“Redound,” Not Abound

God’s use of the word “redound” in this verse is noteworthy, for not only is it the only time He uses it in His word, but it is also a highly meaningful word. Resident in its meaning is the issue of a thoughtful consequence to one’s action, rather than a random occurrence, and hence it takes into account God’s wisdom. However it also conveys the fact that the contemplated consequence was not designed to be the primary result of one’s action, but a secondary result. And so “redound” also takes into account God’s selfless love for us and real charity towards us, as He puts our needs first in His thinking and has designed for the effectual working of His word to actually benefit us first and then Him.

Unfortunately, “redound” is often mistakenly thought of as being synonymous with words such as “abound,” “overflow,” “teem,” and the like. Hence the tendency is to think that the issue in II Corinthians 4:15 is one of an abundant amount of glory to God. But such is not the meaning of “redound.”

“Redound” belongs to the class of words that denote consequence and/or effectual results, including the idea of certain things being the effective aids to achieving some result. Fundamentally it means to flow back; to flow back upon or come back upon. It therefore bears kinship to words such as “accrue,” “conduce,” “devolve,” “supervene,” and even “contribute.” However it is specifically discriminated from these terms in that it denotes a consequence (or flowing back upon) that was contemplated in advance by the one upon whom it comes, and that the consequence is actually a secondary result. There being a primary or previous consequence that needs to be recognized.

Therefore when something is said to “redound,” it indicates that the one upon whom it redounds had it in view as a consequence of his actions, but that it would be the secondary effect of his actions; the primary effect of his actions usually coming upon someone else.

And so it is with the “redounding” described in II Corinthians 4:15.

God, (in accordance not only with the genius of His wisdom, but also in accordance with His love for us and charity towards us), has designed for the abundant grace of “the excellency of the power” of His word to first of all work within us and result in our deep appreciation for it as it produces comfort and the like, and then secondarily for it to result in His glory as we thank Him for it. Hence, it “redounds” to His glory.

It is no wonder, therefore, that as the Apostle Paul teaches us to understand, appreciate, and operate upon the “excellency of the power” of God’s word like he did, that he not only extols its “excellency,” but he also rejoiced in his sufferings and did not disdain them. He knew especially that his thanksgiving for the effectual working of the power of God’s word within him redounded to the glory of God. May this be the way it is with us as well.

— K. R. Blades


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