2 Corinthians 4:1-2 Commentary

2 Corinthians 4:1 Commentary

2 Corinthians 4:1 Therefore *, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart (NASB: Lockman)

Greek : Dia touto, echontes (PAPMPN) ten diakonian tauten, kathos eleethemen, (1PAPI) ouk egkakoumen, (1PPAI)

Amplified: THEREFORE, SINCE we do hold and engage in this ministry by the mercy of God [granting us favor, benefits, opportunities, and especially salvation], we do not get discouraged (spiritless and despondent with fear) or become faint with weariness and exhaustion. (Lockman)

Barclay: Since therefore this part of God’s service has been given to us, even as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. (Westminster Press)

God's Word: We don't become discouraged, since God has given us this ministry through his mercy. (GWT)

Easy English: God in his *mercy has given us this work to do. As a result, we do not lose hope.

ESV: Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. (ESV)

KJV: Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;

NET: Therefore, since we have this ministry, just as God has shown us mercy, we do not become discouraged. (NET Bible)

NIV: Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. (NIV - IBS)

NLT: Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up.. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: This is the ministry of the new agreement which God in his mercy has given us and nothing can daunt us. (Phillips: Touchstone)

Weymouth: Therefore, being engaged in this service and being mindful of the mercy which has been shown us, we are not cowards.

Wuest: Because of this, having this ministry [of the new testament] even as we were made the objects of mercy [in its bestowal], we do not lose courage, (Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: Because of this, having this ministration, according as we did receive kindness, we do not faint,

Overview of
Second Corinthians
2Co 1:1-7:16
Character
of Paul
2Co 8:1-9:15
Collection
for the Saints
2Co 10:1-12:21
Credentials
of Paul
Testimonial & Didactic Practical Apologetic
Past:
Misunderstanding & Explanation
Present:
Practical Project
Future:
Anxieties
Apostle's Conciliation, Ministry & Exhortations Apostle's Solicitation for Judean Saints Apostle's Vindication
of Himself
Forgiveness, Reconciliation
Gratitude
Confidence Vindication

Ephesus to Macedonia:
Change of Itinerary
Explained

Macedonia: Preparation for Visit to Corinth

To Corinth:
Certainty and Imminence
of the Visit

2Co 1:1-7:16

2Co 8:1-9:15

2Co 10:1-12:21

Adapted & modified from Jensen's Survey of the New Testament (Highly Recommended Resource) & Wilkinson's Talk Thru the Bible

2Corinthians written ~ 56-57AD - see Chronological Table of Paul's Life and Ministry

THEREFORE, SINCE WE HAVE THIS MINISTRY, AS WE RECEIVED MERCY, WE DO NOT LOSE HEART: Dia touto, echontes (PAPMPN) ten diakonian tauten, kathos eleethemen, (1PAPI) ouk egkakoumen, (1PPAI): (Since: 2Co 3:6,12 5:18 Eph 3:7,8) (As: 1Co 7:25 1Ti 1:13 1Pe 2:10) (We do not lose heart: 2Co 4:16 Isa 40:30 Ga 6:9 Eph 3:13 Php 4:13 2Th 3:13 Heb 12:3 Rev 2:3)

Alfred Plummer feels that...

Here again, as between chapters 1 and 2, the division of chapters is unintelligently made. The first six verses of this chapter belong to the preceding one, and the close connexion between the two paragraphs is obvious: the opening verses of this chapter show how close it is, for the Apostle is still urging the claims of his office, especially against those who charge him with insincerity and self-commendation.

The six verses run in couplets; the glory of the new ministry (2Co 4:1, 2); the condition of those who are too blind to see the glory of the Gospel (2Co 4:3, 4); the source of the glory (2Co 4:5, 6). A fresh departure is made at 2Co 4:7. With 2Co 4:1-6 compare 1Th 2:1-12, which is a similar vindication of Apostolic authority on behalf of St Paul and his colleagues, and contains several similar expressions. (Plummer, Alfred. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians. New York: Scribner. 1915)

William Barclay has an interesting introduction to this chapter noting that...

Paul says that he never loses heart in the great task that has been given to him, and by implication he tell us why. Two things keep him going. (a) There is the consciousness of a great task. A man who is conscious of a great task can do amazing things. One of the great works of musical genius is Handel’s Messiah. It is on record that the whole work was composed and written down in twenty-two days, and that during all that time Handel would scarcely consent to eat or to sleep. A great task brings its own strength with it. (b) There is the memory of mercy received. It was Paul’s aim to spend all his life seeking to do something for the love which had redeemed him (Ed: Not to "pay God back" but motivated by loving gratitude and empowered by His indwelling Spirit). (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press)

Therefore reflects the combination of two Greek words (dia touto) which together signify a term of conclusion and are rendered for this reason, because of this or therefore.

Dia touto - This idiom is used some 46 times in the NT - Mt 6:25 12:27 31 13:13 52 14:2 18:23 21:43 23:14 23:34 24:44 Mk 6:14 11:24 12:24 Lk 11:19 12:22 Jn 1:31 5:16 18 6:65 7:22 8:47 9:23 10:17 12:39 13:11 15:19 16:15 19:11 Ac 2:26 Ro 5:12 2Co 4:1 7:13 13:10 Ep 1:15 5:17 6:13 Col 1:9 1Th 3:7 Philemon 1:15 He 1:9 2:1 1Jn 3:1 4:5 Rev 7:15 12:12

Therefore - Refers back to the previous chapter in which Paul presented a superb synopsis of the surpassing glory of the ministry under the New Covenant as compared to the ministry of Moses under the Old Covenant. Alford feels this specifically "refers to the previous description of the freeness and unveiledness of the ministry of the Gospel."

Hughes adds that this New Covenant ministry so surpasses the Old Covenant because...

it effects a removal of the veil of unbelief, the liberation of the Holy Spirit, and transformation into the image of the Lord. Having a ministry of such splendor left Paul with no place for faintheartedness but only for boldness (cf. 2Co 3:12).

John MacArthur sees the "therefore" as pointing back to 2Co 3:18 commenting that...

Strength to endure trials comes from the unveiled look into the face of Christ made possible under the New Covenant. That look was also the source of strength for Paul’s new covenant ministry.

We have this ministry - The present tense (have) speaks of this ministry as Paul's continual possession. But what is "this ministry"? What ministry? Paul had just reminded the saints that the ministry (diakonia) of the New Covenant which he had received (1Ti 1:12, Ac 9:15) was "the ministry (diakonia) of the Spirit" (2Co 3:8) and in chapter 5 adds that it was "the ministry of reconciliation" (2Co 5:18). He also succinctly documented the superiority of the New Covenant ministry compared to the Old Covenant ministry of Moses. (See chart summarizing the superior nature of the New Covenant)

A T Robertson feels that the use of the plural ("we") is the so-called literary plural and adds "Can he not speak for all of us?" Some feel that "we" instead of "I" is an expression of Paul's humility, which is a reasonable interpretation in view of the personal way in which he is forced to defend his ministry.

Note that "we have this ministry" implies that it was something he had received. It was a gift from God, a gift that was grounded in God's great mercy. None of us receive ministry based on anything meritorious we have done, and Paul never lost sight of this great truth. In his last written communication (2Timothy) we read...

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus (2Ti 1:1-note)

Ministry (1248)(diakonia) means the rendering or assistance or help by performing certain duties, often of a humble or menial nature serve, including such mundane activities as waiting on tables or caring for household needs—activities without apparent dignity.

Diakonia - Used 7x in 2Corinthians -2Co 5:18; 6:3; 8:4; 9:1, 12-13; 11:8

It is good to remember the cultural context for in Grecian through diakonia was not a dignified term. The service associated with diakonia involved dependence, submission, and constraints of time and freedom, which cause the Greeks to regard diakonia as degrading and dishonorable. Service for the public good was honored, but

voluntary giving of oneself in service of one’s fellow man is alien to Greek thought. The highest goal before a man was the development of his own personality. (Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan or Computer version)

To the Greek mind, mundane service was not considered to be a proper purpose for a man's life. The formula of the sophist expressed the prevalent Greek philosophy -- "How can a man be happy when he has to serve someone?". Paul would likely respond "How can a man be blessed unless he is a servant of all?" (cp Acts 20:35)

Surprisingly, Judaism had no philosophy of ministry involving diakonia. Instead, Judaism adopted a philosophy of service not unlike that of the Greeks. If service was rendered at all, it was done as an act of social obligation or as an act to those more worthy. A superior would not stoop to become a servant! Though Judaism in the time of Jesus knew and practiced its social responsibilities, e.g., to the poor, this was done mainly by alms, not by service (cf. Lk 10:30-35). Lowly service such as waiting on tables, was beneath the dignity of a free man (cf. Lk 7:44ff). Sometimes, the "greater" would wait on a table, but this was unusual. Thus Jesus' example introduced a radical new attitude toward diakonia.

In the NT, a diakonos is one who by choice comes under the authority of his Master and who serves even as did His Master (Mk 10:45, cp 1Co 4:16 11:1). Paul emphasized this philosophy of ministry in his parting words to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:17) declaring...

I esteem my life of absolutely no account as precious to myself in order that I [like a Greek athlete] may finish my race, even the ministering work (diakonia) which I received from the presence of the Lord Jesus (Ac 9:15 16 22:21 26:17 18) to bear testimony to the good news of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24 Wuest's Translation)

Comment: Beloved we are all called to be in a ministry of some sort (we are certainly called to bear testimony of the good news of the grace of God with our life and our lips - cp 1Pe 2:9-note), for all believers are called to walk in Jesus' steps (1Pe 2:21-note), in a life of service to others (Php 2:5, 6, 7-note). Given that this ministry is a "race" and we each get only one opportunity (~one life) to run the course, the question is...Beloved, how are you running? Have you laid aside the encumbrances (non-essentials, not bad things, just not the best things) of this life and the sin which so easily entangles you? Are you running with endurance? (Heb 12:1-note, It's too soon to quit - see Gal 6:7-note, Ga 6:8-note, Ga 6:9, 10-note) Are you fixing your eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:2-note), learning to strive according to His power which mightily works within you? (Col 1:29-note) Are you running in such a way that you might not be disqualified (not loss of salvation, but loss of reward - cp 1Co 3:15, 2Jn 1:8 2Co 5:10-note)? (1Co 9:24-note, 1Co 9:25-note, 1Co 9:26-note, 1Co 9:27-note, 2Ti 2:5-note)

In Acts 21 Paul presents a proper perspective for ministry writing...

And after he had greeted them (Ac 21:17, 18), he began to relate one by one the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry (diakonia). (Acts 21:19)

Comment: (1) Paul's ministry was but a conduit of what God did through him, and so it is still true in all of us who are called to be "ministers" of the Lord, even if not formally. (2) The first thing Paul did after greeting them was to give testimony to the great things the Lord had done, a good motif for all God's ministers to seek to emulate. What we "do" is natural but what God does through us is supernatural. Can you glorify your Father by telling others "one by one the things" He has done through your ministry, His Spirit working in and through you to point others to Jesus?

We received mercy (1653) (eleeo from eleos [word study]) means to feel sympathy with the misery of another, especially such sympathy which manifests itself in deeds (action), less frequently in words. It describes the general sense of one who expresses compassion to someone in need. Mercy is a concern for an afflicted person that prompts one to give help. God's grace gives us what we don't deserve and His mercy does not give us what we do deserve.

Writing to Timothy Paul gave a parallel description of mercy he had received...

But that (see context 1Ti 1:15) is why God had mercy on me, so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example (model) of his great patience with even the worst sinners (Paul considered himself a "living epistle" testifying that God could save any sinner - what a mercy filled God!). Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in Him and receive eternal life. (1Ti 1:16, original NLT)

Jnann Bengel...

The mercy of God, through which this ministry is received, makes us zealous and sincere ministers. Even Moses obtained mercy, and thereby found so near access, Ex 33:19. (The Critical English Testament)

Paul's acknowledgment of his receipt of (and need for) mercy is a reflection of his continuing attitude of humility and dependence on God, recognizing that his holy calling as an apostle was not due to his works but was a result of his having received mercy.

A debtor to mercy alone,

Of covenant mercy I sing;

Nor fear, with Thy righteousness on,

My person and offering to bring;

The terrors of law and of God

With me can have nothing to do;

My Saviour's obedience and blood

Hide all my transgressions from view.
Augustus M. Toplady

Vincent writes that eleeo means

to succor or to show compassion...The (root) word (eleos) emphasizes the misery with which grace deals; hence, peculiarly the sense of human wretchedness coupled with the impulse to relieve it, which issues in gracious ministry. Bengel remarks, “Grace takes away the fault, mercy the misery.”

While the Dispenser of the mercy is not stated, this is certainly an allusion to the bestowal of bountiful mercy from our great "God (Who is) merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth." (Ps 86:15) (See discussion of God's attribute of Mercy)

Phillip Towner adds that

Mercy (is) the Foundation of God's Covenant (Ed: Including the New Covenant). Mercy and hesed (word study) [חֶסֶד , חֶסֶד], God's covenant love, are integrally related. So close is the relationship that hesed [חֶסֶד , חֶסֶד] sometimes is to be viewed in terms of mercy. In this relationship, mercy then comes to be seen as the quality in God that directs Him to forge a relationship with people who absolutely do not deserve to be in relationship with Him. Mercy is manifested in God's activity on behalf of His people to free them from slavery...The pattern of God's dealings with people in the Old Testament, at the core of which is mercy, also provides the shape for understanding his dealings in the New Testament. God desires a relationship with humankind, but must show mercy to them in order for this relationship to be built. Of course, the New Testament expounds the theme of God's mercy in the light of Christ (cp 2Co 4:6-note), the supreme expression of love, mercy, and grace. (Ed: And this is the "Light" that radically impacted Saul on the road to Damascus Ac 9:3, 9:4, 9:5 the merciful Light he never grew tired of praising and proclaiming.) (Mercy - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Recommended Reading)

Spurgeon describes God's mercy as His...

tender attribute (which) sweetens the grand thought of His power: the divine strength will not crush us, but will be used for our good (and His glory. Amen!). (The Attributes of God - Spurgeon)

Matthew Henry has a good reminder that...

The best of men would faint, if they did not receive mercy from God. And that mercy which has helped us out, and helped us on, hitherto, we may rely upon to help us even to the end. (Amen!)

Paul understood God's great mercy (1Pe 1:3-note) for he of all people had been in desperate need of mercy before salvation (Acts 8:1, 3, 9:3, 4, 5, 6, 22:4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 10 26:9 10 11 12 12 14 15 16 17 18 19) and thereafter Paul never forgot God's saving mercy, living in daily dependence on and thankfulness for this same divine mercy that saved him on the Damascus Road. Do you live daily with a similar sense of great gratitude for having been shown such great mercy from so great a God? The longer Paul was a recipient of God's mercy, the greater was his sense of humility as he "progressed" from an apostle "not fit to be called an apostle" (1Co 15:9-note ~55AD), to "the very least of all saints" (Ep 3:8-note ~61AD) to the foremost of sinners (1Ti 1:15 - 63-66AD)

Hughes comments that...

the combination of this mercy and the astonishingly surpassing glory of his (New Covenant) ministry heartened him and kept him from losing heart. in weakness...

Spurgeon was right in delineating discouragement as one of the ministry’s great risks. Loss of heart can bring disaster. But these two things will ground our hearts: 1) God’s merciful call, and 2) the surpassing glory of the gospel ministry.

He stands in Christ’s stead; his message is the Word of God; around him are immortal souls; the Saviour, unseen, is beside him; the Holy Spirit broods over the congregation; angels gaze upon the scene; and heaven and hell await the issue” (Matthew Simpson).

What glory! How heartening! (Hughes, R. K. 2 Corinthians: Power in Weakness. Preaching the Word. Crossway or Logos or Wordsearch)

We do not - The Greek word for "not" (ou/ouk) indicates absolute negation. Paul says we absolutely in no way are losing heart, we are not becoming discouraged or despondent with fear and we are not becoming faint with weariness and exhaustion. The present tense indicates that this is his abiding attitude in spite of the challenges to his character and conduct by the false teachers. Beloved, have you ever been falsely accused or had your motives for ministry impugned or unfairly questioned? Most of us who have been at this for a while have been unjustly treated or unfairly criticized. We need to remember that the same thing happened to Paul and of course to our Lord Jesus and we must continually strive to imitate them (1Co 11:1) walking in the steps our Savior trod (1Pe 2:21-note), so that we do not lose heart. (See 1Pe 5:8-note 1Pe 5:9-note, 1Pe 5:10-note)

Earlier Paul had affirmed that he had great boldness to speak forth the truth of the Gospel (2Co 3:12-note) and when he considered the greatness of his calling (having such a hope), it buoyed up his spirit and gave him courage to face all his adversaries and afflictions with a sense of confidence. Beloved, as those who have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light, we often lose heart when we fail to remember the greatness of the hope (absolute assurance of future good) our calling (Ep 1:18-note Ep 4:4-note) with which God has called us in and for Christ Jesus (Ro 1:6-note, Jude 1:1) and we forget that we have the high privilege and purpose to proclaim His excellencies to those still lost in darkness. (1Pe 2:9-note, Acts 26:18)

Listen to Spurgeon's exhortation...

The preacher should either speak in God’s name or hold his tongue. My brother, if the Lord has not sent you with a message, go to bed, or to school, or mind your farm; for what does it matter what you have to say of your own? If heaven has given you a message, speak it out as he ought to speak who is called to be the mouth of God. (cp Jer 20:9 Acts 4:19, 20)

Lose heart (1573) (ekkakeo [word study] from ek = out of or intensifies meaning of... + kakos = bad) strictly speaking means to act or behave badly in some circumstance. On one hand, it can mean to give in to evil. On the other hand, it can convey the idea of to be weary in or become tired of doing something, to lose courage, to slacken their one's labor or exertion because of the weariness caused by prolonged effort. It can picture one who becomes fainthearted or despondent in the face of trial or difficulty.

Ekkakeo - 6x in 6v - Lk 18:1; 2Co 4:1, 16; Ga 6:9-note; Ep 3:13-note; 2Th 3:13. NAS = grow weary(1), lose heart(5).

It is worth noting that Paul begins and ends this section with this same verb "lose heart" (ekkakeo) emphasizing that despite the difficulties and detractions, he refused to lose heart, and steadfastly remained "energized" for the ministry for which he had been chosen (Ac 9:15, 16, cp 2Ti 1:1-note) ...

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen (eg, the detractions and the detractors!), but at the things which are not seen ("20/20" eternal vision - Father, grant this to all of Thy children in Christ. Amen); for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2Co 4:16-note, 2Co 4:17-note, 2Co 4:18-note)

Wood comments that...

The verb enkakein means “to become good for nothing,” “to grow faint,” and hence “to be discouraged” (Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary 6-Volume New Testament. Zondervan Publishing or computer version)

The UBS Handbook notes that...

Not to be discouraged may be expressed in a number of ways, often idiomatically, for example, “not to lose heart,” “not to give up,” “not to run away,” (Ed: Have you ever felt like running away from the ministry for which He has chosen you? Don't do it! Instead run to Him and hide in Him and in His Sufficiency. Pr 30:5-note Ps 32:7-note, Ps 119:114-note, Ps 143:9-note Ps 9:9-note Ps 27:5-note Ps 31:20-note Ps 91:1-note Col 3:3-note) or “not to think that all is lost” (The United Bible Societies' New Testament Handbook Series or Logos)

MacArthur writes that ekkakeo was...

A strong Greek term which refers to abandoning oneself to cowardly surrender. That was not how Paul responded to the continual attacks he faced. (MacArthur, J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word or Logos)

Rienecker writes that ekkakeo

became a Christian technical term expressing the unflagging pursuit of the goal of service to neighbor, or of apostolic ministry, as well as the tautness (having no give or slack -- tightly drawn, chiefly a nautical term signifying in proper order or condition) of the determined heart that does not let up or lose courage. (Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament)

Albert Barnes writes that ekkakeo...

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. 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 [2Co 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 entrusted with such a ministry animated him; and the mercy and grace of God sustained him.

Constable comments that...

Since we have a ministry in which the Spirit opens people’s eyes and transforms their characters we can feel encouraged. Our job is not simply to lay God’s high standards on people, as Moses did, but to provide God’s grace to them as the Holy Spirit’s agents.

Warren Wiersbe writes that...

A discouraged Methodist preacher wrote to the great Scottish preacher, Alexander Whyte, to ask his counsel. Should he leave the ministry? “Never think of giving up preaching!” Whyte wrote to him. “The angels around the throne envy you your great work!” That was the kind of reply Paul would have written, the kind of reply all of us need to ponder whenever we feel our work is in vain.

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Unmistakable Success - What would you think of a baseball player who played seven seasons without hitting the ball in fair territory? One of the best players of all time, Mickey Mantle, did the equivalent of that. His walks and strikeouts add up to more than 3,400 trips to the plate—seven seasons’ worth.

Or what would you think of an inventor who failed hundreds of times in his experiments? Thomas Edison, perhaps the greatest inventor in American history, spent many long months failing before he found a filament that would stay lit in his incandescent light.

The lesson behind these experiences is clear: We have to look beyond failures and keep persevering.

I can’t think of a better example of someone who persevered despite apparent failure than the apostle Paul. His list of failures would lead most of us to quit. For one, the people in a church he founded in Corinth stumbled badly. For another, he went to prison numerous times. Throw in the shipwrecks, beatings, and betrayals (2Co 11:23, 24, 25, 26 27), and you could have a picture of defeat. Yet Paul’s ministry is remembered for its unmistakable success.

Let’s learn to look past our failures. Because of God’s mercy, we need not lose heart (2Co 4:1). - May 20, 1996 — by Dave Branon

Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of clouds of doubt,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit—
It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit. —Piggott

Success often rises out of the ashes of failure.

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Are You Weary? - I read a story about a pastor of a small, rural church in Scotland. He had been forced out by his elders, who claimed they saw no fruit from his ministry. The village in which the pastor served was a difficult place. People’s hearts were cold and hostile to the truth. During the time the pastor served, there had been no conversions and no baptisms. But he did recall one positive response to his preaching.

When the offering plate was passed during a service, a young boy placed the plate on the floor, stood up, and stepped into it. When asked to explain, he replied that he had been deeply touched by the minister’s life, and while he had no money to give he wanted to give himself wholly to God.

The boy who stepped into the plate was Bobby Moffat, who in 1817 became a pioneer missionary to South Africa. He was greatly used of God to touch many lives. And it all started with that small church and the faithful work of that unappreciated pastor.

Perhaps you see no fruit from your work for the Lord. Remain faithful! Do not lose heart, but ask God to strengthen you with His power (2Corinthians 4:1,7). In His time and in His way, He will produce a harvest if you do not give up (Galatians 6:9). September 15, 2003 — by David H. Roper

Keep me faithful, keep me grateful,
This my earnest plea each day!
Keep me serving, keep me telling
Of His love while yet I may!
—Thiesen

A fruitful harvest requires faithful service.

2 Corinthians 4:2 Commentary

2 Corinthians 4:2 but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek : alla apeipametha (1PAMI) ta krupta tes aischunes, me peripatountes (PAPMPN) en panourgia mede dolountes (PAPMPN) ton logon tou theou, alla te phanerosei tes aletheias sunistanontes (PAPMPN) heautous pros pasan suneidesin anthropon enopion tou theou.

Amplified: We have renounced disgraceful ways (secret thoughts, feelings, desires and underhandedness, the methods and arts that men hide through shame); we refuse to deal craftily (to practice trickery and cunning) or to adulterate or handle dishonestly the Word of God, but we state the truth openly (clearly and candidly). And so we commend ourselves in the sight and presence of God to every man’s conscience. (Lockman)

Barclay: But we have refused to have anything to do with hidden and shameful methods. We do not act with unscrupulous cleverness. We do not adulterate the word which God gave us to preach. But by making the truth clear, we commend ourselves to the human conscience in all its forms in the sight of God. (Westminster Press)

God's Word: Instead, we have refused to use secret and shameful ways. We don't use tricks, and we don't distort God's word. As God watches, we clearly reveal the truth to everyone. This is our <letter of> recommendation. (GWT)

Easy English: We do not do things in secret and evil ways. We do not try to make people believe lies. We do not give a false meaning to the word of God. The opposite is true. We tell the truth clearly. We know that God sees everything. He sees everything that we do. Therefore, we live in a way that is attractive to everyone’s conscience.

ESV: But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. (ESV)

KJV: But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

NET: But we have rejected shameful hidden deeds, not behaving with deceptiveness or distorting the word of God, but by open proclamation of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone's conscience before God. (NET Bible)

NIV: Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. (NIV - IBS)

NLT: We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: We use no hocus-pocus, no clever tricks, no dishonest manipulation of the Word of God. We speak the plain truth and so commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. (Phillips: Touchstone)

Weymouth: Nay, we have renounced the secrecy which marks a feeling of shame. We practice no cunning tricks, nor do we adulterate God’s Message. But by a full clear statement of the truth we strive to commend ourselves in the presence of God to every human conscience.

Wuest: but we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not ordering the manner of our lives in the sphere of craftiness, nor even adulterating the word of God [by an admixture of error], but by means of an open declaration of the truth commending ourselves to every variety of the conscience of men in the sight of God. (Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: but did renounce for ourselves the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor deceitfully using the word of God, but by the manifestation of the truth recommending ourselves unto every conscience of men, before God;

BUT WE HAVE RENOUNCED THE THINGS HIDDEN BECAUSE OF SHAME, NOT WALKING IN CRAFTINESS OR ADULTERATING THE WORD OF GOD: alla apeipametha (1PAMI) ta krupta tes aischunes, me peripatountes (PAPMPN) en panourgia mede dolountes (PAPMPN) ton logon tou theou: (renounced: 1Co 4:5) (shame, Ro 1:16 6:21 Eph 5:12) (not: 2Co 1:12 2:17 11:3,6,13-15 Eph 4:14 1Th 2:3-5) a

NO HOCUS POCUS
PERMITTED OR PRACTICED!

Phillips has a pithy summary of the three ministerial perversions Paul staunchly disavows...

We use no hocus-pocus, no clever tricks, no dishonest manipulation of the Word of God.

But (alla) uses this conjunction to sound a strong contrast between God's ministry in and through him and the false ministers that had infiltrated the church at Corinth.

Renounced (550) (apeipomen from apó = from + eípon <> épo = speak) literally means to speak off or to speak out (against). To refuse, deny, renounce, spurn, disown with aversion.

The aorist tense is a "timeless aorist" (A T Robertson) which pictures this as a once and forever repudiation (Bengel).

Charles Hodge adds that what Paul denies of himself he affirms of the false teachers, their "lack of openness, adopting secret methods to achieve their ends, which they would be ashamed to admit openly."

Renounce (English definitions) to give up, refuse, or resign usually by formal declaration. To refuse to follow, obey, or recognize any further. To disown; to disclaim; to reject; as a title or claim; to refuse to own or acknowledge as belonging to as to renounce a title to land or a claim to reward; to renounce all pretensions to applause. To renounce allegiance. To cast off or reject as a possession; to forsake.

David Lowery writes that...

Already he had adroitly parried the attacks of his accusers several times in the letter (e.g., 2Co 1:17; 2:17; 3:1), but he felt forced to do so again (e.g., 2Co 6:3; 7:3; Chapters 10-13).

M J Harris adds that...

Evidently he had been accused of deceitful behavior (cf. 2Co 7:2; 12:16). This he emphatically rejects. The openness marking the new covenant had always been reflected in his conduct. His tactics had never been secretive or deceptive, nor had he ever dishonestly manipulated the message of God entrusted to him. (Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary 5-Volume New Testament. Zondervan Publishing or computer version)

Hidden (2927)(kruptos from krupto = keep secret; English ~ cryptic, etc) means concealed, secret, hidden either to protect it or for self-serving purposes. Krupto describes something that is unknown because it is being kept secret or hidden.

Liddell-Scott give an example of a secular use of kruptos -- "a trench covered and concealed by planks and earth".

Giving and praying are to be done in secret (Mt 6:4, Mt 6:6) for God sees all things and there is nothing hidden from Him so that all things will one day be brought to the light by Him (Mt 10:26 Mk 4:22 Lk 8:17 Lk 12:2 1Co 4:5). Kruptos conveys the idea of privately in Jn 7:4, 10, 18:20. Kruptos describes the "secrets" of men's hearts (Ro 2:16, 1Co 14:25). "The hidden person of the heart" in 1Pe 3:4 which Wuest explains is "the personality of the Christian woman as made beautiful by the ministry of the Holy Spirit in glorifying the Lord Jesus and manifesting Him in and through her life."

Krupto - 17x in 15v in NAS - Mt 6:4, 6; 10:26 Mk 4:22 Lk 8:17; 12:2 Jn 7:4, 10; 18:20 Ro 2:16, 29 1Co 4:5 14:25 2Co 4:2 1Pe 3:4. NAS = hidden(5), inwardly(1), secret(7), secrets(2), things hidden(2).

Hidden because of shame - Literally "the hidden things of shame" - Paul is referring to those things that are done only under cover and with the fear of shame if they were to be exposed.

The Amplified Version does an excellent job of "amplifying the meaning...

We have renounced disgraceful ways (secret thoughts, feelings, desires and underhandedness, the methods and arts that men hide through shame); we refuse to deal craftily (to practice trickery and cunning) or to adulterate or handle dishonestly the Word of God, but we state the truth openly (clearly and candidly). And so we commend ourselves in the sight and presence of God to every man’s conscience. (Lockman)

Shame (152) (aischune from aischos = shame, disfigurement, disgrace) means shame resulting from exposure of sin for example. Paul is describing that which brings humiliating disgrace or disrepute.

Aischune - 6x in 6v in NAS - Luke 14:9; 2 Cor 4:2; Phil 3:19; Heb 12:2; Jude 1:13; Rev 3:18. NAS = disgrace(1), shame(5).

Webster's 1828 on shame - A painful sensation excited by a consciousness of guilt, or of having done something which injures reputation; or by the exposure of that which nature or modesty prompts us to conceal. Shame is particularly excited by the disclosure of actions which, in the view of men, are mean and degrading. Hence it is often or always manifested by a downcast look or by blushes, called confusion of face.

UBS Handbook explains that...

The words “of shame” characterize those things that are hidden; they are “secret and shameful deeds.” More specifically, does Paul mean that the people who do such deeds are, in fact, ashamed of their deeds? (Revised English Bible “the deeds that people hide for very shame.”) Or does he mean that they should be ashamed and are not? Either is possible, but the majority opinion seems to be that the practices were “so shameful that they have to be kept hidden” (Barclay). (The United Bible Societies' New Testament Handbook Series or Logos)

J H Bernard...

the hidden things of shame; cf. Ro 13:12, Eph. 4:22. The stress is on ta krupta (the hidden); it is the openness and candor of his ministry on which he insists (cf. John 3:20). (Expositor's Greek Testament)

Henry Alford adds that the meaning here is that...

The having any views, ends or practices which, such as have them, hide through shame...Shame is subjective, meaning fear arising from expectation of exposure. It is plain from the context that it refers, not to crimes and unholy practices, but to crooked arts, of which men are ashamed, and which perhaps were made use of by the false teachers (The New Testament for English Readers).

Not walking in - Not living, not behaving, not conducting oneself. The preposition "in" (en) means in the sphere of (it's like a fish in a fish bowl - he lives in the sphere of the water that fish bowl). Wuest translates it as Paul saying we are "not ordering the manner of our lives in the sphere of craftiness", as were the false teachers.

Walking (4043)(peripateo from peri = about, around + pateo = walk, tread) means literally to walk around, to go here and there in walking, to tread all around. The 39 uses in the Gospels always refer to literal, physical walking. Seven of the 8 uses in Acts are also in the literal sense (except Acts 21:21). (See Spurgeon's comments on what it means to walk) Paul uses peripateo only in the metaphorical sense (32 times in his Epistles) meaning to conduct one's life, to order one's behavior, to behave, to make one's way, to make due use of opportunities, to live or pass one’s life (with a connotation of spending some time in a place).

UBS Handbook...

"To walk” is an Old Testament expression that means “to conduct oneself” or “to behave in a certain manner.” (Ibid)

Craftiness (3834)(panourgia from pas = all + ergon = work) is literally "all working" or capable of all work. In the NT panourgia takes on a negative meaning and conveys the ideas of trickery involving evil cunning, cleverness, craftiness, shrewdness, craft or treachery. A crafty person is marked by subtlety and guile and is adept in the use of cunning. Beware! (see Paul's warning to the Ephesian elders - Acts 20:28).

Paul is saying that he scrupulously avoids clever manipulation of words so that error is made to look like truth (cp Ep 4:14-note). He is well aware of the fact that there are those who do practice panourgia, using subtle sophistries and specious statements because they are willing to do anything to achieve their unscrupulousness goals (to them this "end justifies the means" regardless of cunning the means are.)

Kent Hughes adds that craftiness is...

a cunning readiness to adopt any device or trickery for the achievement of ends which are anything but altruistic (unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others)...I once received an expensive brochure that featured eight separate pictures of a self-styled “evangelist” designed to instill confidence in his power. It featured photos of him praying by a waterfall and praying with his hands on a pile of letters asking for prayer. Another photo showed him holding a baby. In another he was shaking the hand of a poor man. But what really got my attention was the offer of a specially blessed handkerchief that had been dipped in the Jordan River and that, if prayerfully applied, would bring healing. The cost? About twenty-five dollars in today’s economy. Such conduct was anathema to Paul. (Hughes, R. K. 2 Corinthians: Power in Weakness. Preaching the Word. Crossway or Logos or Wordsearch)

In 2Corinthians 11:3 Paul explains that one of the sought after effects of panourgia is to deceive the listener even as Satan deceived Eve (Ge 3:13)...

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived (beguiled her thoroughly, seduced her wholly, led her astray - see exapatao) Eve by his craftiness (panourgia), your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. (2Corinthians 11:3)

Satan's modus operandi has not changed that much so we do well to remain on "high alert" (1Pe 5:8-note cp 2Co 2:11 "we are not ignorant of his schemes") for his nefarious schemes. As Moses declared "the serpent was (still is) more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made" (Ge 3:1).

Barnes writes that...

Truth never needs such arts (panourgia); and no cause will long succeed by mere trick and cunning.

NIDNTT has the following note regarding the classic use of panourgia...

Its first appearance is in Aeschylus; and from then on in secular Greek its connotation is most commonly pejorative, an unprincipled “capable of doing anything” (e.g. Aristotle, Lysias). Even as a divine attribute (in Euripides, Artemis applies it to Aphrodite) the connotation is negative. In the few instances where the word bears a positive sense, there is a hint of presumption or perhaps deceptive evaluation (Plato, Plutarch). It is possible that the positive ability implicit in the etymology of the word group never got off the ground because in Gk. thought the very idea of such ability is indicative of an arrogance which soon tinges the panourgia with undesirable characteristics. (Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan)

Here are the other 3 NT (out of 5) uses of panourgia...

Lk 20:23 But He (Jesus) detected their trickery and said to them, (The scribes and the chief priests are guilty of “trickery” in their question to Jesus)

1Co 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, "He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness";

Ep 4:14-note As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine (Thus the vital importance of the ministry described in Ep 4:11-note - if we are preaching and teaching with stories and humor rather than the Word of Truth, we are failing to arm the disciples to be able to discern Satan's subtle errors and lies. Remember that Satan wages war in the mind and the battle is for truth! Preach the Word! 2Ti 4:2-note), by the trickery of men, by craftiness (panourgia) in deceitful scheming;

A W Pink comments...

The ministers of the New Covenant are described as those who had "renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness." Christendom today is infested with men who are full of deceit and hypocrisy, trimming their sails according to whatever direction the breeze of public opinion is blowing. "Nor handling the Word of God deceitfully" (2Corinthians 4:2). The true servant of Christ holds back nothing that is profitable, no matter how unpalatable it may be unto his hearers. He is one who does not magnify himself, nor his denomination—but Christ—His wondrous Person, His atoning blood, His exacting claims. (Ministerial Thieves)

NO ADDITIVES OR
ADULTERANTS

Adulterating (1389) (doloo from dolos which is derived from delo meaning to bait or to catch with bait) is used only here in the NT and means to use deceit, to bait, to ensnare, to corrupt with error, to distort, to falsify. The idea is changing something to cause it be be false (even while it appears to be "true"!). The goal is to beguile, to ensnare or to take by craft. It's like adding a touch of arsenic to pure, life giving water - now it is deadly poison!

The present tense pictures this falsification as an ongoing process, an apt description of false teachers, for even when they present the truth as Peter writes the "secretly introduce destructive heresies" (2Pe 2:1-note), where the verb pareisago (see word study) accurately describes their method of bringing in deadly error alongside the truth. This always reminds of the U S Treasury department's method of training their agents to recognize counterfeit $20 bills by having them intensely study real $20 bills.

Paul passed on the unadulterated Word of God to the saints, writing in his first epistle...

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you (1Co 11:23a)

Comment: What Paul heard, Paul preached, in purity and in power! How can we who preach and teach do any less in a day when God and His Word and prayer to Him are being systematically extracted from the heart of "In God we trust" America which is reaping the consequences of this evil seed in the form of a rapidly crumbling social fabric much like the days of the Judges (Jdg 21:25-note). We must become like the psalmist and cry out "My soul cleaves to the dust. Revive me according to Thy Word." (Ps 119:25-note)

Doloo was used in secular Greek to describe the dishonest practice of adulterating wine with water. Here Paul is saying in essence "I don't water down the Word of Truth with half truths, funny stories, inappropriate language (which is sadly becoming all to accepted in modern, "hip", "authentic" evangelicalism!)!"

It is worth noting that the root word dolos literally refers to a fishhook, trap, or trick -- all of which are various "instruments" of deception. Dolos is a deliberate attempt to mislead, trick, snare or "bait" (baiting the trap in attempt to "catch" the unwary victim), in this case the bait being lies that are spoken that are counter to the Word of Truth (cp Jn 8:44, 2Co 11:13 14 15 2Pe 2:1-note 2Pe 2:2, 3-note). Dolos reflects a desire to gain advantage or preserve one's position by deceiving others. A modern term in advertising is called "bait and switch" where the unwary consumer is lured in by what looks like an price too good to be true!

William Barclay explains that...

We best get the meaning of this from the corresponding verb (doloun). Doloun has two characteristic usages. It is used of debasing precious metals and of adulterating wines. Dolos is deceit; it describes the quality of the man who has a tortuous and a twisted mind, who cannot act in a straightforward way, who stoops to devious and underhand methods to get his own way, who never does anything except with some kind of ulterior motive. It describes the crafty cunning of the plotting intriguer who is found in every community and every society." In another writing Barclay explains that dolos can be translated "guile" and that "It comes from a word which means bait; it is used for trickery and deceit. It is used for instance of a mousetrap. When the Greeks were besieging Troy and could not gain entry, they sent the Trojans the present of a great wooden horse, as if it was a token of good will. The Trojans opened their gates and took it in. But the horse was filled with Greeks who in the night broke out and dealt death and devastation to Troy. That exactly is dolos. It is crafty, cunning, deceitful, clever treachery. Dolos is the trickery of the man who is out to deceive others to attain his own ends, the vice of the man whose motives are never pure. (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)

Paul says I do not corrupt, debase, or make impure the precious (Ps 19:10-note, Ps 119:72-note, Ps 119:127-note, Job 23:12-note), persisting (Eternal - Mt 24:35 5:18-note), powerful (Lk 1:37ASV) Word of God by adding any genre of foreign or inferior elements! Dear preacher of the Word may I ask you a question? How much time do you devote to introducing your message each Sunday, before you begin to preach the Word? I routinely encounter sermons where from one quarter to one third of the "sermon" time is allocated to introductory illustrations calculated to make the Word more "authentic". Beloved, that is too long. The Word is authentic. I am not against salient, short introductions and illustrations, but when they begin to "cut in" on the time of the pure milk of God's Word then frankly the saints are being short changed and will likely walk away unsatisfied for only the Word brings genuine soul satisfaction. Personal stories and cute illustrations may generate an emotional response, but ultimately they only tickle the ears (2Ti 4:3,4-note) and produce "spiritual children" who are vulnerable to being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine (Ep 4:14-note). God's Words through His prophet Jeremiah are relevant to much of the fare being offered from modern pulpits...

Thus says the LORD, "Stand by the ways and see and ask (= 3 commands) for the ancient paths (cp Dt 32:7) where the good way is, and walk in it and you shall find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it.' (Jer 6:16)

For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me (Je 18:15), the Fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. (Jer 2:13)

Guzik comments that...

Many preachers fail on this exact point. They have the true gospel, but they add to it things of human ingenuity and wisdom. Often, they add these corrupting or diluting things to the gospel because they think it will make the gospel more effective or give it a greater hearing. They are doing what Paul insisted he would never do -- handling the word of God deceitfully. (2 Corinthians 4 Commentary)

C H Spurgeon addressed the age old tendency of preachers to change the words of the clear Gospel message in order to make it more "seeker friendly" or hip or acceptable ("culturally relevant") writing that...

Certain divines tell us that they must adapt truth to the advance of the age, which means that they must murder it and fling its dead body to the dogs...which simply means that a popular lie shall take the place of an offensive truth.

John Calvin is quite blunt writing...

For just as chaste and honorable women are content with the gracefulness of natural beauty and do not resort to artificial adornments, whereas harlots never think themselves well adorned until they have corrupted nature, so too Paul’s boast is that he has set forth the pure Gospel whereas others have offered a counterfeit Gospel decked out with unworthy additions.

Earlier Paul had written...

we are not like many, peddling (profiteering, adulterating for personal gain) the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God. (2Co 2:17)

HOW TO TAMPER WITH
THE WORD OF GOD!

Kent Hughes has some sobering thoughts on how even evangelical preachers "tamper with the Word of God" noting than instead of actually cutting out the Bible as crass liberal preachers are prone to do...

it is far more common for the evangelical preacher to "edit" (Ed: Edit = to alter, adapt, or refine especially to bring about conformity to a standard or to suit a particular purpose!) God’s Word:

(1) by removing the text from its context, (Ed: Context must be "king" in order to arrive at accurate Interpretation - see example of danger of misinterpretation) and using it to say whatever the preacher likes (Ed: See example of the mishandling Pr 29:18-discussion),

(2) by moralizing the text, so that it is reduced to an ethical maxim that fits any religion,

(3) by using the text to promote hobbyhorses (Ed: a topic to which one constantly reverts, a favorite object of pursuit), and

(4) by dogmatic insistence that the text says things it does not truly say. This homiletical hocus-pocus has subtle roots such as the desire to be clever and popular or synthetically relevant or intellectually respectable or to make the gospel more acceptable.

But most often God’s Word
gets watered down by the preacher’s laziness.

He simply will not do the hard work to engage and preach a text in its context. (Hughes, R. K. 2 Corinthians: Power in Weakness. Preaching the Word. Crossway or Logos or Wordsearch) (Bolding and italics added)

Comment: How many hours [or perhaps minutes!] does it take for you to prepare your message for Sunday? You are under grace, not legalism and so there is no gold standard given in Scripture, but I have heard that Dr John MacArthur routinely sets aside 20+ hours to prepare his messages. And we can certainly see the fruit of his bountiful sowing! (Remember 2Co 5:9-note, 2Co 5:10-note)

John MacArthur emphasizes how important it is that pastors and bible teachers constantly strive to derive...

the right message from the right passage. Don’t “proof text” your bias or opinions by making the Bible say what you already know you want it to say...like the guy who said, “I’ve already got a sermon; I just have to find a verse for it.” That’s having a preconceived idea and then getting some verses to support it....so there are three errors to avoid...

Don’t make a point at the price of a proper interpretation
Avoid a superficial interpretation
Don’t spiritualize.

Warren Wiersbe cautions all of us who handle the Word Truth to strive to rightly divide it (2Ti 2:15-note) ...

We must never divorce one part of Scripture from another, but we must always “compare spiritual things with spiritual” (1Co 2:13). We can prove almost anything by the Bible if we isolate texts from the contexts and turn them into pretexts...

You can prove anything by the Bible, provided you twist the Scriptures out of context and reject the witness of your own conscience. The Bible is a book of literature and it must be interpreted according to the fundamental rules of interpretation. If people treated other books the way they treat the Bible, they would never learn anything....

Most heresies are the perversion of some fundamental doctrine of the Bible. False teachers take verses out of context, twist the Scriptures, and manufacture doctrines that are contrary to the Word of God. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor or Logos)

The Word of God - This phrase occurs 47x in 46v in the NAS - 1 Sam 9:27; 2 Sam 16:23; 1 Kgs 12:22; 1 Chr 17:3; Pr 30:5; Mt 15:6; Mark 7:13; Luke 3:2; 5:1; 8:11, 21; 11:28; John 10:35; Acts 4:31; 6:2, 7; 8:14; 11:1; 13:5, 7, 46; 17:13; 18:11; Rom 9:6; 1 Cor 14:36; 2 Cor 2:17; 4:2; Eph 6:17; Phil 1:14; Col 1:25; 1 Thess 2:13; 1 Tim 4:5; 2 Tim 2:9; Titus 2:5; Heb 4:12; 6:5; 11:3; 13:7; 1 Pet 1:23; 2 Pet 3:5; 1 John 2:14; Rev 1:2, 9; 6:9; 19:13; 20:4

Related Resources:

Click Scriptural Descriptions of the Word of God

Inductive Study on the Power of the Word of God

Word (3056) (logos from légō = to speak with words; English = logic, logical) means something said and describes a communication whereby the mind finds expression in words. The Words of the Bible express the mind of God.

Paul gives us a wonderful "definition" of the unadulterated Word and its work (efficacy) in men...

And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God's message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also (present tense = continually) performs its work (energeo - energetic, efficient, effectual, efficacious!) in you who believe. (1Th 2:13-note)

THE POWER OF THE WORD - The renowned preacher C H Spurgeon once tested an auditorium in which he was to speak that evening. Stepping into the pulpit, he loudly proclaimed, "Behold the lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world." (Jn 1:29) Satisfied with the acoustics, he left and went his way. Unknown to him, there were two men working in the rafters of that large auditorium, neither one Christians. One of the men was pricked in his conscience by the verse Spurgeon quoted and became a believer later that day! Such is the penetrating power of God's eternal word! Little wonder that Paul is so insistent on our "preaching of the Word" (2Ti 4:2-note)!

BUT BY THE MANIFESTATION OF TRUTH COMMENDING OURSELVES TO EVERY MAN'S CONSCIENCE IN THE SIGHT OF GOD: alla te phanerosei tes aletheias sunistanontes (PAPMPN) heautous pros pasan suneidesin anthropon enopion tou theou: (by: 2Co 5:11 6:4-7 7:14)

But (alla) draws a marked contrast between the trickery and deceit of the false teachers and his open presentation of the Word of Truth. This is a good reminder to all of us that the best "antidote" for false teaching is the Word of Truth. Remember that spiritual warfare is not so much a "power" struggle as it is a truth struggle.

By the manifestation of (the) truth - ("by plain statement of the truths of the Gospel in public preaching" [Bernard]) By simple exhibition of the truth, stating it as it is, without "additives" (as with philosophies, traditions, etc, cp Col 2:8, 9-note), not taking a text out of its context, etc

In the first letter to the Corinthians Paul emphasized his approach to ministry writing that...

when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. (1 Co 2:1, 2).

Manifestation (5321) (phanerosis from phaneroo = to make manifest) means a bringing to light or to full disclosure. ("the full light of truth")

Phanerosis describes the full exhibition of any thing by clear evidence, disclosing what is otherwise unseen or obscure. Here it describes Paul's open proclamation of the Word of Truth which stands in marked contrast to the shameful practices that must be hidden.

The only other NT use of this noun is 1Cor 12:7 describing spiritual gifts as "the manifestation of the Spirit".

Barnes adds...

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.

Truth (225)(aletheia from a = indicates following word has the opposite meaning ~ without + lanthano = to be hidden or concealed, to escape notice) has the literal sense of that which contains nothing hidden, that which is not concealed so that it can be seen or expressed for what it really is. The basic understanding of aletheia is that it is the manifestation of a hidden reality. For example, when you are a witness in a trial, the court attendant says "Raise your right hand. Do you swear that you will tell the truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?" And you say, "I do" and you sit down. The question the court attendant is asking is "Are you willing to come into this courtroom and manifest something that is hidden to us that only you know so that you will bear evidence to that?" Therefore when you speak the truth, you are manifesting a hidden reality. Does that make sense? An parallel example in Scripture is the case of the woman in the crowd who had touched Jesus (Read context = Mk 5:24-25, 26-27, 28-29, 30, 31-32), but when she became "aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him, and told Him the whole truth" (Mk 5:33) and nothing but the truth. She did not lie. She spoke no falsehoods.

Noah Webster defined truth as

Conformity to fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be. (1828 Dictionary)

Truth then is the correspondence between a reality and a declaration which professes to set forth or describe that reality. To say it another way, words spoken or written are true when they correspond with objective reality. Persons and things are true when they correspond with their profession (which we describe with words like integrity, sincerity, non-hypocritical, etc). In other words, "what you see is what you get". Hence God's Word of Truth is His declaration which corresponds to reality in the visible and invisible world and for time and eternity. God’s Word of Truth is the source and measure not only of all spiritual and moral truth but of all truth of any sort on which it speaks.

Charles Spurgeon wisely said that

The spotless purity of truth must always be at war with the blackness of heresy and lies

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The Heart Of The Gospel - When E. Stanley Jones, well-known missionary to India, had the opportunity to meet with Mahatma Gandhi, he asked a searching question of India’s revered leader: “How can Christianity make a stronger impact on your country?” Gandhi very thoughtfully replied that three things would be required.

First, Christians must begin to live more like Jesus. Second, the Christian faith should be presented without any adulteration. Third, Christians should emphasize love, which is at the heart of the gospel. (Ed: Gandhi would have liked to meet Paul who lived in a way that was open and attractive to every man’s conscience.)

These insightful suggestions are the key to effective evangelism around the world. As messengers of God’s love, we are to be human mirrors who reflect without distortion a growing likeness to our Lord; we are not to walk in “craftiness” (2Co 4:2). If our lives reflect an image that is spiritually blurred, the truth of saving grace may not be clearly communicated (2Co 4:3, 4, 5). We are also to share the biblical essentials of our faith clearly. We must not handle the Word of God “deceitfully” (2Co 4:2). And our lives are to be marked by love for God and others (1Jn 5:1, 2).

Let’s be sure that we reflect a clear image of Jesus’ likeness, the truth of God, and love. — by Vernon C. Grounds

Called to be salt and light in this world,
Called to preserve and to shine,
Called to reflect the glory of God—
Oh, what a calling is mine!
—Fitzhugh

The primary reason for living in this world
is to reflect the likeness of Christ to the world.

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Truth is like a "bluegill" fish in the "war of truth" incessantly being waged against God and His children by the the world, the flesh and the devil...

San Francisco and New York City are using bluegill fish to check for the presence of toxins in their water supply, which could be a possible target for a terrorist attack. A small number of bluegills are kept in a tank at the bottom of some water treatment plants because the fish are sensitive to chemical imbalances in their environment. When a disturbance is present in the water, the bluegills react against it.

Like these bluegills, Paul wanted the Galatians to beware of and react against any toxic disturbance in the “true gospel” that was being preached. The toxin was defined as the false principle that God grants acceptance to people and considers them righteous on the basis of their obedience to a set of rules (especially circumcision and dietary laws). In short, obedience to the law was needed, apart from faith in Jesus. This false teaching was a toxic disturbance of the truth and the Galatians were told to react strongly against it. Paul said that anyone preaching a gospel that is not based on grace through faith in Christ alone should be accursed (Gal. 1:8, 9).

Let’s faithfully study the Scriptures so we can detect the toxins of false teaching and proclaim the truth of God’s wonderful salvation through faith in Jesus. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Lord, teach us from Your holy Word
All error to discern,
And by Your Spirit’s light help us
From Satan’s snares to turn.
—Bosch

If you know the truth,
you can discern what’s false.

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Commend ourselves - Note Paul's use of the plural - not "myself" but "ourselves". Again he goes to great lengths to minimize any accusation of self adulation.

Commend (4921)(sunistemi/sunistao from sun/syn = together with + hístemi = set, place, stand) means literally to set, place or put together. To bring together. When one brings together someone with another person, the idea of this verb is that it is a way of presenting or introducing them and this gives way to the meaning of commend, which means to recommend as worthy of notice, regard, kindness or confidence. When we commend someone we speak in favor of them, present them as worthy or recommend them.

The present tense indicates this is Paul's continual practice to present himself to men as an "open book". He has nothing to hide as do the false teachers.

It is notable that more than 50% of the uses of sunistemi occur in 2Corinthians - 2Co 3:1 4:2 5:12 6:4 7:11 10:12,18 12:11.

Barnes comments on commending ourselves to every man's conscience...

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, Jn 8:9.

Conscience (4893) (suneidesis is derived from sun/syn = with + eido = know) literally means a "knowing with", a co-knowledge with oneself or a being of one's own witness in the sense that one's own conscience "takes the stand" as the chief witness, testifying either to one's innocence or guilt. Suneidesis describes the process of thought which distinguishes what it considers morally good or bad, commending the good, condemning the bad.

In this verse Paul presents himself to every man's conscience as one who has openly and accurately handled the Word of Truth.

Suneidesis - Used 8x in the first letter to the Corinthians 1Co 8:7, 10, 12; 10:25, 27 28 29 (twice) and 3x in 2Co 1:12; 4:2; 5:11

Webster's 1828 Dictionary says conscience is

Internal or self-knowledge, or judgment of right and wrong; or the faculty, power or principle within us, which decides on the lawfulness or unlawfulness of our own actions and affections, and instantly approves or condemns them.

The conscience of men who saw and heard Paul's ministry made an internal judgment of whether it was good or bad. Paul had no fear that he would be accused of any of the aspects he has just renounced, for he "knew that both his ministry and his message found approval in the conscience of every man, even if they would not admit it." (Guzik)

John MacArthur adds that...

All people, even those who have not heard the gospel, have an innate (though limited) knowledge of God’s law. The preaching of the gospel activates the conscience, which bears witness to the truth of the message even in those who reject it. (MacArthur, J: 2Corinthians. Chicago: Moody Press or Logos or Wordsearch)

UBS Handbook adds that...

Normally in the New Testament the word conscience refers to one’s ability to know that one has done something wrong. Here and in 2Co 5.11 conscience is used of one’s ability to decide on the rightness or wrongness of someone else’s behavior. (Ibid)

The Disciples Study Bible writes that...

The authority of any leader in the church derives from the leader's own devotion to live out God's Word. Leaders must plainly teach God's truth rather than human theories. Teaching must be backed by noble character. Christ gave us the example to follow (Jn 13:1-17).

First, the leader must know the Word.
Second, the leader must apply it to my own life.
Third, the leader must diligently study it in order to teach it.
Fourth, the leader must teach it correctly so that others will understand it.
(cp Ezra 7:10-note)

PAUL'S MINISTRY IS
"CORAM DEO"

In the sight of (enopion from en = in + ops = face, eye, countenance) vividly pictures one in the face of God and so in front of Him as if in His presence. Coram Deo - before the face of God (See Dr R C Sproul's answer to What Does Coram Deo Mean?).

Paul's Coram Deo mindset reminds me of Peter's exhortation to us as believers that..

if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man's work, conduct (aorist imperative = Command to do this effectively. Don't delay. It is important, even urgent) yourselves in fear (reverential awe, shrinking from anything that might grieve your Father) during the time of your stay upon earth (Which in the perspective of eternity is barely a "blip on the screen" so to speak but it yields profit [1Ti 4:7, 8-note] or loss [1Co 3:12, 13, 14, 15] for every believer throughout eternity. May God teach us how to number our days wisely [Ps 90:12-note, cp Ep 5:16-note] and give us the strength to conduct ourselves circumspectly in Christ. Amen) (1Pe 1:17-note)

Paul's ministry is "clear and clean" not only before the saints at Corinth but before the Omniscient God of the universe, an "Audience of One"! God is the "Onlooker". The One Who discerns, searches and tests our heart (Study - 1Sa 16:7 Jer 17:10 1Ki 8:39 1Chr 28:9 Ps 7:9 44:21 139:23,24 Pr 17:3 Jer 11:20 20:12 Ro 8:27 Rev 2:23).

Hughes writes that...

There is a higher scrutiny than that of the human conscience: it is to God that every minister of the gospel is ultimately and eternally answerable.

Paul's adversaries and critics could hardly have accused him of arrogant self-commendation for not only was his ministry an "open book" to the consciences of all men, but more important he constantly conducted himself with a strong sense that God was continually watching his ministry (cp Paul's statement "I [continually] serve [God] with a clear conscience" - 2Ti 1:3-note).

Guzik adds that...

Paul will, later in this chapter, reflect again on his sufferings. In these first two verses, he has made it clear that he has not suffered because he has been an unfaithful minister of the gospel. It would have been easy for Paul’s enemies to claim, “He suffers so much because God is punishing him because he is unfaithful.” That wasn’t the case at all. (2 Corinthians 4 Commentary)

In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul alluded to his continual "Coram Deo" mindset writing that...

to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined (Make careful, exact research as in legal processes) by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself (I have a clear conscience), yet I am not by this acquitted (Why? Because he was fully aware that it was God Who stood as final Judge - eg, even examining and disclosing our motives! 1Co 4:5); but the one who examines me is the Lord. (1Co 4:3, 4)

Barnes...

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 [2Co 2:17].

Paul has a similar statement in the next chapter...

Therefore (in light of the truth of 2Co 5:10-note), knowing the fear of the Lord (not a shaking fear but a worshipful reverence for God, cp Pr 9:10, Ac 9:31), we persuade men (In context Paul is not persuading men regarding salvation, but about his integrity in ministry), but we are made manifest to God (cp Coram Deo - Do you carry out your ministry as it it were Coram Deo? It is!) and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. (2Co 5:11)

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Speaking For God - Despite my best efforts to write clearly, sometimes I’m misunderstood. I feel bad about my failure and try to improve my skills. Occasionally, however, readers take words out of context or read into them something that bears no resemblance to the intended meaning. This is frustrating because there’s no way to control how people use words once they are published.

This brings to mind a much more serious offense—that of misusing the words of the Lord. The prophets in Jeremiah’s day did this. They put their own words into God’s mouth by claiming He said things they wanted to be true but that God had never said. So the Lord told His people, “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. . . . They speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord” (Je. 23:16). Then the Lord warned the people that He would forsake those who pervert His words and cast them from His presence (Jer 23:36,39).

In contrast, the apostle Paul made a point of saying that he did not handle the Word of God deceitfully (2Co 4:2). He knew the danger of preaching his own ideas rather than God’s.

All of us need to be careful to use God’s Word for His purpose, rather than for our own agenda. October 16, 2010 — by Julie Ackerman Link

Lord, keep us faithful to Your Word,
Although, at times, we might rephrase;
And help us never twist its truths
To justify our selfish ways.
—Sper

We must align ourselves with the Bible
and never try to align the Bible to ourselves.