2 Corinthians 4:7 – “THIS TREASURE IN EARTHEN VESSELS”
Many buried and lost treasures have been discovered through the ages. Some of those have been found in caves, boxes, or vases. There is a special treasure which God has given to mankind that has neither been buried nor lost. Here is what we read about that treasure in 2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”
The word “treasure” comes from a Greek word that means “a deposit, that is, wealth (literally or figuratively): – treasure”; “the place in which good and precious things are collected and laid up . . . receptacle, in which valuables are kept . . . the things laid up in a treasury, collected treasures” [Strong and Thayer, word no. 2344, via E-sword]. It is the same word that is used in Matthew 13:44, where we read about a man finding a field in which there was a “treasure,” then going to sell all that he had to buy that field. A “treasure” points to something of tremendous value or worth.
The Treasure – By the Spirit, Paul calls it “this” treasure. The context of 2 Corinthians 4 makes it clear that he is speaking of the gospel. In 4:2 it is called “the word of God,” in 4:3 it is “our gospel,” and in 4:4 it is simply “the gospel.” For certain, the gospel is a treasure like no other! As a valuable collection, the gospel reveals “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8) and points us to a super, never-ending inheritance in heaven (1 Peter 1:3,4).
Only the gospel treasure reveals God’s plan for man’s redemption (Romans 1:15-17). The gospel of the Christ is the unique “power of God to salvation” (Romans 1:16). The gospel is the sole message that can be obeyed with the result being that the obeyers are saved (Mark 16:15,16). Only the gospel is sealed by the blood of the Christ (Matthew 26:28). It is a treasure, indeed!
How sad that many people work so diligently to possess material treasures, but they give little, if any, thought to the great gospel treasure. Some people do not see the priceless value of the gospel, counting it as foolishness. Yet, by God’s decree, the message of the gospel is His wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).
The Earthen Vessels – Paul said that we have this treasure in earthen vessels. This does not refer to material containers, but rather to the physical, human body. The gospel is not propagated by angels, nor is it directly taught today by the Godhead. Rather, the Lord preaches the gospel through His faithful servants, who are His earthen vessels. The bottom line is this: if Christians do not teach the gospel to others, then the job will not get done!
Like the early disciples, we must go everywhere preaching the word (Acts 8:4). God is depending on you and me to be like Philip and open our mouths to tell the lost about Jesus (Acts 8:35). God’s arrangement is for His children to get up and go into all the world with the gospel! (Mark 16:15). We must take the time and put forth the effort to train faithful saints to be able to teach the lost (2 Timothy 2:2).
Sin is like a disease that can be cured. The gospel treasure, which tells of the sin-cleansing blood of the Christ (1 Peter 1:18,19), is the remedy for man’s sin. Why would we not want to tell our loved ones, friends, and all others the greatest news that any person could ever hear?!
The Possessors of This Treasure – Paul writes, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels . . .” [emphasis mine, rdc]. Paul had earlier written, “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart” (4:1). “This ministry” is the service of “this treasure” (4:7), and goes back to Paul’s reference to “ministers of the new covenant” (3:6). There is a sense in which the task of spreading the gospel was given to the apostles, and “this ministry” was theirs. At the same time, it is also true that the Lord wants each one of His servants to be able to teach (2 Timothy 2:24). Brothers and sisters, you and I have been blessed to have the gospel placed in our hands. Is its message a great treasure? Yes! Is its message a secret? No! Is it something for us to hide or of which we should be ashamed? Certainly not!
Thanks be to God for the treasure of the gospel. The task of spreading this treasure’s great news is not a burden, but a privilege. Let us be about our Father’s business.
— Roger D. Campbell
TRUTH is published monthly by the Klang church of Christ in order to help educate, edify, encourage, and equip the saints of God.