2 Corinthians 4:8 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

2 Corinthians 4:8, NIV: We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;

2 Corinthians 4:8, ESV: We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;

2 Corinthians 4:8, KJV: We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

2 Corinthians 4:8, NASB: we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;

2 Corinthians 4:8, NLT: We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.

2 Corinthians 4:8, CSB: We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair;

What does 2 Corinthians 4:8 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul has described the knowledge of God's glory revealed in Christ as a treasure and a light (2 Corinthians 4:6–7). God has shone this light into his heart and given him the mission of carrying this the gospel to the world.

However, Paul has said that the vessels for carrying this treasure, himself and his co-workers, are fragile clay jars. By this, Paul meant that he and his friends face many hardships in their ministry and their own power is limited. It is only the power of God that keeps them going.

Now Paul begins to describe their hardships. They are afflicted or hard-pressed in every way. Paul began this letter by describing an episode of great trauma, in which he and his team were sure they would die. They were ultimately delivered by God's power through the prayers of others. God's power is the reason that being hard-pressed has not caused them to be crushed. It's also the reason that being perplexed or "despairing" has not resulted in their being "in despair" or "totally despairing."

Some of Paul's accusers in Corinth may have been saying that an apostle who was truly connected to God should not experience so much suffering. That same false assumption persists today, in prosperity preachers and others who claim that faith alone can remove any hardships one might face. Paul shows that is simply not true. Those sent out by God may experience great suffering, but by God's power are not completely defeated. In other words, God allows them to be afflicted and to despair, but He always provides a way through, a way to keep going. This powerful use of weak vessels is all for His greater glory.