Chapter 4

The Ministry of the New Covenant
Read (2 Corinthians 4:1-3)
Having been entrusted with the ministry of the new covenant, Paul assumed the responsibility of proclaiming the gospel everywhere. He was not discouraged by the shameful conduct of his enemies. He refused to practice the cunning methods to distort the gospel but preached the truth before God and all (2 Corinthians 4:1-2).  Truth is the objective facts about God which cannot be changed. It is revealed in the authoritative Word of God (Isaiah 45:19).  If the gospel they preached was hidden, it was veiled to those who were perishing. The god of this world has blinded their minds to see the truth. They are unable to see the glorious light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan is the god of this world who controls the world system (Matthews 4:8-9; 2 Timothy 2:26).  Satan shields the unbelievers from the light of the gospel of Christ. But God has removed the veil from our eyes so that we are no longer blinded by unbelief. 
Satan Blinds the Unbelievers
Read (2 Corinthians 4:4-6)
Satan opposes the work of God and does not want anyone to believe Christ. The unbelievers have difficulty to understand the gospel because Satan has blinded their minds. Only Christ can remove that blindness (2 Timothy 2:24-25).  Satan disguises himself as the angel of light             (2 Corinthians 11:14).  He is the God of this world who blinds the minds of unbelievers.  One of Satan's greatest abilities is deception and he is the master of counterfeit. Satan uses deception to make people believe his lies as truth.  Christians should grow in the knowledge of Christ to discern between truth and lies. The gospel is the ultimate source of light. All other teachings will lead to spiritual darkness. Paul preached Jesus Christ as Lord (2 Corinthians 4:5).  God commanded the light to shine out of darkness in creation (Genesis 1:3). In the new creation also, God illuminates our heart to see the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). Jews looked for light, Greeks searched for knowledge and Romans wanted glory.  Only in Christ the light of the knowledge of the glory of God is revealed. The disciples saw that glory in the person of Christ (John 1:14). Once we were in darkness but God graciously removed our blindness to live as children of light (1 Thessalonians 5:5; Ephesians 5:8).  The more we look to Jesus, the brighter his glory appears. Pray that God would help you to reflect his light to people around you. 
The Treasure in Jar of Clay
Read (2 Corinthians 4:7-18)
The gospel is the good news of God's grace in Jesus Christ. God has entrusted it with believers, the earthen vessels which are brittle and perishable. The gospel resides in men of clay so that everyone can see that our power is from God and is not our own (2 Corinthians 4:7).  Paul says “We are afflicted but never crushed”. When we are afflicted, God promises that we are not  going to be crushed because Jesus was crushed on our behalf (2 Corinthians 4:8; Isaiah 53:5). We may be perplexed but never despair. We may be persecuted but not forsaken because Jesus was forsaken in our place (Mark 15:34). We may be struck down, but not destroyed.  The believers may experience death, they should not be afraid because Jesus took the penalty of their sins and gave them resurrection life (2 Corinthians 4:10; 2 Timothy 1:10).  Trials should not make us bitter but better.  Trials are God's tool to make us spiritually mature. Our trials are to be understood as the “fellowship of Christ’s suffering” (Philippians 3:10).  Those who suffer with Christ will be glorified with Christ (Romans 8:17).  Our trials should become an opportunity to witness Christ (Acts 16:23-34).  Paul endured suffering in his life and ministry.  He knows that trials are temporary but the blessings last forever.  Paul had confidence in the risen Jesus.  Everything Paul suffered for the gospel was for the benefit of believers and for the glory of God. He offered his service as a thanksgiving sacrifice. Paul was strengthened by the grace of God to endure trials (2 Corinthians 12:9).  The believers should not be discouraged when they go through trials because suffering is not the end of Christian life.  Though our physical body is wasting away, our inner man is being renewed day by day (4:16). Our present afflictions are momentary.  They prepare us for eternal glory.  Our bodies are weak and mortal but God promises to display his power in our weakness.  He will never abandon his people. The believers should look forward not to things that are transient but the things that are unseen and eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18). Difficulties don’t have the final say in the Christian life. Pray that God's grace may grow more in your trials.