2 Corinthians 4:8-18

2 Corinthians 4:8‑18  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Verses 8 to 14, with which we concluded last month, may well engage our attention further. “Every way afflicted, but not straitened,” tells much in few words.
In the 10th chapter, verses 4 to 10, we learn something of Paul’s afflictions, and more in the 11Th chapter, verses 23 to 28; in verse 16 of our chapter the apostle gives us a yet deeper insight into his path when he refers to the possibility of the outward man being consumed—so near to death was he, often. Yet he could say, “but not straitened,”—not deprived in the least of his unfailing resource in God; not limited in his path of service for the Lord by the circumstances through which he was passing.
Verse 9. “Persecuted but not abandoned; cast down but not destroyed.” We have an example of this in chapter l, verses 8-10, of this Epistle, where Paul was in Roman Asia (probably Ephesus), and pressed by bitter persecutors “out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life; but we had (he says) the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead, Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver.”
Verse 10. “Always bearing about in the body the putting to death of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body.”
This pattern servant did not, and would not forget what the world had done to his divine Master; he chose to be identified before it with that Master, taking His path of rejection as his own, in order that what should be seen, should be the life, not of even a devoted follower, but of Jesus. Thus the light (verse 6) that had shone in Paul’s heart was shining forth—the radiancy of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; the treasure (verse 7) being in an earthen vessel, that the surpassingness of the power might be of God, and not from the vessel.
Verse 11. “For we who live are always delivered unto death on account of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
It was God’s appointment for the apostle; far removed indeed from the assumed position of many who have claimed, and are today claiming apostolic succession and worldly grandeur.
Verse 12. “So that death works in us, but life in you.”
Toiling for the One who loved him brought the apostle into the world’s scorn and rejection; into suffering and sorrow, into danger even of death; and this was in the very purposes of God for the spiritual blessing of His servant in order that through the manifestation of the life of Jesus in him, the saints should be strengthened and advance in the Christian life.
In verse 13 the reference is to Psalm 116:1010I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted: (Psalm 116:10). “I believe, therefore have I spoken.” The same spirit of faith filled the apostle as was in the writer of the psalm. “We also believe; therefore also we speak; knowing that He who has raised the Lord Jesus, shall raise us also with Jesus, and shall present us with you” (verse 14, JND). What a secure, what a happy portion and prospect is ours by faith! We know on the authority of God’s infallible Word that consequent upon the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, will be our raising, as it is said, with (not simply by) Jesus. Indeed here it is looked upon as one act of divine power taking in both Jesus and ourselves who believe.
Paul might well have written, “shall present you with us,” considering the low spiritual state of the Corinthians to whom he wrote, but grace led to the other form, “us with you.”
Verse 15. “For all things are for your sakes, that the grace abounding through the many may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God” (JND). All that he has been speaking of, the trials and dangers of his path, connected as we have seen with the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of His Son caused to shine into Paul’s heart that it might shine out for blessing to many,—all were for their sakes. It was not only that the apostle was delivered from death from day to day, but that God’s grace reaching out to many through his ministry should cause thanksgiving to abound.
Verses 16-18. “Wherefore we faint not; but if indeed our outward man is consumed, yet the inward is renewed day by day. For our momentary and light (literally, the momentary lightness of our) affliction works for us in surpassing measure an eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen; for the things that are seen are for a time, but those that are not seen eternal” (JND).
The apostle has viewed the path of devotedness to Christ in which he was found, and in the light of the coming glory he belittles the difficulties and dangers, the loss of earthly ease and comfort, of honor that he might have gained in this passing scene; he will press on toward the goal.
Christ filled his heart; may He fill yours, dear young Christian, in equal measure!