Paul continues his statement concerning the glory of the gospel vs that of the diminishing Decalogue. His lament concerning the blind state of his hearers had to pain him somewhat, as he had formerly suffered from that same blindness.
In his own inspired irony, Paul’s spiritual blindness, (the veil over his heart, cf 2 Cor 3:14-15), was not removed until his physical blindness was manifested (Acts 9). But when he turned to the Lord, his blindness was taken away. In a matter of days, Paul went from persecuting Jesus to preaching Him, all the while using the same sacred text!
I have found this principle of obedient “enlightenment” true in other areas as well. For example, when professed believers come to a proper understanding of the Bible teaching on baptism, any other differences or “issues” (instrumental music, premillennialism, etc) take a back seat or altogether fall to the wayside.
The end of this chapter, and verses 16-18 particularly, form the transition and introduction to chapter 5. It is a beautiful text of Christian endurance and hope.
Paul first alluded to the renewal of the inward man at the end of chapter 3. Those who turn to the Lord “are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of our God” (v 18). No matter how the world may beat us down, the Lord continually renews us by His Spirit through the word.
Consider also Paul’s reference to “our light affliction” (v 17). What are these “light afflictions?” It would appear Paul here speaks of those things enumerated in verses 8-12: being hard-pressed (afflicted), perplexed (seemingly hopeless with no way out), persecuted (pursued for pain), struck down, and delivered unto death. These are Paul’s “light afflictions!” But how can this be so?
These things were considered in their proper perspective, not being easy but being temporal, especially in comparison to the eternal hope of glory awaiting the faithful, these things could be joyfully endured.
May we all lift our eyes from the temporal things that are seen and focus our eyes of faith on those eternal things which are unseen! In so doing our own inward man may be built up in every situation.