More Information
ISBN: 9781839738784
Imprint: Langham Academic
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 17
Publication Date: 14/06/2024
Pages: 320
Series: Studies in New Testament
Language: English

Who Is “the God of This Age”?

Paul and the Sovereignty of God in 2 Corinthians 4:4


How we interpret “the god of this age” in 2 Corinthians 4:4 has significant implications for Bible translations, our doctrines of God and Satan, and missiology. Is this about God or Satan?

Dr. Ivor Poobalan illuminates this unique Pauline phrase through his comprehensive examination of the history of interpretation and careful exegesis rooted in the historical and literary contexts. Entering into centuries of debate, this work challenges the two major pillars for the “Satan argument” – Apocalypticism and ancient Jewish views of Satan – to highlight the inconsistencies that make these foundations untenable. This insightful work brings a fresh voice that returns readers to an interpretation that “the god of this age” is the sovereign God responding to Jewish unbelief. For biblical scholars, translators, theologians, and pastors, Who Is “the God of This Age”? makes accessible previously difficult sources and opens up the implications of this interpretation.

Author Bios

Ivor Poobalan

IVOR POOBALAN has a PhD in religious studies from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and has served as the principal of Colombo Theological Seminary, Sri Lanka, since 1998. He has been working in Christian ministry and leadership for over thirty years, and is currently the co-chair of the theology working group of the Lausanne movement, as well as the chairman of Global Impact, a missionary-sending agency in Sri Lanka.


Dr. Poobalan’s masterful work tackles a narrow, but theologically crucial, exegetical question with an uncommon breadth of learning. The study reflects a commitment to the notion that the exegete has not finished until the text has been situated within the mission and life of the church. This is biblical interpretation as it should be: exegetically careful, theologically rich, and deeply conversant with the communion of the saints.

Steven M. Bryan, PhD
Professor of New Testament,
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Illinois, USA

In this thoroughly researched study, Ivor Poobalan contends humbly, yet convincingly, for an interpretation of “the god of this age” in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that virtually no one has considered since the fifteenth century. I am profoundly grateful to Dr. Poobalan for his exemplary and careful study that will inspire the next generation of biblical scholars here in Asia.

Steven S. H. Chang, PhD
Professor of New Testament,
Torch Trinity Graduate University, South Korea

Dr. Poobalan has written a significant study on an important passage in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian believers. He argues that “the God of this age” who, according to Paul, has “blinded the minds of the unbelievers” is not Satan, as is commonly assumed, but the God of Israel who hardens the minds of unbelievers, in particular Jews who resist the gospel, as argued by the early church fathers. This volume is highly recommended.

Eckhard J. Schnabel, PhD
Mary F. Rockefeller Distinguished Professor of New Testament Studies,
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Massachusetts, USA

Dr. Poobalan boldly reopens the question of whom exactly Paul has in mind when he speaks of “the god/God of this age” blinding the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor 4:4). This is a rich and wide-ranging study and will not be ignored by any responsible commentator on 2 Corinthians henceforth.

David A. deSilva, PhD
Trustees’ Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek,
Ashland Theological Seminary, Ohio, USA

It is a joy for a student of the Bible to find fresh light shed on what seemed to be an age-old consensus, opening up a new way to understand the text. In Who is “the God of This Age”?, Ivor Poobalan challenges the widespread modern view that the phrase “the God/god of this age” in 2 Corinthians 4:4 refers to Satan. No future discussion of 2 Corinthians will be complete without engaging this work. I highly recommend it.

Kazuhiko Yamazaki-Ransom, PhD
Academic Dean,
Covenant Seminary, Tokyo, Japan

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgements
  2. Abbreviations
  3. Abstract Who is “The God of this Age” in 2 Corinthians 4:4?
  4. Chapter 1 Introduction
  5. Chapter 2 The History of the Interpretation of 2 Corinthians 4:4
  6. Chapter 3 Apocalypticism and Temporal Dualism in Pauline Thought
  7. Chapter 4 How the Concept of Satan Developed: From Jewish Antiquity to the Apostle Paul
  8. Chapter 5 Historical and Literary Background to 2 Corinthians
  9. Chapter 6 A Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation of 2 Corinthians 4:1–6
  10. Chapter 7 The God of This Age: Conclusions
  11. Appendix 1 Theophylact (Translated by Fr. Aloysius Pieris s.j.)
  12. Appendix 2 Erasmus, Annotations to the New Testament (Translated by Fr. Aloysius Pieris, s.j.)
  13. Appendix 3 Nicholas Hemmingio (Translated by Fr. Aloysius Pieris, s.j.)
  14. Appendix 4 Zorell, F. “Deus huius saeculi (2 Cor 4.4).” Verbum Domini 8. Rome: Pontifico Institutio Biblico, 1928:54–57 (Translated by Fr. Aloysius Pieris s.j.)
  15. Bibliography