2 Corinthians 4:8
[We are] troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair;
Note 4 at 2Co 4:8: This word "troubled" was translated from the Greek word "THLIBO," and THLIBO means "to crowd" (Strong's Concordance). That Greek word, in turn, is a derivative of "TRIBOS." TRIBOS means "a rut or worn track" and comes from a word meaning "rub" (Strong's Concordance). In modern-day speech, we would say, "We are under pressure, or rubbed the wrong way, every day."
Note 5 at 2Co 4:8: 2Co 4:8-10 is often quoted as some sort of "stamp of approval" for the belief that God wants us to suffer. After all, look how the Apostle Paul spoke of the problems he had. That is not the point Paul was making. In 2Co 4:7, he had just spoken of the fact that we have this treasure of Christ (see note 1 at 2Co 4:7) in physical bodies that are subject to problems (see note 2 at 2Co 4:7), so that all the praise would go to God. Here, he was illustrating that point.
He did mention troubles and afflictions that he endured, but everyone is troubled, perplexed, persecuted, and cast down at times. He was not crediting God as the source of these troubles, and he was not saying that the Lord was working some redemptive purpose through these troubles. He was simply listing things that are common to us all and yet showing how God's power makes us more than conquerors in every situation. This illustrates perfectly how the credit for this glorious power goes to God and not to us (see note 3 at 2Co 4:7).
Note 6 at 2Co 4:8: Some people have taken the truth that we have complete victory in Christ to an extreme, and they will not even admit they have any problems. That's not Paul's example here. He said there were times he had trouble, but it didn't distress him. He was perplexed, but he didn't despair. He was persecuted but never forsaken, and he was cast down but never destroyed.
Admitting the frailty of our earthen vessels (bodies, see note 2 at 2Co 4:7) is not wrong if we go on to let the treasure we have on the inside (see note 1 at 2Co 4:7) supersede our physical limitations (see note 10 at Joh 11:14).
Note 7 at 2Co 4:8: The American Heritage Dictionary defines "distress" as "anxiety or mental suffering; severe strain resulting from exhaustion." Paul was saying that he was constantly under pressure, but those pressures didn't get on the inside of him. We cannot clear every problem out of our paths, but we can keep the problems on the outside.
Note 8 at 2Co 4:8: It was the Greek word "APOREO" that was translated "perplexed" in this verse. This word means "to have no way out, i.e. be at a loss (mentally)" (Strong's Concordance). Paul came into situations where it looked like there was no way out and he didn't know what to do (see note 10 at 2Co 1:8), but he knew he was never without help or means. His physical man didn't have the answers, but he wasn't just physical. He had Christ living in him, and he drew on the Lord's ability. That's what kept him out of despair. It wasn't because he had no problems. It's because he had a treasure on the inside of him, and he drew from that treasure by faith.
Likewise with us today, it is not our problems, or lack thereof, that should determine our emotions. We can utilize the treasure on the inside of us to overcome in every situation (Ro 8:37 and 1Co 15:57).
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