What does 2 Corinthians 4:3 mean?
ESV: And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.
NIV: And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.
NASB: And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,
CSB: But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.
NLT: If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing.
KJV: But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
NKJV: But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,
Verse Commentary:
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.
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.
Accessed 6/22/2024 5:35:20 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com