Summary: While God is preparing us for this house, Jesus is preparing this house for us.
WE DO NOT LOSE HEART
The first thing that strikes us about this passage is the continuity between the Old Testament and the New. Paul finds his warrant to preach embedded in the book of Psalms: ‘I believed, therefore I spoke. I am greatly afflicted’ (Psalm 116:10). “Since we have the same spirit of faith” the Apostle elucidates, “we also believe and therefore speak” (2 Corinthians 4:13).
Elsewhere, Paul speaks of Scripture as being ‘breathed out by God’ (2 Timothy 3:16). The Apostle Peter speaks of ‘holy men of God’ who ‘spoke from God as they were carried along by the Spirit’ (2 Peter 1:21). Peter also ratifies the writings of Paul along with ‘the rest of the Scriptures’ (2 Peter 3:16).
Silence is not an option for those of us called by God to announce the glad tidings of the gospel (Isaiah 52:7). Elsewhere Paul goes so far as to say, ‘necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel’ (1 Corinthians 9:16)! But there are some who are not ‘sent’ (cf. Romans 10:15) - ‘peddlers of the word of God’ (2 Corinthians 2:17) who ‘handle the word deceitfully’ (2 Corinthians 4:2).
Paul had contrasted the ‘death working in us’ with the consequent ‘life working in you all’ (2 Corinthians 4:12). The Apostle continues the positive mood with the assurance that “He who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus and will present us with you all” (2 Corinthians 4:14). Those who preach the gospel, at such great cost to themselves, are also partakers of the resurrection life, both in the present, and in the hereafter.
The motivations for preaching which I keep in my own mind are: (1) for the glory of God; (2) for the furtherance of His kingdom; (3) and for the salvation of the lost. This seems to be Paul’s pattern here. All this suffering, all this costly preaching was “for your sakes; that the GRACE abounding through the most; may cause thanksgiving to abound to the GLORY of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15).
“We do not lose heart,” continues Paul (2 Corinthians 4:16a). Then, in the following verses, he makes a series of contrasts.
1. “Our outward man is perishing, yet the inward is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16b). The outward belongs to this world that is ‘passing away’ (1 Corinthians 7:31). Inwardly, we who are believers already belong to the age to come and are being renewed day by day ‘by faith, not by sight’ (2 Corinthians 5:7).
2. “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). The glory yet to be revealed in us far outweighs the sufferings of the present time (cf. Romans 8:18).
3. “The things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). So, we should not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.
4. “If our earthly house, this tent,” says Paul the tentmaker “is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). So, while God is preparing us for this house (2 Corinthians 4:16-17), Jesus is preparing this house for us (2 Corinthians 5:1; cf. John 14:2).