2 Corinthians 4:16
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
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(16) For which cause we faint not.—Ho returns, after a long digression, to the assertion with which 2 Corinthians 4 had opened, but in repeating the words he enters once again on the same line of thought, but under a different succession of imagery. The “outward man,” the material framework of the body, is undergoing a gradual process of decay, but the “inward man,” the higher spiritual life, is “day by day” passing through successive stages of renewal, gaining fresh energies. This verb also, and its derivative “renewal,” are specially characteristic of St. Paul. (Comp. Romans 12:2; Colossians 3:10; Titus 3:5.) The verb in Ephesians 4:23, though not the same, is equivalent in meaning.

2 Corinthians 4:16-17. For which cause — Because of which abounding grace that supports us; we faint not — Under any of our present pressures; but though our outward man — The body; perish — Be worn out and brought to dust prematurely, by our continual labours and sufferings; our inward man — The soul; is renewed day by day — After the divine nature and likeness, receiving fresh degrees of spiritual strength, purity, and consolation, in proportion as the body grows weaker, and we feel our dissolution approaching. And it is reasonable that this should be the case; for our light affliction Το παραυτικα ελαφρον της θλιψεως, momentary lightness, or light thing (as Macknight renders it) of our affliction; worketh, or rather worketh out, for us a far more exceeding weight of glory — That is, a weight of glory far exceeding the affliction, both in degree and duration: or, far greater than we could have received if we had not passed through the affliction. For the affliction, by correcting our faults, exercising and thereby increasing our graces, and purging us as gold and silver are purified in the furnace, increases our holiness and conformity to God, and thereby prepares us for a greater degree of future felicity than could otherwise have been assigned us; God also as certainly rewarding his people hereafter for their sufferings patiently endured, as for their labours diligently and cheerfully accomplished. “The Hebrew word,” as Macknight justly observes, “answering to glory, signifies both weight and glory. Here the apostle joins the two significations in one phrase; and describing the happiness of the righteous, calls it not glory simply, but a weight of glory, in opposition to the light thing of our affliction; and an eternal weight of glory, in opposition to the momentary duration of our affliction: and a more exceeding eternal weight of glory, as beyond comparison greater than all the dazzling glories of riches, fame, power, pleasure, or any thing which can be possessed in the present life. And after all it is a glory not yet to be revealed; it is not yet fully known.” But, as Blackwell (Sacred Classics, vol. 1. p. 332) well expresses it, “This is one of the most emphatic passages in all St. Paul’s writings, in which he speaks as much like an orator, as he does as an apostle. The lightness of the trial is expressed by το ελαφρον της θλιψεως, the lightness of our affliction, which is but for a moment; as if he had said, It is even levity itself in such a comparison. On the other hand, the καθυπερβολην εις υπερβολην, which we render far more exceeding, is infinitely emphatical, and cannot be fully expressed by any translation. It signifies that all hyperboles fall short of describing that weighty, eternal glory, so solid, so lasting, that you may pass from hyperbole to hyperbole, and yet when you have gained the last, you are infinitely below it.” Indeed, as another eminent writer observes, the beauty and sublimity of St. Paul’s expressions here, as descriptive of heavenly glory, opposed to temporal afflictions, surpass all imagination, and cannot be preserved in any translation or paraphrase, which after all must sink far, very far below the astonishing original.4:13-18 The grace of faith is an effectual remedy against fainting in times of trouble. They knew that Christ was raised, and that his resurrection was an earnest and assurance of theirs. The hope of this resurrection will encourage in a suffering day, and set us above the fear of death. Also, their sufferings were for the advantage of the church, and to God's glory. The sufferings of Christ's ministers, as well as their preaching and conversation, are for the good of the church and the glory of God. The prospect of eternal life and happiness was their support and comfort. What sense was ready to pronounce heavy and long, grievous and tedious, faith perceived to be light and short, and but for a moment. The weight of all temporal afflictions was lightness itself, while the glory to come was a substance, weighty, and lasting beyond description. If the apostle could call his heavy and long-continued trials light, and but for a moment, what must our trifling difficulties be! Faith enables to make this right judgment of things. There are unseen things, as well as things that are seen. And there is this vast difference between them; unseen things are eternal, seen things but temporal, or temporary only. Let us then look off from the things which are seen; let us cease to seek for worldly advantages, or to fear present distresses. Let us give diligence to make our future happiness sure.For which cause - With such an object in view, and sustained by such elevated purposes and desires. The sense is, that the purpose of trying to save as many as possible would make toil easy, privations welcome, and would be so accompanied by the grace of God, as to gird the soul with strength, and fill it with abundant consolations.

We faint not - For an explanation of the word used here, see the note on 2 Corinthians 4:1. We are not exhausted, desponding, or disheartened. We are sustained, encouraged, emboldened by having such an object in view.

But though our outward man perish - By outward man, Paul evidently means the body. By using the phrases, "the outward man," and the "inward man," he shows that he believed that man was made up of two parts, body and soul. He was no materialist. He has described two parts as constituting man, so distinct: that while the one perishes, the other is renewed; while the one is enfeebled, the other is strengthened; while the one grows old and decays, the other renews its youth and is invigorated. Of course, the soul is not dependent on the body for its vigor and strength, since it expands while the body decays; and of course the soul may exist independently of the body, and in a separate state.

Perish - Grows old; becomes weak and feeble; loses its vigor and elasticity under the many trials which we endure, and under the infirmities of advancing years. It is a characteristic of the "outer man," that it thus perishes. Great as may be its vigor, yet it must decay and die. It cannot long bear up under the trials of life, and the wear and tear of constant action, but must soon sink to the grave.

Yet the inward man - The soul; the undecaying, the immortal part.

Is renewed - Is renovated, strengthened, invigorated. His powers of mind expanded; his courage became bolder; he had clearer views of truth; he had more faith in God. As he drew nearer to the grave and to heaven, his soul was more raised above the world, and he was more filled with the joys and triumphs of the gospel. The understanding and the heart did not sympathize with the suffering and decaying body; but, while that became feeble, the soul acquired new strength, and was fitting for its flight to the eternal world. This verse is an ample refutation of the doctrine of the materialist, and proves that there is in man something that is distinct from decaying and dying matter, and that there is a principle which may gain augmented strength and power, while the body dies; compare note, Romans 7:22.

Day by day - Constantly. There was a daily and constant increase of inward vigor. God imparted to him constant strength in his trials, and sustained him with the hopes of heaven, as the body was decaying, and tending to the grave. The sentiment of this verse is, that in an effort to do good, and to promote the salvation of man, the soul will be sustained in trials, and will be comforted and invigorated even when the body is weary, grows old, decays, and dies. It is the testimony of Paul respecting his own experience; and it is a fact which has been experienced by thousands in their efforts to do good, and to save the souls of people from death.

16. we faint not—notwithstanding our sufferings. Resuming 2Co 4:1.

outward man—the body, the flesh.

perish—"is wearing away"; "is wasted away" by afflictions.

inward man—our spiritual and true being, the "life" which even in our mortal bodies (2Co 4:11) "manifests the life of Jesus."

is renewed—"is being renewed," namely, with fresh "grace" (2Co 4:15), and "faith" (2Co 4:13), and hope (2Co 4:17, 18).

Because of this double advantage which accrueth from our sufferings, viz. the furthering of the good of your souls, and the promoting the glory of God from the thanksgivings of many, though we suffer many harsh and bitter things, yet we do not faint nor sink under the burden of our trials; but though, as to our outward, nan, we are every day dying persons, daily decaying as to the strength, and vigour, and prosperity of our outward man, yet the strength and comfort of our souls and spirits reneweth day by day; we are every day stronger and stronger as to the managing of our spiritual fight, and every day more cheered and comforted in our holy course. For which cause we faint not,.... Since our afflictions are overruled for the good of others, and the glory of God, we are not discouraged by them; our spirits do not sink under the weight of them; we do not give out from the work of the ministry because of them, but go on cheerfully therein: and the more so, since

though our outward man perish; our outward circumstances of life are very mean and despicable; we are oftentimes in a very distressed condition through hunger, thirst, nakedness, and want of the common necessaries of life; our bodies are almost worn out with fatigue, labour, and sorrow; our earthly tabernacles are tottering, and just ready to fall in pieces:

yet the inward man is renewed day by day; that is, continually; it answers to , an Hebraism; see Esther 2:11 the internal hidden man of the heart, the new man is in a prosperous condition; our souls are in good health; the work of God is comfortably carried on in us; we have sweet and repeated experiences of the love of God; we are growing in grace, and in the knowledge of Christ; and, like the palm tree, the more weight is hung upon it, the more it thrives; and, like the children of Israel in Egypt, the more they were afflicted the more they grew.

For which cause we faint not; {10} but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is {o} renewed day by day.

(10) He adds as it were a triumphant song, that he is outwardly afflicted, but inwardly he profits daily: and he is not bothered by all the miseries that may be sustained in this life, in comparison of that most constant and eternal glory.

(o) Gathers new strength so that the outward man is not overcome with the miseries which come freshly one after another, being maintained and upheld with the strength of the inward man.

2 Corinthians 4:16. Διό] namely, on account of the certainty expressed in 2 Corinthians 4:14 (partly elucidated in 2 Corinthians 4:15), in significant keeping with εἰδότες, and hence not to be referred back to the faith of the preachers, 2 Corinthians 4:13 (Hofmann).

οὐκ ἐκκακ.] as 2 Corinthians 4:1. The opposite of ἐκκακ. is: our inward man, i.e. our morally self-conscious personality, with the thinking and willing νοῦς and the life-principle of the πνεῦμα (see on Romans 7:22; Ephesians 3:16; comp. 1 Peter 3:4), is renewed from day to day, i.e. it receives through the gracious efficacy of the divine Spirit continually new vigour and elevation, τῇ πίστει, τῇ ἐλπίδι, τῇ προθυμίᾳ, Chrysostom. But with this there is also the admission: even if our outward man, our phenomenal existence, our visible bodily nature, whose immediate condition of life is the ψυχή, is destroyed, i.e. is in process of being wasted away, of being swept off, namely, through the continual sufferings and persecutions, μαστιζόμενος, ἐλαυνόμενος, μυρία πάσχων δεινά, Chrysostom. For though the continual life-rescues reveal the life of Jesus in the body of the apostle (2 Corinthians 4:11), yet there cannot thereby be done away the gradually destructive physical influence of suffering on the bodily nature. There is here a noble testimony to the consciousness of a continuous independence of the development of spiritual life on the passivity of the body; but the view of Billroth, who finds in ἀνακαιν. the growth of the infinite, the true resurrection, is just as un-Pauline as is the opinion of an inward invisible body (Menken), or even of a corporeality of the soul (Tertullian). On the point whether the inward man includes in itself the germ of the resurrection of the body (Osiander), the N. T. says nothing. Rückert diverges wholly from the usual interpretation, and thinks that διὸ οὐκ ἐκκακ. is only an accessory, half parenthetical inference from what precedes, and that a new train of thought does not begin till ἀλλʼ: “I have that hope, and hence do not become despondent. But even if I did not possess it, supposing even that my outward man is actually dissolved,” etc. Against this it may be urged that οὐκ ἐκκακοῦμεν, ἀλλʼ κ.τ.λ. could not but present itself obviously to every reader as closely connected (we faint not, but), and that the whole interpretation is a consequence of Rückert’s erroneous exposition of 2 Corinthians 4:14. Hence Neander also gives a similar interpretation, but hesitatingly.

On διαφθείρεται, comp. Plato, Alc. i. p. 135 A: διαφθαρῆναι τὸ σῶμα.

The ἀλλʼ (at, on the contrary) in the apodosis, after a concessive conditional sentence, introduces with emphasis the opposite compensating relation; see Fritzsche, ad Rom. I. p. 374; Nägelsbach on the Iliad, p. 43, ed. 2; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 11.

ὁ ἔσωθεν] the inward, inner man. Regarding adverbs in θεν with the same meaning as their primitives, see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 128; Hartung, Kasus, p. 173.

ἡμέρᾳ καὶ ἡμέρᾳ] day by day; καθʼ ἡμέραν, τὸ ἐφʼ ἡμέραν (Eur. Cycl. 336), in point of sense, for ever and ever, without interruption or standing still. A pure Hebraism, not found once in the LXX, formed after יוֹם וָיוֹם; comp. יוֹם יוֹם Esther 3:4; Genesis 39:10; Psalm 68:20. See Vorst, Hebr. p. 307 f.

ἀνακαινοῦται] Winer aptly remarks (Progr. de verbor. cum praepos. compos, in N. T. usu, III. p. 10), that in ἀνακαινοῦν, to renew, to refresh, the question does not arise, “utrum ea ipsa novitas, quae alicui rei conciliatur, jam olim adfuerit necne;” see on Colossians 3:10. Instead of ἀνακαινοῦν, the Greeks have only ἀνακαινίζειν (Hebrews 4:6), but the simple form is also classical.

The confession εἰ καὶ ὁ ἔξω κ.τ.λ … became a watchword of the martyrs. Comp. Cornelius a Lapide.2 Corinthians 4:16-18. HE IS SUSTAINED BY A GLORIOUS HOPE.2 Corinthians 4:16 to 2 Corinthians 5:10 The Preachers of the Gospel are sustained by the hope of a Future Life

16. For which cause we faint not] The Apostle now returns to the topic he has already introduced (2 Corinthians 4:1). But the digression, if indeed it be a digression, only tends to strengthen the assertion he has made. ‘We faint not,’ he says, ‘not merely because we have a glorious ministry (2 Corinthians 4:1), not merely because we have the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 4:6), not merely because, though oppressed and afflicted ourselves, we see the blessed results of our ministry in others, but because (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:10-11) our sorrows and sufferings, the decay of our mortal body, are but external. There is a spring of life within that can never fail, the new life, which comes to us from God through Christ.’2 Corinthians 4:16. Διὸ οὐκ ἐκκακοῦμεν, for which cause we faint not) 2 Corinthians 4:1, note.—ὁ ἔξω, the outward [man]) the body, the flesh.—διαφθείρεται, be wasted away [perish]) by affliction.—ἀνακαινοῦται, is renewed) by hope; see the following verses. This new condition shuts out all κακία, infirmity [such as is implied in ἐκκακοῦμεν, faintness.]Verses 16-18. - The Christian minister is upheld by hope. Verse 16. - Therefore. Knowing that our daily death is the pathway to eternal life (ver. 14). We faint not (see ver. 1). Though; rather, even if. Our outward man. Our life in its human and corporeal conditions. The inward man. Namely, our moral and spiritual being, that "new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him" (Colossians 3:10). Is renewed; literally, is being renewed; i.e. by faith and hope. Day by day. The Greek phrase is not classical, but is a reminiscence of the Hebrew. Outward man - inward man

The material and spiritual natures.

Perish (διαφθείρεται)

Rev., much better, is decaying. Perish implies destruction: the idea is that of progressive decay.

Is renewed (ἀνακαινοῦται)

Better, is being renewed, the process of renewal going on along with the process of decay. Stanley cites a line attributed to Michael Angelo: "The more the marble wastes the more the statue grows." Compare Euripides: "Time does not depress your spirit, but it grows young again: your body, however, is weak" ("Heraclidae," 702, 703)

Day by day (ἡμέρᾳ καὶ ἡμέρᾳ)

Lit., by day and day. A Hebrew form of expression.

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