This Treasure

2Corinthians 4:7-10 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 

‘This treasure’ is the light of the knowledge (4:6) of the gospel that God has shined into our hearts to give us life.

‘Earthen vessels’ [Greek: ostrakinos] here and in 2Timothy 2:20. Often in the East treasures are hidden in earthen vessels to protect them from moisture (cp. Jer. 32:14). Here it refers to the power of the Holy Spirit through the light of the gospel in our bodies. The emphasis is on the contrast between a frail vessel of earth and the priceless treasure of power that dwells in it.

‘We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair.’ Four pairs of expressions of sufferings: Hard pressed, but not suffocated. Puzzled, but not utterly baffled. Pursued, but not caught or outrun. Struck down, but not out of the fight.

The first two refer to wrestling; the third to a race; and the fourth to a boxing match (4:8-9).

‘Bearing about in the body’ [Greek: periphero] to carry about with one; to whirl (4:10; Mark 6:55; Eph. 4:14; Heb. 13:9; Jude 1:12). I am under a sentence of death for Jesus and am likely to die at any time for His cause (4:11). There is also an allusion to the marks of battle already fought for Christ (Gal. 6:17).

‘Dying’ [Greek: nekrosis] making dead; a dead condition (4:10; Rom. 4:19). The idea is that of being in a state of crucifixion for Jesus (Gal. 2:20) so that the resurrection life of Jesus might be made manifest or visible in our body and so that the miracles we do might prove the resurrection of Jesus Christ (4:10-12).

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