2Co 4:1 What might have caused Paul to lose heart or be discouraged? See 2Co 1:8-9, 2:4. What was it about his ministry that prevented him from losing heart in the midst of all his afflictions? See 2Co 3:11,18.
2Co 4:2 Throughout history false religious teachers have commended themselves to their hearers by “walking in craftiness” and advocating some hidden wisdom or esoteric knowledge possessed by them alone, but which in fact is obtained by adulterating the word of God. How was Paul’s ministry different? See 2Co 3:12, and recall that “boldness” used there by the NASB means openness/frankness/plainness. How did Paul commend himself and his ministry to people?
2Co 4:3-6 Paul in no way veiled the truth of the gospel as if there was anything to be ashamed of in regard to it. Unlike even the great and glorious law of the Old Covenant, there was nothing to hide as did Moses in hiding its fading glory, for the glory of the New Covenant is permanent (2Co 3:11). Therefore, if the light of the gospel is veiled, to whom and by whom is it veiled? In what two ways was Paul’s ministry radically different from that of those who were challenging his authority in Corinth? See 2Co 4:5; confer Gal 4:17. Why was it so different? See 2Co 4:6.
2Co 4:7-11 What is the treasure that Paul speaks about in 2Co 4:7? Why does he say that God chooses to use fragile earthen vessels as bearers of that treasure? How is this truth illustrated in the story of how God used Gideon to work salvation for the Israelites? See Judges 7:15-23. What does this teach us about how we should view our weaknesses, afflictions and hardships? See 2Co 12:9-10. How does Paul say the life of Jesus is manifested in our mortal bodies? See 2Co 4:10-11.
2Co 4:12-15 Was it for his own sake that Paul was willing to suffer such afflictions and be constantly given over to death? For whose sake was it? See 2Co 4:12 & 15 and again 2Co 4:5 & 11. How was this evidence to the Corinthians that the true life and love of Christ was at work within Paul? See John 15:13. Were those who were challenging Paul’s authority in Corinth as willing to lay down their lives for the Corinthians as Paul was? See 2Co 2:17, 11:7-8, 20-21. Are we as willing to lay down our lives for those among whom God has appointed us as servants?
2Co 4:16-18 In these verses, why does Paul say he did not lose heart because of all his afflictions? Did he view his afflictions as overwhelming and unbearable? What did he see them as producing that made them easy to bear? Why does he say we should not focus upon the things that are seen, but rather upon the things that are not seen? What do these verses teach us about how we are to live here and now in light of eternity?