2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.
This amazing except is by David Guzik
(of Blue Letter Bible Commentors); the entirety can be found
on this link from Precept Austin
IN JARS OF CLAY!
A Christian is like a tea bag—
not much good until it has gone through hot water!
M J Harris introduces these next 7 verses with the interesting comment that…
No person was ever more aware of the paradoxical nature of Christianity than Paul. And perhaps none of his Epistles contains more paradoxes than 2 Corinthians. With their numerous paradoxes, then, 2Co 4:7-12 are typical of this Epistle and of Paul’s style. 2Co 4:7 is the first paradox—the difference between the indescribable value of the gospel treasure and the apparent worthlessness of the gospel’s ministers (Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor’s Bible Commentary 6-Volume New Testament. Zondervan Publishing or computer version)
We have (echo) means to have or to possess. The present tense pictures this as their continual possession.
Alfred Plummer has an interesting observation on Paul’s repeated use of echo (to have, to possess)…
The Apostle again and again dwells upon the goodly possessions of the Christian, and especially of the Christian minister; confidence we have (2Co 3:4), having such hope (2Co 3:12), we have this ministry (2Co 4:1), we have this treasure (2Co 4:7), having the same spirit of faith (2Co 4:13), we have a building from God (2Co 5:1), possessing (having) all things (2Co 6:10), having these promises (2Co 7:1); and he often builds an argument upon these goodly possessions. (Ed: Every use of echo is in the present tense picturing the continuance, persistence and permanence of these possessions). (2 Corinthians 4:7 Commentary)
What is the “treasure”? In one of the most beautiful passages in all of Paul’s letters he has just explained that the treasure is the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2Co 4:6-note) (See John Piper’s wonderful summation = Chapter 4: God Is The Gospel – The Glory of Christ, the Image of God – goto page 54 in pdf) In a word the treasure is the creational, transforming power of the Gospel placed into followers of Christ pictured as lowly, even contemptible (as judged by what the world values) “jars of clay”. As discussed more below, this paradoxical association of human weakness with divine power, makes it abundantly clear from Whom the power originates and Who is to receive the glory for the display of that power! As the psalmist aptly stated centuries prior…
Not to us, O LORD, not to us,
but to Thy Name give glory
because of Thy lovingkindness,
because of Thy truth.
“Let him who boasts (glories),
boast (glory) in the Lord.”
(1 Co 1:31)