2 Corinthians


4. The character of Paul's ministry, 3:1-6:13

iii] The treasure of gospel ministry


Paul continues the defense of his ministry in the face of those who have little regard for him and his teachings. "Paul has not grown lax in the discharge of his commission (v1), has renounced (as always) secretive practices (v2), does not adopt crafty techniques (v2), does not tamper with God's word (v2), and does not proclaim his own person (v5)", Harris. In defending himself, Paul also defends his gospel, the message "in which Christ's glory shines."


i] Context: See 3:1-6.


ii] Background: See 1:1-7.


iii] Structure: The treasure of gospel ministry:

Paul's argument for the authentic nature of his ministry:

Perseverance of an authentic ministry, v1-2;

The gospel is "hidden" from some, v3-4;

The object and basis of an authentic ministry, v5-6.


Both Guthrie and Harris propose a structure of three couplets, v1-2, 3-4, 5-6, with Lambrecht noting the concentric nature of the passage, "we (ministers), v1-2, "they (Israelites [probably nomist preachers??])", and "we (ministers)".


iv] Interpretation:

In similar vein to 2:14-17, Paul addresses the issue of his evangelistic work in response to the criticisms laid against him by his opponents, the judaizers (nomistic / law-focused preachers, most probably from the Jerusalem church). In arguing his case, Paul employs a ring composition that serves to complete a circle of ideas, so Barnett, Martin. The passage is apologetic, although as Plummer notes it is not easy to determine whether Paul is answering charges against him (apologetic), or bringing charges against those who are troubling the church. Still, defense seems to be the business at hand.

Woven into Paul's defense is an outline of his own spiritual journey: "he had been an unbeliever, blinded to the light of the gospel (v4). On the road to Damascus, however, Paul had seen the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, who is the image of God (v4, 6). Having given him the ministry of the new covenant, God showed him mercy, illuminating his heart that he might give the light of the knowledge of God to others (1, 6). In proclaiming the word of God, the news (gospel) that Jesus Christ is Lord, Paul sets forth the truth (v2, 4 and 5), and he does so as their slave for Jesus' sake", Barnett.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 4:1

Paul's gospel ministry:, v-6: i] The glory of gospel ministry prompts perseverance and openness, v1-2." Because the gospel is the good news of the glory of God", a message kindly given to Paul by God, Paul is bound to proclaim the whole message, undiluted and undefiled.

dia touto "therefore" - This causal construction is usually inferential "therefore", as NIV. Either: a) picking up on 3:12, "since we have such a hope", or b) Paul's turning to the Lord with the subsequent removal of the veil, seeing the glory of the Lord and being transformed, 3:16-18, or c) "because the gospel is the good news of the glory of God", Barrett, or d) referring forward to "this ministry", Thrall, the substance of which ministry Paul has already outlined in 2:14-3:13.

econteV (ecw) pres. part. "since ..... we have" - having [this ministry]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as causal, as NIV, but if dia touto refers forward then it is adjectival, epexegetic, limiting touto, "this"; "because of this, that is, this ministry we have" = "because we have been entrusted with a ministry such as this."

kaqwV "-" - as, just as]. Contrastive, usually taken as contrasting what precedes, so Bruce; "and that it is entirely due to the mercy which we have received from God that has become ours", Cassirer.

hlehqhmen (eleew) aor. pas. "through God's mercy" - we received mercy, were treated with mercy. Possibly the royal plural, either referring to Paul's conversion, or God's kindness in appointing him as a minister of the gospel.

ouk egkakoumen (egkakew) "we do not lose heart" - we do not become weary, discouraged, lose heart. Here in the sense of "be lax / remiss", not being up-front with the gospel. Possibly "we do not neglect our duty", Barrett, but not as strong as "behave treacherously", Knox.


"We use no hocus-pocus, no clever tricks, no dishonest manipulation of the Word of God. We speak the plain truth", Phillips. When it comes to communicating the gospel, Paul is into telling it the way it is; no sugar coating, no managed release of information to win converts, no diluting the message. Any person, sensitive to the will of God, not only recognizes gospel truth, but the worth of the preacher.

alla "rather" - but. Adversative / contrastive.

apeipameqa (apeipon) aor. "we have renounced" - we spurned, disowned, renounced. Emphatic. In renouncing, Paul is not saying he once did.... "So far from that, we have renounced those practices", Barrett.

thV aiscunhV (h) gen. "[secret and] shameful ways" - [the hidden things] of shame / disgrace, ignominy. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "hidden", "shameful secrets" = "disgraceful secrets ways", but see Thrall, p303. The aorist may point to a particular point in time when he renounced shameful ways, the marketing of his message, or better, his complete renouncing of guile. When it comes to preaching the gospel, Paul is not into managing the message in such a way as to attract believers. "Practices which are so shameful", Barclay.

mh peripatounteV (peripatew) pres. part. "we do not use" - not going about in, not walking. The participle is adverbial, either modal, expressing the manner of the renouncing, "we have renounced ..... not walking in craftiness", AV, or instrumental, expressing means. The verb takes the sense of "not conducting ourselves."

en "-" - in. Probably here adverbial, modal, expressing manner; "with craftiness."

panourgia/ (a) dat. "deception" - craftiness, deception, trickery, cunning. The dative is instrumental, expressing means. "We use no hocus-pocus, no clever tricks, not dishonest manipulation of the Word of God. We speak the plain truth", Phillips.

mhde dolounteV (dolow) part. "nor do we distort [the word]" - - nor falsifying, corrupting, ensnaring [the word]. The participle is adverbial, either modal, expressing the manner of the renouncing, or instrumental, expressing means. "Tamper with God's word"; RSV, "twist", CEV.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - The genitive is possibly adjectival, possessive, or ablative expressing source / origin. The phrase ton logon tou qeou, "the word of God", here with the narrow sense, "the gospel."

alla "on the contrary" - but. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "not ....., but ...."

th fanerwsei (iV ewV) dat. "by setting forth [the truth] plainly" - by the manifestation, openness, clearness. The dative is probably instrumental, expressing means, as NIV; "by means of the manifestation of the truth." As opposed to a managed release of the truth, Paul works "to bring the truth into the full light of day", Barclay.

thV alhqeiaV (a) gen. "the truth" - of the truth. The genitive is usually taken as verbal, objective,, "by the open declaration concerning / about the truth", although possibly adjectival, possessive, expressing the possession of a derivative characteristic; "the truth's manifestation."

sunistanonteV (sunisthmi) pres. part. "we commend" - presenting [ourselves]. The participle is adverbial, either modal, expressing the manner of the renouncing, or instrumental, expressing the means.

proV + acc. "to" - to, toward. Spacial.

anqrwpwn (oV) gen. "[every] man's" - [every conscience] of men. The genitive is adjectival, possessive.

suneidhsin (iV ewV) "conscience" - Referring to a person's ability to make moral judgments. Any person can discern that Paul communicates the gospel with integrity. "God is our witness that we speak only the truth, so others will be sure that we can be trusted", CEV.

enwpion + gen. "in the sight [of God]" - before [god]. Spacial.


ii] The glory of the gospel is veiled to minds blinded by Satan, v3-4. Yet sadly, there are many heading for damnation who do not respond to the gospel, as if its message is hidden from them. Obviously, Paul's critics questioned the worth of his gospel message, given the poor response it achieved. Yet, what matters is the truth of the gospel, not the number of so-called conversions.

de "and" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step to a "qualification", Barnett; "but", AV.

kai "even" - and. The construction ei .. kai can be concessive; "but, although our gospel is veiled, it is veiled ......"

ei + ind. "if" - if. Introducing a 1st. class conditional clause where the condition is assumed to be true, namely that for some the gospel is not understood; "if, as is the case, .... then ....".

hJmwn gen. pro. "our [gospel]" - [the gospel] of us. Possibly a subjective genitive, but more likely possessive, given Paul's constant references to his gospel, as opposed to the one bandied about by the judaizers.

estin kekalummenon (kaluptw) perf. pas. part. "is veiled" - is having been hidden, veiled. This participle, with the present tense of the verb to be, both here and in the apodosis of the conditional clause, forms a periphrastic perfect construction; "has been veiled", "hidden", CEV.

en + dat. "to" - in. Probably expressing space, "among the perishing", so Barnett, but possibly standing for a simple dative, "in the case of", so Harris; "in the minds of those who are spiritually dying", Phillips.

toiV apollumenoiV (apollumi) pres. mid. part. "those who are perishing" - the ones perishing, facing ruin, lost [is having been hidden]. The participle serves as a substantive. Those heading for ruin rather than already ruined, "those on the road to perdition", Knox. Paul may just have in mind unbelievers here, although he could be referring to his critics as well.


The reason why many unbelievers fail to recognize the truth of the gospel is that their minds are dulled by the powers of darkness that infest this age. Of course, if they were to seek after God they would find him, but they choose not to seek after the divine truth that radiates from the person of Jesus. In particular, they see no truth in Christ's glorious resurrection and its consequences.

en oi|V "-" - in [whom]. Probably resumptive, looking back to en toiV apollumenoiV, "among those who are perishing"; "in the case of whom", Barrett, "in whose case", Zerwick.

oJ qeoV (oV) "the god" - Although often disputed, it is likely that this is a reference to Satan whose authority is over, or controls this age, an authority which he claimed at the temptation of Jesus, Lk.4:6. The interesting question is, does he possess this authority, or does he think he possesses it? "The devil who rules this world", NCV. Questions over demonic beings often confuse and so where this may be the case we could opt for "the spirit (darkness) of this world ("this passing age", REB) has blinded the minds (has dulled the understanding) of those who do not believe", Phillips.

tou aiwnoV toutou gen. "of this age" - of the age of this. As usual, it is difficult to know how to treat the genitival phrase "of this age." Harris thinks it is verbal, objective, "the god who rules over this age", although adjectival, epexegetic, limiting "god" by specifying / defining, is a likely contender; "the god whom the world worships", Cassirer. Long suggests it is possessive, and that is certainly theologically sound; this age does belong to Mr. Troublemaker.

etuflwsen (tuflow) aor. "has blinded" - blinded [the thoughts]. The interesting question is to what extent is the reasoning process of an unbeliever dulled when they hear a gospel message? I take it that the casual observer sees nothing in the message; it is hidden from them. Yet, it is most unlikely that it is hidden from the seeker. The issue is an important one as it will affect how we do evangelism.

twn apistwn gen. adj. "[the minds] of unbelievers" - of the ones disbelieving. The adjective serves as a substantive, while the genitive may be treated as adjectival, possessive, "the minds of (that belong to) those who refuse to believe", Barclay, or verbal, subjective, or ablative, source / origin, "out of" = ek.

eiV to + inf. "so that" - into the. "A construction ... which is ambiguous ... either final, or consecutive", Moule. So, possibly introducing a purpose clause, "in order that", or a consecutive clause, "with the result that / so that."

mh augasai (augazw) aor. inf. "they cannot see" - not to look on, see / illumine, shine on. The two possible meanings of this verb produce different translations: a) as NIV, where the subject "they" is supplied, or b) the sense "to not shine forth the radiance of the gospel" with the object "them (unbelievers)" supplied; "so as to shut out the radiance of the gospel", Weymouth. The sense "so that they cannot see shining the light of the gospel", NJB, is grammatically superior since "unbelievers" ("they") is the properly assumed subject.

tou euaggeliou (on) "of the gospel" - [the illumination] of the gospel. The genitive may be classified as verbal, subjective, or ablative, source / origin, expressing the divine revelation that shines from the message; "the gospel in which Christ's glory shines", Calvin.

thV doxhV tou Cristou gen. "of the glory of Christ" - These two subordinate genitives (the main modifier, "of the gospel", comes before the subordinate modifiers) may be taken as adjectival, epexegetic, limiting by definition ton fwtismon, "the light"; "the revealed splendor of the gospel, that is the glory of Christ", Martin. Long suggests that the genitive thV doxhV is verbal, objective, and that the genitive tou Cristou is possessive; "the gospel about Christ's glory." Paul possibly sees the glory as a demonstration of the divine character, but it is more likely that he has in mind the glory of Christ's resurrection, cf., Phil.3:21.

eikwn (wn onoV) "the image" - [who is] the essence of, same form, likeness / representation, pattern, prototype. Predicate nominative. Again, divine manifestation is the most widely accepted understanding of this descriptive; "sharing the essence of God." Paul may be drawing on the Old Testament at this point, either of Christ as the divine Wisdom, the agent of creation and revelation, or Christ as the second Adam, Christ as a prototype of the new humanity, both of which reflect the glory of God, cf., Thrall.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - The genitive is probably adjectival, possessive, since Jesus by nature represents God's own person / glory. Harris also suggests that the genitive may possibly be classified as verbal, objective, in that Jesus images God.


iii] The glory of God is known in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that glory is the Lord, v5-6. Paul can honestly declare that his preaching focuses on Jesus Christ, not himself. Paul says of himself that he is but their servant on account of his relationship with Christ, chosen to reveal God's divine message to broken humanity. He is but the messenger, not the message. The message concerns Jesus, Jesus the messiah "as Lord", the risen messiah, the ruler of heaven and earth. Moffatt treats this verse as a bracketed aside, although the transitional oJti, "for", in v6 does seem to tie with v5, rather than v4. "(It is Christ Jesus as Lord, not myself, that I proclaim: I am simply a servant of yours for Jesus Christ sake)."

gar "for" - More reason than cause - explanatory. The logic of Paul's argument is somewhat unclear at this point; see Thrall for all the options. It seems likely that he is explaining his part in setting forth the glory of God in Christ, v4b, namely, by preaching the gospel, which is not a message about himself, but about Christ as Lord, the risen and glorified one.

ou .... khrussomen (khrussw) pres. "we do not preach" - we do not proclaim, communicate [ourselves]. The present tense is possibly iterative; "preach again and again."

alla "but" - but [jesus christ]. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction.

kurion (oV) "as Lord" - lord, master, owner. Being without the article and followed by "ourselves as your servants", "Lord" can be treated as predicative, such that Paul doesn't preach "the Lord Jesus Christ", but rather "that Jesus Christ is Lord", CEV. Yet, "Lord" can rightly be taken as the accusative complement of the accusative direct object "Jesus Christ" serving in a double accusative construction, such that Paul preaches "Jesus Christ as Lord." Paul communicates a message that concerns Jesus Christ ("Christ Jesus" in some manuscripts), who is presented "as Lord." Jesus is preached as "the crucified Messiah who has been exalted by God (through his resurrection) to a position of lordship in heaven; the agent of atonement and proof of God's love, is now the merciful ruler of the world and victor over all evil powers", Barrett. The statement "Jesus is Lord" serves as a shorthand version of the gospel, namely that the kingdom of God is at hand - the Son of Man has taken his seat at the right hand of the Ancient of Days and even now all the powers of heaven and earth bend their knee before him.

de "and" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in argument, possibly to a logical conclusion, so Harris;"and therefore."

uJmwn gen. pro. "your" - [ourselves servants] of you. The genitive is possessive; "I am your slave."

doulouV (oV) "servants" - servants, slaves, bond servants. Accusative complement of the accusative direct object "ourselves", serving in a double accusative construction. A descriptive of Christian ministry, although ministry is usually expressed in terms of a fellow worker rather than a slave "unconditionally obligated to serve", BAGD, a term usually reserved for service to Christ. Martin notes that the stress falls, not on servitude, but privilege, given that the image is of the chosen servant of the Lord.

dia + acc. "for [Jesus'] sake" - because of, on account of [jesus]. Not benefit, "for the sake of", but causal, "on account of Jesus", Barnett, cf., 4:11.


God commanded light to shine at the creation and he has commanded the light of his knowledge to shine on Paul and the other apostles. Paul claims that God has infused him with divine truth. As for the content of this truth, it is the divine revelation of God's glory evident in the person of Jesus Christ: his resurrection, ascension and present reign.

oJti "for" - because, since. Here introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul preaches Jesus Christ as Lord, v5, namely, because God has revealed this truth to him.

oJ eipwn (legw) aor. part. "who said" - [god], the one having spoken [out of darkness], The participle serves as a substantive standing in apposition to "God"; "(the one) who first ordered light to shine in the darkness", Phillips.

lamyei (lampw) fut. "let [light] shine" - [light] will shine. The future tense here serves as an imperative. Clearly an allusion to Genesis 1:3-4, although the words there are slightly different, "let there be light." The God who commanded the light to shine at creation, commands his truth to irradiate Paul and the other apostles.

elamhen (lampw) aor. "made his light shine" - [he who] shone. The verb is possibly intransitive, as with the first use in this sentence, but the NIV aramaic causative sense seems better, "he made / caused light to shine."

en "in" - in. Local, expressing sphere / metaphorical. "Heart" in the sense of our rational self, not our feelings.

hJmwn gen. "our [hearts]" - [the hearts] of us. The genitive is possessive. The "our" is again the royal / epistolary plural, meaning Paul himself, but also possibly inclusive, meaning Paul and the other apostles, or Paul and his missionary team.

proV "to give us" - toward = for. Here expressing purpose, "for the purpose of"; "with a view to", Barrett. Translations often supply a verb and indirect object, as NIV. Other possibilities: "to bring to light", NAB; "to let you know", CEV. It is possibly easier to turn the noun "light" into a verb: "enlighten them with the knowledge of God's glory", NJB. It is likely that Paul is the indirect object of the action in this verse, not "you", "them". God has enlightened him with divine knowledge, which is why he should be trusted. A less acceptable translation has Paul enlightened to enlighten others, so NJB etc.

thV gnwsewV "[the light] of the knowledge" - [an illumination] of the knowledge. The genitive is probably adjectival, appositional / epexegetic, ie. "the light" is / consists of "the knowledge". Other suggestions have been offered: verbal, subjective, "the knowledge produced by the light"; verbal, objective, "in order to illuminate the knowledge of God's glory", so Long; ablative, source / origin, "illumination that comes from the knowledge", so Harris.

thV doxhV tou qeou "of the glory of God" - As with v4, this package of genitives is difficult to unravel. The genitive "of God" is most likely adjectival, possessive, but possibly ablative, source / origin, "glory from God." The genitive "of the glory" may be taken in a number of different ways: a) adjectival, epexegetic, "the knowledge which consists of the glory of God in ... Christ"; b) ablative, origin / source, "the knowledge which derives from the glory of God"; c) subjective, "the illumining which the knowledge of the glory produces", Plummer. Epexegetic seems best, referring to the glory which was evident in the person of Jesus Christ, particularly his resurrection.

en + dat. "in" - in [face of jesus christ]. Local, expressing space / sphere. Paul is probably using a literal Semitism which in 2:10 is best understood as "in the presence of", but here in the more literal sense, "in the countenance of." A Mosaic allusion again? A generalization best expresses the point; "in the person of Christ", Barrett,


2 Corinthians Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]