2 Corinthians 4:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

2 Corinthians 4:3, NIV: And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.

2 Corinthians 4:3, ESV: And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.

2 Corinthians 4:3, KJV: But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

2 Corinthians 4:3, NASB: And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,

2 Corinthians 4:3, NLT: If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing.

2 Corinthians 4:3, CSB: But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.

What does 2 Corinthians 4:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This passage deals with apparent allegations from some among the Corinthians that Paul has been false in some way. They may have suggested he has some hidden agenda. Or, that he and his friends have not been completely honest. Paul has declared in the previous verse that the opposite is true. They present the message of the gospel to everyone with openness and honestly. They are committed to never deceiving anyone or manipulating God's Word. They invite everyone who evaluates them, before God, to see if they can find any falsehood in them, at all.

In this verse, Paul adds an important clarification. There is a difference between being deceptive about the gospel of Jesus Christ and being misunderstood. He will more clearly describe in the next verse that unbelievers are simply unable to see the glory of God. Their minds are hardened by sin. A veil of misunderstanding separates them from God's glory. That veil can only be removed through Christ by the power of God's Holy Spirit.

Those who are perishing are the ones who have not come to God by faith in Christ. They remain hardened in their sin, unforgiven by God. Their current destiny is eternal death and separation from God. They are truly dying and unable to understand even the clearest teaching about God's glory, as Paul further describes in the following verse.

This verse is often cited by those pleading for believers to present the gospel in an upright and unobstructed way. Taken out of context, it seems to be a plea to be more ethical and clear in explaining truths about salvation. That point is not unreasonable; in fact, the points Paul makes here are tied to the need for simplicity, transparency, and honesty. Strictly speaking, though, the "veiling" referred to here is something caused by unbelievers' hard hearts, not our own failures.