Therefore, since God in His mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.2 Corinthians 4:1-2
Clearly Paul links this section with the discussion related to the New Covenant in 3:6-12. The new way he is talking about is the New Covenant as opposed to the Old Covenant. For all the reasons related to the benefits of the New over the Old and God’s grace that flows to us from the New Covenant, we will not give up. Paul also picks up on the issues of those who adulterate the word of God, something that he commented on in 2:17, the hucksters who were peddling the Word and twisting it to suit their own agendas. Paul says also we don’t use underhand methods, everything we do it is up front and transparent. You know we are telling you the truth because you know us and our stand to tell the truth about God and for His name’s sake.
Paul does include an interesting word in verse two that is translated variously – disgraceful ways, hidden things of shame or concealments of dishonor. This is referring to things scandalous, abominations of carnal practices, things that are too shameful to mention. It does seem as though Paul has gone back to the issue of incest among the Corinthians. The word he uses is a strong word of disgrace and shame.
Eugene Peterson has an interesting translation in the Message version: – We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God. (MSG)
Essentially Paul is contrasting their ministry with that of the super apostles but of course it goes so much wider than that. It is almost a universal statement for any ministry of the gospel anywhere. I like Eugene’s Peterson’s translation for two reasons. It is a very modern colloquial way of putting it which of course a dynamic free translation will do. Secondly Peterson captures the theme behind this section of 2 Corinthians relating to letters in envelopes, things veiled and covered etc with his use of masks. His twisting and manoeuvre and manipulate express well the sense that Paul is driving at with those who play with the Word of God to suit their own purposes.
I know there are all sorts of reactions to Eugene Peterson’s translation out there. I have encountered them expressed to my face in meetings I have taken. I will say however, while it is in the category of a free translation I am surprised how Eugene Peterson many times captures the nuances of the original languages. He has not made a paraphrase of the English (as Kenneth Taylor did with the Living Bible); he has used the original languages to make his translation. It is a very good reading Bible. It speaks to the heart of 21st Century in the language of their heart.
Knowledge is of two kinds: we know a subject ourselves or we know where to find information on it.Samuel Johnson
The new birth unites the want-to with the ought-to at the root. But they do not become one tree until heaven.John Piper