RPM, Volume 18, Number 30, July 17 to July 23, 2016

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament
Explanatory and Practical
Part 63

By Albert Barnes


Introduction to 2nd Corinthians Chapter 4

THIS chapter is intimately connected with the preceding; and is, indeed, merely a statement of the consequences or results of the doctrine advanced there. In that chapter, Paul had stated the clearness and plainness of the gospel as contrasted with the institutions of Moses, and particularly that the Christian ministry Was a ministration more glorious than that of Moses. It was more clear, It was a ministration of justification, (2 Co 3:9,) and of the Spirit, (2 Co 3:8,) and was a ministration where they were permitted to look upon the unvailed and unclouded glories of God, 2 Co 3:18. In this chapter he states some of the consequences, or results, of their being called to this ministry: and the design is, to magnify the office of the ministry; to show the sustaining power of the truths which they preached; the interest which the Corinthian Christians and all other Christians had in the ministry, and thus to conciliate their favour; and to show what there was to comfort them in the various trials to which as ministers they were exposed, Paul states therefore in this chapter-

(1.) That these clear and elevated views of the gospel sustained him; kept him from fainting; preserved, him from deceit and all improper acts.; made him open and honest; since he had no necessity for craft and guilt, but proclaimed a system of religion which could be commended to every man's conscience, and be seen to be true, 2 Co 4:1,2.

(2.) That if any persons were lost, it was not the fault of the gospel, 2 Co 4:3,4. That was clear, open, plain, glorious, and might be understood; and if they were lost, it was to be traced to the malign influence of the god of this world, and not to the gospel.

(3.) That the great purpose of Paul and his associates was to make known this clear and glorious truth of the gospel; and that, therefore, the apostles did not preach themselves, but Christ Jesus, the revealer and source of all this glory, 2 Co 4:5,6. Their sole object was to show forth this pure and glorious light of the gospel.

(4.) That it was so arranged by God's appointment and providence that all the glory of the results of the ministry should be his, 2 Co 4:7-11. He had taken especial care that they should have no cause of self-exultation or glorying in preaching the gospel; and had taken effectual means that they should be humbled, and not lifted up with pride from the fact that they were commissioned to make known such glorious truths, and had a ministry more honourable than that of Moses. He had, therefore, committed the treasure to earthen vessels; to frail, weak, dying men, and to men in humble life, (2 Co 4:7,) and he had called them to submit to constant trials of persecution, poverty, peril, and want, in order that they might be humbled, and that God might manifestly have all the glory, 2 Co 4:8-11.

(5.) All this was for the sake of the church—a fact which was adapted to conciliate the favour of Christians, and excite their sympathy in the sufferings of the apostles, and to lead them to honour the ministry in a proper manner, 2 Co 4:12-15. It was not for their own welfare, happiness, honour, or emolument, that they endured these trials in the ministry; it was that the church might be benefited, and thus abundant praise redound to God.

(6.) These considerations sustained them in their trials, 2 Co 4:16-18. They had comfort in all their afflictions. They felt that they were doing and suffering these things for the salvation of souls and the glory of God, (2 Co 5:16); they had inward strength given them every day, though the outward man perished, (2 Co 4:16;) they knew that the result of this would be an eternal weight of glory, (2 Co 4:17;) and they were enabled to look to another and a better world; to keep the eye on heaven, and to contemplate by faith the things which were unseen and eternal, 2 Co 4:18. These things supported them; and thus upheld, they went cheerfully to their great work, and met with calmness and joy all the trials which it involved.

Verse 1. Therefore, dia touto. On account of this. That is, because the light of the gospel is so clear; because it reveals so glorious truths, and all obscurity is taken away, and we are permitted to behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, 2 Co 3:18. Since the glories of the gospel dispensation are so great, and its effects on the heart are so transforming and purifying, the object is to show the effect of being intrusted with such a ministry on the character of his preaching.

Seeing we have this ministry. The gospel ministry, so much more glorious than that of Moses, (2 Co 3:6;) which is the ministry by which the Holy Spirit acts on the hearts of men, 2 Co 3:8 which is the ministry of that system by which men are justified, (2 Co 3:9;) and which is the ministry of a system so pure and unclouded, 2 Co 3:9-11,18.

As we have received mercy. Tindal renders, this, "even as mercy is sure in us." The idea is, that it was by the mere mercy and favour of God that he had been intrusted with the ministry; and the object of Paul is doubtless to prevent the appearance of arrogance and self-confidence, by stating that it was to be traced entirely to God that he was put into the ministry. He doubtless had his eye on the fact that he had been a persecutor and blasphemer; and that it was by the mere favour of God that he had been converted and intrusted with the ministry, 1 Ti 1:13. Nothing will more effectually humble a minister, and prevent his assuming any arrogant and self-confident airs, than to look over his past life; especially if his life was one of blasphemy, vice, or infidelity; and to remember that it is by the mere mercy of God that he is intrusted with the high office of an ambassador of Jesus Christ. Paul never forgot to trace his hope, his appointment to the ministerial office, and his success, to the mere grace of God.

We faint not. This is one of the effects of being intrusted with such a ministry. The word here used (ekkakoumen) means, properly, to turn out a coward; to lose one's courage; then to be faint-hearted, to faint, to despond, in view of trial, difficulty, etc.—Robinson. Here it means, that by the mercy of God he was not disheartened by the difficulties which he met; his faith and zeal did not flag; he was enabled to be faithful, and laborious, and his courage always kept up, and his mind was filled with cheerfulness. See Barnes "2 Co 2:14".

He was deterred by no difficulties; embarrassed by no opposition; driven from his purpose by no persecution; and his strength did not fail under any trims. The consciousness of being intrusted with such a ministry animated him; and the mercy and grace of God sustained him.

{a} "received mercy" 1 Co 7:25


Verse 2. But have renounced. apeipameya, from apo and eipon. The word means, properly, to speak out or off; to refuse or deny; to interdict or forbid. Here it means, to renounce, or disown; to spurn, or scorn with aversion. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament; and the sense here is, that the apostles had such a view of the truth of religion, and the glory of the Christian scheme, 2 Co 3:13-18, as to lead them to discard everything that was disguised, and artful, and crafty; everything like deceit and fraud. The religions of the heathen were made up mainly of trick, and were supported by deception practised on the ignorant, and on the mass of men. Paul says, that he and his fellow-labourers had such views of, the truth, and glory, and holiness of the Christian scheme, as to lead them solemnly to abjure and abhor all such dishonest tricks and devices. Truth never needs such arts; and no cause will long succeed by mere trick and cunning.

The hidden things of dishonesty. Marg., shame. The Greek word most commonly means shame, or disgrace. The hidden things of shame here mean disgraceful conduct; clandestine and secret arts, which were ill themselves shameful and disgraceful. They denote all underhanded dealings; all dishonest artifices and plans, such as were common, among the heathen, and such probably as the false teachers adopted in the propagation of their opinions at Corinth. The expression here does not imply that the apostles ever had anything to do with such arts; but that they solemnly abjured and abhorred them. Religion is open, plain, straightforward. It has no alliance with cunning, and trick, and artifice. It should be defended openly; stated clearly; and urged with steady argument. It is a work of light, and not of darkness.

Not walking in craftiness. Not acting craftily; not behaving in a crafty manner. The word here used, (panourgia, from pan, all, ergon work, i.e., doing everything, or capable of doing anything,) denotes shrewdness, cunning, and craft. This was common; and this was probably practised by the false teachers in Corinth. With this Paul says he had nothing to do. He did not adopt a course of carnal wisdom and policy, See Barnes "2 Co 1:12" he did not attempt to impose upon them, or to deceive them; or to make his way by subtle and deceitful arts. True religion can never be advanced by trick and craftiness.

Nor handling the word of God deceitfully. Dolountev. Not falsifying; or deceitfully corrupting or disguising the truth of God. The phrase seems to be synonymous with that used in 2 Co 2:17, and rendered, "corrupt the word of God." See Barnes "2 Co 2:17"

on that verse. It properly means to falsify, adulterate, corrupt, by Jewish traditions, etc., (Robinson, Bloomfield, Doddridge), etc. or it may mean, as in our translation, to handle in a deceitful manner; to make use of trick and art in propagating and defending it. Tindal renders it, "neither corrupt we the word of God."

But by manifestation of the truth. By making the truth manifest; i.e., by a simple exhibition of the truth. By stating it just as it is, in an undisguised and open manner. Not by adulterating it with foreign mixtures; not by mingling it with philosophy or traditions; not by blunting its edge, or concealing anything, or explaining it away; but by an open, plain, straight-forward exhibition of it as it is in Jesus. Preaching should consist in a simple exhibition of the truth. There is no deceit in the gospel itself; and there should be none in the manner of exhibiting it. It should consist of a simple statement of things as they are. The whole design of preaching is to make known the truth. And this is done in an effectual manner only when it is simple, open, undisguised, without craft, and without deceit.

Commending ourselves to every man's conscience. That is, so speaking the truth that every man's conscience shall approve it as true; every man shall see it to be true, and to be in accordance with what he knows to be right. Conscience is that faculty of the mind which distinguishes between right and wrong, and which prompts us to choose the former and avoid the latter, Joh 8:9. See Barnes "Ro 2:15" See Barnes "1 Co 10:25, See Barnes "1 Co 10:27, See Barnes "1 Co 10:27,29; See Barnes "2 Co 1:12".

It is implied here,

(1.) that a course of life and a manner of preaching that shall be free from dishonesty, and art, and trick, will be such as the consciences of men will approve. Paul sought such a course of life as should accord with their sense of right, and thus serve to commend the gospel to them.

(2.) That the gospel may be so preached as to be seen by men to be true; so as to be approved as right; and so that every man's conscience shall bear testimony to its truth. Men do not love it, but they may see that it is true; they may hate it, but they may see that the truth which condemns their practices is from heaven. This is an exceedingly important principle in regard to preaching, and vastly momentous in its bearing on the views which ministers should have of their own work. The gospel is reasonable. It may be seen to be true by every man to whom it is preached. And it should be the aim of every preacher so to preach it, as to enlist the consciences of his hearers in his favour. And it is a very material fact that when so preached the conscience and reason of every man is in its favour, and they know that it is true even when it pronounces their own condemnation, and denounces their own sins. This passage proves, therefore, the following things:

(1.) That the gospel may be so preached as to be seen to be true by all men. Men are capable of seeing the truth; and even when they do not love it, they can perceive that it has demonstration that it is from God. It is a system so reasonable; so well established by evidence; so fortified by miracles and the fulfillment of prophecies; so pure in its nature; so well adapted to man; so fitted to his condition, and so well designed to make him better; and so happy in its influence on society, that men may be led to see that it is true. And this I take to be the case with almost all those who habitually attend on the preaching of the gospel. Infidels do not often visit the sanctuary; and when they are in the habit of doing it, it is a fact that they gradually come to the conviction that the Christian religion is true. It is rare to find professed infidels in our places of worship; and the great mass of those who attend on the preaching of the gospel may be set down as speculative believers in the truth of Christianity.

(2.) The consciences of men are on the side of truth, and the gospel may be so preached as to enlist their consciences in its favour. Conscience prompts to do right, and condemns us if we do wrong. It can never be made to approve of wrong, never to give a man peace if he does that which he knows to be evil. By no art or device; by no system of laws, or bad government; by no training or discipline, can it be made the advocate of sin. In all lands, at all times, and in all circumstances, it prompts a man to do what is right, and condemns him if he does wrong. It may be silenced for a time; it may be "seared as with a hot iron," and for a time be insensible, but if it speak at all, it speaks to prompt a man to do what he believes to be right, and condemns him if he does that which is wrong. The consciences of men are on the side of the gospel; and it is only their hearts which are opposed to it. Their consciences are in favour of the gospel in the following, among other respects:

(a.) They approve of it as a just, pure, holy, and reasonable system; as in accordance with what they feel to be right; as recommending that which ought to be done, and forbidding that which ought not to be done.

(b.) In its special requirements on themselves. Their consciences tell them that they ought to love God with all the heart; to repent of their sins; to trust in that Saviour who died for them, and to lead a life of prayer and of devotedness to the service of God; that they ought to be sincere and humble Christians, and prepare to meet God in peace.

(c.) Their consciences approve the truth that condemns them. No matter how strict it may seem to be; no matter how loud its denunciation against their sins; no matter how much the gospel may condemn their pride, avarice, sensuality, levity, dishonesty, fraud, intern, perance, profaneness, blasphemy, or their neglect of their soul, yet their consciences approve of it as right, and proclaim that these things ought to be condemned, and ought to be abandoned. The heart may love them, but the conscience cannot be made to approve them. And the minister of the gospel may always approach his people, or an individual man, with the assurance that however much they may love the ways of sin, yet that he has their consciences in his favour; and that in urging the claims of God on them, their consciences will always coincide with his appeals.

(3.) The way in which a minister is to commend himself to the consciences of men, is that which was pursued by Paul. He must (a.) have a clear and unwavering conviction of the truth himself. On this subject he should have no doubt. He should be able to look on it as on a burnished mirror, See Barnes "2 Co 3:18, and to see its glory as with open face.

(b.) It should be by the simple statement of the truth of the gospel. Not by preaching philosophy, or metaphysics, or the traditions of man, or the sentiments of theologians, but the simple truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Men may be made to see that these are truths, and God will take care that the reason and consciences of men shall be in their favour.

(c.) By the absence of all trick and cunning, and disguised and subtle arts. The gospel has nothing of these in itself, and it will never approve of them, nor will God bless them. A minister of Jesus should be frank, open, undisguised, and candid. He should make a sober and elevated appeal to the reason and conscience of man. The gospel is not "a cunningly devised fable;" it has no trick in itself, and the ministers of religion should solemnly abjure all the hidden things of dishonesty.

In the sight of God. As in the immediate presence of God. We act as if we felt that his eye was upon us; and this consideration serves to keep us from the hidden things of dishonesty, and from improper arts in spreading the true religion. See Barnes "2 Co 2:17".

{1} "dishonesty" "shame" {b} "God deceitfully" 2 Co 2:17 {*} "deceitfully" "corrupting the word of God"


Verse 3. But if our gospel be hid. Paul here calls it his gospel, because it was that which he preached, or the message which he bore. See Barnes "Ro 16:5".

The sense here is, "if the gospel which I preach is not understood; if its meaning is obscure or hidden; if its glory is not seen." It is implied here, that to many the beauty and glory of the gospel was not perceived. This was undeniable, not withstanding the plainness and fulness with which its truths were made known. The object of Paul here is to state that this fact was not to be traced to any want of clearness in the gospel itself, but to other causes—and thus probably to meet an objection which might be made to his argument about the clearness and fulness of-the revelation in the gospel. In the language which Paul uses here, there is undoubted allusion to what he had said respecting Moses, who put a vail on his face, 2 Co 3:13. He had hid or concealed his face, as emblematic of the nature of his institutions, See Barnes "2 Co 3:14" and here Paul says that it was not to be denied that the gospel was vailed also to some. But it was not from the nature of the gospel. It was not because God had purposely concealed its meaning. It was not from any want of clearness in itself. It was to be traced to other causes.

It is hid to them that are lost. On the meaning of the word here rendered "lost," See Barnes "2 Co 2:15, there rendered "perish." It is hid among them, who are about to perish; who are perishing, (;) those who deserve to perish. It is concealed only among that class who may be designated as the perishing, or as the lost. Grotius explains this, "those who deserve to perish, who foster their vices, and will not see the truth which condemns those vices." And he adds, that this might very well be; for, "however conspicuous the gospel was in itself, yet like the sun it would not be visible to the blind." The cause was not in the gospel, but in themselves. This verse teaches, therefore,

(1.) that the beauty of the gospel may be hidden from many of the human family. This is a matter of simple fact. There are thousands and millions to whom it is preached who see no beauty in it, and who regard it as foolishness.

(2.) That there is a class of men who may be called, even now, the lost. They are lost to virtue, to piety, to happiness, to hope. They deserve to perish; and they are hastening to merited ruin. This class in the time of Paul was large; and it is large now. It is composed of those to whom the gospel is hidden, or to whom it appears to be vailed, and who see no beauty in it. It is made up indeed of all the profane, polluted, and vile; but their characteristic feature is, that the gospel is hidden from them, and that they see no beauty and glory in it.

(3.) This is not the fault of the gospel. It is not the fault of the sun where men shut their eyes and will not see it. It is not the fault of a running stream, or a bubbling fountain, if men will not drink of it, but rather choose to die of thirst. The gospel does not obscure and conceal its own glory any more than the sun does. It is in itself a clear and full revelation of God and his grace; and that glory is adapted to shed light upon the benighted minds of men.

{*} "hid" "covered" {a} "that are lost" 2 Th 2:10


Verse 4. In whom. In respect to whom; among whom; or in whose hearts. The design of this verse is to account for the fact that the glory of the gospel was not seen by them. It is to be traced entirely to the agency of him whom Paul here calls "the god of this world."

The god of this world. There can be no doubt that Satan is here designated by this appellation; though some of the Fathers supposed that it means the true Gods and Clarke inclines to this opinion. In Joh 12:31, he is called "the prince of this world." In Eph 2:2, he is called "the prince of the power of the air." And in Eph 6:1,2, the same bad influence is referred to under the names of "principalities and powers," "the rulers of the darkness of this world," and "spiritual wickedness in high places." The name "god" is here given to him, not because he has any divine attributes, but because he actually has the homage of the men of this world as their god, as the being who is really worshipped, or who has the affections of their hearts in the same way as it is given to idols. By "this world" is meant the wicked world; or the mass of men. He has dominion over the world. They obey his will; they execute his plans; they further his purposes, and they are his obedient subjects. He had subdued the world to himself, and was really adored in the place of the true God. See Barnes "1 Co 10:20".

"They sacrificed to devils and not to God." Here it is meant by the declaration that Satan is the god of this world.

(1.) that the world at large was under his control and direction. He secured the apostasy, of man, and early brought him to follow his plans; and he has maintained his sceptre and dominion since. No more abject submission could be desired by him than has been rendered by the mass of men.

(2.) The idolatrous world particularly is under his control, and subject to him, 1 Co 10:20. He is worshipped there; and the religious rites and ceremonies of the heathen are in general just such as a mighty being who hated human happiness, and who sought pollution, obscenity, wretchedness, and blood, would appoint; and over all the heathen world his power is absolute. In the time of Paul, all the world, except the Jews and Christians, was sunk in heathen degradation.

(3.) He rules in the hearts and lives of all wicked men—and the world is full of wicked men. They obey him, and submit to his will in executing fraud, and rapine, and piracy, and murder, and adultery, and lewdness; in wars and fightings; in their amusements and pastimes; in dishonesty and falsehood. The dominion of Satan over this world has been, and is still, almost universal and absolute; nor has the lapse of eighteen hundred years rendered the appellation improper as descriptive of his influence, that he is the god of this world. The world pursues his plans; yields to his temptations; neglects or rejects the reign of God as he pleases; and submits to his sceptre, and is still full of abomination, cruelty, and pollution, as he desires it to be.

Hath blinded the minds of them which believe not. Of all who discern no beauty in the gospel, and who reject it. It is implied here,

(1.) that the minds of unbelievers are blinded; that they perceive no beauty in the gospel. This is often affirmed of those who reject the gospel, and who live m sin. See Barnes "2 Co 2:13".

See Mt 23:16,17,26; Lu 4:18; Joh 9:39; 12:40; Ro 11:7.

The sense is, that they did not see the spiritual beauty and glory of the plan of redemption. They act in reference to that as they would in reference to this world if a bandage were over their eyes, and they saw not the light of the sun, the beauty of the landscape, the path in which they should go, or the countenance of a friend". All is dark, and obscure, and destitute of beauty to them, however much beauty may be seen in all these objects by others.

(2.) That this is done by the agency of Satan; and that his dominion is secured by keeping the world in darkness. The affirmation is direct and positive, that it is by his agency that it is done. Some of the modes in which it is done are the following:

(a.) By a direct influence on the minds of men. I do not know why it is absurd to suppose that one intellect may, in some way unknown to us, have access to another, and have power to influence it: nor can it be proved that Satan may not have power to pervert the understanding; to derange its powers; to distract its attention; and to give in view of the mind a wholly delusive relative importance to objects. In the time of the Saviour it cannot be doubted that, in the numerous cases of demoniacal possessions, Satan directly affected the minds of men; nor is there any reason to think that he has ceased to delude and destroy them.

(b.) By the false philosophy which has prevailed—a large part of which seems to have been contrived as if on purpose to deceive the world, and destroy the peace and happiness of men.

(c.) By the systems of superstition and idolatry. All these seem to be under the control of one master mind. They are so well conceived and adapted to prostrate the moral powers; to fetter the intellect; to pervert the will; to make men debased, sunken, polluted, and degraded; and they so uniformly accomplish this effect, that they have all the marks of being under the control of one mighty mind, and of having been devised to accomplish his purposes over men.

(d.) By producing in the minds of men a wholly disproportionate view of the value of objects. A very small object held before the eye will shut out the light of the sun. A piece of money of the smallest value laid on the eye will make everything appear dark, and prevent all the glory of mid-day from reaching the seat of vision. And so it is with the things of this world. They are placed directly before us, and are placed directly between us and the glory of the gospel. And the trifles of wealth and of fashion, the objects of pleasure and ambition, are made to assume an importance in view of the mind which wholly excludes the glory of the gospel, and shuts out all the realities of the eternal world. And he does it

(e.) by the blinding influence of passion and vice. Before a vicious mind, all is dark and obscure. There is no beauty in truth, in chastity or honesty, or in the fear and love of God. Vice always renders the mind blind, and the heart hard, and shrouds everything in the moral world in midnight. And in order to blind the minds of men to the glory of the gospel, Satan has only to place splendid schemes of speculation before men; to tempt them to climb the steeps of ambition; to entice them to scenes of gaiety; to secure the erection of theatres, and gambling-houses, and houses of infamy and pollution; to fill the cities and towns of a land with taverns and dram-shops; and to give opportunity everywhere for the full play and unrestrained indulgence of passion—and the glory of the gospel will be as effectually unseen as the glory of the sun is in the darkest night.

Lest the light, etc. This passage states the design for which Satan blinds the minds of men. It is because he hates the gospel, and wishes to prevent its influence and spread in the world. Satan has always hated and opposed it, and all his arts have been employed to arrest its diffusion on earth. The word light here means excellence, beauty, or splendour. Light is the emblem of knowledge, purity, or innocence; and is here and elsewhere applied to the gospel, because it removes the errors, and sins, and wretchedness of men, as the light of the sun scatters the shades of night. This purpose of preventing the light of the gospel shining on men, Satan will endeavour to accomplish by all the means in his power. It is his grand object in this world, because it is by the gospel only that man can be saved; by that that God is glorified on earth more than by anything else; and because, therefore, if he can prevent sinners from embracing that, he will secure their destruction, and most effectually show his hatred of God. And it is to Satan a matter of little importance what men may be, or are, provided they are NOT Christians. They may be amiable, moral, accomplished, rich, honoured, esteemed by the world, because in the possession of all these he may be equally sure of their ruin, and because, also, these things may contribute somewhat to turn away their minds from the gospel. Satan, therefore, will not oppose plans of gain or ambition; he will not oppose purposes of fashion and amusement; he may not oppose schemes by which we desire to rise in the world; he will not oppose the theatre, the ball-room, the dance, or the song; he will not oppose thoughtless mirth; but the moment the gospel begins to shine on the benighted mind, that moment he will make resistance, and then all his power will be concentrated.

The glorious gospel. Greek, "The gospel of the glory of Christ"—a Hebraism for the glorious gospel. Mr. Locke renders it, "the glorious brightness of the light of the gospel of Christ," and supposes it means the brightness, or clearness, of the doctrine wherein Christ is manifested in the gospel. It is all light, and splendour, and beauty, compared with the dark systems of philosophy and heathenism. It is glorious, for it is full of splendour; makes known the glorious God; discloses a glorious plan of salvation; and conducts ignorant, weak, and degraded man to a world of light. No two words in our language are so full of rich and precious meaning, as the phrase "glorious gospel."

Who is the image of God. Christ is called the image of God,

(1.) in respect to his Divine nature, his exact resemblance to God in his Divine attributes and perfections, (see Col 1:15; Heb 1:3); and

(2.) in his moral attributes as Mediator, as showing forth the glory of the Father to men. He resembles God; and in him we see the Divine glory and perfections embodied, and shine forth. It is from his resemblance to God in all respects that he is called his image; and it is through him that the Divine perfections are made known to men. It is an object of especial dislike and hatred to Satan that the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on men, and fill their hearts. Satan hates that image; he hates that men should become like God; and he hates all that has a resemblance to the great and glorious Jehovah.

{b} "god of this world" Joh 12:31,40 {a} "image of God" Joh 1:14,18


Verse 5. For we preach not ourselves. The connexion here is not very apparent, and the design of this verse has been variously understood. The connexion seems to me to be this: Paul gives here a reason for what he had said in the previous parts of the epistle respecting his conduct in the ministry, he had said that his course had been open and pure, and free from all dishonest arts and tricks, and that he had not corrupted the word of God, or resorted to any artifice to accomplish his designs, 2 Co 2:17; 4:1,2.

The reason of this he here says is, that he had not preached himself, or sought to advance his own interest, he regarded himself as sent to make known a Saviour; himself as bound by all means to promote his cause, and to imitate him. Other men—the false teachers, and the cunning priests of the heathen religions sought to advance their own interest, and to perpetuate a system of delusion that would be profitable to themselves; and they therefore resorted to all arts, and stratagems, and cunning devices, to perpetuate their authority and extend their influence. But the fact that Paul and his associates went forth to make known the Lord Jesus, was a reason why they avoided all such dishonest arts and artifices. "We are merely the ambassadors of another. We are not principals in this business, and do not despatch it as a business of our own, but we transact it as the agents for another, that is, for the Lord Jesus, and we feel ourselves bound, therefore, to do it as he would have done it himself; and as he was free from all trick and dishonest art, we feel bound to be also." This seems to me to be the design of this passage. Ministers may be said to preach themselves in the following ways:

(1.) When their preaching has a primary reference to their own interest; and when they engage in it to advance their reputation, or to secure in some way their own advantage. When they aim at exalting their authority, extending their influence, or in any way promoting their own welfare.

(2.) When they proclaim their own opinions, and not the gospel of Christ; when they derived their doctrines from their own reasonings, and not from the Bible.

(3.) When they put themselves forward; speak much of themselves; refer often to themselves; are wain of their powers of reasoning, of their eloquence, and of their learning, and seek to make these known rather than the simple truths of the gospel. In one word, when self is primary, and the gospel is secondary; when they prostitute the ministry to gain popularity; to live a life of ease; to be respected; to obtain a livelihood; to gain influence; to rule over a people; and to make the preaching of the gospel merely an occasion of advancing themselves in the world. Such a plan, it is implied here, would lead to dishonest arts and devices, and to trick and stratagem to accomplish the end in view. And it is implied here, also, that to avoid all such tricks and arts, the true way is not to preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ.

But Christ Jesus the Lord. This Paul states to be the only purpose of the ministry. It is so far the sole design of the ministry, that had it not been to make known the Lord Jesus, it would never have been established; and whatever other objects are secured by its appointment, and whatever other truths are to be illustrated and enforced by the ministry, yet, if this is not the primary subject, and if every other object is not made subservient to this, the design of the ministry is not secured. The word "Christ" properly means the Anointed; that is, the Messiah, the Anointed of God for this great office, See Barnes "Mt 1:1"

but it is used in the New Testament as a proper name, the name that was appropriate to Jesus. Still it may be used with a reference to the fact of the Messiahship, and not merely as a proper name; and in this place it may mean that they preached Jesus as the Messiah, or the Christ, and defended his claims to that high appointment. The word "Lord," also, is used to designate him, Mr 11:3; Joh 20:25; and when it stands by itself in the New Testament, it denotes the Lord Jesus, See Barnes "Ac 1:24" but it properly denotes one who has rule, or authority, or proprietorship; and it is used here not merely as a part of the appropriate title of the Saviour, but with reference to the fact that he had the supreme headship or lordship over the church and the world. This important passage therefore means, that they made it their sole business to make known Jesus the Messiah, or the Christ, as the supreme liege and Lord of his people; that is, to set forth the Messiahship and the lordship of Jesus of Nazareth, appointed to these high offices by God. To do this, or to preach Jesus Christ the Lord, implies the following things:

(1.) To prove that he is the Messiah so often predicted in the Old Testament, and so long expected by the Jewish people. To do this was a very vital part of the work of the ministry in the time of the apostles, and was essential to their success in all their attempts to convert the Jews; and to do this will be no less important in all attempts to bring the Jews now or in future times to the knowledge of the truth. No man can be successful among them who is not able to prove that Jesus is the Messiah. It is not indeed so vital and leading a point now in reference to those to whom the ministers of the gospel usually preach; and it is probable that the importance of this argument is by many overlooked, and that it is not urged as it should be by those who "preach Christ Jesus the Lord." It involves the whole argument for the truth of Christianity. It leads to all the demonstrations that this religion is from God; and the establishment of the proposition that Jesus is the Messiah, is one of the most direct and certain ways of proving that his religion is from heaven. For

(a.) it contains the argument from the fulfillment of the prophecies—one of the main evidences of the truth of revelation; and

(b.) it involves an examination of all the evidences that Jesus gave that he was the Messiah sent from God, and of course an examination of all the miracles that he wrought in attestation of his Divine mission. The first object of a preacher, therefore, is to demonstrate that Jesus is sent from God, in accordance with the predictions of the prophets.

(2.) To proclaim the truths that he taught. To make known his sentiments and his doctrines, and not our own. This includes, of course, all that he taught respecting God, and respecting man; all that he taught respecting his own nature, and the design of his coming; all that he taught respecting the character of the human heart, and about human obligation and duty; all that he taught respecting death, the judgment, and eternity —respecting an eternal heaven, and an eternal hell. To explain, enforce, and vindicate his doctrines, is one great design of the ministry; and were there nothing else, this would be a field sufficiently ample to employ the life; sufficiently glorious to employ the best talents of man. The minister of the gospel is to teach the sentiments and doctrines of Jesus Christ, in contradistinction from all his own sentiments, and from all the doctrines of mere philosophy. He is not to teach science, or mere morals, but he is to proclaim and defend the doctrines of the Redeemer.

(3.) He is to make known the facts of the Saviour's life. He is to show how he lived—to hold up his example in all the trying circumstances in which he was placed. For he came to show by his life what the law required; and to show how men should live. And it is the office of the Christian ministry, or a part of their work in preaching "Christ Jesus the Lord," to show how he lived, and to set forth his self-denial, his meekness, his purity, his blameless life, his spirit of prayer, his submission to the Divine will, his patience in suffering, his forgiveness of his enemies, his tenderness to the afflicted, the weak, and the tempted, and the manner of his death. Were this all, it would be enough to employ the whole of a minister's life, and to command the best talents of the world. For he was the only perfectly pure model; and his example is to be followed by all his people, and his example is designed to exert a deep and wide influence on the world. Piety flourishes just in proportion as the pure example of Jesus Christ is kept before a people; and the world is made happier and better, just as that example is kept constant in view. To the gay and the thoughtless, the ministers of the gospel are to show how serious and calm was the Redeemer; to the worldly-minded, to show how he lived above the world; to the avaricious, how benevolent he was; to the profane and licentious, how pure he was; to the tempted, how he endured temptation; to the afflicted, how patient and resigned; to the dying, how he died; to all, to show how holy, and heavenly-minded, and prayerful, and pure he was, in order that they may be won to the same purity, and be prepared to dwell with him in his kingdom.

(4.) To set forth the design of his death. To show why he came to die; and what was the great object to be effected by his sufferings and death. To exhibit, therefore, the sorrows of his life; to describe his many trials; to dwell upon his sufferings in the garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross. To show why he died, and what was to be the influence of his death on the destiny of man. To show how it makes an atonement for sin; how it reconciles God to man; how it is made efficacious in the justification and the sanctification of the sinner. And were there nothing else, this would be sufficient to employ all the time and the best talents in the ministry. For the salvation of the soul depends on the proper exhibition of the design of the death of the Redeemer. There is no salvation but through his blood; and hence the nature and design of his atoning sacrifice is to be exhibited to every man, and the offers of mercy through that death to be pressed upon the attention of every sinner.

(5.) To set forth the truth and the design of his resurrection. To prove that he rose from the dead, and that he ascended to heaven; and to show the influence of his resurrection on our hopes and destiny. The whole structure of Christianity is dependent on making out the fact that he rose; and if he rose, all the difficulties in the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead are removed at once, and his people will also rise. The influence of that fact, therefore, on our hopes and on our prospects for eternity, is to be shown by the ministry of the gospel; and were there nothing else, this would be ample to command all the time and the best talents of the ministry.

(6.) To proclaim him as "Lord." This is expressly specified in the passage before us. "For we preach Christ Jesus THE LORD;" we proclaim him as the Lord. That is, he is to be preached as having dominion over the conscience; as the supreme Ruler in his church; as above all councils, and synods, and conferences, and all human authority; as having a right to legislate for his people; a right to prescribe their mode of worship; a right to define and determine the doctrines which they shall believe, he is to be proclaimed also as ruling over all, and as exalted in his mediatorial character over all worlds, and as having all things put beneath his feet, Ps 2:6; Isa 9:6,7; Mt 28:18; Joh 17:2; Eph 1:20; Heb 2:8.

And ourselves your servants, etc. So far as we make any mention of ourselves, it is to declare that we are your servants, and that we are bound to promote your welfare in the cause and for the sake of the Redeemer. That is, they were their, servants in all things in which they could advance the interests of the Redeemer's kingdom among them. The doctrine is, that they regarded themselves as under obligation not to seek their own interest, or to build up their own reputation and cause; but to seek the welfare of the church, and promote its interests, as a servant does that of his master. They should not seek to lord it over God's heritage, and to claim supreme and independent authority. They were not masters, but servants. The church at large was the master, and they were its servants. This implies the following things:

(1.) That the time of ministers belongs to the church, and should be employed in its welfare. It is not their own; and it is not to be employed in farming, or in speculating, or in trafficking, or in idleness, or in lounging, or in unprofitable visiting, or in mere science, or in reading or making books that will not advance the interests of the church. The time of the ministry is not for ease, or ambition, or self-indulgence, but is to promote the interests of the body of Christ. So Paul felt, and so he lived. (2.) Their talents belong to the church. All their original talents, and all that they can acquire, should be honestly devoted to the welfare of the church of the Redeemer.

(3.) Their best efforts and plans, the avails of their best thoughts and purposes, belong to the church, and should be honestly devoted to it. Their strength, and rigour, and influence should be devoted to it, as the rigour, and strength, and talent, and skill of a servant belong to the master. See Ps 137:5,6. The language of the ministry, as of every Christian, should be—

I love thy church, O God
Her walls before thee stand,
Dear as the apple of thine eye,
and graven on thy hand.

If e'er to bless thy sons
My voice or hands deny,
These bauds let useful skill forsake,
This voice in silence die.

If e'er my heart forget
Her welfare or her woe,
Let every joy this heart forsake,
And every grief o'erflow.

For her my tears shall fall,
For her my prayers ascend,
To her my cares and toils be given,
Till toils and cares shall end.

And it implies,

(4.) that they are the servants of the church in time of trial, temptation, and affliction. They are to devote themselves to the comfort of the afflicted. They are to be the guide to the perplexed. They are to aid the tempted. They are to comfort those that mourn, and they are to sustain and console the dying. They are to regard themselves as the servants of the church to accomplish these great objects; and are to be willing to deny themselves, and to take up their cross, and to consecrate their time to the advancement of these great interests. And they are, in all respects, to devote their time, and talents, and influence to the welfare of the church, with as much single-mindedness as the servant is to seek the interest of his master. It was in this way eminently that Paul was favoured with the success with which God blessed him in the ministry; and so every minister will be successful, just in proportion to the single-mindedness with which he devotes himself to the work of preaching Jesus Christ THE Lord.


Verse 6. For God, who commanded, etc. The design of this verse seems to be, to give a reason why Paul and his fellow-apostles did not preach themselves, but Jesus Christ the Lord, 2 Co 4:5. That reason was, that their minds had been so illuminated by that God who had commanded the light to shine out of darkness, that they had discerned the glory of the Divine perfections shining in and through the Redeemer, and they therefore gave themselves to the work of making him known among men. The doctrines which they preached they had not derived from men in any form. They had not been elaborated by human reasoning or science, nor had they been imparted by tradition. They had been communicated directly by the Source of all light—the true God—who had shined into the hearts that were once benighted by sin. Having been thus illuminated, they had felt themselves bound to go and make known to others the truths which God had imparted to them.

Who commanded the light, etc. Ge 1:3. God caused it to shine by his simple command. He said, "Let there be light, and there was light." The fact that it was produced by his saying so is referred to here by Paul, by his use of the phrase, (o eipwn,) "Who saying," or speaking the light to shine from darkness. The passage in Genesis is adduced by Longinus as a striking instance of the sublime.

Hath shined in our hearts. Marg., "Is he who hath." This is more in accordance with the Greek; and the sense is, "The God who at the creation bade the light to shine out of darkness, is he who has shined into our hearts; or it is the same God who has. illuminated us, who commanded the light to shine at the creation." Light is everywhere in the Bible the emblem of knowledge, purity, and truth; as darkness is the emblem of ignorance, error, sin, and wretchedness. See Barnes "Joh 1:4, See Barnes "Joh 1:5".

And the sense here is, that God had removed this ignorance, and poured a flood of light and truth on their minds. This passage teaches, therefore, the following important truths in regard to Christians—since it is as applicable to all Christians as it was to the apostles:

(1.) That the mind is by nature ignorant and benighted—to an extent which may be properly compared with the darkness which prevailed before God commanded the light to shine. Indeed, the darkness which prevailed before the light was formed, was a most striking emblem of the darkness which exists in the mind of man before it is enlightened by revelation, and by the Holy Spirit. For

(a.) in all minds by nature there is deep ignorance of God, of his law and his requirements; and

(b.) this is often greatly deepened by the course of life which men lead; by their education; or by their indulgence in sin, and by their plans of life; and especially by the indulgence of evil passions. The tendency of man, if left to himself, is to plunge into deeper darkness, and to involve his mind more entirely in the obscurity of moral midnight. "Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil," Joh 3:19.

(2.) This verse teaches the fact, that the minds of Christians are illuminated. They are enabled to see things as they are. This fact is often taught in the Scriptures. See 1 Jo 2:20; 1 Co 2:12-15. They have different views of things from their fellow-men, and different from what they once had. They perceive a beauty in religion which others do not see, and a glory in truth, and in the Saviour, and in the promises of the gospel, which they did not see before they were converted. This does not mean

(a.) that they are superior in their powers of understanding to other men —for the reverse is often the fact; nor

(b.) that the effect of religion is at once to enlarge their own intellectual powers, and make them different from what they were before in this respect. But it means that they have clear and consistent views; they look at things as they are; they perceive a beauty in religion and in the service of God which they did not before. They see a beauty in the Bible, and in the doctrines of the Bible, which they did not before, and which sinners do not see. The temperate man will see a beauty in temperance, and in an argument for temperance, which the drunkard will not; the benevolent man will see a beauty in benevolence, which the churl will not; and so of honesty, truth, and chastity. And especially will a man who is reformed from intemperance, impurity, dishonesty, and avarice, see a beauty in a virtuous life which he did not before see. There is indeed no immediate and direct enlargement of the intellect; but there is an effect on the heart which produces an appropriate and indirect effect on the understanding. It is at the same time true, that the practice of virtue, that a pure heart, and that the cultivation of piety, all tend to regulate, strengthen, and expand the intellect; as the ways of vice, and the indulgence of evil passions and propensities tend to enfeeble, paralyze, darken, and ruin the understanding; so that, other things being equal, the man of most decided virtue, and most calm and elevated piety, will be the man of the clearest and best regulated mind. His powers will be the most assiduously, carefully, and conscientiously cultivated, and he will feel himself bound to make the most of them. The influence of piety in giving light to the mind is often strikingly manifested among unlettered and ignorant Christians. It often happens, as a matter of fact, that they have by far clearer and more just and elevated views of truth than men of the most mighty intellects, and most highly cultivated by science and adorned with learning, but who have no piety; and a practical acquaintance with their own hearts, and a practical experience of the power of religion in the days of temptation and trial, is a better enlightener of the mind on the subject of religion than all the learning of the schools.

(3.) This verse teaches that it is the same God who enlightens the mind of the Christian, that commanded the light at first to shine, he is the Source of all light. He formed the light in the natural world; he gives all light and truth on all subjects to the understanding; and he imparts all correct views of truth to the heart. Light is not originated by man; and man, on the subject of religion, no more creates the light which beams upon his benighted mind, than he created the light of the sun when it first shed its beams over the darkened earth. "All truth is from the sempiternal source of light divine;" and it is no more the work of man to enlighten the mind, and dissipate the darkness from the soul of a benighted sinner, than it was of man to scatter the darkness that brooded over the creation, or than he can now turn the shades of midnight to noonday. All this work lies beyond the proper province of man; and is all to be traced to the agency of God—the great Fountain of light.

(4.) It is taught here that it is the same power that gives light to the mind of the Christian, which at first commanded the light to shine out of darkness. It requires the exertion of the same Omnipotence; and the change is often as remarkable and surprising. Nothing can be conceived to be more grand than the first creation of light—when by axe word the whole solar system was in a blaze. And nothing in the moral world is more grand than when by a word God commands the light to beam on the soul of a benighted sinner. Night is at once changed to day; and all things are seen in a blaze of glory. The works of God appear different; the word of God appears different; and a new aspect of beauty is diffused over all things. If it be asked IN WHAT WAY God thus imparts light to the mind, we may reply:

(1.) By his written and preached word. All spiritual and saving light to the minds of men has come through his revealed truth. Nor does the Spirit of God now give or reveal any light to the mind which is not to be found in the word of God, and which not imparted through that medium.

(2.) God makes use of providential dealings to give light to the minds of men. They are then, by sickness, disappointment, and pain, made to see the folly and vanity of the things of this world, and to see the necessity of a better portion.

(3.) It is done especially and mainly by the influences of the Holy Spirit. It is directly by his agency that the heart becomes affected, and the mind enlightened. It is his province in the world to prepare the heart to receive the truth; to dispose the mind to attend to it; to remove the obstructions which existed to its clear perception; to enable the mind clearly to see the beauty of truth, and of the plan of salvation through a Redeemer. And whatever may be the means which may be used, it is still true that it is only by the Spirit of God that men are ever brought to see the truth clearly and brightly. The same Spirit that inspired the prophets and apostles also illuminates the minds of men now, removes the darkness from their minds, and enables them clearly to discover the truth as it is in Jesus. See Barnes "1 Co 2:10, and 1 Co 2:11-15.

To give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. This shows the object, or the effect of enlightening the mind. It is that Christians may behold the Divine glory. The meaning is, that it is for the purpose of enlightening and instructing them concerning the knowledge of the glory of God.—Bloomfield. Doddridge renders it, "The lustre of the knowledge of God's glory." Tindal, "To give the light of the knowledge of the glorious God." The sense is, that the purpose of his shining into their hearts was to give light, (prov fwtismon,) i.e., unto the enlightening; and the purpose of that light was to acquaint them with the knowledge of the Divine glory.

In the face of Jesus Christ. That is, that they might obtain the knowledge of the Divine glory as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ; or as it is reflected on the face, or the person of the Redeemer. There is undoubted allusion here to what is said of Moses (2 Co 3:13) when the Divine glory was reflected on his face, and produced such a splendour and magnificence that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look upon it. The sense here is, that in the face or the person of Jesus Christ the glory of God shone clearly, and the Divinity appeared without a vail. The Divine perfections, as it were, illuminated him, as the face of Moses was illuminated; or they shone forth through him, and were seen in him. The word rendered "face" here, (proswpon,) may mean either face or person. See Barnes "2 Co 2:10".

The sense is not materially affected, whichever translation is preferred. It is, that the Divine perfections shone in and through the Redeemer. This refers doubtless to the following truths:

(1.) That the glory of the Divine nature is seen in him, since he is "the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person," Heb 1:3. And it is in and through him that the glory of the Divine perfections are made known.

(2.) That the glory of the Divine attributes is made known through him, since it is through him that the work of creation was accomplished, (Joh 1:3; Col 1:16;) and it is by him that the mercy and goodness of God have been manifested to men.

(3.) That the glory of the Divine moral character is seen through him, since when on earth he manifested the embodied Divine perfections; he showed what God is when incarnate; he lived as became the incarnate God—he was as pure and holy in human nature as God is in the heavens. And there is not, that we know of, one of the Divine attributes or perfections which has not at some period, or in some form, been evinced by Jesus Christ. If it be the prerogative of God to be eternal, he was eternal, Isa 9:6; Re 1:8,18.

If it be the prerogative of God to be the Creator, he was also the Creator, (Joh 1:3;) if to be omniscient, he, was omniscient, (Mt 11:27; Lu 10:22;) if to be omnipresent, he is omnipresent, (Mt 18:20;) if to be almighty, he was almighty, (Isa 9:6;) if to raise the dead, to give life, he did it, (Joh 5:21; 11:43,44; ) if to still waves and tempests, he did it, (Mr 4:39;) if to be full of benevolence, to be perfectly holy, to be without a moral stain or spot, then all this is found in Jesus Christ. And as the wax bears the perfect image of the seal—perfect not only in the outline, and in the general resemblance, but in the filling up, in all the lines, and features, and letters on the seal—so it is with the Redeemer. There is not one of the Divine perfections which has not the counterpart in him; and if the glory of the Divine character is seen at all, it will be seen in and through him.

{a} "commanded the light" Ge 1:3 {1} "hath shined" "Is he who hath"


Verse 7. But we have this treasure. The treasure of the gospel; the rich and invaluable truths which they were called to preach to others. The word "treasure" is applied to those truths on account of their inestimable worth. Paul in the previous verses had spoken of the gospel, the knowledge of Jesus Christ, as full of glory, and infinitely precious. This rich blessing had been committed to him and his fellow.labourers, to dispense it to others, and to diffuse it abroad. His purpose in this and the following verses is to show that it had been so intrusted to them as to secure all the glory of its propagation to God, and so also as to show its unspeakable value. For this purpose, he not only affirms that it is a treasure, but says that it had been so intrusted to them as to show the power of God in its propagation; that it had showed its value in sustaining them in their many trials; and they had showed their sense of its worth by being willing to endure all kinds of trial in order to make it everywhere known, 2 Co 4:8-11. The expression here is similar to that which the Saviour uses when he calls the gospel "the pearl of great price," Mt 13:46.

In earthen vessels. This refers to the apostles and ministers of religion, as weak and feeble; as having bodies decaying and dying; as fragile, and liable to various accidents, and as being altogether unworthy to hold a treasure so invaluable; as if valuable diamonds and gold were placed in vessels of earth of coarse composition, easily broken, and liable to decay. The word vessel (skeuov) means, properly, any utensil or instrument; and is applied usually to utensils of household furniture, or, hollow vessels for containing things, Lu 8:16; Joh 19:29. It is applied to the human body, as made of clay, and therefore frail and feeble, with reference to its containing anything, as, e.g., treasure. Comp. See Barnes "Ro 9:22".

The word rendered earthen, (ostrakinoiv,) means that which is made of shells, (from ostrakon;) and then burnt clay, probably because vessels were at first made of burnt shells. It is fitted well to represent the human body-frail, fragile, and easily reduced again to dust. The purpose of Paul here is to show that it was by no excellency of his nature that the gospel was originated; it was in virtue of no rigour and strength which he possessed that it was propagated; but that it had been, of design, committed by God to weak, decaying, and crumbling instruments, in order that it might be seen that it was by the power of God that such instruments were sustained in the trials to which they were exposed, and in order that it might be manifest to all that it was not originated and diffused by the power of those to whom it was intrusted. The idea is, that they were altogether insufficient of their own strength to accomplish what was accomplished by the gospel. Paul uses a metaphor similar to this in 2 Ti 2:20.

That the excellency of the power. An elegant expression, denoting the exceeding great power. The great power referred to here was that which was manifested in connexion with the labours of the apostles—the power of healing the sick, raising the dead, and casting out devils; the power of bearing persecution and trial; and the power of carrying the gospel over Sea and land, in the midst of danger, and in spite of all the opposition which men could make, whether as individuals or as combined; and especially the power of converting the hearts of sinners, of humbling the proud, and leading the guilty to the knowledge of God anal the hope of heaven. The idea is, that all this was manifestly beyond human strength; and that God had of design chosen weak and feeble instruments in order that it might be everywhere seen that it was done not by human power, but by his own. The instrumentality employed was altogether disproportionate in its nature to the effect produced.

May be of God. May evidently appear to be of God; that it may be manifest to all that it is God's power, and not ours. It was one great purpose of God that this should be kept clearly in view. And it is still done. God takes care that this shall be apparent. For

(1.) it is always true, whoever is employed, and however great may be the talents, learning, or zeal of those who preach, -that it is by the power of God that men are converted. Such a work cannot be accomplished by man. It is not by might or by strength; and between the conversion of a proud, haughty, and abandoned sinner, and the power of him who is made the instrument, there is such a manifest disproportion, that it is evident it is the work of God. The conversion of the human heart is not to be accomplished by man.

(2.) Ministers are frail, imperfect, and sinful, as they were in the time of Paul. When the imperfections of ministers are considered; when their frequent errors, and their not unfrequent moral obliquities are contemplated; when it is remembered how far many of them live from what they ought to, and how few of them live in any considerable degree as becometh the followers of the Redeemer, it is wonderful that God blesses their labours as he does; and the matter of amazement is not that no more are converted under their ministry, but it is that so many are converted, or that any are converted; and it is manifest that it is the mere power of God.

(3.) He often makes use of the most feeble, and unlearned, and weak of his servants, to accomplish the greatest effects. It is not splendid talents, or profound learning, or distinguished eloquence that is always or even commonly most successful. Often the ministry of such is entirely barren; while some humble and obscure man shall have constant success, and revivals shall attend him wherever he goes. It is the man of faith, and prayer, and self-denial that is blessed; and the purpose of God in the ministry, as in everything else, is to "stain the pride of all human glory," and to show that He is all in all.

{a} "excellency of the power" 1 Co 2:5


Verse 8. We are troubled. We the apostles. Paul here refers to some of the trials to which he and his fellow-labourers were subjected in making known the gospel. The design for which he does it seems to be, to show them

(1.) what they endured in preaching the truth;

(2.) to show the sustaining power of that gospel in the midst of afflictions; and

(3.) to conciliate their favour, or to remind them that they had endured these things on their account, 2 Co 4:12-15. Perhaps one leading design was to recover the affections of those of the Corinthians whose hearts had been alienated from him, by showing them how much he had endured on their account. For this purpose he freely opens his heart to them, and tenderly represents the many and grievous pressures and hardships to which love to souls, and theirs among the rest, had exposed him.—Doddridge. The whole passage is one of the most pathetic and beautiful to be found in the New Testament. The word rendered troubled (ylibomenoi, from ylibw) may have reference to wrestling, or to the contests in the Grecian games. It properly means, to press, to press together; then to press as in a crowd where there is a throng, (Mr 3:9;) then to compress together, (Mt 7:14;) and then to oppress, or compress with evils, to distress, to afflict, 2 Th 1:6; 2 Co 1:6. Here it may mean, that he was encompassed with trials, or placed in the midst of them, so that they pressed upon him as persons do in a crowd, or, possibly, as a man was close pressed by an adversary in the games. He refers to the fact that he was called to endure a great number of trials and afflictions. Some of those trials he refers to in 2 Co 7:5: "When we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears."

On every side. In every respect. In every way. We are subjected to all kinds of trial and affliction.

Yet not distressed. This by no means expresses the force of the original; nor is it possible perhaps to express it in a translation. Tindal renders it, "yet we are not without our shift." The Greek word here used (stenocwroumenoi) as a relation to the word which is rendered "troubled." It properly means, to crowd into a narrow place; to straiten as to room; to be so straitened as not to be able to turn one's self. And the idea is, that though he was close pressed by persecutions and trials, yet he was not so hemmed in that he had no way to turn himself; his -trials did not wholly prevent motion and action, he was not so closely pressed as a man would be who was so straitened that he could not move his body, or stir hand or foot. He had still resources; he was permitted to move; the energy of his piety, and the rigour of his soul, could not be entirely cramped and impeded by the trials which encompassed him. The Syriac renders it, "In all things we are pressed, but are not suffocated." The idea is, he was not wholly discouraged, and disheartened, and overcome. He had resources in his piety which enabled him to bear up under these trials, and still to engage in the work of preaching the gospel.

We are perplexed, aporoumenoi. This word (from aporov, without resource, which is derived from a, priv., and porov, way, or exit) means, to be without resource; to know not what to do; to hesitate; to be in doubt and anxiety, as a traveller is, who is ignorant of the way, or who has not the means of prosecuting his journey. It means here, that they were often brought into circumstances of great embarrassment, where they hardly knew what to do, or what course to take. They were surrounded by foes; they were in want; they were in circumstances which they had not anticipated, and which greatly perplexed them.

But not in despair. In the margin, "not altogether without help or means." Tindal renders this, "We are in poverty, but not utterly without somewhat." In the word here used, (exaporoumenoi,) the preposition is intensive or emphatic, and means utterly, quite. The word means, to be utterly without resource; to despair altogether; and the idea of Paul here is, that they were not left entirely without resource. Their wants were provided for; their embarrassments were removed; their grounds of perplexity were taken away; and unexpected strength and resources were imparted to them. When they did not know what to do, when all resources seemed to fail them, in some unexpected manner they would be relieved and saved from absolute despair. How often does this occur in the lives of all Christians! And how certain is it, that in all such cases God will interpose by his grace and aid his people, and save them from absolute despair.

{a} "troubled on every side" 2 Co 7:5 {1} "not in despair" "not altogether without help or means"


Verse 9. Persecuted.Often persecuted; persecuted in all places. The "Acts of the Apostles" show how true this was.

But not forsaken. Not deserted; not left by God. Though persecuted by men, yet they experienced the fulfillment of the Divine promise that he would never leave or forsake them. God always interposed to aid them; always saved them from the power of their enemies; always sustained them in the time of persecution. It is still true. people have been often persecuted. Yet God has often interposed to save them from the hands of their enemies; and where he has not saved them from their hands, and preserved their lives, yet he has never left them, but has sustained, upheld, and comforted them even in the dreadful agonies of death.

Cast down. Thrown down by our enemies, perhaps in allusion to the contests of wrestlers, or of gladiators.

But not destroyed. Not killed. They rose again; they recovered their strength; they were prepared for new conflicts. They surmounted every difficulty, and were ready to engage in new strifes, and to meet new trials and persecutions.


Verse 10. Always bearing about in the body. The expression here used is designed to show the great perils to which Paul was exposed. And the idea is, that he had on his body the marks, the stripes and marks of punishment and persecution, which showed that he was exposed to the same violent death which the Lord Jesus himself endured. Comp. Ga 6:17: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." It is a strong energetic mode of expression, to denote the severity of the trials to which he was exposed; and the meaning is, that his body bore the marks of his being exposed to the same treatment as the Lord Jesus was; and evidence that he was probably yet to die in a similar manner under the hands of persecutors. Comp. Col 1:24.

The dying of the Lord Jesus. The death; the violent death. A death similar to that of the Lord Jesus. The idea is, that he was always exposed to death, and always suffering, in a manner that was equivalent to dying. The expression is parallel to what he says in 1 Co 15:31, "I die daily;" and in 2 Co 11:23, where he says, "in deaths oft." It does not mean that he bore about literally the dying of the Lord Jesus, but that he was exposed to a similar death, and had marks on his person which showed that he was always exposed to the same violent death. This did not occur once only, or at distant intervals, but it occurred constantly; and wherever he was, it was still true that he was exposed to violence, and liable to suffer in the same manner that the Lord Jesus did.

That the life also of Jesus, etc. This passage has received, a considerable variety of interpretation. Grotius renders it, "Such a life as was that of Christ, immortal, blessed, heavenly." Locke, "That also the life of Jesus, risen from the dead, may be made manifest by the energy that accompanies my preaching in this frail body." Clarke supposes that it means, that he might be able in this manner to show that Christ was risen from the dead. But perhaps Paul does not refer to one single thing in the life of the Lord Jesus, but means that he did this in order that in all things the same life, the same kind of living which characterized the Lord Jesus, might be manifested in him or that he resembled him in his sufferings and trials, in order that in all things he might have the same life in his body. Perhaps, therefore, it may include the following things as objects at which the apostle aimed:

(1.) A desire that his life might resemble that of the Lord Jesus. That there might be the same self-denial; the same readiness to suffer; the same patience in trials; the same meekness, gentleness, zeal, ardour, love to God, and love to men evinced in his body, which was in that of the Lord Jesus. Thus understood, it means that he placed the Lord Jesus before him as the model of his life; and deemed it an object to be attained, even by great self-denial and sufferings, to be conformed to him.

(2.) A desire to attain to the same life in the resurrection which the Lord Jesus had attained to. A desire to be made like him; and that in his body, which bore about the dying of the Lord Jesus, he might again live after death as the Lord Jesus did. Thus understood, it implies an earnest wish to attain to the resurrection of the dead, and accords with what he says in Php 3:8-11, which may perhaps be considered as Paul's own commentary on this passage, which has been so variously and so little understood by expositors: "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ. That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." Comp. Col 1:24. It intimates Paul's earnest desire and longing to be made like Christ in the resurrection, (comp. Php 3:21;) his longing to rise again in the last day, (comp. Ac 26:7;) his sense of the importance of the doctrine of the resurrection, and his readiness to suffer anything if he might at last attain to the resurrection of the just, and be ready to enter with the Redeemer into a world of glory. The attainment of this is the high object before the Christian, and to be made like the Redeemer in heaven, to have a body like his, is the grand purpose for which they should live; and sustained by this hope they should be willing to endure any trials, and meet any sufferings, if they may come to that same "life" and blessedness above.

{b} "about in the body" Ga 6:17 {c} "that the life" 2 Ti 2:11,12


Verse 11. For we which live. Those of us, the apostles and ministers of the Redeemer, who still survive. James the brother of John had been put to death, (Ac 12:2;) and it is probable also that some other of the apostles had been also. This verse is merely explanatory of the previous verse.

Are alway delivered unto death. Exposed constantly to death. This shows what is meant, in 2 Co 4:10, by bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus. See Barnes "1 Co 15:31".

In our mortal flesh. In our body. In our life on earth; and in our glorified body in heaven. See Barnes "2 Co 4:10".

{*} "live" "are alive" {a} "alway delivered" 1 Co 15:31,49


Verse 12. So then death worketh in us. We are exposed to death. The preaching of the gospel exposes us to trials which may be regarded as death working in us. Death has an energy over us, (energeitai is at work, is active, or operates; it is constantly employed in inflicting pains on us, and subjecting us to privation and trims. This is a strong and emphatic mode of saying that they were always exposed to death. We are called to serve and glorify the Redeemer, as it were, By repeated deaths and by constantly dying.

But life in you. You live as the effect of our being constantly exposed to death. You reap the advantage of all our exposure to trials, and of all our sufferings. You are comparatively safe; are freed from this exposure to death; and will receive eternal life as the fruit of our toils and exposures. Life, here, may refer either to exemption from danger and death, or it may refer to the life of religion, the hopes of piety, the prospect of eternal salvation. To me it seems most probable that Paul means to use it in the latter sense, and that he designs to say that while he was exposed to death, and called to endure constant trial, the effect would be that they would obtain, in consequence of his sufferings, the blessedness of eternal life. Comp. 2 Co 4:15. Thus understood, this passage means that the sufferings and self-denials of the apostles were for the good of others, and would result in their benefit and salvation; and the design of Paul here is to remind them of his sufferings in their behalf, in order to conciliate their favour, and bind them more closely to him by the remembrance of his sufferings on their account.

{b} "then death" 2 Co 13:9


Verse 13. We having the same spirit of faith. The same spirit that is expressed in the quotation which he is about to make; the same faith which the psalmist had. We have the Very spirit of faith which is expressed by David. The sense is, We have the same spirit of faith which he had who said, "I believed," etc. The phrase "spirit of faith" means substantially the same as faith itself—a believing sense or impression of the truth.

According as it is written. This passage is found in Ps 116:10. When the psalmist uttered the words, he was greatly afflicted. See 2 Co 4:3,6-8.

In these circumstances he prayed to God, and expressed confidence in him, and placed all his reliance on him. In his affliction he spoke to God; he spoke of his confidence in him; he proclaimed his reliance on him; and his having spoken in this manner was the result of his belief, or of his putting confidence in God. Paul, in quoting this, does not mean to say that the psalmist had any reference to the preaching of the gospel; nor does he mean to say that his circumstances were, in all respects, like those of the psalmist. The circumstances resembled each other only in these respects:

(1.) That Paul, like the psalmist, was in circumstances of trial and affliction; and

(2) that the language which both used was that which was prompted by faith—faith, which led them to give utterance to the sentiments of their hearts: the psalmist to utter his confidence in God, and the hopes by which he was sustained, and Paul to utter his belief in the glorious truths of the gospel, to speak of a risen Saviour, and to show forth the consolations which were thus set before men in the gospel. The sentiments of both were the language of faith. Both, in afflictions, uttered the language of faith; and Paul uses here, as he often does, the language of the Old Testament, as exactly expressing his feelings, and the principles by which he was actuated.

We also believe, etc. We believe in the truths of the gospel; we believe in God, in the Saviour, in the atonement, in the resurrection, etc. The sentiment is, that they had a firm confidence in these things, and that, as the result of that confidence, they boldly delivered their sentiments. It prompted them to give utterance to their feelings. "Out of the abundance of the heart," said the Saviour, "the mouth speaketh," Mt 12:34. No man should attempt to preach the gospel who has not a firm belief of its truths; and he who does believe its truths will be prompted to make them known to his fellow-men. All successful preaching is the result of a firm and settled conviction of the truth of the gospel; and when such a conviction exists, it is natural to give utterance to the belief, and such an expression will be attended with happy influences on the minds of other men. See Barnes "Ac 4:20".

{c} "same spirit" 2 Pe 1:1 {d} "I believed" Ps 116:10


Verse 14. Knowing. Being fully confident; having the most entire assurance. It was the assured hope of the resurrection which sustained them in all their trials. This expression denotes the full and unwavering belief in the minds of the apostles, that the doctrines which they preached were true. They knew that they were revealed from heaven, and that all the promises of God would be fulfilled.

Shall raise up us also. All Christians. In the hope of the resurrection they were ready to meet trials, and even to die. Sustained by this assurance, the apostles went forth amidst persecutions and opposition, for they knew that their trials would soon end, and that they would be raised up, in the morning of the resurrection, to a world of eternal glory.

By Jesus. By the power or the agency of Jesus. Christ will raise up the dead from their graves, Joh 5:25-29.

And shall present us with you. Will present us before the throne of glory with exceeding joy and honour. He will present us to God as those who have been redeemed by his blood. He will present us in the courts of heaven, before the throne of the eternal Father, as his ransomed people; as recovered from the ruins of the fall; as saved by the merits of his blood. They shall not only be raised up from the dead, but they shall be publicly and solemnly presented to God as his, as recovered to his service, and as having a title in the covenant of grace to the blessedness of heaven.

{e} "Knowing that he which" 2 Co 5:1-4


Verse 15. For all things are for your sakes. All these things; these glorious hopes, and truths, and prospects; these self-denials of the apostles, and these provisions of the plan of mercy.

For your sakes. On your account. They are designed to promote your salvation. They are not primarily for the welfare of those who engage in these toils and self-denials; but the whole arrangement and execution of the plan of salvation, and all the self-denial evinced by those who are engaged in making that plan known, are in order that you might be benefited. One object of Paul in this statement, doubtless, is to conciliate their favour, and remove the objections which had been made to him by a faction in the church at Corinth.

That the abundant grace. Grace abounding, or overflowing. The rich mercy of God that should be manifested by these means. It is implied here, that grace would abound by means of these labours and self-denials of the apostles. The grace referred to here is that which would be conferred on them in consequence of these labours.

Through the thanksgiving of many. That many may have occasion of gratitude to God; that by these labours more persons may be led to praise him. It was an object with Paul so to labour that as many as possible might be led to praise God, and have occasion to thank him to all eternity.

Redound to the glory of God. That God may have augmented praise; that his glory in the salvation of men may abound. The sentiment of the passage is, that it would be for the glory of God that as many as possible should be brought to live praise and thanksgivings to him; and that therefore Paul endeavoured to make as many converts as possible. He denied himself; he welcomed toil; he encountered enemies; he subjected himself to dangers; and he sought by all means possible to bring as many as could be brought to praise God. The word "redound," (perisseush,) here means abound, or be abundant; and the sense is, that the overflowing grace thus evinced in the salvation of many would so abound as to promote the glory of God.

{f} "all things" 1 Co 3:21,22 {g} "grace might" 2 Co 8:19


Verse 16. For which cause. With such an object in view, and sustained by such elevated purposes and desires. The sense is, that the purpose of trying to save as many as possible would make toil easy, privations welcome, and would be so accompanied by the grace of God, as to gird the soul with strength, and fill it with abundant consolations.

We faint not. For an explanation of the word here used, See Barnes "2 Co 4:1".

We are not exhausted, desponding, or disheartened. We are sustained, encouraged, emboldened by having such an object in view.

But though our outward man perish. By "outward man," Paul evidently means the body. By using the phrases, "the outward man," and the "inward man," he shows that he believed that man was made up of two parts, body and soul. He was no materialist. He has described two parts as constituting man, so distinct, that while the one perishes, the other is renewed; while the one is enfeebled, the other is strengthened; while the one grows old and decays, the other renews its youth and is invigorated. of course the soul is not dependent on the body for its rigour and strength, since it expands while the body decays; and of course the soul may exist independently of the body, and in a separate state.

Perish. Grows old; becomes weak and feeble; loses its rigour and elasticity under the many trials which we endure, and under the infirmities of advancing years. It is a characteristic of the "outer man" that it thus perishes. Great as may be its rigour, yet it must decay and die. It cannot long bear up under the trials of life, and the wear and tear of constant action, but must soon sink to the grave.

Yet the inward man. The soul; the undecaying, the immortal part.

Is renewed. Is renovated, strengthened, invigorated. His powers of mind expanded; his courage became bolder; he had clearer views of truth; he had more faith in God. As he drew nearer to the grave and to heaven, his soul was more raised above the world, and he was more filled with the joys and triumphs of the gospel. The understanding and the heart did not sympathize with the suffering and decaying body; but, while that became feeble, the soul acquired new strength, and was fitting for its flight to the eternal world. This verse is an ample refutation of the doctrine of the materialist, and proves that there is in man something that is distinct from decaying and dying matter, and that there is a principle which may gain augmented strength and power, while the body dies. Comp. See Barnes "Ro 7:22".

Day by day. Constantly. There was a daily and constant increase of inward rigour. God imparted to him constant strength in his trials, and sustained him with the hopes of heaven, as the body was decaying, and tending to the grave. The sentiment of this verse is, that in an effort to do good, and to promote the salvation of man, the soul will be sustained in trials, and will be comforted and invigorated even when the body is weary, grows old, decays, and dies. It is the testimony of Paul respecting his own experience; and it is a fact which has been experienced by thousands in their efforts to do good, and to save the souls of men from death.

{a} "cause we faint" 1 Co 15:58 {b} "inward man" Ro 7:22


Verse 17. For our light affliction. This verse, with the following, is designed to show further the sources of consolation and support which Paul and his fellow-labourers had in their many trials. Bloomfield remarks on this passage, that, "in energy and beauty of expression, it is little inferior to any in Demosthenes himself, to whom, indeed, and to Thucydides in his orations, the style of the apostle, when it rises to the oratorical, bears no slight resemblance." The passage abounds with intensive and emphatic expressions, and manifests that the mind of the writer was labouring to convey ideas which language, even after all the energy of expression which he could command, would very imperfectly communicate. The trials which Paul endured, to many persons would have seemed to be anything else but light. They consisted of want, and danger, and contempt, and stoning, and toil, and weariness, and the scorn of the world, and constant exposure to death by land or by sea. See 2 Co 4:7-10; comp. 2 Co 11:23-27. Yet these trials, though continued through many years, and constituting, as it were, his very life, he speaks of as the lightest conceivable thing when compared with that eternal glory which awaited him. He strives to get an expression as emphatic as possible to show that, in his estimation, they were not worthy to be named in comparison with the eternal weight of glory. It is not sufficient to say that the affliction was "light," or was a mere trifle; but he says that it was to endure but for a moment. Though trials had followed him ever since he began to make known the Redeemer, and though he had the firmest expectation that they would follow him to the end of life and everywhere, (Ac 20:23,) yet all this was a momentary trifle compared with the eternal glory before him. The word rendered "light," (elafron) means that which is easy to bear, and is usually applied to a burden. See Mt 11:30; 2 Co 1:17.

Which is but for a moment. The Greek word here used (parautika) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is an adverb, from autika, autov, and means, properly, at this very instant, immediately. Here it seems to qualify the word "light," and to be used in the sense of momentary, transient. Bloomfield renders it, "for the at present lightness of our affliction." Doddridge, "for this momentary lightness of our affliction, which passes off so fast, and leaves so little impression, that it may be called levity itself". The apostle evidently wished to express two ideas in as emphatic a manner as possible; first, that the affliction was light, and, secondly, that it was transient, momentary, and soon passing away. His object is to contrast this with the glory that awaited him, as being heavy, and as being also eternal.

Worketh for us. See Barnes "2 Co 4:12".

Will produce, will result in. The effect of these afflictions is to produce eternal glory. This they do

(1.) by their tendency to wean us from the. world;

(2.) to purify the heart, by enabling us to break off from the sins on account of which God afflicts us;

(3.) by disposing us to look to God for consolation and support in our trials;

(4.) by inducing us to contemplate the glories of the heavenly world, and thus winning us to seek heaven as our home; and

(5.) because God has graciously promised to reward his people in heaven as the result of their bearing trials in this life. It is by affliction that he purifies them, (Isa 48:10;) and by trial that he takes their affections from the objects of time and sense, and gives them a relish for the enjoyments which result from the prospect of perfect and eternal glory.

A far more exceeding. kay uperbolhn eiv uperbolhn. There is not to be found anywhere a more energetic expression than this. The word uperbolhn here used, (whence our word hyperbole,) means, properly, a throwing, casting, or throwing beyond. In the New Testament it means excess, excellence, eminence. See 2 Co 4:7, "The excellency of the power." The phrase kay uperbolhn means exceedingly, super-eminently, Ro 7:13; 1 Co 12:31; 2 Co 1:8; Ga 1:13.

This expression would have been by itself intensive in a high degree. But this was not sufficient to express Paul's sense of the glory which was laid up for Christians. It was not enough for him to use the ordinary highest expression for the superlative to denote the value of the object in his eye. He therefore coins an expression, and adds eiv uperbolhn. It is not merely eminent, but it is eminent unto eminence; excess unto excess; a hyperbole unto hyperbole—one hyperbole heaped on another; and the expression means that it is "exceeding exceedingly" glorious; glorious in the highest possible degree— Robinson. Mr. Slade renders it, "infinitely exceeding." The expression is the Hebrew form of denoting the highest superlative; and it means that all hyperboles fail of expressing that eternal glory which remains for the just. It is infinite and boundless. You may pass from one degree to another; from one sublime height to another; but still an infinity remains beyond. Nothing can describe the uppermost height of that glory; nothing can express its infinitude.

Eternal. This stands in contrast with the affliction that is for a moment, (parautika.) The one is momentary, transient—so short, even in the longest life, that it may be said to be an instant; the other has no limits to its duration. It is literally everlasting.

Weight. Barov. This stands opposed to the (elafron) light affliction. That was so light that it was a trifle. It was easily borne. It was like the most light and airy objects, which constitute no burden. It is not even here called a burden, or said to be heavy in any degree. This is so heavy as to be a burden. Grotius thinks that the image is taken from gold or silver articles, that are solid and heavy, compared with those that are mixed or plated. But why may it not refer to the insignia of glory and honour—a robe heavy with gold, or a diadem or crown heavy with gold or diamonds— glory so rich, so profuse as to be heavy? The affliction was light; but the crown, the robe, the adornings in the glorious world were not trifles, or baubles, but solid, substantial, weighty. We apply the word weighty now to that which is valuable and important, compared with that which is of no value, probably because the precious metals and jewels are heavy; and it is by them that we usually estimate the value of objects.

Of glory. Doxhv. The Hebrew word

HEBREW denotes weight as well as glory. And perhaps Paul had that use of the word in his eye in this strong expression. It refers here to the splendour, magnificence, honour, and happiness of the eternal world. In this exceedingly interesting passage, which is worthy of the deepest study of Christians. Paul has set in most beautiful and emphatic contrast the trials of this life and the glories of heaven. It may be profitable to contemplate at a single glance the view which he had of them, that they may be brought distinctly before, the mind.


1. AFFLICTION, yliqewv

2. Light, elafron.

3. For a moment, parautika.

THE OTHER IS, by contrast,

1. GLORY, doxa.

2. Weight, barov.

3. Eternal, aiwnion.

4. Eminent, or excellent, kay uperbolhn.

5. Infinitely excellent, eminent in the highest degree, eiv uperbolhn.

So the account stands in the view of Paul; and with this balance in favour of the eternal glory, he regarded afflictions as mere trifles, and made it the grand purpose of his life to gain the glory of the heavens. What wise man, looking at the account, would not do likewise?

{c} "light affliction" Ro 8:18,34


Note: This Verse is too large for one note: Continued at 2 Co 5:1

Verse 18. While we look, etc. Or, rather, we not looking at the things which are seen. The design of this is to show in what way the afflictions which they endured became in their view light and momentary. It was by looking to the glories of the future world, and thus turning away the attention from the trials and sorrows of this life. If we look directly at our trials—if the mind is fixed wholly on them, and we think of nothing else—they often appear heavy and long. Even comparatively light and brief sufferings will appear to be exceedingly difficult to bear. But if we can turn away the mind from them, and contemplate future glory; if we can compare them with eternal blessedness, and feel that they will introduce us to perfect and everlasting happiness, they will appear to be transitory, and will be easily borne. And Paul here has stated the true secret of bearing trials with patience. It is to look at the things which are unseen. To anticipate the glories of the heavenly world. To fix the eye on the eternal happiness which is beyond the grave; and to reflect how short these trials are, compared with the eternal glories of heaven; and how short they will seem to be when we are there.

The things which are seen. The things here below; the things of this life—poverty, want, care, persecution, trial, etc.

The things which are not seen. The glories of heaven. Comp. Heb 11:1.

The things which are seen are temporal. This refers particularly to the things which they suffered. But it is as true of all things here below. Wealth, pleasure, fame, the three idols which the people of this world adore, are all to endure but for a little time. They will all soon vanish away. So it is with pain, and sorrow, and tears. All that we enjoy, and all that we suffer here, must soon vanish and disappear. The most splendid palace will decay; the most costly pile will moulder to dust; the most magnificent city will fall to ruins; the most exquisite earthly pleasures will soon come to an end; and the most extended possessions can be enjoyed but a little time. So the acutest pain will soon be over; the most lingering disease will soon cease; the evils of the deepest poverty, want, and suffering will soon be passed. There is nothing on which the eye can fix, nothing that the heart can desire here, which will not soon fade away; or, if it survives, it is temporary in regard to us. We must soon leave it to others; and if enjoyed, it will be enjoyed while our bodies are slumbering in the grave, and our souls engaged in the deep solemnities of eternity. How foolish, then, to make these our portion, and to fix our affections supremely on the things of this life! How foolish also to be very deeply affected by the trials of this life, which at the furthest CAN be endured but a little longer before we shall be for ever beyond their reach!

The things which are not seen are eternal. Everything which pertains to that state beyond the grave.

(1.) God is eternal; not to leave us as our earthly friends do.

(2.) The Saviour is eternal—to be our ever-lasting Friend.

(3.) The companions and friends there are eternal. The angels who are to be our associates, and the spirits of the just with whom we shall live, are to exist for ever. The angels never die; and the pious dead shall die no more. There shall be then no separation, no death-bed, no grave, no sad vacancy and loss caused by the removal of a much-loved friend.

(4.) The joys of heaven are eternal. There shall be no interruption, no night; no cessation; no end. Heaven and all its joys shall be everlasting; and he s who enters there shall have the assurance that those joys shall endure and increase while eternal ages shall roll away.

(5.) It may be added, also, that the woes of hell shall be eternal. They are now among the things which to us "are not seen;" and they, as well as the joys of heaven, shall have no end. Sorrow there shall never cease; the soul shall there never die; the body that shall be raised up "to the resurrection of damnation" shall never again expire. And when all these things are contemplated, well might Paul say of the things of this life—the sorrows, trials, privations, and persecutions which he endured—that they were "light" and were "for a moment." How soon will they pass away! How soon shall we all be engaged amidst the unchanging and eternal realities of the things which are not seen!

{a} "not seen" Heb 11:1

REMARKS on 2nd Corinthians Chapter 4

(1.) Ministers of the gospel have no cause to faint or to be discouraged, 2 Co 4:1. Whatever may be the reception of their message, and whatever the trials to which they may be subjected, yet there are abundant sources of consolation and support in the gospel which they preach. They have the consciousness that they preach a system of truth; that they are proclaiming that which God has revealed; and, if they are faithful, that they have his smiles and approbation. Even, therefore, if men reject and despise their message, and if they are called to endure many privations and trims, they should not faint. It is enough for them that they proclaim the truth which God loves, and that they meet with his approbation and smiles. Trials will come in the ministry as everywhere else, but there are also peculiar consolations. There may be much opposition and resistance to the message, but we should not faint or be discouraged. We should do our duty, and commit the result to God.

(2.) The gospel should be embraced by those to whom it comes, 2 Co 4:2. If it has their reason and conscience in its favour, then they should embrace it without delay. They are under the most sacred obligation to receive it, and to become decided Christians. Every man is bound, and may be urged to pursue, that course which his conscience approves; and the gospel may thus be pressed on the attention of all to whom it comes.

(3.) If men wish peace of conscience, they should embrace the gospel, 2 Co 4:2. They can never find it elsewhere. No man's conscience is at peace from the fact that he does not repent, and love God and obey his gospel. His heart may love sin; but his conscience cannot approve it. That is at peace only in doing the work of God; and that can find self-approbation only when it submits to him, and embraces the gospel of his Son. Then the conscience is at ease. No man ever yet had a troubled conscience from the fact that he had embraced the gospel, and was an humble and decided Christian. Thousands and millions have had a troubled conscience from the fact that they have neglected it. No man on a death-bed ever had a troubled conscience because he embraced religion too early in life. Thousands and millions have been troubled when they came to die, because they neglected it so long, or rejected it altogether. No man when death approaches has a troubled conscience because he has lived too much devoted to God the Saviour, and been too active as a Christian. But oh, how many have been troubled then because they have been worldly-minded, and selfish, and vain, and proud! The conscience gives peace just in proportion as we serve God faithfully; nor can all the art of man or Satan give peace to one conscience in the ways of sin, and in the neglect of the soul.

(4.) Ministers should preach the truth—the simple truth—and nothing but the truth, 2 Co 4:2. They should make use of no false art, no deception, no trick, no disguise. They should be open, sincere, plain, pure in all their preaching, and in their manner of life. Such was the course of the Saviour; such the course of Paul; and such a course only will God approve and bless.

(5.) This is a deluded world, 2 Co 4:4. It is blinded and deceived by him who is here called the "god of this world." Satan rules in in the hearts of men; and he rules by deceiving them, and in order to deceive them. Everything which operates to prevent men from embracing the gospel has a tendency to blind the mind. The man who is seeking wealth as his only portion, is blinded and deceived in regard to its value. The man who is purding the objects of ambition as his main portion, is deceived in regard to the true value. of things. And he, or she, who pursues pleasure as the main business of life, is deceived in regard to the proper value of objects. It is impossible to conceive of a world more deluded than this. We can conceive of a world more sinful, and more miserable—and such is hell; but there is no delusion and deception there. Things are seen as they are; and no one is deceived in regard to his character or prospects there. But here, every impenitent man is deceived and blinded. He is deceived about his own character; about the relative value of objects; about his prospects for eternity; about death, judgment, heaven, hell. On none of these points has he any right apprehension; and on none is it possible for any human power to break the deep delusion, and to penetrate the darkness of his mind.

(6.) Men are in danger, 2 Co 4:4. They are under deep delusion, and they tread unconcerned near to ruin. They walk in darkness —blinded by the god of this world—and are very near a precipice, and nothing will rouse them from their condition. It is like children gathering flowers near a deep gulf, when the pursuit of one more flower may carry them too far, and they will fall to rise no more. The delusion rests on every unsanctified mind; and it needs to remain but a little longer, and the soul will be lost. That danger deepens every day and every hour. If it is continued but a little longer it will be broken in upon by the sad realities of death, judgment, and hell. But then it will be too late. The soul will be lost —deluded in the world of probation; sensible of the truth only in the world of despair.

(7.) Satan will practise every device and art possible to prevent the gospel from shining upon the hearts of men. That light is painful and hateful to his eyes, and he will do all that can be done to prevent its being diffused. Every art which long-tried ingenuity and skill can devise, will be resorted to; every power which he can put forth will be exerted. If he can blind the minds of men, he will do it. If men can be hoodwinked, and gulled, it will be done. If error can be made to spread, and be embraced—error smooth, plausible, cunning—it will be diffused. Ministers will be raised up to preach it; and the press will be employed to accomplish it. If sinners can be deceived, and made to remain at ease in their sins, by novels and seductive poetry—by books false in sentiments, and perverse in morals—the press will be made to groan under the works of fiction. If theatres are necessary to cheat and beguile men, they will be reared; and the song and the dance, the ball and the splendid party, will alike contribute to divert the attention from the cross of Christ, the worth of the soul, and the importance of a pre- preparation to die. No art has been spared, or will be spared, to deceive men; and the world is full of the devices of Satan to hoodwink and blind the perishing, and lead them down to hell.

(8.) Yet, Satan is not alone to blame for this. He does all he can, and he has consummate skill and art. Yet, let not the deluded sinner take comfort to himself because Satan is the tempter, and because he is deluded. The bitterness of death is not made sweet to a young man because he has been deluded by the arts of the veteran in temptation; and the fires of hell will not burn amy the less fiercely because the sinner suffered himself to be deluded, and chose to go there through the ball-room or the theatre. The sinner is, after all, voluntary in his delusions. He does, or he might, know the truth. He goes voluntarily to the place of amusement; voluntarily forms the plans of gain and ambition which deceive and ruin the soul; goes voluntarily to the theatre, and to the haunts of vice; and chooses this course in the face of many warnings and remonstrances. Who is to blame if he is lost? Who but himself?

(9.) Sinners should be entreated to rouse from this delusive and false security. They are now blinded, and deceived. Life is too short and too uncertain to be playing such a game as the sinner does. There are too many realities here to make it proper to pass life amidst deceptions and delusions. Sin is real, and danger is real, and death is real, and eternity is real; and man should rouse his delusions, and look upon things as they are. Soon he will be on a bed of death, and then he will look over the follies of his life. Soon he will be at the judgment bar, and from that high and awful place look on the past and the future, and see things as they are. But, alas! it will be too late then to repair the errors of a life; and amidst the realities of those scenes, all that he may be able to do, will be to sigh unavailingly that he suffered himself to be deluded, deceived, and destroyed in the only world of probation, by the trifles and baubles which the great deceiver placed before him to beguile him of heaven, and to lead him down to hell!

(10.) The great purpose of the ministry is to make known in any and every way the Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Co 4:5. To this the ministers of the gospel are to devote themselves. It is not to cultivate farms; to engage in traffic; to shine in the social circle; to be distinguished for learning; to become fine scholars; to be profoundly versed in science; or to be distinguished as authors, that they are set apart; but it is in every way possible to make known the Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever other men do, or not do—however the world may choose to be employed—their work is simple and plain, and it is not to cease or be intermitted till death shall close their toils. Neither by the love of ease, of wealth, or pleasure, are they to turn aside from their work, or to forsake the vocation to which God has called them.

(11.) We see the responsibility of the ministry, 2 Co 4:5. On the ministry devolves the work of making the Saviour known to a dying world. If they will not do it, the world will remain in ignorance of the Redeemer, and will perish. If there is one soul to whom they might make known the Saviour, and to whom they do not make him known, that soul will perish, and the responsibility will rest on the minister of the Lord Jesus. And, oh! How great is this responsibility! And who is sufficient for these things?

(12.) Ministers of the gospel should submit to any self-denial in order that they may do good. Their Master did; and Paul and the other apostles did. It is sufficient for the disciple that he be as the Master; and the ministers of the gospel should regard themselves as set apart to a work of self-denial, and called to a life of toil, like their Lord. Their rest is in heaven, not on the earth. Their days of leisure and repose are to be found in the skies when their work is done, and not in a world perishing in sin.

(13.) The ministry is a glorious work, 2 Co 4:5. What higher honour is there on earth than to make known a Redeemer? What pleasure more exquisite can there be than to speak of pardon to the guilty?. What greater comfort than to go to the afflicted and bind up their hearts; to pour the balm of peace into the wounded spirit, and to sustain and cheer the dying? The ministry has its own consolations amidst all its trials; its own honour amidst the contempt and scorn with which it is often viewed by the world.

(14.) The situation of man would have been dreadful and awful had it not been for the light which is imparted by revelation, and by the Holy Spirit, 2 Co 4:6. Man would have ever remained like the dark night, before God said "Let there be light;" and his condition would have been thick darkness, where not a ray of light would have beamed on his benighted way. Some idea of what this was, and would have continued to be, we have now in the heathen world, where thick darkness reigns over nations, though it has been somewhat broken in upon by the dim light which tradition has diffused there.

(15.) God has power to impart light to the most dark and benighted mind. There is no one to whom he cannot reveal himself and make his truth known, 2 Co 4:6. With as much ease as he commanded light to shine out of darkness at first can he command the pure light of truth to shine on the minds of men; and on minds most beclouded by sin he can cause the Sun of Righteousness to shine with healing in his beams.

(16.) We should implore the enlightening influence of the Spirit of truth, 2 Co 4:6. If God is the source of light, we should seek it at his hands. Nothing to man is so valuable as the light of truth; nothing of so much worth as the knowledge of the true God; and with the deepest solicitude, and the most fervent prayer, should we seek the enlightening influences of his Spirit, and the guidance of his grace.

(17.) There is no true knowledge of God except that which shines in the face of Jesus Christ, 2 Co 4:6. He came to make known the true God. He is the exact image of God. He resembles him in all things. And he who does not love the character of Jesus Christ, therefore, does not love the character of God. He who does not seek to be like Jesus Christ, does not desire to be like God. He who does not bear the image of the Redeemer, does not bear the image of God. To be a moral man merely, therefore, is not to be like God. To be amiable and honest, merely, is not to be like God. Jesus Christ, the image of God, was more than this. He was religious. He was holy. He was, as a man, a man of prayer, and filled with the love of God, and was always submissive to his holy will. He sought his honour and glory; and he made it the great purpose of his life and death to make known his existence, perfections, and name. To imitate him in this, is to have the knowledge of the glory of God; and no man is like God who does not bear the image of the Redeemer. No man is like God, therefore, who is not a Christian. Of course, no man can be prepared for heaven who is not a friend and follower of Jesus Christ.

(18.) God designs to secure the promotion of his own glory in the manner in which religion is spread in the world, 2 Co 4:7. For this purpose, and with this view, he did not commit it to angels, nor has he employed men of rank, or wealth, or profound scientific attainments to be the chief instruments in its propagation. He has committed it to frail, mortal men; and often to men of humble rank, and even humble attainments—except attainments in piety. In fitting them for their work his grace is manifest; and in all the success which attends their labours it is apparent that it is by the mere grace and mercy of God that it is done.

(19.) We see what our religion has cost, 2 Co 4:8,9. Its extension in the world has been everywhere connected with sufferings, and toil, and tears. It began in the labours, sorrows, self-denials, persecutions, and dying agonies of the Son of God; and to introduce it to the world cost his life. It was spread by the toils, and sacrifices, and sufferings of the apostles. It was kept up by the dying groans of martyrs. It has been preserved and extended on earth by the labours and prayers of the Reformers, and amidst scenes of persecution everywhere; and it is now extending through the earth by the sacrifices of those who are willing to leave country and home, to cross oceans and deserts, and to encounter the perils of barbarous climes, that they may make it known to distant lands. If estimated by what it has cost, assuredly no religion, no blessing is so valuable as Christianity. It is above all human valuation; and it should be a matter of unfeigned thankfulness to us that God has been pleased to raise up men who have been willing to suffer so much that it might be perpetuated and extended on the earth; and we should be willing also to imitate their example, and deny ourselves, that we may make its inestimable blessings known to those who are now destitute. To us, it is worth all it has cost—all the blood of apostles and martyrs; to others, also, it would be worth all that it would cost to send it to them. How can we better express our sense of its worth, and our gratitude to the dying Redeemer, and our veneration for the memory of self-denying apostles and martyrs, than by endeavouring to diffuse the religion for which they died all over the world? See Continuation at 2 Co 5:1


Continuation of Notes of 2 Corinthians 4:18

(20.) We have in this chapter an illustration of the sustaining power of religion in trials, 2 Co 4:8,9. The friends of Christianity have been called to endure every form of suffering. Poverty, want, tears, stripes, imprisonments, and deaths have been their portion. They have suffered under every form of torture which men could inflict on them. And yet the power of religion has never failed them. It has been amply tried; and has shown itself able to sustain them always, and to enable them always to triumph. Though troubled, they have not been so close pressed that they had no room to turn; though perplexed, they have not been without some resource; though persecuted by men, they have not been forsaken by God; though thrown down in the conflict, yet they have recovered strength, and been prepared to renew the strife, and to engage in new contentions with the foes of God. Who can estimate the value of a religion like this? Who does not see that it is adapted to man in a state of trial, and that it furnishes him with just what he needs in this world?

(21.) Christianity will live, 2 Co 4:8,9. Nothing can destroy it. All the power that could be brought to bear on it to blot it from the earth has been tried, and yet it survives. No new attempt to destroy it can prevail; and it is now settled that this religion-is to live to the end of time. It has cost much to obtain this demonstration; but it is worth all it has cost, and the sufferings of apostles and martyrs, therefore, have not been for nought.

(22.) Christians should be willing to endure anything in order that they may become like Christ on earth, and be like him in heaven, 2 Co 4:10. It is worth all their efforts, and all their sell-denials. It is the grand object before us; and we should deem no sufferings too severe, no sell-denial or sacrifice too great, if we may become like him here below, and may live with him above, 2 Co 4:10,11.

(23.) In order to animate us in the work to which God has called us; to encourage us in our trials; and to prompt us to a faithful discharge of our duties, especially those who like Paul are called to preach the gospel, we should have, like him, the following views and feelings—views and feelings adapted to sustain us in all our trials, and to uphold us in all the conflicts of life:

1st. A firm and unwavering belief of the truth of the religion which we profess, and of the truth which we make known to others, 2 Co 4:12. No man can preach successfully, and no man can do much good, whose mind is vacillating and hesitating; who is filled with doubts, and who goes timidly to work or who declares that of which he has no practical acquaintance, and no deep-felt conviction, and who knows not whereof he affirms. A man to do good must have a faith which never wavers; a conviction of truth which is constant; a belief settled like the everlasting hills, which nothing can shake or overturn. With such a conviction of the truth of Christianity, and of the great doctrines which it inculcates, he cannot but speak of it, and make known his convictions. He that believes that men are in fact in danger of hell, WILL tell them of it; he that believes there is an awful bar of judgment, will tell them of it; he that believes that the Son of God became incarnate and died for men, will tell them of it; he that believes that there is a heaven, will invite them to it. And one reason why professing Christians are so reluctant to speak of these things is, that they have no very settled and definite conviction of their truth, and no correct view of their relative importance.

2nd. We should have a firm assurance that God has raised up the Lord Jesus, and that we also shall be raised from the dead, 2 Co 4:14. The hope and expectation of the resurrection of the dead was one of the sustaining principles which upheld Paul in his labours, and to attain to this was one of the grand objects of his life, Ac 23:6; Php 3:11. Under the influence of this hope and expectation, he was willing to encounter any danger, and to endure any trial. The prospect of being raised up to eternal life and glory was all that was needful to make trials welcome, and to uphold him in the midst of privations and toils. And so we, if we are assured of this great truth, shall welcome trial also, and shall be able to endure afflictions and persecutions. They will soon be ended; and the eternal glory in the morning of the resurrection shall be more than a compensation for all that we shall endure in this life.

3rd. We should have a sincere desire to promote the glory of God, and to bring as many as possible to join in his praise, and to celebrate his saving mercy, 2 Co 4:15. It was this which sustained and animated Paul; and a man who has this as the leading object of his life, and his great purpose and aim, will be willing to endure much trial, to suffer much persecution, and to encounter many dangers. No object is so noble as that of endeavouring to promote the Divine glory; and he who is influenced by that, will care little how many sufferings he is called to endure in this life.

(24.) Christians should have such a belief of the truth of their religion as to be willing to speak of it at all times, and in all places, 2 Co 4:13. If we have such a belief we shall be willing to speak of it. We cannot help it. We shall so see its value, and so love it, and our hearts will be so full of it, and we shall see so much the danger of our fellow-men, that we shall be instinctively prompted to go to them and warn them of their danger, and tell them of the glories of the Redeemer.

(25.) Christians may expect to be supported and comforted in the trials and toils of life, 2 Co 4:16. The "outward man" will indeed perish and decay. The body will become feeble, weary, jaded, decayed, decrepit. It will be filled with pain, and will languish under disease, and will endure the mortal agony, and will be corrupted in the tomb. But the "inward man" will be renewed. The faith will be invigorated, the hope become stronger, the intellect brighter, the heart better, the whole soul be more like God. While the body, therefore, the less important part, decays and dies, the immortal part shall live and ripen for glory. Of what consequence is it, therefore, how soon or how much the body decays— or when, and where, and how it dies? Let the immortal part be preserved, let that live, and all is well. And while this is done, we should not, we shall not "faint." We shall be sustained; and shall find the consolations of religion to be fitted to all our wants, and adapted to all the necessities of our condition as weak, and frail, and dying creatures.

(26.) We learn from this chapter how to bear affliction in a proper manner, 2 Co 4:17,18. It is by looking at eternity, and comparing our trials with the eternal weight of glory that awaits us. In themselves afflictions often seem heavy and long. Human nature is often ready to sink under them. The powers of the body fail, and the mortal frame is crushed. The day seems long while we suffer; and the night seems often to be almost endless, De 28:67. But compared with eternity, how short are all these trials! Compared with the weight of glory which awaits the believer, what a trifle are the severest sufferings of this life. Soon the ransomed spirit will be released, and will be admitted to the full fruition of the joys of the world above. In that world, all these sorrows will seem like the sufferings of childhood, that we have.now almost forgotten, and that now seem to us like trifles.

(27.) We should not look to the things which are seen as our portion, 2 Co 4:17,18. They are light in their character, and are soon to fade away. Our great interests are beyond the grave. There all is weighty, and momentous, and eternal. Whatever great interests we have, are there. Eternity is stamped upon all the joys and all the sorrows which are beyond this life. Here all is temporary, changing, decaying, dying. There all is fixed, settled, unchanging, immortal. It becomes us then, as rational creatures, to look to that world, to act with reference to it, to feel and act as if we felt that all our interests were there. Were this life all, everything in relation to us would be trifling. But when we remember that there is an eternity; that we are near it; and that our conduct here is to determine our character and destiny there, life becomes invested with infinite importance. Who can estimate the magnitude of the interests at stake? Who can appreciate aright the importance of every step we take, and every plan we form?

(28.) All here below is temporary, decaying, dying, 2 Co 4:17,18. Afflictions are temporary. They are but for a moment, and will soon be passed away. Our sorrows here will soon be ended. The last sigh on earth will soon be heaved; the last tear will have fallen on the cheek; the last pain will have shot across the seat of life! The last pang of parting with a beloved friend will soon have been endured; and the last step which we are to take in "the valley of the shadow of death" will soon have been trod. And in like manner we shall soon have tasted the last cup of earthly joy. All our comforts here below will soon pass from us. Our friends will die. Our sources of happiness will be dried up. Our health will fail, and darkness will come over our eyes, and we shall go down to the dead. All our property must be left, and all our honours be parted with for ever. In a little time—oh, how brief!—we shall have gone from all these, and shall be engaged in the deep and awful solemnities of the unchanging world. How vain and foolish, therefore, the attachment to earthly objects! How important to secure an interest in that future inheritance which shall never fade away!

(29.) Let it not be inferred, however, that all affliction shall be light, and for a moment, or that all earthly trial shall of course work out a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. There are sorrows, beyond the grave, compared with which the most heavy and most protracted woes this side the tomb are "light," and are "but for a moment." And there are sorrows in this life—deep and prolonged afflictions—which by no means tend to prepare the soul for the "far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Such are those afflictions where there is no submission to the will of God; where there is murmuring, repining, impatience, and increased rebellion; where there is no looking to God for comfort, and no contemplation of eternal glory. Such are those afflictions where men look to philosophy or to earthly friends to comfort them; or where they plunge deeper into the business, the gaiety, or the vices of the world, to drown their sorrows and to obliterate the sense of their calamities. This is "the sorrow of the world which worketh death," 2 Co 7:10. In afflictions, therefore, it should be to us a matter of deep and anxious solicitude to know whether we have the right feelings, and whether we are seeking the right sources of consolation. And in such seasons it shall be the subject of our deep and earnest prayer to God that our trials may, by his grace, be made to work our for us "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." All are afflicted; all suffer in various ways; and all may find these trials terminate in eternal blessedness beyond the grave.

Introduction to 2nd Corinthians Chapter 5

THIS chapter is closely connected with the former; and indeed has been improperly separated from it, as is manifest from the word "For" (gar) with which it commences. It contains a further statement of reasons for what had been said in the previous chapter. The main subject there was the MINISTRY: the honesty and fidelity with which Paul and his fellow-labourers toiled, 2 Co 5:1-3; the trials and dangers which they encountered in the work of the ministry, 2 Co 5:7-12; and the consolations and supports which they had in its various trials, 2 Co 5:13-18. This chapter contains a continuation of the same subject, and a further statement of the motives which prompted them to their work, and of the supports which upheld them in the arduous duties to which they were called. It is a chapter full of exquisite beauties of sentiment and of language, and as well adapted to give consolation and support to all Christians now as it is to ministers; and the sentiments are as well adapted to sustain the humblest believer in his trials as they were to sustain the apostles themselves. The following are the points of consolation and support, and reasons for their zeal and self-denial, to which the apostle refers.

(1.) They had the assured prospect of the resurrection, and of eternal life, 2 Co 5:1-4. The body might decay, and be worn but; it might sigh and groan; but they had a better home, a mansion of eternal' rest in the heavens. It was their earnest desire to reach heaven; though not such a desire as to make them unwilling to endure the toils, and trials which God should appoint to them here below, but still an earnest, anxious wish to reach safely their eternal home in the skies. In the prospect of their heavenly home, and their eternal rest, they were willing to endure all the trials which were appointed to them.

(2.) God had appointed them to this; he had fitted them for these trials; he had endowed them with the graces of his Spirit; and they were, therefore, willing to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord, 2 Co 5:5-8. They had such a view of heaven, as their home, that they were willing at any time to depart and enter the world of rest; and they did not, therefore, shrink from the trials and dangers which would be likely soon to bring them there.

(3.) They had a deep and constant conviction that they must soon appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, 2 Co 5:9-11. They laboured that they might be accepted by him, 2 Co 5:9; they knew that they must give a solemn accost to him, 2 Co 5:10; they had a clear view, and a-deep impression of the awful terrors of that day; and they laboured, therefore, to save as many as possible from the condemnation of the great Judge of all, and endeavoured to "persuade" them to be prepared for that scene, 2 Co 5:11.

(4.) Though, to some they might appear to be under the influence of improper excitement, and even to be deranged, 2 Co 5:14, yet they were acting only under the proper influence of the love of Christ, 2 Co 5:14,15. They were constrained and urged on by his love; they knew that he had died for all, and that all men were dead in sin; and they felt themselves the constraining influence of that love prompting them to deny themselves, and to devote their all to his service and cause.

(5.) Their views of all things had been changed, 2 Co 5:16,17. They had ceased to act under the influences which govern other men; but their own hearts had been changed, and they had become new creatures in Christ, and in. their lives they evinced the spirit which should govern those who were thus renewed.

(6.) They had been solemnly commissioned by God as his ambassadors in this cause. They had been sent to make known the terms and the way of reconciliation, and their felt it to be their duty to proclaim those terms on as wide a scale as possible, and with the utmost zeal and self-denial. It was God's glorious plan of reconciliation; and on the ground of the atonement made by the Redeemer, they could now offer salvation to all mankind; and as all might be saved, they felt themselves bound to offer the terms of salvation to as many as possible, 2 Co 5:18-21. The grand argument for urging sinners to be reconciled to God, is the fact that Christ has died for their sins; and therefore the apostles, apprized of this fact, sought to urge as many as possible to become him friends, 2 Co 5:21.

Verse 1. For we know. We who are engaged in the work of the gospel ministry. Paul is giving a reason whir he and his fellow-labourers did not become weary and faint in their work. The reason was, that they knew that even if their body should die, they had, an inheritance reserved for them in heaven. The expression "we know" is the language of strong and unwavering assurance. They had no doubt on the subject. And it proves that there may be the assurance of eternal life; or such evidence of acceptance with God as to leave no doubt of a final admission into heaven. This language was often used by the Saviour in reference to the truths which he taught, Joh 3:11; 4:22 and it is, used by the sacred writers in regard to the truths which they recorded, and in regard to their own personal piety, Joh 21:24; 1 Jo 2:3,5,18; 1 Jo 3:2,14,19,24; 4:6,13; 5:2,15,19,20.

That if our earthly house. The word "earthly" here (epigeiov) stands opposed to "heavenly," or to the "house eternal (en toiv ouranoiv?) in the heavens." The word properly means, "upon earth, terrestrial, belonging to the earth, or on the earth;" and is applied to bodies, 1 Co 15:40; to earthly things, Joh 3:12; to earthly, or worldly wisdom, Jas 3:15. The word house here refers doubtless to the body, as the habitation, or the dwelling-place, of the mind or soul. The soul dwells in it as we dwell in a house, or tent.

Of this tabernacle. This word means a booth, or tent—a movable dwelling. The use of the word here is not a mere redundancy; but the idea which Paul designs to convey is, doubtless, that the body—the house of the soul—was not a permanent dwelling-place, but was of the same nature as a booth or tent, that was set up for a temporary purpose, or that was easily taken down in migrating from one place to another. It refers here to the body as the frail and temporary abode of the soul. It is not a permanent dwelling—a fixed habitation; but is liable to be taken down at any moment, and was fitted up with that view. Tindal renders it, "if our earthly mansion wherein we now dwell." The Syriac renders it, "for we know that if our house on earth, which is our body, were dissolved." The idea is a beautiful one, that the body is a mere unfixed, movable dwelling-place; liable to be taken down at any moment, and not designed, any more than a tent is, to be a permanent habitation.

Were dissolved. Kataluyh. This word means, properly, to disunite the parts of anything; and is applied to the act of throwing down, or destroying a building is applied here to the body, regarded as a temporary dwelling that might be taken down.; and it refers, doubtless, to the dissolution of the body in the grave. The idea is, that if this body should moulder back to dust, and be resolved into its original elements; or if by great zeal and labour it should be exhausted and worn out. Language like this is used by Eliphaz, the Temanite, in describing the body of man. "How much less in those that dwell in houses of clay," etc., Job 4:19; 2 Pe 1:13,14.

We have a building of God. Robinson (Lexicon) supposes that it refers to "the future spiritual body as the abode of the soul." Some have supposed that it refers to some "celestial vehicle" with which God invests the soul during the intermediate state. But the Scripture is silent about any such celestial vehicle. It is not easy to tell what was the precise idea which Paul here designed to convey, Perhaps a few remarks may enable us to arrive at the meaning.

(1.) It was not to be temporary; not a tent or tabernacle that could be taken down.

(2.) It was to be eternal-in the heavens.

(3.) It was to be such as to constitute a dwelling; a clothing, or such a protection as should keep the soul from being "naked."

(4.) It was to be such as should constitute "life" in contradistinction from "mortality." These things will better agree with the supposition of its referring to the future body of the saints than anything else; and probably the idea of Paul is, that the body there will be incorruptible and immortal. When he says it is a "building of God," (ek yeou,) he evidently means that it is made by God; that he is the architect of that future and eternal dwelling. Macknight and some others, however, understood this of the mansions which God has fitted up for his people in heaven, and which the Lord Jesus has gone to prepare for them. Comp. Joh 14:2. But See Barnes "2 Co 5:3".

An house. A dwelling; an abode; that is, according to the interpretation above, a celestial, pure, immortal body; a body that shall have God for its immediate author, and that shall be fitted to dwell in heaven for ever.

Not made with hands. Not constructed by man; a habitation not like those which are made by human skill, and which are therefore easily taken down or removed, but one that is made by God himself. This does not imply that the "earthly house" which is to be superseded by that in heaven is made with hands; but the idea is, that the earthly dwelling has things about it which resemble that which is made by man, or as if it were made with hands; i.e., it is temporary, frail, easily taken down or removed. But that which is in heaven is permanent, fixed, eternal, as if made by God.

Eternal in the heavens. Immortal; to live for ever. The future body shall never be taken down or dissolved by death. It is eternal, of course, only in respect to the future, and not in respect to the past. And it is not only eternal, but it is to abide for ever in the heavens—in the world of glory. It is never to be subjected to a dwelling on the earth; never to be in a world of sin, suffering,, and death.

{a} "this tabernacle were dissolved" Job 4:19 {b} "an house not made with hands" 1 Pe 1:4


Verse 2. For in this. In this tent, tabernacle, or dwelling. In our body here.

We groan. See Barnes "Ro 8:22".

The sense is, that we are subjected to so many trials and afflictions in the present body; that the body is subjected to so many pains, and to so much suffering, as to make us earnestly desire to be invested with that body which shall be free from all susceptibility to suffering.

Earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house, etc. There is evidently here a change of the metaphor, which gives an apparent harshness to the construction. One idea of the apostle is, that the body here, and the spiritual body hereafter, is a house or a dwelling. Here he speaks of it as a garment which may be put on or laid off; and of himself as earnestly desiring to put on the immortal clothing or vestment which was in heaven. Both these figures are common in ancient writings; and a change in this manner in the popular style is not unusual. The Pythagoreans compared the body to a tent or hut for the soul; the Platonists liken it to a vestment.—Bloomfield. The Jews speak of a vestment to the soul in this world and the next. They affirm that the soul had a covering when it was under the throne of God, and before it was clothed with the body. This vestment, they say, was "the image of God," which was lost by Adam. After the fall, they say, Adam and all his posterity were regarded as naked. In the future world they say the good will be clothed with a vestment for the soul, which they speak of as lucid and radiant, and such as no one on earth can attain.—Schoettgen. But there is no reason to think that Paul referred to any such trifles as the Jews have believed on this subject. He evidently regarded man as composed of body and soul. The soul was the more important part, and the body constituted its mere habitation or dwelling. Yet a body was essential to the idea of the complete man; and since this was frail and dying; he looked forward to a union with the body that should be eternal in the heavens, as a more desirable and perfect habitation of the soul. Mr. Locke has given an interpretation of this in which he is probably alone, but which has so much appearance of plausibility that it is not improper to refer to it. He supposes that this whole passage has reference to the fact that at the coming of the Redeemer the body will be changed without experiencing death, (comp. 1 Co 15:51,52;) that Paul expected that this might soon occur; and that he earnestly desired to undergo this transformation without experiencing the pains of dying. He therefore paraphrases it, "For in this tabernacle I groan, earnestly desiring, without putting off this mortal, earthly body by death, to have that celestial body superinduced, if so be the coming of Christ shall overtake me in this life, before I put off this body"

With our house. The phrase "to be clothed upon with our house" seems to be harsh and unusual. The sense is plain, however, that Paul desired to be invested with that pure, spiritual, and undecaying body which, was to be the eternal abode of his soul in heaven. That he speaks of as a house, (oikhthrion,) a more permanent and substantial dwelling than a tent, or tabernacle.

{a} "earnestly desiring" Rom 8:23


Verse 3. If so be that being clothed. This passage has been interpreted in a great many different ways. The view of Locke is given above. Rosenmuller renders it, "For in the other life we shall not be wholly destitute of a body, but we shall have a body." Tindal renders it, "If it happen that we be found clothed, and not naked." Doddridge supposes it to mean, "Since being so clothed upon, we shall not be found naked, and exposed to any evil and inconvenience, how, entirely soever we may be stripped of everything we can call our own here below." Hammond explains it to mean, "If, indeed, we shall happily be among the number of those faithful Christians, who will be found clothed upon, not naked." Various other expositions may be seen in the larger commentaries. The meaning is probably this:

(1.) The word "clothed" refers to the future spiritual body of believers; the eternal habitation in which they shall reside.

(2.) The expression implies an earnest desire of Paul to be thus invested with that body.

(3.) It is the language of humility and of deep solicitude, as if it were possible that they might fail, and as if it demanded their utmost care and anxiety that they might thus be clothed with the spiritual body in heaven.

(4.) It means that in that future state the soul will not be naked; that is, destitute of any body or covering. The present body will be laid aside. It will return to corruption, and the disembodied spirit will ascend to God and to heaven. It will be disencumbered of the body with which it has been so long clothed. But we are not thence to infer that it will be destitute of a body; that it will remain a naked soul. It will be clothed there in its appropriate glorified body; and will have an appropriate habitation there. This does not imply, as Bloomfield supposes, that the souls of the wicked will be destitute of any such habitation as the glorified body of the saints—which may be true; but it means simply that the soul shall not be destitute of an appropriate body in heaven, but that the union of body and soul there shall be known as well as on earth.

{b} "found naked" Re 3:18; 16:15


Verse 4. For we. We who are Christians. All Christians.

That are in this tabernacle. This frail and dying body. See Barnes "2 Co 5:1".

Do groan. See 2 Co 5:2. This is a further explanation of what is said in 2 Co 5:2. It implies an ardent and earnest desire to leave a world of toil and pain, and to enter into a world of rest and glory.

Being burdened. Being borne down by the toils, and trials, and calamities of this life. See Barnes "2 Co 4:7, 2 Co 4:8-10.

Not for that we would be unclothed. Not that we are impatient, and unwilling to bear these burdens as long as God shall appoint. Not that we merely wish to lay aside this mortal body. We do not desire to die and depart merely because we suffer much, and because the body here is subjected to great trials. This is not the ground of our wish to depart. We are willing to bear trials. We are not impatient under, afflictions. The sentiment here is, that the mere fact that we may be afflicted much and long, should not be the principal reason why we should desire to depart. We should be willing to bear all this as long as God shall choose to appoint. The anxiety of Paul to enter the eternal world was from a higher motive than a mere desire to get away from trouble.

But clothed upon. To be invested with our spiritual body. We desire to be clothed with that body. We desire to be in heaven, and to be clothed with immortality. We wish to have a body that shall be pure, undecaying, ever glorious. It was not, therefore, a mere desire to be released from sufferings; it was an earnest wish to be admitted to the glories of the future world, and partake of the happiness which he would enjoy there. This is one of the reasons why Paul wished to be in heaven. Other reasons he has stated elsewhere. Thus in Php 1:23 he says he had "a desire to depart and to be with Christ." So in 2 Co 5:8 of this chapter he says he was "willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." In 2 Ti 4:6-8, he speaks of the "crown of righteousness" laid up for him as a reason why he was willing to die.

That mortality might be swallowed up of life. On the meaning of the word rendered "swallowed up," (katapoyh) See Barnes "1 Co 15:54".

The meaning here is, that it might be completely absorbed; that it might cease to be; that there might be no more mortality, but that he might pass to the immortal state —to the condition of eternal life in the heavens. The body here is mortal—the body there will be immortal; and Paul desired to pass away from the mortal state to one that shall be immortal —a world where there shall be no more death. Comp. 1 Co 15:53.

{c} "mortality" 1 Co 15:53


Verse 5. Now he that hath wrought us for the self-same thing. The phrase "self-same thing" here means this very thing, i.e., the thing to which he had referred—the preparation for heaven, or the heavenly dwelling. The word "wrought" here (katergasamenov) means, that God had formed, or made them for this; that is, he had by the influences of the Spirit, and by his agency on the heart, created them, as it were, for this, and adapted them to it. God has destined us to this change from corruption to incorruption; he has adapted us to it; he has formed us for it. It does not refer to the original creation of the body and the soul for this end; but it means that God, by his own renewing, and sanctifying, and sustaining agency, had formed them for this, and adapted them to it. The object of Paul in stating that it was done by God, is to keep this truth prominently before the mind. It was not by any native inclination, or strength, or power which they had, but it was all to be traced to God. Comp. Eph 2:10.

Who also hath given. In addition to the fitting for eternal glory he has given us the earnest of the Spirit to sustain us here. We are not only prepared to enter into heaven, but we have here also the support produced by the earnest of the Spirit.

The earnest of the Spirit. On the meaning of this, See Barnes "2 Co 1:22

". He has given to us the Holy Spirit as the pledge or assurance of the eternal inheritance.

{a} "wrought us" Isa 29:23; Eph 2:10 {b} "earnest of" Eph 1:14


Verse 6. Therefore we are always confident. The word here used yarrountev means, to be of good cheer; to have good courage; to be full of hope. The idea is, that Paul was not dejected, cast down, disheartened, discouraged. He was cheerful and happy. He was patient in his trials, and diligent in his calling. He was full of hope, and of the confident expectation of heaven; and this filled him with cheerfulness and with joy. Tindal renders it, "We are always of good cheer." And this was not occasional and transitory, it was constant, it was uniform, it always pantote existed. This is an instance of the uniform cheerfulness which will be produced by the assured prospect of heaven. It is an instance, too, when the hope of heaven will enable a man to face danger with courage; to endure toil with patience; and to submit to trials in any form with cheerfulness.

Knowing. 2 Co 5:1. This is another instance in which the apostle expresses undoubted assurance.

Whilst we are at home in the body. The word here used (endhmountev) means, literally, to be among one's own people, to be at home; to be present at any place. It is here equivalent to saying, "while we dwell in the body." 2 Co 5:1. Doddridge renders it, "sojourning in the body;" and remarks that it is improper to render it "at home in the body," since it is the apostle's design to intimate that this is not our home. But Bloomfield says that the word is never used in the sense of sojourning. The idea is not that of being "at home"—for this is an idea which is the very opposite of that which the apostle wishes to convey. His purpose is not at all to represent the body here as our home, and the original word does not imply that. It means here simply to be in the body; to be present in the body; that is, while we are in the body.

We are absent from the Lord. The Lord Jesus. See Barnes "Ac 1:24.

Comp. Php 1:23. Here he was in a strange world, and among strangers. His great desire and purpose was to be with the Lord; and hence he cared little how soon the frail tabernacle of the body was taken down, and was cheerful amidst all the labours and sufferings that tended to bring it to the grave, and to release him to go to his eternal home where he would be present for ever with the Lord.

{*} "confident" "of good courage"


Verse 7. For we walk. To walk, in the Scriptures, often denotes to live, to act, to conduct [one's self] in a certain way. See Barnes "Ro 4:12" See Barnes "Ro 6:4".

It has reference to the fact that life is a journey, or a pilgrimage, and that the Christian is travelling to another country. The sense here is, that we conduct ourselves in our course of life with reference to the things which are unseen, and not with reference to the things which are seen.

By faith. In the belief of those things which we do not see. We believe in the existence of objects which are invisible, and we are influenced by them. To walk by faith, is to live in the confident expectation of things that are to come; in the belief of the existence of unseen realities; and suffering them to influence us as if they were seen. The people of this world are influenced by the things that are seen. They live for wealth, honour, splendour, praise, for the objects which this world can furnish, and as if there were nothing which is unseen, or as if they ought not to be influenced by the things which are unseen. The Christian, on the contrary, has a firm conviction of the reality of the glories of heaven; of the fact that the Redeemer is there; of the fact that there is a crown of glory; and he lives and acts as if that were all real, and as if he saw it all. The simple account of faith, and of living by faith is, that we live and act as if these things were true, and suffer them to make an impression on our mind according to their real nature. See Barnes "Mr 16:16".

It is contradistinguished from living simply under the influence of things that are seen. God is unseen—but the Christian lives, and thinks, and acts as if there were a God, and as if he saw him. Christ is unseen now by the bodily eye; but the Christian lives and acts as if he were seen; that is, as if his eye were known to be upon us, and as if he was now exalted to heaven, and was the only Saviour. The Holy Spirit is unseen; but he lives and acts as if there were such a Spirit, and as if his influences were needful to renew and purify the soul. Heaven is unseen; but the Christian lives, and thinks, and acts as if there were a heaven, and as if he now saw its glories. He has confidence in these and in kindred truths, and he acts as if they were real. Could man see all these—were they visible to the naked eye as they are to the eye of faith, no one would doubt the propriety of living and acting with reference to them. But if they exist, there is no more impropriety in acting with reference to them than if they were seen. Our seeing or not seeing them does not alter their nature or importance; and the fact that they are not seen does not make it improper to act with reference to them. There are many ways of being convinced of the existence and reality of objects besides seeing them; and it may be as rational to be influenced by the reason, the judgment, or by strong confidence, as it is to be influenced by sight. Besides, all men are influenced by things which they have not seen. They hope for objects that are future. They aspire to happiness which they have not yet beheld. They strive for honour and wealth which are unseen, and which are in the distant future. They live and act—influenced by strong faith and hope—as if these things were attainable; and they deny themselves, and labour, and cross oceans and deserts, and breathe in pestilential air, to obtain those things which they have not seen, and which to them are in the distant future. And why should not the Christian endure like labour, and be willing to suffer in like manner, to gain the unseen crown which is incorruptible, and to acquire the unseen wealth which the moth does not corrupt? And further still, the men of this world strive for those objects which they have not beheld, without any promise or any assurance that they shall obtain them. No being, able to grant them, has promised them; no one has assured them that their lives shall be lengthened out to obtain them. In a moment they may be cut off, and all their plans frustrated; or they may be utterly disappointed, and all their plans fail; or if they gain the object, it may be unsatisfactory, and may furnish no pleasure such as they had anticipated. But not so the Christian. He has

(1.) the promise of life.

(2.) He has the assurance that sudden death cannot deprive him of it. It at once removes him to the object of pursuit, not from it.

(3.) He has the assurance that when obtained, it shall not disgust, or satiate, or decay, but that it shall meet all the expectations of the soul, and shall be eternal.

Not by sight. This may mean either that we are not influenced by a sight of these future glories, or that we are not influenced by the things which we see. The main idea is, that we are not influenced and governed by the sight. We are not governed and controlled by the things which we see, and we do not see those things which actually influence and control us. In both it is faith that controls us, and not sight.

{c} "For we walk" Ro 8:24,25


Verse 8. We are confident. 2 Co 5:6. We are cheerful, and courageous, and ready to bear our trial. Tindal renders it, "We are of good comfort."

And willing rather to be absent from the body. We would prefer to die. The same idea occurs in Php 1:23: "Having a desire to depart and to be with Christ; which is far better." The sense is, that Paul would have preferred to die, and to go to heaven, rather than to remain in a world of sin and trial.

To be present with the Lord. The Lord Jesus. See Barnes "Ac 1:24".

Comp. Php 1:23. The idea of Paul is, that the Lord Jesus would constitute the main glory of heaven, and that to be with him was equivalent to being in a place of perfect bliss. He had no idea of any heaven where the Lord Jesus was not; and to be with him was to be in heaven. That world where the Redeemer is, is heaven. This also proves that the spirits of the saints, when they depart, are with the Redeemer; that is, are at once taken to heaven. It demonstrates

(1.) that they are not annihilated.

(2.) That they do not sleep, and remain in an unconscious state, as Dr. Priestly supposes.

(3.) That they are not in some intermediate state—either in a state of purgatory, as the Papists suppose, or a state where all the souls of the just and the unjust are assembled in a common abode, as many Protestants have supposed—but

(4.) that they dwell WITH Christ; they are WITH the Lord, (prov ton kurion.) They abide in his presence; they partake of his joy and his glory; they are permitted to sit with him in his throne, Re 3:21. The same idea the Saviour expressed to the dying thief, when he said, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise," Lu 23:43.


Verse 9. Wherefore. Dio. In view of the facts stated above. Since we have the prospect of a resurrection and of future glory; since we have the assurance that there is a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens; and since God has given to us this hope, and has granted to us the earnest of the Spirit, we make it our great object so to live as to be accepted by him.

We labour. The word here used (filotimoumeya, from filov and timh, loving honour) means, properly, to love honour; to be ambitious. This is its usual classical signification. In the New Testament, it means to be ambitious to do anything; to exert one's self; to strive, as if from a love or sense of honour. As in English, to make it a point of honour to do so and so.—Robinson, (Lex.) See Ro 15:20; 1 Th 4:11. It means here, that Paul made it a point of constant effort; it was his leading and constant aim to live so as to be acceptable to God, and to meet his approbation wherever he was.

Whether present or absent. Whether present with the Lord, (2 Co 5:8,) or absent from him, (2 Co 5:6;) that is, whether in this world or the next; whether we are here, or removed to heaven. Wherever we are, or may be, it is and will be our main purpose and object so to live as to secure his favour. Paul did not wish to live on earth regardless of his favour, or without evidence that he would be accepted by him. He did not make the fact that he was absent from him, and that he did not see him with the bodily eye, an excuse for walking in the ways of ambition, or seeking his own purposes and ends. The idea is, that so far as this point was concerned, it made no difference with him whether he lived or died; whether he was on earth or in heaven; whether in the body or out of the body; it was the great fixed principle of his nature so to live as to secure the approbation of the Lord. And this is the true principle on which the Christian should act, and will act. The fact that he is now absent from the Lord will be to him no reason why he should lead a life of sin and self-indulgence, any more than he would if he were in heaven; and the fact that he is soon to be with him is not the main reason why he seeks to live so as to please him. It is because this has become the fixed principle of the soul; the very purpose of the life; and this principle and this purpose will adhere to him and control him wherever he may be placed, or in whatever world he may dwell.

We may be accepted of him. The phrase here used (euarestoi einai) means to be well-pleasing; and then to be acceptable, or approved, Ro 12:1; 14:18; Eph 5:10; Php 4:18; Tit 2:9.

The sense here is, that Paul was earnestly desirous of so living as to please God, and to receive from him the tokens and marks of his favour. And the truth taught in this verse is, that this will be the great purpose of the Christian's life, and that it makes no difference as to the existence and operation of this principle whether a man is on earth or in heaven. He will equally desire it, and strive for it; and this is one of the ways in which religion makes a man conscientious and holy; and is a better guard and security for virtue than all human laws, and all the restraints which can be imposed by man.

{1} "we labour" "endeavour" {*} "labour" "strive"


Verse 10. For we must. Dei. It is proper, fit, necessary that we should all appear there. This fact to which Paul now refers is another reason why it was necessary to lead a holy life, and why Paul gave himself with so much diligence and self-denial to the arduous duties of his office. There is a necessity or a fitness that we should appear there to give up our account, for we are here on trial; we are responsible moral agents; we are placed here to form characters for eternity. Before we receive our eternal allotment, it is proper that we should render our account of the manner in which we have lived, and of the manner in which we have improved our talents and privileges. In the nature of things, it is proper that we should undergo a trial before we receive our reward, or before we are punished; and God has made it necessary and certain, by his direct and positive appointment, that we should stand at the bar of the final Judge. See Ro 14:10.

All. Both Jews and Gentiles; old and young; bond and free; rich and poor; all of every class, and every age, and every nation. None shall escape by being unknown; none by virtue of their rank or wealth; none because they have a character too pure to be judged; All shall be arraigned in one vast assemblage, and with reference to their eternal doom. See Re 20:12. Rosenmuller supposes that the apostle here alludes to an opinion that was common among the Jews, that the Gentiles only would be exposed to severe judgments in the future world, and that the Jews would be saved as a matter of course. But the idea seems rather to be, that as the trial of the great day was the most important that man could undergo, and as all must give account there, Paul and his fellow-labourers devoted themselves to untiring diligence and fidelity that they might be accepted in that great day.

Appear. Fanerwyhnai. This word properly means, to make apparent, manifest, known; to show openly, etc. Here it means that we must be manifest, or openly shown; that is, we must be seen there, and be publicly tried. We must not only stand there, but our character will be seen, our desert will be known, our trial will be public. All will be brought from their graves, and from their places of concealment, and will be seen at the judgment-seat. The secret things of the heart and the life will all be made manifest and known.

The judgment seat of Christ. The tribunal of Christ, who is appointed to be the Judge of quick and dead. See Barnes "Joh 5:25"

See Barnes "Ac 10:42" See Barnes "Ac 17:31".

Christ is appointed to judge the world; and for this purpose he will assemble it before him, and assign to all their eternal allotments. See Mt 25.

That every one may receive. The word rendered may receive (komishtai) means, properly, to take care of, to provide for; and in the New Testament, to bear, to bring, (Lu 7:37,) to acquire, to obtain, to receive. This is the sense here. Every individual shall take, receive, or bear away the appropriate reward for the transactions of this life of probation. See Eph 6:8; Col 3:25.

The things. The appropriate reward of the actions of this life.

Done in his body. Literally, "the things by or through (dia) the body." Tindal renders it, "the works of his body." The idea is, that every man shall receive an appropriate reward for the actions of this life. Observe here,

(1.) that it is the works done in or through the body; not which the body itself has done. It is the mind, the man that has lived in the body, and acted by it, that is to be judged.

(2.) It is to be for the deeds of this life; not for what is done after deathafter they die. All beyond the grave is either reward or punishment; it is not probation. The destiny is to be settled for ever by what is done in this world of probation.

(3.) It is to be for all the deeds done in the body; for all the thoughts, plans, purposes, words, as well as for all the outward actions of the man. All that has been thought or done must come into review, and man must give account for all.

According to that he hath done. As an exact retribution for all that has been done. It is to be a suitable and proper recompense. The retribution is to be measured by what has been done in this life. Rewards shall be granted to the friends, and punishment to the foes of God, just in proportion to, or suitably to, their deeds in this life. Every man shall receive just what, under all the circumstances, he OUGHT to receive, and what will be impartial justice in the case. The judgment will be such that it will be capable of being seen to be right; and such as the universe at large, and as the individuals themselves, will see OUGHT to be rendered.

Whether it be good or bad. Whether the life has been good or evil. The good will have no wish to escape the trial; the evil will not be able. No power of wickedness, however great, will be able to escape from the trial of that day; no crime that has been concealed in this life will be concealed there; no transgressor of law who may have long escaped the punishment due to his sins, and who may have evaded all human tribunals, will be able to escape there.

{a} "For we must" Ro 14:10 {b} "the things" Eph 6:8; Re 22:12


Verse 11. Knowing therefore. We who are apostles, and who are appointed to preach the gospel, having the fullest assurance of the terrors of the day of judgment, and of the wrath of God, endeavour to persuade men to be prepared to meet Him, and to give up their account.

The terror of the Lord. That is, of the Lord Jesus, who will be seated on the throne of judgment, and who will decide the destiny of all men, 2 Co 5:10

Mt 25.

The sense is, knowing how much the Lord is to be feared; what an object of terror and alarm it will be to stand at the judgment-seat; how fearful and awful will be the consequences of the trial of that day. The Lord Jesus will be an object of terror and alarm or it will be a subject inspiring terror and alarm to stand there on that day, because

(1.) he has all power, and is appointed to execute judgment;

(2.) because all must there give a strict and impartial account of all that they have done;

(3.) because the wrath of God will be shown in the condemnation of the guilty. It will be a day of awful wailing and alarm when all the living and the dead shall be arraigned on trial with reference to their eternal destiny; and when countless hosts of the guilty and impenitent shall be thrust down to an eternal hell. Who can describe the amazing terror of the scene? Who can fancy the horrors of the hosts of the guilty and the wretched who shall then hear that their doom is to be fixed for ever in a world of unspeakable woe? The influence of the knowledge of the terror of the Lord on the mind of the apostle'seems to have been two-fold: first, an apprehension of it as a personal concern, and a desire to escape it, which led him to constant self-denial and toil; and, secondly, a desire to save others from being overwhelmed in the wrath of that dreadful day.

We persuade men. We endeavour to persuade them to flee from the wrath to come; to be prepared to stand before the judgment-seat, and to be fitted to enter into heaven. Observe here the peculiarity of the statement. It is not, we drive men; or we endeavour to alarm men; or we frighten men; or we appeal merely to their fears; but it is, we PERSUADE men—we endeavour to induce them, by all the arts of persuasion and argument, to flee from the wrath to come. The future judgment, and the scenes of future woe, are not proper topics for mere declamation. To declaim constantly on hell-fire and perdition—to appeal merely to the fears of men—is not the way in which Paul and the Saviour preached the gospel. The knowledge that there would be a judgment, and that the wicked would be sent to hell, was a powerful motive for Paul to endeavour to "persuade" men to escape from wrath; and was a motive for the Saviour to weep over Jerusalem, and to lament its folly and its doom, Lu 19:41. But they who fill their sermons with the denunciations of wrath; who dwell on the words hell and damnation for the purpose of rhetoric or declamation, to round a period, or merely to excite alarm; and who "deal damnation around the land" as if they rejoiced that men were to be condemned, and in a tone and manner as if they would be pleased to execute it, have yet to learn the true nature of the way to win men to God, and the proper effect of those awful truths on the mind. The true effect is to produce tenderness, deep feeling, and love; to prompt to the language of persuasion and of tender entreaty; to lead men to weep over dying sinners rather than to denounce them; to pray to God to have mercy on them rather than to use the language of severity, or to assume tones as if they would be pleased to execute the awful wrath of God.

But we are made manifest unto God. The meaning of this is, probably, that God sees that we are sincere and upright in our aims and purposes. He is acquainted with our hearts. All our motives are known to him, and he sees that it is our aim to promote his glory, and to save the souls of men. This is probably said to counteract the charge which might have been brought against him by some of the disaffected in Corinth, that he was influenced by improper motives and guns. To meet this, Paul says that God knew that he was endeavouring to save souls, and that he was actuated by a sincere desire to rescue them from the impending terrors of the day of judgment.

And I trust also, etc. And I trust also you are convinced of our integrity and uprightness of aim. The same sentiment is expressed in other words in 2 Co 4:2. It is an appeal which he makes to them, and the expression of an earnest and confident assurance that they knew and felt that his aim was upright, and his purpose sincere.

{a} "terror of the Lord" Heb 10:31; Jude 1:23 {b} "but we are made" 2 Co 4:2


Verse 12. For we commend not ourselves again unto you. This refers to what he had said in the previous verse. He had there said that he had such a consciousness of integrity that he could appeal to God, and that he was persuaded that the Corinthians also approved his course, or admitted that he was influenced by right motives. He here states the reason why he had said this. It was not to commend himself to them. It was not to boast of his own character, nor was it in order to secure their praise or favour. Some might be disposed to misrepresent all that Paul said of himself, and to suppose that it was said for mere vain-glory, or the love of praise. He tells them, therefore, that his sole aim was necessary self-defence, and in order that they might have the fullest evidence that he, by whom they had been converted, was a true apostle; and that he whom they regarded as their friend and father in the gospel was a man of whom they need not be ashamed.

But give you occasion. This is a very happy turn of expression. The sense is, "You have been converted under my labours. You profess to regard me as your spiritual father and friend. I have no reason to doubt of your attachment to me. Yet you often hear my name slandered, and hear me accused of wanting the evidence of being an apostle, and of being vain-glorious, and self-seeking. I know your desire to vindicate my character, and to show that you are my friends; I therefore say these things in regard to myself in order that. you may be thus able to show your respect for me, and to vindicate me from the false and slanderous accusations of my enemies. Thus doing, you will be able to answer them; to show that the man whom you thus respect is worthy of your confidence and esteem."

On your behalf. For your own benefit, or as it were in self-vindication for adhering to me, and evincing attachment to me,"

That ye may have somewhat to answer them. That you may be furnished with a ready reply when you are charged with adhering to a man who has no claims to the apostleship,'or who is slandered in any other way.

Which glory in appearance. The false teachers in Corinth. Probably they boasted of their rank, their eloquence, their talents, their external advantages; but not in the qualities of the heart—in sincerity, honesty, real love for souls. Their consciences would not allow them to do this; and they knew themselves that their boasting was mere vain pretence, and that there was no real and solid ground for it. The margin is, "in the face." The meaning is, probably, that their ground of boasting was external, and was such as can be seen of men; and was not rather the secret consciousness of right, which could exist only in the conscience and the heart. Paul, on the other hand, gloried mainly in his sincerity, his honesty, his desire for their salvation; in his conscious integrity before God; and not in any mere external advantages or professions, in his rank, eloquence, or talent. Accordingly, all his argument here turns on his sincerity, his conscious uprightness, and his real regard for their welfare. And the truth taught here is, that sincerity and conscious integrity are more valuable than any or all external advantages and endowments.

{c} "For we commend" 2 Co 3:1 {1} "appearance" "the face"


Verse 13. For whether we be beside ourselves. This is probably designed to meet some of the charges which the false teachers in Corinth brought against him, and to furnish his friends there with a ready answer, as well as to show them the true principles on which he acted, and his real love for them. It is altogether probable that he was charged with being deranged; that many who boasted themselves of prudence, and soberness, and wisdom, regarded him as acting like a madman. It has not been uncommon, by any means, for the cold and the prudent, for formal professors and for hypocrites, to regard the warm-hearted and zealous friends of religion as maniacs. Festus thought Paul was deranged, when he said, "Paul, thou art beside thyself, much learning doth make thee mad," (Ac 26:24;) and the Saviour himself was regarded by his immediate relatives and friends as beside himself, Mr 3:21. And at all times there have been many, both in the church and out of it, who have regarded the friends of revivals, and of missions, and all those who have evinced any extraordinary zeal in religion, as deranged. The object of Paul here is to show, whatever might be the appearance or the estimate which they affixed to his conduct, what were the real principles which actuated him. These were zeal for God, love to the church, and the constraining influences of the love of Christ, 2 Co 5:14,15. The word here rendered "be beside ourselves" (exesthmen, from existhmi) means, properly, to put out of place; to be put out of place; and then to be put out of one's self, to astonish, to fill with wonder, Lu 24:22; Ac 8:9,11; and then to be out of one's mind, to be deranged. Here it means that they were charged with being deranged; or that others esteemed, or professed to esteem, Paul and his fellow-labourers deranged.

It is to God. It is in the cause of God, and from love to him. It is such a zeal for him; such an absorbing interest in his cause; such love prompting to so great self-denial, and teaching us to act so much unlike other men, as to lead them to think that we are deranged. The doctrine here is, that there may be such a zeal for the glory of God, such an active and ardent desire to promote his honour, as to lead others to charge us with derangement. It does not prove, however, that a man is deranged on the subject of religion because he is unlike others, or because he pursues a course of life that differs materially from that of other professors of religion, and from the man of the world. He may be the truly sane man after all; and all the madness that may exist may be where there is a profession of religion without zeal; a professed belief in the existence of God and in the realities of eternity, that produces no difference in the conduct between the professor and other men; or an utter unconcern about eternal realities when a man is walking on the brink of death and of hell. There are few men that become deranged by religion; there are millions who act as madmen who have no religion. And the highest instances of madness in the world are those who walk over an eternal hell without apprehension or alarm.

Or whether we be sober. Whether we are sane, or of sound mind. Comp. Mr 5:15. Tindal renders this whole passage, "For if we be too fervent, to God we are too fervent; if we keep measure, for our cause keep we measure." The sense seems to be, "If we are esteemed to be sane, and sober-minded, as we trust you will admit us to be, it is for your sake. Whatever may be the estimate in which we are held, we are influenced by love to God, and love to man. In such a cause, we cannot but evince zeal and self-denial which may expose us to the charge of mental derangement; but still we trust that by you we shall be regarded as influenced by a sound mind. We seek your welfare. We labour for you. And we trust that you will appreciate our motives, and regard us as truly sober-minded."

{*} "beside" "transported beyond" {d} "it is" 2 Co 11:1,16,17

{**} "sober" "sober-minded"


Verse 14. For the love of Christ. In this verse, Paul brings into view the principle which actuated him; the reason of his extraordinary and disinterested zeal. That was, that he was influenced by the love which Christ had shown in dying for all men, and by the argument which was furnished by that death respecting the actual character and condition of man, (in this verse;) and of the obligation of those who professed to be his true friends, 2 Co 5:15. The phrase "the love of Christ" (agaph tou cristou) may denote either the love which Christ bears toward us, and which he has manifested, or our love toward, him. In the former sense the phrase "the love of God" is used in Ro 5:8; 2 Co 13:13; and the phrase "love of Christ" in Eph 3:17. The phrase is used in the latter sense in Joh 15:9,10, and Ro 8:35. It is impossible to determine the sense with certainty, and it is only by the view which shall be taken of the connexion and of the argument which will in any way determine the meaning. Expositors differ in regard to it. It seems to me that the phrase here means the love which Christ had toward us. Paul speaks of his dying for all as the reason why he was urged on to the course of self-denial which he evince& Christ died for all. All were dead. Christ evinced his great love for us, and for all, by giving himself to die; and it was this love which Christ had shown that impelled Paul to his own acts of love and self-denial. He gave himself to his great work, impelled by that love which Christ had shown; by the view of the ruined condition of man which that work furnished; and by a desire to emulate the Redeemer, and to possess the same spirit which he evinced.

Constraineth us. sunecei. This word (sunecw) properly means, to hold together, to press together, to shut up; then to press on, urge, impel, or excite. Here it means, that the impelling, or exciting motive in the labours and self-denials of Paul, was the love of Christ—the love which he had showed to the children of men. Christ so loved the world as to give himself for it. His love for the world was a demonstration that men were dead in sins. And we, being urged by the same love, are prompted to like acts of zeal and self-denial to save the world from ruin.

Because we thus judge. Greek, "We judging this;" that is, we thus determine in our own minds, or we thus decide; or this is our firm conviction and belief—we come to this conclusion.

That if one died for all. On the supposition that one died for all; or taking it for granted that one died for all, then it follows that all were dead. The "one" who died for all here is undoubtedly the Lord Jesus. The word "for" (uper) means, in the place of, in the stead of. See Phm 1:13, and 2 Co 5:20 of this chapter. It means that Christ took the place of sinners, and died in their stead; that he endured what was an ample equivalent for all the punishment which would be inflicted if they were to suffer the just penalty of the law; that he endured so much suffering, and that God by his great substituted sorrows made such an expression of his hatred of sin, as to answer the same end in expressing his sense of the evil of sin, and in restraining others from transgression, the guilty were personally to suffer the full penalty of the law. If this was done, of course the guilty might be pardoned and saved, since all the ends which could be accomplished by their destruction have been accomplished by the substituted sufferings of the Lord Jesus. See Barnes "Ro 3:25, See Barnes "Ro 3:26, where this subject is considered at length, The phrase "for all," (uper pantwn,) obviously means for all mankind; for every man. This is an exceedingly important expression in regard to the extent of the atonement which the Lord Jesus made; and while it proves that his death was vicarious, that is, in the place of others, and for their sakes, it demonstrates also that the atonement was general, and had, in itself considered, no limitation, and no particular reference to any class or condition of men, and no particular applicability to one class more than to another. There was nothing in the nature of the atonement that limited it to any one class or condition; there was nothing in the design that made it, in itself, any more applicable to one portion of mankind than to another. And whatever may be true in regard. to the fact as to its actual applicability, or in regard to the purpose of God to apply it, it is demonstrated by this passage that his death had an original applicability to all, and that the merits of that death were sufficient to save all. The argument in favour of the general atonement, from this passage, consists in the following points:

(1.) That Paul assumes this as a matter that was well known, indisputable, and universally admitted, that Christ died for all. He did not deem it necessary to enter into the argument to prove it, nor even to state it formally. It was so well known, and so universally admitted, that he made it a first principle—an elementary position— a maxim on which to base another important doctrine—to wit, that all were dead. It was a point which he assumed that no one would call in question; a doctrine which might be laid down as the basis of an argument—like one of the first principles or maxims in science.

(2.) It is the plain and obvious meaning of the expression—the sense which strikes all men, unless they have some theory to support to the contrary; and it requires all the ingenuity which men can ever command to make it appear even plausible that this is consistent with the doctrine of a limited atonement—much more to make it out that it does not mean all. If a man is told that all the human family must die, the obvious interpretation is, that it applies to every individual. If told that all the passengers on board a steamboat were drowned, the obvious interpretation is, that every individual was meant. If told that a ship was wrecked, and that all the crew perished, the obvious interpretation would be that none escaped. If told that all the inmates of an hospital were sick, it would be understood that there was not an individual that was not sick. Such is the view which would be taken by nine hundred and ninety-nine persons out of a thousand, if told that Christ died for all; nor could they conceive how this could be consistent with the statement that he died only for the elect, and that the elect was only a small part of the human family.

(3.) This interpretation is in accordance with all the explicit declarations on the design of the death of the Redeemer. Heb 2:9, "That he, by the grace of, God, should taste death for every man." Comp. Joh 3:16, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." 1 Ti 2:6, "Who gave himself a ransom for all." See Mt 20:28, "The Son of man came to give his life a ransom for many." 1 Jo 2:2, "And he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."

(4.) The fact also, that on the ground of the atonement made by the Redeemer salvation is offered unto all men by God, is a proof that he died for all. The apostles were directed to go "into all the world, and to preach the gospel to every creature," with the assurance that "he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," Mr 16:16, and everywhere in the Bible the most full and free offers of salvation are made to all mankind. Comp. Isa 55:1; Joh 7:37; Re 22:17.

These offers are made on the ground that the Lord Jesus died for men, Joh 3:16. They are offers of salvation through the gospel, of the pardon of sin, and of eternal life to be made "to every creature." But if Christ died only for a part; if there is a large portion of the human family for whom he died in no sense whatever; if there is no provision of any kind made for them, then God must know this, and then the offers cannot be made with sincerity, and God is tantalizing them with the offers of that which does not exist, and which he knows does not exist. It is of no use here to say that the preacher does not know who the elect are, and that he is obliged to make the offer to all in order that the elect may be reached. For it is not the preacher only who offers the gospel. It is God who does it, and he knows who the elect are, and yet he offers salvation to all. And if there is no salvation provided for all, and no possibility that all to whom the offer comes should be saved, then God is insincere; and there is no way possible of vindicating his character.

(5.) If this interpretation is not correct, and if Christ did not die for all, then the argument of Paul here is a non sequitur, and is worthless. The demonstration that all are dead, according to him, is that Christ died for all. But suppose that he meant, or that he knew, that Christ died only for a part—for the elect—then how would the argument stand, and what would be its force? "Christ died only for a portion of the human race, therefore ALL are sinners. Medicine is provided only for a part of mankind, therefore all are sick. Pardon is offered to part only, therefore all are guilty." But Paul never reasoned in this way. He believed that Christ died for all mankind, and on the ground of that he inferred at once that all needed such an atonement; that all-were sinners, and that all were exposed to the wrath of God. And the argument is in this way, and in this way only, sound. But still it may be asked, what is the force of this argument ? How does the fact that Christ died for all prove that all were sinners, or dead in sin? I answer,

(a.) In the same way as to provide medicine for all, proves that all are sick, or liable to be sick; and to offer pardon to all who are in a prison, proves that all there are guilty. What insult is it to offer medicine to a man in health; or pardon to a man who has violated no law! And there would be the same insult in offering salvation to a man who was not a sinner, and who did not need forgiveness.

(b.) The dignity of the Sufferer, and the extent of his sufferings, prove that all were under a deep and dreadful load of guilt. Such a Being would not have come to die unless the race had been apostate; nor would he have endured so great sorrows unless a deep and dreadful malady had spread over the world. The deep anxiety, the tears, the toils, the sufferings, and the groans of the Redeemer, show what was his sense of the condition of man, and prove that he regarded them as degraded, fallen, and lost. And if the Son of God, who knows all hearts, regarded them as lost, they are lost. He was not mistaken in regard to the character of man, and he did not lay down his life under the influence of delusion and error. If to the view which has been taken of this important passage it be objected that the work of the atonement must have been to a large extent in vain; that it has been actually applied to but comparatively a small portion of the human family, and that it is unreasonable to suppose that God would suffer so great sorrows to be endured for nought, we may reply,

(1.) that it may not have been in vain, though it may have been rejected by a large portion of mankind. There may have been other purposes accomplished by it besides the direct salvation of men. It was doing much when it rendered it consistent for God to offer salvation to all; it is much that God could be seen to be just, and yet pardoning the sinner; it was much when his determined hatred of sin, and his purpose to honour his law, were evinced; and in regard to the benevolence and justice of God to other beings and to other worlds, much, very much was gained, though all the human race had rejected the plan and been lost; and in regard to all these objects, the plan was not in vain, and the sufferings of the Redeemer were not for nought. But

(2.) it is in accordance with what we see everywhere, when much that God does seems to our eyes, though not to his, to be in vain. How much rain falls on ever sterile sands or on barren rocks, to our eyes in vain! What floods of light are poured each day on barren wastes, or untraversed oceans, to our eyes in vain! How many flowers shed forth their fragrance in the wilderness, and "waste their sweetness on the desert air," to us apparently for nought! How many pearls lie useless in the ocean; how much gold and silver in the earth; how many diamonds amidst rocks to us unknown, and apparently in vain! How many lofty trees rear their heads in the untraversed wilderness, and after standing for centuries fall on the earth and decay, to our eyes in vain! And how much medicinal virtue is created by God each year in the vegetable world that is unknown to man, and that decays and is lost without removing any disease, and that seems to be created in vain! And how long has it been before the most valuable medicines have been found out, and applied to alleviating pain, or removing disease! Year after year, and age after age, they existed in a suffering world, and men died perhaps within a few yards of the medicine which would have relieved or saved them, but it was unknown, or, if known, disregarded. But times were coming when their value would be appreciated, and when they would be applied to benefit the sufferer. So with the plan of salvation. It may be rejected, and the sufferings of the Redeemer may seem to have been for nought. But they will yet be of value to mankind; and when the time shall come for the whole world to embrace the Saviour, there will be found no want of sufficiency in the plan of redemption, and in the merits of the Redeemer, to save all the race.

Then were all dead. All dead in sin; that is, all were sinners. The fact that he died for all proves that all were transgressors. The word "dead" is not unfrequently used in the Scriptures to denote the condition of sinners. See Eph 2:1. It means not that sinners are in all senses and in all respects like a lifeless corpse, for they are not. They are still moral agents, and have a conscience, and are capable of thinking, and speaking, and acting. It does not mean that they have no more power, than one in the grave, for they have more power. But it means that there is a striking similarity, in some respects, between one Who is dead and a sinner. That similarity does not extend to everything, but in many respects it is very striking.

(1.) The sinner is as insensible to the glories of the heavenly world, and the appeals of the gospel, as a corpse is to what is going on around or above it. The body that lies in the grave is insensible to the voice of friendship, and the charms of music, and the hum of business, and the plans of gain and ambition; and so the sinner is insensible to all the glories of the heavenly world, and to all the appeals that are made to him, and to all the warnings of God. He lives as though there were no heaven and no hell; no God and no Saviour.

(2.) There is need of the same Divine power to convert a sinner which is needful to raise up the dead. The same cause does not exist, making the existence of that power necessary; but it is a fact that a sinner will no more be converted by his own power than a dead man will rise from the grave by his own power. No man ever yet was converted without direct Divine agency, any more than Lazarus was raised without Divine agency. And there is no more just or melancholy description which can be given of man, than to say that he is dead in sins. He is insensible to all the appeals that God makes to him; he is insensible to all the sufferings of the Saviour, and to all the glories of heaven; he lives as though these did not exist, or as though he had no concern in them; his eyes see no more beauty in them than the sightless eyeballs of the dead do in the material world; his ear is as inattentive to the calls of God and the gospel as the ear of the dead is to the voice of friendship or the charms of melody; and in a world that is full of God, and that might be full of hope, he is living without God and without hope.

{a} "of Christ" So 8:6 {b} "then were all dead" Ro 5:15


Verse 15. And that he died for all, etc. This verse is designed still farther to explain the reasons of the conduct of the apostle. He had not lived for himself. He had not lived to amass wealth, or to enjoy pleasure, or to obtain a reputation. He had lived a life of self-denial and of toil; and he here states the reason why he had done it. It was because he felt that the great purpose of the death of the Redeemer was to secure this result. To that Saviour, therefore, who died for all, he consecrated his talents and his time, and sought in every way possible to promote his glory.

That they which live. They who are true Christians; who are made alive unto God as the result of the dying love of the Redeemer. Sinners are dead in sins. Christians are alive to the worth of the soul, the presence of God, the importance of religion, the solemnities of eternity; i.e., they act and feel as if these things had a real existence, and as if they should exert a constant influence upon the heart and life. It is observable that Paul makes a distinction here between those for whom Christ died and those who actually "live;" thus demonstrating that there may be many for whom he died who do not live to God, or who are not savingly benefited by his death. The atonement was for all, but only apart are actually made alive to God, Multitudes reject it; but the fact that he died for all, that he tasted death for every man, that he not only died for the elect but for all others, that his benevolence was so great as to embrace the whole human family in the design of his death, is a reason why they who are actually made alive to God should consecrate themselves entirely to his service. The fact that he died for all erinted such unbounded and infinite benevolence, that it should induce us who are actually benefited by his death, and who have any just views of it, to devote all that we have to his service.

Should not henceforth live unto themselves. Should not seek our own ease and pleasure; should not make it our great object to promote our own interest; but should make it the grand purpose of our lives to promote his honour, and to advance his cause. This is a vital principle in religion; and it is exceedingly important to know what is meant by living to ourselves, and whether we do it. It is done in the following, and perhaps in some other ways:

(1.) When men seek pleasure, gain, or reputation, as the controlling principle of their lives.

(2.) When they are regardless of the rights of others, and sacrifice all the claims which others have on them in order to secure the advancement of their own purposes and ends.

(3.) When they are regardless of the wants of others, and turn a deaf ear to all the appeals which charity makes to them, and have no time to give to serve them, and no money to spare to alleviate their wants; and especially when they turn a deaf ear to the appeals which are made for the diffusion of the gospel to the benighted and perishing.

(4.) When their main purpose is the aggrandizement of their own families —for their families are but a diffusion of self. And

(5.) when they seek their own salvation only from selfish motives, and not from a desire to honour God. Multitudes are selfish even in their religion; and the main purpose which they have in view is to promote their own objects, and not the honour of the Master whom they profess to serve. They seek and profess religion only because they desire to escape from wrath, and to obtain the happiness of heaven, and not from any love to the Redeemer, or any desire to honour him. Or they seek to build up the interests of their own church and party, and all their zeal is expended on that, and that alone, without any real desire to honour the Saviour. Or though in the church, they are still selfish and live wholly to themselves. They live for fashion, for gain, for reputation. They practise no self-denial; they make no effort to advance the cause of God the Saviour.

But unto him, etc. Unto the Lord Jesus Christ. To live to him is the opposite to living unto ourselves. It is to seek his honour; to feel that we belong to him; that all our time and talents—all our strength of intellect and body—all the avails of our skill and toil—all belong to him, and should be employed in his service. If we have talents by which we can influence other minds, they should be employed to honour the Saviour. If we have skill, or strength to labour, by which we can make money, we should feel that it all belongs to him, and should be employed in his service. If we have property, we should feel that it is his, and that he has a claim upon it all, and that it should be honestly consecrated to his cause. And if we are endowed with a spirit of enterprise, and are fitted by nature to encounter perils in distant and barbarous climes, as Paul was, we should feel like him that we are bound to devote all entirely to his service, and to the promotion of his cause. A servant, a slave, does not live to himself, but to his master. His person, his time, his limbs, his talents, and the avails of his industry are not regarded as his own. He is judged incapable of holding any property which is not at the disposal of his master. If he has strength, it is his master's. If he has skill, the avails of it are his master's. If he is an ingenious mechanic, or labours in any department; if he is amiable, kind, gentle, and faithful, and adapted to be useful in an eminent degree, it is regarded as all the property of his master. He is bound to go where his master chooses; to execute the task which he assigns; to deny himself at his master's will; and to come and lay the avails of all his toil and skill at his master's feet. He is regarded as having been purchased with money; and the purchase-money is supposed to give a right to his time, his talents, his services, and his soul. Such as the slave is supposed to become by purchase, and by the operation of human laws, the Christian becomes by the purchase of the Son of God, and by the voluntary recognition of him as the Master, and as having a right to all that we have and are. To him all belongs; and all should be employed in endeavouring to promote his glory, and in advancing his cause.

Which died for them, and rose again. Paul here states the grounds of the obligation under which he felt himself placed, to live not unto himself but unto Christ.

(1.) The first is, the fact that Christ had died for him, and for all his people. The effect of that death was the same as a purchase. It was a purchase. See Barnes "1 Co 6:20"

See Barnes "1 Co 7:23".

Comp. 1 Pe 1:18,19.

(2.) The second is, that he had risen again from the dead. To this fact Paul traced all his hopes of eternal life, and of the resurrection from the dead. See Ro 4:25. As we have the hope of the resurrection from the dead only from the fact that he rose; as he has "brought life and immortality to light," and hath in this way "abolished death," (2 Ti 1:10;) as all the prospect of entering a world where there is no death and no grave is to be traced to the resurrection of the Saviour, so we are bound by every obligation of gratitude to devote ourselves without any reserve to him. To him, and him alone, should we live; and in his cause our lives should be, as Paul's was, a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable in his sight.

{a} "that they which" Ro 14:7-9; 1 Co 6:19,20


Verse 16. Wherefore henceforth. In view of the fact that the Lord Jesus died for all men, and rose again. The effect of that has been to change all our feelings, and to give us entirely new views of men, of ourselves, and of the Messiah, so that we have become new creatures. The word "henceforth" (apo tou nun) means, properly, from the present time; but there is no impropriety in supposing that Paul refers to the time when he first obtained correct views of the Messiah, and that he means from that time. His mind seems to have been thrown back to the period when these new views burst upon his soul; and the sentiment is, that from the time when he obtained those new views, he had resolved to know no one after the flesh.

Know we no man. The word know here (oidamen,) is used in the sense of, we form our estimate of; we judge; we are influenced by. Our estimate of man is formed by other views than according to the flesh.

After the flesh. A great many different interpretations have been proposed of this expression, which it is not needful here to repeat. The meaning is, probably, that in his estimate of men he was not influenced by the views which are taken by those who are unrenewed, and who are unacquainted with the truths of redemption. It may include a great many things, and perhaps the following:

(1.) He was not influenced in his estimate of men by a regard to their birth or country, he did not form an attachment to a Jew because he was a Jew, or to a Gentile because he was a Gentile. He had learned that Christ died for all, and he felt disposed to regard all alike.

(2.) He was not influenced in his estimate of men by their rank, and wealth, and office. Before his conversion he had been; but now he learned to look on their moral character, and to regard that as making the only permanent and really important distinction among men. He did not esteem one man highly because he was of elevated rank, or of great wealth, and another less because he was of a different rank in life.

(3.) It may also include the idea, that he had left his own kindred and friends on account of superior attachment to Christ. He had parted from them to preach the gospel. He was not restrained by their opinions; he was not kept from going from land to land by love to them. is probable that they remained Jews. It may be that they were opposed to him, and to his efforts in the cause of the Redeemer. It may be that they would have dismissed him from a work so self-denying, and so arduous, and where he would be exposed to so much persecution and contempt. It may be that they would have set before him the advantages of his birth and education; would have reminded him of his early brilliant prospects; and would have used all the means possible to dissuade him from embarking in a cause like that in which he was engaged. The passage here means that Paul was influenced by none of these considerations. In early life he had been. He had prided himself on rank, and on talent. He was proud of his own advantages as a Jew; and he estimated worth by rank, and by national distinction, Php 3:4-6. He had despised Christians on account of their being the followers of the Man of Nazareth; and there can be no reason to doubt that he partook of the common feelings of his countrymen, and held in contempt the whole Gentile world. But his views were changed—so much changed as to make it proper to say that he was a new creature, 2 Co 5:17. When converted, he did not confer with flesh and blood, (Ga 1:16;) and in the school of Christ, he had learned that if a man was his disciple, he must be willing to forsake father, and mother, and sister, and brother, and to hate his own life that he might honour him, Lu 14:26. He had formed his principle of action now from a higher standard than any regard to rank, or wealth, or national distinction, and had risen above them all; and now estimated men, not by these external and factitious advantages, but by a reference to their personal character and moral worth.

Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh. Though in common with the Jewish nation we expected a Messiah who would be a temporal prince, and who would be distinguished for the distinctions which are valued among men, yet we have changed our estimate of him, and judge of him in this way no longer. There can be no doubt that Paul, in common with his countrymen, had expected a Messiah who would be a magnificent temporal prince and conqueror, one who they supposed would be a worthy successor of David and Solomon. The coming of such a prince, Paul had confidently expected, he expected no other Messiah. He had fixed his hopes on that. This is what is meant by the expression "to know Christ after the flesh." It does not mean that he had seen him in the flesh, but that he had formed, so to speak, carnal views of him, and such as men of this world regard as grand and magnificent in a monarch and conqueror. He had had no correct views of his spiritual character, and of the pure and holy purposes for which he would come into the world.

Yet now henceforth know we him no more. We know him no more in this manner. Our conceptions and views of him are changed. We no more regard him according to the flesh; we no longer esteem the Messiah who was to come as a temporal prince and warrior; but we look on him as a spiritual Saviour, a Redeemer from sin. The idea is, that his views of him had been entirely changed. It does not mean, as our translation would seem to imply, that Paul would have no further acquaintance with Christ, but it means that from the moment of his conversion he had laid aside all his views of his being a temporal sovereign, and all his feelings that he was to be honoured only because he supposed that he would have an elevated rank among the monarchs of the earth. Locke and Macknight, it seems to me, have strangely mistaken this passage. The former renders it, "For if I myself have gloried in this, that Christ was himself circumcised as I am, and was of my blood and nation, I do so now no more any longer." The same substantially is the view of Macknight. Clarke as strangely mistakes it, when he says that it means that Paul could not prize now a man who was a sinner because he was allied to the royal family of David, nor prize a man because he had seen Christ in the flesh. The correct view, as it seems to me, is given above. And the doctrine which is taught here is, that at conversion the views are essentially changed, and that the converted man has a view of the Saviour entirely different from what he had before. He may not, like Paul, have regarded him as a temporal prince; he may not have looked to him as a mighty monarch; but his views in regard to his person, character, work, and loveliness will be entirely changed. He will see a beauty in his character which he never saw before. Before, he regarded him as a root out. of dry ground; as the despised man of Nazareth; as having nothing in his character to be desired, or to render him lovely, (Isa 53;) but at conversion the views are changed. He is seen to be the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely; as pure, and holy, and benevolent; as mighty, and great, and glorious; as infinitely benevolent; as lovely in his precepts, lovely in his life, lovely in his death, lovely in his resurrection, and as most glorious as he is seated on the right hand of God. He is seen to be a Saviour exactly adapted to the condition and wants of the soul; and the soul yields itself to him to be redeemed by him alone. There is no change of view so marked and decided as that of the sinner in regard to the Lord Jesus Christ at his conversion; and it is a clear proof that we have never been born again if our views in reference to him have never undergone any change. "What think ye of Christ?" is a question the answer to which will determine any man's character, and demonstrate whether he is or is not a child of God. Tindal has more correctly expressed the sense of this than our translation: "Though we have known Christ after the flesh, now henceforth know we him so no more."

{*} "know" "regard" {+} "have known" "regarded"


Verse 17. Therefore if any man be in Christ. The phrase, to "be in Christ," evidently means to be united to Christ by faith; or to be in him as the branch is in the vine—that is, so united to the vine, or so in it, as to derive all its nourishment and support from it, and to be sustained entirely by it. Joh 15:2, "Every branch in me;" Joh 15:4, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." See also Joh 15:5-7.

See Barnes "Joh 15:2".

To be "in Christ" denotes a more tender and close union; and implies that all our support is from him. All our strength is derived from him; and denotes further that we shall partake of his fulness, and share in his felicity and glory, as the branch partakes of the strength and rigour of the parent vine. The word "therefore" (wste) here implies, that the reason why Paul infers that any one is a new creature who is in Christ is that which is stated in the previous verse; to wit, the change of views in regard to the Redeemer to which he there refers, and which was so great as to constitute a change like a new creation. The affirmation here is universal, "if any man be in Christ;" that is, all who become true Christians— undergo such a change in their views and feelings as to make it proper to say of them that they are new creatures. No matter what they have been before, whether moral or immoral; whether infidels or speculative believers; whether amiable, or debased, sensual, and polluted, yet if they become Christians they all experience such a change as to make it proper to say they are a new creation.

He is a new creature. Marg., "Let him be." This is one of the instances in which the margin has given a less correct translation than is in the text. The idea evidently is, not that he ought to be a new creature, but that he is in fact; not that he ought to live as becomes a new creature—which is true enough—but that he will in fact live in that way, and manifest the characteristics of the new creation. The phrase "a new creature" (kainh ktisiv) occurs also in Ga 6:15. The word rendered "creature" (ktisiv) means, properly, in the New Testament, creation. It denotes

(1.) the act of creating, Ro 1:20;

(2.) a created thing, a creature, Ro 1:25; and refers

(a.) to the universe, or creation in general, Mr 10:6; 13:19; 2 Pe 3:4;

(b.) to man, mankind, Mr 16:15; Col 1:23. Here it means a new creation in a moral sense; and the phrase "new creature" is equivalent to the expression in Eph 4:24: "The new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." It means, evidently, that there is a change produced in the renewed heart of man that is equivalent to the act of creation, and that bears a strong resemblance to it—a change, so to speak, as if the man was made over again, and had become new. The mode or manner in which it is done is not described; nor should the words be pressed, to the quick, as if the process were the same in both cases—for the words are here evidently figurative. But the phrase implies evidently the following things:

(1.) That there is an exertion of Divine power in the conversion of the sinner as really as in the act of creating the world out of nothing, and that this is as indispensable in the one case as in the other.

(2.) That a change is produced so great as to make it proper to say that he is a new man. He has new views, new motives, new principles, new objects and plans of life. He seeks new purposes, and he lives for new ends. If a drunkard becomes reformed, there is no impropriety in saying that he is a new man. If a man who was licentious becomes pure, there is no impropriety in saying that he is not the same man that he was before. Such expressions are common in all languages, and they are as proper as they are common. There is such a change as to make the language proper. And so in the conversion of a sinner. There is a change so deep, so clear, so entire, and so abiding, that it is proper to say, here is a new creation of God—a work of the Divine power as decided and as glorious as when God created all things out of nothing. There is no other moral change that takes place on earth so deep, and radical, and thorough, as the change at conversion. And there is no other where there is so much propriety in ascribing it to the mighty power of God.

Old things are passed away. The old views in regard to the Messiah, and in regard to men in general, 2 Co 5:16. But Paul also gives this a general form of expression, and says that old things in general have passed away—referring to everything. It was true of all who were converted that old things had passed away. And it may include the following things:

(1.) In regard to the Jews—that their former prejudices against Christianity, their natural pride, and spirit of seducing others, their attachment to their rites and ceremonies, and dependence on them for salvation, had all passed away. They now renounced that dependence, relied on the merits of the Saviour, and embraced all as brethren who were of the family of Christ.

(2.) In regard to the Gentiles—their attachment to idols, their love of sin, and degradation, their dependence on their own works, had passed away, and they had renounced all these things, and had come to mingle their hopes with those of the converted Jews, and with all who were the friends of the Redeemer.

(3.) In regard to all, it is also true that old things pass away. Their former prejudices, opinions, habits, attachments pass away. Their supreme love of self passes away. Their love of sin passes away. Their love of the world passes away. Their supreme attachment to their earthly friends rather than God passes away. Their love of sin—their sensuality, pride, vanity, levity, ambition—passes away. There is a deep and radical change on all these subjects—a change which commences at the new birth; which is carried on by progressive sanctification; and which is consummated at death and in heaven.

Behold, all things are become new. That is, all things in view of the mind. The purposes of life, the feelings of the heart, the principles of action, all become new. The understanding is consecrated to new objects, the body is employed in new service, the heart forms new attachments. Nothing can be more strikingly descriptive of the facts in conversion than this; nothing more entirely accords with the feelings of the new-born soul. All is new. There are new views of God and of Jesus Christ; new views of this world and of the world to come; new views of truth and of duty; and everything is seen in a new aspect and with new feelings. Nothing is more common in young converts than such feelings, and nothing is more common than for them to say that all things are new. The Bible seems to be a new book; and though they may have often read it before, yet there is a beauty about it which they never saw before, and which they wonder they have not before perceived. The whole face of nature seems to them to be changed, and they seem to be in a new world. The hills, and vales, and streams; the sun, the stars, the groves, the forests, seem to be new. A new beauty is spread over them all; and they now see them to be the work of God, and his glory is spread over them all, and they can now say—-

"My Father made them all."

The heavens and the earth are filled with new wonders, and all things seem now to speak forth the praise of God. Even the very countenances of friends seem to be new; and there are new feelings towards all men; a new kind of love to kindred and friends; a love before unfelt for enemies; and a new love for all mankind.

{1} "he is" "Let him be" {a} "new creature" Joh 3:3; Ga 6:15 {b} "all things are become new" Isa 65:17; Re 21:5


Verse 18. And all things are of God. This refers particularly to the things in question, the renewing of the heart, and the influences by which Paul had been brought to a state of willingness to forsake all, and to devote his life to the self-denying labours involved in the purpose of making the Saviour known. He makes the statement general, however, showing his belief that not only these things were produced by God, but that all things were under his direction, and subject to his control. Nothing that he had done was to be traced to his own agency or power, but God was to be acknowledged everywhere. This great truth Paul never forgot; and he never suffered himself to lose sight of it. It was in his view a cardinal and glorious truth; and he kept its influence always before his mind and his heart. In the important statement which follows, therefore, about the ministry of reconciliation, he deeply feels that the whole plan, and all the success which had attended the plan, was to be traced not to his zeal; or fidelity, or skill, but to the agency of God. See Barnes "1 Co 3:6,7".

Who hath reconciled us to himself. The word us here includes, doubtless, all who were Christians—whether Jews or Gentiles, or whatever was their rank. They had all been brought into a state of reconciliation, or agreement with God, through the Lord Jesus Christ. Before, they were opposed to God. They had violated his laws. They were his enemies. But by the means of the plan of salvation they had been brought into a state of agreement, or harmony, and were united in feeling and in aim with him. Two men who have been alienated by prejudice, by passion, or by interest, are reconciled when the cause of their alienation is removed, on whichever side it may have existed, or if on both sides, and when they lay aside their enmity and become friends. Thenceforward they are agreed, and live together without alienation, heart-burnings, jealousies, and strife. So between God and man. There was a variance; there was an alienation. Man was alienated from God. He had no love for him. He disliked his government and laws. He was unwilling to be restrained. He sought his own pleasure. He was proud, vain, self-confident. He was not pleased with the character of God, or with his claims or his plans. And in like manner, God was displeased with the pride, the sensuality, the rebellion, the haughtiness of man. He was displeased that his law had been violated, and that man had cast off his government. Now reconciliation could take place only when these causes of alienation should be laid aside, and when God and man should be brought to harmony; when man should lay aside his love of sin, and should be pardoned, and when, therefore, God could consistently treat him as a friend. The Greek word which is here used (katallassw) means, properly, to change against anything; to exchange for anything, for money, or for any article.—Robinson. In the New Testament it means, to change one person towards another; that is, to reconcile to any one. See Barnes "Ro 5:10".

It conveys the idea of producing a change so that one who is alienated should be brought to friendship. Of course, all the change which takes place must be on the part of man, for God will not change, and the purpose of the plan of reconciliation is to effect such a change in man as to make him in fact reconciled to God, and at agreement with him. There were indeed obstacles to the reconciliation on the part of God, but they did not arise from any unwillingness to be reconciled; from any reluctance to treat his creature as his friend; but they arose from the fact that man had sinned, and that God was just; that such is the perfection of God that he cannot treat the good and evil alike; and that therefore, if he should treat man as his friend, it was necessary that in some proper way he should maintain the honour of his law, and show his hatred of sin, and should secure the conversion and future obedience of the offender. All this God purposed to secure by the atonement made by the Redeemer, rendering it consistent for him to exercise the benevolence of his nature, and to pardon the offender. But God is not changed. The plan of reconciliation has made no change in his character. It has not made him a different being from what he was before. There is often a mistake on this subject; and men seem to suppose that God was originally stern, and unmerciful, and inexorable, and that he has been made mild and forgiving by the atonement. But it is not so. No change has been made in God; none needed to be made; none could be made. He was always mild, and merciful, and good; and the gift of a Saviour and the plan of reconciliation is just an expression of his original willingness to pardon. When a father sees a child struggling in the stream, and in danger of drowning, the peril and the cries of the child make no change in the character of the father; but such was his former love for the child that he would plunge into the stream at the hazard of his own life to save him. So it is with God. Such was his original love for man, and his disposition to show mercy, that he would submit to any sacrifice, except that of truth and justice, in order that he might save him. Hence he sent his only Son to die—not to change his own character; not to make himself a different Being from what he was, but in order to show his love and his readiness to forgive when it could be consistently, done. "God so loved the world THAT he sent his only begotten Son," Joh 3:16.

By Jesus Christ. By the agency or medium of Jesus Christ. He was the Mediator to interpose in the work of reconciliation. And he was abundantly qualified for this work, and was the only Being that has lived in this world who was qualified for it. For

(1.) he was endowed with a Divine and human nature—the nature of both the parties at issue, God and man, and thus, in the language of Job, could "lay his hand upon both," Job 9:33.

(2.) He was intimately acquainted with both the parties, and knew what was needful to be done. He knew God the Father so well that he could say, "No man knoweth the Father but the Son," Mt 11:27. And he knew man so well that it could be said of him, he "needed not that any should testify of man, for he knew what was in man," Joh 2:25. No one can be a mediator who is not acquainted with the feelings, views, desires, claims, or prejudices of both the parties at issue.

(3.) He was the Friend of both the parties. He loved God. No man ever doubted this, or had any reason to call it in question; and he was always desirous of securing all that God claimed, and of vindicating him, and he never abandoned anything that God had a right to claim. And he loved man. He showed this in all his life. He sought hiss welfare in every way possible, and gave himself for him. Yet no one is qualified to act the mediator's part who is not the common friend of both the parties at issue, and who will not seek the welfare, the right, or the honour of both.

(4.) He was willing to suffer anything from either party in order to produce reconciliation. From the hand of God he was willing to endure all that he deemed to be necessary, in order to show his hatred of sin by his vicarious sufferings, and to make an atonement; and from the hand of man he was willing to endure all the reproach, and contumely, and scorn which could be possibly involved in the work of inducing man to be reconciled to God. And

(5.) he has removed all the obstacles which existed to a reconciliation. On the part of God, he has made it consistent for him to pardon. He has made an atonement so that God can be just while he justifies the sinner. He has maintained his truth, and justice, and secured the stability of his moral government, while he admits offenders to his favour. And on the part of man, he, by the agency of his Spirit, overcomes the unwillingness of the sinner to be reconciled, humbles his pride, shows him his sin, changes his heart, subdues his enmity against God, and secures in fact a harmony of feeling and purpose between God and man, so that they shall be reconciled for ever.

And hath given to us. To us the apostles and our fellow-labourers.

The ministry of reconciliation. That is, of announcing to men the nature and the conditions of this plan of being reconciled. We have been appointed to make this known, and to press its acceptation on men. See 2 Co 5:20.

{a} "reconciled us" Col 1:20


Verse 19. To wit. Greek, wv oti, namely. This verse is designed further to state the nature of the plan of reconciliation, and of the message with which they were intrusted. It contains an abstract, or an epitome of the whole plan; and is one of those emphatic passages in which Paul compresses into a single sentence the substance of the whole plan of redemption.

That God was in Christ. That God was by Christ, (en cristw,) by means of Christ; by the agency or mediatorship of Christ. Or it may mean that God was united to Christ, and manifested himself by him. So Doddridge interprets it. Christ was the Mediator by means of whom God designed to accomplish the great work of reconciliation.

Reconciling the world unto himself. The world here evidently means the human race generally, without distinction of nation, age, or rank. The whole world was alienated from him, and he sought to have it reconciled. This is one incidental proof that God designed that the plan of salvation should be adapted to all men. See Barnes "2 Co 5:14".

It may be observed further, that God sought that the world should be reconciled. Man did not seek it. He had no plan for it. He did not desire it. He had no way to effect it. It was the offended party, not the offending, that sought to be reconciled; and this shows the strength of his love. It was love for enemies and alienated beings, and love evinced to them by a most earnest desire to become their friend, and to be at agreement with them. See Barnes "Ro 5:8".

Tindal renders this very accurately, "For God was in Christ, and made agreement between the world and himself, and imputed not their sins unto them.

Not imputing their trespasses. Not reckoning their transgressions to them; that is, forgiving them, pardoning them. On the meaning of the word impute, See Barnes "Ro 4:3".

The idea here is, that God did not charge on them with inexorable severity and stern justice their offences, but graciously provided a plan of pardon, and offered to remit their sins on the conditions of the gospel. The plan of reconciliation demonstrated that he was not disposed to impute their sins to them, as he might have done, and to punish them with unmitigated severity for their crimes, but was more disposed to pardon and forgive. And it may be here asked, if God was not disposed to charge with unrelenting severity their own sins to their account, but was rather disposed to pardon them, can we believe that he is disposed to charge on them the sin of another? If he does not charge on them with inexorable and unmitigated severity their own transgressions, will he charge on them with unrelenting severity—or at all—the sin of Adam? See Barnes "Ro 5:19".

The sentiment here is, that God is not disposed or inclined to charge the transgressions of men upon them; he has no pleasure in doing it; and therefore he has provided a plan by which they may be pardoned. At the same time it is true that, unless their sins are pardoned, justice will charge or impute their sins to them, and will exact punishment to the uttermost.

And hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Marg., "put in us." Tindal renders this, "and hath committed unto us the preaching of the atonement." The meaning is, that the office of making known the nature of this plan, and the conditions on which God was willing to be reconciled to man, had been committed to the ministers of the gospel.

{a} "trespasses" Ro 3:24,25 {1} "committed" "put in us"


Verse 20. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ. We are the ambassadors whom Christ has sent forth to negotiate with men in regard to their reconciliation to God. Tindal renders this, "Now then are we messengers in the room of Christ." The word here used (presbeuomen, from presbuv, an aged man, an elder, and then an ambassador) means, to act as an ambassador, or sometimes merely to deliver a message for another, without being empowered to do anything more than to explain or enforce it.—Bloomfield. See Thucyd. 7, 9. An ambassador is a minister of the highest rank, employed by one prince or state at the court of another, to manage the concerns of his own prince or state, and representing the dignity and power of his sovereign.— Webster. He is sent to do what the sovereign would himself do were he present. They are sent to make known the will of the sovereign, and to negotiate matters of commerce, of war, or of peace, and in general everything affecting the interests of the sovereign among the people to whom they are sent. At all times, and in all countries, an ambassador is a sacred character, and his person is regarded as inviolable, he is bound implicitly to obey the instructions of his sovereign, and as far as possible to do only what the sovereign would do were he, himself present. Ministers are ambassadors for Christ, as they are sent to do what he would do were he personally present. They are to make known, and to explain, and enforce the terms on which God is willing to be reconciled to men. They are not to negotiate on any new terms, nor to change those which God has proposed, nor to follow their own plans or devices; but they are simply to urge, explain, state, and enforce the terms on which God is willing to be reconciled. Of course they are to seek the honour of the Sovereign who has sent them forth, and to seek to do only his will. They go not to promote their own welfare; not to seek honour, dignity, or emolument; but they go to transact the business which the Son of God would engage in were he again personally on the earth. It follows that their office is one of great dignity, and great responsibility, and that respect should be showed them as the ambassadors of the King of kings.

As though God did beseech you by us. Our message is to be regarded as the message of God. It is God who speaks. What we say to you is said in his name and on his authority, and should be received with the respect which is due to a message directly from God. The gospel message is God speaking to men through the ministry, and entreating them to be reconciled. This invests the message which, the ministers of religion bear with infinite dignity and solemnity; and it makes it a fearful and awful thing to reject it.

We pray you in Christ's stead. uper cristou. In the place of Christ; or doing what he did when on earth, and what he would do were he where we are.

Be ye reconciled to God. This is the sum and burden of the message which the ministers of the gospel bear to their fellow-men. See Barnes "2 Co 5:19".

It implies that man has something to do in this work. He is to be reconciled to God, he is to give up his opposition, he is to submit to the terms of mercy. All the change in the case is to be in him, for God cannot change. God has removed all the obstacles to reconciliation which existed on his part. He has done all that he will do, all that needed to be done; in order to render reconciliation as easy as possible. And now it remains that man should lay aside his hostility, abandon his sins, embrace the terms of mercy, and become in fact reconciled to God. And the great object of the ministers of reconciliation is to urge this duty on their fellow-men. They are to do it in the name of Christ. They are to do it as if Christ were himself present, and were himself urging the message. They are to use the arguments which he would use; evince the zeal which he would show; and present the motives which he would present, to induce a dying world to become in fact reconciled to God.

{b} "ambassadors" Job 33:23; Mal 2:7; Eph 6:20


Note: The notes on this verse are too large for a single file, they are continued on 2 Co 6:1

Verse 21. For he hath made him to be sin for us. The Greek here is, "For him who knew no sin, he hath made sin, or a sin-offering for us." The design of this very important verse is to urge the strongest possible reason for being reconciled to God. This is implied in the word (gar) for. Paul might have urged other arguments, and presented other strong considerations; but he chooses to present this fact, that Christ has been made sin for us, as embodying and concentrating all. It is the most affecting of all arguments; it is the one that is likely to prove most effectual. It is not indeed improper to urge on men every other consideration to induce them to be reconciled to God. It is not improper to appeal to them by the conviction of duty; to appeal to their reason and conscience; to remind them of the claims, the power, the goodness, and the fear of the Creator; to remind them of the awful consequences of a continued hostility to God; to persuade them by the hope of heaven, and by the fear of hell, (2 Co 5:11) to become his friends; but, after all, the strongest argument, and that which is most adapted to melt the soul, is, the fact that the Son of God has become incarnate for our sins, and has suffered and died in our stead. When all other appeals fail, this is effectual; and this is in fact the strong argument by which the mass of those who become Christians are induced to abandon their opposition, and to become reconciled to God.

To be sin. The words "to be" are not in the original. Literally it is, "he has made him sin, or a sin-offering," (amartian epoihsen.) But what is meant by this? What is the exact idea which the apostle intended to convey? I answer—It cannot be

(1.) that he was literally sin in the abstract, or sin as such. No one can pretend this. The expression must be therefore, in some sense, figurative. Nor

(2.) can it mean that he was a sinner, for it is said in immediate connexion that he "knew no sin," and it is everywhere said that he was holy, harmless, undefiled. Nor

(3.) can it mean that lie was, in any proper sense of the word, guilty, for no one is truly guilty who is not personally a transgressor of the law; and if he was, in any proper sense, guilty, then he deserved to die, and his death could have no more merit than that of any other guilty being; and if he was properly guilty, it would make no difference in this respect whether it was by his own fault or by imputation: a guilty being deserves to be punished; and where there is desert of punishment there can be no merit in sufferings. But all such views as go to make the holy Redeemer a sinner, or guilty, or deserving of the sufferings which he endured, border on blasphemy, and are abhorrent to the whole strain of the Scriptures. In no form, in no sense possible, is it to be maintained that the Lord Jesus was sinful or guilty. It is a corner-stone of the whole system of religion, that in all conceivable senses of the expression he was holy, and pure, and the object of the Divine approbation. And every view which fairly leads to the statement that he was in any sense guilty, or which implies that he deserved to die, is prima facie a false view, and should be at once abandoned. But

(4.) if the declaration that he was made "sin" () does not mean that he was sin itself, or a sinner, or guilty, then it must mean that he was a sin-offering—an offering or a sacrifice for sin; and this is the interpretation which is now generally adopted by expositors; or it must be taken as an abstract for the concrete, and mean that God treated him as if he were a sinner. The former interpretation, that it means that God made him a sin-offering, is adopted by Whitby, Doddridge, Macknight, Rosenmuller, and others; the latter, that it means that God treated him as a sinner, is adopted by Vorstius, Schoettgen, Robinson, (Lex.,) Bishop Bull, and others. There are many passages in the Old Testament where the word "sin" (amartian) is used in the sense of sin-offering, or a sacrifice for sin. Thus, Hos 4:8. "They eat up the sin of, my people;" i.e., the sin-offerings. See Eze 43:22,25; 44:29; 45:22,23,25.

See Whitby's Notes on this verse. But whichever meaning is adopted, whether it means that he was a sacrifice for sin, or that God treated him as if he were a sinner, i.e., subjected him to sufferings which, if he had been personally a sinner, would have been a proper expression of his hatred of transgression, and a proper punishment for sin, in either case it means that he made an atonement; that he died for sin; that his death was not merely that of a martyr; but that it was designed by substituted sufferings to make reconciliation between man and God. Locke renders this, probably expressing the. true sense, "For God hath made him subject to suffering and death, the punishment and consequence of sin, as if he had been a sinner, though he were guilty of no sin." To me it seems probable that the sense is, that God treated him as if he had been a sinner; that he subjected him to such pains and woes as would have been a proper punishment if he had been guilty; that while he was, in fact, in all senses perfectly innocent, and while God knew this, yet that in consequence of the voluntary assumption of the place of man which the Lord Jesus took, it pleased the Father to lay on him the deep sorrows which would be the proper expression of his sense of the evil of sin; that he endured so much suffering, as would answer the same great ends in maintaining the truth, and honour, and justice of God, as if the guilty had themselves endured the penalty of the law. This, I suppose, is what is usually meant when it is said "our sins were imputed to him;" and though this language is not used in the Bible, and though it is liable to great misapprehension and perversion, yet if this is its meaning, there can be no objection to it.

Who knew no sin. He was not guilty. He was perfectly holy and pure. This idea is thus expressed by Peter, (1 Pe 2:22;) "Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth;" and in Heb 7:26, it is said, he was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." In all respects, and in all conceivable senses, the Lord Jesus was pure and holy. If he had not been, he would not have been qualified to make an atonement. Hence the sacred writers are everywhere at great pains to keep this idea prominent, for on this depends the whole superstructure of the plan of salvation. The phrase "knew no sin" is an expression of great beauty and dignity. It indicates his entire and perfect purity. He was altogether unacquainted with sin; he was a stranger to transgression; he was conscious of no sin; he committed none. He had a mind and heart perfectly free from pollution, and his whole life was perfectly pure and holy in the sight of God.

That we might be made the righteousness of God. This is a Hebraism, meaning the same as divinely righteous. It means that we are made righteous in the sight of God; that is, that we are accepted as righteous, and treated as righteous by God on account of what the Lord Jesus has done. There is here an evident and beautiful contrast between what is said of Christ, and what is said of us. He was made sin—we are made righteousness; that is, he was treated as if he were a sinner, though he was perfectly holy and pure—we are treated as if we were righteous, though we are defiled and depraved. The idea is, that on account of what the Lord Jesus has endured in our behalf we are treated as if we had ourselves entirely fulfilled the law of God, and had never become exposed to its penalty. In the phrase" righteousness of God" there is a reference to the fact that this is his plan of making men righteous, or of justifying them. They who thus become righteous, or are justified, are justified on his plan, and by a scheme which he has devised. Locke renders this, "that we, in and by him, might be made righteous, by a righteousness imputed to us by God." The idea is, that all our righteousness in the sight of God we receive in and through a Redeemer. All is to be traced to him. This verse contains a beautiful epitome of the whole plan of salvation, and the peculiarity of the Christian scheme. On the one hand, one who was perfectly innocent, by a voluntary substitution, is treated AS IF he were guilty; that is, is subjected to pains and sorrows which, if he were guilty, would be a proper punishment for sin: and on the other, they who are guilty, and who deserve to be punished, are treated, through his vicarious sufferings, as if they were perfectly innocent; that is, in a manner which would be a proper expression of God's approbation if they had not sinned. The whole plan, therefore, is one of substitution; and without such substitution there can be no salvation. Innocence voluntarily suffers for guilt, and the guilty are thus made pure and holy, and are saved. The greatness of the Divine compassion and love is thus shown for the guilty; and on the ground of this it is right and proper for God to call on men to be reconciled to him. It is the strongest argument that can be used. When God has given his only Son to the bitter suffering of death on the cross in order that we may be reconciled, it is the highest possible argument which can be used why we should cease our opposition to him, and become his friends.

{c} "he hath made" Isa 53:6,9,12; Ga 3:13; 1 Pe 2:22,24

{d} "the righteousness of God" Ro 5:19

REMARKS on 2nd Corinthians Chapter 5

(1.) It is possible for Christians to have the assurance that they shall enter into heaven, 2 Co 5:1. Paul said that he knew this; John knew this, (See Barnes "2 Co 5:1") and there is no reason why others should not know it. If a man hates sin, he may know that as well as anything else; if he loves God, why should he not know that as well as to know that he loves an earthly friend? If he desires to be holy, to enter heaven, to be eternally pure, why should he have any doubt about that? If he loves to pray, to read the Bible, to converse of heaven—if his heart is truly in these things, he may know it, as well as know anything else about his own character or feelings.

(2.) If a Christian may know it, he should know it. No other knowledge is so desirable as this. Nothing will produce so much comfort as this. Nothing will contribute so much to make him firm, decided, and consistent in his Christian walk as this. No other knowledge will give him so much support in temptation; so much comfort in trial; so much peace in death. And if a man is a Christian, he should give himself no rest till he obtains assurance on this subject; if he is not a Christian, he cannot know that too soon, or take too early measures to flee from the wrath to come.

(3.) The body will soon be dissolved in death, 2 Co 5:1. It is a frail, crumbling, decaying dwelling, that must soon be taken down. It has none of the properties of a permanent abode. It can be held together but a little time. It is like a hut or cottage that is shaken by every gust of wind; like a tent when the pins are loose, and the cords unstranded, or rotten, and when the wind will soon sweep it away. And since this is the fact, we may as well know it, and not attempt to conceal it from the mind. All truth may be looked at calmly, and should be; and a man who is residing in a frail and shattered dwelling should be looking out far one that is more permanent and substantial. Death should be looked at. The fact that this tabernacle shall be taken down should be looked at; and every man should be asking with deep interest the question, whether there is not a more permanent dwelling for him in a better world.

(4.) This life is burdened, and is full of cares, 2 Co 5:2,4. It is such as is fitted to make us desire a better state. We groan here under sin, amidst temptation, encompassed by the cares and toils of life. We are burdened with duties, and we are oppressed by trials; and under all we are sinking to the grave. Soon, under the accumulated burdens, the body will be crushed, and sink back to the dust. Man cannot endure the burden long, and he must soon die. These accumulated trials and cares are such as are adapted to make him desire a better inheritance, and to look forward to a better world. God designs that this shall be a world of care and anxiety, in order that we may be led to seek a better portion beyond the grave.

(5.) The Christian has a permanent home in heaven, 2 Co 5:1,2,4.

There is a house not made with hands; an eternal home; a world where mortality is unknown. There is his home; that is his eternal dwelling. Here he is a stranger, among strangers, in a strange world. In heaven is his home. The body here may be sick, feeble, dying; there it shall be vigorous, strong, immortal. He may have no comfortable dwelling here; he may be poor and afflicted; there he shall have an undecaying dwelling, an unchanging home. Who in a world like this should not desire to be a Christian? What other condition of life is so desirable as that of the man who is sure that after a few more days he shall be admitted to an eternal home in heaven, where the body never dies, and where sin and sorrow are known no more ?

(6.) The Christian should be willing to bear all the pain and sorrow which God shall appoint, 2 Co 5:1-4. Why should he not? He knows not only that God is good in all this; but he knows that it is but for a moment; that he is advancing toward heaven, and that he will soon be at home. Compared with that eternal rest, what trifles are all the sufferings' of this mortal life!

(7.) We should not desire to die merely to get rid of pain, or to be absent from the body, 2 Co 5:4. It is not merely in order that we may be "unclothed," or that we may get away from a suffering body, that we should be willing to die. Many a sinner suffers so much here that he is willing to plunge into an awful eternity, as he supposes, to get rid of pain, when, alas ! he plunges only into deeper and eternal woe. We should be willing to bear as much pain, and to bear it as long as God shall be pleased to appoint. We should submit to all without a murmur. We should submit to all without a murmur. We should be anxious to be relieved only when God shall judge it best for us to be away from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

(8.) In a mere readiness to die there is no evidence that we are prepared for heaven. Comp. 2 Co 5:4. Many a man supposes that because he is ready to die, that therefore he is prepared. Many a one takes comfort because a dying friend was ready and willing to die. But in a mere willingness to die there is no evidence of a preparation for death, because a hundred causes may conspire to produce this besides piety. And let us not be deceived by supposing that because we have no alarm about death, and are willing to go to another world, that therefore we are prepared. It may be either stupidity, or insensibility; it may be a mere desire to get rid of suffering; it may be because we are cherishing a hope of heaven which is altogether vain and illusive.

(9.) The Christian should and may desire to depart, and to be in heaven, 2 Co 5:2. Heaven is his home; and it is his privilege to desire to be there. Here he is in a world of trial and of sin. There he shall be in a world of joy and of holiness. Here he dwells in a frail, suffering, decaying body. There he shall be clothed with immortality. It is his privilege, therefore, to desire, as soon as it shall be the will of God, to depart, and to enter on his eternal inheritance in heaven. He should have a strong, fixed, firm desire for that world; and should be ready at the shortest notice to go and to be for ever with the Lord.

(10.) The hopes and joys of Christians, and all their peace and calmness in the prospect of death, are to be traced to God, 2 Co 5:5. It is not that they are not naturally as timid and fearful of dying as others; it is not that they have any native courage or strength; but it is to be traced entirely to the mercy of God, and the influence of his Spirit, that they are enabled to look calmly at death, at the grave, at eternity. With the assured prospect of heaven, they have nothing to fear in dying; and if we have the "earnest of the Spirit"— the pledge that heaven is ours—we have nothing to fear in the departure from this world.

(11.) The Christian should be, and may be, always cheerful, 2 Co 5:6. Paul said that he was always confident, or cheerful. Afflictions did not depress him; trials did not cast him down. He was not disheartened by opposition; he did not lose his courage by being reviled and persecuted. In all this he was cheerful and bold. There is nothing in religion to make us melancholy and sad. The assurance of the favour of God, and the hope of heaven, should have, and will have, just the opposite effect. A sense of the presence of God, a conviction that we are sinners, a deep impression of the truth that we are to die, and of the infinite interest of the soul at stake, will indeed make us serious and solemn, and should do so. But this is not inconsistent with cheerfulness, but is rather fitted to produce it. It is favourable to a state of mind where all irritability is suppressed, and where the mind is made calm and settled; and this is favourable to cheerfulness. Besides, there is much, very much in religion to prevent sadness, and to remove gloom from the soul. The hope of heaven, and the prospect of dwelling with God and with holy beings for ever, is the best means of expelling the gloom which is caused by the disappointments and cares of the world. And much as many persons suppose that religion creates gloom, it is certain that nothing in this world has done so much to lighten care, to break the force of misfortune and disappointment, to support in times of trial, and to save from despair, as the religion of the Redeemer. And it is moreover certain, that there are no persons so habitually calm in their feelings, and cheerful in their tempers, as consistent and devoted Christians. If there are some Christians, like David Brainerd, who are melancholy and sad, as there are undoubtedly, it should be said,

1st: that they are few in number;

2nd: that their gloom is to be traced to constitutional propensity, and not to religion;

3rd: that they have, even with all their gloom, joys which the world never experiences, and which can never be found in sin; and,

4th: that their gloom is not produced by religion, but by the want of more of it.

(12.) It is noble to act with reference to things unseen and eternal, 2 Co 5:7. It elevates the soul; lifts it above the earth; purifies the heart; and gives to man a new dignity. It prevents all the grovelling effect of acting from a view of present objects, and with reference to the things which are just around us. "Whatever withdraws us," says Dr. Johnson, "from the power of our senses; whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future, predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings."— Tour to the Hebrides, p. 322, ed. Phil. 1810. Whatever directs the eye and the heart to heaven; whatever may make man feel and believe that there is a God, a Saviour, a heaven, a world of glory, elevates him with the consciousness of his immortality, and raises him above the grovelling objects that wither and debase the soul. Man should act with reference to eternity. He should be conscious of immortality. He should be deeply impressed with that high honour that awaits him of standing before God. He should feel that he may partake in the glories of the resurrection; that he may inherit an eternal heaven. Feeling thus, what trifles are the things of the earth! How little should he be moved by its trials! How little should he be influenced by its wealth, its pleasures, and its honours!

(13.) The Christian, when he leaves the body, is at once with the Lord Jesus, 2 Co 5:8. He rushes, as it were instinctively, to his presence, and casts himself at his feet. He has no other home than where the Saviour is; he thinks of no future joy or glory but that which is to be enjoyed with him. Why, then, should we fear death! Lay out of view, as we may, the momentary pang, the chilliness, and the darkness of the grave, and think of that which will be the moment after death—the view of the Redeemer, the sight of the splendours of the heavenly world, the angels, the spirits of the just made perfect, the river of the paradise of God, and the harps of praise—and what has man to fear in the prospect of dying!

Why should I shrink at pain or woe,

Or feel at death dismay?

I've Canaan's goodly land in view,

And realms of endless day.

Apostles, martyrs, prophets there,

Around my Saviour stand;

And soon my friends in Christ below

Will join the glorious band.

Jerusalem, my happy home!My soul still pants for thee;

When shall my labours have an end

In joy, and peace, and thee!

C. Wesley

The notes on this verse are continued on 2 Co 6:1

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