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2 Corinthians 4:5–6

“What we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

The suffering that Paul the Apostle endured for the sake of the gospel meant that his ministry lacked earthly glory. False teachers in Corinth seized on this to call Paul’s work into question (see 2 Cor. 11–12). However, this apparent deficit of earthly glory, as seen in Paul’s multiple imprisonments, beatings, and so forth, did not bother the Apostle. After all, as he notes in today’s passage, he was not proclaiming himself and looking to exalt his own glory. Instead, Paul sought to exalt the glory of Jesus, proclaiming Christ as Lord and himself and other preachers as servants (4:5).

Proclaiming Jesus as Lord is an essential part of the gospel message, for the gospel is good news only if Christ has the ruling authority to deliver on all that the gospel promises. Without the exaltation of Jesus, the death and resurrection of our Savior is a nice story but has no power to reconcile us to God and renew all creation (see Rom. 8). Moreover, the proclamation of Christ as Lord—the declaration that “Jesus is Lord”—serves as the most fundamental confession of the Christian faith. We dare not let the brevity of this confession keep us from grasping its depth and breadth. Those three words summarize some very deep doctrines. The English word “Lord” translates the word kyrios, which is used in the Greek version of the Old Testament to render God’s covenant name Yahweh. In other words, to rightly say “Jesus is Lord” is to proclaim that He is God incarnate. When we announce that Jesus is Lord, we are also announcing that He has fulfilled all that the Father has given Him to do and has secured the right to rule over all things as the God-man, enthroned over the cosmos (Matt. 28:18–20; Phil. 2:5–11). Proclaiming Jesus as Lord is also our public declaration that we belong ultimately to Him and not to any lesser rulers (1 Cor. 8:4–6).

Paul could make this declaration only because God “shone in [his heart] to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus” (2 Cor. 4:6). The glory and truth of Christ remains veiled to people when they read the Scriptures until God illumines our hearts and minds to discern and believe their message (3:12–18). Charles Hodge writes that the “knowledge of God in Christ is not a mere matter of intellectual apprehension, which one man may communicate to another. It is a spiritual discernment, to be derived only from the Spirit of God. God must shine into our hearts to give us this knowledge.”

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Every time someone believes in Jesus, it is because God has shone into that person’s heart the light of the knowledge of His glory in Christ. We cannot take any credit for our conversion but must remember that we were converted through the illumining power of God alone. Let us thank the Lord this day for shining the light of His truth into our hearts.


For Further Study
  • Job 29:1–3
  • Psalm 13
  • John 8:12
  • Ephesians 1:15–23

The Valley of Achor

Treasure in Jars of Clay

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From the September 2021 Issue
Sep 2021 Issue