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2 Corinthians 4:13-18

13. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;

13. Habentes autem eundem Spiritum fidei, quemadmodum scriptum est (Psalm 116:10) Credidi, propterea loquutus sum: nos quoque credimus, ideo et loquimur:

14. Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

14. Scientes, quod qui suscitavit Dominum Iesum, nos etiam cum Iesu suscitabit, et constituet vobiscum.

15. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

15. Nam omnia propter vos, ut gratia quæ abundaverit propter gratiarum actionem, quæ a multis proficiscetur, abundet in gloriam Dei.

16. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

16. quamobrem non deficimus: verum etsi externus homo noster corrumpitur, noster internus renovatur de die in diem.

17. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

17. Levitas enim afflictionis nostrae supramodum momentanea, 480480     “Car nostre legere affliction qui est de peu de duree ... merueille, ou, qui ne fait que passer;” — “For our light affliction, which is of marvellously short duration, or, which does but pass away.” mternum supramodum pondus glorim operatur in nobis (vel, motentatea levitas operatur in excellentia excellenter.)

18. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

18. Dum non spectamus ea quæ videntur, sed quæ non videntur: nam quae videntur, temporaria sunt: quæ autem non videntur, æterna.

 

13. Having the same spirit. This is a correction of the foregoing irony. He had represented the condition of the Corinthians as widely different from his own, (not according to his own judgment, but according to their erroneous view,) inasmuch as they were desirous of a gospel that was pleasant and free from all molestation of the cross, and entertained less honorable views of him, because his condition was less renowned. Now, however, he associates himself with them in the hope of the same blessedness. “Though God spares you, and deals with you more indulgently, while he treats me with somewhat more severity, this diversity, nevertheless, will be no hinderance in the way of the like glorious resurrection awaiting both of us. For where there is oneness of faith, there will, also, there be one inheritance.” It has been thought, that the Apostle speaks here of the holy fathers, who lived under the Old Testament, and represents them as partakers with us, in the same faith. This, indeed, is true, but it does not accord with the subject in hand. For it is not Abraham, or the rest of the fathers, that he associates with himself in a fellowship of faith, but rather the Corinthians, whereas they separated themselves from him by a perverse ambition. “However my condition,” says he, “may appear to be the worse for the present, we shall, nevertheless, one day be alike participants in the same glory, for we are connected together by one faith.” Whoever will examine the connection attentively, will perceive, that this is the true and proper interpretation. By metonymy, he gives the name of the spirit of faith 481481     Calvin adverts to this form of expression in the Institutes, (volume 2) as an evidence that faith is implanted by the Divine Spirit. — Ed. to faith itself, because it is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

As it is written What has given occasion for the mistake 482482     “Que i’ay dit;” — “That I have mentioned.” Calvin refers to the mistake of supposing that Paul alludes to the Old Testament believers. — Ed. is, that he quotes the testimony of David. It ought, however, to be taken in connection with the confession — not with the oneness of faith, or if you prefer it, it agrees with what follows — not with what goes before, in this way: “Because we have an assured hope of a blessed resurrection, we are bold to speak and preach what we believe, as it is written, I believed, therefore have I spoken ” Now, this is the commencement of Psalm 116, 483483     “The Septuagint, and some other ancient versions, make the latter part of the 116th Psalm” (commencing with the Psalm 116:10I believed, therefore have I spoken) “a distinct Psalm, separate from the former, and some have called it the Martyr’s Psalm, I suppose for the sake of Psalm 116:15.” — Henry’s Commentary. — Ed. where David acknowledges, that, when he had been reduced to the last extremity, he was so overpowered that he almost gave way, but, having soon afterwards regained confidence, he had overcome that temptation. Accordingly, he opens the Psalm thus: I believed, therefore will I speak. For faith is the mother 484484     “Comme la mere;” — “As it were, the mother.” of confession. Paul, it is true, stirring himself up to imitate him, 485485     “S’accourageant... imiter cest exemple de Dauid;” — “Stirring himself up to imitate this example of David” exhorts the Corinthians to do the same, and, in accordance with the common Greek translation, has used the preterite instead of the future, but this is of no consequence 486486     “I believed, for I did speak, (Psalm 116:10) — which is a sure proof of the presence of faith. Confession and faith are inseparably connected. Compare 2 Corinthians 4:13. The Apostle places, after the example of the Septuagint, therefore instead of for: ‘I believed, therefore I spake,’ without any material alteration of the sense.” — Hengstenberg on the Psalms, (Edin. 1848,) volume 3 p. 372. — Ed. For he simply means to say, that believers ought to be magnanimous, and undaunted, in

confessing 487487     “A faire confession de bouche;” — “In making confession with the mouth.” what they have believed with their heart.
(Romans 10:9, 10.)

Let now our pretended followers of Nicodemus 488488     “There were also at this time” (about the year 1540) “certain persons who, having renounced the Protestant faith through dread of persecution, flattered themselves, that there was no harm in remaining in the external communion of the Church of Rome, provided they embraced the true religion in their hearts. And because Calvin who condemned so pernicious a sentiment was considered by them as carrying his severity to an extreme, he showed clearly that his opinion was in unison, not only with those of the fathers of the Church, but also with the doctrine of the most learned theologians of the age, such as Melancthon, Bucer, and Martyr, as well as the ministers of Zurich; and so completely extinguished that error, that all pious persons censured the Nicodemites — a name given to those who defended their dissimulation by the example of Nicodemus.” — Mackenzie’s Life of Calvin, p. 59. See also Calvin on John, vol. 1, p. 317, Calvin on the Psalms, vol. 5, p. 481; [A reference to the entry for Nicodemites in the index, which states, “a class in the time of Calvin who professed to have embraced the gospel, but who concealed their sentiments, and joined in the superstitious observances of the Papists.” — sg.] and Calvin’s Tracts, volume 1, p. 49. — Ed. mark, what sort of fiction they contrive for themselves in the place of faith, when they would have faith remain inwardly buried, and altogether silent, and glory in this wisdom — that they utter, during their whole life, not a single word of right confession.

15. For all things are for your sakes He now associates himself with the Corinthians, not merely in the hope of future blessedness, but also in these very afflictions, in which they might seem to differ from him most widely, for he lets them know, that, if he is afflicted, it is for their benefit. Hence it follows, that there was good reason why they should transfer part of them to themselves. What Paul states, depends first of all on that secret fellowship, which the members of Christ have with one another, but chiefly on that mutual connection and relationship, which required more especially to be manifested among them. Now this admonition was fraught with great utility to the Corinthians, and brought with it choice consolation. For what consolation there is in this — that while God, sparing our weakness, deals with us more gently, those that are endowed with more distinguished excellence, are afflicted for the common advantage of all! They were also admonished, that, since they could not aid Paul otherwise, they should, at least, help him by their prayers and sympathy.

That the grace which hath abounded. That agreement 489489     “Ceste vnite et consentemente mutuel;” — “That unity and mutual agreement.” between the members of Christ he now commends on the ground of the fruit that springs from it — its tendency to advance the glory of God. By a metonymy, according to his usual manner, he means, by the term grace, that blessing of deliverance, of which he had made mention previously — that,

while he was weighed down, he was, nevertheless, not in anxiety: while oppressed with poverty, he was not left destitute, etc.,
(2 Corinthians 4:8, 9,)

and in fine, that he had a deliverance continually afforded him from every kind of evil 490490     “De toutes sortes de maux desquels il estoit assailli;” — “From all sorts of evils with which he was assailed.” This grace, he says, overflows. By this he means, that it was not confined to himself personally, so that he alone enjoys it, but it extends itself farther — namely, to the Corinthians, to whom it was of great advantage. When he makes the overflowing of God’s gift consist in gratitude, tending to the glory of its Author, he admonishes us, that every blessing that God confers upon us perishes through our carelessness, if we are not prompt and active in rendering thanks.

16. For which cause we faint not 491491     “For which cause we faint not. (οὐκ ἐκκακοῦμεν) Here we have the same various reading,” (as in verse 1,) “οὐκ ἐγκακοῦμενwe do no wickedness; and it is supported by BDEFG, and some others; but it is remarkable that Mr. Wakefield follows the common reading here, though the various reading is at least as well supported in this verse as in verse first. The common reading, faint not, appears to agree best with the Apostle’s meaning.” — Dr. A. Clarke. — Ed. He now, as having carried his point, rises to a higher confidence than before. “There is no cause,” says he, why we should lose heart, or sink down under the burden of the cross, the issue of which is not merely so desirable to myself, but is also salutary to others.” Thus he exhorts the Corinthians to fortitude by his own example, should they happen at any time to be similarly afflicted. Farther, he beats down that insolence, in which they in no ordinary degree erred, inasmuch as under the influence of ambition, they held a man in higher estimation, the farther he was from the cross of Christ.

Though our outward man. The outward man, some improperly and ignorantly confound with the old man, for widely different from this is the old man, of which we have spoken in Romans 4:6. Chrysostom, too, and others restrict it entirely to the body; but it is a mistake, for the Apostle intended to comprehend, under this term, everything that relates to the present life. As he here sets before us two men, so you must place before your view two kinds of lifethe earthly and the heavenly. The outward man is the maintenance of the earthly life, which consists not merely in the flower of one’s age, (1 Corinthians 7:36,) and in good health, but also in riches, honors, friendships, and other resources. 492492     “Autres aides et commoditez;” — “Other helps and conveniences.” Hence, according as we suffer a diminution or loss of these blessings, which are requisite for keeping up the condition of the present life, is our outward man in that proportion corrupted. For as we are too much taken up with the present life, so long as everything goes on to our mind, the Lord, on that account, by taking away from us, by little and little, the things that we are engrossed with, calls us back to meditate on a better life. Thus, therefore, it is necessary, that the condition of the present life should decay, 493493     “De iour en iour;” — “From day to day.” in order that the inward man may be in a flourishing state; because, in proportion as the earthly life declines, does the heavenly life advance, at least in believers. For in the reprobate, too, the outward man decays, 494494     “Il est vray que l’homme exterieur tend ... decadence aussi bien es reprouuez et infideles;” — “It is true that the outward man tends to decay quite as much in reprobates and unbelievers.” but without anything to compensate for it. In the sons of God, on the other hand, a decay of this nature is the beginning, and, as it were, the cause of production. He says that this takes place daily, because God continually stirs us up to such meditation. Would that this were deeply seated in our minds, that we might uninterruptedly make progress amidst the decay of the outward man!

17. Momentary lightness. As our flesh always shrinks back from its own destruction, whatever reward may be presented to our view, and as we are influenced much more by present feeling than by the hope of heavenly blessings, Paul on that account admonishes us, that the afflictions and vexations of the pious have little or nothing of bitterness, if compared with the boundless blessings of everlasting glory. He had said, that the decay of the outward man ought to occasion us no grief, inasmuch as the renovation of the inward man springs out of it. As, however, the decay is visible, and the renovation is invisible, Paul, with the view of shaking us off from a carnal attachment to the present life, draws a comparison between present miseries and future felicity. Now this comparison is of itself abundantly sufficient for imbuing the minds of the pious with patience and moderation, that they may not give way, borne down by the burden of the cross. For whence comes it, that patience is so difficult a matter but from this, — that we are confounded on having experience of evils for a brief period, 495495     “En ce sentiment des maux qui passent tontesfois auec le temps;” — “In this feeling of evils, which nevertheless pass away with the occasion.” and do not raise our thoughts higher? Paul, therefore, prescribes the best antidote against your sinking down under the pressure of afflictions, when he places in opposition to them that future blessedness which is laid up for thee in heaven. (Colossians 1:5.) For this comparison makes that light which previously seemed heavy, and makes that brief and momentary which seemed of boundless duration.

There is some degree of obscurity in Paul’s words, for as he says, With hyperbole unto hyperbole, 496496     “A outrance par outrance;” — “From extreme to extreme.” “It is not merely eminent, but it is eminent unto eminence; excess unto excess; a hyperbole unto hyperbole — one hyperbole heaped on another; and the expression means, that it is exceeding exceedingly glorious; glorious in the highest possible degree. The expression is the Hebrew form of denoting the highest superlative, and it means, that all hyperboles fail of expressing that external glory which remains for the just. It is infinite and boundless. You may pass from one degree to another; from one sublime height to another; but still an infinity remains beyond. Nothing can describe the uppermost height of that glory, nothing can express its infinitude.” — Barnes. Chrysostom explains the words καθ ᾿ ὑπερβολὴν εἰς ὑπερβολὴν to be equivalent to μέγεθος ὑπερβολικῶς ὑπερβολικόν — a greatness exceedingly exceeding. “The repetition having an intensitive force, (like the Hebrew מאד מאד) it may be rendered infinitely exceeding.” — Bloomfield. — Ed. so the Old Interpreter, and Erasmus 497497     The words of the Vulgate are, “Supra modum in sublimitate;” — “Above measure in elevation.” The rendering of Erasmus is, “Mire supra modum;” — “Wonderfully above measure.” — Ed. have thought that in both terms the magnitude of the heavenly glory, that awaits believers is extolled; or, at least, they have connected them with the verb worketh out. To this I have no objection, but as the distinction that I have made is also not unsuitable, I leave it to my readers to make their choice.

Worketh out an eternal weight Paul does not mean, that this is the invariable effect of afflictions; for the great majority are most miserably weighed down here with evils of every kind, and yet that very circumstance is an occasion of their heavier destruction, rather than a help to their salvation. As, however, he is speaking of believers, we must restrict exclusively to them what is here stated; for this is a blessing from God that is peculiar to them — that they are prepared for a blessed resurrection by the common miseries of mankind.

As to the circumstance, however, that Papists abuse this passage, to prove that afflictions are the causes of our salvation, it is exceedingly silly; 498498     “C’est vn argument trop debile;” — “It is an exceedingly weak argument.” unless, perhaps, you choose to take causes in the sense of means, (as they commonly speak.) We, at least, cheerfully acknowledge, that

we must through many tribulations 499499     “Per multas tribulationes;” — “Par beaucoup de tribulations;” — “By many tribulations.” This is the literal rendering of the original words made use of, διὰ πολλῶν θλίψεων. Wiclif (1380) renders as follows, “bi many tribulaciouns.” Rheims (1582) “by many tribulations.” — Ed.
enter into the kingdom of heaven, (Acts 14:22,)

and as to this there is no controversy. While, however, our doctrine is, that the momentary lightness of afflictions worketh out in us an eternal weight 500500     “St. Paul in this expression — βάρος δόξης weight of glory, elegantly joins together the two senses of the Hebrews כבוד which denotes both weight and glory, i.e., shining or being irradiated with light.” — Parkhurst. — Ed. of life, for this reason, that all the sons of God are

predestinated to be conformed to Christ, (Romans 8:29,)

in the endurance of the cross, and in this manner are prepared for the enjoyment of the heavenly inheritance, which they have through means of God’s gracious adoption; Papists, on the other hand, imagine that they are meritorious works, 501501     “Que les afflictions sont oeuures meritoires;” — “That afflictions are meritorious works.” by which the heavenly kingdom is acquired.

I shall repeat it again in a few words. We do not deny that afflictions are the path by which the heavenly kingdom is arrived at, but we deny that by afflictions we merit the inheritance, 502502     “L’heritage eternel;” — “The everlasting inheritance.” which comes to us in no other way than through means of God’s gracious adoption. Papists, without consideration, seize hold of one little word, with the view of building upon it a tower of Babel, (Genesis 11:9,) — that the kingdom of God is not an inheritance procured for us by Christ, but a reward that is due to our works. For a fuller solution, however, of this question, consult my Institutes. 503503     See Institutes, volume 2. — Ed.

While we look not. Mark what it is, that will make all the miseries of this world easy to be endured, — if we carry forward our thoughts to the eternity of the heavenly kingdom. For a moment is long, if we look around us on this side and on that; but, when we have once raised our minds heavenward, a thousand years begin to appear to us to be like a moment. Farther, the Apostle’s words intimate, that we are imposed upon by the view of present things, because there is nothing there that is not temporal; and that, consequently, there is nothing for us to rest upon but confidence in a future life. Observe the expression, looking at the things which are unseen, 504504     “The word which is here rendered look signifies to take aim at, (σκοποῦντων ἡμῶν) This is a very steady intuition, which a man hath of the mark which he is aiming at, or the end which he designs; he must always have it in his eye. And by this looking, saith the Apostle, we find that, notwithstanding all the decays of the outward man, the inward man is reviewed day by day — life, and vigor, and spirit continually entering in at our eyes from that glorious aim which we have before us. This will need a very steady determination of mind unto such objects by a commanding light and glory that they carry with them, so that the soul feels not a disposition in itself to direct or look off.” — Howe’s Works, (Lond. 1834,) p. 543. — Ed. for the eye of faith penetrates beyond all our natural senses, and faith is also on that account represented as a looking at things that are invisible. (Hebrews 11:1.)


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