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THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 4 - Verse 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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