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2 Corinthians 4:17

ESV For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
NIV For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
NASB For our momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
CSB For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.
NLT For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
KJV For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

What does 2 Corinthians 4:17 mean?

Paul's suffering for the sake of his mission for Christ was not easy by any human standard. In chapter 1 of this letter, he described a recent incident that left him and his friends "so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself" (2 Corinthians 1:8). In other words, he felt the impact of his suffering. His experiences were not trivial—they were brutal.

Now, Paul wants his readers to see that, by comparison, the very worst suffering experienced on earth is only a "light and momentary affliction" when compared with the glory of the eternity with God that is to come. The comparison he makes is one of magnitude and time. Weighed on a scale, any suffering in this life is far outweighed by the glory of the life to come. Measured in time, the suffering here happens in an instant and is replaced by glory forever. Because he knows this to be true, Paul refuses to lose heart, to give up, even when the suffering in this life feels unbearable (Hebrews 11:14–16).

Paul does more than just compare his suffering to the glory to come. He also describes it as preparation. His suffering here is not meaningless; it serves a purpose. It is getting him ready to experience the far "heavier" glory of eternity. He put it this way in Romans 5:3–4, "knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope." The hope of glory is what keeps Paul from losing hope as he continues to carry out the difficult mission of carrying the light of Jesus to the world.
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