Today we are studying 2 Cor 4. The theme of this passage is from verse 12, “death worketh in us.”
Paul constantly suffered as he preached the gospel, (what he called, “this ministry,” verse 1). In second Corinthians 3:6 he said, we are “ministers of the New Testament,” and in 3:9 he called his ministry “the ministration of righteousness.” In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul explained that in this ministry he was always “bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus,” (verse 10) and that he was “always delivered unto death,” (verse 11). This death was not something he tried to avoid. Rather, he said, “death worketh in us,” (verse 12).
Death worketh in us:
To manifest the truth, 2 Cor 4:1-2. A person who suffers for preaching the truth would be inclined to protect himself from harm. He would fear that preaching the truth would cost him his life (like it did Jesus). So, he would be inclined to hide the truth by dishonesty, craftiness, and deceit to protect himself. But Paul said death worked for him. Therefore, he could be and was honest and completely true. See 2 Cor 1:12; 2:17; 3:12. He didn’t hide anything. And in the sight of God and before the conscience of men each knew that he was true.
To manifest the light of the gospel, 2 Cor 4:3-6. The gospel is light. 2 Cor 4:3 says “the light of the glorious gospel.” When you get saved, “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” shines in your heart so that others can see it. But we must preach Jesus, not ourselves (verse 5). The devil opposes the gospel and blinds the minds of the lost who “believe not.” So, the light doesn’t shine to them. He blinds them by darkness (1 John 2:11). Therefore, we need to “give the light,” (verse 6). What reveals the light that is in us is brokenness and suffering. That’s how death worked in Paul to reveal the light that was in him.
To manifest the power of God, 2 Cor 4:7. Paul was concerned that their faith would stand in the power of God (1 Cor 2:1-5). Death revealed that it was the power of God working in Paul that strengthened their faith. It was not the “weakness“ of the earthen vessel.
To manifest the resurrected life of Jesus, 2 Cor 4:8-14. See Philippians 3:10-12. There must be a death before there can be a resurrection. Jesus is resurrected and his life is in us today. Therefore, Paul could handle all of the suffering that he had to endure in order to preach the gospel. See 2 Cor 4:4:10-13; 11:23-30. Paul lived Galatians 2:20. Paul’s example was basically, if you try to save yourself you can’t save others. You must die. See John 12:24-25. Therefore, according to verse 13, Paul believed these things and, thus, he spoke these things. That’s what got him in trouble in the first place (Acts 23:6).
To manifest the glory of God, 2 Cor 4:15. As people get saved they thank God for his grace. Their thanksgivings redound to to the glory of God. Redound means to overflow. The more people thank him, the more God is glorified. See 1 Cor 1:29-31; 1 Cor 3:19-21.
To manifest the eternal things of God, 2 Cor 4:16-18. The eternal things of God have to do with eternal life. They have to do with the inward man. Paul was not concerned with what happened to the outward man. He was concerned only with the glory which should follow this life. See Romans 8:17-18 and 2 Timothy 2:10-13. We suffer now to enjoy glory later. And the glory far exceeds the suffering so that it is, according to Paul, our “light affliction.” And it only lasts “a moment,” by comparison to eternal glory. Paul looked at the unseen through death and manifested those things that others cannot seen in this life.