2 Corinthians 4:10 Commentary
Amplified: Always carrying about in the body the liability and exposure to the same putting to death that the Lord Jesus suffered, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be shown forth by and in our bodies. (Lockman)
Barclay: In our bodies we have to run the same risk of death as Jesus Christ did, so that in our body the same life as Jesus lived may be clear for all to see. (Westminster Press)
God's Word: We always carry around the death of Jesus in our bodies so that the life of Jesus is also shown in our bodies. (GWT)
Easy English: We always carry around in our body the death of the *Lord Jesus. As a result, people will see the life of Jesus in our body.
ESV: always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. (ESV)
KJV: Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
NET: always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body. (NET Bible)
NIV: We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. (NIV - IBS)
NLT: Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Every day we experience something of the death of the Lord Jesus, so that we may also know the power of the life of Jesus in these bodies of ours. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Weymouth: always, wherever we go, carrying with us in our bodies the putting to death of Jesus, so that in our bodies it may also be clearly shown that Jesus lives.
Wuest: always bearing about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus in order that the life of Jesus might be clearly and openly shown in our body, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: at all times the dying of the Lord Jesus bearing about in the body, that the life also of Jesus in our body may be manifested,
ALWAYS CARRYING ABOUT IN THE BODY THE DYING OF JESUS, SO THAT THE LIFE OF JESUS ALSO MAY BE MANIFESTED IN OUR BODY: pantote ten nekrosin tou Iesou en to somati peripherontes, (PAPMPN) hina kai e zoe tou Iesou en to somati hemon phanerothe. (3SAPS): (Carrying: 2Co 1:5,9 Ro 8:17,18 Ga 6:17 Php 3:10,11 Col 1:24) (So that: 2Co 13:4 Jn 14:19 Ac 18:9,10 Ro 8:17 2Ti 2:11 1Pe 4:13 Rev 1:17)
The Amplified Version (which is often useful to consult as a "mini-commentary") helps understand Paul's testimony which to a natural man is not only paradoxical but enigmatic…
Always carrying about in the body the liability and exposure to the same putting to death that the Lord Jesus suffered, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be shown forth by and in our bodies. (Lockman)
I have also found the New Living Translation (NLT) helpful in providing interpretative clues, but one must use discretion for it is much more of a paraphrase than the Amplified (see Chart comparing Literalism of Bible Versions) and I do not always agree with their interpretative paraphrase (in this verse I do)…
Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Comment: Recall the 4 sets of adversities Paul has just described (2Co 4:8,9-note) and how in each antithetical couplet he was (in a sense) victorious. And given that he was but a clay pot (2Co 4:7-note), the fact that he was "more than a conqueror" (Ro 8:37) over each of the more intense adversities, clearly indicates that he was only able to do so only by virtue of a power greater than himself. Specifically the resurrection life and power of Christ (~ the life of Christ) via the filling and energizing ministry (Ep 5:18-note, Gal 5:16-note, et al) of the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Christ -Ro 8:9-note, 1Pe 1:11-note) was put on display (manifested) in Paul's body through his "triumph" in each circumstance.
MacDonald explains that…
Just as the Lord Jesus Himself, in His lifetime, was constantly exposed to violence and persecution, so those who follow in His steps will meet the same treatment. But it does not mean defeat. This is the way of victory. Blessing comes to others as we thus die daily. It is only in this way that the life of Jesus can be apparent in our bodies. (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or Logos)
Always carrying about - Paul's point is that he was continually, at all times and all places, exposed to people and circumstances that sought to bring him harm even as these enemies of the Cross sought to kill the Lord Jesus. In a true sense this acknowledgment by Paul is a "fulfillment of prophecy" for His Lord (speaking to Ananias) had foretold "I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake." (Acts 9:15). In his first letter Paul alluded to his suffering for the sake of Christ when he asked " Why are we also in danger every hour?" (1Co 15:30). The implication of that question is that they were always in danger (and in context his point was why would he be willing to do so if there were no life after death?) Later in this Second Corinthians Paul mentions (repeatedly) that he was "often in danger of death" illustrating in manifold ways how he carried about in his body the dying of Jesus…
Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as if insane) I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? (2Co 11:23 24 25 26 27 28 29)
In Romans 8 Paul again alludes to carrying about… the dying of Jesus…
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? ( Answer? No one!) Shall tribulation (thlipsis related to the thlibo Paul had described in 2Co4:8-see note), or distress (stenochoria related to stenochoreo described in 2Co4:8-see note) or persecution (diogmos related to dioko used in 2Co 4:9 -see note), or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "FOR THY SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; (cp always carrying about… the dying) WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us (cp His power "manifested in our body" 2Co4:10). For ( Paul goes on to explain in what circumstances and why believers are "super conquerors" in Christ) I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ro 8:35 36-note Ro 8:37 38 39-note)
Writing to the Galatians Paul says…
From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks (stigma, plural = stigmata) of Jesus. (Gal 6:17)
Ryrie comments on Paul's brand-marks: I.e., scars suffered in persecution, which spoke more eloquently than the mark of circumcision that the Judaizers sought to impose. (The Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Translation: 1995. Moody Publishers or Wordsearch)
Writing to the saints at Colossae…
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake (eg, Paul was in prison for the sake of the Gospel at the time of this writing - Col 4:18-note), and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions. (Col 1:24-note)
Comment: Don't misunderstand what Paul is saying here - nothing was lacking regarding Christ's payment for sins (see meaning of "It is finished" in note on Jn 19:30). And yet Christ's death did not bring an end to suffering of His brethren for His Name's sake (cp ). When we as believers allow Christ to live out His life through us, God promises that we will also experience suffering (2Ti 3:12-note, 1Pe 2:21-note 1Pe 3:14-note, Jn 15:18 19 20 21 16:33 Mt 5:10, 11, 12-note Php 1:29 30-note Ro 8:17-note, Ro 8:18-note). Paul's suffering (and our suffering) for the sake of Christ has no atoning value, and thus is distinct from the unique sufferings of the sinless Savior as the full payment for sins (1Pe 2:24, 25-note).
Note also that the fact that Paul was able to rejoice in sufferings (not just "grin and bear it") is clear evidence of the Spirit's enablement (cp fruit of the Spirit… joy Ga 5:22) which in turn would have been a clear and glorious manifestation of the life of Jesus in his body! Beloved, the world is watching. They are looking for "Pauls", men and women who are radical, authentic, willing to carry about the dying of Jesus in their bodies that His glorious supernatural, resurrection life might be indisputably manifest. To some the risen life of Christ will be a life giving aroma, while to others it will be an aroma that smells like eternal death (2Co2:14 15 16). In either case, the privilege of clay pots (2Co4:7-note) is to be willing to be broken for Jesus' sake, that "light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" might be evident to both the living and the dead. Amen!
Earlier Paul had written a statement which parallels 2Co 4:10,11…
For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. (2Co 1:5).
Comment: The sufferings of Christ do not refer to His unique atoning suffering for sin. They are called sufferings of Christ because He endured them when He was on earth, and because He still endures them when the members of His Body experience them (see Acts 9:3 4,5). The more they endure righteous suffering ( reproach, rejection, hostility, hatred, denial, betrayal, etc that come to those in and through whom He now lives ), the greater will be their comfort and reward. .
In English always is defined - invariably, forever, perpetually, on every occasion, throughout all time, without variation. Continually, regularly, repeatedly or constantly during a certain period, or regularly at stated intervals (eg Mephibosheth - 2Sa 9:10KJV = "alway"); At all convenient times. Without exception. Every time.
Richards writes that…
“Always” in the Bible does not link time with eternity. It is a word that focuses attention on experience within the world of time and space. “Always” may direct our attention to that which is stable over a period of time or to that which is to be experienced continually. When the issue is God’s relationship with us, “always” reminds us powerfully that God is present at every moment in time and thus is with us constantly. When the issue is our relationship with God, “always” calls us to continual commitment and to consistent holiness. (Richards, L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency or Computer Version - New International Encyclopedia of Bible Words)
Pantote - 41x in 38v - Mt 26:11; Mk 14:7; Lk 15:31; 18:1; Jn 6:34; 7:6; 8:29; 11:42; 12:8; 18:20; Ro 1:10; 1Co1:4; 15:58; 2Co 2:14; 4:10; 5:6; 9:8; Gal 4:18; Ep 5:20; Php 1:4, 20; 2:12; 4:4; Col 1:3; 4:6, 12; 1Th 1:2; 2:16; 3:6; 4:17; 5:15f; 2Th 1:3, 11; 2:13; 2Ti 3:7; Phile 1:4; He 7:25. NAS = all times(1), always(40).
Carrying about (4064)(periphero from perí = around + phéro = carry) (Only 2 other uses - Mk 6:55; Ep 4:14-note) literally means to carry round, to bear about everywhere (as here in 2Co 4:10), to carry about from one place to another, to carry here and there or to transport hither and thither. It is used of spinning tops.
Periphero according to Liddell-Scott in some secular uses meant to carry round, to publish, to make known.
The present tense pictures this as Paul's continual practice -- the dying of Jesus in his body.
Body (4983) (soma) is literally the living body of man or animals (Mt 5:29, 30, 6:22, 23 25, Jn 2:21 Ro 1:24 Ro 8:10 = "dead because of sin", Jas 3:3 1Co 6:18), sometimes to a dead body (corpse) (Mt 14:12, 27:59 Mk 15:43, 45 Lk 17:37 He 13:11), sometimes to sun, moon, stars (1Co 15:40), sometimes as the center of all mortal life which can experience immortality in the resurrection body (1Co 15:44), sometimes the "material" part of man distinct from the soul or spirit (1Th 5:23), sometimes referring to reproductive power (Ro 4:19, 1Co 6:13), sometimes in a figurative sense to describe that which is "real" versus that which is shadow (Col 2:17) and finally sometimes describing the "body" of Christ, the Church (Ep 1:23, Ep 4:12, Ep 4:16, Ep 5:23, Ep 5:30, Col 1:18, Col 1:24, Col 2:19, Ro 12:5 1Co 12:27, cp 1Co 10:17, 12:13, Ep 2:16, Ep 4:4, Col 3:15).
The word soma was used by Homer (about ninth century B.C.) for a dead body. But beginning with Hesiod (eighth century B.C.) it came to be employed for living bodies, whether of animals or men. Metaphorically it is "used of a (large or small) number of men united into one society, or family as it were; a social, ethical, mystical body; so in the New Testament of the church" (Thayer, p. 611). (Word Meanings in the New Testament).
W E Vine…
is the body as a whole, the instrument of life, whether of man living, e.g., Mt 6:22, or dead, Mt 27:52; or in resurrection, 1Co 15:44; or of beasts, He 13:11; of grain, 1Co 15:37, 38; of the heavenly hosts, 1Co 15:40. In Re 18:13 it is translated “slaves.” In its figurative uses the essential idea is preserved.
Sometimes the word stands, by synecdoche, for the complete man, Matt. 5:29; 6:22; Ro 12:1; Jas. 3:6; Rev. 18:13. Sometimes the person is identified with his or her body, Ac 9:37; 13:36, and this is so even of the Lord Jesus, John 19:40 with Jn 19:42. The body is not the man, for he himself can exist apart from his body, 2Co 12:2, 3. The body is an essential part of the man and therefore the redeemed are not perfected till the resurrection, He 11:40; no man in his final state will be without his body, Jn 5:28, 29; Re 20:13.
The word is also used for physical nature, as distinct from pneuma, the spiritual nature, e.g., 1Co 5:3, and from psuche, the soul, e.g., 1Th 5:23. “Sōma, body, and pneuma, spirit, may be separated; pneuma and psuche, soul, can only be distinguished” (Cremer).
It is also used metaphorically, of the mystic Body of Christ, with reference to the whole Church, e.g., Ep 1:23; Col 1:18, 22, 24; also of a local church, 1Co 12:27. (Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words) (Vine, W E: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. 1996. Nelson or Wordsearch)
Soma - 142x in 120v in NAS - Mt 5:29 30; 6:22 23, 25; 10:28; 26:12, 26; 27:52, 58 59; Mk 5:29; 14:8, 22; 15:43; Lk 11:34, 36; 12:4, 22 23; 17:37; 22:19; 23:52, 55; 24:3, 23; Jn 2:21; 19:31, 38, 40; 20:12; Acts 9:40; Ro 1:24; 4:19; 6:6, 12; 7:4, 24; 8:10 11, 13, 23; 12:1, 4 5; 1Cor 5:3; 6:13, 15 16, 18 19 20; 7:4, 34; 9:27; 10:16 17; 11:24, 27, 29; 12:12 13 14, 22 23 24 25, 27; 13:3; 15:35, 37 38, 40, 44; 2Co 4:10; 5:6, 8, 10; 10:10; 12:2 3; Gal 6:17; Ep 1:23; 2:16; 4:4, 12, 16; 5:23, 28, 30; Php 1:20; 3:21; Col 1:18, 22, 24; 2:11, 17, 19, 23; 3:15; 1Th 5:23; Heb 10:5, 10, 22; 13:3, 11; Jas 2:16, 26; 3:2 3, 6; 1Pe 2:24; Jude 1:9; Rev 18:13. NAS = bodies(11), body(128), personal(1), slaves(1), substance(1).
The Greek for “the dying” is literally, “the being made a corpse,” such Paul regarded his body, yet a corpse which shares in the life-giving power of Christ’s resurrection, as it has shared in His dying and death.
Guzik comments that…
Paul, like any Christian, wanted the life of Jesus evident in him. But Paul knew this could only happen if he also carried about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus. There are some aspects of God’s great work in our lives that only happen through trials and suffering… In Php 3:10-note, Paul speaks about the glory of knowing Jesus:
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.
Many long to know the power of His resurrection, but want nothing to do with the fellowship of His sufferings or being conformed to His death. But there are certain fragrances God can only release through a broken vial, so Paul rejoiced in knowing both the suffering and the glory. He knew the two were connected.
The dying of Jesus… the life of Jesus - In 2Cor 6:9 he writes of himself "as dying, yet behold we live."
In Ro 4:19-note Paul uses nekrosis figuratively to convey the sense of "utter lack of strength and vital power… But here the literal sense, ‘the being put to death,’ must evidently be kept, and the expression understood as 1 Cor. 15:31." (Henry Alford)
John MacArthur comments that…
Dying does not translate thanatos, Paul’s usual word for death, but nekrosis. Thanatos speaks of death as a fact or an event, while nekrosis describes the process of dying.
Nekrosis was a Greek medical term for the withering or mortification (medically the death and consequent putrefaction of one part of an animal body, while the rest is alive. Spiritually something saints are commanded to do [How goes your mortification lately dear brother or sister?] see below] Col 3:5KJV-note) of a member or the body.
Let's take a brief excursus (digression) on Webster's (1828) definition of mortification…
In Scripture, the act of subduing the passions and appetites by penance (act of self abasement), abstinence or painful severities inflicted on the body. The mortification of the body by fasting has been the practice of almost all nations, and the mortification of the appetites and passions by self-denial is always a Christian duty.
Comment: This is a potentially misleading definition - yes self-denial is clearly called for in Scripture (Mk 8:34, Col 3:5-note being examples). But "self" can hardly "cast out" self so to speak (cp Mk 3:24, 25 26). Such efforts to do so may impress others (and even deceptively "impress" oneself), for as Paul clearly warned "These (See context = Col 2:20 21 22-note) are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance (they look good!) of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement (e.g., penance) and severe treatment of the body, but are of (absolutely) no value against fleshly indulgence (NLT paraphrases this last part = "they have no effect when it comes to conquering a person's evil thoughts and desires")"(Col 2:23-note) We have no power to carry out a supernatural work (self-denial) and need to rely on the Holy Spirit for power. Yes, we must choose to deny self, but even the desire (or motivation) to choose to deny self ultimately comes not from self but from God. Mystery of mysteries. Note this is not saying let go and let God (quietism) but more like "Let's go and let God!". See Ro 8:13-note, Php 2:12-note, Php 2:13-note, Ezek 36:26, 27 all of which show the Scriptural balance of believers working out what the Spirit works in! Is this somewhat difficult to comprehend? Absolutely (in my opinion)! But is it God's way? Absolutely! Is it possible to accomplish? Absolutely! But never perfectly in this lifetime (1Jn 1:8). If you falter or fall, don't let your enemy bring you to the brink of despair (He "majors" in the 3D's - Doubt, Despair and Discouragement 2Co 2:11, Ep 6:10-note, Ep 6:11-note Ep 6:16-note). Cry out to God. Lean hard on Him (Ps 3:3-note Ps 42:5-note Ps 43:5-note). Remember David's wise words that "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise." (Ps 51:17-note)
So that (2443) (hina) is used to express purpose or to introduce a conclusion, in this case the paradoxical conclusion that "death" resulted in manifestation of life.
MacDonald writes that the life of Jesus obviously
does not here mean primarily His life as a Man on earth, but His present life as the exalted Son of God in heaven. How can the world see the life of Christ when He is not personally or physically present in the world today? The answer is that as we Christians suffer in the service of the Lord, His life is manifested in our body.
Life (2222) (zoe) in Scripture is used (1) to refer to physical life (Ro 8:38-note, 1Co 3:22, Php 1:20-note, James 4:14, etc) but more often to (2) to supernatural life in contrast to a life subject to eternal death (Jn 3:36, see all 43 uses of "eternal life" below). This quality of life speaks of fullness of life which alone belongs to God the Giver of life and is available to His children now (Ro 6:4-note, Ep 4:18-note) as well as in eternity future (Mk 10:30, Titus 1:2-note on Eternal Life).
Hughes comments that the manifestation of the life of Jesus
refers both to the here and now and to the life hereafter. Those who observed Paul saw the life of Jesus in the amazing power that was displayed through Paul’s weakness as he was “not squashed” and “not befuddled” and “not abandoned” and “not knocked out.” (2Co 4:8,9) In the same way, the life of Jesus is manifested in the lives of those who truly follow Him. And ultimately these realities will be full-blown in our final deliverance from mortality in the great resurrection of the dead.
MacArthur explains that…
The apostle’s courageous, faithful, patient enduring of suffering manifested the power of the living Christ in his life… there was no explanation for the impact of Paul’s ministry except that God’s power flowed through him.
Henry Alford interprets this to indicate…
that in our bodies, holding up against such troubles and preserved in such dangers, may be shown forth that mighty power of God which is a testimony that Jesus lives and is exalted to be a Prince and a Savior (The New Testament for English Readers)
Manifested (5319) (phaneroo from phanerós = manifest, visible, conspicuous in turn from phaino = give light; become visible in turn from phos = light) is literally "to bring to light" and primarily means "to make visible" or to cause to become visible. To clearly reveal, to cause to be seen or to make clear and/or known. And so the root idea of phaneroo is that there is an external manifestation to the senses which is clearly visible. For example, in Ro 1:19 God has made it known to all men through His creation that He exists (see Ro 1:20).
Thayer adds the thought that phaneroo means "to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown, to manifest, whether by words, or deeds, or in any other way." In the context of 2Co 4:10, it follows that if we try to avoid "the dying of Jesus" in our bodies (i.e., shy away from being willing to suffer for His Name's sake), the One Who is in us (Col 1:27-note) will remain hidden from those we encounter, especially those who have never received Christ and are still dead in their trespasses and sins (Ep 2:1-note).
Vine notes that…
To be manifested, in the Scriptural sense of the word, is more than to “appear.” A person may “appear” in a false guise or without a disclosure of what he truly is; to be manifested is to be revealed in one’s true character; this is especially the meaning of phaneroo, see, e.g., John 3:21; 1Co 4:5; 2Co 5:10, 11-note ; Ep 5:13-note. (Vine, W E: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. 1996. Nelson) (Bolding added)
It is notable that almost 1/4 of the 44 NT uses of phaneroo are in the Corinthian epistles - 1Co4:5 2Co2:14 3:3 4:10,11 5:10,11 7:12 11:6
In our body - This envisions Paul's body functioning as a platform or stage for the resurrection life of Christ to be displayed as "the main act" to a dying world. This truth should put a new perspective on the suffering you are currently experiencing for the sake of His Name (and remember that Paul will cap off this chapter with the additional encouraging promise of 2Co 4:17-note, 2Co 4:18-note). Earlier Paul described himself as a "jar of clay" that contained a priceless treasure. In the presence passage it is as if the clay pot must be broken for that treasure to be most clearly presented.
Adam Clarke on that the life of Jesus also may be manifested…
That in our preservation, the success of our ministry, and the miracles we work, we might be able to give the fullest demonstration that Jesus is risen again from the dead; and that we are strengthened by him to do all these mighty works.
Dying Daily - Are you in a situation where you are often misunderstood for your faith in Christ? Are you surrounded by people with a carping, critical spirit? Do you get little or no credit for the work you do in your church or for your family?
The proper response is a willingness to have a humble and submissive spirit—to die as Jesus did throughout His life. Yes, our Lord died once on the cross; but in another sense He also died every day. The cross was the culmination of an entire lifetime of dying. He was willing to be misunderstood and maligned, to give up home and comforts, to take the role of a servant. That was His “death.” We must be willing to die in that way as well.
When we die with Him, God’s gift to us is “the life of Jesus” (2Corinthians 4:10), the most attractive life ever lived. His beauty will gradually grow in us and become our beauty as well.
Remember this saying: "A picture is worth a thousand words.” The portrait you draw of Jesus with your humble, tranquil presence in the face of grievous wrong is worth many words on the subject. Some may see the life of Jesus revealed in you and long to enter into that life. That’s how dying daily can help bring life to another. - David H. Roper
Dear Jesus, take my heart and hand,
And grant me this, I pray:
That I through Your sweet love may grow
More like You day by day. —Garrison
2 Corinthians 4:11 Commentary
Amplified: For we who live are constantly [experiencing] being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be evidenced through our flesh which is liable to death. (Lockman)
Barclay: For all through our lives we are continually handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life also which Jesus gives may be clear for all to see in our mortal flesh. (Westminster Press)
God's Word: While we are alive, we are constantly handed over to death for Jesus' sake so that the life of Jesus is also shown in our mortal nature. (GWT)
Easy English: Because, whilst we are alive, we are always in danger of death. This is because we serve Jesus. As a result, people may see his life in our human bodies.
ESV: For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. (ESV)
KJV: For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
NET: For we who are alive are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our mortal body. (NET Bible)
NIV: For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. (NIV - IBS)
NLT: Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Yes, we who are living are always being exposed to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be plainly seen in our mortal lives. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Weymouth: For we, alive though we are, are continually surrendering ourselves to death for the sake of Jesus, so that in this mortal nature of ours it may also be clearly shown that Jesus lives.
Wuest: for, as for us, we who are living are perpetually being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake in order that the life of Jesus might be clearly and openly shown in our mortal body. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: for always are we who are living delivered up to death because of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our dying flesh,
FOR WE WHO LIVE ARE CONSTANTLY BEING DELIVERED OVER TO DEATH FOR JESUS' SAKE, SO THAT THE LIFE OF JESUS ALSO MAY BE MANIFESTED IN OUR MORTAL FLESH: aei gar hemeis oi zontes (PAPMPN) eis thanaton paradidometha (1PPPI) dia Iesoun, hina kai e zoe tou Iesou phanerothe (3SAPS) en te thnete sarki hemon: (Are constantly: Ps 44:22 141:7 Ro 8:36 1Co 15:31,49) (Our: 2Co 5:4 Ro 8:11 1Co 15:53,54)
REITERATION OF THE TRUTH
OF THE DEATH THAT GIVES LIFE
For (gar) is explanatory. "Explanation and confirmation of 2Co 4:10" (Alford). In a sense Paul is repeating himself as he continues to amplify his teaching on life coming from death. In fact, Bernard writes…
The key to the interpretation of 2Co 4:10 is to observe that 2Co 4:11 is the explanation of it; the two verses are strictly parallel: “our mortal flesh” of 2Co 4:11 is only a more emphatic and literal way of describing “our body” of 2Co 4:10. (2 Corinthians 4 Expositor's Greek Testament)
MacDonald is correct when he says that life out of death…
is one of the deepest principles of our existence. The meat we eat and by which we live comes through the death of animals. It is so in the spiritual realm. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” The more the church is persecuted and afflicted and hunted and pursued, the more Christianity spreads. And yet it is difficult for us to accept this truth. When violence comes to a servant of the Lord, we normally think of it as a tragedy. Actually, this is God’s normal way of dealing. It is not the exception. Constant exposure to death for Jesus’ sake is the divine manner in which the life of Jesus is manifested in our mortal bodies.
We who live - Literally "the living". In this passage Paul is referring to physical life, and yet to be sure he is also experiencing the divine paradox of living life to the full, by allowing the dying of Jesus to continually take place.
Beet on we who live…
in contrast to Christ who died, and to the death into which day by day they are being given up. They were living victims of death.
Live (2198) (zao) can refer to natural physical life (as opposed to death), to return to life from death (Mt 9:18, Acts 9:41, 20:12 Re 20:4, of Jesus Lk 24:5, Acts 1:3), to recovery from illness (Mt 5:23, Jn 4:50), to the sphere in which one lives (Acts 17:28), to one's conduct (how they live) (2Ti 3:12, cp Ro 6:2), to supernatural life (Jn 11:25, 26), of abundant life lived in the Spirit of Christ (Gal 2:20).
Constantly - This adverb is place first in the Greek text for emphasis.
And yet, although we are preserved alive, we are in such continual dangers that we carry our life in our hands, and are constantly in the spirit of sacrifice. But the life-the preserving power, of Christ is manifest in our continual support.
Aei - 7x in 7v - Acts 7:51; 2 Cor 4:11; 6:10; Titus 1:12; He 3:10; 1Pe 3:15; 2Pe 1:12. NAS = always(6), constantly(1).
Aei - 5x in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Esther 3:13 8:12; Ps 95:10; Isa 42:14; 51:13
Psalm 95:10 For forty years I loathed that generation, and said they are a people who err (Lxx = aei = rendered "always err") in their heart, and they do not know My ways.
Comment: Most of Israel that came out of Egypt were not saved contrary to popular opinion and verses such as this make that very clear.
Spurgeon: Their heart was obstinately and constantly at fault; it was not their head which erred, but their very heart was perverse: love, which appealed to their affections, could not convert them. The heart is the main spring of the man, and if it be not in order, the entire nature is thrown out of gear. If sin were only skin deep, it might be a slight matter; but since it has defiled the soul, the case is bad indeed. Taught as they were by Jehovah himself in lessons illustrated by miracles, which came to them daily in the manual from heaven, and the water from the flinty rock, they ought to have learned something, and it was a foul shame that they remained obstinately ignorant, and would not know the ways of God. Wanderers in body, they were also wanderers in heart, and the plain providential goodness of their God remained to their blinded minds as great a maze as those twisting paths by which he led them through the wilderness. Are we better than they? Are we not quite as apt to misinterpret the dealings of the Lord? Have we suffered and enjoyed so many things in vain? With many it is even so. Forty years of providential wisdom, yea, and even a longer period of experience, have failed to teach them serenity of assurance, and firmness of reliance. There is ground for much searching of heart concerning this. Many treat unbelief as a minor fault, they even regard it rather as an infirmity than a crime, but the Lord thinketh not so. Faith is Jehovah's due, especially from those who claim to be the people of his pasture, and yet more emphatically from those whose long life has been crowded with evidences of his goodness: unbelief insults one of the dearest attributes of Deity, it does so needlessly and without the slightest ground and in defiance of all sufficient arguments, weighty with the eloquence of love. Let us in reading this psalm examine ourselves, and lay these things to heart.
Delivered (3860) (paradidomi from para = alongside, beside, to the side of, over to + didomi = to give) conveys the basic meaning of to give over from one's hand to someone or something, especially to give over to the power of another.
See related note above under "always carrying about...".
Why was Paul constantly delivered over to death? For the same reason John was on the Isle of Patmos…
I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos, because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. (Rev 1:9-note)
Comment: If you are proclaiming the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus, you may not be on the Isle of Patmos but doubtless you have experienced significant spiritual warfare for the enemy hates when a preacher or teacher is diligent to handle accurately the Word of Truth (2Ti 2:15-note)
The present tense emphasizes that this is a continual process in Paul's life (deliverance over to the power of death) (cp his statement "I die daily" 1Co 15:31 = Daily Paul was exposed to the possibility of literal death. While the daily exposure to physical death is the primary sense, it certainly does not exclude that He also died daily to self. Cp Lk 9:23 where taking up the Cross speaks of death to self and possibly even physical death)
ITS A MATTER OF
DEATH AND LIFE!
Jesus used paradidomi in a similar statement about LIFE coming out of DEATH. The difference of course is that when Jesus was given over to the power of death, it was a one time event (the Cross)…
For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered (paradidomi - also used in a similar context in Mk 10:33) into the hands of men, and they will kill Him (DEATH); and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later (LIFE).” (Mk 9:31, cp use of paradidomi in parallel passages = Mt 20:18, 19, Lk 18:31, 32, 33, Lk 24:7)
Jesus also presented an agricultural metaphor to emphasize the paradoxical spiritual principle that LIFE comes out of DEATH
Truly, truly (Amen, Amen), I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (Jn 12:24)
Comment: In context (shortly before His crucifixion) Jesus was metaphorically describing His crucifixion which would provide the way of salvation by which many might receive eternal life.
Wiersbe: Jesus used the image of a seed to illustrate the great spiritual truth that there can be no glory without suffering, no fruitful life without death, no victory without surrender. Of itself, a seed is weak and useless; but when it is planted, it “dies” and becomes fruitful. There is both beauty and bounty when a seed “dies” and fulfills its purpose. If a seed could talk, it would no doubt complain about being put into the cold, dark earth. But the only way it can achieve its goal is by being planted. God’s children are like seeds. They are small and insignificant, but they have life in them, God’s life. However, that life can never be fulfilled unless we yield ourselves to God and permit Him to “plant us.” We must die to self so that we may live unto God (Rom. 6; Gal. 2:20). The only way to have a fruitful life is to follow Jesus Christ in death, burial, and resurrection. In these words, Jesus challenges us today to surrender our lives to Him. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament. 1989. Victor or Logos or Wordsearch)
Paul used paradidomi in the first letter writing…
I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1Co 5:5)
Paul used paradidomi to describe his teaching, including the Gospel…
Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. (1Corinthians 11:2)
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1Corinthians 15:3-note)
Paul used paradidomi eschatologically to refer to the time after Christ's 1000 reign (Millennium)…
then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power (1Corinthians 15:24)
THE MARK OF TRUE MINISTRY
NOT STARS, BUT SCARS
Being delivered over to death - Death is personified as a power to which Paul was given over continually. He allowed himself to be continually delivered over to suffering. This was costly in many ways and he could have easily reasoned "I've had enough. It's time to retire." But Paul kept the goal of prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus continually in his vision as he ran with endurance, tired yes, but giving up, never.
In light of what it cost Paul, Warren Wiersbe makes an cogent comment…
It has been my experience that many churches are ignorant of the price a pastor pays to be faithful to the Lord in serving His people. This section is one of three sections in 2 Corinthians devoted to a listing of Paul’s sufferings. The other two are 2Co 6:1-10 and 2Co 11:16-12:10. The test of a true ministry is not stars, but scars… How can we keep from giving up? By remembering that we are privileged to have the treasure of the Gospel in our vessels of clay!
In another passage Paul makes a similar statement…
I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. (1 Co 15:31)
Death (2288) (thanatos from thnesko = to die) describes a permanent cessation of all vital functions. Death speaks of a separation (as of the soul from the physical body). Spiritually, death describes separation from God (Jn 5:24). The second death (eternal damnation in the Lake of fire) (Rev 2:11, Re 20:6). In the NT refers not so much to a natural process per se but to a destroying power related to sin and its consequences.
For Jesus' sake - Make sure you are suffering for the right reason. Jesus is not just the reason for the season, but is also to be the reason for the suffering!
Guzik adds that…
Paul knew the spiritual riches that he brought to the Corinthian Christians came, in part, through the death-like suffering he endured in ministry. God made Paul more effective in ministry through his suffering. Sometimes we think that if someone is really spiritual, or really used of God, they will live in a constant state of “victory” that means life will always be easy. Understanding what Paul writes here not only tells us that God’s servants may experience death-like suffering, but that God has a good and glorious purpose in allowing it.
G. Campbell Morgan tells the story of a great young preacher who was impressive early on in his ministry. Once he had the young man to speak at his church, and after the sermon Morgan asked his wife, “Wasn’t that wonderful?” She quietly replied, “Yes, but it will be more wonderful when he has suffered.” Morgan adds: “Well, he suffered, and it was more powerful.”
So that (hina) again is introduces a purpose clause, in this case the reason for the suffering. It has a high and holy purpose. As someone has well said "There is no abundant life without first an abasing death."
Living daily for Christ
Requires dying daily to self.
The life of Jesus - That others may see Christ in Paul the hope (absolute assurance of future good) of glory.
God exhibits Death in the living, that He may exhibit Life in the dying. (The New Testament for English Readers)
Wiersbe comments that…
Sometimes God permits our vessels ("clay pots" 2Co 4:7) to be jarred so that some of the treasure will spill out and enrich others. Suffering reveals not only the weakness of man but also the glory of God. Paul presented a series of paradoxes in this paragraph (1Co 4:7-12):
earthen vessels—power of God;
the dying of Jesus—the life of Jesus;
death working—life working.
The natural mind cannot understand this kind of spiritual truth and therefore cannot understand why Christians triumph over suffering. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament. 1989. Victor or Logos or Wordsearch)
In our mortal flesh - In real lives of real people who really suffered for Christ.
Mortal (2349) (thnetos) means that which is subject to death, destined to die (the destiny of everyone because of Adam's sin - Ro 5:12). It is interesting to note that in the ancient Greco-Roman "the basic difference between humans and deities relates to the mortality of the former and the immortality of the latter" (BDAG), except that their "gods" were really no gods at all, demonstrating the utter foolishness of rejecting the clear natural revelation of the Creator (cp Ro 1:22, 23).
Thnetos - 6x in 6v in the NAS and all are rendered "mortal" in the NAS.
Romans 6:12-note Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,
Romans 8:11-not But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
1Corinthians 15:53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.
2 Corinthians 4:11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
2 Corinthians 5:4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.
KJV Bible Commentary makes an interesting analogy…
A diamond is best seen against a black background. The brilliance of the life that is in Christ Jesus is best seen against the background of death. (Dobson, E G, Charles Feinberg, E Hindson, Woodrow Kroll, H L. Wilmington: KJV Bible Commentary: Nelson or Logos)
2 Corinthians 4:12 Commentary
Amplified: Thus death is actively at work in us, but [it is in order that our] life [may be actively at work] in you. (Lockman)
Barclay: The result is that death operates in us, but life operates in you. (Westminster Press)
God's Word: Death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (GWT)
Easy English: So death is our experience, but life is your experience.
ESV: So death is at work in us, but life in you. (ESV)
KJV: So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
NET: As a result, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (NET Bible)
NIV: So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (NIV - IBS)
NLT: So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: We are always facing death, but this means that you know more and more of life. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Weymouth: Thus we are constantly dying, while you are in full enjoyment of Life.
Wuest: So that death is operative in us but the life is operative in you. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: so that, the death indeed in us doth work, and the life in you.
SO DEATH WORKS IN US, BUT LIFE IN YOU: hoste o thanatos en hemin energeitai, (3SPMI) e de zoe en humin: (death: 2Co 12:15 13:9 Ac 20:24 1Co 4:10 Php 2:17,30 1Jn 3:16)
THE PARADOX OF
LIFE OUT OF DEATH
Again the Amplified Version is helpful…
Thus death is actively at work in us, but [it is in order that our] life [may be actively at work] in you.
When we die He lives; when we lose He wins; when were weak He’s strong; when we are dependent He is powerful. This is paradox at its finest! (2Corinthians 4 Sermon)
Hughes comments that…
Paul concludes this astonishing paragraph with an unexpected twist because, by the way Paul has been structuring his thought, we would expect him to say something like, “So death is at work in us, but life is also at work in us.” But surprisingly, he says, “So death is at work in us, but life in you.” This is, of course, the great principle of the cross. Christ died that we might live. The great exchange of the gospel is: Christ’s life for ours. And those who are used most to spread the good news of Christ embrace death as the operational principle of ministry. When George Muller, pastor and provider for thousands of children, was asked his secret, he hung his head and said, “There was a day when I died.” Then he hung it lower and said, “Died to George Muller.”
Death works in us - Most commentators agree that "us" is used "editorially" to refer to himself. Paul was continually willing to die to self that others might experience life in Christ., specifically the Risen Life of Christ, the Source of present grace and future glory. Paul's constant suffering made spiritual life to a reality for the Corinthians. Furthermore, it was Paul's belief in a future resurrection which made him willing to carry about in his body the dying of Jesus, willing even to die daily (1Co 15:31)
A DYING LIFE
Adam Clarke paraphrases Paul as saying "We apostles are in continual danger, and live a dying life."
Jesus spoke of the paradoxical principle of death birthing life in John 12 (speaking of His crucifixion)
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. (Jn 12:24 25 26)
J H Jowett could have easily been speaking of Paul's testimony in this section when he said
Ministry that costs nothing,
Beet explains that death is personified in a sense…
In the plots and attacks of enemies Death was active, stretching out its hand to take them. And in their spared life, preserved by God’s power and spent in proclaiming the Gospel, the abstract principle of Life was at work among their hearers. The preachers daily felt themselves sinking into the grave: and their daily deliverance was daily working eternal life among their converts.
Death (2288) (thanatos from thnesko = to die) describes a permanent cessation of all vital functions. In this context Paul speaks of death as a picture of the suffering and afflictions he is experiencing for the sake of Christ.
In allowing death to work in him, Paul was living out John's exhortation in his first epistle…
We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1Jn 3:16)
Kruse explains that…
Daily exposure to forces leading to death is Paul’s experience, but accompanying that is a continual manifestation of the life of Jesus in the apostle, here not only to sustain him, but to work through him, bringing life to others.
Works ( 1754)(energeo from en = in + érgon = work. English = energetic) means to work effectively to cause something to happen. To energize, to operate, to work effectually in. It means power in exercise, and is used only of superhuman power. To work energetically, effectively and/or efficiently. To put forth energy. To be at work. To produce results.
The present tense emphasizes the effective work of death is an ongoing process in Paul's life. It is continually at work.
Energeo describes active, efficient, effective working. Paul is saying that the power of God's word exerts effective, energetic power in believers. This activity put forth in an individual energizes him to the doing of certain things intended by the one who is doing the energizing.
MacDonald comments on the work of death in Paul writing that…
In order for Paul ever to go to Corinth with the gospel, he had to suffer untold hardships. But it was worth it all, because they had trusted in the Lord Jesus and now had eternal life. Paul’s physical suffering and loss meant spiritual gain to others. Robertson says, “His dying was working out for the good of those who were benefited by his ministry.” Oftentimes we have the tendency to cry out to the Lord in sickness, asking Him to deliver us from it, so that we might serve Him better. Perhaps we should sometimes thank God for such afflictions in our lives, and glory in our infirmities that the power of Christ might rest upon us.
Albert Barnes on death works 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 [continually] 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.
Paul describes his willingness to die to self and to suffer for the sake of Christ in Acts 20 affirming that
I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself (He was willing to die for Jesus. He knew he was not his own but belonged to Him cp 1Co 6:19, 20), in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God (Ed: The Gospel that effectively works life in you). (Acts 20:24)
But life in you - Presents the dramatic life and death contrast. Our death brings you life.
Barnes explains that…
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.
Life (works) in you - Spiritual life, which begins with reception of the Gospel which Paul preached to them.
Kent Hughes comments that…
This weakness-power principle was, in effect, the life-death principle of Christ himself—so that Paul was carrying in his body the dying of Jesus with the result that the life of Jesus was manifested in his mortal flesh. The effect was that as death was at work in him, life was at work in his hearers. Paul’s weakness was definitely the ground of God’s power. (Hughes, R. K. 2 Corinthians: Power in Weakness. Preaching the Word. Crossway or Logos or Wordsearch)
KJV Bible Commentary…
Through a ministry of weakness and suffering Paul was able to accomplish a very positive ministry in Corinth (cf. 1Cor 2:1 2 3 4). (Dobson, E G, Charles Feinberg, E Hindson, Woodrow Kroll, H L. Wilmington: KJV Bible Commentary: Nelson or Logos)
Wiersbe comments that
If we die to self, it is so that the life of Christ might be revealed in us. If we go through trials, it is so that Christ might be glorified. And all of this is for the sake of others. As we serve Christ, death works in us—but life works in those to whom we minister.
Life (2222) (zoe) in Scripture is used (1) to refer to physical life (Ro 8:38-note, 1Co 3:22, Php 1:20-note, James 4:14, etc) but more often to (2) to supernatural life in contrast to a life subject to eternal death (Jn 3:36, see all 43 uses of "eternal life" below). This quality of life speaks of fullness of life which alone belongs to God the Giver of life and is available to His children now (Ro 6:4-note, Ep 4:18-note) as well as in eternity future (Mk 10:30, Titus 1:2-note on Eternal Life).
Some commentators like Dave Guzik feel that some of what Paul was saying in this last section had a touch of irony (I'm not sure about this interpretation but will mention it for your pondering)…
Here is the irony. The Corinthian Christians despised Paul because of his great sufferings, and because of what they thought was their great lives of “victory.” But they did not see that their lives of victory were only made possible because God had made Paul such an effective servant through suffering!
Henry Alford (I agree with his assessment) argues against the ironic sense noting that…
Chrysostom., Calvin, al., take the verse ironically, "so we have all the danger, and you all the profit:", but such a sentiment seems alien from the spirit of the passage. Meyer, as unfortunately, limits zoe to natural life, whereas (as above) the context plainly evinces spiritual life to be meant, not merely natural.
In Ro 8:10, 11, the vivifying influence of His Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is spoken of as extending to the body also; here, the upholding influence of Him who delivers and preserves the body, is spoken of as vivifying the whole man: LIFE, in both places, being the higher and spiritual life, including the lower and natural. ‘And, in our relative positions,—of this life, ye are the examples,—a church of believers, alive to God through Christ in your various vocations, and not called on to be exhibited in an arena [cf. 1Co 4:9; He 10:33] as we are, who are (not indeed excluded from that life,—nay it flows from us to you,—but are) more especially examples of conformity to the death of our common Lord:—in Whom death works.’ (The New Testament for English Readers)