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2 Corinthians 4:17

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

For our light affliction, etc. - Mr. Blackwall, in his sacred classics, has well illustrated this passage. I shall here produce his paraphrase as quoted by Dr. Dodd: "This is one of the most emphatic passages in all St. Paul's writings, in which he speaks as much like an orator as he does as an apostle. The lightness of the trial is expressed by το ελαφρον της θλιψεως, the lightness of our affliction; as if he had said, it is even levity itself in such a comparison. On the other hand, the καθ ' ὑπερβολην εις ὑπερβολην, which we render far more exceeding, is infinitely emphatical, and cannot be fully expressed by any translation. It signifies that all hyperboles fall short of describing that weight - eternal glory, so solid and lasting, that you may pass from hyperbole to hyperbole, and yet, when you have gained the last, are infinitely below it. It is every where visible what influence St. Paul's Hebrew had on his Greek: כבד cabad, signifies to be heavy, and to be glorious; the apostle in his Greek unites these two significations, and says, Weight of Glory."

St. Chrysostom's observations on these words are in his very best manner, and are both judicious and beautiful:

ΤΙΟΗΣΙ παραλληλα τα παροντα τοις μελλουσι· το παραυτικα προς το αιωνιον· το ελαφρον προς το βαρυ· την θλιψιν προς την δοξαν· και ουδε τουτοις αρκειται, αλλ 'ἑτεραν τιθησι λεξιν, διπλασιαζων αυτην, και λεγων, καθ 'ὑπερβολην εις ὑπερβολην - τουτεστι, μεγεθος ὑπερβολικως ὑπερβολικον .

"The apostle opposes things present to things future; a moment to eternity; lightness to weight; affliction to glory. Nor is he satisfied with this, but he adds another word, and doubles it, saying, καθ 'ὑπερβολην εις ὑπερβολην . This is a magnitude excessively exceeding." See Parkhurst, sub voce ὑπερβολη .

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

For our light affliction - This verse, with the following, is designed to show further the sources of consolation and support which Paul and his fellow-laborers had in their many trials. Bloomfield remarks on this passage, that “in energy and beauty of expression, it is little inferior to any in Demosthenes himself, to whom, indeed, and to Thucydides in his orations, the style of the apostle, when it rises to the oratorical, bears no slight resemblance.” The passage abounds with intensive and emphatic expressions, and manifests that the mind of the writer was laboring to convey ideas which language, even after all the energy of expression which he could command, would very imperfectly communicate. The trials which Paul endured, to many persons would have seemed to be anything else but light. They consisted of want, and danger, and contempt, and stoning, and toil, and weariness, and the scorn of the world, and constant exposure to death by land or by sea; see 2 Corinthians 4:7-10, compare 2 Corinthians 11:23-27. Yet these trials, though continued through many years, and constituting, as it were, his very life, he speaks of as the lightest conceivable thing when compared with that eternal glory which awaited him. He strives to get an expression as emphatic as possible, to show that in his estimation they were not worthy to be named in comparison with the eternal weight of glory. It is not sufficient to say that the affliction was “light” or was a mere trifle; but he says that it was to endure but for a moment. Though trials had followed him ever since he began to make known the Redeemer, and though he had the firmest expectation that they would follow him to the end of life and everywhere Acts 20:23, yet all this was a momentary trifle compared with the eternal glory before him. The word rendered “light” ( ἐλαφρὸν elaphron) means that which is easy to bear, and is usually applied to a burden; see Matthew 11:30, compare 2 Corinthians 1:17.

Which is but for a moment - The Greek word used here ( παραυτίκα parautika) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is an adverb, from αὐτίκα autika αὐτός autosand means properly, “at this very instant; immediately.” Here it seems to qualify the word “light,” and to be used in the sense of momentary, transient. Bloomfield renders it, “for the at present lightness of our affliction.” Doddridge, “for this momentary lightness of our affliction, which passes off so fast, and leaves so little impression that it may be called levity itself.” The apostle evidently wished to express two ideas in as emphatic a manner as possible; first, that the affliction was light, and, secondly, that it was transient, momentary, and soon passing away. His object is to contrast this with the glory that awaited him, as being heavy, and as being also eternal.

Worketh for us - see the note, 2 Corinthians 4:12. Will produce, will result in. The effect of these afflictions is to produce eternal glory. This they do:

(1)By their tendency to wean us from the world;

(2)To purify the heart, by enabling us to ‹break off from the sins on account of which God afflicts us;

(3)By disposing us to look to God for consolation and support in our trials;

(4)By inducing us to contemplate the glories of the heavenly world, and thus winning us to seek heaven as our home; and,

(5)Because God has graciously promised to reward his people in heaven as the result of their bearing trials in this life.

It is by affliction that he purifies them Isaiah 48:10; and by trial that he takes their affections from the objects of time and sense, and gives them a relish for the enjoyments which result from the prospect of perfect and eternal glory.

A far more exceeding - καθ ̓ ὑπερβολὴν εἰς ὑπερβολὴν kath'huperbolēn eis huperbolēnThere is not to be found any where a more energetic expression than this. The word ( ὑπερβολή huperbolē), used here (whence our word “hyperbole”) means properly a throwing, casting, or throwing beyond. In the New Testament it means excess, excellence, eminence; see 2 Corinthians 4:7. “The excellency of the power.” The phrase καθ ̓ ὑπερβολὴν kath'huperbolēnmeans exceedingly, supereminently, Romans 7:13; 1 Corinthians 12:31; 2 Corinthians 1:8; Galatians 1:13. This expression would have been by itself intensive in a high degree. But this was not sufficient to express Paul‘s sense of the glory which was laid up for Christians. It was not enough for him to use the ordinary highest expression for the superlative to denote the value of the object in his eye. He therefore coins an expression, and adds εἰς ὑπερβολὴν eis huperbolēnIt is not merely eminent; but it is eminent unto eminence; excess unto excess; a hyperbole unto hyperbole - one hyperbole heaped upon another; and the expression means that it is “exceeding exceedingly” glorious; glorious in the highest possible degree - Robinson. Mr. Slade renders it, “infinitely exceeding.” The expression is the Hebrew form of denoting the highest superlative; and it means that all hyperboles fail of expressing that eternal glory which remains for the just. It is infinite and boundless. You may pass from one degree to another; from one sublime height to another; but still an infinity remains beyond. Nothing can describe the uppermost height of that glory; nothing can express its infinitude.

Eternal - This stands in contrast with the affliction that is for a moment ( παραυτίκα parautika). The one is momentary, transient; so short, even in the longest life, that it may be said to be an instant; the other has no limits to its duration. It is literally everlasting.

Weight - βάρος (baros). This stands opposed to the ( ἐλαφρὸν elaphron) light affliction. That was so light that it was a trifle. It was easily borne. It was like the most light and airy objects, which constitute no burden. It is not even here called a burden, or said to be heavy in any degree. This is so heavy as to be a burden. Grotins thinks that the image is taken from gold or silver articles, that are solid and heavy, compared with those that are mixed or plated. But why may it not refer to the insignia of glory and honor; a robe heavy with gold, or a diadem or crown, heavy with gold or diamonds: glory so rich, so profuse as to be heavy? The affliction was light; but the crown, the robe, the adornings in the glorious world were not trifles, or baubles, but solid, substantial, weighty. We apply the word weighty now to that which is valuable and important, compared with that which is of no value, probably because the precious metals and jewels are heavy; and it is by them that we usually estimate the value of objects.

Of glory - ( δόξης doxēs). The Hebrew word כבוד kabowddenotes weight as well as glory. And perhaps Paul had that use of the word in his eye in this strong expression. It refers here to the splendor, magnificence, honor, and happiness of the eternal world. In this exceedingly interesting passage, which is worthy of the deepest study of Christians, Paul has set in most beautiful and emphatic contrast the trials of this life and the glories of heaven. It may be profitable to contemplate at a single glance the view which he had of them, that they may be brought distinctly before the mind.

The one is:

1.Affliction, θλίψις thlipsisLight, ἐλαφρὸν elaphronFor a moment, παραυτίκα parautikaother is, by contrast,

(1)Glory, δόξή doxaWeight, βάρος barosEternal, αἰώνιον aiōnionEminent, or excellent, καθ ̓ ὑπερβολὴν kath' huperbolēnInfinitely excellent, eminent in the highest degree, εἰς ὑπερβολὴν eis huperbolēnthe account stands in the view of Paul; and with this balance in favor of the eternal glory, he regarded afflictions as mere trifles, and made it the grand purpose of his life to gain the glory of the heavens. What wise man, looking at the account, would not do likewise?

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The grace of faith is an effectual remedy against fainting in times of trouble. They knew that Christ was raised, and that his resurrection was an earnest and assurance of theirs. The hope of this resurrection will encourage in a suffering day, and set us above the fear of death. Also, their sufferings were for the advantage of the church, and to God's glory. The sufferings of Christ's ministers, as well as their preaching and conversation, are for the good of the church and the glory of God. The prospect of eternal life and happiness was their support and comfort. What sense was ready to pronounce heavy and long, grievous and tedious, faith perceived to be light and short, and but for a moment. The weight of all temporal afflictions was lightness itself, while the glory to come was a substance, weighty, and lasting beyond description. If the apostle could call his heavy and long-continued trials light, and but for a moment, what must our trifling difficulties be! Faith enables to make this right judgment of things. There are unseen things, as well as things that are seen. And there is this vast difference between them; unseen things are eternal, seen things but temporal, or temporary only. Let us then look off from the things which are seen; let us cease to seek for worldly advantages, or to fear present distresses. Let us give diligence to make our future happiness sure.
Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 560

True sanctification comes through the working out of the principle of love. “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16. The life of him in whose heart Christ abides, will reveal practical godliness. The character will be purified, elevated, ennobled, and glorified. Pure doctrine will blend with works of righteousness; heavenly precepts will mingle with holy practices. AA 560.1

Those who would gain the blessing of sanctification must first learn the meaning of self-sacrifice. The cross of Christ is the central pillar on which hangs the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” “If any man will come after Me,” Christ says, “let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” 2 Corinthians 4:17; Matthew 16:24. It is the fragrance of our love for our fellow men that reveals our love for God. It is patience in service that brings rest to the soul. It is through humble, diligent, faithful toil that the welfare of Israel is promoted. God upholds and strengthens the one who is willing to follow in Christ's way. AA 560.2

Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, a day, but of a lifetime. It is not gained by a happy flight of feeling, but is the result of constantly dying to sin, and constantly living for Christ. Wrongs cannot be righted nor reformations wrought in the character by feeble, intermittent efforts. It is only by long, persevering effort, sore discipline, and stern conflict, that we shall overcome. We know not one day how strong will be our conflict the next. So long as Satan reigns, we shall have self to subdue, besetting sins to overcome; so long as life shall last, there will be no stopping place, no point which we can reach and say, I have fully attained. Sanctification is the result of lifelong obedience. AA 560.3

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Ellen G. White
Early Writings, 17

At first only a few were identified with this group who were moving forward in advancing light. By the year 1846 they reckoned their numbers as about fifty. EW xvii.1

The larger group who turned from confidence in the fulfillment of prophecy in 1844 numbered approximately thirty thousand. Their leaders came together in 1845 in a conference in Albany, New York, April 29 to May 1, at which time they restudied their positions. By formal action they went on record as warning against those who claim “special illumination,” those who teach “Jewish fables,” and those who establish “new tests” (Advent Herald, May 14, 1845). Thus they closed the door to light on the Sabbath and the Spirit of Prophecy. They were confident that prophecy had not been fulfilled in 1844, and some set time for the termination of the 2300-day period in the future. Various times were set, but one after another they passed by. These people, held together by the cohesive element of the Advent hope, at first aligned themselves in several rather loosely knit groups with considerable variation in certain doctrinal positions. Some of these groups soon faded out. The group that survived became the Advent Christian Church. Such are identified in this book as the “first day Adventists” or “nominal Adventists.” EW xvii.2

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Ellen G. White
Early Writings, 66

Then I was pointed to the glory of heaven, to the treasure laid up for the faithful. Everything was lovely and glorious. The angels would sing a lovely song, then they would cease singing and take their crowns from their heads and cast them glittering at the feet of the lovely Jesus, and with melodious voices cry, “Glory, Alleluia!” I joined with them in their songs of praise and honor to the Lamb, and every time I opened my mouth to praise Him, I felt an unutterable sense of the glory that surrounded me. It was a far more, an exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Said the angel, “The little remnant who love God and keep His commandments and are faithful to the end will enjoy this glory and ever be in the presence of Jesus and sing with the holy angels.” EW 66.1

Then my eyes were taken from the glory, and I was pointed to the remnant on the earth. The angel said to them, “Will ye shun the seven last plagues? Will ye go to glory and enjoy all that God has prepared for those who love Him and are willing to suffer for His sake? If so, ye must die that ye may live. Get ready, get ready, get ready. Ye must have a greater preparation than ye now have, for the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate and to destroy the sinners thereof out of it. Sacrifice all to God. Lay all upon His altar—self, property, and all, a living sacrifice. It will take all to enter glory. Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where no thief can approach or rust corrupt. Ye must be partakers of Christ's sufferings here if ye would be partakers with Him of His glory hereafter.” EW 66.2

Heaven will be cheap enough, if we obtain it through suffering. We must deny self all along the way, die to self daily, let Jesus alone appear, and keep His glory continually in view. I saw that those who of late have embraced the truth would have to know what it is to suffer for Christ's sake, that they would have trials to pass through that would be keen and cutting, in order that they may be purified and fitted through suffering to receive the seal of the living God, pass through the time of trouble, see the King in His beauty, and dwell in the presence of God and of pure, holy angels. EW 67.1

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Ellen G. White
Gospel Workers 1915, 18

God's servants receive no honor or recognition from the world. Stephen was stoned because he preached Christ and Him crucified. Paul was imprisoned, beaten, stoned, and finally put to death, because he was a faithful messenger of God to the Gentiles. The apostle John was banished to the Isle of Patmos, “for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” [Revelation 1:9.] These examples of human steadfastness in the might of divine power, are a witness to the world of the faithfulness of God's promises, of His abiding presence and sustaining grace. GW 18.1

No hope of glorious immortality lights up the future of the enemies of God. The great military commander conquers nations, and shakes the armies of half the world; but he dies of disappointment, and in exile. The philosopher who ranges in thought through the universe, everywhere tracing the manifestations of God's power and delighting in their harmony, often fails to behold in these marvelous wonders the Hand that formed them all. “Man that is in honor, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.” [Psalm 49:20.] But God's heroes of faith are heirs to an inheritance of greater value than any earthly riches,—an inheritance that will satisfy the longings of the soul. By the world they may be unknown and unacknowledged, but in the record books above they are enrolled as citizens of heaven, and an exalted greatness, an eternal weight of glory, will be theirs. GW 18.2

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