6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
It is not the skill of the person delivering the gospel message that wins people to Christ (2 Co 4:5). No, it is God’s responsibility to shed light on the lost.
The “for” here gives the reasons for placing the emphasis on the gospel team’s ministry in verse 5: (1) Paul preached Christ and (2) the reason why is that he was the servant of the Corinthian church. The servant orientation of Paul’s team did not come from themselves but from what God did through them (2 Co 4:5).
it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness,
The source of the Christian message is God, who was the Creator of the universe. He brought natural light out of darkness by a command (Ge 1:3). The God of creation is the God of transformation. It is His light that shines in one’s salvation. Conversion is a new creation experience. This “light” dispels the darkness of the soul, ignorance about the realities of becoming a Christian.
God, who made the light to shine in creation, also makes the light of regeneration shine. God sovereignly planned re-creation as much as creation.
who [God] has shone in our hearts
The same Creator of the universe shone the light of His glory in the hearts of Paul’s team. God unmistakably worked in the hearts of the gospel team by fundamentally changing them.
to give the light [illumination]
The gospel team propagated the gospel to the lost. They gave the light of the gospel in Christ. The light is more than mental enlightenment; it is an act of regeneration. The “light” is the essence of knowing something particular—“the knowledge of the glory of God.” Christians are beacons of light in the world of cosmic spiritual darkness; they are not the Light. The medium of Light is the believer. The light within of necessity must shine out. People cannot give what they do not have.
of the knowledge
God gave light by command at creation, but at regeneration, at the point of salvation, He illuminates Himself in Christ. The “light” is the knowledge of salvation. The more we know about God’s glory, the greater light and knowledge we have.
The glory of Christ and the glory of God both operate simultaneously in the hearts of the lost.
of the glory of God
Renegade culture ordered by Satan prevents those with negative volition from seeing the full impact of who and what God is—the wonder of God’s glory. Those who respond to His light will see His glory.
in the face of Jesus Christ.
God’s light displays the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ; that is, in the incarnation (Jn 1:18). The glory of salvation reflects itself in the face of Jesus Christ, a ministry that is Christ centered. Moses’ face was bright, but Jesus’ is brighter.
The reference to the “face” of Jesus may hark back to Paul’s earlier discussion about Moses covering his face to hide the departing glory of God. The idea here is that Jesus illuminates God’s glory. Christians can see the undimmed splendor of God in the countenance of the Lord. God becomes in Christ the object of the knowledge or discernment of His glory (Jn 1:18).
Christ is both the “image” of God and the Light of God—the Light reflected in the face of Christ.
To know Jesus is to understand the Father.
Sin hardens the heart (2 Co 3:14) and makes a person not open to God (2 Co 3:16). Satan utilizes this attitude in men to keep them in spiritual darkness (2 Co 4:4). God, however, supernaturally intervenes to cast the light of His truth upon men (Jn 8:12; 9:5). Salvation is the work of God, not men. This happened to Paul on the road to Damascus. Jesus revealed Himself as an overpowering light to Paul (Ac 9:1-9; 22:5-11; 26:12-18).
When one comes to grips with the greatness of the glory of Christ, it puts ministry in its proper place. A high view of Christ humbles the person who preaches Him. Who are we to speak of such a wonderful person?
Every Christian should inspect his or her motives for ministry. Proper motivation will withstand opposition and adversity. The highest motivation to please God does not preclude problems. Some will impugn our motives and obstruct our mission. We can take this to the bank. No one in ministry should be shocked by difficulties; it is par for the course and inevitable even within the church. Paul faced it, why should not we? Resistance will always attack great vision and goals.