2 Corinthians 4:7
Parallel Verses
New International Version
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

New Living Translation
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

English Standard Version
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

New American Standard Bible
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;

King James Bible
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us.

International Standard Version
But we have this treasure in clay jars to show that its extraordinary power comes from God and not from us.

NET Bible
But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
But we have this treasure in Earthen vessels, that the greatness of the power would be from God and not from us.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Our bodies are made of clay, yet we have the treasure of the Good News in them. This shows that the superior power of this treasure belongs to God and doesn't come from us.

Jubilee Bible 2000
But we have this treasure in clay vessels that the excellency of the virtue may be of God, and not of us.

King James 2000 Bible
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

American King James Version
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

American Standard Version
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves;

Douay-Rheims Bible
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of the power of God, and not of us.

Darby Bible Translation
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassingness of the power may be of God, and not from us:

English Revised Version
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves;

Webster's Bible Translation
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God, and not from us.

Weymouth New Testament
But we have this treasure in a fragile vase of clay, in order that the surpassing greatness of the power may be seen to belong to God, and not to originate in us.

World English Bible
But we have this treasure in clay vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves.

Young's Literal Translation
And we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us;
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

4:1-7 The best of men would faint, if they did not receive mercy from God. And that mercy which has helped us out, and helped us on, hitherto, we may rely upon to help us even to the end. The apostles had no base and wicked designs, covered with fair and specious pretences. They did not try to make their ministry serve a turn. Sincerity or uprightness will keep the favourable opinion of wise and good men. Christ by his gospel makes a glorious discovery to the minds of men. But the design of the devil is, to keep men in ignorance; and when he cannot keep the light of the gospel of Christ out of the world, he spares no pains to keep men from the gospel, or to set them against it. The rejection of the gospel is here traced to the wilful blindness and wickedness of the human heart. Self was not the matter or the end of the apostles' preaching; they preached Christ as Jesus, the Saviour and Deliverer, who saves to the uttermost all that come to God through him. Ministers are servants to the souls of men; they must avoid becoming servants to the humours or the lusts of men. It is pleasant to behold the sun in the firmament; but it is more pleasant and profitable for the gospel to shine in the heart. As light was the beginning of the first creation; so, in the new creation, the light of the Spirit is his first work upon the soul. The treasure of gospel light and grace is put into earthen vessels. The ministers of the gospel are subject to the same passions and weaknesses as other men. God could have sent angels to make known the glorious doctrine of the gospel, or could have sent the most admired sons of men to teach the nations, but he chose humbler, weaker vessels, that his power might be more glorified in upholding them, and in the blessed change wrought by their ministry.

Pulpit Commentary

Verses 7-15. - Glory of the ministry in the midst of its weakness and suffering. Verse 7. - In earthen vessels. The glorious light which we have to show to the world is, like Gideon's torches, carried in earthen pitchers. The word skenos, vessel, is used in Mark 11:16, and "vessels of earthenware" in Revelation 2:27. St. Paul, in Acts 9:15, is called "a vessel of election," whence Dante calls him lo vas d elezione. Man can never be more than an earthen vessel, being frail and humble, and the metaphor specially suits an apostle of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:3-5; 2 Timothy 2:20). But when he takes the Word of life from the earthen pitcher and waves it in the air, it illuminates all on whom the light shines. No commentator seems to have seen the probable allusion to Gideon's pitchers. It is the "light," of which he has been speaking exclusively in the last verses, which constitutes the "treasure." Those who suppose that the "treasure" is gold or silver or something else of value, refer to Jeremiah 32:14, and Herod., 3:103; Pers., 'Sat.,' 2:10. The excellency; literally, the excess or abundance. Of God, and not of us; rather, of God, and not from us.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

But we have, this treasure in earthen vessels,.... This is a further commendation of the Gospel; and by which the apostle removes an objection against it, taken from the cross and persecutions that attend it, and the outward meanness of the ministers of it. The Gospel is called a "treasure", for not grace, nor Christ, but the Gospel is here meant; which is so styled, because it contains rich truths, and an abundance of them; comparable to gold, silver, and precious stones, for the price of them, their antiquity, distance of place from whence they come, and their duration; because it has in it rich blessings, spiritual ones, the blessings of the new covenant, solid, substantial, and irreversible ones, and a fulness of them; and because it consists of exceeding great and precious promises, of more worth than thousands of gold and silver; free, absolute, and unconditional ones, which are yea and amen in Christ, and relate both to this, and the other world; and also because it exhibits and shows forth to us the riches of God and of Christ, of grace and of glory; which are unsearchable, substantial, satisfying, and durable: the repository, or cabinet, in which this treasure is, are "earthen vessels"; by which are meant, ministers of the word, who are so in themselves, in their own esteem, and in the esteem of others; probably the apostle might have in view Lamentations 3:2. The doctors and scholars among the Jews are compared hereunto;

"says R. Eleazar (p), to what is a disciple of a wise man like, in the esteem of a man of the world? at first he is like to a golden cup; when he has conversed with him, he is like to a silver cup; and when he has received any profit by him, he is like , "to an earthen cup", which, when broken, cannot be repaired again: the law (say they) is not confirmed but by him, who makes himself , "as an earthen vessel" (q): R. Joshua (r) was a great man in the king's palace, and he was deformed; wherefore Caesar's daughter said, wisdom is beautiful , "in an ugly vessel"; and he brought her a simile in proof of it from wine, which is not kept in a silver vessel.''

The allusion is either to the earth itself, in which treasure lies, or is hid, and out of which it is dug; or to pots and vessels made of earth, into which treasure has been used to be put; or to earthen pitchers, in which lights or lamps were formerly carried; see Judges 7:16 where Gideon's three hundred men, are said to have empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers; they carried lamps with them to give them light, it being night when they went into the camp of Midian; and those they put into pitchers, that the Midianites might not perceive them afar off, as a Jewish commentator well observes (s); in like manner the Gospel put into earthen vessels is a glorious light to some, whilst it is hidden to others: yea, even lamps themselves were no other than earthen vessels, in which light was put; for so says Maimonides (t), a lamp, a burning light, is , "an earthen vessel", like a reed; and on the top of it is a little ear, which joins to it; and when it is made, a piece of old cloth is put upon the burning oil, and it continues in it; also an earthen vessel is made, in which there is a hollow place for to set the light in, and in it is gathered all that flows from the oil out of the light; and it is strengthened about the head of the candlestick, that the brass might not be hurt by the oil; and this vessel is called the house in which the light subsides, or the receptacle of the light; and which receptacle, another of the Misnic commentators says (u), is an earthen vessel, made to put the light in; and the lamp, he also says, is like an earthen platter, sharp pointed below, &c. and this allusion well agrees with the context, in which the Gospel is represented as a glorious light, shining in darkness, 2 Corinthians 4:4. The Greek word the apostle uses, signifies also "shells of fishes"; and in like manner does Philo the Jew (w) compare the human body;

"I am (says he) very little concerned for this mortal body which is about me, and cleaves to me , "like the shell of a fish"; though it is hurt by everyone.''

And the reference may be to pearls, which are said to have been found in such shells, particularly in oysters; and is designed to express, either the frail mortal bodies of the ministers of the Gospel, comparable to brittle shells; or baked earth; or rather the outward mean despicable condition of the apostles, and preachers of the word; being men of no figure in the world, for birth, learning, or outward grandeur; and being attended with sinful infirmities also, as other men; and more especially as they were labouring under reproaches, afflictions, and persecutions, for the sake of the Gospel; see Jeremiah 32:14. The reason why it pleased God to put such a rich and valuable treasure into the hands of persons so mean and contemptible was,

that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us: that is, that it might appear that the making of such persons ministers of the word was not of themselves, was not owing to their natural abilities, or to any diligence and industry, and acquirements of their own, or to any instructions they had received from others, but to the grace of God, and the effectual working of his power; and that the success which attended their ministrations in the conversion of sinners, and building up of saints, could only be ascribed to the exceeding greatness of divine power; and that the supporting of them in their work, under all the persecutions raised against them, and opposition made unto them, could be attributed to nothing else; of which power, instances are given in the following verses.

(p) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 52. 2.((q) Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 4. 2.((r) Juchasin, fol. 33. 2.((s) Laniado in Judges 7, 16. (t) In Misn. Celim, c. 2. sect. 8. (u) Bartenora in ib. (w) De Joseph. p. 536.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

7. "Lest any should say, How then is it that we continue to enjoy such unspeakable glory in a mortal body? Paul replies, this very fact is one of the most marvellous proofs of God's power, that an earthen vessel could bear such splendor and keep such a treasure" [Chrysostom, Homilies, 8.496, A]. The treasure or "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God." The fragile "earthen vessel" is the body, the "outward man" (2Co 4:16; compare 2Co 4:10), liable to afflictions and death. So the light in Gideon's pitchers, the type (Jud 7:16-20, 22). The ancients often kept their treasures in jars or vessels of earthenware. "There are earthen vessels which yet may be clean; whereas a golden vessel may be filthy" [Bengel].

that the excellency of the power, &c.—that the power of the ministry (the Holy Spirit), in respect to its surpassing "excellency," exhibited in winning souls (1Co 2:4) and in sustaining us ministers, might be ascribed solely to God, we being weak as earthen vessels. God often allows the vessel to be chipped and broken, that the excellency of the treasure contained, and of the power which that treasure has, may be all His (2Co 4:10, 11; Joh 3:30).

may be of God … not of us—rather, as Greek, "may be God's (may be seen and be thankfully [2Co 4:15] acknowledged to belong to God), and not (to come) from us." The power not merely comes from God, but belongs to Him continually, and is to be ascribed to him.

2 Corinthians 4:7 Additional Commentaries
Context
Treasures in Jars of Clay
7But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 8we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;…
Cross References
Judges 7:2
The LORD said to Gideon, "You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, 'My own strength has saved me.'

Job 4:19
how much more those who live in houses of clay, whose foundations are in the dust, who are crushed more readily than a moth!

Job 10:9
Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again?

Job 33:6
I am the same as you in God's sight; I too am a piece of clay.

Lamentations 4:2
How the precious children of Zion, once worth their weight in gold, are now considered as pots of clay, the work of a potter's hands!

John 16:33
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

1 Corinthians 2:5
so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power.

2 Corinthians 5:1
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

1 Thessalonians 4:4
that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable,

2 Timothy 2:20
In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use.
Treasury of Scripture

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

this.

2 Corinthians 4:1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;

2 Corinthians 6:10 As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; …

Matthew 13:44,52 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like to treasure hid in a field; …

Ephesians 3:8 To me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given…

Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of …

Colossians 2:3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

in.

2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, …

2 Corinthians 10:10 For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily …

Judges 7:13,14,16-20 And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream …

Lamentations 4:2 The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they …

1 Corinthians 1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, has …

1 Corinthians 4:9-13 For I think that God has set forth us the apostles last, as it were …

Galatians 4:13,14 You know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel …

2 Timothy 2:20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, …

that.

2 Corinthians 3:5,6 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of …

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance …

2 Corinthians 13:4 For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he lives by the …

1 Corinthians 2:3-5 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling…

Ephesians 1:19,20 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, …

Ephesians 2:5,8,9 Even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, …

Colossians 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also you are risen with him …

1 Thessalonians 1:5 For our gospel came not to you in word only, but also in power, and …

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