2 Corinthians 4:7
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
It was the practice of Eastern kings, who stored up their treasures of gold and silver, to fill jars of earthenware with coin or bullion (see Jeremiah 32:14). To this custom allusion is made. St. Paul says that in these frail bodies of ours, with their limited faculties and powers, in these "earthen vessels" we have that priceless treasure, the knowledge of the glory of God as a Redeemer. Cecil says, "The meanness of the earthen vessel which conveys to others the gospel treasure takes nothing from the value of the treasure. A dying hand may sign a deed of incalculable value; a shepherd's boy may point out the way to a philosopher; a beggar may be the bearer of a valuable present." Three points claim attention.
I. THE TREASURE. This may be regarded as
(1) a revelation,
(2) as a gospel,
(3) as a life.
In either respect, the personal Christ being the very Centre and Essence of it, he is properly the Treasure. Christ himself is our most sacred Trust. We have the one Saviour for men committed to our care. Then how jealously we should guard the treasure! and how wisely we should put it to use!
II. THE NEED FOR THE CONVEYANCE OF THIS TREASURE. For it is not to be stored up in hiding places, but somehow made the treasure of all men. It is a spiritual treasure, and needs some kind of material conveyance. Christ himself must be ministered to men by his disciples.
III. THE VESSELS FOUND FOR THE DUE CONVEYANCE OF THE TREASURE. Humbly spoken of as earthly, or as mere earthenware. Enlarging upon them beyond St. Paul's immediate thought in the use of the term, we may show
(1) their frailty;
(2) their fitness, especially in that they do not take away the honour that is due to the treasure by directing attention to themselves;
(3) their safety, since God, who guards the treasure, will guard the vessel that holds it;
(4) their usefulness, as the human agency commends the heavenly truth; and
(5) their reward, for God will surely commend those who, in such a trust, are found faithful. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.