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Second Corinthians 4:16-18

"For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not 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."


 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15




These verses are a veritable gold mine of Bible Truth!

Even at the very beginning, the first six words, all with one syllable each, give us the very motivation to Paul's powerful Ministry!

What kept the Apostle going?

This Text answers that question.

Also Paul here sees things in a two-fold manner.

For example, he mentions the outward man and the inward man.

Then light affliction compared to heavy glory!

Plus focusing on things unseen, rather than things seen!

This is known as a dichotomous view of life!

It, having a Greek background, means something that is "cut" into "two" pieces.

Biblically speaking things are either right or wrong.

One follows Jesus or the Devil.

Eternally two places exist, Heaven and Hell!

Furthermore, herein we shall understand how Paul handles trouble!

I mean things like being shipwrecked, imprisoned, hated, and stoned by rocks.

Also he went hungry, stayed cold, lacked proper clothing and lost many a helper along the way!

He endured enough to make ten men quit, yet Paul plodded onward!

All today's "success" speakers, those who try to motivate business professionals, teach some kind of "focusing" technique. One must have a goal, a passion, a target they say.

Scripture calls it a "vision" I think.

Well, this Text even reveals to us Paul's "vision" then!

On what did the Apostle keep his eyes?

Paul even here places death, the "outward man" perishing, in contradistinction to life, that which is "eternal!"

And suffering in relation to its opposite, well being and peaced!

I can hardly wait to get started.

Next Lesson, verse sixteen, Lord willing.

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Paul, in 2nd Corinthians 4:16, writes: "For which cause we faint not."

In other words he is about to tell us what keeps him going!

What motivates him!

At least one thing that does!

That helps keep the great Apostle faithful!

The verb "faint" is spelled "ekkakeo" in Greek. It is a blended word. The prefix "ek" means "out of" or "from." It usually denotes origin. Then the stem "kakos" means "bad," but in this sense especially, "worthless." It speaks primarily of intrinsic value, an inner quality. Whereas the Greek "poneros" suggests outgoing, malignant badness. The latter is the more dangerous condition.

So, the verb "faint" here suggested to Paul's mind a person who had become worthless, useless, hence weary or tired to the point of becoming ineffective! In such despair that he could muster no energy or do no work! "To be spiritless" one source says.

Jesus used the word in Luke 18:1 when He said: "Men ought always to pray, and not to FAINT."

Paul again in 2nd Corinthians 4:1, "As we have received mercy, we FAINT not."

Then Galatians 6:9, "And let us not be WEARY in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Here "weary" is "ekkakeo" and "faint" is "ekluo" and means "to loosen" ("luo") "out" ("ek") ... in other words ... to become untied! To fall apart!

Paul, the superb exhorter writes to the Ephesians: "Wherefore I desire that ye FAINT not ...." Ephesians 3:13

Then in a little different twist, 2nd Thessalonians 3:13 has: "But ye, brethren, be not WEARY in well doing."

We have today, by the Grace of God, discovered a Passage of Scripture that enlightens us concerning Paul's great determination!

In our verse, in context, "ekkakeo" is a subjunctive mood verb. That means Paul's desire, his goal, his craving is to be steady and unmoveable. The subjunctive does not state that the Apostle was always in such a healthy state of mind! This is his ideal!

We know from other Scripture that Paul occasionally "despaired even of life" itself! See 1st Corinthians 1:8. Also he tells us once that he went through a string of events that brought him to the very depths of perplexity and defeat! His very words: "troubled" then "perplexed" then "persecuted" then even "cast down!" Again see 2nd Corinthians 4:8-9.

But still ... his desire, which he achieved 95% of the time I'd say ... was to "faint not!"

What so drove Paul?

It was something ... better make that Someone ... on Whom he kept his eyes!

It also involved some system of future rewards!

It somehow included a sense of the glory of God that far outweighed any earthly burden! Even stonings and shipwrecks and imprisonments became "light" afflictions when compared to this coming splendor!

We shall, in time, see these things as they flow from the pen of Paul.

But, until then, suffice it to say we have today been in the presence of a man of God who just would not quit!

Maybe even could not quit!

Who sincerely wrote: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

I must learn Paul's thought patterns in this regard!

Someone once described Bible meditation as "thinking God's thoughts after Him."

I hope so!

We shall wade a little further into our Text tomorrow, Lord willing.

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The words "outward" and "inward" interest me today, especially in the context Paul uses them here.

"For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." 2nd Corinthians 4:16

"Though," in Greek "ei kai," means "and if." It is a foregone conclusion that the flesh, our frail human bodies, will eventually die.

"Outward" translates "exo" in Greek and means outside or out of doors or other "exterior" concepts. It derives from "ek," a major preposition denoting origin, "from" or "out of."

"Man" is "anthropos." See here anthropology and other such English words. It is built upon "aner," the male of the species, and "ops," the face, that which "looks" around!  Hence, man-faced! Or maybe man as he looks heavenward, toward God. That's when he is completely fulfilled!

And the verb perish is a classic! "Diaphtheiro" blends "dia," through and through ... with "phtheiro," to pine away, to waste away, to wither, to shrivel, to be ruined!

Both "but" and "yet" in this verse translate the same word. Yes, "alla" occurs twice here. It is rendered as "but" 573 of its 637 appearances in the New Testament. It is "yet" 11 times. It's root seems to be "allos," other things, that which is "different!"

The "inward" man is "esothen," from "eso," meaning "inside." This one derives from "eis" and means "into," thus indicating a point reached or entered. No doubt Paul means the soul, the spirit, the heart, one's mind and will and emotions.

Now to a main verb, "is renewed." Here "anakainoo" combines two words. "Ana," the prefix, means "up" sometimes and "again" other times. "Kainos" as a noun means that which is new, especially in the sense of being "fresh." Another word, "neos," is new in reference to one's age.

"Anakainoo" in our Text is an indicative verb in the present tense and passive voice. Refreshed again and again, constantly! And refreshed not by one's own strength, but from an outside Source! And refreshed as a fact, not merely as a desire or possibility!

Paul in Colossian 3:10 also uses our verb. "Put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him."

Freshly revived!

"Day by day," an adverbial phrase, suggest perpetual strength, spiritually speaking! "Our daily bread," teaches Jesus! "Our daily strength" adds Paul!

Joseph faced temptation day by day. "And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her." Genesis 39: 10

Israel offered blood sacrifice day by day! "Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually." Exodus 29:38

During King Joash's reign God's people gave to the building fund at the Temple day by day! "Thus they did day by day, and gathered money in abundance." 2nd Chronicles 24:11

And when the glorious Feast Weeks came to Israel, Passover and such, the Lord was praised day by day! "And the children of Israel that were present at Jerusalem kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great gladness: and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day by day, singing with loud instruments unto the LORD." 2nd Chronicles 30:21

And during Tabernacles ... "Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, Ezra read in the book of the law of God." Nehemiah 8:18

Literally "hemera" means "the time space between dawn and dark."

Paul is not about to quit! He will not faint!

He is resolved!

Even if the physical body withers and weakens, the spiritual man within is getting stronger and stronger each day that comes!

Therein the great Apostle took courage!

Solomon says the godly man has more and more light as he lives for God! "But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Proverbs 4:18

Paul just said the righteous man also gets stronger and stronger! Maybe I had better say fresher and fresher!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




If any Believer ever suffered, Paul did!

Beaten five times by the Jews, three more times by the Gentiles, stoned once, three shipwrecks, dangerous travels, sleeplessness, pain, thirst, hunger, cold, lack of clothing, plus the spiritual care of several church congregations ... Paul endured!

But, putting all these trials together, Paul calls them "light affliction" in 2nd Corinthians 4:17.

Light affliction!

What would heavy affliction be to this godly man?

He writes: "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Again, that's 2nd Corinthians 4:17.

The word "affliction" is used 23 times by Paul if I've counted correctly.

"Thlipsis" suggests great stress or severe suffering or hard circumstances in life. It literally means "to press down upon." It's from a root verb that means "to rub hard." And its noun pictures a "rut" or deeply worn "track." Paul precisely has "thlipsis" to mean "trouble" in 2nd Corinthians 1:8.

This is severe!

But Paul calls it "light!"

Now this adjective is only found twice in Scripture.

In Matthew 11:30 Jesus' burden is "light." His yoke is also easy.

Now Paul's afflictions, his pressures of life, are "light," even such things as being stoned by rocks until presumed dead! Maybe dead indeed, but restored to life by Almighty God.

"Light" in Greek consists of "elaphros," apparently two words blended. "Elauno" means "to push." Like being pushed by the winds if in a sailing vessel. Plus our word includes the base of "elasson," an adjective meaning "smaller." When put together, "smaller forces, or influences or propulsions!" Things that just don't exert much force to Paul!

"Elauno" is used by the Holy Spirit to describe how the maniac in Luke 8 was DRIVEN into the wilderness by the demons! It is also ROWING against the wind, the Disciples in a ship that stormy night in Mark 6 and John 6. And clouds that are CARRIED by the wind, by a tempest, in 2nd Peter 2.

"Elasson" alone is used in the King James Text to describe "the elder serving the YOUNGER" or a widow UNDER sixty years of age or the LESS always being blessed by the greater. See Romans 9:12 and 1st Timothy 5:9 and Hebrews 7:7 for these examples.

"Light affliction!"

Not strong enough to throw Paul off course!

Then Paul adds an adverbial note. This light affliction lasts only a short while!

"Parautika" combines "para" and "autos" apparently. The difficulty of ascertaining its meaning partly rests in its infrequency of use in Scripture. This is the only time it occurs! Likely it pictures that which is "beside this selfsame second or minute!" Only right now!

Extremely brief in time!

But, wait a minute!

Paul has suffered for years now!

How can these trials be called momentary?

Only this way.

Only when compared to eternity!

Yes, Paul endured great hardship from the day of his conversion until the day of his death, martyred by Nero in all likelihood. This period spans at least twenty-five or thirty years!

But, in comparison, what's thirty years in relation to a billion, and even a billion are too small to to consider in Glory, in Heaven!

We shall finish this verse tomorrow, Lord willing.

But for today, lets meditate on Paul's great determination!

What focus, what attentiveness he had!

How very hard he was to distract or deter!

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment ...."


If we could somehow adopt this Biblical attitude, our little problems too would lose their bite! 

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The afflictions we face, when handled properly, can "work" good things for us spiritually.

So says Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Here's the whole verse again. "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." 2nd Corinthians 4:17

That verb, "worketh," translates "katergazomai" and utilizes the Greek noun "ergon," the father of our word "energy." In Greek "ergo" just means "to work!" This word however does depict an intensive inner working, dramatic in nature!

This indicative mood, present tense, middle voice verb tells us much about the good effects one's trials can bring! These benefits are not only absolutely sure in coming (indicative mood) but also long lasting in time (present tense) and life changing in efficacy (middle voice)!

Trials can make me bitter. If so, no good "work" occurs!

Trials can make me doubt! Again, I remain fruitless!

Or ... trials can drive me to the Lord, leaning on Him as never before! Then, I grow spiritually!

The preposition "for" as in "for us" is implied by the Greek pronoun "hemin," a dative plural. Something is done for me and you by our trials, done to us or for us! We are its beneficiaries!

But what is a "weight of glory?" This "baros doxa" implies a heavy load of glory! "Baros" often means burden in fact! But this is a good burden!

"Glory" here means something like dignity or honor, often in a visible sense.

Paul is just saying that present problems can yield future reward!

Earthly heartaches can produce heavenly crowns!

He calls that blessed future state, basking in the light of the aura of Almighty God and His Son Jesus Christ, the "weight of glory!" Delighting in His Approval! By Grace through Faith in Jesus' shed Blood!

The lowliest saint you know, insignificant to the world, will some day shine as the sun in brightness! Walking with angels for eternity, fellowshipping with Jesus and dwelling in mansions, all of which are only a part of his or her "weight of glory!"

And the phrase, adverbial in nature here, "far more exceeding" translates "huperbole eis huperbole." That means beyond anyone's imagination, beyond the scope of human comprehension, our word "hyperbole" ... squared! To the superlative degree!

Then "eternal" or "aionios" means "of the ages!" Never ending!

Earthly pressures and heartaches ... can, with the right responses ... yield vast and heavenly weights of glory!

And Paul, the spiritual genius, says "invest now!"

In Hebrews he would have put it this way: these things can yield "the peaceable fruit of righteousness" to all those who are "exercised thereby!" Spiritually speaking, let's go to the gymnasium!

A weight of glory!

Praise the Lord!

                                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The Apostle Paul, since his "Damascus Road" experience, had a sense of vision that was unexcelled!

Remember on that glorious day Paul saw "a light from heaven," so says Luke in Acts 9. But it's called "a great light round about him" in Acts 22. And Paul himself testified in Acts 26 that it was "a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun."

And he never saw things the same again!

It's Paul who, describing Moses' faith in Hebrews 11, says the lawgiver "endured, as seeing Him Who is invisible!"

Believers in Christ Jesus just see things differently!

Maybe Paul best explains it this way: "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen." 2nd Corinthians 4:18

The present participle "look" translates "skopeo" and can carry this idea, seeing things from a distance. It even can suggest "spying!" Careful consideration too! Paul had no desire to overly investigate visible things, things of this world!

But the great Apostle was certainly an "investigator" of things spiritual!

Then we must discuss "seen," in Greek "blepo." It means "to see" of course, but usually with "greater vividness" than its synonyms. Here we have another present participle, but this time in the passive voice.

Things of this life, material things ... get mere "glances" from Paul!

But the things of God, unseen glories ... get great focus and attention!

That's partly why Paul described for us, however briefly, such unusual events as his being "caught up to the third heaven" in 2nd Corinthians 12. Yes, a visit to the Abode of God!

Or why he again and again told the story of his conversion, his encounter with the risen Lord! He saw Jesus, resurrected and glorified! That's the explanation for that bright Light! Paul asked, "Who art Thou, Lord?"  The answer came, "I am Jesus Whom thou persecutest."

Maybe Paul's priorities in "seeing," his visionary profile,  explain why he, extremely near his death, could write: "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand .... There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." (2nd Timothy 4:6-8) Had he seen some of those crowns?

Certainly he had no fear!

He's going to a familiar Place!

Just think of what Paul "saw" when he was stoned to death at Lystra. He no doubt went to Heaven! He surely beheld things that are not seen down here!

Exciting things!

Encouraging things!

Fearless things!

Do remember that immediately upon reviving, Paul re-entered the city! To be stoned again? No, to preach the Gospel! He even spent the night there according to Acts 14.

And when that riot developed in Ephesus, in Acts 19, Paul eagerly wanted to enter the arena and preach God's Word, which act would have surely led to his death!

How can a Preacher be so bold?

He was looking at things eternal!

I believe Jesus did the same thing, even on the Cross! There He derived the strength and motivation to die for sinners! Here's how Paul in Hebrews 12:2 described Jesus' outlook from Calvary. "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." I have capitalized the pertinent words. Jesus our Lord saw some things that kept Him going! Pleasing His Father no doubt being one of them! A future Bride being another! Perhaps even a defeated devil came into view too!

Much hinges on what one "sees!"

Back to our original verse today: "We look not 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."


                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




It's just a blanket statement, but an inspired one!

"The things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2nd Corinthians 4:18

The Verse contains two verbal constructions, both identical, "blepomena." Remembering from last lesson, you will recognize the root "blepo" as the "sight" verb that emphasizes "clarity and vividness." Both "blepo" occurrences are participles, present passive ones.

Here's the difference which our verse accents.

Some things are visible, obviously!

Yet Paul counters that some things are not visible!

The Apostle should know too!

He has "seen" the very brightness of the Glory of God, on that Damascus Road! It blinded him for three days!

He has "seen" the "third heaven," having been "caught up" to that Holy Place!

He too has "seen" an angel of God, standing by him on board a ship in a stormy sea, assuring him of life!

All of these "sightings" were of things usually "not seen" materially!

Two categories of objects or people, one "seen" and one "unseen."

But this difference between the two groups must be emphasized. It's part of what keeps Paul motivated, keeping him from fainting along the way!

The difference would be called "shelf life" by a commercial businessman. How long do these things last? How durable are they?

Well, Paul tells us exactly!

Things "seen" are only "temporal." Yes, "proskairos" is a blended word. The noun "kairos" means "time," but only in a particular sense. It's an "opportunity" of time. Just for a "season" material things exist. Short shelf life! Only here for a while! "Pros," the prefix, is a preposition of direction and means "to or toward." It's a strengthened form of "pro," another preposition meaning "fore" or "in front of" or "prior." These things are "in front of you" only for a short while!

Lands, houses, cars, all material things, soon will vanish!

Now let's consider for a minute "things not seen!"

"Not," serving here as an adverb, is "me," which should be pronounced "may." It suggests "qualified negation" say the Textbooks. Whereas "ou" is the absolute negative. Paul is telling us grammatically that the things "not seen" are invisible most of the time!

Conditionally "not seen!"

Yet not always absolutely "not seen!"

The "things not seen" may be viewed through the eyes of faith for sure!

And some day, some glorious day, they will be readily visible, more real than life itself has ever been!

In fact, Paul says they are "eternal." And "aionios" means "of the ages, unending, perpetual, without beginning and end!"

Not just "for a season!"

"Shelf life" cannot be tabulated!

If one, via Scripture, can discern these "things not seen" and focus on them, building his or her priorities around them, the surety of such things as Heaven and rewards and "weights of glory" and even the "inward" things of life will never be doubted again!

Things that never die!

Putting it all together, the three Verses of this short Text, we have learned some of the things that God used to give Paul the Apostle the great "drive" and "motivation" he possessed!

Surely herein is enough data and truth that, if internalized by us Believers, the Holy Spirit of God can use so that we too "faint not!"

May God grant that request!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell






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