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Tuesday, November 28th, 2023
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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 4

Coffman's Commentaries on the BibleCoffman's Commentaries

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Broomall has an interesting outline of this chapter, as follows:

The hidden and the open (2 Corinthians 4:1,2).

The blinded and the enlightened (2 Corinthians 4:3).

Slaves and Master (2 Corinthians 4:5).

Darkness and Light (2 Corinthians 4:6).

The frail and the mighty (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Trials and triumph (2 Corinthians 4:8-10).

Death and life (2 Corinthians 4:11,12).

The written and the spoken (2 Corinthians 4:13).

The past and the future (2 Corinthians 4:14).

Grace and thanksgiving (2 Corinthians 4:15).

The outer and inner man (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Affliction and glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).

The seen and the eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18b). Wick Broomall, Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 664.

Verse 1

Therefore seeing we have this ministry, even as we obtained mercy, we faint not.

We … in this chapter refers to Paul, at least mainly, and secondarily to his fellow workers." Floyd V. Filson, The Interpreter’s Bible (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1953), Vol. X, p. 314. However, it is especially the apostles who are in view here.

This ministry … is a reference to "the new covenant." David Lipscomb, Second Corinthians (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1937), p. 57.

Even as we obtained mercy … This clause is very significant as showing that the new covenant brought to mankind through the gospel of Christ "is not an achievement of human ability but a consequence of divine mercy." Philip E. Hughes, Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1962), p. 122. This is in fact an acknowledgment on Paul’s part of his own utter unworthiness, "because mercy is shown only to the guilty, the condemned, and the hopeless." Ibid.

Verse 2

But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by the manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

We have renounced … This does not refer to any recent renunciation on Paul’s part, but to the fundamental renunciation of all the works of the devil at the time of his conversion to Christ. As Farrar put it: "We renounced them once and forever at our baptism." F. W. Farrar, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), Vol. 19, 2 Cor., p. 89.

Hidden things … craftiness … deceitfully … Rather than viewing this as Paul’s defense of himself from criticism imputing such devices to him by his enemies, it is preferable, as Kelcy did, to see this as Paul’s allusion "to such underhanded methods of certain false teachers at Corinth." Raymond C. Kelcy, Second Corinthians (Austin, Texas: R. B. Sweet Company, 1967), p. 28. This, therefore, is not Paul’s defense of himself, as widely supposed, but his charges against them! Allo supported this view thus:

Plainly Paul has someone in view - and in such a manner that he will not fail later on to disclose who it is. It is in 2 Corinthians 10 to 2 Corinthians 13 that this will be done. These rumblings of polemic, still vague and muffled, certainly have the air of preparing the way for a decisive explanation rather than of recalling one which has already been given. Philip E. Hughes, op. cit., p. 122.

The fashionable explanation of much of the Corinthian letters as Paul’s attempts to defend himself against slanders is lacking in both discernment and logic. Paul simply was not the kind of a man who was always on the defensive. Before he has finished this letter, he will take the offensive in such a manner as to demonstrate the fundamentally offensive and aggressive nature of his life and preaching.

Craftiness … refers to tricky and deceitful devices which no faithful preacher of the word of God may use.

Handling deceitfully … No greater sin exists than that of perverting and polluting the word of God, whether by toning down its requirements, or adulterating it with purely secular teachings. Such a corruption of the word of God, according to Lenski, is "the most dastardly of all the dastardly deeds done in the world." R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul’s First and Second Epistles to the Corinthians (Columbus: Wartburg Press, 1937), p. 955.

Manifestation of the truth … This does not mean merely that Paul spoke the truth, which of course he did; but the reference is to that whole system of truth brought in Christianity. As Hillyer said, "TRUTH is almost a technical term for CHRIST or GOSPEL." Norman Hillyer, The New Bible Commentary, Revised (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 1079.

To every man’s conscience … Paul did not mean by this that everybody believed him, but that his life and teachings were of such a character that every man SHOULD HAVE believed him. The next verse is somewhat of an implied diatribe, replying to the unstated question, "Then why have not all believed?"

Before leaving this verse, the comment of Tasker should be noted:

Although the intellects of men and women may be attracted by the sophistries and subtleties of "the essayist in the pulpit" it is the plain unadulterated gospel that alone strikes home to man’s conscience. "Repent and believe the gospel" must ever be the burden of one who is preaching IN THE SIGHT OF GOD. R V. G. Tasker, The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1958), p. 70.

Verse 3

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled in them that perish.

This verse replies, as in a diatribe, to the objection that Paul’s gospel was veiled to some. One of the great marvels of the glorious truth in Christ Jesus is that to many people it is absolutely hidden. However, not for a moment does Paul allow any man to be blameless in the inability to see the truth. If one does not see it, it is his fault. "The veil (that prevents their seeing) is woven by their own prejudices and corrupt affections." James Macknight, Apostolical Epistles and Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1969), Vol. II, p. 350. As Jesus said it, "Men love darkness rather than the light because their deeds are evil" (John 3:19). Man’s moral condition determines whether or not he will see the truth.

Them that perish … The scholars insist that this is a mistranslation and should read, "in them that are perishing." Plumptre said, "The force of the present participle, as not excluding the thought of future change, should be noted." E. H. Plumptre, Ellicott’s Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959), Vol. VIII, p. 375. Even hardened sinners who will not see the truth still have the option of changing if they will.

Verse 4

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn upon them.

In whom … Macknight translated this "by whom" and referred it to intellectual sinners in high places whom the devil uses as instruments in blinding yet others. James Macknight, op. cit., p. 350.


The god of this world … "Satan is not here called the god of the COSMOS, but god of THIS AGE." F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 89. Nevertheless, as Filson said, "Christ has broken the grip of Satan on mankind, but his remaining power is so great that Paul can call him the god of this present evil age." Floyd V. Filson, op. cit., p. 316. McGarvey was right in declaring that this passage does not impute deity to Satan. "Satan is not a god properly, but is merely one in reference to those who have sinfully made him such." J. W. McGarvey, Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1916), p. 188. Many believe, as did Lipscomb, that the sin of Adam "transferred the allegiance and rule of the world from God to the devil"; David Lipscomb, op. cit., p. 59. but the conviction here is that all of Satan’s authority is usurped, that only what God permits is he able to do; and as for the notion that Satan in any meaningful sense rules the world, Nebuchadnezzar had to eat grass for seven years in order to learn that "The most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will" (Daniel 4:25). This means that Satan’s promise to give Christ the rulership of the world in return for falling down and worshipping the devil (Matthew 4:4ff) was an unqualified falsehood.

Other New Testament passages that refer to Satan in a similar manner to that of Paul here are:

"the prince of the powers of the air" (Ephesians 2:2).

"the prince of this world" (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).

Blinded the minds … This refers to "hardening" as it is called in other places in the New Testament (Romans 1:21; 11:7,25, etc.). An extensive study of this phenomenon was undertaken in the Commentary on Romans, and reference is here made to pp. 39-51, 392-419. Blinding, darkening and hardening all refer to the same thing. The condition that results is sinful, and at the same time punishment for sin. Hardening occurs when the individual rebels against God, who then allows Satan to have his way, with a result of further hardening; and thus, in a sense God hardens people, as in the case of Pharaoh (Romans 9:17,18). Satan was never able to blind any person who had not already rebelled against God.

That the light … refers to the illumination of the minds of all who accept Christ.

Of the gospel of the glory of Christ … The gospel of Christ is the source of all spiritual light. It is a gospel of glory, and that glory is of Christ.

That the light … should not dawn upon them … The great purpose of Satan is to prohibit any true knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Tertullian pointed out that Satan used superstition to blind people. He said: "The whole superstition of this world has gotten into his hands, so that he blinds effectively the hearts of unbelievers." As quoted by Philip E. Hughes, op. cit., p. 128.

Who is the image of God … Other New Testament passages in which Christ is referred to as God’s image are:

"Who is the image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15).

"The very image of his substance" (Hebrews 1:3).

"He that beholdeth me beholdeth him that sent me" (John 12:45).

"He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9).

Christ is the image of God in two ways: (1) As a perfect man, he, like Adam, was "in the image of God" (Genesis 1:26). (2) As God in human form, Jesus accurately mirrored the Father’s will for mankind.

Verse 5

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

We preach not ourselves … As Lipscomb declared, "This cannot mean that Paul excluded all reference to himself or his faith and maintained altogether an impersonal tone in his preaching." David Lipscomb, op. cit., p. 60. The meaning is that Paul rejected all personal claims to any human authority on his part, preaching only what Christ commanded him to preach. "All is of God; nothing is of self." Philip E. Hughes, op. cit., p. 132.

But Jesus as Lord … The supreme Lordship of Christ was central in all apostolic preaching. This is recognized by every Christian whose very confession, at the time of his conversion, begins with "confessing Jesus as Lord" (Romans 10:9).

And ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake … The Greek word here rendered "servants" is [@doulos]; and it means SLAVES. "Paul is not suggesting, however, that he is a slave of the Corinthians." Ibid. There is but one Master, who is Christ the Lord; and it is purely "for his sake" that the apostle assumed the role of a slave of the Christians at Corinth.

Verse 6

Seeing it is God that said, Light shall shine out of darkness, who shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Light shall shine out of darkness … This verse carries strong overtones of Paul’s conversion after the blinding light he witnessed on the Damascus road. Furthermore, the reference to Genesis 1:3, where it is written, "Let there be light," links the original creation with the new spiritual creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Tasker gives a quotation from Chrysostom as follows:

Then indeed he said, Let it be; and it was. But now he said nothing, but himself became Light for us. For the apostle does not say, "has also now commanded," but "he himself shined." R. V. G. Tasker, op. cit., p. 72.

The glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ … The only true knowledge of God which is available to people is comprehended in the life and teachings of the Son of God. As Wesley put it: "It is more useful for us to behold God as he appears in his only-begotten Son, than to investigate his secret essence." John Wesley, One Volume New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1972), in loco. Paul’s allusion seems to be the fact that he had seen the blessed face of the Son of God in the blinding light that overwhelmed him on the road to Damascus, and that he unhesitatingly identified the face of Christ with the glory of God.

Verse 7

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves.

The thought of this verse is that God entrusted the gospel to people who had none of the trappings of earthly power and honor, in order that the great success of the gospel would not be accredited to its messengers as men, but unto the eternal God who inspired them. And, although it is true, as Lipscomb said, that any earthly body "is an unworthy receptacle for so glorious a message," David Lipscomb, op. cit., p. 62. yet there seems to be in view here the lowly earthly estate of the apostles.


In earthen vessels … The figure is possibly drawn from the "small pottery lamps, cheap and fragile, that could be bought in the shops of Corinth"; Philip E. Hughes, op. cit., p. 135. or from the custom observed in Roman triumphs, in which the silver or other precious metals looted from conquered peoples was melted down and poured into clay pots to be carried in the procession. "Herodotus tells us that Darius melted his gold into earthen pots, which could be broken when it was wanted." J. R. Dummelow, One Volume Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p.932. Tiffany’s in New York City once displayed a fantastically large and beautiful diamond on a small piece of driftwood. As Reid said, "A frail vessel of earth, a little clay lamp, was often used to hold the light." James Reid, The Interpreter’s Bible (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1953), Vol. X, p. 318.

A great many commentators stress the ephemeral nature of frail and transitory mortal life in connection with this; but the preferable view is that of seeing the apostles who had been fishermen and tax collectors, and who were the most remarkably ordinary men; and Paul, as the most gifted of them, yet drastically handicapped by the thorn in the flesh, which may have been the bitter hatred of his whole race and nation, as well as by his unimpressive personal appearance - seeing SUCH MEN literally take the whole world for Jesus Christ!

That the power may be of God, and not from ourselves … Let any man consider the facts: (1) of the difficulty encountered in turning pagan worshipers away from their idols, or the power required to woo people away from the fleshly lusts in which they lived, or the strength of fleshly ties that had to be severed, of the animosity and hatred that invariably came from priests, magistrates and others whose vested interests were jeopardized by the acceptance of a new religion, and the combined opposition to Christianity of every evil and shameful institution in the entire social order of that period; and (2) the fact that none of the apostles had any standing as worldly authorities, or even as respected teachers, and having no other background except that of laborers, etc. Let any man consider all of that, and then let him declare that God’s purpose was indeed served by placing the inestimable riches of the treasures of the gospel in EARTHEN VESSELS, in order that the power of the new faith would be recognized as coming from God himself, and not from any abilities of its human advocate.

Verses 8-10

We are pressed on every side, yet not straitened; perplexed, yet not unto despair; pursued, yet not forsaken; smitten down, yet not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body.

As Macknight said, "This is supposed to refer to the Grecian games"; James Macknight, op. cit., p. 355. but the figure of a race (the third analogy) would not be true in such a comparison, because Paul’s enemies were not in a Christian race with Paul. Plumptre believed that "The imagery here belongs to the soldier on active service." E. H. Plumptre, op. cit., p. 376. It is perhaps best to forget about any special analogy that Paul might have had in mind and to consider these clauses merely as "the great paradoxes of the Christian life." William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954), p. 223. His own experiences during his apostolic ministry were the true background of all that is said here.

Pressed but not straitened … Moffatt translated this "harried, but not hemmed in." On Paul’s first missionary tour, his enemies had chased him everywhere, but were never able to hem him in.

Perplexed, yet not unto despair … The disorders at Corinth were certainly perplexing to Paul, but there is no evidence that he ever despaired.

Pursued, yet not forsaken … Forty men pursued Paul with a view to killing him, but he was not forsaken of the Lord (Acts 23:12ff). Both Lenski and Carver state that "The metaphor here is that of a mortal chase and flight." Frank G. Carver, Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City, Missouri: Beacon Hill Press, 1968), Vol. 8, p. 534.

Smitten down, yet not destroyed … As Bruce paraphrased this, "Knocked down, but not out!" William Barclay, op. cit., p. 223. Paul was literally stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19); and that is surely an example of his being knocked down but not knocked out!

Always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus … The thought here is that the same vicious hatred of every evil element on earth which finally succeeded (with God’s permission) in nailing Jesus to the cross was now focused upon the Lord’s apostles. This was the fulfillment of exactly what Jesus had promised. "A servant is not greater than his Lord. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you … all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake" (John 15:20,21).

That the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body … The apostles were partakers both of the sufferings of Jesus and of the life of Jesus, a life which they were able to impart to others by preaching of the gospel. Paul correctly read the two, the sufferings and the spiritual life imparted to others, as directly related to Jesus. Also, it should be noted here that Paul viewed both the death of Jesus and the life of Jesus as historical facts. For him there was no such distinction as that alleged by unbelieving critics who speak of "the historical Jesus" and the "risen Jesus." They were both historical!

Verse 11

For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

"This verse repeats, and so emphasizes the thought of 2 Corinthians 4:10." Floyd V. Filson, op. cit., p. 321. See under preceding verse for comment.

Verse 12

So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

Paul is not here complaining to the effect that he suffers all of the hardships, and the Corinthians receive all of the benefits. He has reference to the causal effect of his persecutions with their result in many conversions. Paul’s many escapes from death and all of the other providences which had preserved his life miraculously through so many dangers were a part of the irrefutable evidence that God was with him. There was no denying the fact, as pointed out by Tasker, that:

The power of the risen Jesus was being revealed here and now in his own body. The apostles were thus witnesses in deed as well as in word to the truth of their Lord’s resurrection. R. V. G. Tasker, op. cit., p. 74.

Verse 13

But having the same spirit of faith, according to that which is written, I believed, and therefore did I speak; we also believe, and therefore also we speak.

According to that which is written … This was Paul’s formal designation of what he was about to quote as a passage from the word of God; and again the carelessness of the RSV in murdering this clause should be noted but not excused. Of all the places to find a correction of their error … it is in the Interpreter’s Bible! "Paul cites the Psalm passage as scripture, according as it is written; the RSV rendering does not make this clear." Floyd V. Filson, op. cit., p. 322.

I believed, and therefore did I speak … This is from Psalms 116:10, a psalm which is titled, "Thanksgiving for Deliverance from Death" in the English Revised Version (1885). It was indeed appropriate that Paul, who had so frequently been delivered from death, should use the same words here. It is possible that Paul had read this Psalm frequently during his tribulations. G. Campbell Morgan identified this verse as revealing the secret of effective preaching. Because Paul believed, his testimony had the ring of truth. Morgan concluded with the imperative: "If you do not believe, shut your mouth!" G. Campbell Morgan, The Corinthian Letters of Paul (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1946), p. 239. This writer would add that if people do not believe the word of God, let them refrain from wasting our time with their books on the subject.

In this verse Paul disclosed the first of four reasons which explained his endurance of so many trials. No. 1, he truly believed God’s word.

Verse 14

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

Here Paul calmly faced the ultimate prospect of his own death, giving the lie to all of the fancy allegations that he thought the Second Coming would occur in his lifetime. Here he affirmed that the Lord would raise him from the dead!

With Jesus … cannot mean at the same time with Jesus, for Jesus had already been raised from the dead and had ascended to the right hand of the Majesty on High.

With you … This has to mean that Paul also expected that all of the Corinthians would die before the Second Coming, because here he envisioned their being presented (see Colossians 1:28) with himself. This verse is reason No. 2. Paul knew that death itself would not rob him of the crown of life, nor would it rob his Corinthian converts, despite the fact that both he and his converts would pass through it.

Verse 15

For all things are for your sakes, that the grace, being multiplied through the many, may cause the thanksgiving to abound unto the glory of God.

For all things are for your sakes … This is reason No. 3. Paul’s hardships were actually contributing to the conversion of many souls, and also to their being grounded and established in the faith. This occurred because it would not have been possible for any man to suppose that such trials, dangers and persecutions as those endured by Paul would have marked the efforts of any insincere charlatan.

Through the many … unto the glory of God … Here is reason No. 4. Paul endured because his sufferings glorified God by the bringing of many souls unto salvation.

Verse 16

Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day.

Wherefore we faint not … has the meaning of "For the four reasons just cited, he was able to endure."

Our outward man is decaying … This is not a reference to the "old man" (Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9), having the simple meaning that his physical body, with all of its powers, was moving inexorably to its dissolution. All of the powers and glory of mortal life are like a flower that blooms and then crumbles into dust; and how sad it would be for man if there was nothing to anticipate except the grave.

Inward man is renewed day by day … The true believer in Christ is not overly disturbed by the erosion and decay of all physical life, because his soul is feasting upon that Bread which came down from heaven, even our Lord Jesus Christ. The inner spiritual life, which is the glory of the "new creature" in Christ, does not diminish or fade. "Brighter the way groweth each day," in the words of an old hymn. Happy indeed are they who rejoice in the growing strength of the inner man as the swift seasons roll. For those who are without this treasure, the decay of the outward is the decay of everything.

Verse 17

For our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory.

The surprise of this verse is that the epic sufferings of Paul should be termed "our light affliction"; This cannot mean, literally, that they were in any sense "light"; but that IN COMPARISON with the ultimate glory of Christians, they are light. James Macknight has an inspiring paragraph on this verse, as follows:

It is hardly possible to express the force of this passage as it stands in the original. Nothing greater can be said or imagined. The apostle, about to describe the happiness of the righteous in heaven takes fire. He calls it not glory, merely, but a weight of glory, in opposition to the light thing of our affliction, and an eternal weight of glory, in opposition to the momentary duration of our affliction, and a most exceeding eternal weight of glory, as beyond comparison greater than all the dazzling glories of riches, fame, power, pleasure, or than anything that can be possessed in the present life? James Macknight, op. cit., p. 359.

Both Macknight and Plumptre stressed the repetition of "exceedingly" by Paul in the Greek, which is literally, "worketh for us exceedingly, exceedingly, etc.." E. H. Plumptre, op. cit., p. 378. This is an idiom meaning "exceeding the superlative."

Verse 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 entire genius of the Christian life, indeed the entirety of faith in both the old and new covenants, is here distilled and isolated as to its pure essence. Trusting God, believing and obeying him, are finally nothing more than what is revealed here.


If one can see it, it cannot last. All visible things are temporal, whether flowers, suns or galaxies; and it also applies to that which one sees when he looks at himself in a mirror. The author of the book of Hebrews (just who could this have been, if not Paul?) devoted almost all of chapter 11 to an exposition of this verse, leaving the impression that the writer of this passage, after thinking about it for more than a decade, took up the Old Testament and applied the principle stated here to all of the salient features in it. Note the following:

Introduction: Faith itself is "a conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). This does not mean things which are merely overlooked, but things which, by their very nature, cannot be seen at all. "Things not seen" include everything in the whole theater where faith operates. Such things as the understanding of how the universe was created, the incarnation of Christ, the judgment of the world by the deluge, the Second Advent, the final judgment, and the assignment of his final destiny to every man - in fact, everything of ultimate importance relates to the things invisible. It has been a failure to discern this quite obvious and simple truth in Hebrews 11:1 which has contributed so heavily to scholarly disagreements about what is meant by that passage.

1. God framed the universe itself out of things unseen (stated invertedly). "Hath not been made out of things which appear" (Hebrews 11:3). Modern science has proved that atoms, the building blocks of all creation, are not merely invisible, but are also practically nothing at all, being electrically charged particles in orbit around other particles and in the aggregate composed almost entirely of space. It is literally true that the whole universe is made of "things unseen," even regarding the tiniest particles of it; and, in addition to that, the great fundamental laws controlling all things in space, such as gravity, centrifugal and centripetal forces, inertia, radiation, etc., are, all of them, invisible.

2. Noah, acting upon God’s instructions, preserved through the flood a new beginning for the human family. "Being warned of God concerning things not seen as yet" (Hebrews 11:7). Such a flood as God promised had never occurred before; and it was a sheer act of faith for Noah to believe in "thing not seen as yet."

3. Abraham likewise trusted in the invisible; and although the word "unseen" is not used in connection with his obedience, the thought is surely in this, "For he looked for the city that hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10). That city, to be sure, was invisible in any ordinary sense.

4. Jacob, when near death, blessed his sons and "made mention of the departure of the children of Israel" (Hebrews 11:22). This was trust in "things unseen" by virtue of their being future.

5. Moses forsook Egypt and cast his lot with Israel; "For he endured as seeing him who is invisible," i.e., the invisible God (Hebrews 11:27). No greater test of trusting the "unseen" was ever successfully met. The wealth, glory, power and splendor of Egypt were very visible. Moses could see the armies, orchards, palaces and pyramids which belonged to Pharaoh and might also have belonged to him; but he trusted the promises of the invisible God.

6. This is exactly the challenge of faith in every generation, to believe in the things which no one can see. Heaven, hell, the final judgment of all people, the Second Coming, the resurrection of the dead practically everything of importance in Christian faith, regards the "things that are unseen," and which things are designated here by Paul as eternal.

7. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16) regards the same confidence in "things not seen." The new birth is invisible; and, although the outward act of baptism may be seen, such things as the pollution of a soul by sin, the surrender of the heart to God, the forgiveness of the sinner which takes place not on earth but in the heart of God, and the resultant change of directions deriving from the new birth - none of these things can be seen literally. They belong in that category of "things not seen as yet." However, since the universe itself is made of "things unseen," no one need ever fear to step out firmly and confidently upon the promise of God. "The things which are unseen are eternal."

8. Just as God is invisible (Hebrews 11:27), the Holy Spirit is also invisible. The fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) are not visible, but are like the blessed Spirit himself whom no man has ever seen.

9. The same principle is operative in the public worship of Christians. The Lord said, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20). One may look around him at church, but he will not see the Lord, except by the eyes of faith. Nevertheless, that presence of Christ in the worship is the eternal blessing of the church. Being "unseen," his influence is the eternal essence of every true worship service in his name.

(Note: Further discussion of this intriguing subject is found in my Commentary on Hebrews, chapter 11.)

Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/2-corinthians-4.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
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