“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.” (II Corinthians 4:3)
I have to wonder, beloved reader, if the gospel is veiled because the hearer is perishing. Or if the veiled gospel has caused the hearer to perish. What I mean is – did the perishing cause the gospel to be veiled? Or did the veiled gospel cause the person to perish? Cause or result? Because if a person perishes because the gospel was kept from them, the keeper of the gospel has a lot to answer for! I am sure Paul would say the unveiled gospel was available to them, but they chose not to accept or hear it.
“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (Verse 4)
So the gospel is not veiled gospel because the hearer refused it; and the perishing is not because the hearer chose to perish. So un-belief is the result of the god of this world refusing to allow some to hear and believe? Does that mean the non-believers are not responsible for their perishing?
“For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light 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.” (Verses 5 – 6)
I admit challenging this passage on its surface premise. And being obtuse about the meaning and message that Paul was trying to give. He was, after all, speaking/writing to believers who had heard the unveiled gospel, and would not perish – unless they turned away from the gospel that was taught to them. And that might have been Paul’s intent, to keep them faithful to the word that was preached to them.
One of the themes of Transfiguration Sunday is that Jesus’ divinity, and his connection to the prophets and saints who preached the word, was unveiled for that small group of disciples that witnessed it. In other Lectionary years Transfiguration Sunday uses Moses’ face being veiled to hide the fact that seeing the Divine on the mountain changed Moses. Light and veiled are concepts that under gird the Transfiguration.
Do not be unduly troubled if the gospel is not clear and discernible at times, beloved reader. Paul assured his readers/listeners as I assure you – the Light that shines from the Divine reaches you and will inform, teach, guide, and direct you. Shalom & Selah!