What does 2 Corinthians 4:5 mean?
ESV: For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus ' sake.
NIV: For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
NASB: For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants on account of Jesus.
CSB: For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake.
NLT: You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.
KJV: For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.
NKJV: For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.
Verse Commentary:
In this chapter, and the letter at large, Paul is both teaching the gospel and defending himself from false accusations. It seems some criticized his relationship and ministry with the Corinthians. After describing the spiritual blindness to the gospel of those who do not trust in Christ, Paul returns to making the case that he and his friends have not been false or deceptive in any way. Instead, they've been entirely focused on pointing others towards Jesus, and their need for salvation.

Paul's objection to the accusations is that he has not been preaching for anyone to trust in him or his friends. He has only ever proclaimed that Jesus Christ is Lord. He is only inviting those who hear to put their faith in Christ—not Paul, or any other person (1 Corinthians 1:10–17). On the contrary, he and his friends have declared themselves to be servants of the Corinthians for the sake of Jesus. That is the opposite of self-promotion.
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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