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2 Corinthians 4:3–4

“Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Paul, we have noted, spends much time in 2 Corinthians describing and defending the nature of true Apostolic ministry because of false teachers who were calling his vocation into question. It is hard to get a full picture of the false teachers’ arguments, but it is clear enough that they questioned Paul’s Apostleship because they believed God would not allow one of His true messengers to suffer as Paul did (see 2 Cor. 11–12). Other texts, including today’s passage and 3:15, have led many commentators to conclude that the false teachers cast doubt on Paul’s ministry because his gospel was not received by all, particularly those of a Jewish background. The reasoning seems to have been that if Paul’s message were true, more Jews would have trusted in Jesus under his preaching than actually did so.

At its heart, the false teachers’ critique assumed that all people by nature look for the truth and that if they do not believe our message, it must be because there is something wrong with the message. This assumption has reappeared throughout church history. In every generation, it seems, one can find some professing Christians who see a perceived lack of evangelistic success as an indicator that the gospel in itself is insufficient and must somehow be made more relevant by changing it to fit the times. If we do that, it is assumed, surely people will believe. But the problem is not with the message if people fail to believe it when it is accurately proclaimed. Instead, spiritual blindness keeps people from believing, not any supposed lack of relevance in the biblical gospel. That is Paul’s point in 2 Corinthians 4:3–4.

The Apostle notes that when the “gospel is veiled”—when its truth cannot be perceived and believed by those to whom it is preached—it is veiled because of the work of the “god of this world” to blind the minds of the perishing. Of course, Paul refers here to Satan, elsewhere called the “ruler of this world” (see John 12:31). When Adam and Eve fell, the human race became enslaved to the devil, who has been permitted by God to have authority over the world system in rebellion against Him. Not wanting to lose any of his subjects, the devil blinds people to the truth of Christ. This blindness keeps us from seeing Jesus for who He truly is, the exact representation of God and the Savior of the world, unless and until the Lord shows us grace and heals our spiritual blindness (2 Cor. 4:3–4). When people deny Paul’s gospel—which is nothing other than the biblical gospel—the reason is not the Apostolic message but their spiritual blindness.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Matthew Henry comments on today’s passage, “The design of the devil is to keep men in ignorance; and, when he cannot keep the light of the gospel out of the world, he makes it his great business to keep it out of the hearts of men.” Human beings on their own cannot believe the gospel. When people do not believe, the solution is not to change the gospel message but to pray that the Lord will open their eyes to His truth.

For Further Study
  • Proverbs 28:14
  • 1 John 2:11

Open Proclamation of Truth

The Valley of Achor

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From the September 2021 Issue
Sep 2021 Issue