Continuing our look at the pastoral perspective of these first five chapters of 2 Corinthians. as we go quickly through chapter 4, we see the apostle citing again the mercy of God as the reason for not losing hope, which would be a direct reference to what we were told in chapter 1 of this epistle, as well as similar statements in our current chapter.
Paul appeals to the conscience of the Corinthians by stating his doctrine is not by using the word of God in deception, trying to change that which God has revealed, and includes his companions’ pastoral endeavors in this appeal, again citing that such commendation is “in the sight of God.” (v. 2). Then, no doubt in consideration of those who denied that the apostle was, indeed, an apostle of Christ (and, by extension, the other apostles of Christ, as well as those who joined him in his ministerial endeavors were, indeed, God gifted evangelists and elders – 2 Corinthians 11:12-14), Paul speaks of those to whom his gospel is hidden, and how it is the god  of this world that has so hidden it from such false believers and false workers (vv. 3-4). This is followed again by the fact that they are proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ as His servants, and that God has shone the light of this gospel into the formerly darkened hearts of Paul and his companions (and, by extension, to all who are saved by His grace, such as the Corinthians reading this epistle, and future generations of believers, such as ourselves) to give the darkness dispelling light of His glorious knowledge in the face (person) of Jesus Christ.
Going back to the reason that he and his companions in ministry can offer such consolation and support to those whom they minister unto, and whom he is writing too, Paul again refers to the weakness of the vessels in contradistinction to the surpassing power of God who works in and through them for the benefit of those they are ministering too (v. 7); then, the apostle recites a truly amazing litany of trials, harkening back to the first chapter (vv. 8-9; cf. chapter 1, vv. 1-10), and looking ahead to more experiences of such hardships he will share with them (11:23-29), ending with the fact that these trials and sufferings are endured to show the death of Christ working in Paul and his companions, for the sake of the life of Christ being subsequently seen in them, and consequently ministered to the Corinthian Christians reading this epistle (vv. 11-12).
Regarding the next v. (v. 13), the study notes from the Geneva Study Bible of 1599 are informative and enlightening: “He declares the former sentence, showing that he and his associates die in a way to purchase life for others, but yet nonetheless they are partakers of the same life with them: because they themselves do first believe that which they offer to others to believe, that is, that they also will be saved together with them in Christ,” after which he speaks of the surety of he and his companions being resurrected from their infirm bodies to that glorified state our Lord attained as the firstborn of the New Creation (Colossians 1:15, 18), and which our God has promised us all on that great Day of the Lord (v. 14). These statements are illustrative of the life a believer is to consider, in keeping with their great Redeemer’s example, and that of the faithful men who have followed Him throughout the history of the church (Acts 14:22; 20:22ff; 2 Peter 1:13-14; Philippians 1:29); it is even more incumbent that those who are the undershepherds of the flock follow this example, by the same power of God each believer has been given, and that is what we see, not only in the book of Acts, but in various of the epistles where the apostles recount that which they were told they would suffer by our Lord, and what trails and testings they go through in order to deliver that means of grace which is the doctrine and Spirit empowered example all members of the body need. Life that looks upward cannot hold this present life more dear than the call of the Lord (vv. 17-18; Colossians 3:1-4), and this is the manner in which we are taught by those gifted men God has graced His church with, as in these examples just cited, as well as the example we have seen continuing in our quick traversing the first four and two-thirds chapters of 2 Corinthians to get to the text we began at. The end result will be to be with the Lord, together with the faithful apostles, those who ministered with them, and all the faithful throughout redemptive history (v. 14); indeed, as Christ gave the example and gives the power through His Spirit to these faithful ministers, so we have a further, and continuing example of our great hope, and as they do not lose heart and persevere, so are we to do ( vv. 15-16), until we end at that glorious destination only the grace of God in Christ Jesus gains us, all the while keeping us in the journey.
There is some discussion among orthodox theologians as to the phrase, “the god of this world.” Some take it to intend our great God (ὁ Θεος), in this passage, as it is said elsewhere that God has “given them over to uncleanness…vile affections…” and “sends them a strong delusion,” (Romans 1:24, 26; 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12). Regardless of the view one takes here, God is proven sovereign over the designs of Satan, and the meaning of the passage remains intact.