The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 6, 2017

THE APOSTLE HAS EXERCISED HIS MINISTRY WITH SINCERITY AND
FRANKNESS BECAUSE OF ITS EXALTED CHARACTER

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 4:1-6~The subject of the preceding chapter is continued in this section, which might well have been made a part of that chapter. What the Apostle has already said about the sublimity of the Gospel ministry and the confidence with which its preachers speak is more than sufficient to refute the calumny that he spoke with arrogance. Consequently he terminates this subject by repeating that he has preached the Gospel clearly, openly, and without timidity; and if some think his preaching is obscure, it is because their minds are blinded by Satan. As for himself, he is the servant of Christ and is trying to spread the light which has been divinely bestowed on him.

2 Cor 4:1. Therefore, seeing we have this ministration, according as we have obtained mercy, we faint not;

Since, as just said in the preceding chapter, the Christian ministration, i.e., the preaching of the Gospel, is of such an exalted character, we, i.e., St. Paul and his companions, in obedience to a gracious and gratuitous call from God, preach without fear or hesitation.

As we have obtained mercy should be connected with what precedes.

2 Cor 4:2. But we renounce the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor adulterating the word of God; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience, in the sight of God.

Of dishonesty, i.e., of shame (αἰσχύνης = aischune) . The Apostle is referring to everything in conduct and preaching that shame would naturally hide, and also to the policy of concealing the Gospel truth through shame of the folly of the cross (1 Cor. 1:18, 21; Rom. 1:16).

Craftiness means unscrupulous conduct and underhand practices, which were made use of by the false teachers in order to win over the Corinthians.

Nor adulterating, etc., i.e., not corrupting the Gospel with erroneous teachings. From all things of this kind the Apostles kept aloof; manifesting, on the contrary, the truths of the Gospel in such a way that they commended themselves to every man of conscience, and this in the sight of God.

2 Cor 4:3. And if our gospel be also hid, it is hid to them that are lost,
2 Cor 4:4. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine unto them.

A difficulty occurs here. If the Gospel is so openly preached, how does it continue veiled to so many? There are two reasons for this: (a) The perversity of the will of those who, of their own choice, shut their eyes to the light of the Gospel (2 Cor 3:13), preferring to go the way of perdition (1 Cor. 1:18); and (b) the devil, who blinds the minds and hardens the hearts of his votaries, turning their eyes to earthly things.

The god of this world, i.e., of this age (αἰών = aion) , namely, Satan whom our Lord called “the prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), and whom St. Paul elsewhere designates as “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). Satan is called the god of this wicked age, in so far as it lives according to his maxims, obeys and serves him; and he, in turn, blinds the minds of his unbelieving followers, leading them away from the faith by his evil suggestions, so that the light of the Gospel, whose object is the glory of Christ, does not shine unto them.

Christ is the image of God, (a) on account of the identity of nature between Himself and the Father; (b) because He is generated by the Father; (c) because He is equal to the Father (St. Thomas). Cf. Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3.

The glory of Christ is, then, the glory of God, which, being contemplated in the Gospel, has the power of transforming souls into its own likeness (2 Cor 3:18). God, therefore, is the supreme source of the Gospel; the Gospel is the revelation of the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Son in turn is the revelation of the Father (John 14:7 ff.).

In the Vulgate Deus should be written with a small d.

2 Cor 4:5. For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord; and ourselves your servants through Jesus.

This verse is closely connected with the preceding one. The Apostles do not seek their own advantage in their preaching; they preach Jesus Christ as Lord, i.e., as the Saviour and Master of all men, regarding themselves only as servants of the faithful for Christ’s sake.

We may read Jesus Christ with א A C D, Old Lat., Goth.; or “Christ Jesus” with B H K L, Copt., Arm.

Through Jesus. Better, “For Jesus’ sake” (with B D F G).

Our (Vulg., nostrum) should be omitted.

2 Cor 4:6. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus.

The best supported reading here is: “For God who said, ‘Out of darkness light shall shine,’ is he that hath shone in our hearts for the illumination of the knowledge,” etc. The radical reason why the Apostles preach Jesus Christ, and not themselves, is because such is the will of God, who in the beginning of the world made light shine out of darkness, and who through Christ has made the light of faith shine in the hearts of the Apostles in order that, through their preaching, they might enlighten the world with a knowledge of the glory of God, as it was revealed in the person of Christ, i.e., in His Divinity, His actions, His doctrine, etc.

In the face of Christ is doubtless an allusion to the “face of Moses” (2 Cor 3:7), with which Christ’s face is contrasted; but the meaning seems to point rather to the person of Christ, who was the revelation of the glory of the Father.

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