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THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 4 - Verse 8

Verse 8. We are troubled. We the apostles. Paul here refers to some of the trials to which he and his fellow-labourers were subjected in making known the gospel. The design for which he does it seems to be, to show them

(1.) what they endured in preaching the truth;

(2.) to show the sustaining power of that gospel in the midst of afflictions; and

(3.) to conciliate their favour, or to remind them that they had endured these things on their account, 2 Co 4:12-15. Perhaps one leading design was to recover the affections of those of the Corinthians whose hearts had been alienated from him, by showing them how much he had endured on their account. For this purpose he freely opens his heart to them, and tenderly represents the many and grievous pressures and hardships to which love to souls, and theirs among the rest, had exposed him.—Doddridge. The whole passage is one of the most pathetic and beautiful to be found in the New Testament. The word rendered troubled (ylibomenoi, from ylibw) may have reference to wrestling, or to the contests in the Grecian games. It properly means, to press, to press together; then to press as in a crowd where there is a throng, (Mr 3:9;) then to compress together, (Mt 7:14;) and then to oppress, or compress with evils, to distress, to afflict, 2 Th 1:6; 2 Co 1:6. Here it may mean, that he was encompassed with trials, or placed in the midst of them, so that they pressed upon him as persons do in a crowd, or, possibly, as a man was close pressed by an adversary in the games. He refers to the fact that he was called to endure a great number of trials and afflictions. Some of those trials he refers to in 2 Co 7:5: "When we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears."

On every side. In every respect. In every way. We are subjected to all kinds of trial and affliction.

Yet not distressed. This by no means expresses the force of the original; nor is it possible perhaps to express it in a translation. Tindal renders it, "yet we are not without our shift." The Greek word here used (stenocwroumenoi) as a relation to the word which is rendered "troubled." It properly means, to crowd into a narrow place; to straiten as to room; to be so straitened as not to be able to turn one's self. And the idea is, that though he was close pressed by persecutions and trials, yet he was not so hemmed in that he had no way to turn himself; his -trials did not wholly prevent motion and action, he was not so closely pressed as a man would be who was so straitened that he could not move his body, or stir hand or foot. He had still resources; he was permitted to move; the energy of his piety, and the rigour of his soul, could not be entirely cramped and impeded by the trials which encompassed him. The Syriac renders it, "In all things we are pressed, but are not suffocated." The idea is, he was not wholly discouraged, and disheartened, and overcome. He had resources in his piety which enabled him to bear up under these trials, and still to engage in the work of preaching the gospel.

We are perplexed, aporoumenoi. This word (from aporov, without resource, which is derived from a, priv., and porov, way, or exit) means, to be without resource; to know not what to do; to hesitate; to be in doubt and anxiety, as a traveller is, who is ignorant of the way, or who has not the means of prosecuting his journey. It means here, that they were often brought into circumstances of great embarrassment, where they hardly knew what to do, or what course to take. They were surrounded by foes; they were in want; they were in circumstances which they had not anticipated, and which greatly perplexed them.

But not in despair. In the margin, "not altogether without help or means." Tindal renders this, "We are in poverty, but not utterly without somewhat." In the word here used, (exaporoumenoi,) the preposition is intensive or emphatic, and means utterly, quite. The word means, to be utterly without resource; to despair altogether; and the idea of Paul here is, that they were not left entirely without resource. Their wants were provided for; their embarrassments were removed; their grounds of perplexity were taken away; and unexpected strength and resources were imparted to them. When they did not know what to do, when all resources seemed to fail them, in some unexpected manner they would be relieved and saved from absolute despair. How often does this occur in the lives of all Christians! And how certain is it, that in all such cases God will interpose by his grace and aid his people, and save them from absolute despair.

{a} "troubled on every side" 2 Co 7:5 {1} "not in despair" "not altogether without help or means"

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