Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: 2 Corinthians
Book: 2 Corinthians
Chapter: 4

The apostles laboured with much diligence, sincerity, and
faithfulness. (1-7) Their sufferings for the Gospel were great,
yet with rich supports. (8-12) Prospects of eternal Glory keep
believers from fainting under troubles. (13-18)

1-7 The best of men would faint, if they did not receive Mercy
from God. And that Mercy which has helped us out, and helped us
On, hitherto, we may rely upon to help us even to the End. The
apostles had No base and wicked designs, covered with fair and
specious pretences. They did not try to make their ministry
serve a turn. Sincerity or uprightness will keep the favourable
opinion of Wise and good men. Christ By his Gospel makes a
glorious discovery to the minds of men. But the design of the
Devil is, to keep men in ignorance; and when he cannot keep the
Light of the Gospel of Christ out of the world, he spares No
pains to keep men from the Gospel, or to set them against it.
The rejection of the Gospel is here traced to the wilful
blindness and wickedness of the human Heart. Self was not the
matter or the End of the apostles' preaching; they preached
Christ as Jesus, the Saviour and Deliverer, who saves to the
uttermost all that come to God through him. Ministers are
servants to the souls of men; they must avoid becoming servants
to the humours or the lusts of men. It is pleasant to behold the
Sun in the Firmament; but it is more pleasant and profitable for
the Gospel to shine in the Heart. As Light was the beginning of
the first Creation; So, in the new Creation, the Light of the
Spirit is his first work upon the soul. The treasure of Gospel
Light and Grace is Put into earthen vessels. The ministers of
the Gospel are subject to the same passions and weaknesses as
other men. God could have sent angels to make known the glorious
doctrine of the Gospel, or could have sent the most admired sons
of men to teach the nations, but he chose humbler, weaker
vessels, that his power might be more glorified in upholding
them, and in the blessed change wrought By their ministry.

8-12 The apostles were great sufferers, yet they met with
wonderful support. Believers may be forsaken of their friends,
as Well as persecuted By enemies; but their God will never leave
them nor forsake them. There may be fears within, as Well as
fightings without; yet we are not destroyed. The Apostle speaks
of their sufferings as a counterpart of the sufferings of
Christ, that people might see the power of Christ's
resurrection, and of Grace in and from the living Jesus. In
comparison with them, other Christians were, even at that time,
in prosperous circumstances.

13-18 The Grace of Faith is an effectual remedy against
fainting in times of trouble. They knew that Christ was raised,
and that his resurrection was an Earnest and Assurance of
theirs. The Hope of this resurrection will encourage in a
suffering Day, and set us above the fear of Death. Also, their
sufferings were for the advantage of the Church, and to God's
Glory. The sufferings of Christ's ministers, as Well as their
preaching and Conversation, are for the good of the Church and
the Glory of God. The prospect of eternal Life and happiness was
their support and comfort. What sense was ready to pronounce
heavy and long, grievous and tedious, Faith perceived to be
Light and short, and but for a moment. The weight of all
temporal Afflictions was lightness itself, while the Glory to
come was a substance, weighty, and lasting Beyond description.
If the Apostle could Call his heavy and long-continued trials
Light, and but for a moment, what must our trifling difficulties
be! Faith enables to make this right Judgment of things. There
are unseen things, as Well as things that are seen. And there is
this vast difference between them; unseen things are eternal,
seen things but temporal, or temporary only. Let us then look
off from the things which are seen; let us cease to seek for
worldly advantages, or to fear present distresses. Let us give
diligence to make our future happiness sure.