II Corinthians 4:1-6

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Text: II Corinthians 4:1-6

OUR PROBLEMS AS MINISTERS

INTRODUCTION:

Every Christian has been called to be a minister

Despite its privilege, the ministry is not without its problems.

In II Corinthians 4:1-12 we see two of the problems we as ministers face and what our response to them should be. In this message we will consider the first of these two problems. In our next message, we will consider the second of these two problems.

We see that -

I. OUR LISTENERS ARE SPIRITUALLY BLIND - 4:1-6

We have already seen that the Jews are spiritually blind.

II Corinthians 3:12-16 - 12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.

Gentiles are also spiritually blind. In fact, all of our listeners are spiritually blind, Gentiles as well as Jews.

II Corinthians 4:1-6 - 1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; 2 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. 3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 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. 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 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.

In our witnessing -

1. We faint not - 4:1

II Corinthians 4:1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not.

Verse 1 indicates that Paul does not lose heart in fulfilling his ministry.

Therefore is literally because of this or on account of this, where this refers to the Holy Spirit's changing believers into the image of Christ from one degree of glory to another as they look into the mirror of the Word of God.

Seeing we have is understood in the sense of since (i.e. because or inasmuch as) we have.

This ministry is this service or this office. This ministry has to do with the new testament (or covenant) which gives life (3:6) and is referred to as the ministration of the spirit (3:8) and the ministration of righteousness (3:9). Paul continues to proclaim the gospel as he exercises his gift as an apostle.

As we have received mercy indicates comparison and is understood in the sense of just as we have received mercy, i.e. just as we found (i.e. have found, were shown, or have been shown) mercy (i.e. pity or compassion); and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

We faint not is we do not lose (or are not losing) heart. The implication is that Paul was so appreciative of the mercy he had found, not only in his having received salvation, but also in his having received this ministry, that he desired that everyone also find this same mercy. He never gave up or quit sharing the gospel with the unsaved.

In our witnessing -

2. We have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty - 4:2a

II Corinthians 4:2 a - But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty. . . .

Verse 2 indicates Paul's practice in his presentation of the gospel message, first negatively and then positively.

But introduces a statement in strong contrast with we faint not in verse 1.

(We) have renounced We disowned, We renounced, or, We have disowned; and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

Paul refuses to use the hidden things of dishonesty in his presentation of the gospel as the false teachers have done.

The hidden things suggests secret things hidden from view. Of dishonesty is of shame. Paul will not employ the shameful tactics of the false teachers.

In our witnessing -

3. We will not walk in craftiness - 4:2b

II Corinthians 4:2 b - . . . Not walking in craftiness. . . .

What Paul means by the hidden things of dishonesty are not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully.

Not and nor introduce two things Paul would never do, but things which the false teachers were doing.

Not walking is literally not walking around and understood as not living or not conducting our lives. The tense of walking indicates Paul's constant practice as a timeless truth; but when negated, it means that Paul never does this.

In craftiness is in cunning or in trickery. He did not employ the modern sales tactics of some; instead, he conducted himself genuinely and sincerely and did nothing to compromise the truth of the gospel message.

In our witnessing -

4. We will not handle the word of God deceitfully - 4:2c

II Corinthians 4:2 c - Nor handling the word of God deceitfully. . . .

Nor introduces a second negative practice Paul did not use (or employ)

Nor handling the word of God deceitfully.

Nor handling . . . deceitfully suggests not making false statements through deception or distortion and is understood in the sense of nor falsifying or nor adulterating. The tense of handling . . . deceitfully means that this is Paul's constant practice. When negated, it means that Paul never does this.

What Paul never handles deceitfully is the word of God, i.e. the message of God. In this context it is the gospel message; but the same statement could be made regarding the Bible as a whole.

It is the whole counsel of God and expresses the mind of God. In contrast, it is apparent that the false apostles did practice the hidden things of dishonesty, did conduct their lives in a tricky way, and did handle the Word of God deceitfully.

In our witnessing -

5. We will make the truth known - 4:2d

II Corinthians 4:2 d - But by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

But introduces the strong contrast between what Paul does not do in his ministry and what he does do.

By manifestation of the truth is by (or by means of) the disclosure, (i.e. the announcement or the open proclamation) of the truth.

Of the truth indicates that it was the truth of the gospel which was manifested, made known, disclosed, announced, or openly proclaimed.

Commending is understood in the sense of we are commending (i.e. presenting, introducing, or recommending).

Ourselves indicates the ones whom Paul commends. It refers to himself.

The same term translated commending is used in a number of passages in II Corinthians where it is variously translated commend, commendation, approving, approved, commendeth, and commended.

To every man's conscience is literally to every conscience of mankind or to each conscience of mankind. By conscience, Paul means the inward faculty of distinguishing right from wrong in the sense of moral consciousness.

In the sight of God is before God the Father or in the presence of God the Father. Paul is well aware that God sees everything he does as well as what all others do. In his witnessing he gives a clear, simple, and honest presentation of the gospel message. He uses no deceptive tactics and has no self-serving interests when he makes the truth known; instead, he makes the truth known while commending himself to the conscience of each person with God as his witness. Apparently, this was not the practice of the false apostles.

In our witnessing -

6. We recognize that the gospel is hidden to the lost - 4:3-4

II Corinthians 4:3-4 - 3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 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.

Verse 3 indicates that the gospel is hidden to those who are unsaved.

As translated, but introduces a statement in mild contrast to what has been stated at the end of verse 3, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. It might instead indicate a continuation of the thought with a slight change of direction in the sense of now.

If our gospel be hid is a condition which, for sake of discussion, is assumed to be true; and the conclusion is it is hid to them that are lost.

Although assumed to be true, in reality this condition is only hidden to those who are unsaved. Therefore, if should be understood in the sense of assuming that.

Our gospel refers to the specific gospel or good news about Christ that Paul preaches. It is the good news that Christ died for the sins of all humanity, that He was buried, and that He rose again from the dead on the third day.

Be hid is is hidden or has been hidden. Its tense indicates a state of being, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action. It was hidden at some time in the past, and it remains hidden in the present time. As a result of its being hidden, the gospel is unknown.

If the condition is true and the gospel is hidden from someone, then the conclusion is also true.

It is hid is it is hidden or it has been hidden. To them that are lost is in the ones who are lost or in the ones who are perishing. The same term is twice translated should (not) perish in John 3:15-16

John 3:15-16 - (15) That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

(16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (emphasis added).

They are in the process of perishing in their sins; and if they do not get saved before it is too late, they will spend eternity in the lake of fire.

II 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.

Verse 4 indicates that Satan has blinded the minds of the unsaved lest they be saved.

In whom refers to them that are lost in verse 3.

The god of this world refers to Satan. The fact that he is referred to in this way suggests that he rules over the world, but it is not without God's control.

This world is this age and suggests a segment of time as a particular unit of history. It is not speaking of the world of mankind.

Hath blinded is blinded, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

The minds are the thoughts or the understandings.

Of them which believe not is of the unbelieving ones, of the ones without faith, or of the unbelievers.

Lest is understood in the sense of in order that . . . not or for the purpose that . . . not.

The light is the enlightenment or the illumination.

What should provide the light, the enlightenment, or the illumination is the glorious gospel of Christ, literally, the gospel of the glory of the Christ (or the gospel of the glory of the Messiah).

The . . . gospel of Christ is the good news about Christ, i.e. that He died on the cross and paid for the sins of all humanity, that He was buried, and that He was raised from the dead on the third day.

The KJV translators have understood of the glory as describing the gospel; and, indeed, it is glorious.

It may instead be understood as the gospel from the Glory, i.e. from God the Father, which is also true.

But it is best understood as the gospel which produces the glory of God in the one who believes it.

II Corinthians 3:18 - But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Who is the image (or likeness) of God refers to Christ and denotes a timeless truth, something which is always true under all circumstances.

Of God refers to God the Father. When one looks at the person of Jesus Christ, he sees exactly the same attributes as are found in God the Father.

Hence, in response to Thomas' statement, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us (John 14:8 ), Jesus could say, He that hath seen me hath seen the Father (John 14:9 ).

Jesus also said in John 12:44-45 - (44) Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.

(45) And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.

Colossians 1:15 - Christ is the image of the invisible God.

Should shine unto them is should shine forth to the lost, and its tense indicates should ever shine forth to the lost.

Unto them indicates that Satan always does his best to keep people from perceiving the truth of the gospel and being saved. Thus, people who would reach the lost for Christ must always remember that the Holy Spirit must illumine the minds of the unsaved. Without the Holy Spirit convicting people of their sins and of God's provision for their salvation, no soul winner will ever be able to reach the lost with the gospel message.

In our witnessing -

7. We will not preach ourselves - 4:5a

II Corinthians 4:5 a - For we preach not ourselves.

Verse 5 indicates that Paul does not proclaim himself but proclaims Christ as the Lord. Instead, he proclaims himself as nothing more than a slave.

As translated, for is used to introduce an explanation or clarification.

We preach not ourselves is, We are not proclaiming ourselves or, We are not preaching ourselves.

By ourselves Paul means himself. He is not promoting himself as the false teachers were promoting themselves.

In our witnessing -

8. We will preach Christ Jesus the Lord - 4:5b

II Corinthians 4:5 b - For we preach . . . Christ Jesus the Lord. . . .

But introduces a statement in strong contrast. Rather than preaching himself, Paul was continually preaching Christ Jesus.

In Greek there is essentially no difference between Christ Jesus and Jesus Christ other than emphasis. The term appearing first is the one being emphasized. In Christ Jesus, His being Christ or Messiah is being emphasized; whereas, in Jesus Christ, His being Jesus or Savior is being emphasized.

Although Lord might be understood as part of the name in the sense of Lord Jesus Christ, it is better understood in the sense of Christ Jesus as Lord. It means that He is God and equal with God the Father in every respect.

In our witnessing -

9. We will conduct ourselves as people's servants for Jesus' sake - 4:5c

II Corinthians 4:5 c - . . . And ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.

And ourselves your servants, where ourselves refers to Paul, is ourselves as your slaves.

For Jesus' sake is because of Jesus, on account of Jesus, or for the sake of Jesus. For Jesus' sake suggests because of what Jesus has done for Paul.

In our witnessing -

10. We recognize that God is the One Who illumines people's minds to understand the gospel whenever it is preached - 4:6

II Corinthians 4:6 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.

According to verse 6, just as God at the time of the creation brought light out of darkness; so He has illumined Paul's heart to proclaim the gospel to others.

For is the word ordinarily translated because and should be understood in this sense here as well.

God, who commanded is God (the Father) is the one who commanded (i.e. ordered, directed, or enjoined.

What God commanded was the light to shine out of darkness, i.e. to shine out (or to shine forth) out of darkness.

Hath shined in our hearts, i.e. in Paul's heart means deep down within Paul's being.

To give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God is to bring to light (or to reveal) the knowledge of the glory of God.

The light is the knowledge of the glory of God.

Knowledge speaks of comprehension.

Of the glory of God suggests of the brightness (i.e. splendor or radiance) of God the Father. As a result of the knowledge of the glory of God, Paul got saved. God has shone in Paul's heart for the purpose that he might spread the knowledge of the glory of God.

In the face of Jesus Christ suggests in the person of Jesus Christ, where face is used to represent the person as a part represents the whole.

CONCLUSION:

In spite of all the difficulties and problems we face, and because of the glory we refuse to become discouraged or to be defeated. We keep going for the Lord Jesus.