2 Corinthians Sermon Series--#5

Earthen Vessel Ministry
Scripture Reading: 2 Cor. 4:7-18
by Robert J. Young

Our scripture reading is in the midst of a section describing Paul's ministry from at least five different perspectives. His ministry is (1) a New Covenant Ministry; (2) a Forever, Eternal Ministry; (3) a Ministry of Reconciliation; (4) a Ministry of Integrity; and (5) a Ministry of Relationships. In view of these ministry descriptions, what implications arise from Paul's affirmation that the treasure is in earthen vessels?

Reading: 2 Cor. 4:7-18

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from 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 made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture--"I believed, and so I spoke"--we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

This reading is in the midst of a section describing Paul's ministry from at least five different perspectives. What does it mean for the treasure to be in earthen vessels? Three majors themes of 2 Corinthians can be identified from the first two chapters:

These three themes run throughout the Pauline defense as he describes ministry from five perspectives:

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Last updated October 28, 2000.