Question:

Who is the god of this world in II Corinthians 4:4? I thought is was Satan, but I was told that it was referring to Christ and was given Isaiah 6:8-13, Matthew 13:12-17 and Acts 28:25-28 as validation for that interpretation. If you could explain in a lay term why those are being taken out of content and wrongly applied and why Matthew 4:8-9; and I John 5:19 are correct, it would help our class.


Answer:

"Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake. 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" (II Corinthians 4:1-6).

Because the apostles and other preachers have been assigned the duty of delivering this glorious message (II Corinthians 3:6, 8-11), they do not become discouraged when that message is rejected. The privilege of delivering this message was see as mercy from God (I Timothy 1:11-13; I Corinthians 7:25). God has often called upon his prophets to deliver His message with courage (Jeremiah 1:8,17-19; Ezekiel 2:6).

In delivering this message, the apostles, prophets, and preachers do not use trickery or subtlety. They are not out to trick people into becoming believers (II Corinthians 2:17; Romans 1:16; I Thessalonians 2:3-5). Appealing to each person’s conscience that part of us that distinguishes right from wrong they teach the truth while God watches on (John 8:9).

While the gospel is glorious and appealing, it does not mean that all who hear it will listen (Romans 10:16; I Corinthians 1:18). Those who are perishing will not be able to see its glory (John 1:5; 9:39; 12:40; Romans 11:7). The fault isn’t in the message but in the hearer (John 3:19-21; I Corinthians 1:21-23; II Thessalonians 2:10-12). Satan keeps people from seeing who Jesus really is (John 1:18; 14:9; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3). Contrast this to what Paul said about Christians "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18).

The Greek word aion means an indefinite period of time or an age. We get our English word "eon" from this word. It can also refer to the world and its course. "In this sense aion parallels kosmos. Whereas kosmos connotes the world in terms of space, aion designates the world in terms of of time." [The Complete Biblical Library]. "If one looks at the texts of the New Testament where aion occurs in this way, one will meet the characteristic features of the world or age represented by aion. Note that this depicts a world which is driven forward by the prince of the powers of the air (Ephesians 2:2), the god of this age (II Corinthians 4:4); and spiritual forces are called the powers of this dark world (Ephesians 6:12; cf. I Corinthians 2:6,8; and see II Peter 2:17; Jude 13)." [The Complete Biblical Library].

In each of these passages the Greek word aion is being used:

"However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (I Corinthians 2:6-8).

"whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them" (II Corinthians 4:4).

"in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2).

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).

"Rulers of this age," "god of this age," and "prince of the power of the air" all refer to Satan and his angelic followers.

If "god of this age" referred to Christ, then the conclusion is that it is Christ who is keeping people from listening to the very message he sent to save the world (Matthew 28:18-20). This is a belief espoused by Calvinism, which claims that God is so Sovereign that He alone determines who will be saved and who will be lost. Thus, in Calvinism a person cannot respond to the gospel unless God first allows him to understand and accept it.

The reference to Isaiah 6:8-13 and those passages which quote it, only further confirms that people will reject the truth.

"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." And He said, "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.' Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed." Then I said, "Lord, how long?" And He answered: "Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, the houses are without a man, the land is utterly desolate, the LORD has removed men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. But yet a tenth will be in it, and will return and be for consuming, as a terebinth tree or as an oak, whose stump remains when it is cut down. So the holy seed shall be its stump"" (Isaiah 6:8-13).

God sent Isaiah to preach a message that God knew would be rejected. The harder it was pushed, the harder the people pushed it away. What is being ignored is why. God did this to demonstrate His justness is destroying the people. The point is that wicked people have no love for the truth. They are willing to be deceived and God allows the deception because they had already made a choice. "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (II Thessalonians 2:9-12). God isn't going to change the truth just to make it acceptable to the wicked. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (II Timothy 4:3-4).

The preaching of the gospel is not about the preachers but about the Christ. The preachers are merely the Lord’s slaves for the sake of Christians (I Corinthians 9:19). Thus, the blindness of those who reject the gospel is not the fault of those teaching the message.

Those who preach the gospel are following the command of God. The source of their teaching is God and not man (Galatians 1:10; II Timothy 3:16-17). “The God who commanded light to shine out of darkness” is an allusion back to the creation (Genesis 1:3), which Paul uses as an illustration of how the gospel shines out at the command of God into a dark world (I Peter 2:9; II Peter 1:19). Jesus is the light this dark world of sin needs (John 8:12).