Ministers by Grace

2 Corinthians 4:1-7:16

41Therefore seeing we have this ministry, even as we obtained mercy, we don’t faint. 2But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by the manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3Even if our Good News is veiled, it is veiled in those who perish; 4in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the Good News of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn on them. 5For we don’t preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake; 6seeing it is God who said, “Light will shine out of darkness,”* who has shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7But we have this treasure in clay vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves. 8We are pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed, yet not to despair; 9pursued, yet not forsaken; struck down, yet not destroyed; 10always carrying in the body the putting to death of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus may be revealed in our mortal flesh. 12So then death works in us, but life in you. 13But having the same spirit of faith, according to that which is written, “I believed, and therefore I spoke.”* We also believe, and therefore also we speak; 14knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15For all things are for your sakes, that the grace, being multiplied through the many, may cause the thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. 16Therefore we don’t faint, but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. 17For our light affliction, which is for the moment, works for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; 18while we don’t look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
51For we know that if the earthly house of our tent is dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens. 2For most certainly in this we groan, longing to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven; 3if so be that being clothed we will not be found naked. 4For indeed we who are in this tent do groan, being burdened; not that we desire to be unclothed, but that we desire to be clothed, that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5Now he who made us for this very thing is God, who also gave to us the down payment of the Spirit.
6Therefore we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord; 7for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8We are courageous, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord. 9Therefore also we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well pleasing to him. 10For we must all be revealed before the judgment seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are revealed to God; and I hope that we are revealed also in your consciences. 12For we are not commending ourselves to you again, but speak as giving you occasion of boasting on our behalf, that you may have something to answer those who boast in appearance, and not in heart. 13For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God. Or if we are of sober mind, it is for you. 14For the love of Christ constrains us; because we judge thus, that one died for all, therefore all died. 15He died for all, that those who live should no longer live to themselves, but to him who for their sakes died and rose again. 16Therefore we know no one after the flesh from now on. Even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know him so no more. 17Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold,* all things have become new. 18But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and having committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20We are therefore ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us: we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
61Working together, we entreat also that you not receive the grace of God in vain, 2for he says,
At an acceptable time I listened to you,
in a day of salvation I helped you.”*
Behold, now is the acceptable time. Behold, now is the day of salvation. 3We give no occasion of stumbling in anything, that our service may not be blamed, 4but in everything commending ourselves, as servants of God, in great endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, 5in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in labors, in watchings, in fastings; 6in pureness, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in sincere love, 7in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; 9as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and not killed; 10as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
11Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians. Our heart is enlarged. 12You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. 13Now in return, I speak as to my children, you also be open wide. 14Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers, for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15What agreement has Christ with Belial? Or what portion has a believer with an unbeliever? 16What agreement has a temple of God with idols? For you are a temple of the living God. Even as God said, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”* 17Therefore
‘Come out from among them,
and be separate,’ says the Lord.
‘Touch no unclean thing.
I will receive you.*
18I will be to you a Father.
You will be to me sons and daughters,’
says the Lord Almighty.”*
71Having therefore these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2Open your hearts to us. We wronged no one. We corrupted no one. We took advantage of no one. 3I say this not to condemn you, for I have said before, that you are in our hearts to die together and live together. 4Great is my boldness of speech toward you. Great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I overflow with joy in all our affliction. 5For even when we had come into Macedonia, our flesh had no relief, but we were afflicted on every side. Fightings were outside. Fear was inside. 6Nevertheless, he who comforts the lowly, God, comforted us by the coming of Titus; 7and not by his coming only, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, while he told us of your longing, your mourning, and your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced still more.
8For though I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it, though I did regret it. For I see that my letter made you sorry, though just for a while. 9I now rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that you were made sorry to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly way, that you might suffer loss by us in nothing. 10For godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation, which brings no regret. But the sorrow of the world produces death. 11For behold, this same thing, that you were made sorry in a godly way, what earnest care it worked in you. Yes, what defense, indignation, fear, longing, zeal, and vengeance! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be pure in the matter. 12So although I wrote to you, I wrote not for his cause that did the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered the wrong, but that your earnest care for us might be revealed in you in the sight of God. 13Therefore we have been comforted. In our comfort we rejoiced the more exceedingly for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14For if in anything I have boasted to him on your behalf, I was not disappointed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, so our glorying also which I made before Titus was found to be truth. 15His affection is more abundantly toward you, while he remembers all of your obedience, how with fear and trembling you received him. 16I rejoice that in everything I am confident concerning you.

*2 Corinthians 4:6 Genesis 1:3
*2 Corinthians 4:13 Psalm 116:10
*2 Corinthians 5:17 “Behold”, from “ἰδοὺ”, means look at, take notice, observe, see, or gaze at. It is often used as an interjection.
*2 Corinthians 6:2 Isaiah 49:8
*2 Corinthians 6:16 Leviticus 26:12; Jeremiah 32:38; Ezekiel 37:27
*2 Corinthians 6:17 Isaiah 52:11; Ezekiel 20:34,41
*2 Corinthians 6:18 2 Samuel 7:14; 7:8

HUNGERING TO KNOW GOD MORE

  • Take note of the acts of God described in this story.
  • What do these reveal about the character of God?
  • Have you experienced this dimension of the character of God in your life? If yes, how so? If not, how might you come to experience this?
  • What can you do to grow in your desire to know and experience God more intimately today?
World English Bible (WEB)
a Public Domain Modern English translation
of the Holy Bible.

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