THEREFORE, SINCE we do hold and engage in this ministry by the mercy of God [granting us favor, benefits, opportunities, and especially salvation], we do not get discouraged (spiritless and despondent with fear) or become faint with weariness and exhaustion.
2 We have renounced disgraceful ways (secret thoughts, feelings, desires and underhandedness, the methods and arts that men hide through shame); we refuse to deal craftily (to practice trickery and cunning) or to adulterate or handle dishonestly the Word of God, but we state the truth openly (clearly and candidly). And so we commend ourselves in the sight and presence of God to every man’s conscience.
3 But even if our Gospel (the glad tidings) also be hidden (obscured and covered up with a veil that hinders the knowledge of God), it is hidden [only] to those who are perishing and obscured [only] to those who are spiritually dying and veiled [only] to those who are lost.
4 For the god of this world has blinded the unbelievers’ minds [that they should not discern the truth], preventing them from seeing the illuminating light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ (the Messiah), Who is the Image and Likeness of God.
5 For what we preach is not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves [merely] as your servants (slaves) for Jesus’ sake.
6 For God Who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts so as [to beam forth] the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God [as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed] in the face of Jesus Christ (the Messiah). [Gen. 1:3.]
7 However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves.
8 We are hedged in (pressed) on every side [troubled and oppressed in every way], but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair;
9 We are pursued (persecuted and hard driven), but not deserted [to stand alone]; we are struck down to the ground, but never struck out and destroyed;
10 Always carrying about in the body the liability and exposure to the same putting to death that the Lord Jesus suffered, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be shown forth by and in our bodies.
11 For we who live are constantly [experiencing] being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be evidenced through our flesh which is liable to death.
12 Thus death is actively at work in us, but [it is in order that our] life [may be actively at work] in you.
13 Yet we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, I have believed, and therefore have I spoken. We too believe, and therefore we speak, [Ps. 116:10.]
14 Assured that He Who raised up the Lord Jesus will raise us up also with Jesus and bring us [along] with you into His presence.
15 For all [these] things are [taking place] for your sake, so that the more grace (divine favor and spiritual blessing) extends to more and more people and multiplies through the many, the more thanksgiving may increase [and redound] to the glory of God.
In 2:14–4:6 Paul has described the consummate privilege of being a minister of the new covenant, whose glory far exceeds that of the Mosaic economy. Now he proceeds to show that the exercise of this glorious ministry of communicating the good news takes place, paradoxically, in circumstances that are anything but glorious. He faces incessant trials (4:8–9) and has repeated confrontations with death (4:10–12). But in spite of these sufferings, silence is impossible, because faith in the gospel and Christian hope of resurrection necessitate fearless proclamation (4:13–14). Moreover, this frailty of the gospel’s messengers (4:7a) has two beneficial effects: the power of the gospel to transform lives and his strength to endure suffering are seen to come from God, not from himself (4:7b); God, not man, is glorified, as God’s grace spreads and thanksgiving to him is increased (4:15). There are three main themes in 4:7–15: power in the midst of weakness (vv. 7–9), life in the midst of death (vv. 10–12), and faith leading to speech (vv. 13–14).
7 This treasure entrusted to us is contained in earthenware jars to make it clear that the extraordinary power is God’s and is not derived from us. 8 We are hard-pressed at every turn but not cornered, bewildered but not totally desperate, 9 persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed in our body.a 11 For we—who are alive—are continuallyb being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed in our mortal flesh. 12 So then, death is operative in us, but life in you. 13 But since we have the same spirit of faith that is described in the scriptural text, “I believed and therefore Ic spoke,” we also believe and therefore we too speak. 14 For we know that he who raised Jesusd will raise us with Jesuse in our turn and will bring us into his presence along with you. 15 Yes, all this is for your benefit, so that when grace has widened its scope through more and more people, it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.