2 Cor 4:1-6
Paul’s unswerving faithfulness
4 Therefore, since we have this ministry, having received mercy, we do not turn aside; 2 rather, we have renounced the things one hides out of a sense of shame. We do not use trickery, nor do we falsify the word of God. Rather, by disclosing the truth openly, we commend ourselves to every person's conscience in the sight of God. 3 Even if our Gospel is veiled, it is veiled [only] among those who are perishing; 4 in their case the God of this world has blinded their unbelieving minds, so that they cannot see the light of the good news about the glory of the Messiah, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus the Messiah as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus. 6 For the God who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness’ has shone in our hearts, that we might be enlightened with the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
διὰ τοῦτο, ἔχοντες τὴν διακονίαν ταύτην, καθὼς ἠλεήθημεν, οὐκ ἐγκακοῦμεν a
a C D2 K L P Ψ 0246 104 365 630 1241 1505 1881 Majority Text read ἐκκακοῦμεν; the reading ἐγκακοῦμεν is however secure, being read by p46 א A B D* F G 33 81 326 1175 1264 co.
The expression ἔχοντες τὴν διακονίαν ταύτην parallels the similar phrase in 3:12, ἔχοντες τοιαύτην ἐλπίδα, which gives a reason for Paul’s boldness, in particular his bold handling of the recent crisis (cf. 3:4): the Spirit makes alive. His ministry of the Spirit, a gift granted to him by God's mercy. results in the transformation of the hearts and minds of his converts, so that the divine glory becomes manifest increasingly in their life and ministry also (3:7-18). Therefore (διὰ τοῦτο), having been graciously granted this ministry, the apostle does not turn aside (οὐκ ἐγκακοῦμεν) - even when faced with great suffering and, seemingly, certain death. Since he has himself been granted mercy, he presses forward in his assigned task of channelling the divine grace and mercy to those who are being saved (2:16b; 3:6c).
ἀλλὰ ἀπειπάμεθα τὰ κρυπτὰ τῆς αἰσχύνης, μὴ περιπατοῦντες ἐν πανουργίᾳ μηδὲ δολοῦντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ, ἀλλὰ τῇ φανερώσει τῆς ἀληθείας συνιστάνοντες a ἑαυτοὺς πρὸς πᾶσαν συνείδησιν ἀνθρώπων ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ.
a Probably due to a scribal error, א C D* F G 33 81 326 read συνιστάντες, a participle of the older verb συνίστημι; the sense is identical. 
'but have renounced  the things that one hides  out of a sense of shame.  We do not use trickery,  nor do we pervert  the word of God. Rather, by the open proclamation  of the truth, we commend  ourselves to every human conscience  in the sight of God.’
Continuing his subtle synkrisis, Paul contrasts (ἀλλά) his own faithfulness, powerfully motivated by the confident hope of the saving power of his new covenant ministry, with the selfish craftiness (πανουργία) of his sophistic opponents. Like 2:17, the verse evokes several echoes of Jer 23:9-40. Though Jeremiah lived and ministered under the old covenant, Paul saw in his struggle with the apostate prophets and priests of Jerusalem a paradigm of his own experience; his claim that (unlike his opponents) he has renounced 'the things one hides out of a sense of shame' recalls Jer 23:23-24, adding to his subtle portrayal of the false apostles. However, in light of his of his interest in Isa 29:9-21 (see on 3:14-15, and on 4:4), and of his quotation of Isa 29:14b in 1 Cor 1:19 in the context of anti-sophistic rhetoric,  it is clear that Isa 29:15 is also in his mind: 'Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, "Who sees us? Who will know?".' (NIV) Childs comments, 'This oracle reflects a prophetic polemic against leaders who are engaged in secret political manoeuvring ... Their stupidity lies in thinking that their plans were unnoticed by God. The prophet comments, "How perverse of you!". What utter foolishness to confuse the creator with his creation'. 
Like καπηλεύω ('peddle', 'huckster', 2:17), the term πανουργία ('craftiness', 'trickery') belongs to the language of anti-sophistic rhetoric;  it is an antonym of ἁπλότης (sincerity, frankness, integrity; 'what you see is what you get'),  a quality Paul claims for himself in 1:12. In light of the Adam Christology theme of 4:4, 6 it is worth noting an apparently widespread Jewish tradition in which the theme of the ἁπλότης of Adam before the Fall is contrasted with his πανουργία after the Fall.  Paul has emphasised that he speaks in Christ, the Last Adam (2:17). His opponents, by contrast, share in the πανουργία of the fallen first Adam. Unlike his opponents Paul does not pervert the word of God. The implied charge against his opponents recalls Jer 23:36 (cf. 23:17, 25-27, 32).
Paul's rivals have alleged that he intends to plunder the church by means of the collection (12:16-18). The dire warnings of 1 Corinthians and the self-sacrificial love of the Letter of Tears, they allege, are nothing but sophistries.  These charges Paul has rebutted already (1:12-13a). On the contrary (ἀλλά), he now claims, by openly proclaiming the truth he commends himself to every human conscience in the sight of God (ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ). Again his thought and language echo both 2:17 (unlike his opponents he speaks the word of God with pure motives in the presence of God, κατέναντι θεοῦ), and 1:12 (his own conscience (συνείδησις) testifies to his integrity). The response of a given individual to his proclamation, of course, will depend on their spiritual status (1 Cor 1:18).
εἰ δὲ καὶ ἔστιν κεκαλυμμένον τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἡμῶν, ἐν τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις ἐστὶν κεκαλυμμένον, 4 ἐν οἷς ὁ θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου ἐτύφλωσεν τὰ νοήματα τῶν ἀπίστων εἰς τὸ μὴ αὐγάσαι a b τὸν φωτισμὸν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τῆς δόξης τοῦ χριστοῦ, ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ.
a C D H 365 1175 Epiphanius read καταυγάσαι; A 33 104 326 2464 read διαυγάσαι. αὐγάσαι is read by p46 א B F G K L P Ψ 0243 81 630 1241 1505 1739 1881 Majority Text Eusebius, and is certainly original.
b D1 K L P Ψ 0209 104 365 1241 1505 2464 Majority Text gcl sy Speculum include αὐτοῖς; however, αὐτοῖς is omitted by p46 א A B C D* F G 0243 33 81 326 630 1175 1739 1881 lat Irenaeuslat Eusebius Epiphanius, and is clearly an addition.
‘And if  our gospel is veiled, it is veiled [only] from those who are perishing.  4 In their case, the God of this age has blinded  their unbelieving  minds  so that they  do not see  the light  of the good news about the glory  of Christ, who is the image of God.’
Paul now concedes that his gospel is in fact veiled (καλύπτω) from some: it is veiled from οἱ ἀπολλυμένοι, ‘those who are perishing’. The perfect participle κεκαλυμμένον, 'veiled', ‘hidden’, echoes ἀνακεκαλυμμένῳ, ‘unveiled’, 3:18, and the references to Moses’ veil in 3:14-16; indeed, 4:3-4 echoes Paul's move from the veiling of the glory of the old covenant to the veiling of the minds of contemporary Jews, 3:14b-15.  Though in 4:3-4 the apostle is certainly making a general statement, applicable to all who reject his gospel, it is clear that his Jewish opponents, the false apostles, remain in his sights.
Paul referred to οἱ ἀπολλυμένοι in 1 Cor 1:17-18; he was not sent to evangelise with 'clever words' (σοφία λόγου),  he says, so that the cross of Christ would not be rendered void (κενωθῇ); for the message of the cross is foolishness to οἱ ἀπολλυμένοι. This point he supports with a citation of Isa 29:14b, in an allusion to the church's investment in the sophistic movement (1 Cor 1:10-17). As Heil points out,
Through the scriptural quote Paul places the wise of the world along with their wisdom and the intelligent of the world along with their intelligence into the category of those on their way to eschatological destruction in the final judgment. The scriptural quote is thus persuading the Corinthian audience, as among those who by the power of God are on their way to eschatological salvation, away from "the wisdom of the wise" and "the intelligence of the intelligent". 
Likewise, to those who are perishing, the suffering apostle, in whom the crucified and risen Christ is made manifest, is ‘the stench of the advance of death’ (2:15-16a). In both places οἱ ἀπολλυμένοι are contrasted with οἱ σῳζομένοι, ‘those who are being saved’, for whom the message of the Cross is 'the power of God' (1 Cor 1:18), and the suffering apostle is 'the fragrance of the advance of life' (2:16b).
Those who are perishing reject both Paul and his gospel because their unbelieving minds have been blinded by ὁ θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. Most interpreters understand ὁ θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου, ‘the [g/]God of this world', as a reference to Satan;  however, the reference is certainly to God himself: 
Given the key role of Psalm 69 in the thought of 2 Cor 1-7, it seems significant that the Psalmist curses his opponents with the words, ‘Let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see’ (v. 23). This text is taken up, in combination with Isa 29:10; Deut 29:3(4) and Isa 6:9f, in Rom 11:7-10, a passage which in thought and language strikingly recalls 2 Cor 3:14f: 
What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, as it is written: "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day." And David says: "May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever." (NIV)
Cf. also Mark 4:12; John 12:40. The identification is confirmed by the parallel between 4:4 and 4:6, in which ‘the God of this age’ corresponds to, ‘God who said, “Let light shine out of the darkness”’; see on v. 6.
Paul has insinuated repeatedly that his opponents are unbelievers (2:15-16a, 17; 3:3, 14-15).  It is God himself who has hardened heir hearts and blinded their minds, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel, the epiphany of Christ's glory that is mediated by the apostle. Paul's thought continues to be informed by Isaiah 29, it would seem; commenting on Isa 29:15-21 Childs states,
God, who is so misunderstood by those who struggle with their petty political machinations and discount the divine, is the one who will shortly demonstrate his true creative power to their detriment ... In a portrayal that closely parallels 32:15ff., Lebanon will soon be changed into a fruitful field. Then in contrast to the deafness and blindness of the old age, the deaf will hear and the blind will see. 
Introducing the theme of the new creation, Paul implies that Christ’s glory is the glory of the Eschatological Adam (ὁ ἔσχατος Ἀδάμ, 1 Cor 15:45),  the perfect image (εἰκών) of God (cf. Gen 1:26-27). Just as Adam was the progenitor of the original creation, so Christ is the progenitor of the new creation; as Adam was the image bearer in the original creation, so Christ is the image bearer of the new creation.  Already, in 3:18, Paul has pointed out that as believers contemplate Christ's glory they are being transformed into his glorious image; cf. Rom 8:29. In 3:18 Paul speaks of the transformation of believers in this life, as an ongoing process. In Rom 8:29 he has in mind the completion of the process at the Parousia: by a divine decree, believers will receive spiritual bodies like Christ's glorious body (1 Cor 15:43, 49; cf. Phil 3:20-21): they will be conformed to the image of God's Son. Cf. 5:1-5.
Οὐ γὰρ ἑαυτοὺς κηρύσσομεν ἀλλὰ Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν a κύριον, ἑαυτοὺς δὲ δούλους ὑμῶν διὰ Ἰησοῦν. b
a Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν is read by B H K L Ψ 0186 0209 0243 33 104 363 630 1175 1241 1739 1881 2464 Majority Text ar b syp MarcionE Pelagius. Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν is read by p46 א A C (F G) P 81 326 629 1505 lat syh Ambrosiaster; Thrall notes, 'It is the more usual order in Paul ... and corresponds with that of the confessional formula in Phil 2.11 and Acts 11.17'. 
b Ἰησοῦ is read by p46 א* Ac C 0243 33 1739 1881 co MarcionE; Ἰησοῦν is read by A*vid B D F G H K L P Ψ 0209 81 104 368 1175 1505 Majority Text. Thrall comments, 'Both phrases are Pauline (2 Cor 4.11; 1 Th 4.14). Scribal error could produce Ἰησοῦ from Ἰησοῦν by the accidental omission of the final Ν, or Ἰησοῦν from Ἰησοῦ by assimilation to the preceding Ἰησοῦν. In view of the διὰ Ἰησοῦν in 4.11, however, in a similar context, the reading διὰ Ἰησοῦν is preferable'.  There are other secondary variants: א1 2464 t vgms boms read δὶα Χριστοῦ; 0186 reads διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ; 326 1241 read δὶα Χριστόν; 629630 (ar) b read διὰ Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν.
'For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus the Messiah as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake.' 
In contemporary Hellenistic thought, Paul's recognition of Jesus the Messiah as εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ could be understood as a claim that the risen and glorified Jesus is an ideal king, or (more generally) a wise man, or simply that he is a man. He now stresses, therefore, that (unlike his self-glorifying opponents, 10:12) he does not preach himself, but Jesus Christ as κύριος (‘Master’, ‘Lord’),  and himself as his readers’ 'slave' because of Jesus. Though Paul elsewhere describes himself as a slave of Christ, his self-description as the slave of his readers is without parallel. However, as Dale Martin points out,
The presentation of the leader as enslaved to those he leads recurs so regularly in ancient sources and contains so many recurring elements that it may be called a topos. In this topos the following elements are most important: the leader accommodates the people, he lowers himself socially, and his motive is gain.
The apostle has been criticised for his failure to take stern disciplinary measures against the supporters of the incestuous man, and has replied that he does not ‘lord it’ over their faith (1:24). He is a man of high status, the envoy and incense bearer of the Lord Jesus Christ, who walks before the Merkabah (2:14). But just as Jesus lowered his own social status, taking the form of a slave (Phil 2:6-8) so Paul as his envoy, representing his bodily presence, has of necessity (‘because of Jesus’) lowered himself also. He has supported himself through manual labour, accepting no payment from the Corinthians for his ministry (11:7-10), and has suffered for their sake even to the point of death. In effect, he has become their slave. His motivation in is indeed gain - but not worldly gain (4:16-18; 5:9-11a).
ὅτι ὁ θεὸς ὁ εἰπών, ἐκ σκότους φῶς λάμψει, a ὃς ἔλαμψεν ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν πρὸς φωτισμὸν τῆς γνώσεως τῆς δόξης b τοῦ θεοῦ c ἐν προσώπῳ [Ἰησοῦ] d Χριστοῦ.
a λάμψαι is read by א2 C D2 F G H K L P Ψ 0209 330 81 104 365 630 1175 1241 1505 1881 (2464) Majority Text latt; λάμψει is read by p46 א* A B D*0243 6 1739 Clement Epiphanius. Since Paul never uses the infinitive after εἰπών, and if λάμψαι were taken to be an optative, it would be unlikely to describe a divine command, λάμψει is preferred. 
b p46 C* D* F G b r have αὐτοῦ for τοῦ θεοῦ, probably a stylistic correction.
c 33 vgms omit τῆς δόξης, evidently due to scribal error.
d Χριστοῦ is read by A B 33 Tertullian (Metzger lists also copsa armmss Marcion Tertullian Origen Ephraem Athanasius Chrysostom al); Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ is read by D F G 0246 630 1739* 1881 lat Ambrosiaster; Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ has stronger attestation, being read by p46 א C H K L P Ψ 0209 81 104 365 1175 1241 1505 1739c 2404 Majority Text t vgmss sy; Metzger and Wikgren have recorded their view that the short reading ἐν προσώπῳ Χριστοῦ (the expression occurs in 2:10) best explains the other variants; it has 'significant, though limited, support. Pious scribes could not resist adding Ἰησοῦ before or after Χριστοῦ; if Χριστοῦ had been present in the text originally, no good reason can account for its absence from such manuscripts as A B 33 1739* [sic]  as well as important versional and patristic witnesses '.  The argument is difficult to evaluate.
‘For (ὅτι) it was  God, who said ‘Let light shine forth in the darkness’, who shone in our hearts to enlighten us  with the knowledge  of the glory of God in the face  of Jesus Christ’.
|ὁ θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου||ὁ θεὸς ὁ εἰπών ἐκ σκότους φῶς λάμψει ὃς|
|The God of this age||It was the God who said, 'Let light shine in the darkness' who|
|ἐτύφλωσεν τὰ νοήματα τῶν ἀπίστων εἰς τὸ μὴ αὐγάσαι τὸν φωτισμὸν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου||ἔλαμψεν ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν πρὸς φωτισμὸν τῆς γνώσεως|
|blinded the minds of the unbelievers so that they were unable to see the light of the gospel||illuminated our hearts with the enlightenment of the knowledge|
|τῆς δόξης τοῦ Χριστοῦ ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ||τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν προσώπῳ [Ἰησοῦ] Χριστοῦ|
|of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.||of the glory of God in the πρόσωπον of Jesus Christ.|
 ἐγκακέω. The verb is rare; there is a full discussion in Baumert, Täglisch Sterben und Auferstehen 318-46. Baumert suggests the sense ‘resist something’, ‘be reluctant’, ‘be unwilling’; in 4:1, ‘rebel against a moral obligation’ (340). BDAG proposes the senses, ‘to lose one’s motivation in continuing a desirable pattern of conduct or activity’; ‘give up’. Nolland, Luke 9:21-18:34 867 states, ‘The verb expresses centrally the idea of coming to a point of failure, but may secondarily take on a coloring from the implied cause of such a failing: despair, weariness, etc.’ Cf. Spicq, Theological Lexicon 398-99.
 Literally, ‘not walking in trickery’; BDAG s.v. πανουργία 2aδ. The participle περιπατοῦντες (‘walking’), together with the following participles δολοῦντες and συνιστάνοντες, is dependent upon the main verb ἀπειπάμεθα. For ἐν + dat. encoding manner see BDF §198(5).
 The NLT nicely captures Paul’s rejection of these charges: ‘We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don't try to trick anyone or distort the word of God.’
 Resuming ἐν τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις.
 Supplying αὐτοὺς from the preceding ἀπίστων, and taking τὸν φωτισμὸν as the object of the infinitive αὐγάσαι.
 BDAG s.v. αὐγάζω 1. Some take αὐγάσαι to be intransitive, with the sense ‘shine forth’ (BDAG s.v. 2); so NEB, REB, ‘dawn upon’. But this would require the addition of the indirect object αὐτοῖς (as in the Majority Text and some versions); see Thrall, Second epistle to the Corinthians I 311-2.
 For σοφία λόγου as both the content of clever speech and the rhetorical skill with which it is delivered, see Pogoloff, Logos and Sophia 108-13; Thiselton, First Epistle to the Corinthians 143-45; Heil, Rhetorical Role of Scripture in 1 Corinthians 27.
 For Paul’s understanding of personal election, and reprobation, see Rom 9:1-23.
 Scott, 2 Corinthians 85. However, Scott also cites texts such as Mart. Isa. 2:4, ‘And Manasseh turned aside his heart to serve Beliar; for the angel of lawlessness, who is the ruler of this world, is Beliar’, which support the consensus view that the reference is to Satan. Thrall, Second epistle to the Corinthians I 307, points out that in Jewish and Christian thought, God is the God of all ages; however, the phrase τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου occurs four times in 1 Corinthians (1:20; 2:6 [twice]; 2:8), in each instance in a contrast of the gospel / the wisdom of God with worldly wisdom (cf. also 3:18, τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ), and in the present polemical context such a modification of the traditional phrase ὁ θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος seems perfectly natural.
 Rensberger rightly comments, ‘Those who reject the Gospel of Christ and the Apostle of Christ belong in the category of "unbelievers" whether nominally Christians or not’; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 - A Fresh Examination, Studia Biblica et Theologica 8 (1978) 25-49, 30.
 Cf. Rom 5:12-21; 1 Cor 15:22.
 Jackson, New Creation in Paul's Letters 156. Dunn is also worth quoting (Romans 1-8 483-4): 'Christ is the image of God which Adam was intended to be, the Son as the pattern of God's finished product ... The more accurate formulation would be that Christ was conformed to the image of sinful flesh (see on 8:3); salvation consists in being conformed to the image of the risen Christ'.
 The title κύριος implied transcendency, and was claimed also by the deified Emperor Claudius; Paul’s proclamation was therefore a direct challenge to the Imperial Cult.
 Rom 1:1; 1 Cor 4:1, 7:22; Gal 1:10; Phil 1:1.
 Furnish provides the following helpful note (II Corinthians 250): ‘In Paul’s view, those whom Christ has “set free” are free to “be slaves of one another” through love (Gal. 5:1, 13-14). This is the kind of “slavery” about which he writes in v. 5. It is the kind of apostolic service he will later describe as “spending and being expended” for the Corinthians (12:15 …). It is the opposite of that tyrannizing of their faith he has disclaimed in 1:24. It is in fact the opposite of what he will later accuse the false apostles of doing - turning the Corinthians into their slaves by exploiting them for their own self-serving goals.’
 Supplying the copula.
 BDAG s.v. πρόσωπον 1a.
 Cf. 4:4, in which Paul has in his sights his Jewish opponents, though what he says is true of unbelievers in general.
 For a helpful discussion of the metaphors φωτισμὸν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τῆς δόξης τοῦ Χριστοῦ and φωτισμὸν τῆς γνώσεως τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ, see Heiny, S. B., 2 Corinthians 2:14-4:6: The Motive for Metaphor; SBLSP 26 (1987) 1-21, 10-12.
 Newman argues persuasively, against Segal, Paul the Convert 34-38, that Paul's understanding of his conversion vision of the risen Jesus as the enthroned Kavod was not mediated to him by the Christian community that he subsequently joined, but was revealed to him directly by God (Newman, Paul's Glory-Christology 180-82; cf. Gal 1:12).