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Paul’s Perseverance in Ministry

Therefore, since we have this ministry, just as God has shown us mercy,[a] we do not become discouraged.[b] But we have rejected[c] shameful hidden deeds,[d] not behaving[e] with deceptiveness[f] or distorting the word of God, but by open proclamation of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience before God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing, among whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe[g] so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel[h] of Christ,[i] who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim[j] ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves[k] for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said “Let light shine out of darkness,”[l] is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge[m] of God in the face of Christ.[n]

An Eternal Weight of Glory

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power[o] belongs to God and does not come from us. We are experiencing trouble on every side,[p] but are not crushed; we are perplexed,[q] but not driven to despair; we are persecuted, but not abandoned;[r] we are knocked down,[s] but not destroyed, 10 always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus,[t] so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible[u] in our body. 11 For we who are alive are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible[v] in our mortal body.[w] 12 As a result,[x] death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.[y] 13 But since we have the same spirit of faith as that shown in[z] what has been written, “I believed; therefore I spoke,”[aa] we also believe, therefore we also speak. 14 We do so[ab] because we know that the one who raised up Jesus[ac] will also raise us up with Jesus and will bring us with you into his presence. 15 For all these things are for your sake, so that the grace that is including[ad] more and more people may cause thanksgiving to increase[ae] to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not despair,[af] but even if our physical body[ag] is wearing away, our inner person[ah] is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary, light suffering[ai] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison 18 because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.


  1. 2 Corinthians 4:1 tn Grk “just as we have been shown mercy”; ἠλεήθημεν (ēleēthēmen) has been translated as a “divine passive” which is a circumlocution for God as the active agent. For clarity this was converted to an active construction with God as subject in the translation.
  2. 2 Corinthians 4:1 tn Or “we do not lose heart.”
  3. 2 Corinthians 4:2 tn L&N 13.156; the word can also mean “to assert opposition to,” thus here “we have denounced” (L&N 33.220).
  4. 2 Corinthians 4:2 tn Grk “the hidden things [deeds] of shame”; here αἰσχύνης (aischunēs) has been translated as an attributive genitive.
  5. 2 Corinthians 4:2 tn Or “not conducting ourselves”; Grk “not walking” (a common NT idiom for conduct, way of life, or behavior).
  6. 2 Corinthians 4:2 tn Or “craftiness.”
  7. 2 Corinthians 4:4 tn Or “of unbelievers.”
  8. 2 Corinthians 4:4 tn Grk “the gospel of the glory”; δόξης (doxēs) has been translated as an attributive genitive.
  9. 2 Corinthians 4:4 tn Or “so that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ would not be evident to them” (L&N 28.37).
  10. 2 Corinthians 4:5 tn Or “preach.”
  11. 2 Corinthians 4:5 tn Traditionally, “servants.” Though δοῦλος (doulos) is normally translated “servant,” the word does not bear the connotation of a free individual serving another. BDAG notes that “‘servant’ for ‘slave’ is largely confined to Biblical transl. and early American times…in normal usage at the present time the two words are carefully distinguished” (BDAG 260 s.v.). One good translation is “bondservant” (sometimes found in the ASV for δοῦλος) in that it often indicates one who sells himself into slavery to another. But as this is archaic, few today understand its force. Also, many slaves in the Roman world became slaves through Rome’s subjugation of conquered nations, kidnapping, or by being born into slave households.
  12. 2 Corinthians 4:6 sn An allusion to Gen 1:3; see also Isa 9:2.
  13. 2 Corinthians 4:6 tn Grk “the light of the knowledge of the glory”; δόξης (doxēs) has been translated as an attributive genitive.
  14. 2 Corinthians 4:6 tc ‡ Most witnesses, including several early and significant ones (P46 א C H Ψ 0209 1739c M sy), read ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ (Iēsou Christou, “Jesus Christ”), while other significant witnesses, especially of the Western text (D F G 0243 630 1739* 1881 lat Ambst), have Χριστοῦ ᾿Ιησοῦ. The reading with just Χριστοῦ is found in A B 33 sa Tert Or Ath Chr. Even though the witnesses for the shorter reading are not numerous, they are weighty. And in light of the natural scribal proclivity to fill out the text, particularly with reference to divine names, as well as the discrepancy among the witnesses as to the order of the names, the simple reading Χριστοῦ seems to be the best candidate for authenticity. NA28 reads ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ with ᾿Ιησοῦ in brackets, indicating doubts as to its authenticity.
  15. 2 Corinthians 4:7 tn Grk “the surpassingness of the power”; δυνάμεως (dunameōs) has been translated as an attributed genitive (“extraordinary power”).
  16. 2 Corinthians 4:8 tn Grk “we are hard pressed [by crowds] on every side.”
  17. 2 Corinthians 4:8 tn Or “at a loss.”
  18. 2 Corinthians 4:9 tn Or “forsaken.”
  19. 2 Corinthians 4:9 tn Or “badly hurt.” It is possible to interpret καταβαλλόμενοι (kataballomenoi) here as “badly hurt”: “[we are] badly hurt, but not destroyed” (L&N 20.21).
  20. 2 Corinthians 4:10 tn The first clause of 2 Cor 4:10 is elliptical and apparently refers to the fact that Paul was constantly in danger of dying in the same way Jesus died (by violence at least). According to L&N 23.99 it could be translated, “at all times we live in the constant threat of being killed as Jesus was.”
  21. 2 Corinthians 4:10 tn Or “may also be revealed.”
  22. 2 Corinthians 4:11 tn Or “may also be revealed.”
  23. 2 Corinthians 4:11 tn Grk “mortal flesh.”
  24. 2 Corinthians 4:12 tn Or “So then.”
  25. 2 Corinthians 4:12 tn Grk “death is at work in us, but life in you”; the phrase “is at work in” is repeated in the translation for clarity.
  26. 2 Corinthians 4:13 tn Grk “spirit of faith according to.”
  27. 2 Corinthians 4:13 sn A quotation from Ps 116:10.
  28. 2 Corinthians 4:14 tn Grk “speak, because.” A new sentence was started here in the translation, with the words “We do so” supplied to preserve the connection with the preceding statement.
  29. 2 Corinthians 4:14 tc ‡ Several significant witnesses (א C D F G Ψ 1881), as well as the Byzantine text, add κύριον (kurion) here, changing the reading to “the Lord Jesus.” Although the external evidence in favor of the shorter reading is slim, the witnesses are significant, early, and diverse (P46 B [0243 33] 629 [630] 1175* [1739] r sa). Very likely scribes with pietistic motives added the word κύριον, as they were prone to do, thus compounding this title for the Lord.
  30. 2 Corinthians 4:15 tn Or “that is abounding to.”
  31. 2 Corinthians 4:15 tn Or “to abound.”
  32. 2 Corinthians 4:16 tn Or “do not lose heart.”
  33. 2 Corinthians 4:16 tn Grk “our outer man.”
  34. 2 Corinthians 4:16 tn Grk “our inner [man].”
  35. 2 Corinthians 4:17 tn Grk “momentary lightness of affliction.”

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