|IN WHOSE CASE THE GOD OF THIS WORLD HAS BLINDED THE MINDS OF THE UNBELIEVING: en tois o theos tou aionos toutou etuphlosen (3AAI) ta noemata ton apiston: (the god: Mt 4:8,9 Jn 12:31,40 14:30 16:11 1Co 10:20 Eph 2:2 6:12 1Jn 5:19 Rev 20:2,3) (blinded: 2Co 3:14 1Ki 22:22 Isa 6:10 Jn 12:40)
In whose case - Referring to those who are in a persistent state of spiritual ruin even though they are still physically alive (2Co 4:3)!
The god of this world - More literally this is "the god of this age" ("World" is aion [word study] = age). This epithet (a characterizing phrase occurring in place of the name) refers to "the great dragon (who) was thrown down (to occur at mid-point of "Daniel's 70th Week" see chart for events at "Midpoint"), the serpent of old (Ge 3:1) who is called the devil and Satan" (Rev 12:9-note) (See also the discussion of the 3 mortal enemies of our soul - world, flesh, devil). As discussed below God has granted Satan temporary "squatter's rights" over the earth, but never forget that God is still on His Throne and the earth ultimately belongs to Him (eg, see Pr 24:1, 1Ti 1:17). To be sure, Satan has very real power and authority but he can only do what the Lord permits (eg see Job 1:6, 7, 8, 9 10 11 12).
John MacArthur rightly reminds us that although Paul uses the same Greek word theos here to describe the devil, the truth is that...
Satan, of course, is not a god but a created being. He is called a god because his deluded followers serve him as if he were one. Satan is the archetype of all the false gods in all the false religions he has spawned. (MacArthur, J: 2Corinthians. Chicago: Moody Press or Logos or Wordsearch)
Guzik has a helpful note warning that...
The Biblical truth that Satan is the god of this age can be understood in a wrong way. Some later Christians (like the Manichaeans) promoted a dualistic understanding of God and Satan, and emphasized this phrase the god of this age. Their idea was that God and Satan were “equal opponents,” instead of understanding that in no way is Satan the opposite of God. In reaction to these false doctrines, many early Christian commentators (like Augustine, Origen, Chrysostom and others) interpreted this verse strangely to “remove ammunition” from the heretics. But this is wrong. Just because some one twists a truth one way, it doesn’t mean we can twist it the other way to “compensate.” Calvin well remarks of this approach, “being hard pressed by their opponents they were more anxious to refute them than to expound Paul.” Instead, Calvin gives a good sense of what we should understand by the phrase the god of this age: “The devil is called the god of this age in no other way than Baal was called the god of those who worshipped him or the dog the god of Egypt.” (2 Corinthians 4 Commentary)
Satan is the one who has been granted temporary authority over this fallen world system (see kosmos) a truth that is taught in the Devil's temptation of Christ where he offers our Lord all the kingdoms of the world...
And he (the devil) led Him (Jesus) up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "I will give You all this domain (exousia ~ the right and the might) and its glory (albeit a passing glory - 1Jn 2:17-note); for it has been handed over (paradidomi = given over into the power of Satan) to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. "Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours." (Lk 4:5, 6,7, cp Mt 4:8, 9).
Comment: Note that the Lord does not deny Satan's "claim" over all the kingdoms of this world.
Jesus refers to Satan as a ruler declaring...
Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler (archon - first in rank - in the spiritual world over all spiritual forces of wickedness - Ep 6:12-note) of this world shall be cast out. (Jn 12:31)
I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler (archon) of the world (kosmos) is coming, and he has nothing in Me (There is nothing in Jesus character wherein the devil can get a foothold) (Jn 14:30)
(Jesus speaking about the Holy Spirit Jn 16:8, 9, 10) and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. (Jn 16:11)
Comment: The fate of Satan is so sure that here Jesus speaks uses the past tense to describe the future judgment of Satan at the Cross, where Christ triumphed once and for all over the god of this world. (even as foretold in the Protoevangelium in Ge 3:15, cp He 2:14,15-note, Col 2:15-note, with Satan's final and eternal punishment in Rev 20:10-note)
Paul calls Satan a prince...
(Addressing the saints at Ephesus who were once spiritually dead Ep 2:1-note) in which you formerly walked (conducting your life) according to the course of this world (kosmos), according to the prince (archon ~ Satan) of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working ("energizing") in the sons of disobedience. (Ep 2:2-note)
John refers to him as the evil one over this fallen world..
We (believers) know (perfect tense = speaks of a permanent, intrinsic knowledge God's Spirit has bestowed on believers so that they might be assured that they are genuinely saved - cp 1Jn 5:13, Jn 20:31 Ro 8:15-note Ro 8:16-note Gal 4:6) that we are of God (in His family, 1Jn 3:1-note, His children Jn 1:12, 13), and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (1Jn 5:19)
Blinded - This description recalls Paul's initial encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road (Read Acts 9:3, 4, 5, 6) in which the light of the glory of Christ blinded Paul's physical eyes (Acts 9:8, 9), but opened the eyes of his heart so that He could see Jesus for Who He really was. The spiritual dynamic Paul describes here in 2Co 4:4 is essentially the antithesis (direct opposite) of his own personal experience, for in the present passage, instead of opening the eyes of the mind, Satan blinds their mind and their spiritual vision, leaving their physical vision intact. The upshot (final effect) is that these unbelievers (whose unbelief precedes their being blinded) are rendered incapable of seeing (comprehending) the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ. (See below for related note on "blinded" in John 12:40).
Barclay translates it...
In their case, the god of this world has blinded the minds of those who refuse to believe, in order that upon them there may not dawn the light of the good news which tells of the glory of Christ in whom we can see God.
In his description of the superiority of the New Covenant Paul had just explained that the minds of most of the Jews in the Old Testament (excepting the believing remnant)...
were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. (2Cor 3:14-note)
Comment: In other words, because they refused the light God had given them, they experienced His divine retributive judgment ("hardened" is in the passive voice = which speaks of action on the subject from an outside source, i.e., in this case God!) and were consequently unable to comprehend (cp "a veil lies over their heart" - 2Co 3:15-note) the true significance and purpose of the Old Covenant (which pointed to Christ in shadows and types and which shut men up in their sin, teaching them the sinfulness of sin but also leading them like a tutor to Christ)
But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 Jn 2:11)
Blinded (5186) (tuphloo/typhloo from tuphlos/typhlos = blind from a root tuph/typh- = to burn, smoke, cp tuphos = smoke) to envelop with smoke and in the active sense means to make blind, to rob of sight. The passive sense means to go blind, to be blinded, to be unable to see clearly. The figurative sense means to be unable to "see" (understand, comprehend) some truth, especially spiritual truth.
Ralph Enlow writes that...
Scripture often employs the imagery of blindness to describe the spiritual condition of persons who are either unable or unwilling to perceive divine revelation. The things of God are perceived not by observation and inquiry, but by revelation and illumination (Mt 11:25, 26, 27; 1Co 1:21; 2Pe 1:19, 20, 21-note). It is the Lord who "gives sight to the blind" (Ps146:8-note; Is 42:16).
The New Testament reveals that believers are subject to spiritual blindness. Peter deems those who fail increasingly to exhibit diligence in pursuit of spiritual virtue as blind or nearsighted (2Pe 1:9-note). And the exalted Lord of the church views the lukewarm but haughty Laodicean church as wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked (Re 3:17-note).
Spiritual blindness, then, refers in some instances to the inability of unbelievers to comprehend spiritual truth, specifically failure to recognize the true identity of the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ (Jn 1:1, 14)
It is vital, therefore, to conduct all Christian witness
in dependence on the Holy Spirit
(Ac1:8 2:4 4:8 4:31 6:5 8 10 7:55 9:17 10:38 11:24 13:52)
Who works to counteract the cataracts of Satan and to reveal the truth of God (cp Lk 24:45 Ac16:14, 26:18). But spiritual blindness can also afflict believers who fail to perceive their true spiritual condition. To avoid the plague of spiritual blindness and escape the condemnation of leading others into spiritual ruin, believers must be quick to appropriate and obey the Word of God. (Read the entire article - Blindness - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology) (Bolding and color added for emphasis)
Paul uses the figurative sense meaning to cause someone not to be able to understand or comprehend the Good News of Jesus.
NIDNTT comments that the root noun tuphlos...
may even be applied to dark, obscure things, and also to rivers and harbours choked with mud. The barbaric custom of blinding for revenge or punishment is well attested.
There are only 3 uses (2Co 4:4, Jn 12:40, 1Jn 2:11) of tuphloo in the NT and all are used with the figurative meaning referring to blinding of one's ability to understand something. (One occurrence in the non-apocryphal Lxx = Is 42:19)...
John 12:40 "HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM." (Quoting Is 6:10)
Comment: The context is important in understanding this passage (see Jn 12:37, 38, 39) In Jn 12:37 John records that the Jews were not believing in Jesus and explains that this fulfills the prophecy in Is 53:1. Then John quoted Is 6:9,10 to explain that Israel as a whole was unable to believe (Jn 12:39 = "They could not believe"!). Jn 12:39 teaches that it is possible to harden one's heart to the point that he cannot believe. The corollary caution is because of this danger, we must believe while there is still light. Israel as a nation (excepting the believing remnant) had repeatedly rejected God’s righteous revelation and the result was that God had punished them with judicial blindness. John MacArthur adds that "Although God predestined such judgment, it was not apart from human responsibility and culpability (see Jn 8:24)."
Guzik comments: There comes a place where God will strengthen us in our decision, whether for Jesus or against Jesus. Ultimately, before God, we get what we want, and those who push Jesus away will not have to endure eternity with Him. (2 Corinthians 4 Commentary)
William MacDonald comments on Jn 12:40: This quotation was from Isaiah 6:9, 10. God blinded the eyes of the people of Israel and hardened their hearts. He did not do this at first, but only after they had closed their eyes and hardened their own hearts. As a result of Israel’s stubborn and willful rejection of the Messiah, they cut themselves off from sight, understanding, conversion, and healing. (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or Logos)
I love Warren Wiersbe summarization of Jn 12:37-41: The key word in this section is believe; it is used eight times (in Jn 12:37-49). First, John explained the unbelief of the people. They would not believe (John 12:37–38, with a quotation from Isa. 53:1); they could not believe (John 12:39); and they should not believe (John 12:40–41, with a quotation from Isa 6:9, 10). (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary - Old Testament. Victor or Wordsearch)
1Jn 2:11 But the one who hates (present tense = habitual conduct) his brother is (present tense = continually) in the darkness and walks (present tense = habitual conduct) in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
Wuest comments: The penalty of living in the darkness is not merely that one does not see, but that one goes blind. The neglected faculty is atrophied. Compare the mole, the crustacea in the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky. Commenting on the words “has blinded,” Vincent says: “The aorist tense, blinded, indicates a past, definite, decisive act. When the darkness overtook, it blinded. The blindness is no new state into which he has come.” This person is, of course, an unsaved person professing Christianity. Habitually conducting (present tense = habitual conduct) one’s self in the sphere of darkness is indicative of an unsaved state (cp 1Jn 3:15). (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans or Logos or Wordsearch)
J Vernon McGee agrees: My friend, John has given here a tremendous statement: “He that hates (continually) his brother is in darkness, and walks (continually) in darkness, and knows not where he goes, because that darkness has blinded his eyes.” If you want to know for sure that you are a child of God, apply this test to your own life. If you are hating your brother, you are dwelling in (the kingdom of) darkness (cp Jn 3:18, 20, 21). If you are loving your brother, you are dwelling in (the kingdom of) light (cp the "transfer" that all believers experience when they are first born again = Acts 26:18 and 1Pe 2:9-note).
It is worthy noting that the noun tuphlos/typhlos is used 15 times in John 9 (Jn 9:1, 2, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 24,25, 32, 39 40 41)
Mounce comments: In John 9, the literal typhlos of the man born blind is blended with the figurative typhlos of the Jews (Jn 9:40). There is further irony in the Jews being referred to as typhlos (Jn 9:39), for it was a matter of pride to them that they were the teachers and guides to the blind (Ro 2:19-note). Jesus directly confronts the Jews with their typhlos of unbelief, declaring that they are blind guides of the blind (Mt 15:14). See NIDNTT-A, 566–67.
Joseph Beet commenting on 2Co 4:4 wirites that...
Many of those to whom Paul preached had evidently never seen the image of Christ portrayed in the Gospel. For they were unmoved by it. To them, therefore, the Gospel was veiled. And, since the truth was set plainly before them, the hindrance to sight was not in the Word but in the hearts of those who did not believe it. By not seeing the image set before them they proved themselves incapable of seeing it. And their blindness was so unnatural that it must have been inflicted. And it could be a work only of the enemy of the race. Since the blinded ones were wholly occupied with things of the present life and were thus prevented from beholding the Gospel light, Paul says that they were blinded by the God of this age. And, since the inevitable result of their blindness was that they were unable to see the light which shines forth from Him who reveals to men the face of God, he properly speaks of this as the dire purpose of the blindness inflicted by their foe.
This blindness was wrought, not only by Satan, but by God: as is taught expressly in 2Th 2:9 10 11 12; Ro 11:8; Jn 12:40. In just punishment God surrenders to the cruelty of Satan those who reject the Gospel, that He may destroy their capacity for receiving it. This dual source of spiritual insensibility is illustrated in 2Sa 24:1 and 1Chr 21:1. The blindness is also attributed to the word, and to those who preach it: Is 6:10; Mk 4:11 12. For, by God’s ordinance, the Gospel hardens those whom it fails to soften.
This blindness, though terrible, is not necessarily final; any more than is the death described in Ro 7:9,10, 11 12 13. For Christ, who raises the dead, gives sight (Lk 4:18) to the blind. But the blindness and death are such as no earthly power can save from. Yet in our deepest darkness we know the direction of the light. And, as we turn towards it, the light of life by its creative power gives eyes to the blind. (2 Corinthians 4 Commentary)
2Co 4:4 and 2Co 4:6
|Satan blinds to
|of the Gospel
||of the knowledge
|of the glory
||of the glory
|Who is the image of God
||In the face of Christ
John Piper (above table is credited to Dr Piper also) writes..
In 2Co 4:4 Satan blinds the mind; in 2Co 4:6-note God creates light in the heart. 2Co 4:4 describes the problem; 2Co 4:6 describes the remedy. These two verses are a description of the condition of all people before conversion, and what happens in conversion to bring about salvation. More than any part of the Bible that I know of, the connections between 2 Corinthians 4:4 and 2Corinthians 4:6 shed light on the ultimate meaning of good in the term good news.
Let’s be clear that we are talking about the gospel in these verses. The fact that Paul does not mention the facts of Christ’s life and death and resurrection does not mean he has left them behind. They remain the historical core of the gospel. There is no gospel without the declaration of Christ crucified for sinners and risen from the dead (1Co 15:1 2 3 4). This is assumed here. When Paul speaks of “the gospel of the glory of Christ,” he means that the events of the gospel are designed by God to reveal the glory of Christ. This is not incidental to the gospel—it’s essential. The gospel would not be good news if it did not reveal the glory of Christ for us to see and savor. It is the glory of Christ that finally satisfies our soul. We are made for Christ, and Christ died so that every obstacle would be removed that keeps us from seeing and savoring the most satisfying treasure in the universe—namely, Christ, who is the image of God.
The supreme value of the glory of Christ revealed in the gospel is what makes Satan so furious with the gospel. Satan is not mainly interested in causing us misery. He is mainly interested in making Christ look bad. He hates Christ. And he hates the glory of Christ. He will do all he can to keep people from seeing Christ as glorious. The gospel is God’s instrument for liberating people from exulting in self to exulting in Christ. Therefore Satan hates the gospel.
Thus 2 Corinthians 4:4 says that Satan blinds people to keep them from seeing “the light of the gospel.” He has more than one way to do this. One way, of course, is to prevent the preaching of the gospel. This he does by derailing many preachers and missionaries. They may die, or be thrown in prison (Rev. 2:10), or forsake the ministry (2Ti 4:10). Or they may abandon the truth and speak “a different gospel” (Gal. 1:6 7 8; Acts 20:30).
But in 2 Corinthians 4:4 the way Satan keeps people from seeing “the light of the gospel” is not by preventing preaching, but by preventing spiritual perception. The words of the gospel are heard. The facts are comprehended. But there is no “light.” What does this mean? It means that blinded persons consider the facts of the gospel but see no compelling spiritual beauty, no treasure, nothing supremely precious. They see facts. They may even agree that the historical facts are true. Satan surely does. But they do not have “true sense of the divine excellency of the things revealed in the Word of God, and a conviction of the truth and reality of them thence arising.”
That last quote is from Jonathan Edwards. Edwards thought more deeply about this spiritual “light of the gospel” than anyone I have ever read. Here is how he describes what Satan prevents in verse 4, and what God gives in verse 6.
[It is] a true sense … of the excellency of God and Jesus Christ, and of the work of redemption, and the ways and works of God revealed in the gospel. There is a divine and superlative glory in these things, an excellency that is of a vastly higher kind and more sublime nature than in other things, [and] a glory greatly distinguishing them from all that is earthly and temporal. He that is spiritually enlightened truly apprehends and sees it, or has a sense of it. He does not merely rationally believe that God is glorious, but he has a sense of the gloriousness of God in his heart. (from Jonathan Edwards' sermon A Divine and Supernatural Light)
Seeing this “light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” is not neutral. One cannot see it and hate it. One cannot see it and reject it. If one claims to see it, only to reject it, one is “seeing” it only the way Satan sees it and wants us to see it. In that case we are still in the grip of his blinding power. No, the kind of seeing that Satan prevents is not the neutral seeing that sets you before a meal with no taste or distaste for what you see. The kind of seeing that Satan cancels (v. 4) and God creates (v. 6) is more like spiritual tasting than rational testing.
This kind of seeing is not the circumstantial inference that the brown fluid in the bottle with the wax comb must be honey. Rather this seeing is the immediate knowledge that it is honey because of putting some on the tongue. There is no series of arguments that awakens the certainty of sweetness. This is what seeing light means. If you are blind, someone may persuade you that the sun is bright. But that persuasion is not what Paul is talking about. When your eyes are opened—that is, when God says, “Let there be light”—the persuasion is of a different kind. That’s what happens in the preaching of the gospel. It’s what happens when God moves with Creator power over the darkness of human hearts. (The interested reader is strongly encouraged to read the entire chapter by Dr Piper online in his book God Is the Gospel by John Piper - go to page 54 in the Pdf and read chapter 4)
Minds (3540) (noema from noéo = perceive in turn from noús = mind) is literally the result of the activity of the "nous" or mind, that part of man which thinks. Noema means that which is thought (a thought), perceived with the mind (a mental perception), understood, pondered, or considered. The basic idea of noema is what results from directing one’s mind (nous) to a subject.
Don't miss an important point in this passage - While Satan clearly works men's hearts (Ac 5:3 - and some might equate "mind" in this passage with "heart"), the primary "battlefield" in our spiritual war (Ep 6:12-note) is our mind. And the spiritual war is not a power struggle but a truth struggle.
Noema - 6x in 6v in NAS - 2Co. 2:11; 2Co 3:14; 4:4; 10:5; 11:3; Phil. 4:7. NAS renders - minds(4), schemes(1), thought(1).
BDAG divides noema into two main categories...
1. That which one has in mind as product of intellectual process = thought, design, purpose, intention.
2. The faculty of processing thought = the mind or the understanding
Paul uses noema with a negative connotation in his description of our Adversary writing that...
in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes (his devices or designs = noema). (2Corinthians 2:11)
John MacArthur notes that...
Unregenerate people cannot think properly about spiritual truth (1Co 2:14) because they have a “depraved mind” (Ro 1:28-note; 1Ti 6:5; 2Ti 3:8-note). No matter how slick the presentation is, it will not persuade a depraved mind to respond favorably to the gospel. Only God can turn on the light in the human heart (cf. 2Co 4:6-note; Lk 24:45; Acts 26:18) so that it can respond in saving faith to the gospel of the glory of Christ. (MacArthur, J: 2Corinthians. Chicago: Moody Press or Logos or Wordsearch)
Unbelieving (571) (apistos from a = without + pistos = believing, faithful) means lacking in faith, without faith, disbelieving, unbelieving - in this context apistos is one who does not believe the Good News about Jesus Christ (1Ti 5:8, Titus 1:15, Rev 21:8). It is used once to describe that which is incredible (Acts 26:8), but most NT uses describe those without faith, not trusting, unfaithful
In secular Greek use apistos described reports, etc as incredible. BDAG gives a example of an ancient secular use of apistos in the description of...
a patient (who) sneers in disbelief at healings recorded in a shrine of Asclepius and subsequently receives the sobriquet (a descriptive name) : "Apistos"
Apistos - 23x in 20v in NAS - Mt 17:17; Mk 9:19; Lk 9:41; 12:46; Jn 20:27; Acts 26:8; 1Co 6:6; 7:12,13,14; 10:27; 14:22, 23 24; 2Cor 4:4; 6:14 15; 1Ti 5:8; Titus 1:15; Rev 21:8. NAS = incredible(1), unbeliever(4), unbelievers(7), unbelieving(10), unbelieving one(1). Used twice in Lxx - Pr 17:6, Is 17:10.
Paul repeatedly used apistos in his letters to the church at Corinth because of their great need to understand how to interact with unbelievers (1Co 6:6; 7:12,13,14; 10:27; 14:22, 23 24; 2Co 6:14 15). For example, Paul commanded the believers at Corinth...
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2Co 14, 15)
Henry Morris Comments: Paul is here using a metaphor based on Deuteronomy 22:10 and Leviticus 19:19, which forbade plowing with an ox and ass yoked together or attempting to interbreed animals of different kinds. The clear inference is that believers and unbelievers are so different in character and interests (as well as ultimate destiny) that they should never be "yoked" together in situations requiring strong agreement of attitudes and goals (marriage, churches, business partnerships, lodges or other organizations with religious overtones). The prohibition is not intended to require complete repudiation of all secular or charitable organizations (1Co 5:10) or friendships. When one's Christian faith is in jeopardy, or his Christian conduct and influence is endangered, then such connections should be severed. One can witness to unbelievers without partaking of their beliefs or sinful behavior. (Defender's Study Bible online)
Jesus used apistos even to describe the weak faith that characterized His very own disciples (as indicated by the context = Mt 17:20, eg see example of their weak faith = Mt 15:33) albeit to a lesser extent than Israel as a nation who for the most part continued in their unbelief...
Matthew 17:17 (cp Mk 9:19 Lk 9:41) And Jesus answered and said, "You unbelieving and perverted (twisted and distorted throughout) generation (recalling Moses' words to Israel Dt 32:5, 20), how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me (Mt 17:14 15 16)."
Jesus alludes to the ultimate dreadful destiny and destruction of unbelievers...
Luke 12:46 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him, and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces (Figurative description of the severity of the final judgment of unbelievers! eg Lk 13:27, 28, Mt 24:51), and assign him a place (The final destination of unbelievers = Gehenna not Hades/Sheol = Lake of Fire - see also the related discussion of the Second Death in chart on Births, Deaths, and Resurrections) with the unbelievers.
Jesus used apistos in addressing His disciple Thomas...
John 20:27 Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing."
Writing to Titus Paul used apistos to describe those who profess to know Christ but are unregenerate and detestable...
To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled (miaino = spiritually corrupted and tainted ~"dyed with another color", perfect tense = their persistent state) and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled (same verb again in perfect tense = their persistent state). They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable (they "stink") and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed. (Titus 1:15-note, Titus 1:16-note)
G Campbell Morgan said that...
The god of this world is able only to blind the minds of the unbelieving...Why has he had power to blind them? Because of unbelief. The whole teaching of the letter to the Hebrews has dealt with that. The one sin that will bring men ultimately to perdition is the sin of unbelief, unbelief as refusal of Christ, refusal of the Gospel, refusal to accept what God is offering to them. To put it quite bluntly, if anyone goes down to perdition, why will they go? Because of their sins? No, but because of their sin, the sin of rejection of Jesus Christ. "If our Gospel is veiled, it is veiled in them that are perishing." Who are they? Those who refuse that Gospel, blinded by the god of this age, blinded because of unbelief. Refusal to believe is the secret and reason of the blindness that happens to men. Oh, it does not matter people are told, what we believe. Believe me, it does matter. It matters very much what we believe and whether we believe at all. That is the whole picture here. (Commentary on 2 Corinthians - go to page 221)
I like Dave Guzik's point that...
Satan can only blind those who do not believe. If you are tired of having your mind blinded by the god of this age, then put your trust on who Jesus is and what He has done for you! Then Satan can’t blind you anymore! (2 Corinthians 4 Commentary)
Kent Hughes has an encouraging illustration of Guzik's point...
Recently I heard a member of my congregation tell how she had repeatedly explained the gospel to another woman who simply did not get it, though she apparently wanted to. So finally she said to the woman, “You have a veil over your heart. And you need to pray that God will remove it.” A few weeks later the woman called, elated, as she explained that she had gone to bed the night before perplexed, but when she awoke that morning everything was clear. The veil was gone forever. Nothing had been wrong with the gospel. The gospel had been veiled to the woman because it was veiled in her. The veil was in her heart and mind, not over the gospel. (Hughes, R. K. 2 Corinthians: Power in Weakness. Preaching the Word. Crossway or Logos or Wordsearch)
Color Blind - The famous agnostic Thomas Huxley was once lovingly confronted by a very sincere Christian. This believer stressed to Huxley that he was not in any way impugning Huxley’s sincerity. Nevertheless, might it not be possible that mentally the great scientist was color blind? That is, some people cannot see traces of green where other people cannot help but see it. Could it be that this was Huxley’s problem—that he was simply blind to truth that was quite evident to others? Huxley, being a man of integrity, admitted that this was possible, and added that if it were, he himself, of course, could not know or recognize it.
SO THAT THEY MIGHT NOT SEE THE LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL OF THE GLORY OF CHRIST, WHO IS THE IMAGE OF GOD: eis to me augasai (AAN) ton photismon tou euaggeliou tes doxes tou Christou, os estin (3SPAI) eikon tou theou: (That they might not: 2Co 4:6-note 2Co 3:8,9,11-note, 2Co 3:18-note Jn 8:12 12:35 Ac 26:18 Col 1:27 1Ti 1:11 Titus 2:13)
OF THE GOSPEL =
THE GLORY OF CHRIST
John Piper writes that...
This is one of the most remarkable descriptions of the Gospel in the whole Bible. There is nothing else quite like it. It defines the Gospel as “the Gospel of the glory of Christ.” And it says that this Gospel of Christ’s glory emits, as it were, a “light”—“the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ.” And it says that Satan does not want us to “see” this light. Seeing “the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ” is what liberates people from his power. (I highly recommend that you take time to read chapter 4 of Dr Piper's online book God Is the Gospel- go to page 54 in the Pdf to begin Chapter 4)
Barclay gives a straightforward rendering the Gospel is...
the good news which tells of the glory of Christ in Whom we can see God.
So that they might not see - Figurative use of "see". Refers to inability to see spiritual truths (cp 1Co 2:14). Their inability to see is a divine judgment given to them because they refused to believe. God in a sense turned them over to Satan who was given the power to blind their spiritual vision. This is a horrible consequence of willful, intransigent (unwilling to change one's views, obstinately maintaining an attitude of) unbelief.
When even brilliant intellectuals are unable to understand and accept the easy-to-understand gospel of Christ (that even a child can comprehend - Mt 18:2, 3 Mk 10:14, 15 Lk 18:16, 17 ~ all speak of the the unquestioning trust of a little child), especially His works of creation and redemption, it is because their spiritual eyes (their mind, their heart) have been blinded and they are unable to behold the glory of Christ in the radiant light of the Gospel. But we can (and should) always intercede with our Father for their souls asking Him to send His Spirit "to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God" (Acts 26:18) (See Pastor Hughes' encouraging example)
John Calvin said that...
the blindness of unbelievers in no way detracts from the clearness of the Gospel, for the sun is no less resplendent because the blind do not perceive it.
See (826) (augazo from auge = dawn [in Ac 20:11]) transitively means to see distinctly, to discern, to view in the clearest light and then to understand. Intransitively augazo means to shine forth (Lev 13:24, 25, 26, Lv 14:56 24:25). Augazo was used by Euripides of the sun meaning to beam upon or to illumine (One could imagine a play on words here with the Son beaming upon, illumining receptive souls).
Hodge observes that augazo "signifies the brightness emitted by a radiant body."
means a. “to shine forth,” b. “to illuminate,” and c. “to see.” In 2 Cor. 4:4 b. is impossible, and while older translations (See KJV in list of translations above) and variants favor a., the parallel in 2Co 3:13 strongly supports c. (“that they should not see”).
Augazo - Only here in the NT. Seven times in seven verses in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (LXX) - Lev 13:24, 25, 26 28, 38, 39; 14:56
The light (5462) (photismos from photizo from phos = light <> from phao = to shine) the giving of light, illumination in the physical sense. Figuratively, it describes an enlightenment, something made fully known by revealing clearly and in detail, in this passage referring to that which has been revealed as true -- the spiritual illumination in the Gospel.
In 2Co 4:6-note photismos describes the bringing to light or a revealing (revelation).
Photismos - Only 2x in NT - 2Co 4:4,6. Six times in 6 verses in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (LXX) - Job 3:9; Ps 27:1; 44:3; 78:14; 90:8; 139:11.
Psalm 27:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light (Lxx = photismos) and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?
Spurgeon: Here is personal interest, "my light," "my salvation;" the soul is assured of it, and therefore, declaring it boldly. "My light;" -- into the soul at the new birth divine light is poured as the precursor of salvation; where there is not enough light to see our own darkness and to long for the Lord Jesus, there is no evidence of salvation. Salvation finds us in the dark, but it does not leave us there; it gives light to those who sit in the valley of the shadow of death. After conversion our God is our Joy, Comfort, Guide, Teacher, and in every sense our Light;
He is light within,
light reflected from us,
and light to be revealed to us.
Note, it is not said merely that the Lord gives light, but that He "is" light; nor that He gives salvation, but that He is salvation; he, then, who by faith has laid hold upon God has all covenant blessings in His possession.
Psalm 44:3 For by their own sword they did not possess the land, And their own arm did not save them, But Your right hand and Your arm and the light of Your presence, For You favored them.
Psalm 78:14 Then He led them with the cloud by day And all the night with a light (Lxx = photismos) of fire.
Comment: It is interesting to see photismos used to describe the pillar of fire which was associated with the presence of the Angel of the LORD, Who most observers agree was a preincarnate manifestation of Christ (Ex 13:21, Ex 14:19, Ex 14:19NLT).
Psalm 90:8 You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence.
The light of the Gospel - The Gospel has inherent power (Col 1:5, 6 = the Gospel is likened to a "supernatural seed" [cp 1Pe 1:23] which is has the power to be "constantly bearing fruit") which brings supernatural spiritual light to liberate those entrapped in the kingdom of spiritual darkness.
(The Gospel has the power) to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.' (Acts 26:18, cp Isa 29:18 35:5 Isa 42:6,7)
The LORD (Jehovah) opens (Lxx translates with "sophoo" in the present tense = Jehovah continually makes wise, gives wisdom to) the eyes of the blind (Lxx = tuphlos/typhlos); The LORD raises up those who are bowed down; The LORD loves the righteous (Ps 146:8-note)
Spurgeon comments: Jesus did this very frequently, and hereby proved himself to be Jehovah (See Jehovah = Jesus). He who made the eye can open it, and when He does so it is to His glory. How often is the mental eye closed in moral night! And who can remove this dreary effect of the fall but the Almighty God. This miracle of grace He has performed in myriads of cases, and it is in each case a theme for loftiest praise. Spiritual blindness, its curse, cause, and cure.
The Lord raises them that are bowed down. This also Jesus did literally, thus doing the work peculiar to God. Jehovah consoles the bereaved, cheers the defeated, solaces the despondent, comforts the despairing. Let those who are bowed to the ground appeal to him, and he will speedily upraise them.
William Law: Precious lessons are learned from contemplating God's gracious dealings. His people are born in the prison-house of Satan. God removes the shackles; they go forth free. They are (spiritually) blind by nature. He opens their eyes to see all the wonders of redeeming love. Heavy burdens often oppress them. He enables them to lay aside every weight so as to run with patience the heavenward road. He delights to cheer them with manifestations of His love. They are strangers and pilgrims in an enemy's land. He is their constant guardian. In family destitution He brings relief. But just wrath burns fiercely against His adversaries forever and forever. God shall reign inhabiting the praises of His people. Bless the Lord, O our souls. Amen.
F B Meyer: The Lord opens the eyes of the blind.--What a true portraiture is this of the ministry of Christ through the ages (Luke 4:18; see also john 9:1-33). Mark these present tenses! This is His unceasing work. Victor Immanuel--Emancipator!
Charles Simeon: To the blind and willing slaves of sin—[The world at large are in bondage to their lusts, and to that wicked one (Satan) who leads them captive at his will; and they are shut up under a sentence of condemnation for their numberless violations of the law of God (Ga 3:23).
Yet, so blind are they to their real state,
that they cannot see, and will not believe it.
Their cunning adversary has undertaken to be their guide, but has led them into the heart of the enemies’ country, and, if mercy does not interpose, into the very jaws of (everlasting) destruction (cp 2 Kings 6:18 19 20 21). But the Lord Jesus is not an unconcerned Spectator of their misery: He is ready to weep over them as over the murderous Jerusalem: and even while they reject Him, He “would gladly gather them, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings.” *(Mt 23:37) He would give them an eye-salve, whereby they should be enabled to see clearly (see Rev 3:18-note): He would cause their chains to fall off (Lk 4:18), and would say to them, go forth, and show yourselves (Is 49:9 with Ac 5:18, 19, 20 cp Lk 17:14): yea, so desirous is He to exercise mercy towards them, that nothing but a determined rejection of His grace can involve them in final ruin. (Read his full sermon The Extent of Christ's Compassion on Ps 146:7,8)
(In Col 1:9, 10, 11 Paul is praying for the saints at Colossae) giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified (hikanoo - the moment we believed in Christ) us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light (~"the kingdom of light"). For (explaining what happened when we first believed and were set free from kingdom of darkness ruled by Satan) He delivered (rhuomai - rescued us from danger of perishing - cp 2Co 4:3) us from the domain (exousia ~ the right and the might) of darkness (and from the power of the ruler of this kingdom!), and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son (the "kingdom of light") (Col 1:12, 13)
(Jesus' reading Isa 61:1 in the synagogue declared He was the fulfillment) 18 "THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE DOWNTRODDEN (Lk 4:18)
(Jesus post-resurrection appearance with His disciples) Then He opened their minds to understand (spiritually "see") the Scriptures (Lk 24:45, cp Lk 24:44)
And Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see (spiritually blind) may see; and that those who see may become blind." (Jn 9:39)
Comment: While Jesus first coming was not specifically for the purpose of judgment (Read Jn 3:17), it inevitably did result in judgment for all who rejected Him. See Mk 4:12 and Is 6:9)
Glory (1391)(doxa from dokeo = to think) speaks of a manifestation of God's true nature, presence, or likeness. In simple terms doxa means to give a proper opinion or estimate of something and thus the glory of Christ expresses all that He is in His Being and in His nature, character, power and acts. He is glorified when He is allowed to be seen as He really is. To be where He is will be glory.
The glory of Christ - How can one even comment on such an infinite, transcendent truth! For the majority of His earthly life he veiled His glory, except that His Transfiguration was a "preview of coming attractions."
Joseph Beet writes that...
Of the invisible Father the Son is a visible manifestation and outshining, visible once on earth, though veiled in human flesh, and visible now to those who surround His throne. We know, in part, what God is because we have seen Christ reflected in the gospel mirror. That Christ is the image of God, reveals the greatness of His glory and of the light which proceeds from the Gospel in which His glory is reflected, and the infinite loss of those whose blinded thoughts cannot see this glorious light. (2 Corinthians 4 Commentary)
MacArthur comments that...
The privilege of seeing God’s glory revealed in Christ is granted only to those to whom God in His mercy grants spiritual sight.
The apostle John wrote of the glory of Christ...
And the Word (Jn 1:1) became flesh, and dwelt (tabernacled) among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1:14)
When did John, Peter and James behold the glory of Christ? Matthew records that...
And He was transfigured before them (Mt 17;1); and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. (Mt 17:2, Mk 9:2, 3, Lk 9:28)
Years later Peter testified to having seen having witnessed the glory of Christ...
For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. (2Pe 1:14-note)
In his letter to Titus Paul pictures saints now as exhibiting a "lifestyle of looking", of looking with anticipation and expectation for the appearing of the glory of Christ and as a consequence living in the light of God's sure promised of this future event (See Table comparing Rapture vs Second Coming).
(Those who have been saved by grace [Titus 2:11-note] and are daily being instructed by grace [Titus 2:12-note] are continually [present tense]) looking (see prosdechomai) for the Blessed Hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus (Titus 2:13-note)
One day future all men will see the glory of Christ...
Therefore (because of His perfect obedience - Php 2:7, 8-note) also God highly exalted Him (see Jn 17:4, 5 - "glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was"), and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Php 2:9, 10, 11-note)
BEHOLD, HE IS COMING (in glory - see below) WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen. (Rev 1:7-note)
But immediately after the tribulation (referring to the last 3.5 years = Great Tribulation) of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken, and then the sign of the Son of Man (Note = No need to speculate! "He" Himself is the sign!) will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. (Mt 24:29, 30)
But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne (On the earth - when He sets up His Millennial Kingdom) (Mt 25:31)
And throughout eternity we will join the chorus with all the saints and angels to praise Him for His great glory...
saying with a loud voice "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, " To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever." (Re 5:12-note, Re 5:13-note)
Our "Hallelujah Chorus" will testify to the glory of Christ...
After these things I heard, as it were, a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God (Rev 19:1-note, cp Re 19:6-note, Re 19:7-note)
Indeed His glory shall be our Light forever...
And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. (Re 21:23-note)
A. T. Robertson has this description of the glory of Christ...
Many persons had looked on the face of Jesus while in the flesh who did not understand Him. There was beyond doubt a wondrous fascination in the face of Jesus that no artist has succeeded in putting upon canvas. The pictures of Jesus are either too effeminate or too crude. No face has ever so haunted and baffled the greatest artists. This face was really human but free from the taint of sin and disease. No specter of the past looked through those eyes, no shadows of forbidden secrets flitted past. Pity, unutterable compassion looked out of the depths of purity and unsullied strength. Untarnished truth looked out on a world of lies. The noblest impulses of man met the shock of hate and envy. The clear light of heaven's love gazed longingly at the suffering and the sinning. Those eyes could flash with terrific power upon hypocrites who used the livery of heaven to serve the devil in. Before His wrath, men slunk away like cowed beasts guilty and condemned. But the penitent and the contrite saw a new hope as they looked in the face of Jesus. There were some who could never forget the thrill of joy which came to their hearts as they gazed into that face. At moments they could be amazed at the struggling emotions in His countenance. There were three who beheld His majestic glory on the mount. But not all men could see all this in the face of Jesus. The rabbis were angered to desperation as they saw that calm and powerful face. Its very innocence enraged them (The Glory of the Ministry)
George Matheson who himself was blind wrote these words about Paul's vision of the glory of Christ...
Remember the Christ whom Paul first saw was the Christ of heaven. He never gazed upon the man of Galilee. His earliest vision was the vision of a Jesus glorified, not on the road to the cross did Christ meet him. He came to him panoplied in heavenly splendor. What his inner eye beheld was the Christ of the future, a Christ of majesty, a Christ if power, a Christ who came clothed in the lightning and wreathed in the conqueror's robe. That was the first Christ Paul's soul saw. It is wonderful that it should have been the first Christian image in his writings.
JESUS THE IMAGE OF GOD:
THE RADIANCE &
Image (1504)(eikon) expresses two ideas (1) likeness, as in the image on a coin or the reflection in a mirror and (2) manifestation with the sense that God is fully revealed in Jesus. Eikon does not denote mere likeness or resemblance. Eikon conveys the meaning that Christ is whatever God is--spiritual, omnipotent, omniscient, holy--all the attributes of the eternal God. The Lord Jesus is the image of God in the sense that "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).
Earlier Jesus had emphasized His intrinsic unity with His Father declaring
"I and the Father are one." (Jn 10:30)
Henry Morris rightly says that: Such a claim, if not that of a madman (and this is unthinkable in view of the age-long influence of the incomparable teachings of Jesus), can only be understood in terms of the doctrine of the "hypostatic union"--the indissoluble union of eternal God and perfect Man in the person of Jesus Christ. (Defender's Study Bible)
The writer of Hebrews says that Christ...
is the radiance (see comment below) of His (the Father's) glory and the exact representation of His nature (hupostasis), and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb 1:3)
Comment: It is notable that the word radiance is related to the same word Paul used above for "see" (augazo). Thus radiance is apaugasma (from apaugázo = emit light or splendor in turn derived from apó = from + augazo = shine) and literally means "off-flashing" and then the brightness beamed forth which describes the effulgence (from Latin effulgere = to shine forth and thus radiant splendor or brilliance emanating from an original light body), splendor or light emitted or issuing from a luminous body. It is not preceded by the definite article, which makes the term highly descriptive of character or nature.
Exact representation is the Greek word charakter (derived from charasso = to engrave and source of our English word character which describes one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual) was used in classical Greek of an engraver who mints coins or an engraving tool, a die, a stamp, a branding iron, a mark engraved, an impress or a stamp on coins and seals. Later it came to mean the impression itself, usually engraved, cut in, or stamped on in the form of a character, a letter, a mark or a sign. This impression or mark with its particular features was considered to be the exact representation of the object whose image it bore. As a figure of speech charakter described a distinctive mark "impressed" on a person, by which he is distinguished from others. It is thus a characteristic of that person and was a Greek idiom for a person’s features. The author is saying that whatever the Divine essence is, Jesus is the perfect expression and thus affirms the deity of Jesus Christ and alludes to the the plurality of God. Jesus is distinct from God the Father and yet identical with Him. Charakter conveys the idea of exact correspondence as when Jesus said that "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (Jn 14:9) He who had seen Jesus had seen the Father because Jesus is the exact representation, the exact expression of the Father's attributes, nature, etc so that all that God is, Jesus is, and yet two distinct Persons of the Godhood. Jesus is all that God is, not has been given what He is! God hasn't given Jesus something. He already is!
Paul explains that
And He is the image (eikon) of the invisible God, the first-born (pre-eminent) of all creation. (Col 1:15)
Henry Morris comments that: This is a clear affirmation of the absolute deity of Jesus Christ. Christ is whatever God is--spiritual, omnipotent, omniscient, holy--all the attributes of the eternal God. The word image (Greek eikon) conveys this meaning. Jesus Christ represents--and indeed He is--"very God of very God." Jesus said, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father," (John 14:9). God in His essence is invisible (John 1:18), but we see all His attributes in Christ. Christ is "the firstborn," not in the sense that He ever came into existence from a prior condition of non-existence (Like the Jehovah's Witnesses claim this passage teaches - but they ignore the following context = He is the Creator of ALL things Col 1:16), but rather as eternally proceeding from the Father, the only begotten Son, always manifesting the Father. This truth can be called the doctrine of eternal generation. He is from eternity to eternity in relation to the Father as a Son. Some are sons of God by creation (angels--Job 1:6), and we can become sons of God by adoption (Ro 8:14,15), but He is the Son by eternal generation (or eternal relation), the only-begotten of the Father. He also has the right of inheritance of the firstborn (Hebrews 1:2) and is "the firstborn from the dead" (Col 1:18). (Defender's Study Bible)
Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) used the image of God as an inspiration to evangelism in her hymn "Rescue the Perishing"
Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness
Chords that are broken will vibrate once more.
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying;
Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.