What does 2 Corinthians 4:1 mean?
ESV: Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.
NIV: Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.
NASB: Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart,
CSB: Therefore, since we have this ministry because we were shown mercy, we do not give up.
NLT: Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up.
KJV: Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;
NKJV: Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.
Verse Commentary:
In the previous chapter, Paul described the remarkable covenant God has made with those who come to Him through faith in Christ. This new covenant allows human beings to see the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ. Without Christ, a veil remains between the sin-hardened minds of humans and the ability to see God's glory. Those forgiven for their sin by God's grace, though, are freed from this veil by God's Spirit. As a result, they can look at God's glory with "unveiled faces" and begin to be transformed into the image of Christ as His glory becomes theirs (2 Corinthians 3:17–18).

Paul now returns to defending his ministry to the Corinthians and others. His role is to carry the message of the new covenant to people around the world. Paul insists that he and his co-workers have this ministry, this purpose, by God's mercy. He admits he does not deserve, on his own merits, to carry something as precious and valuable as the gospel of Jesus. God has given Paul this job out of His great mercy.

That's why Paul says that he and his friends do not lose heart. In this context, this means they refuse to quit. They may become "tired in" what they do, but not "tired of" it. They refuse to allow obstacles between them and their mission to discourage them to the point of despair. Despite the difficulties that come with their work, they keep going because God has entrusted it to them. In the following verse, Paul adds that they refuse, also, to cut corners or act without integrity.
Verse Context:
Second Corinthians 4:1–6 begins with Paul's insistence that he would never act in disgraceful or deceptive ways. He and his co-workers present the truth of God's Word openly. They invite others to openly evaluate their conduct before God. Some will not be able to believe their true teaching about Christ, though, since they are blinded by Satan from seeing the light of God's glory in Christ. God has shone that light into the hearts of Paul and his friends, and they bring the light of knowing God's glory through Christ to the world.
Chapter Summary:
Paul insists that he and his co-workers for Christ would never act in a way that is disgraceful or dishonest, though he knows some are blinded by Satan from believing their message about Jesus. They cannot see the light of knowing Christ as God. That knowledge is a priceless treasure stored in the fragile containers of Paul and his friends. No matter how difficult their suffering in this work, Paul refuses to quit. He is confident that he will be resurrected after his death and then all his pain on this side of eternity won't even be worth comparing with the glory there.
Chapter Context:
Second Corinthians 4 follows Paul's teaching in the previous chapter about the transformation that happens for those who see God's glory in Christ. Some are blinded to it by sin and by the god of this world. Paul knows that he and his co-workers are fragile containers for the priceless message of God's grace through faith in Jesus. They won't quit, though, because God sustains them and will eventually resurrect them. Once in eternity, all the suffering in this life won't be worth comparing with sharing God's glory forever. Chapter 5 expands on the idea that believers in Christ look forward to something much better than this life.
Book Summary:
Second Corinthians returns to similar themes as those Paul mentioned in his first letter to this church. Paul is glad to hear that the church in Corinth has heeded his advice. At the same time, it is necessary for Paul to counter criticisms about his personality and legitimacy. Most of this text involves that subject. The fifth chapter, in contrast, contains comforting words which Christians have quoted often in times of hardship. Paul also details his expectations that the church in Corinth will make good on their promise to contribute to the needs of suffering believers in Jerusalem.
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