2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, who's mind the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake.
6 For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 CORINTHIANS 4:1-6).
4:1 Paul now resumes the theme of 3:6-divine appointment and provision to be a minister of a new covenant. He had no reason to lose heart (cf. Gal 6:9), for God in his mercy had granted him a privilege exceeding the ministry of Moses (cf. 1 Tim 1:12-16). He had been called not to communicate the law but to dispense grace. Paul regarded this divine commission to serve under the new covenant as more than compensating for all the trials he endured for being true to his calling (vv. 7-12, 17; cf. Rom 8:18), including the malicious charges of his Corinthians opponents (v. 2).
4:2 To the thought of refusing to grow disheartened Paul will return presently (v. 16). Now he expands his brief self-defense of 2:17. Evidently he had been accused of deceitful behavior (cf. 7:2; 12:16) and of willfully adulterating the Gospel (perhaps by not insisting on Gentile compliance with the Mosaic law). These charges he emphatically rejects. The openness marking the new covenant had always been reflected in his conduct. He had never been secretive or deceptive, nor had he ever dishonestly manipulated the message of God entrusted to him.
In any self-defense, self-commendation must play some part. But Paul's particular self-commendation was distinctive. He commended himself, not by self-vindication at every point, but simply by openly declaring the truth of the Gospel. He appealed not to a partisan spirit or the prejudices of other people but "to every man's conscience." In his self-commendation, God was an onlooker.
4:3-4 Paul's Gospel, some had claimed, was designed only for a spiritually minded elite; what he said was obscure and what he did was underhanded (v.2). For the sake of argument, Paul conceded his critics' point. Even if his Gospel is veiled in the case of some people, it is not his doing, he insists, because he sets forth the truth plainly (v.2). Any veiling (cf. 3:14-15) comes from the unbelief of "those who are perishing" (cf. 1 Cor 1:18; 2 Cor 2:15), whose minds have been blinded by the god of "the present evil age" (Gal 1:4)-i.e., Satan, who wishes to prevent people from seeing the light of the Gospel that focuses on Christ's glory as the image of God. Paul's reference to Christ as "the image of God" means that Christ is the visible and perfect representation of the invisible God (Col 1:15; cf. Jn 1:18). Christ is one with God the Father by nature, but distinct from him in person.
4:5 Though Paul might have been forced to commend himself to everyone's conscience (v.2; cf. 1:12; 6:4), he never advertised or preached himself. The essence of his Gospel was the proclamation of "Jesus Christ as Lord" (Rom 10:9; 1 Cor 12:3; Col 2:6), a message faithfully delivered by him and eagerly embraced by the Corinthians. Paul saw himself related to his converts, not as a spiritual overlord (1:24) but as a wiling servant. In this he followed in the footsteps of "the Lord of glory" (1 Cor 2:8), who himself had adopted the status and role of a servant (Php 2:7; cf. Rom 15:8).
4:6 Paul now states the reason why he preached Christ and served the Corinthians. It was because God had dispelled his darkness by illuminating his heart and had given him a knowledge of Christ he wished to share (cf. Acts 9:15; 26:16, 18; Gal 1:15-16). In this second creation, as in the first, darkness is dispersed and light is created by divine intervention. In the first case it was a personal word: "Let there be light" (cf. Gen 1:2-3); in the second creation it was a personal act: "God shone in our hearts" (cf. 1 Pet 2:9).
This is an unmistakable allusion to Paul's Damascus encounter with the risen Christ when God "was pleased to reveal his Son" to him (Gal 1:15-16). Each of the three accounts of Paul's conversion mentions the noonday light from heaven, brighter than the sun, and emphasizes the revelatory nature of the experience (Acts 9:3-9; 22:6-10; 26:13-18). In the unveiled face of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 3:7, 13, 18) Paul saw God's glory.
[NIV BIBLE COMMENTARY Volume 2: New Testament].
JESUS IS LORD.