος νοῦς περιέχεται ὡς ἐν ἀγγείῳ τῷ σώματι. See also the parallel Wisd. 9:15. Marcus Aurelius (x. 38) bids us remember that what is within the vessel, τὸ ἔνδον ἐγκεκρυμμένον is the real ἄνθρωπος, and τὸ περικείμενον ἀγγειῶδες ought not to be included. Chrys., Thdrt., and others think that the ὀστρ. σκεῦος here means the human body, and that the epithet ‘earthen’ refers to man being made of the dust of the earth. The reference to the creation of light in v. 6 makes such an allusion not impossible; but in that case we should have expected Χοῦν ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς (Gen . 2:7) to have suggested either χοϊκο͂ς (1 Corinthians 15:47), or γηγενής (Wisd. 8:1), or γήινος, rather than ὀστράκινος. Gideon’s ὐδρείαι (Jdg 7:16, Jdg 7:19) have no epithet, and they were used to hide light. Tertullian understands the vessels here as meaning bodies; he translates (De Res. Carn. 7, 44) in testaceis vaseulis or vasis, and adds scilicet in carne. Vulg. has in vasis fictilibus.
But it is not impossible that here the σκεῦος is the whole personality. It was in the man as a whole, and not in his body in particular, that the Divine treasure which was to enrich the world was placed to be dispensed to others. In this work the body was indispensable, but it was not the only factor. The participles in vv. 8-10 apply partly to the body and partly to the mind, and they apply more to the former than to the latter, because the metaphors are taken from bodily contests; and the epithet ὀστρακίνοις indicates the general unattractiveness and insignificance of the men who preached the Gospel, and not merely the fragile character of their bodies. The metaphor of earthenware as representing human beings is common in O.T. (Isaiah 29:16, 30:14, 45:9, 64:8; Jeremiah 18:6; Lamentations 4:2; Job 10:9), and in such passages it is the whole man, and not merely his body, that is contemplated. Cf. 4 Esdr. 4:11; quomodo poterit vas tuum capere Altissimi viam? The epithet here is chosen because of the treasure, inestimable worth in a worthless vessel; and ὀστράκινος is sometimes used in the sense of worthless. Epictertus applies ὀστράκινος to discourse, opinions, pursuits, desires; “Your utensils,” he says, “are of gold, and your discourse of earthenware,” χρυσᾶ σκεύη, ὀστράκινον δὲ λόγον κ.τ.λ (Dis. iii. 9).
ἵνα ἡ ὑπερβολὴ τῆς δυνάμεως ᾖ τοῦ Θεοῦ. ‘(In order) that the exceeding greatness (12:7) of the power may be God’s and not from us.’ Here ‘may be’ means ‘may be seen to be,’ φανῇ or εὑρεθῇ in Romans 3:4, γινέσθω is used in the same sense, and in Romans 7:13, γένηγαι Cf. οὐκ ἀφʼ ἐαυτῶν … ὡς ἐξ ἑαντῶν (3:5). ‘Of God and not of us’ (AV) obliterates the difference between τοῦ Θεοῦ and ἐξ ἡμῶν. ‘May be perceived to belong to God and not to originate with ourselves’ is the meaning. Dei, non modo ex Deo; deus non modo largitur virtutem, sed semper praestat (Beng.). The reading ἐκ τ. Θεοῦ (Baljon and others) is pure conjecture. By ὐπερβολή (see on 1:8) is meant that the power is a great deal more than is sufficient for its purpose; it triumphs over all opposition. The δύναμις is the power of his preaching (1 Corinthians 2:4), with which we may perhaps couple the power of his miracles, and certainly that of his endurance,—all the power which produced the conversion of so many in spite of such great obstacles. Ut sublimitas sit virtutis Dei, et non ex nobis (Vulg.) is misleading, the sit being misplaced. It is possible to translate ‘that the exceeding greatness may be of the power of God and not from ourselves,’ but the position of ᾖ is against it, and ὑμερβολή without further definition is awkward; superabundance of what? Those who take the sentence in this way give very different answers to this question. Elsewhere Jerome takes the more probable construction; ut abundantia fortitudinis nostrae sit ex Deo et non ex nobis (Con. Pelag. iii. 9). So also Augustine; ut eminentia uirtutis sit Dei et non ex nobis (Serm. 169, 12). God designed that the power in speading the Gospel should be recognized as His; He therefore chose humble instruments who could not be supposed to have produced such effects by their own powers.
8-10. The rhythm in these three verses is clearly marked by the balance of the clauses. We have four illustrations of the way in which the frailty of the instruments might have been fatal to any other cause, but in this case were not allowed to be so. The fifth instance is different. They are all taken from the Apostle’s own experience.
8. ἐν παντὶ θλιβόμενοι. We have the same words in 7:5; ‘in everything pressed.’ In 1:6 it was necessary to translate θλιβόμεθα ‘are afflicted,’ because of the frequent ‘affliction’ in that passage. But here the radical signification of ‘pressure’ (Mark 3:9) must be retained, because of στενοΧωρούμενοι. The pressure is that of persecution (1 Thessalonians 3:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:6, 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Hebrews 11:37). The indefinite ἐν παντί is to be understood with all the pairs of participles. Chrys. paraphrases, ‘in respect of foes and friends, of those who are hostile and those who are of one’s own household.’ Ἐν παντί occurs ten times in 2 Cor. Elsewhere in Paul, 1 Corinthians 1:5 only.
οὐ στενοΧωρούμενοι. ‘Not in hopeless straits,’ not in a plight from which extrication is impossible: nunquam deest exitus 1 Corinthians 10:13); in inviis vias salutis invenimus; ἐν ἀπόροις πράγμασιν πόρους εὑρίκομεν σωτηρίας (Thdrt.) He is speaking of external difficulties, not of mental anxiety: that comes next.
Here we have οὐ with a participle (which is rare in N.T.) four times in two verses; but there are eight other examples in the Pauline Epistles; see on 1 Corinthians 9:26; J. H. Moulton, p. 231; Blass, § 75.5. We have στενοΧωρία Romans 2:9, Romans 8:35.
ἀπορούμενοι ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἐξαπορούμενοι. Once more a play upon words (see on 1:13); ‘in despondency, yet not in despair’; indigemus, sed non perinde indigemus (Tert. Scorp. 13). * There may be the greater anxiety and perplexity, so that one does not know what to do, and yet confidence that all will end well. Such a state of mind is quite compatible with expectation of death (see on 1:8).
9. διωκόμενοι, ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἐλκαραλειπόμενοι. ‘Pursued by men (1 Corinthians 4:12), yet not forsaken by God.’ ‘Pursued by foes, yet not left in the lurch by friends’ (Plat. Symp. 179 A), might be the meaning, but it has less point. The ruling idea throughout is that God manifests His power in His servants’ weakness. Whatever hostile agents, whether human or diabolical, may do, the earthen vessels are able to bear the shock and continue to render service. In LXX, the verb is used of the Divine promise; οὐ μή σε ἐγκαταλείπω (Genesis 28:15; Joshua 1:5; cf. Deuteronomy 31:6, Deuteronomy 31:8).
καταβαλλόμενοι, ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἀπολλύμενοι. ‘Struck down, yet not destroyed’; struck down, either ἐν ῥομφαίᾳ (2 Kings 19:7), or ἐν μαχαίρᾳ (Jeremiah 19:7), or any other weapon (Hdt. iv. 64).
It is probable that the last two illustrations, and possible that all four, are taken from combatants in battle or in the arena; ‘hard pressed, yet not hemmed in; in difficulties, yet not in despair; pursued, yet not abandoned; smitten down, yet not killed.’ But ἐγκαταλειπόμενοι must not be understood of being left behind in a race, nor καταβαλλόμενοι of being thrown in wrestling. The four form a climax.
10. The fifth illustration sums up the preceding four, and carries the climax to the supreme point, ‘always dying, yet always alive.’ The four kinds of suffering are condensed as ἡ νέκρωσις τοῦ Ἰησοῦ, and the four kinds of deliverance as ἡ ζωὴ τ. Ἰ. The emphatic παντοτε repeats the emphatic παντί (v. 8) and anticipates the emphatic ἀεί (v. 11), from which it should be distinguished in translation; ‘at all times’ (2:14, 5:6, 9:8).
τὴν νέκρωσιν τ. Ἰ. The meaning of this ‘putting to death of Jesus’ is explained (γάρ) in the next verse. The missionaries were perpetually being delivered unto death for Christ’s sake. They were never free from peril. Enemies were always seeking their lives, as they sought His life, and to a large extent the enemies in both cases were Jews. All this He and they endured, because it was so decreed in accordance with the will of God. They shared His sufferings, including the process which in His case ended in death, and which at any time might so end in their case (see on Php 3:10 and 1 Corinthians 15:31). This shows that St Paul taught his converts details in the history of Jesus, especially His sufferings ending in death. Here he assumes that they know. In this late Greek the different shades of meaning attached to terminations become somewhat indistinct. See on 1:12, 14 and on 9:10. Here νέκρωσις has the old force of indicating a process, whereas in Romans 4:19 νέρωσις means ‘deadness’ rather than ‘putting to death’ or ‘deadening.’ Epictetus says that most people take all means to prevent the mortification (ἀπονέκρωσις) of the body, while few care much about the mortification of the soul (Dis. 1:5). The Apostle’s life, like the Lord’s, was a perpetual martyrdom, ending at last in actual putting to death; with this difference, that Christ knew, up to the arrest in Gethsemane, that His hour was not yet come, whereas St Paul had no such knowledge.
Here again the Apostle expresses in mystic and paradoxical language his union with Christ. In his frail, weary, battered person he ever bears the dying of Jesus, in order that the life also of Jesus may be exhibited to the world. This may mean that the frequent deliverances from difficulty, danger, and death are evidence that the Crucified is still alive and has Divine power; cf. 1:5; Colossians 1:24; 2 Timothy 2:12; 1 Peter 4:13, 1 Peter 5:1.* See on 1 Peter 3:18, p. 161. Thdrt. and others explain the ἵνα … φανερεθῇ of the hope of a future resurrection and immortality. But ἐν τῇ φνητῇ σαρκὶ ἡμῶν in v. 11, which paraphrases v. 10, compels us to confine the explanation to this life. From the repetition of τοῦ Ἰησοῦ (see on v. 5) we see that St Paul does not separate the historic Jesus from the glorified Christ. To him it is the same Jesus. † Bengel thinks that St Paul repeats the name Jesus, because singularitur sensit dulcedinem ejus. That thought inspired St Bernard’s “Joyful Rhythm,” Jesus dulcis memoria, well known through Caswall’s translation, “Jesu, the very thought of Thee,” and the Jesu dulcedo cordium of the Paris Breviary; to which we may add Newton’s “How sweet the name of Jesus sounds” (Olney Hymns, No. 57, ed. 1779): but it may be doubted whether it is the cause of the repetition here. The point here is that the dying and living of one and the same Jesus are found in one and the same servant of Jesus. In περιφέροντες we have an allusion to missionary journeys.
For the first τοῦ Ἰησοῦ, D* F G, d e f g have τοῦ Χριστοῦ, and between τοῦ and Ἰησοῦ, K L, Syr-Hark. insert Κυρίον. See Blass, § 46. 10, who points out that the art. with Ἰησοῦς is usual in the Gospels, but rare in the Epistles and Rev. After the first τῷ σώματι, D E F G Latt. Syr-Pesh. Copt. add ἠμῶν. For the second τῷ σώματι, א, Vulg. have τοῖς σώμασιν.
11. ἀεὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες. ‘For always we who are alive are being handed over unto death.’ Death is a monster that devours victims who are alive. All their life long, the missionaries are being thrown, like Daniel, into peril of almost certain death, and are as wonderfully delivered (2 Timothy 4:17; see on 1 Corinthians 15:31, 1 Corinthians 15:32). Hence the pointed insertion of οἱ ζῶντες: ‘we are ever a living prey.’ It was natural to use παραδιδόμεθα in such a context; but the verb may have been chosen because tradition habitually used it of Christ being “handed over” to His blood-thirsty enemies (Mark 9:31, Mark 9:10:33, Mark 9:14:10, Mark 9:18, Mark 9:21, etc.): we have παραδοῦναι εἰς θάνατον 2 Chronicles 32:11.
διὰ Ἰησοῦν. Here Vulg. rightly has propter Jesum, not, as in v. 5, per Jesum. The constant risking of life is well worth facing for His sake, and the risking is thus amply justified. For lower reasons it might be wrong.
ἐν τῇ θνηρῇ σαρκὶ ἡμῶν. This comes at the end in a tone of triumph and repeats the paradox of v. 10 in a stronger form; so that, while the first half of v. 11 elucidates the first half of v. 10, the second half intensifies the second. In just that element of our nature which is liable to death, the life of Jesus is to be manifested. Hence the change from σῶμα to σάρξ and the addition of θνητή, a word found only in this group of Epistles in N.T. This manifestation of the life of Jesus probably does not refer to the transformation of the physical body into a spiritual body which envelops and absorbs it (v. 1-5; see on 1 Corinthians 15:40-44). Such an explanation destroys the parallel between ἐν τῷ σώματι and ἐν τῇ θνητῇ σαρκί. Rather it refers to the case which Dryden (Abs. and Achit. i. 156) describe
But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
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.
For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
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.
So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;
Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.
For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.