II Corinthians 4:7-18

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Text: II Corinthians 4:7-18

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 our first message on this section, we considered the first of these two problems. In this message, we will consider the second of these two problems.

We have already seen that -

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

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 spite of the fact that our listeners are spiritually blind -

1. We faint not - 4:1

In our witnessing -

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

In our witnessing -

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

In our witnessing -

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

In our witnessing -

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

In our witnessing -

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

In our witnessing -

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

In our witnessing -

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

In our witnessing -

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

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

We also see that -

II. WE ARE WEAK - 4:7-12

II Corinthians 4:7-12 - 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 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. 11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

Our weakness means that -

1. We have frailties of the flesh - 4:7

II Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

In verse 7 Paul indicates that his ministry in the gospel is in a physical body which is subject to limitations in order that God may get all the credit and glory.

As translated, but indicates a statement in mild contrast with what has been stated in verses 1-6. It might instead indicate a continuation of the thought with a slight change of direction and be understood in the sense of now.

We have, where we is Paul, indicates a present possession.

What Paul has is this treasure by which he means his ministry in the gospel message, particularly the gospel itself.

In earthen vessels speaks of physical bodies with all the limitations, including space and time, health issues, inabilities to illuminate the spiritual understanding of the people without the aid of the Holy Spirit, etc.

Earthen is made of earth or made of clay, and vessels speaks of containers of any kind, whether vessels, jars, or dishes. Vessels are also sometimes used as instruments. The idea that these vessels are earthen suggests that they are not very valuable or long-lasting.

That is understood in the sense of in order that or for the purpose that.

The excellency of the power speaks of the extraordinary quality of the power which brings men to salvation.

The excellency speaks of exceeding way beyond something that is extraordinary in the sense of excess (or extraordinary) quality (or character).

Of the power is of the strength (i.e. might, force, or capability).

May be is might be and suggests potential action.

Of God, i.e. of God the Father, suggests the desirable result; whereas, and not of us, where us refers to Paul, suggests the undesirable result. Paul knows that all the credit and glory must go to God the Father and not to himself. God, knowing the potential for man to seek credit and glory for himself, has made the result of proclaiming the gospel impossible to achieve by human effort alone.

Our weakness means that -

2. We may be troubled on every side - 4:8a

II Corinthians 4:8 a - We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed.

In verse 8 Paul begins to list examples of the limitations God has placed on him in his physical body: troubled, distressed, perplexed, and in despair.

As indicated by the italics, we are, where we refers to Paul, has been supplied by the translators to aid the understanding of the English reader.

Troubled is understood in the sense of although being afflicted, although being distressed, or although being hard pressed.

On every side is in everything.

Yet introduces a statement in strong contrast to troubled on every side. The same word is translated but in the second half of this verse.

Although troubled, we are not distressed, i.e. not in a circumstance that seems to offer no way out or not being crushed.

Our weakness means that -

3. We may be perplexed - 4:8b

II Corinthians 4:8 b - . . . We are perplexed, but not in despair.

Perplexed suggests being in a confused state of mind in the sense of although being at a loss, although being in doubt, or although being uncertain.

But introduces a negative statement in strong contrast to we are perplexed.

Not in despair suggests not being at a loss psychologically in the sense of not being in great difficulty (i.e. not in doubt or embarrassment) or not despairing.

Our weakness means that -

4. We may be persecuted - 4:9a

II Corinthians 4:9 a - Persecuted, but not forsaken. . . .

Verse 9 continues the things Paul has experienced as a result of the limitations God has placed on him in his physical body.

Persecuted (or being persecuted) is understood in the sense of being harassed by someone, especially because of beliefs.

But introduces a statement in strong contrast to persecuted.

Not forsaken is understood in the sense of not being forsaken, not being abandoned, or not being deserted.

Our weakness means that -

5. We may be cast down - 4:9b

II Corinthians 4:9 b - . . . Cast down, but not destroyed.

Cast down is although being cast down, although being thrown down, or although being struck down.

But introduces a statement in strong contrast to cast down.

Not destroyed is understood in the sense of not being destroyed or not being ruined.

Our weakness means that -

6. We may live constantly under the sentence of death - 4:10-12

II Corinthians 4:10-12 - 10 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. 11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

Verse 10 continues the things Paul has experienced as a result of the limitations God has placed on him in his physical body.

Always is at all times.

Bearing about is is carrying about or carrying here and there.

In the body suggests in Paul's physical body.

What Paul was always bearing about in his body was the dying of the Lord Jesus.

The dying is the death or the putting to death and speaks of death as a process.

Of the Lord Jesus indicates that it is His death on the cross for the sins of all humanity that is in view. Paul's meaning is that he has physically suffered a great deal because of his proclaiming Jesus' death for the salvation of sinners and that he bears the results of these sufferings in his body.

That is in order that or for the purpose that and indicates the purpose for which Paul always carries about in his body the sufferings of Christ: the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

The life . . . of Jesus speaks of His present life in heaven rather than of His physical life on earth.

Also suggests that His life in addition to His death is made known.

Might be made manifest is might be revealed or might appear.

In our body speaks of Paul's body. Just as Christ's death for sin appears in Paul's body, Paul desires Christ's life also to be revealed in his body as a result. It is the case of a part being used to represent the whole and means in me, i.e. in Paul himself.

II Corinthians 4:11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

In verse 11 Paul continues the thought he began in verse 10, and for introduces Paul's explanation of verse 10.

We, which refers to Paul, is emphatic.

Which live is the ones who are alive or the ones who are living.

Are . . . delivered is are being delivered or are being handed (or given) over.

Alway is used in the sense of continually or constantly.

Unto death indicates what Paul is continually facing and refers to physical death. His life was frequently in danger.

For Jesus' sake is because of Jesus or on account of Jesus.

The use of the name Jesus implies all that He is and represents. Paul's life was in constant danger because he believed in Jesus and proclaimed the gospel message far and wide.

That is in order that or for the purpose that.

The life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

The life . . . of Jesus speaks of Jesus' present life in heaven rather than of His physical life on earth.

Also suggests in addition to His death.

Might be made manifest is might be revealed or might appear.

In our mortal flesh is equivalent in meaning to in our body in verse 10. It refers to Paul himself.

Mortal means that it is subject to death, and flesh speaks of Paul's physical body.

II Corinthians 4:12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

In verse 12 Paul concludes the thought he began in verse 10.

So then is of therefore, for this reason, or so.

Death speaks of physical death.

Worketh suggests putting one's capabilities into operation in the sense of works, is working, is at work, is active, operates, is operating, or is effective.

In us means in Paul.

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to death worketh in us.

Life is eternal life, and the reader must supply works, is working, is at work, is active, operates, is operating, or is effective from the first clause.

In you indicates that, although Paul is exposed to death on a daily basis because of his proclamation of the gospel, some, such as the Corinthian believers, have experienced eternal life as a result of his bringing the gospel to them.

IV. PAUL SERVES WITH ETERNITY IN VIEW - 4:13-18

I Corinthians 4:13 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.

Verse 13 indicates that Paul has proclaimed the gospel because he believed it.

We having, where we is Paul, is understood in the sense of because (i.e. since or inasmuch as) we have.

What Paul has is the same spirit of faith, i.e. the same spirit produced by faith (i.e. by belief or by trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. It is this spirit which kept Paul going in the face of much difficulty.

The same spirit suggests the same spirit or the same attitude of mind referred to in Psalms 116:10 .

According as it is written introduces a quotation from Psalms 116:10 , which says, I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted. The tense of it is written indicates action completed in the past with the result continuing to the time of the writing of II Corinthians. It was written in the past, and it remains written for all to read. It is written has been translated in a way which emphasizes its existing result.

What has been written is, I believed, and therefore have I spoken. . . .

I believed is I trusted.

And therefore is and wherefore or and for this reason and introduces a strong inference.

Have I spoken is I spoke, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

We refers to Paul and is emphatic.

Also indicates that in addition to the one who said, I believed, and therefore have I spoken, Paul has also believed, and, therefore, he has spoken.

Believe is trust, are trusting, or are believing.

And therefore is and wherefore or and for this reason, and indicates that the inference he is drawing is emphatic.

(We) speak, where (we) is Paul, is we are speaking; and its tense describes something Paul does repeatedly or habitually. Paul believed the gospel message and; as a result, he preaches it wherever he goes.

I Corinthians 4:14 (14) Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

In verse 14 Paul asserts his confidence that God the Father will one day raise him from the dead and present him along with the Corinthian believers whom He will also raise from the dead.

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

What we know is stated in the rest of the verse: that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

That he which raised up is that the One Who raised and refers to God the Father. It speaks of the resurrection of Christ and implies raised from the dead.

The One Whom God the Father raised is the Lord Jesus.

Shall raise up is will raise, and its tense and mood are predictive of something which will definitely occur in the future. It likewise implies raise from the dead.

Us refers to Paul, the one whom the Lord Jesus will raise from the dead.

Also suggests in addition to God the Father's having raised the Lord Jesus from the dead.

By Jesus is through Jesus and indicates that Jesus is the intermediate agent through Whom God the Father, the direct agent, will raise Paul from the dead.

And shall present us with you speaks of Christ's presentation of believers to Himself in heaven.

Ephesians 5:25-27 - (25) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (27) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

The tense and mood of shall present indicates that this is something which will definitely occur in the future.

With you is together with you (Corinthian believers) and means that God will not only present Paul but will also present the Corinthian believers in heaven at the same time.

I Corinthians 4:15 (15) For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

According to verse 15, everything Paul has experienced has been for the benefit of the Corinthian believers as well as other believers elsewhere in order that they might be saved with the result that God might ultimately be glorified as a result of many thanks being given to Him.

For continues the thought of verses 11-14 and is understood in the sense of now. It might instead be understood as emphatic and understood in the sense of indeed or in fact.

All things has to do with the things Paul suffered in the persecutions he had experienced.

Are for your sakes is on account of you or because of you. Paul has experienced all kinds of things in the form of persecution for the benefit, not only of the Corinthian believers, but also for the benefit of others who might someday be saved.

That is in order that or for the purpose that, or it may indicate intended result and mean with the result that.

It is in order that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

The abundant grace is the grace (or favor) (that is) becoming more, the grace that is becoming great, the grace that is present in abundance, the grace that is growing, or the grace that is increasing.

Might . . . redound is might cause to abound or might cause to be extremely rich. Paul endured things in order that people might be saved, that they might be blessed by God, and that God might be glorified or praised as a result.

Through the thanksgiving of many is through the rendering of thanks through (the) more and more and speaks of the more and more people who are yet to be reached for Christ.

To the glory of God is unto the glory of God (the Father) and indicates for the purpose that God (the Father) may be glorified, i.e. that God the Father's fame, recognition, renown, honor, or prestige might be enhanced.

I Corinthians 4:16 (16) For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

In verse 16 Paul explains why he does not give up in discouragement. Although he has experienced and is experiencing physical difficulties, he is spiritually renewed every day.

For which cause is wherefore, therefore, or for this reason.

We faint not was used previously in verse 1. It means, We do not lose (or are not losing) heart.

But introduces a strong contrast. The same word is translated yet later in this verse.

Though our outward man perish is the condition in a conditional statement, and the conclusion is yet the inward (man) is renewed day by day. For sake of discussion, it is assumed to be true.

Though is even if, even though, or although.

Our outward man refers to Paul's physical body.

Perish is is destroyed or is being destroyed, and its tense describes action which is occurring continually.

Yet is the word translated but in the first part of this verse. Here it is used to introduce a statement in strong contrast to Paul's outward man perishing. It might instead be emphatic and understood in the sense of indeed or in fact.

The inward man is used in contrast to our outward man and refers to the spiritual part of Paul.

Is renewed is is (continually) being renewed.

Day by day is day after day or daily.

I Corinthians 4:17 (17) For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

In verse 17 Paul compares his suffering with his glorification. Paul regards his sufferings in this world as light in comparison with what he will experience in heaven.

For introduces an explanation or clarification and is understood in the sense of you see. It might instead introduce an inference, a self-evident conclusion and be understood in the sense of certainly, by all means, so, or then.

Our light affliction refers to persecutions he suffered in his ministry as an apostle. In comparison with the glory which will ultimately follow, Paul's affliction, by which he means the things he has suffered, are light, i.e. easy to bear or insignificant.

Affliction is used of trouble that inflicts distress in the sense of oppression or tribulation.

Which is but for a moment is for the present.

Our light affliction which is but for a moment is the momentary insignificance of our affliction.

Worketh suggests brings about, produces, or creates. This is a timeless truth, something which is always true under all circumstances; and it is understood in the sense of is working, is bringing about, is producing, or is creating.

For us means for Paul.

What it produces is a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, i.e. an eternal glory which is far beyond all comparison with any difficulties we experience.

I Corinthians 4:18 (18) 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.

In verse 18 Paul indicates that he serves the Lord with eternity's values in view.

While we look is while we are looking or because we are looking.

Not at the things which are seen indicates what Paul is not keeping his eyes on; whereas, at the things which are not seen indicates what Paul is keeping his eyes on.

But introduces a statement in strong contrast to we look not at the things which are seen.

The things which are not seen is the things which are not being seen, the things which the eye does not perceive, or the things which the eye is not perceiving.

As translated, for introduces an explanation of the first half of verse 17. It may instead introduce the reason Paul wrote what he has written in the first half of verse 17 and be understood in the sense of because.

The things which are seen are temporal means the things which are seen are lasting only for a short time. They only last during this lifetime.

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to the things which are seen are temporal: the things which are not seen are eternal.

Eternal is understood in the sense of unending or without end. It means that they will last forever.

CONCLUSION:

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