Join us as we study through 2 Corinthians verse by verse. Our discussion questions, teaching points, and applications can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.

2 Corinthians 4:1-6 Inductive Bible Study Guide With Discussion Questions

Outline

I. Proclaim the word boldly and truthfully (1-2)
II. Satan actively tries to blind people to the gospel (3-4)
III. The light of Jesus can open people’s eyes to the truth (5-6)

I. Proclaim the word boldly and truthfully (1-2)

Discussion Questions

  • What ministry does Paul refer to in 2 Corinthians 4:1?
  • How does this passage connect with the previous passages we have studied?
  • Why do they not lose heart?
  • What type of “underhanded” or “disgraceful” ways might Paul be thinking of?
  • What are some disgraceful or underhanded things some “ministers” do?
  • How do some false teachers cunningly tamper with God’s word?
  • How should a true teacher of the Bible approach the Scriptures?

Cross-References

Galatians 6:9 – And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 – For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

2 Peter 2:1 – But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

2 Corinthians 2:17 – For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.

2 Timothy 2:15 – Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Teaching Points

1. This ministry – This ministry is what Paul has been talking about for the last two chapters. It is to be ministers of the New Covenant. And that is sharing the gospel and preaching Christ.

2. By the mercy of God – No one is saved by his own merits. Neither does anyone become a minister of God by his own skills, gifts, or knowledge. It is all by God’s mercy. He saves. He forgives. He calls. He empowers.

3 We do not lose heart – If a person relied on himself or his own skills to share the gospel it would follow then that failure or perceived failure would be his own fault. It would be easy to lose heart when things don’t go well, when people reject the gospel. But each person serves by God’s mercy. Every person is saved by God’s grace. He is strong when we are week. We can be sure of what Paul states in Philippians 1:6.

Philippians 1:6 – And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Knowing that can encourage and strengthen us in times of trouble.

The year 2020 was a difficult one for many doing ministry. Churches could not meet together in many regions for much of the year due to Covid-19. Bible studies were disbanded. Many people were displaced. Whole ministries and conferences and trainings were moved online. In some fields many opportunities seemed to be lost.

But we should not lose heart. God knows what He is doing. He saved us and called us to minister for Him. He will continue to build up His church. God has not and will not stop working. So neither should we.

4. Renouncing underhanded and disgraceful ways –

Reflect: What are some disgraceful things some preachers of the gospel do? Why do they they do these things?

Many false teachers are both underhanded and disgraceful. Some use fake miracles to generate excitement, build followers, and get donations. Others put on shows. Many practice righteousness before men like the Pharisees.

In history leaders of the church have done all kinds of evil things in the name of religion. Selling absolution for sins was a common practice in the Catholic church. Levying high taxes on church congregations for building luxurious buildings was also widely practiced. Still the Catholic church in Austria directly deducts a portion of its members income from their bank accounts.

Many church leaders try to appease popular culture and to be come relevant. The goal seems to be to keep people from leaving their churches due to unpopular or out of the mainstream views.

When the House of Representatives convened to open the 117th Congress they invited a Methodist minister. This is how he closed his prayer, “We ask it in the name of the monotheistic God, Brahma, and ‘god’ known by many names by many different faiths. Amen and awomen.”

This is certainly disgraceful. It was a cunning scheme to attempt to curry favor with a political party and a new generation. The list of disgraces by modern day pastors who attempt to compromise with the world is long. Many embrace evolution. They accept homosexuality and gay pastors. To do these kinds of things they have to tamper with God’s Word, engaging in all manner of linguistic limbo in attempt to twist the Bible to their own ends. Instead of respecting God’s Word they rip it to pieces. Picking some verses they ignore others. It is bent, distorted, misquoted, and mistranslated in the name of progress or inclusiveness. These things are done by most not by accident.

No, it is not done in ignorance. It is willful. It is an intentional misuse of the Scriptures to suit one’s own ends. What are those ends? Power. Money. These people subject the Bible to their own standards and thus set themselves up as the authority, almost as even gods themselves. And they do this because they are afraid of becoming irrelevant. They are afraid that their congregations will leave and they will be left without a job, without a salary, and without a following.

The ironic thing is that the more they twist God’s Word to try to stay relevant, the more irrelevant they actually become. Liberal churches are dying. Their congregations are aging. Why does this happen if they are trying to be relevant?

All they are offering is the world. And the world outside those churches is more fun than the world inside those churches. So why would people go there? There is no power though, only dead religion.

The only way to keep relevant is to stand on the truth, the unchanging word of God. Truth does not change. God’s words are spoken to all people at all times in all cultures. He is always relevant. His words still have the power to change lives.

Matthew 24:35 – Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Application: Like Paul, refuse to practice these underhanded and disgraceful tactics. Do not follow a crowd to evil. Speak the plain, clear truth of the Scriptures without apology.

5. By the open statement of the truth –

Reflect: What is our responsibility as ministers of the new covenant? What if people don’t want to listen or leave the church/Bible studies because we are too narrow minded or not tolerant/progressive enough?

Our responsibility is very simple. Clearly share the truth. We should explain the gospel message in simple terms without trying to make it easier for people to accept and without updating it for a new century. Our job is to faithfully and accurately divide the word of truth. We give an account or how we do this not to anyone in this world, but directly to God.

If a person rejects the message and says that you are are narrow minded, that is not a failure on your part. Jesus Himself is a rock of offense. The truth often offends people.

Take note that your attitude and style should not offend people. We should not pridefully look down on others. Neither should we hate or despise them as so many “Christian internet thugs” seem to do today. We simply share the Scriptures with love in our hearts, praying that God will use it to touch people’s hearts.

II. Satan actively tries to blind people to the gospel (3-4)

Discussion Questions

  • In what way was their gospel veiled?
  • Why do many people not understand or accept the gospel?
  • What type of methods might Satan use to try to blind people to the truth?
  • Knowing that Satan is actively trying to blind people, what should we do?

Cross-References

1 Peter 5:8 – Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

2 Corinthians 11:14 – And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

2 Corinthians 11:3 – But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

Matthew 13:19 – When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.

Ephesians 6:11 – Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Teaching Points

1. If our gospel is veiled it is veiled to those who are perishing – Some false teachers may have accused Paul of preaching an out of date or irrelevant message. Interestingly, it is the same thing which people may accuse faithful Bible preachers of today.

They might say, “your message is outdated and hard for modern young people to understand or accept.”

Paul’s answer is that there is nothing the matter with the message itself or of the messenger. The fault lies with the listeners who are on their way to hell and refuse to listen.

2. The god of this world has blinded their minds – So why do people refuse the truth?

When you look at the world today it is shocking what many people believe. One example from early 2021, Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the US House of Representatives) proposed a rule that would ban House members from using many traditional words including: father, mother, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, daughter, son, and many others. She said that these words are offensive to many people who do not identify with these antiquated ways of describing people’s gender and relationships.

These ideas are the height of folly. To believers, such things appear insane. How could a rational and thoughtful person ever think that the word “mother” should be banned or that it is reasonable to get offended if someone calls themself a “mother?”

This text has the simple answer. Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers. He is actively working to keep them from seeing or accepting the light from Jesus. And at the same time he is pushing his distorted and twisted version of reality and getting many people to buy in to it. It is a spiritual struggle. Demonic influences are real.

One way they use to keep people from accepting Jesus is to radicalize them with so that any mention of the traditional God-given values in the Bible is so offensive to them that they are unwilling to consider any God who espouses such ideas.

Jesus shared the parable of the sower and four different soils. One soil was the roadway. He described how the birds come and quickly eat the seeds that fall there before they can take root. The harder the path is the less likely it is that the seed could find any place to take root. So Satan keeps working to harden people’s hearts in every area.

It is a sinister plot hatched by the father of all lies to keep people out of God’s kingdom.

Reflect: If we know the spiritual struggle behind souls, how will that change our approach to sharing the gospel? Since people are blind to the truth, what recourse do we have? How can help the light pierce into the depth of their souls?

III. The light of Jesus can open people’s eyes to the truth (5-6)

Discussion Questions

  • How did God shine the light into your hearts? (Share your testimony of when you first saw the light.)
  • How has your perspective changed after seeing the light?
  • What have you learned in this passage about evangelism?

Cross-References

John 1:5 – The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 8:12 – Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

1 John 1:5 – This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

Ephesians 1:18 – Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints

Matthew 6:22 – “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.”

Teaching Points

1. Jesus is the only hope – Verses 5-6 show us the answers as to how the light can pierce those souls. The answer is not you. It is not in you. It is not about a new approach. It is not about being more convincing. It is not about adding another illustration to your presentation. Jesus is the only one who can open their eyes. You can’t.

On multiple occasions blind men came to Jesus. They asked for his healing. No doctor on earth had been able to heal them. But Jesus did. He opened their eyes and they saw the light. Jesus then told the crowds that He is “the light of the world.” Just as only Jesus could open their physical eyes, only Jesus could open their spiritual eyes.

Paul says, “we proclaim…not ourselves by Jesus Christ as Lord.” We are not getting followers for ourselves. We are encouraging people to follow Jesus. Only He has the power the open their eyes. One touch from Jesus and the blinding lies and deception of Satan will be removed, replaced by wonderful sight.

So when you share the gospel and people don’t listen the answer is not more of you, it is more of Jesus. Resistance should drive us to our knees and drive us to call out to God to remove those forces of darkness which cloud people’s minds, to drive away the mist and shine bright as day.

Application: Do you ever share the gospel without prayer? You should never share the gospel without prayer. Pray before you share. Pray in your heart while you share. And pray after you share.

2. God has shone in our hearts – Praise God that He has opened our eyes and shone His light in our hearts. Once our minds and hearts were darkened. We too were deceived by this world. We were blinded by greed, lust, love of pleasure, and desire for popularity. Like sheep, we followed the crowds around us to accept evil and to do evil. But after coming to Christ, He gives us the “light of knowledge.”

The lies of Satan are exposed. His deceptions lose their power. God grants us discernment to know the truth and to see through lies. Thank God for this, but also remember that as one who sees the light you have a responsibility to guide those who don’t.

Application: How can you build up your discernment even more? Knowing that God has shone the light into your hearts, what should you do? How can you testify of this to the people around you?

2 Corinthians 4:7-12

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