It is said that one picture is worth a thousand words. Likewise, a well-crafted, simple illustration can teach volumes of ideas. At 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul says that Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers. Mental pictures like this immediately get me running for my Greek dictionary. I am always curious if there is anything deeper that would help me appreciate what the Bible is saying. The Greek word used here is “tuphloo.” In explanation, Vine’s states: “to burn, smoke;… is used metaphorically, of the dulling of the intellect.” (This online interlinear rendition of the passage shows the word “etyphlōsen.” However, clicking on the word-number reference (5186) above the phrase “has blinded” helps the reader appreciate that the phonetic spelling agrees with what Vine states.)
Enough of a language lesson. The more important thing is understanding the point. When I first learned the scripture, I imagined that Satan blinds people like living in darkness – like stepping outside at night without any street lights, without a moon, in the middle of a dark forest. However, that is not what Paul meant by his use of the Greek word “tuphloo.” The image he is drawing is more akin to getting smoke in your eyes. Many people experience this when they are barbequing. Others living in grassy areas may have driven through smoke being blown onto the road from a summer’s grass fire. It is blinding, but in a different way. (The third type of blinding is a “blinding light.” That also is not the intent here as used by Paul.)
Just like smoke can irritate our eyes and obscure clear vision, Satan’s use of God-hating propaganda obscures and irritates spiritual vision. First Satan convinces people that God doesn’t care, then he introduces the idea that God doesn’t even exist. This thick smoke permeates our society today, not just in atheism and evolution, but also in the teachings of religions claiming to represent God but their teachings actually make no sense so people are repulsed.