But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4:7-10
Paul is continuing in his defense of his apostolic ministry as we continue in this section. He has been using the metaphor of light and darkness to discuss the presence of God… or the lack of it in the preceding verses, and here he shifts the metaphor slightly, moving from light and dark to jars of clay that contain God’s power. Thus, we humans are the jars of clay, and the power we contain is the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
He enters two verses of cadence in which he links difficulties and perseverance to show that in spite of the criticism, trials hardship he has faced, he continues faithfully in his mission as the apostle to the gentiles.
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (4:10-12)
At the end of his cadence, he shifts the metaphor again, now with Christ’s death and Christ’s life both being present in his body. This neat little allusion tells us that Christ’s mortality, by which His blood was shed for us, is within him; was within Paul, who faces persecution and possible death frequently for his testimony about Jesus. Yet that is combined with the presence of Christ’s indestructible life as well, and so, Paul perseveres in his ministry in spite of all difficulties, for the benefit of those to whom he ministers; in this case, the Corinthians themselves. As a result of Paul’s faithful pursuit of His God-given ministry objectives, the Corinthian believers have received God’s grace, and the gift of eternal life through Christ.
Of course, by extension, so have we.
It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. (4:13-15)
He finishes his thought in this paragraph, in which he extends his thinking to its ultimate conclusion: Since the life of Christ is within him, Paul is certain that in the end, though his physical life may be lost, he will rise again just as Jesus did. He will be presented to God along with those countless ones who have receive God’s grace because of his efforts.
All of his problems in this life will have been worth enduring.
Shifting his emphasis in the last verse, he points out that as this process continues, it should be a great source of thanksgiving to the Corinthians. With that, Paul has prepared us for his conclusion…