2 Corinthians 4:7-12 – Treasure in Clay Jars
SummaryPaul marvels that his own frail human body and afflicted life are the means by which God shares the news of God's glorious self-revelation in Jesus Christ.
AnalysisMore than in any other correspondence we have from Paul, in 2 Corinthians we receive detail of Paul's persecutions and troubles. Here Paul speaks eloquently of the trouble he experiences. He concludes that these troubles are a participation in the death of Jesus, "so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies" (2 Corinthians 4:10).
Paul is drawing a contrast between the knowledge of the glory of God present in Jesus Christ (see 2 Corinthians 4:6) and the medium through which God has chosen to spread that knowledge and experience of glory. Christ is the human face of God, glorious and yet accessible to our unveiled faces. Ironically, God is making this news known through a life like Paul's.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul wrote that "God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are" (1 Corinthians 1:27-28). The point here is similar. In a cultural context where strength, beauty, prosperity, and wisdom were thought to be evidence of God's presence and blessing, Paul proclaims that God is working in precisely the opposite way. This theme of God's power made perfect in weakness runs throughout 2 Corinthians as Paul tries to defend his ministry against that of the apparently more vibrant super-apostles.