Paul’s defense of his Apostolic ministry, part 1 (3:1-6:10)-continued
2 Corinthians 4
2 Corinthians 4:1-7-Paul’s defense of his Apostolic ministry is seen in the fact that it honors Jesus and not himself (others seek the honor that comes from ministry for themselves).
Our effectiveness in ministry is the result of the mercy of God...which constantly encourages our own heart. And, the "manifestation of truth" from God...that commends us to the conscience of others. In other words, it's not about me...it's about Jesus (:5). We are merely the vessel of His light...and when we live that way, He receives the glory.
The “god of this world” is Satan. This does not mean that he is god in the same sense and meaning as Jesus. Jesus is God by virtue of His being, His nature. Satan is god in the sense of being the one that has power or control over the people of earth. But even that is his only because God has allowed it for a time. The rule of Satan is still ultimately under the sovereignty of God, and God uses it to accomplish His own purposes.
- The god of this age: The title god of this age is not used of Satan anywhere else in Scripture, but the thought is expressed in passages like John 12:31, 14:30, and in Ephesians 2:2; 6:12 and 1 John 5:19.
- There is a significant, and real sense in which Satan "rules" this world. Not in an ultimate sense, because, The earth is the LORD's, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. (Psalm 24:1). Yet, Jesus did not contest Satan's claim to rule over this present age (Luke 4:5-8), because there is a sense in which Satan is the "popularly elected" ruler of this age.
- "The satanic world sovereignty is in fact apparent rather than real; for God alone is the 'King of the ages' (1 Timothy 1:17, Greek), that is, of every age, past, present, and future" (Hughes). "It is the devil who is here called the god of this world, because he ruleth over the greatest part of the world, and they are his servants and slaves … though we no where else find him called the god of this world, yet our Saviour twice calls him the prince of this world." (Poole)
iii. The Biblical truth that Satan is the god of this age can be understood in a wrong way. Some later Christians (like the Manichaeans) promoted a dualistic understanding of God and Satan, and emphasized this phrase the god of this age. Their idea was that God and Satan were "equal opponents," instead of understanding that in no way is Satan the opposite of God. In reaction to these false doctrines, many early Christian commentators (like Augustine, Origen, Chrysostem and others) interpreted this verse strangely to "remove ammunition" from the heretics. But this is wrong. Just because some one twists a truth one way, it doesn't mean we can twist it the other way to "compensate." Calvin well remarks of this approach, "being hard pressed by their opponents they were more anxious to refute them than to expound Paul."
- Instead, Calvin gives a good sense of what we should understand by the phrase the god of this age: "The devil is called the god of this age in no other way than Baal was called the god of those who worshipped him or the dog the god of Egypt."
David Guzik :: Study Guide 2 Corinthians 4,
For a brief study of Satan see:
R.A. Torrey :: Satan and His Kingdom
2 Corinthians 4:8-5:5-Paul’s defense of his Apostolic ministry is seen in the degree that they are willing to go in order to fulfill their calling.
2 Corinthians 4:8-Even when we suffer, there are several positive outcomes...
- it is another opportunity for the glory of God to be manifested. There is nothing in life that can overwhelm us. Even death is but another opportunity for our trust in Him to be proven right...since it will result in resurrection from the dead.
- Paul says that their suffering is also a witness to others (:15).
- Suffering is a tool that God uses to strengthen us in our faith, and to produce blessings in Heaven (:16-18). Paul says that he keeps his eyes on the things of Heaven, and not the things of earth (:18).
Prayer: Lord, I pray that You will be so powerful and free in my life...that it would be like a bright light shining in the darkness. Please help my life to be a living testimony of what You have said in Your word. Please help me to be blameless...so that there is nothing that would hinder people from seeing You in me. Don't let them see me, but let them see Jesus. I am but a vessel, a tool in Your hands to bring glory to You. Father, there is no greater joy in life than to be Your bond-servant! Help me to have eyes that see the glories of Heaven (the things that are not seen), in order that I might be faithful as I struggle with the challenges of life (the things that are seen).