Four things stand out here to my mind:
- Spoken message (13): Speaking should be a consequence of believing. Look at the repeated therefore in this verse.It indicates cause and effect: if there is belief in the heart, there will also be confession with the lips (Romans 10:9, 10). If we believe it we will live it. Our beliefs will be reflected in our behaviour. (So, for example, if I believe it is going to rain today I will probably carry an umbrella or waterproof coat.) But they will also be expressed in speech. Out of the overflow of our hearts our mouths will speak. We’re not keeping this quiet, not on your life. Just like the psalmist who wrote, ”I believed it, so I said it,” we say what we believe. The Message.
- Future hope/glory (14, 17 and 18): We have this great belief, and why would we keep quiet about it? Our doctrinal understanding is that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. Wouldn’t you want to shout that from the rooftops? One day we are going to be with Christ, which is better by far (Phil.1:23). We are going to see Jesus face to face and be with Him forever. We will also be with all our brothers and sisters in God’s family. We’ll be united and re-united in that wonderful heavenly home. Such a conviction will not only be spoken out loud; it will also carry you through the toughest of times. It will give you a perspective, so that can see experiences such as those described in 4:8-12 as light and momentary troubles (17). You will recognise that there will be a reward coming that far outweighs all this trouble. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. The Message. You are enabled to understand that today is temporary, but we are moving towards an eternal tomorrow.
- Present worship (15): Paul could not only see that these sufferings would ‘achieve’ something in terms of eternal reward (17). He could also assert that they are productive now. Through the pain-filled ministries of Paul and the other apostles, more and more people were coming to experience God’s grace. As the gospel advanced triumphantly, all-be-it amid suffering, and the church grew, there was overflowing thankfulness given to God.
- Inner renewal (16): This is the second time in this chapter that we hear Paul saying: Therefore we do not lose heart (see 1). As we have already seen, Paul wasn’t thinking primarily about the outward wasting away that comes from age taking its toll. Admittedly that does happen. But Paul had in mind the constant battering from opponents of the gospel. How he suffered at the hands of antagonistic people (both Jews and Gentiles.) But whilst the wrecking ball was bashing him on the outside, an inner renovation was taking place every day. Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. The Message. The reality of this truth can encourage us all, so that we too, in our struggles, do not lose heart.