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 4:13-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 6, 2017

THE APOSTLES WERE COMFORTED IN THEIR TRIBULATIONS BY THE HOPE OF A GLORIOUS RESURRECTION

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 4:13-18~Having explained the purpose of God in permitting the sufferings of the Apostles, St. Paul now speaks of the end the Apostles themselves had in view in the exercise of their difficult ministry. In spite of the constant menace of death they ceased not to preach the Gospel, knowing that a glorious resurrection awaited them and their converts, that God’s glory was promoted by their labors, and that an eternal reward would be given in exchange for their transitory sufferings.

2 Cor 4:13. But having the same spirit of faith, as it is written: I believed, for which cause I have spoken ; we also believe, for which cause we speak also:

The Apostle wishes to say that the same trust and confidence in God sustains him and his companions in their tribulations which sustained the Psalmist in his desolation and sorrow. As the Psalmist spoke in consequence of his faith in the divine promises, so the Apostles fearlessly preach because of the same faith. St. Paul quotes the LXX of Psalm 116:10, which in form only differs from the Hebrew: “I believed, for I must speak.” The Psalmist believed that God would deliver him from the death, tears, and dangers spoken of in Ps 116:1-9, and therefore he spoke the thanksgiving part of Psalm 116, of which the first verse (10) is given here. The Apostles believed that God would never forsake them, and therefore they spoke the Gospel truths.

2 Cor 4:14. Knowing that he who raised up Jesus, will raise us up also with Jesus, and place us with you.

Who raised up Jesus. Better, “Who raised up the Lord Jesus” (with manuscripts C D F G K L P). In their sufferings the Apostles are encouraged by the hope that as God raised Jesus, their Head, from the grave, so He will one day raise them from the dead and unite them and their converts with their divine Chieftain.

With Jesus, rather than “through Jesus,” according to the best MSS. The preposition “with” indicates not time, but the unity of all the faithful in and with Christ.

And place us, etc., i.e., will place us Apostles with you alive in the kingdom of God. For this same use of παραστησει, see Acts 1:3; Acts 9:41.

The Apostle here, as in 5:1-8, speaks as if he did not expect to be alive at the Second Coming of Christ; whereas in 1 Cor 15:51-52, he spoke as though he might live to see that event. This shows that he had no revelation in the matter: he knew “not the day nor the hour” (Matt 25:13).

Jesus (Vulg., Jesum) in the first part of the verse should be preceded by “Lord” (Dominum), as in the best MSS.

2 Cor 4:15. For all things are for your sakes; that the grace abounding through many, may abound in thanksgiving unto the glory of God.

For (γαρ) looks back to the last words of the preceding verse. The prominence given the faithful there, with whom he hoped to be associated in heaven, reminds the Apostles here that all his labors, sufferings, trials, etc., as well as his deliverances, have been for their sakes, that they may have life (verse 12), and that the grace, i.e., the divine help, granted to him in answer to their prayers, may call forth their thanksgiving, thus giving glory to God. The glory of God was, therefore, the ultimate end of all the labors and sufferings of the Apostles.

2 Cor 4:16. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man is corrupted, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

For which cause, etc., i.e., since all their trials and labors are for the good of the faithful and the glory of God, the Apostles faint not (verse 1), i.e., never lose courage. And although their bodies, again and again rescued from destruction and death, are gradually wasting away, their souls and spiritual faculties grow stronger every day in view of the rewards awaiting them hereafter (verse 17).

2 Cor 4:17. For that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory.

For that which is at present momentary, etc. Better “For our present light affliction,” etc. “Our” before “present” is omitted by B and St. Chrysostom.

Present is contrasted with eternal, light with weight, tribulation with glory.

Momentary (Vulg., momentaneum) is not in the best MSS.

Above measure exceedingly shows how far the reward surpasses what is performed. God punishes less than we deserve, and rewards more than we merit (St. Thomas).

This verse is a proof that the good works of the just are meritorious of eternal life (Conc. Trid., Sess. VI. cap. 16).

2 Cor 4:18. 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.

The Apostles hope to have part in the rewards just described because they do not seek the passing things of this world, such as riches, pleasure, glory and the like, but the lasting goods of the world above that is not seen with bodily eyes.

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