12 The Reality of, Reason for and Response to Treasures in Jars of Clay

2 Corinthians 4v7-10

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. (ESV)

Consider the following regarding the Treasures in Jars of Clay:

  1. The Reality of it (v7)
    a) Believers have an eternal treasure in jars of clay.
    The entire world is groaning because of mankind’s fall into sin. In 2 Cor. 4v1 to 6v13 Paul speaks of his encouragement in ministry despite the difficulties he faced. Paul explains why he did not lose hope in chapter 4: the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The jars of clay resemble human bodies, where the Gospel is contained in fragile human vessels. Paul encourages us to recognize the transcendent power of God.
    b) The wealth of our Father.
    We have this treasure where we emphasize “have”. There are no things we first need to correct or amends we need to make before we receive this treasure. We have this treasure freely and fully. The treasure is the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. This treasure is the profound revelation of God’s glory, revealed in Jesus Christ illuminating hearts and minds which passes all human understanding. Jars of clay point to the frailty and inadequacy of our human bodies. There is a contrast between the frailty of the flesh and the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
    c) Weakness of our flesh.
    Jars of clay show the surpassing power of God relative to our frailty and the weakness of our flesh (see Rom. 7v8, Rom. 8v3, Gal. 5v16-17). God gave this priceless treasure of the Gospel to the fallen (the jars of clay) and in this we have the wealth of our heavenly Father.

  2. The Reason for it
    a) To show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
    b) To Display God’s power.
    c) Declare our powerlessness.
    d) This is a profound metaphorical description capturing the paradoxical nature of mankind: brilliance intertwined with human frailty (See 1 Cor. 1v25).

  3. The Response to it
    a) Fullness of our affliction. 
    We are afflicted in every way. To be afflicted is to suffer, to get things wrong. Affliction means to dash against or strike down. It is associated with physical and emotional suffering. Affliction is portrayed as a universal experience intertwined with the human condition. But we know God is sovereign and affliction is not arbitrary, but part of God’s providential plan for our lives (see Rom. 8v28). God works in all afflictions for the good of those who love Him. We should rejoice in our sufferings as a means of spiritual growth and drawing closer to God. We must see it through the lens of faith even amidst hardship.
    b) Fortitude in affliction.
    We are not crushed! We are not driven to despair (despite being perplexed), not forsaken (despite persecution) and not destroyed (despite being struck down). There is a transformative power of God’s grace (see 2 Cor. 12). God’s power is made perfect in weakness! Paul said: “For when I am weak then I am strong.” The power belongs to God.
    c) Faithful in affliction.
    Always carrying in the body the death of Jesus. It is the believer’s identification with Christ’s death.
    d) Fruit of affliction.
    Notice the “so that” – “so that the life of Jesus will be manifested in our bodies” (also see Phil. 2v12-18).