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2 Corinthians 4:15

“It is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”

Whenever we are seeking to understand a text in Scripture, and particularly a text from one of the New Testament Epistles, we must keep in mind the problem or question that text addresses. As we have seen, much of 2 Corinthians involves Paul’s answering charges from false teachers that his suffering somehow invalidated his Apostolic call. In other words, false teachers saw the great trials and tribulations that Paul faced as demonstrating that he must not have really been an Apostle of Christ (e.g., see 2 Cor. 10:1–12:10). It is not difficult to understand why these individuals would make such a charge. After all, Paul claimed to be a servant commissioned by God Almighty, and from a purely human perspective, there is something incongruous about the Lord’s allowing His people to suffer if, indeed, He is the Lord and Master of all. Would not this God arrange things so that His ministers would avoid all pain and enjoy evident success that could be measured objectively in terms of numbers of converts, wealth, worldly power, and so forth? To this day, it is common to hear Muslims and other non-Christians objecting to Christian theology because a crucified Messiah with suffering followers does not live up to human expectations of what God Almighty would do. Such things do not show earthly glory.

However, as Isaiah 55:8–9 recognizes, the ways and thoughts of the one true God are not our ways and thoughts. The Lord does not measure success according to the worldly standards of sinful human beings. In fact, the way of suffering counterintuitively reveals the glory of the Lord all the more. Paul makes this point in today’s passage. All that he did and suffered, the Apostle explains, allowed for the grace of God to be extended to more people, leading to greater thanksgiving and glory for the Lord (2 Cor. 4:15). Paul’s point is rather simple. His sufferings as an Apostle as he preached and bore witness to Christ enabled the gospel to go forth to more people and for more unbelievers to believe in Jesus and for more believers to be built up in the faith. These individuals, in turn, would thank God for His grace, acknowledging that He alone is the source and sustainer of salvation. With that acknowledgment comes the recognition that only His almighty power and grace can save us; thus, He alone is glorified in salvation. Through Christian suffering, God is glorified as people are saved and the church is edified.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Matthew Henry comments, “When the church is edified, then God is glorified; and we may well afford to bear sufferings patiently and cheerfully when we see others are the better for them—if they are instructed and edified, if they are confirmed and comforted.” In our suffering for Christ, let us look for how God can use our suffering for the good of His church and for His glory so that we may more faithfully endure all things for the sake of Jesus.


For Further Study
  • Hebrews 2:9
  • 1 Peter 2:20

The Same Spirit of Faith

Heavenly Homesickness

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From the September 2021 Issue
Sep 2021 Issue