2 Corinthians 4:1
Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;
Paul represents this
I. AS A MINISTRY OF LIGHT (vers. 4-6).
1. Cf. John 1:5. Nothing could be more different than the minds of Paul and John, and yet both call revelation "light." According to John, to live in sin was to live in darkness; according to Paul, it was to live in blindness. The gospel threw light —
(1) On God: light unknown before, even to the holiest. Out of Christ, our God is only a dreadful mystery.
(2) On man. Man, with godlike aspirations and animal cravings, asks, "Am I a god or beast?" The gospel answers, "You are a glorious temple in ruins, to be rebuilt into a habitation of God."(3) On the grave; for "life and immortality" were "brought to light through the gospel." Until then immortality was but a mournful perhaps.
2. Note three practical deductions.
(1) Our life is to be a manifestation of the gospel. We do not tamper with the Word of God (ver. 2). It is not concealed or darkened by us, for our very work is fearlessly to declare the truth, and to dread no consequences.
(2) Light is given to us that we may spread it (vers. 5, 6). If God has illuminated us, then we are your servants, to give you this illumination. This Paul, who had himself been in darkness, felt vividly; and shall we refuse to feel it? Perhaps we who have been in the brightness of his revelation all our lives scarcely appreciate the necessity which he felt so strongly of communicating it.
(3) It is the evil heart which hides tim truth. Light shines on all who have not deadened the spiritual sense. "Every one that is of the truth heareth Christ's voice." "The evidences of Christianity" are Christianity. The evidence of the sun is its light. Men who find their all in the world (ver. 4) — how can they, fevered by its business, excited by its pleasures, petrified by its maxims, see God in His purity, or comprehend the calm radiance of eternity?
II. AS A REFLECTION OF THE LIFE OF CHRIST.
1. In word. Cf. vers. 2 and 13. We manifest the truth, "commending ourselves to every man's conscience," because we speak in strong belief. Observe the difference between this and theological knowledge. It is not a minister's wisdom, but his conviction, which imparts itself to others. Nothing gives life but life. Real flame alone kindles other flame. We only half believe. In ver. 5 Paul says he preaches Christ, and not himself. The minister is to preach, not the Christ of this sect or of that man, but Christ fully — Christ our hope, our pattern, our life.
2. In experience. It might be a matter of surprise that God's truth should be conveyed through such feeble instruments — "earthen vessels" (ver. 7). But this very circumstance, instead of proving that the gospel is not of God, proves that it is. For what was the life of these men but the life of Christ over again — a life victorious in defeat? (ver. 8-11). In their sufferings the apostles represented the death of Christ, and in their incredible escapes His resurrection. Figuratively speaking, their escapes were as a resurrection. In different periods of the same life, in different ages of freedom or persecution — as we have known in the depressed Church of the Albigenses and the victorious Church of England — in different persons during the same age, the Cross and the Resurrection alternate and exist together. But in all there is progress — the decay of evil or the birth of good (ver. 16).
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;