Skip to main content

Weakly Stored Treasures: 2 Corinthians 4

In Summary:
What is it that keeps us going? What drives the Christian to keep at the work in front of them? After all, there are times it just does not go well. Of course, those of us peacefully reading this on our home computers probably haven’t had it go as bad as Paul did at various times.

Yet he speaks in 2 Corinthians 4:1 of not losing heart—because of the ministry he had been given. His opportunities to bring other people to Jesus kept him going in the work. Specifically, he cites the fruit of his work among the Corinthians and the methods he used there. His preaching and ministry was done clearly, without compromise. 

He then expresses just how challenging the ministry can be: struck down, afflicted, persecuted. But these are not final or fatal for the work. And it is the work of spreading the Gospel that Paul speaks of here, and that he commends to the Corinthians. This is the purpose of his ministry, and of what the Corinthians should be celebrating and focusing on: the treasure of the Gospel. 

That it is found in an earthen vessel, v. 7, does not negate the value of the treasure. Rather, it highlights the treasure over the container.

In Focus:
If we take 2 Corinthians 4:5 as our focus, let’s look at what Paul is saying. First of all, as the bringer of the Gospel to Corinth, Paul had a right to be considered highly by the Corinthians. The traditions of the time entitled him to claim superiority as their teacher and leader, but instead he speaks of himself as a bond-servant, or slave, of the people. The Gospel reverses our priorities, from ourselves on to others.

Second, we see Paul exalt Jesus over himself. He is not interested in the Corinthians praising him, but only in praising Christ. There is no room in Paul’s life for two masters, and he wants no room in the Corinthians’ life for 2 masters, either. Paul only reminds them of who he is, and what he should mean to them, for the purpose of pointing them more plainly to Jesus.

In Practice:
Today, I need this in practice: I am not the Lord of the Church. Jesus is. My responsibility and joy is to proclaim Him as the Master, and to remember that I am here to serve His Church, His work. Not my own.

On that vein, the church exists to serve one another for the same purpose. And the treasure we have of the Gospel should be focused on exalting Jesus before the lost. If you look at the rest of the chapter, there is much to be said about light shining in darkness and dealing with those who are blinded to the truth. 

And the purpose is for us to proclaim the truth, to light the way for them. The earthen vessels that store such a treasure as the Gospel, weak though these vessels are, should be used only for that high purpose.

In Nerdiness:
This chapter gives us music! The band Jars of Clay got their name here, and then the chorus of “Trading My Sorrows” comes from here as well.


Notice also how Paul contrasts verbs in vv. 8-9, where he uses softer terms for what has happened to him, and then the harsher terms for what could have happened. 
x

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Curiosity and the Faithlife Study Bible

Good morning! Today I want to take a look at the NIV Faithlife Study Bible. Rather than spend the whole post on this particular Study Bible, I’m going to hit a couple of highlights and then draw you through a few questions that I think this format helps with.



First, the basics of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible (NIVFSB, please): the translation is the 2011 New International Version from Biblica. I’m not the biggest fan of that translation, but that’s for another day. It is a translation rather than a paraphrase, which is important for studying the Bible. Next, the NIVFSB is printed in color. Why does that matter? This version developed with Logos Bible Software’s technology and much of the “study” matter is transitioning from screen to typeface. The graphics, maps, timelines, and more work best with color. Finally, you’ve got the typical “below-the-line” running notes on the text. Most of these are explanations of context or highlights of parallels, drawing out the facts that we miss by …

Foolishness: 1 Corinthians 1

In Summary: 1 Corinthians opens with the standard greeting of a letter from the Apostle Paul. He tells who he is with (Sosthenes) and who he is writing to. In this case, that is the “church of God that is in Corinth.” He further specifies that this church is made up of those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints. 
He then expresses the blessing/greeting of “grace and peace” from God. From there, Paul reflects on his initial involvement with the Corinthian people and the beginning of the church. After that, though, there are problems to deal with and Paul is not hesitant to address them. He begins by addressing the division within the church. Apparently, the church had split into factions, some of which were drawn to various personalities who had led the church in times past. There is no firm evidence, or even a suggestion, that Paul, Cephas, Apollos, or anyone else had asked for a faction in their name. Further, the “I follow Christ” faction may not have been any le…