7. This Ministry (4:1–6)

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 1  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 

This passage continues Paul’s defensive excursus (2:14–7:4) on his new covenant ministry (cf. “this ministry”—v. 1). It is especially linked with the opening paragraph (2:14–17) by means of “ring composition,” a literary device that “complete[s] the circle of ideas.” 3 

At the same time, it provides a recapitulation and summary of material in 3:7–18 4  and serves to intensify the contrast between the apostolic office of Paul and the corrupt ministry of the “peddlers.” Of particular interest is the apostolic boldness/openness (“we are very bold”—3:12) that Paul now expresses as determination (“we do not lose heart”—4:1). In so doing he reaffirms that God leads him in the “triumphal procession” of spreading everywhere the knowledge of Christ (2:14; cf. 2:12).

In the present paragraph Paul’s own story can be traced. He had been an unbeliever, blinded to the light of the gospel (v. 4). On the road to Damascus, however, Paul had seen the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, who is the image of God (vv. 4, 6). Having given him the ministry of the new covenant, God showed him mercy, illuminating his heart that he might give the light of the knowledge of God to others (vv. 1, 6). In proclaiming the word of God, the gospel that “Jesus Christ is Lord,” Paul “sets forth the truth” (vv. 2, 4, and 5), and he does so as their “slave” for Jesus’ sake.

Here Paul appears to be answering those who criticize him on a number of counts—of fading in his ministry (v. 1), of chicanery in financial matters, of corrupting the message of God, of being self-commended (v. 2), and of obscuring the gospel (v. 3—from Jews?). Against those who oppose and criticize him Paul declares that God’s act of mercy toward him has been matched by his apostolic renunciation of secretive shameful behavior. Moreover, he contends that his lifestyle is marked by determined perseverance (v. 1), and the avoidance of craftiness and of corrupting the word of God (v. 2). In setting forth the truth he commends himself—as it were indirectly—to the conscience of all in the sight of God (v. 2). But Paul’s defense may be, at the same time, an oblique polemic against the “peddlers” who, in insincerity and guile, hawk the word of God, corrupting its message (2:17; 4:2).

He concedes the possibility that his gospel is “veiled” (v. 4), perhaps from those Jews who find it unacceptable. Those from whom the gospel is veiled are “perishing” (i.e., not being “saved”—2:15). The god of this age, Satan, has blinded their eyes. But by proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord Paul is deflecting the light God shone in his heart into the lives of others.

1 Paul now affirms that because he has “this ministry,” about which he has said so much in the previous chapter, and which he has on the basis of God’s mercy to him, he does not give up.

The initial “Therefore,” 5  with which both the opening sentence and the whole passage begin, ties what follows with what has just been stated. Indeed, each word or affirmation of v. 1 has an antecedent in the previous chapter. 6  “This ministry,” that is, the ministry of the “new covenant” 7  (3:6) that brings the Spirit and righteousness (3:8, 9, 17–18), is “from God” (2:17), who has made Paul “sufficient” for it (3:6).

Such ministry flowed from and was given to Paul at the same moment as he “received mercy,” 8  that is, when he “turn[ed] to the Lord [Jesus]” (3:16). That he does “not lose heart” 9  —or, better, does “not despair”—is to be taken with the earlier declaration of openness 10  (3:12), which, along with perseverance, expresses the revelational and saving character of the apostolic office. Indeed, since the glory of the new covenant ministry “remains” (3:11), as opposed to the old that is “abolished” (3:11), it is appropriate that the new covenant minister “remains,” that is, “perseveres,” “does not give up.” 11 

A note of pathos is probably sounded by his denial of despair, implying that the burdens of ministry—not least to the Corinthians—may have tempted him to abandon his apostolic calling (see on 11:28). Quite possibly he is obliquely answering criticism that, since his ministry is characterized by such difficulty and reversal, his legitimacy as a minister is, to say the least, problematic. Paul will argue that, on the contrary, his endurance 12  in the sufferings of ministry (hinted at here but made explicit elsewhere in the letter 13  ) mark the apostle out as a genuine servant of Christ, whose own sufferings are now reproduced in the ministry of the one who represents him (5:20; 12:10; see on 6:3–10).

2 Paul continues to spell out the consequences of “having this ministry” (v. 1a). God’s call to the new covenant ministry has meant the acceptance of patterns of behavior 14  consistent with that ministry: (1) determined perseverance (v. 1b), (2) renunciation of (a) secretive disgraceful behavior, (b) craftiness, and (c) corrupting the word of God, in contrast with which (3) he sets forth its truth, thus commending himself to others, in the sight of God.

The principal statement of the preceding verse, “we do not lose heart,” provides the foil for the initial “but” 15  of this sentence, which is followed by “not … nor … but.”


… we do

not lose heart.

But we have renounced the hidden things of shame,



not walking in guile



nor corrupting the word of God,







by the manifestation of the truth



commending ourselves




to the conscience of every man




in the sight of God.

Paul adopts an apologetic stance in regard to accusations that (1) he engages in secretive disgraceful behavior, 16  that is, practicing guile 17  (that, while rejecting payment for ministry, he has received the Corinthians’ money indirectly, through his delegates? 18  ), (2) tampering with the word of God, the gospel (in not requiring Gentiles to submit to the Mosaic covenant? 19  ), and (3) commending himself 20  (because he lacks dominical and apostolic accreditation for his ministry? 21  ).

Because of echoes of 2:17, it is possible that this verse is obliquely polemical as well as more directly apologetic. Both texts (1) refer to an inappropriate ministry of the word of God 22  (“peddling the word of God”—2:17; “corrupting the word of God”—4:2), and (2) speak of ministry “in the sight of God.” It would appear that Paul is here contrasting his ministry with that of the “peddlers” so that his words are also an indirect criticism of them. Whereas Paul does not turn aside from his apostolic calling (v. 1), it is these men—he may be implying—who are guilty of (1) secretive disgraceful behavior and crafty practices (cf. “these men are … deceitful workmen masquerading as apostles of Christ”—11:13), and (2) corrupting the word of God (cf. they “preach another Jesus … a different gospel”—11:4).

Having defended his own ministry, as well perhaps as having criticized the “peddlers” in the first three parts of the verse, Paul speaks positively in the fourth about his own ministry, which he introduces with “but.” The apostle makes the astonishing claim that he is an instrument of the revelation (“a setting forth” 23  ) of “the truth.” Here it is not primarily the truth in some abstract sense, as if incarnated by Paul (see on 2:14). Rather, the emphasis is on the truth of “the word of God” mentioned in the previous clause, “our gospel” in the next verse, and the proclamation of “Jesus Christ as Lord” in v. 5. 24  This “manifestation of the truth” (RV) (of the word of God) is in line with Paul’s assertion of the openness and determination of his apostolic office (3:12; 4:1). The light God shone in Paul’s heart on the Damascus Road is, by means of Paul’s preaching of Jesus Christ as Lord, deflected toward the hearts of others, glorifying “the face of Jesus Christ.”

According to the second and subsidiary half of this final part of the sentence, Paul’s revelation “commends” him. 25  Although that revelation of the truth is primarily “of the word of God,” Paul’s own person cannot be separated from that word. Thus the gospel that Paul preaches, as uttered by its messenger, “commends” Paul—not as in his opponents’ “letters of recommendation” to the Corinthian church (3:1)—to “each and every 26  conscience.” He is not commending himself as his critics maintain (see on 3:1), at least not directly and actively. Nonetheless, he is confident that his ministry and life impact the “conscience[s]”—the total understanding, moral and intellectual 27  —of others (see also 5:11). There is an eschatological dimension to this confidence; what is now “open” in Paul’s apostolic ministry and person to “the conscience” of “each and every person” is also “open” before God, 28  as it will be “before the judgment seat of Christ” (5:10). Paul is confident that through Christ (3:4) the revelation he makes before others in the gospel he preaches and the life he lives is, and will be, acceptable and pleasing to Christ his judge.

3 Paul now qualifies 29  the previous verse, where, through his ministry, he claims to “set forth the truth plainly.” Nonetheless, his words “and even 30  if our gospel is veiled” concede that not all discern a revelation in Paul’s ministry. Evidently some find his message obscure. 31  In that case, however, it is veiled among those who are perishing.

A literal translation of v. 3 reveals the centrality of the phrase “it—the gospel—is veiled” 32  :


And even if it is veiled



our gospel


among those who are perishing

it is veiled.


Apparently, Paul is responding to criticism that, to some, his gospel is no revelation at all; in other words, it is “veiled.” From whom would such criticism come? According to the context, a likely source would be the newly arrived Jewish “peddlers” in Corinth, whose ministry Paul is contrasting with his own (vv. 1–2; cf. 2:17–3:3). 33  From whom, according to them, would his gospel be “veiled”? Their reply would be, “It is veiled from fellow Jews 34  because Paul’s message is unacceptable to them.” 35 

Various reasons for this might be advanced. The most probable is that Paul preached “Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews” (1 Cor 1:23). 36  Related to this might have been Paul’s assertion that through the crucified Messiah the promised Spirit had come (cf. Gal 3:1–5), signaling the arrival of the new covenant, and ending the former dispensation (2 Cor 3:3–11). Such a message would readily be seen as a threat to the people of that dispensation. The obligations of that dispensation would now be a matter of merely cultural choice. 37 

According to Paul’s exposition in the previous chapter, the “veil” over the glory on Moses’ face turned out to be a veil over “the end” or goal of that glory, namely, Christ (see on 3:13). Thus Moses had, as it were, veiled the gospel ahead of its time on account of the Israelites’ hardness of mind (3:14). Thus, whenever Paul preached to Jewish audiences, his message came to a people already “veiled,” blinded to the glory of God anticipated in the old covenant, something he knew to his cost. Thus the concessive part of the sentence (“even if our gospel is veiled”) should probably be understood to mean something like “… veiled among the Israelites.”

In the apodosis (the “then” part of the conditional sentence) Paul goes on to indicate to whom his gospel is veiled. “It is veiled,” he says, “among 38  those who are perishing,” who in v. 4 are designated as “unbelievers,” including even God’s historic people, the Israelites (cf. 3:7, 13). Implicit here, perhaps, is a warning to Paul’s Gentile readers in Corinth not to follow the pro-Moses teaching of the “peddlers.” If God’s historic covenant people can be veiled and, in consequence, lost, so, too, can they.

By this language Paul picks up his earlier reference to “the perishing” (i.e., those who are not being saved—2:15) in the opening sentences (2:15) of this excursus on apostolic ministry (2:14–7:4). To “the perishing” the gospel borne by its apostolic messenger is “the stench of death” and confirms the hearers in ultimate or eternal death (see on 2:15). As noted above, the repetition of “perishing” rounds off what was said earlier (2:14–17) by the rhetorical method known as “ring composition.”

Earlier Paul raised the awesome question that, since human beings are “perishing” or “being saved” according to their response to the gospel of Christ, who can be “sufficient” to bear that message (2:16)? Here he touches another aspect of this dreadful reality, the great care that needs to be taken that the gospel is not by any means veiled, whether by its bearer corrupting the message itself or by ethical and moral failures on his own part undermining it. Only the gospel can “save”; only the gospel can bring the light of God to the blind. Let it not be veiled by those who bring it.

4 With an introductory “among whom” 39  Paul continues his (now very long) sentence (vv. 3–4) by explaining how “the perishing” come to be “veiled.” It is because the “god of this age,” Satan, has “blinded … unbelievers” to prevent 40  them from “seeing 41  the light.” 42  Three genitives qualify that “light”; it is “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” 43  “Christ” is declared to be “the image of God.” 44 

This complex verse may be laid out as follows


[The perishing …—v. 3]








… among whom


the god of this age





blinded the minds of unbelievers











might not see the light

of the







of the















who is the image of God.

The two constituent parts this verse, when taken together, are a paradox. Whereas in the first (A) the “god of this age” 45  blinds unbelievers so that they cannot see, the second (B) states that “light” is to be seen, that is, “the light of the gospel,” which, however, unbelievers do not see. This light comes from the “glory” radiated by Christ, who is “the image of God.” It will be remembered that those who turn to the Lord (3:16) see the “glory of the Lord” and are transformed into “the same image” (see on 3:18). 46 

The Exodus narrative forms the background to this passage. In response to Moses’ request God revealed his glory to him, but he was not permitted to see the face of God (Exod 32:18–23; cf. v. 6). On the Damascus Road, Paul, too, saw the glory of God. But there was a shape to it. Paul beheld “the image (eikōn) of God,” the glorified Christ. In the heavenly Christ the invisible God, who cannot be seen, has perfectly and fully revealed himself (cf. Col 1:15). The glorified Christ is the ultimate and eschatological revelation of God. There is nothing more that can or will be seen of God.

What Paul saw with his eyes in that unique moment he now “sets forth” by means of “the truth” of the gospel (v. 2) addressed to the ears of his hearers (cf. Gal 3:2, 5), by means of which the light of God comes into darkened hearts (v. 6). Light from the glorified Christ streams into the heart through hearing the gospel. God’s revelatory “image,” the heavenly Christ, shown to the apostle, becomes the revelation of God for those who hear and receive the gospel. 47 

In broadening his reference of blindness from the “veiled” Israelites (3:15) to “unbelievers” generally, Paul is declaring what is the eschatological reality of “this age.” 48  On the one hand, people generally, Jews and Gentiles alike, if they are “unbelievers,” 49  are and remain “veiled” (v. 3), having been “blinded” by “the god of this age.” Such blindness is not merely the historic incapacity of the people of Israel under the old covenant (3:13–15). The darkness is universal, demonic and cosmic. Yet into the darkness of these blinded minds, 50  light—God’s own glory now manifested in Christ—shines forth from the gospel Paul proclaims (cf. v. 6). Here, once again, is the apostolic openness/boldness (3:12), the eschatological disclosure of the truth of the word of God (v. 2), by means of which these are enabled to see whose blindness has been overcome by God’s light.

Such “seeing” of “the light … of the glory” is, of course, metaphorical for hearing. The gospel of Christ comes first not as an optical but as an aural reality (see, e.g., Rom 10:17; Gal 3:2, 5; cf. 3:1). Nonetheless, his words are not merely figurative. The intensity of Paul’s language suggests that he is appealing to shared spiritual experience, his own and his readers’. When the gospel is heard and the hearer turns to the Lord, the veil is removed so that he now “sees” the glory of the Lord (see on 3:16, 18). Light does shine in darkness (cf. v. 6).

5 With an explanatory “For” 51  Paul now sets forth to explain his own role in what he has said about the gospel in v. 4b. At the same time his “we proclaim” not only picks up immediate references to “not distorting the word of God … but setting forth the truth plainly” (vv. 2–3), “our gospel” (v. 3), and “the light of the gospel” (v. 4), but also the more distant motif at the beginning of the excursus: “God … leads us in triumphal procession and through us spreads … the knowledge of [Christ]” (2:14). Since the “light” of God (v. 4) is found in the gospel, Paul does not proclaim himself but the Lord, from whom gospel “light” comes (see on 3:16). 52 

Paul’s is a proverblike statement, based on a “Lord” and “slave” antithesis that is structured around “not … but … and.” 53  Thus he declares, “not … ourselves we proclaim, but Jesus Christ as Lord”; and, having initially dismissed “ourselves” as the content of what is proclaimed, he adds, “and ourselves your slaves on account of Jesus,” in terms of his pioneer role in the proclamation. Paul’s deliberate antitriumphalism (see on 2:14) may be tilted against those who claim to be “superior” to Paul (see on 11:5–6), but who “make slaves” of the Corinthians (see on 11:20). Paul’s sufferings in ministry—his “weaknesses” (11:23–12:10)—are incurred as their “slave” on account of Jesus.

This verse also prepares the way for the next, in which he states how he gives light to others. It is by proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord.



we do


preach ourselves











[preach 54  ]

Jesus Christ as Lord






ourselves your slaves






Jesus’ sake.


According to C. K. Barrett (134), “It would be hard to describe the Christian ministry more comprehensively in so few words.”

In this gnomic saying Paul gives the means, content, and manner of new covenant ministry (“this ministry”—4:1). Paul expresses the means of his ministry as “we preach,” 55  one of his two preferred words for his declaration of the gospel.

The content of Paul’s kērygma, as stated here (“Jesus Christ as Lord” 56  ), is echoed on a number of occasions elsewhere in Paul’s writings as a summary of Christian belief (e.g., 1 Cor 12:3; Rom 10:9; Phil 2:10–11). Implicit in this brief statement is the conviction that the crucified Christ has been exalted through resurrection as the heavenly Lord; God’s suffering servant, the agent of atonement, is now the ruler of the world. Personal conviction as expressed by open confession that “Jesus is Lord” 57  issues in the salvation of God (Rom 10:9). The implication here is that lordship equates with deity. “LORD” regularly translates “Yahweh” in the LXX, and there are numerous NT references to Jesus as “Lord” that echo OT (LXX) passages that refer to Yahweh. 58 

As to manner, as a “slave for Jesus’ sake,” 59  the apostle models himself on the ministry of Christ, to whose “meekness and gentleness” he will refer later (10:1). If Paul, a “good minister of Christ”—as he exhorts Timothy to be (1 Tim 4:6)—is a “slave,” 60  it is “on account of Jesus” 61  whom he serves and whom he proclaims, because Jesus was the “slave” who, by his death, came “to minister” (Mark 10:44 62  ; Rom 15:8). Unstated, but perhaps understood, is the inference that the One who is now “Lord” had first been the “slave.” 63  A more antitriumphalist statement is difficult to conceive.

6 The reason (“For” 64  ) Paul the apostle gives for being a “slave” (v. 5) is now stated. It is because God has shone in Paul’s heart 65  to give the light of the knowledge of God to others. Whereas, earlier, the god of this world blinds minds to the light of the gospel (v. 4), by response, in this verse, the God who called forth the light of creation has illuminated Paul that he might bring the glory of God to darkened human hearts.

This verse is tripartite. The subject of the first part (A)—“the God …” 66  —is the subject (understood) of the second (B). Thus “the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ ” is 67  [“the God] who 68  has shone in our hearts.” The third part (C) gives expression to God’s purpose latent in the second, namely, “to give the light 69  of the knowledge 70  of the glory of God.” 71 









the God who said,








“Light shall shine out of darkness,”





shone in our hearts





to give















of the knowledge






of the glory of God






in the face of Christ.


There is an outward as well as an inward aspect here. 72  Outwardly, on the way to Damascus, Paul saw “the glory of God in the face of Christ”; inwardly, and as a consequence, “God has shone in our hearts” (cf. “God revealed his Son in me”—Gal 1:16). Whereas God’s outward revelation of his glory to Paul was unique, his inner enlightenment of the heart also describes the illumination of all 73  who receive the gospel message (cf. “see the light of the gospel”—v. 4). “The gospel is now ‘the fundamental re-presentative agency for the splendor of God’; God’s glory is present in the proclamation.” 74 

The statement of purpose “to give” (C) explains how Paul is a “slave” (v. 5), as demanded by the connective “for” with which v. 6 begins. Paul’s apostolic role as “slave” is to beam forth to others the light that God has shone in his heart. This he does by preaching “Jesus Christ as Lord” (v. 5), so that his hearers may “see” the “glory of God” in “the face of Christ, who is the image of God.” (The “face” 75  that his hearers see figuratively Paul had seen literally on the Damascus Road.) Under the old covenant the glory on the face of Moses was veiled from the people (see on 3:7, 13). But by the ministry of the new covenant those who hear the gospel “see” the “glory of God” in “the face of Christ” (see on 3:18). This giving forth of the light of God by preaching Jesus Christ is the “boldness/openness” (3:12), the “setting forth” of the truth (v. 2), that is the very essence of the apostolic office, from which he will not recoil (v. 1). 76 

The language of vv. 5–6 resonates with key vocabulary used of the creation in the opening chapter of Genesis (“image of God,” “God … said, ‘Let there be light’ ”). 77  God, who addressed the primeval darkness with his word that brought day in place of night, now addresses the darkness of human sin and chaos. That darkness, according to v. 4, is attributable to the god of this world, who blinds the minds of unbelievers. This verse gives the answer to that; God—the true God, the creator and giver of light as opposed to the false god—illuminates the inner lives of those previously blinded by Satan. 78  From the hitherto darkened heart of the apostle, in whom God had shone his light, now streams forth light for those who will hear the word of God—that Jesus Christ is Lord—from him. To them God shines in his light, dispelling the darkness of ignorance, fear, and guilt, removing the veil.

Paul’s use of such language from Genesis 1 anticipates his reference to “a new creation” (5:17). If there is a “new covenant” (3:6), there is also a “new creation,” reminding us once more of the deeply eschatological nature of the apostle’s thought. The old has passed, and the new has come in fulfillment of it (see on 1:20–22; 3:3; 5:15–17; 6:1–2).

Paul’s words in vv. 1–6, which are redolent of his Damascus Road encounter with the glorified Christ, are given in defense of his ministry. Possibly, too, there is concurrently an oblique polemic against the “peddlers” (see on v. 2). In particular, Paul here claims to be a revelator to others of the glory God shone in his heart, that is, to set forth the truth plainly (see on vv. 2, 6). In terms of his intention in writing, this author is seeking to defend, so as to confirm, his authority as a minister of the new covenant. He has not written to secure emulation from others but recognition of his apostolic task by the Corinthians.

What application, then, do these words have for others, in particular those who are missionaries and pastors? Despite the particular and historic context of Paul’s apologetic for his ministry, the applicability of these words to others beyond Paul and that distant situation is clear enough. A pioneer of that new covenant ministry Paul certainly was, and with a unique revelatory role, accompanied by the signs, wonders, and miracles of an apostle (12:12). Nonetheless, that new covenant continues, and with it a new covenant ministry, until the closure of the age.

Significant for such ministry is Paul’s statement that God has “shone in” his heart (4:6). This is deliberately representational. God shines into the hearts of all who respond to the gospel; they also “see the light of the glory of God” (4:4). As ministers under the continuing new covenant, missionaries and pastors themselves need to have “seen” that “light” from the gospel, and, on that basis, so to preach the gospel that God will shine his light into the hearts of others.

Acceptance of and involvement in new covenant ministry as a life calling require the same ethical qualities as those stated by the apostle in v. 2—determined perseverance, and a renunciation of the shamefully secretive and of craftiness (especially in matters relating to money). The minister will not corrupt the gospel by adding to it, but rather commend himself to others before God, by an open declaration of it from a godly life.

Clearly, too, Paul’s words in v. 5 stand as a rebuke to any minister of the gospel, then or since, who aspires to worldly greatness or recognition. Whoever fails either (1) to preach “Jesus Christ as Lord” or (2) to be “slave for Jesus’ sake” fails at the most fundamental point of ministry that has any claim to be apostolic.



 1 The reading διὰ Ἰησοῦν (“for Jesus’ sake”), read by the majority (incl. A* and B) and adopted by most translations and commentaries, is probably to be preferred to διὰ Ἰησοῦ (“through Jesus”), read by mostly Egyptian texts (p46א* C 0243 33 1739 1881 pc cop). Paul does not elsewhere use “Jesus” absolutely when he has agency in mind.

 2 There are three possible readings: (1) Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (p46א C H K etc.); (2) Χριστοῦ (A B 33 etc.); (3) Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ (D F G etc.). Although the stronger external support favors (1), reading (2) best explains how the others emerged (“Jesus” was added before or after “Christ”). The UBS committee was divided; thus “Jesus” appears in brackets.

 3 So Martin, 75, who notes the repetitions: ἐν τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις (4:3; cf. οἱ ἀπολλύμενοι, 2:15), Paul’s claim to live ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ (4:2; cf. κατέναντι θεοῦ, 2:17), and his reference to τῆς γνώσεως τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ (4:6; cf. τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ, 2:14).

 4 We may agree with Plummer, 109, that “the division of the chapters [between chaps. 3 and 4] is unintelligently made.” Bultmann, 99, notes the following correspondence between 4:1–6 and 3:7–16 based on the repetition of ἔχοντες (4:1; cf. 3:12); (1) διακονία (4:1; cf. 3:7), (2) the similarity of καθὼς ἐλεήθημεν (4:1) to διὰ Χριστοῦ (3:4), and (3) the similarity of κεκαλυμμένοννοήματα (4:3ff.) to νοήματακάλυμμα (3:14).

 5 Gk. διὰ τοῦτο, which is stronger than the merely conjunctive οὖν, expressing literally, “for this reason,” on the basis of what has just been said.

 6 Gk. ἔχοντες (cf. 3:12); τὴν διακονίαν ταύτην (cf. 3:5–6θεοῦἱκάνωσεν ἡμᾶς διακόνους καινῆς διαθήκης); καθὼς ἐλεήθημεν (cf. 3:4πεποίθησινδιὰ Χριστοῦ); οὐκ ἐγκακοῦμεν (cf. 3:12πολλῇ παρρησίᾳ χρώμεθα).

 7 His reference to “this ministry” also implies a negative contrast with the ministry of the old covenant (3:14)—a ministry of death and condemnation (3:7, 9)—which has already been the subject of sustained contrast (3:7–11).

 8 Gk. ἐλεήθημεν; NIV, “through God’s mercy.” Paul’s past life as a persecutor and his deep appreciation of God’s mercy (note the divine passive, “received mercy”) are implied by this expression. See also 1 Cor 7:25; 1 Tim 1:13, 16.

 9 Gk. οὐκ ἐγκακοῦμεν, “we are not weary,” as supported by other Pauline uses, which are always with a negative (v. 16; 2 Thess 3:13; Gal 6:9; Eph 3:13; cf. Luke 18:1, the only non-Pauline use in the NT). Not all take this view, however; see, e.g., (1) Thrall, 1.298–300, who takes it as “behave remissly in … duty”; (2) Bultmann, 99, who argues that οὐκ ἐγκακοῦμεν = οὐκ ἐπαισχύνομαι (“I am not ashamed”—Rom 1:16) and that the antonym of ἐγκακοῦμεν is θαρροῦμεν (5:8); and (3) Furnish, 217, who takes it as “having confidence,” based on the contrast it provides to 3:12. In parallel with οὐκ ἐγκακοῦμεν in the letter is the apostolic “endurance” (ὑπομονή1:6; 6:4; 12:12), “courage” (θαρροῦμεν5:6–8), and “confidence” (πεποίθησις3:4; 10:1–2).

 10 Cf. Eph 3:12–13, where μὴ ἐνκακεῖν and παρρησία are found in connected contrast.

 11 This assertion—“we do not lose heart”—launches the sequence of opposite statements that runs on into the next verse: “not (v. 1) … but … not … nor … but” (v. 2).

 12 Gk. ὑπομονή, as in 1:6; 6:4; and 12:12.

 13 1:5–11; 2:1–4, 12; 4:7–15; 6:3–13; 7:5–8; 11:23–12:10.

 14 The verb usage should be noted. Because ἀπειτάμεθα is, with ἠλεήθημεν (v. 1), an aorist, we may infer with Hughes, 122, and Thrall, 1.300 (contra Furnish, 217), that Paul’s “renunciation” occurred at the time of his conversion and call. The present tenses οὐκ ἐγκακοῦμενμὴ περιπατοῦντεςσυνιστάνοντες appear to indicate ongoing behaviors in contrast to the completeness of the renunciation implied by the aorist ἀπειτάμεθα. The middle voice ἀπειτάμεθα is taken by some in its full meaning, i.e., “As far as we are concerned” (so C. K. Barrett, 128).

 15 Gk. οὐκἀλλά.

 16 Gk. τὰ κρυπτὰ τῆς αἰσχύνης; NIV, “secret and shameful ways.” According to Thrall, 1.300–303, following extensive discussion: “the secretive practices of disgraceful behavior.” While τῆς αἰσχύνης could mean the attitude of “shame,” the context of observable behavior in what follows suggests that “disgrace” is to be preferred. Given the context of the letter in which Paul is accused of underhanded ways of pursuing ministry related to money (12:16–18; cf. 7:2), this, rather than pagan vices (as in Eph 5:12; cf. 1 Cor 4:5), is more likely to be intended.

 17 Gk. πανουργία; NIV, “deception.” The derivation of the word (παν + ουργια—“every work”) may, in this case, give a clue to a Machiavellian meaning whereby “the end justifies” whatever “means” employed. As with “secret shameful things,” Paul may be responding to efforts to discredit him in matters related to money. It appears that they accused Paul of “guile” in not receiving payment for his ministry (12:16; cf. 11:7–9), while receiving it by the “back door” from his envoys (12:16–18). They may have suspected that he loftily declined payment (11:7–11) with a view to some kind of moral manipulation, or perhaps because he was too proud to be paid.

 18 See 11:7–12; 12:13–15, 16–18.

 19 So Barrett, 128. Cf. Thrall, 1.301, who takes it to refer to discreditable missionary methods in seeking success as an evangelist.

 20 See on 3:1.

 21 See on 3:1.

 22 Gk. ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ, which, it should be noted, refers to the preached gospel, not the written scriptures. See, e.g., 1 Thess 2:13 (cf. 1:5–6); 1 Cor 14:36; Rom 9:6; Acts 8:4, 14; 11:1; 13:5, 7, 44, 46, 48; 16:32; 17:13; 18:11. Phrases in parallel include “the word of the Lord” (1 Thess 1:8; 4:15), “the word of the cross” (1 Cor 1:18), and “the word of truth” (2 Cor 6:7).

 23 Gk. φανερώσει, which occurs only here and at 1 Cor 12:7, with the adjective φανερῶς occurring only at 1 Cor 14:5 and Rom 2:28. The verb φανεροῦν, however, is important in 2 Corinthians (2:14; 4:10, 11; 5:10, 11; 7:12; 11:6).

 24 Cf. 6:7: “by the word of truth” (my translation); Eph 1:13; Col 1:5: “the word of truth, the gospel …”; 2 Tim 2:15: “the word of truth”; Gal 2:5, 14: “the truth of the gospel.”

 25 The participle συνιστάνοντες is in consequence of the instrumental τῇ φανερώσει τῆς ἀληθείας. The manifestation of the truth in his life serves to commend him to the consciences of others (cf. 5:11).

 26 So Barrett, 129; the Gk. has πᾶσαν συνείδησιν ἀνθρώπων. Cf. NIV, “every man’s conscience.”

 27 According to Furnish (219), “conscience” must not be restricted to a personal sense of guilt in regard to one’s past actions, but should “include the function of assessing the actions of others.” In 1:12 Paul appealed to his own conscience in regard to his sincerity; now he appeals to the consciences of others.

 28 Prominent in 2 Corinthians is Paul’s notion that he exercises his ministry “before God” (κατέναντι θεοῦ, 2:17; 12:19; ἐνώπιον θεοῦ, 4:2; 7:12) and that—however or on what basis others will be judged—he will be “open” and judged on the basis of his ministry (τοὺς γὰρ πάντας ἡμᾶς φανερωθῆναι δεῖ ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ βήματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ5:10). Furnish, 219, plausibly suggests that “before God” is an oath-formula.

 29 As by the introductory Gk. particle δέ.

 30 Gk. εἰκαί, a concessive construction (for other examples of εἰ καί, see 4:16; 5:16; 7:8; 12:11). Plummer, 113, comments that “the use of εἰ καί … and the emphatic position of ἐστίν … show that St Paul concedes what is stated as hypothetically to be actually a fact.” Less likely is the explanation of Thrall, 1.303 n. 792, who suggests that “the εἰ may be separated from the καί and the καί may be seen to be strengthening what follows: ‘(But) if our gospel is veiled …’ ”

 31 To be noted is the contrast between φανέρωσις τῆς ἀληθείας (v. 2) and ἐστὶν κεκαλυμμένον τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἡμῶν; the truth (of the gospel) is revealed, but the gospel is veiled.

 32 Gk. ἐστὶν κεκαλυμμένον, a periphrastic perfect construction, might suggest an existing state: “is and remains veiled.” Most commentators, however, follow Moule, 18, in regarding the periphrastic perfect as “virtually an adjective.”

 33 Contra Thrall, 1.305, who sees the “unbelieving Jews of Corinth” as the source of the complaint that Paul’s gospel is obscure.

 34 Other views are (1) that Paul is recognizing a general lack of perception of his message (Hughes, 125), and (2) that Paul is replying to the charge that “his preaching was obscure and shifty” (Plummer, 113). To be rejected is the thesis of D. Georgi, Opponents, 261–62, that Paul is here countering the newcomers’ own positive exegesis of the Exodus 34 passage in which the veil was an essential part of the Mosaic ministry.

 35 The complaint of Paul’s opponents may have been that Paul’s ministry was ineffective among Jews because it was offensive to them. Such ineffectiveness arising from hostility may be inferred from the many places in the Acts where Paul’s attempts at ministry in the synagogues of the Diaspora met with opposition (Acts 13:45, 50; 14:2, 19; 17:5, 13; 18:12; 19:9; 20:3, 19; 21:17; cf. 2 Cor 11:26), and indeed violence (2 Cor 11:24).

 36 According to D. A. Renwick, Presence of God, 47–48, Paul’s opponents may have regarded his suffering and unimpressive style as uncharacteristic of apostolic life. Based on Exodus 32–34, the glorified Moses was their paradigm for apostleship. On this hypothesis the sufferings of Paul would veil his gospel. However, the assumption that the newcomers used Exodus 32–34 in their polemic against Paul remains conjectural.

 37 The attitudes of James/the Elders in Jerusalem at the time of Paul’s final visit implies that, whereas a large number of believing Jews were “zealous for the law” as a result of their ministry, this—it is implied—could not be said of Paul’s ministry. Rather, it was reported that his ministry had undermined fundamental tenets of Judaism (Acts 21:20–21). Moreover, it is hinted that Paul had not required the Gentiles to uphold the terms of the Jerusalem Decree in deference to Diaspora Jews (Acts 21:25; cf. 15:19–21).

 38 Contra N. Turner, Grammatical Insights, 264, who takes ἐν with the dative here as indicating a sphere of disadvantage, hence “to those who are perishing” rather than “among …”

 39 Gk. ἐν οἷς, untranslated in the NIV in the interest of shortening Paul’s long sentence (vv. 3–4). In terms of strict translation ἐν οἷς should be rendered “among whom.” This, however, would imply that “unbelievers” were a subgroup of “the perishing” of v. 3, which is clearly not the intention of the writer. Furnish, 220, explains the irregularity as due to Paul’s “dictation style,” in which he has lost track of his own syntax. “The veiled perishing” are “the unbelievers.”

 40 Gk. εἰς τὸ μή could be “either final or consecutive” (Moule, 143 n. 2). However, given Satan’s negative purposes, it is probably a final or purpose construction.

 41 The verb αὐγάζειν is not found elsewhere in the NT and is rare in the LXX. In classical literature it means either (1) “to see clearly,” or (2) “to beam upon, as by the sun.” The difficulty is to decide whether the verb is transitive or intransitive. If intransitive, the subject of the infinitive αὐγάσαι would be the accusative φωτισμόν. The option taken by most modern translators, however, is transitive, in which case the subject would be αὐτούς (understood), taken with meaning (1) above. For references to other “optical” verbs (ἀτενίζειν, κατοπτρίζεσθαι, σκοποῦν) in this part of the letter, see on 3:18.

 42 Gk. τὸν φωτισμόν; cf. φωτισμόν (v. 6).

 43 Gk. τὸν φωτισμὸν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου is taken to mean “light emanating from the gospel” (genitive of origin). According to N. Turner, Grammatical Insights, 218, where several genitives are joined together, the governing genitive usually precedes the dependent one. Thus both δόξης and Χριστοῦ are governed by εὐαγγελίου. According to Barrett, 131–32: “Light streams from the Gospel that Paul preaches because the theme of the Gospel is Christ … and Christ … is himself a glorious figure.”

 44 Gk. εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ. The εἰκών vocabulary as applied to Christ (1 Cor 11:7; 15:49; Rom 1:23; 8:29; Col 1:15) is limited to Paul in the NT, and its use here without explanation suggests that Paul had already introduced it to the Corinthians in regard to Christ (cf. 1 Cor 11:7). Furnish thinks the concept did not originate with Paul but with the pre-Pauline church, whereas Thrall, 1.309–10, attributes it to Paul himself. See Thrall, 1.309–11, for the view that Paul’s usage originates, in part, from Hellenistic Judaism, and particularly from the Wisdom of Solomon and Philo, where “wisdom” approximates “the image of God,” because wisdom mediates the knowledge of God. It is to be noted that Philo referred to humankind as εἰκὼν εἰκόνος, “the image of the image” (Creation of the World 25). According to A. M. Ramsey, The Glory of God, 150, “The word εἰκών means ‘that which resembles’ … in particular the resemblance of something to a prototype from which it is derived. Christ … shares in God’s real being and hence can be a perfect manifestation of that being.”

 45 Gk. ὁ θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου, a reference to Satan (so Thrall, 1.306–8), for whom elsewhere in this letter see 2:11; 11:14; 12:7. The striking term ὁ θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου is not found elsewhere in the NT; but see ὁ ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τουτοῦ (John 12:31). This “god” is the master of this age, the “god” behind every idol, yet subject to the decree of God. “The unregenerate serve Satan as though he were their God” (Hughes, 127). Nonetheless, there is no dualism here, as if God and Satan were equals.

 46 For other references to εἰκών and δόξα together, see 1 Cor 11:7 (“a man … is the image and glory of God”); 2 Cor 3:18 (“beholding … the glory of the Lord … transformed into the same image”); Rom 8:29–30 (“conformed to the image of his Son … glorified”).

 47 Consonant with the language of vv. 3–4 is Christ’s commission to Paul recorded in the Acts: “to open [Gentile] eyes and turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18).

 48 Gk. ὁ αἰῶνος οὗτος—a temporal concept that is in contrast with ὁ αἰῶνος ὁ μέλλων (cf. Eph 1:21), representing an eschatological dualism of contemporary Judaism that is common to Paul’s thought (e.g., 1 Cor 1:20; 2:6; Rom 12:2). The present age is characterized by “evil” (Gal 1:4). According to 2 Clement 6: “This age and the coming one are two enemies.” Nonetheless, in NT thinking “the coming one” has already become present in “this one.”

 49 Gk. ἄπιστοι are found earlier in Paul only in 1 Cor 6:6; 7:12–16; 10:24; 14:22–25, where the word is used only of Gentiles. Paul’s inclusion of Jews as “unbelievers” may be seen as very pointed, and indeed offensive, since the ἄπιστοι of 2 Cor 6:14, 15 are worshipers in Gentile temples, where people would be defiled through contact with food offered to idols (cf. Acts 15:29; 21:25)!

 50 The parallel references to “minds” (v. 4), along with “hearts” (v. 6), remind us that these words are really interchangeable (cf. 3:14, 15). Yet, νόημα may have a special place in 2 Corinthians, given the negative references elsewhere to “reasonings” (2:11; 3:14; 10:5; 11:3), which is the more striking since Paul has only one other use, and that a later one (Phil 4:7). See also on λογίζομαιλογισμούς (10:2).

 51 Gk. γάρ. So Plummer, 118. Less probably, γάρ could point to “ourselves” and pick up but qualify “we commend ourselves” of v. 2 in answer to Paul’s critics (“we commend ourselves …” [v. 2]; … “we do not preach ourselves”).

 52 For the argument that Paul is here defending himself from the charge of preaching his own Damascus Road experience for some kind of egotistical control over others, see Thrall, 1.313.

 53 Gk. οὐκἀλλάδέ

 54 The verb in part (A), “we do not preach ourselves,” is to be understood in part (B), “but [we preach] Jesus Christ …”

 55 Gk. κηρύσσομεν. Within 2 Corinthians Paul’s key gospel preaching words are (1) κηρύσσειν, where the object is “the Son of God, Jesus Christ”—1:19; “Jesus”—11:4; (2) εὐαγγελίζεσθαι, with the object (10:16, intransitive) “the gospel of God”—11:7; (3) λαλεῖν, where the object explicit or implicit is “the word of God”—2:17; 4:2, “our” or “the gospel”—4:3, 4. The keywords εὐαγγελίζεσθαι and κηρύσσειν, with cognates εὐαγγέλιον and κήρυξ, had important cultic associations in the Greco-Roman world at that time, as well as a significant history of use within the Greek translations of the OT. See G. Friedrich, TDNT 2.707–37, for εὐαγγελίζεσθαι/εὐαγγέλιον, and G. Friedrich, TDNT 3.683–718, for κηρύσσειν/κήρυξ. The LXX, in particular, is the chief quarry for these words.

 56 Similar to v. 5 is 1 Cor 1:23: “We preach Christ crucified …” Both statements summarize a critical aspect of Paul’s kērygma.

 57 Gk. Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν κύριον. The response of the people of Macedonia who “first gave themselves to the Lord” (8:5) was, in all likelihood, because Paul proclaimed Jesus Christ as Lord.

 58 See, e.g., 1 Thess 4:16/Ps 46:5; Rom 10:9–13/Joel 2:32; Phil 2:10–11/Isa 45:22–24).

 59 It is possible that Paul is here either pointedly apologetic (answering the charge that he rates his authority as an apostle more highly than preaching the gospel—cf. 1:24) or obliquely polemical (against the newcomers whom he is presently criticizing, and whom he will accuse of insincerity and harshness—cf. 2:17–3:1; 4:2; 11:20). Paul is also restating his long-understood servant’s role; cf. 1 Cor 3:5 (διάκονος); 4:1 (ὑπηρέτης); Rom 1:1; Phil 1:1 (δοῦλος).

 60 Gk. δοῦλος.

 61 Gk. διὰ Ἰησοῦν. Also 4:11—“we are always being handed over to death on account of Jesus …

 62 Whereas Paul speaks of himself as δοῦλος, as does Jesus in Mark 10:44, it is παίς that occurs in the LXX version of the Servant passages in Isaiah (see, e.g., Isa 52:13–53:12), as echoed in Matthew (cf. Matt 8:17; 12:18–21). There are hints in Paul’s writings that he understands his own role in terms of the Servant of Yahweh, as in Isaiah’s Servant Songs (e.g., Rom 15:21). For a discussion of Paul as Servant of Yahweh in 2 Corinthians, see G. K. Beale, “Reconciliation,” 562–66. But it must be noted that Paul does not refer to himself as παίς nor, indeed, use the word in his letters.

 63 The exaltation of the humble Servant as Lord is classically stated in Phil 2:7, 9, 11μορφὴν δούλου λαβώνὁ θεὸς ὑπερύψωσενπᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσηται ὅτι κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστός.

 64 Gk. ὅτι, which is here equivalent to γάρ (A. T. Robertson, Grammar, 962) and gives the basis for v. 5, just as the γάρ of v. 5 had given the grounds for v. 4.

 65 Gk. καρδίαις ἡμῶν, “our hearts.” With Thrall, 1:316–17, this is taken as singular (as at 7:3–4), i.e., as Paul’s heart, because (1) his first person plural pronouns (“we”/“us”) throughout the excursus on new covenant ministry (2:14–7:4) generally refer to his apostolate (see on 1:1; 2:14), and (2) the immediate context (vv. 1–4) relates to Paul’s ministry. Nonetheless, the illumination of the heart is by no means limited to Paul. Paul is a paradigm for and representative of all believers.

 66 I have followed the RSV in this verse. Alternatively, but less probably, ὁ θεός could be taken as a predicate: “it is God who said …”

 67 Gk. ἐστιν supplied; so Plummer, 119.

 68 Gk. ὅς, which some authorities omit (e.g., D* G 81 Marcion).

 69 Gk. πρὸς φωτισμόν (cf. τὸν φωτισμόν—v. 4). Whereas ἔλαμψεν points to Paul’s conversion, πρὸς φωτισμόν points to that ministry of shedding forth God’s light as an evangelist, which was the purpose of his conversion. Cf. Gal 1:16ἀποκαλύψαιτὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐν ἐμοὶἵναεὐαγγελίζωμαι αὐτὸν ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν … Less probably, however, Thrall, 1.318, treats φωτισμόν as parallel to ἔλαμψεν, pointing only to the illumination of Christ to Paul, with no evangelistic intention expressed at this point.

 70 While Bultmann, 108, takes γνῶσις here in the sense of gnostic enlightenment, the reference to γνῶσις in the context of evangelism (2:14; cf. 2:17; 4:2–5) excludes such a view, as does the OT use of “the knowledge of God.” See also R. Bultmann, TDNT 1.696–701.

 71 The “glory of God in the face of [Jesus] Christ” (v. 6) is the same thing as the “glory of Christ” (v. 4), implying a close identification between God and Christ. Barrett comments (132), “In God’s Son God is himself encountered, yet at the same time remains the Invisible One.”

 72 There are parallels between the Acts accounts of the Damascus event and this verse. The present φωτισμός appears as φῶς (Acts 9:3; 22:6, 11; 26:13) and the λάμπ-group words occur in this verse and in Acts 26:13.

 73 According to Thrall, 1.319, “… could [Paul] really speak of both the Corinthians and himself (ἡμεῖς πάντες, 3:18) as beholding the Lord’s glory, unless there was in some way a real identity of experience between them?” See further G. Theissen, Psychological Aspects, 117–58.

 74 So Thrall, 1.319; see generally her Excursus V—4:4, 6: Christophany.

 75 Gk. πρόσωπον, while taken literally here, is often taken figuratively as “person,” or “presence.” The “face of Christ,” which is now “glorious” (see also 3:18), had previously, and in continuity, been the person of the incarnate Jesus of Nazareth (cf. 8:9). In relationship to the latter, A. McGrath observes, “Without incarnation, we are left in the realm of ideas. We are left unable to put a human face to God. We are left in a world of ideas and ideals—a chilly world, in which no words are spoken, and the tenderness of love is unknown. The incarnation allows us to speak with authority of God being personal. It speaks of God entering our history, and allows us to abandon the cold and unfeeling world of ideals in favour of a world charged with the thrilling presence of God” (Bridge Building, 169). McGrath’s comments about the incarnate One hold true as well for the glorified One.

 76 Paul’s language in v. 6 evocatively describes universally the experience of Christian conversion. At the same time his words (3:16–4:6) reflect, autobiographically, his own life-changing encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, and the effects of his ministry since that time. Paul’s meditates retrospectively on his own sense of having been “veiled” from the glory of God during the Sabbath-day reading of Moses (3:14–15). When confronted by the glory of God on the Damascus Road, he “turned” to the Lord—the Lord Jesus Christ, whose face he then saw—that veil was removed, and the Spirit came, bringing “freedom” (3:16–17) from condemnation and death (3:7, 9). He saw the glorified “face” of Jesus Christ, who is “the image of God” (3:18; 4:4, 6). Conscious of having been shown the “mercy” of God at the same moment as receiving his apostolic commission to new covenant ministry (4:1; 3:7), Paul “renounced” his previous life (4:2). From that time, as he preached the gospel—namely, “Jesus Christ as Lord” (4:4–5)—God beamed the light that Paul had seen into the darkened minds of all who would receive the word of God, so that they, too, might “see” the “face of Christ,” who is the “image of God” (3:18; 4:5–6). Thus, through Paul’s ministry as apostle to the Gentiles there was the open and bold declaration of the day of salvation (6:2), the phanerōsis of God’s truth (3:12; 4:2), an activity from which he would not turn aside (4:1).

 77 There may also be echoes of Isa 9:1 (φῶς λάμψει ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς; cf. ὁ θεόςλάμψει) as well as of the light-giving role of the Servant of Yahweh (Isa 49:6). Paul may be making some oblique reference to himself as the Servant of Yahweh (see on v. 5).

 78 The language of darkness/light as of the creation narrative is used of Christian conversion elsewhere (cf. Acts 26:18; 1 Pet 2:9).