2 Corinthians


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

iv] A ministry of life and death, 4:7-15

b) A ministry for the life of others


Paul now explains how the "life of Jesus", which is "at work" in the Corinthians, is a product of his being "handed over to death", v10-12. Paul is a person who "speaks" the word of God, a word which is the product of what he believes. This belief of his rests on the knowledge that "the one who raised Jesus from the dead will also raise" Paul, along with the Corinthian believers, and together with Jesus, will present all believers before the eternal throne on the day of resurrection. The ta .. panta, "everything", of Paul's apostolic gospel ministry which promotes this "life of Jesus" in the Corinthians, serves but one purpose, that grace may embrace an ever widening number of souls, with the result that thanksgiving will abound more and more, and this to the glory of God.


i] Context: See 4:7-12.


ii] Background: See 1:1-7.


iii] Structure: A ministry for the life of others:

Paul explains how "life is at work in you":

Life rests on a proclaimed knowledge of the gospel, v13;

The truth of the gospel applies the resurrection life of Jesus to the believer. Such enables a believers presentation before the throne of grace in the last day, v14;

Gospel truth brings life to an ever increasing number of believers so multiplying thanksgiving, v15.


iv] Interpretation:

In this short passage Paul explains in more detail why he is willing to face hardship for the Corinthians, why he is willing to accept "death ... at work in us" so that the Corinthians may experience "life ... at work in you", v12. Paul willingly accepts the rough-and-tumble of his apostolic gospel ministry so that the Corinthians, on the day of resurrection and eschatological judgment, might be presented approved with Christ, possessing the "life of Christ." And this, not just for the Corinthians, but that God's grace in salvation may extend to more and more people, so increasing the number of those who glorify God with thankfulness.

So, in this passage Paul defines for us the motive / purpose / basis for gospel ministry, and in doing so, explains why the burden / dying involved in such a ministry is well worth it:

Scripture affirms an act of speaking based on faith, v13;

life in Christ transcends the limitations of our dying / troubles, v14;

The fruit of gospel proclamation is to the greater glory of God, v15.


What does Paul mean when he says we are raised with Christ? The interesting feature about Paul's words in v14 is the close association of Christ's resurrection and our resurrection, such that we are raised "with" Christ. As Barnett notes, it's as if the resurrection of believers and the resurrection of Jesus belongs to one eschatological event - the harvest. It is difficult for us to grasp such an idea because our existence lies within a time continuum, a dimension of the creation which is outside the heavenly sphere - God is not bound by time. It is probably true to say that human existence, at present, is but a moment of grace. When that moment ends and our God closes up the Monopoly Board of our life, it well may be that we find ourselves literally rising with Christ, ascending with him to glory, coming in the clouds with him to the Ancient of Days. As Jesus said to the thief on the cross, "today you will be with me in paradise." We should never forget that Christ's parousia, his "coming", is often presented in the term's of Daniel's coming Son of Man, a coming to the Ancient of Days, not a coming to earth, Dan.7:13. Nor should we forget that "a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by", Ps.90:4.

Text - 4:13

How is life at work in us, v13-15: i] The preaching of the gospel, v13. Quoting from Psalm 116:10 Paul explains a further reason why he willingly puts up with suffering for the sake of the gospel. His reason is what we commonly call the mind of Christ, ie., a Biblical mind-set. Paul, like the psalmist, is prompted by his faith to speak for that which he believes. "Since we have the same faith as the psalmist who said 'I speak because I believe', we also speak because we believe."

de "-" - but/and. Serving here as a transitional connective, indicating the next step in the argument.

kata + acc. "[it is written]" - according to [the thing having been written]. Expressing a standard; "according to, corresponding to." Often used of a reference to scripture; "the scripture says", TEV. The articular participle to gegrammenon, "the thing having been written", serves as a substantive.

dio "therefore" - [i trust] therefore [i spoke]. Inferential; drawing a logical conclusion. "I believed therefore I Spoke."

econteV (ercomai) pres. part. "since we have" - having. The participle is adverbial, best taken as causal; "because".

thV pistewV (iV ewV) gen. "[spirit] of faith" - [the same spirit] of faith. "Spirit" here is surely not the Holy Spirit, but rather a person's inward motivations, their "disposition", Guthrie, a disposition toward faith / belief / trust. The genitive may therefore be classified as adjectival, idiomatic / producer (genitive of product). The sense "since we have the same disposition for faith as the psalmist" = "since we have the same faith as the psalmist."

kai "[we] also" - [we] also [believe and therefore speak]. Adjunctive. The pronoun hJmeiV, "we", is emphatic by use and position. Note also that laloumen, "we speak", takes a present tense, durative, so possibly "we continue to speak".


ii] Life in Christ transcends the limitations of our dying / troubles, v14. "Paul's boldness and endurance stems from his relationship with God, whose work in this world includes the defeat of death and hope of a future that transcends the present afflictions he experiences in his ministry, even if those afflictions lead to a premature death", Guthrie. Barnett notes that Paul here indicates the substance of what he believes, the substance of his faith, and in so doing supplies an eschatological reason for his speaking.

eidoteV (oida) perf. part. "because we know" - having known. The participle is adverbial, best taken as causal. The present tense, being imperfective / durative, expresses the sense "continues to know."

oJti "that" - Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul knows.

oJ egeiraV (egeirw) fut. part. "the one who raised" - the one having raised [the lord jesus]. The participle serves as a substantive.

kai "also" - [will] and = also [raise us]. Here adjunctive, as NIV.

sun + dat. "with [Jesus]" - with [jesus and will present us] with [you to Jesus]. Expressing association / accompaniment. "With us" + "with you", together in eschatological reunion.


iii] The fruit of gospel proclamation is to the greater glory of God, v15. In what is virtually a summary of v13-14 Paul states that "his speaking and suffering are for the Corinthians, in order that the increasing grace of God, of which the speaking and suffering are an evidence, may overflow to the Corinthians through the thanksgiving of an increased number of people, to the glory of God", Barnett.

gar "-" - for. More reason than cause; "Paul explains that the extension of the gospel message through his suffering, continuing to believe, and speaking, is for the benefit of the Corinthians", Long.

ta ... panta adj. "all this" - the all things. The adjective serves as a substantive; the everything = Paul's apostolic package; "all these ministry affairs of mine exercised in good times and bad."

di (dia) acc. "is for [your] benefit" - [are] because of [you]. Here expressing benefit, "in your interest"; "for your sake", ESV, as NIV.

iJna + subj. "so that" - that [the grace having increased through the many, may increase the thanksgiving]. Serving to introduce a final clause expressing purpose. The "grace" in mind here is the divine favor freely given by God.

pleonasasa (pleonazw) aor. part. "that is reaching" - having increased. Although anarthrous (without an article), the participle may be taken as adjectival, attributive, limiting "grace", so Long, or adverbial, possibly temporal, "once grace has spread", so Harris, Barrett, Thrall. Probably transitive; "may increase the thanksgiving." The sense of this increase is of an abundance that overflows.

dia + gen. "more and more people" - through [the many]. Here expressing agency; "through the intermediate agency of the many" = "having widened its scope by embracing a greater and ever greater number of souls", Cassirer. The preposition could go with eucaristian, "thanksgiving", but is best taken with pleionwn, "many". The prepositional construction dia twn pleionwn, may be taken with eucaristian, "thanksgiving", but best with pleonasasa, "having increased." So, we end up with "Yes, all this is for your benefit, so that when grace has widened its scope through more and more people, it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God", Harris. Barrett suggests that "the many" = "the majority" of the members of the Corinthian congregation - God's grace is spreading to more and more of them. This observation is somewhat limiting.

eiV + acc. "to" - [may increase the thanksgiving] to [the glory]. Possibly expressing purpose; "for the glory of God."

tou qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive, "the glory that is God's", or verbal, objective, "the glory shining on God."


2 Corinthians Introduction


[Pumpkin Cottage]