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What does it mean that we have treasures in jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7)?


 

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jars of clay
Question: "What does it mean that we have treasures in jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7)?"

Answer:
Second Corinthians 4:7 says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” Clay jars were containers created by skilled potters who took raw clay, shaped and molded it as they desired, and then baked the clay until it was hard. They then painted, glazed, or decorated the jars for whatever purpose they had in mind. In ancient times, sacred scrolls or valuable documents were rolled up and placed inside a jar of clay and then hidden for safe keeping. The Dead Sea Scrolls were kept in such jars of clay. Pottery jars could be beautiful or purely functional, but they had one thing in common: they were breakable. Contents could not be forever housed in jars of clay. Clay jars were temporary holding places.

According to 2 Corinthians 4:7, we are like “jars of clay” with a “treasure” inside. This means that our physical bodies are like those jars. We are made from clay (Genesis 2:7; Psalm 103:14). Our bodies come in all shapes and sizes, each designed by the Heavenly Potter for whatever purpose He desired (Isaiah 45:9; 64:8; Romans 9:21). Our bodies are beautiful, functional, and breakable. Our bodies are temporary housing places for the treasure God has given us, namely, “the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The knowledge of the gospel is a rich truth, indeed.

God entrusts to us treasure that will last forever (2 Peter 1:3). Second Corinthians 4:6 defines that treasure as “the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” The treasure we are privileged to hold is the knowledge of our Creator through His Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:26). While we were dead in our sin and destined for destruction (Colossians 2:13), God made a way for us to be made new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our physical “jars of clay” will be resurrected one day to become glorified, eternal bodies (1 Corinthians 15:20–23). God extends an invitation for “whosoever will” to come to Him while still in these earthly bodies (Revelation 22:17). This knowledge and resulting relationship with God are the greatest treasures any earthly vessel can hold.

Recommended Resource: Who am I?: Identity in Christ by Jerry Bridges


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