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"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."


 A Preacher in his Study





In Scripture we Christians are compared to many things.

We are salt and sons and lights and sheep and so much more.

However, of all those "word pictures," none shows our true natures any better than the fragile clay "vessel," one made by the skilled hands of a potter!

And few verses, if any, better present us as vessels than 2nd Corinthians 4:7. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." 2nd Corinthians 4:7

The first thing we need to do is establish the fact that this "vessel" language is common to many areas of God's Word.

The Psalmist, seeing thousands of years into the future, says of  the Lord Jesus Christ at His Second Coming ... "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." Here in Psalm 2:9 there is judgment!

Isaiah, the great Old Testament Evangelist, uses the term. "But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand." Isaiah 64:8

Jeremiah follows with more "potter" language. "O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel." Jeremiah 18:6

Zechariah, also speaking prophetically, declares: "And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD." Zechariah 11:13

And, as one would suspect, Paul is not to be omitted. He in fact uses "vessel" terminology more than any other Bible writer. "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?" Romans 9:20-21

And the resurrected Jesus, speaking to the Church at Thyatira, said: "And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star." Revelation 2:26-28

Rather evenly distributed throughout Scripture, the potter and his vessels are regularly found.

But today, as I've already indicated, I feel led of the Lord to use a single verse of Scripture. Our Text should be repeated now. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." 2nd Corinthians 4:7

The noun "vessel" is spelled "skeous" in Greek. It means any implement or tool or utensil that aids its owner in any sort of work! The word is used 23 times in the New Testament. The "goods" a man possesses in his house are "skeous" in the Gospels. In Luke 17:31 the word is translated "stuff" in the King James Bible. At Jesus' Crucifixion a vessel filled with vinegar was used. Jesus "received" a drink from it, the liquid having been soaked in a sponge. Our Lord then purposely died.

In Acts 9:15 Saul, later known as Paul, is a "chosen vessel" unto the Lord! In Acts 27:17 "skeous" is determined to be the tackling on a ship, something to do with its sails.

To Peter the wife is a "weaker vessel" than her husband, still using us humans in this pottery metaphor. See 1st Peter 3:7.

All vessels were not necessarily made of clay either. In Revelation 18:12, at the fall and destruction of commercial Babylon, there are mentioned "all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble." No "clay" here.

We are "tools" in the Lord's Hands!

Clay to be used by the Potter however He sees fit!

While other Verses teach us we are God's "Friends" and "Children" and no longer mere "servants," the "skeous" or "vessel" picture is one where we appear as "property" in the Hands of the Lord. His "goods" to be used as He pleases!

I trust that will not offend anyone.

It's Bible!

Fellow "vessels," tomorrow we go further into this great verse, today having learned a little about who we are, His "tools," existing for the purpose of glorifying His Name!

Oh to be, as Paul in Romans 1:21 phrases it under Holy Spirit inspiration, "a vessel unto honour!"


                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




It is common knowledge that the Bible compares people to "vessels."

These vessels may be constructed of different types of material. Brass vessels are mentioned in Mark 7:4. Ivory ones are introduced in Revelation 18:12, as are precious wood and iron and marble!

But Paul adds even more to the list. In 2nd Timothy 2:20 we hear of wood vessels again, but this time not precious wood. Further, comparing them to people as well, Paul mentions silver vessels! Then come the top-of-the-line containers, the gold ones!

Look at the range!

Precious metals right down to wooden ones, vessels were necessary in the ancient world.

But there is even one kind of vessel that is less expensive yet!

And 2nd Corinthians 4:7 tells us about it. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."

See it?

"Earthen vessels!"

Later Paul just calls them "vessels of earth."

Using this analogy, all Believers now are being compared to "earthen vessels."

The word for "earthen" is spelled "ostrakinos" and means that which is made of clay! Made out of dirt!

Let me add that the noun "osteon" means "bones" in Greek and is apparently related to our word. That which is hard but brittle, breakable! Even clay vessels, when hardened by fire, become quite serviceable in dozens of uses.

Also the word terra-cotta, a tile used in the building industry, arrives from Latin and means "cooked earth!"

Scripturaly speaking, "ostrakinos" only appears twice in the New Testament, here in 2nd Corinthians 4:7 and again in 2nd Timothy 2:20.

But in the Old Testament "ostrakinos" was often used when that great Book was translated into Greek.

For example, in Leviticus 6:28 any vessel that had once contained an unclean liquid had to be broken! The Greek there reads "skeuos ostrakinon."

And Leviticus 11:33 adds the fact that any vessel having held, accidentally or on purpose, an unclean animal like a mouse or lizard or snail must also be broken into pieces. Again, "skeuos ostrakinon" appears.

And in Leviticus 14, which gives the legal procedure for the purification of a cleansed leper, we learn of a little bird being killed over running water in an earthen vessel! Then a living bird was to be "baptized" into that bloody liquid in that vessel! No mention is then made of discarding that vessel!

In Numbers 5:17 an earthen vessel was used in a ceremony to determine the truthfulness and faithfulness of an accused wife! "And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel; and of the dust that is in the floor of the tabernacle the priest shall take, and put it into the water ..." That's our "ostrakinos" term again!

In 2nd Samuel 17:28 "earthen vessels" were brought to King David as he fled from Absalom his rebellious son. Barzillai among others ... "Brought beds, and basons, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and lentiles, and parched pulse, and honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of kine, for David, and for the people that were with him, to eat: for they said, The people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness."

Look at this list!

Dear reader here today, if you are saved by the Grace of God, you are indeed likened to an "earthen vessel" in Scripture.

So, using the Old Testament alone for a few seconds, be a Blood Washed earthen vessel! Numbers 14:5

And be an earthen vessel Identified with Resurrection! Numbers 14:6-7 describes the event carefully.

And indeed be a Clean Vessel. Defiled ones lose their effectiveness and have to be placed on a shelf somewhere or even broken to pieces. Leviticus 6:28 and 11:33

And be a Discerning Vessel too! That's taken from Numbers 5:17.

Lastly, be an earthen vessel Dedicated to Hospitality, caring for the Man of God! Everyone has a spiritual leader in his or her life. 2nd Samuel 17:28

Five facts!

Earthen vessels!

Having learned, let's now be "doers" of the Word!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




When Paul compared us Believers, including himself, to "earthen vessels," he probably did not identify himself as a "self-esteem" advocate!

Molded pieces of clay?

Breakable bowls?

Extremely inexpensive they were, earthen vessels.

But the Apostle then added further truth to the equation. We earthen vessels derive our value not primarily from our frail constitution, but from the "treasure" we hold!


"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." 2nd Corinthians 4:7

The "treasure" we Christians have is represented by the Greek word "thesauros." It means a storehouse or a repository or magazine, a place where precious things are stored and kept safe! When English students are asked to buy a book called a "Thesaurus," they are being asked to purchase a dictionary-like volume that by definition houses much verbal wealth! Also interesting is our word "casket," which in French means "a small box for jewels!" This root gives us our word "cassette" too!

Paul is obviously using "treasure" here in the objective sense,  meaning the valuable deposit itself. That which is precious!

Here is our word "thesauros" in a few of the eighteen times it appears in the New Testament. To me watching the Holy Spirit use a word, any word, best gives the Bible student a "feel" for its meaning.

The wise men brought to Baby Jesus, God the Son, many "treasures" in Matthew 2:11.

Jesus' investment strategy for us Christians involves laying up "treasures" in Heaven, not upon earth! Matthew 6:19-21 says so. "For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also."

And here our Lord depicts what is in a person's heart as "treasure," that which he or she values highly enough to internalize! "A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things." Matthew 12:35

Here's a similar example: "Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old." Matthew 13:52

All these references use "thesauros" for "treasure" or "treasures."

Two more quickly, Jesus is The Repository or The Thesaurus or the Safety Deposit Box for God's Wisdom and Knowledge! In Colossians 2:3, speaking of Christ, Paul writes: "In Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."


Then see Moses, who rejected the "treasures" of Egypt, in order to know the riches of Christ Jesus! "Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward." Hebrews 11:26 just told us that Moses calculated greater wealth to be in Jesus than in all of Egypt! He is right!

One teacher says that "thesauros" is derived from the basic Greek verb "tithemi," which means "to put" or "to place" an item somewhere. Here it's a valuable item or items and the receptacle is both a suitable and easily accessible place.

Many today preach that our value as humans is derived from such things as our beauty or intelligence or social status. Not so! If any human derives his "worth" from such things, he will ultimately become very insecure. For those things, all earthly things, will some day pass away, ceasing to exist.

However, if one's "worth" is based upon eternal things, things God has invested in one's heart and soul and character ... he or she has been given that which will never be "shaken!"

The next time you look at a fellow Believer, or just think of him for that matter, try to look deeper into his heart! See if you can not sense and discern there the very "treasures" Paul has in mind in our Verse.

One thing for sure, while we must wait until tomorrow to further investigate this valuable Thing, is has been given to us by the Lord.

We "have" it right now!

"Echo" means "to hold or possess or keep" something. It here is the main verb in the sentence, both grammatically and by syntax. It is the very first word in the Greek Text, "Echo de to thesauros ...." That move alone reveals the Holy Spirit's sense of meaning here.

Friends in Christ, today possess your Treasure!

Love Him!

Enjoy Him!

Think of Him!

Be obsessed with Him!

I'll just go ahead and say it, since Jesus is The Treasure, worship Him hour after hour!


                                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Paul once, in 2nd Corinthians 4:7, nearly called us Christians "depositories!"

That's similar to being compared to a safety deposit box really!

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."

And this "treasure" analogy is stated to be reciprocal. God has a treasure in us. But we have one in Him as well!

Now God's treasure in us is the focus for today, really for this whole series of Lessons on 2nd Corinthians 4:7. But for just a sentence or two, let me show you our "deposit" in the Lord! Again it's Paul writing: "Nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." The 2nd Timothy 1:12 term "have committed" translates "paratheke." It means "that which is entrusted to one's care!" ("Tithemi" means "to place or to give" and "para" means "near or beside.") Paul literally says that he has "deposited" something into the Hands of "Him," His dear Lord ... something that will be safely kept or guarded until the day of judgment and into all eternity future!

Paul entrusted his very "soul" to Jesus! His "hope" of eternal life rested in Jesus' words and deeds! In a real sense Paul's "life work" was there too! His "love and worship" found repose in His Saviour!

We shall all learn one day, maybe soon, that the Lord Jesus is a wonderful "Banker!" What has been deposited with Him, in Him really, will be safely watched ... and handsomely rewarded!

Of this Paul was "persuaded!" And "peitho" here means "convinced!" This "perfect" verb pictures action that once begun and settled ... possesses lasting consequences and benefits! Paul never changed his mind about this issue, not at all!

Now back to the Lord's "deposit" in us!

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels ...." 2nd Corinthians 4:7a

Today we must ask, What is that "treasure?"

The answer of course must be found in the surrounding verses, particularly the preceding ones. In verse 1 Paul mentioned his "ministry." See: "Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not."

In verse 2 it's the "Word of God!" Read it. "But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God."

Then in verse 3 it's the "Gospel." As in: "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost."

On to verse 4 where "Jesus and His Glory" are emphasized! "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." This is a major theme of Second Corinthians, the whole Epistle.

Verse 5 adds more, "Christ Jesus the Lord," being even more specific! "For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake."

Then verse 6 presents the "knowledge" of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ! "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

There they are, the things specifically said to be deposited within the heart and soul and mind of every truly Blood-washed born-again child of God!

Friends, we must realize that within us is ...

The Word of God!

And the Gospel!

And the Glory of God, to a lesser extent now and a greater extent later, but still ... the Glory of God!

And, best of all, Christ Jesus the Lord!

And the absolute Knowledge of such things, assurance without doubt!

And, to you God-called Preachers, add the very Ministry God has given you!


Another way of saying it, more briefly but every bit as powerfully ... The Holy Spirit indwells you!

The aggregate of these Things is the "treasure" Paul has been mentioning!

Saved Brother or Sister, within you is more true wealth and much greater value than the total assets of that whole company where you bank!

You are a walking Treasure Trove!

Yes, our frame is weak. Our body is frail. But its content is priceless!

Praise the Lord!

Now let's live up to our calling!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

P. S. Technically, the main thing said to be "in" us seems contextually to be "the light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ!" The other things I've mentioned from verses 1-5 are however certainly therein implied, strongly so! That light has shined "in" our hearts ... and we will never be the same again! Is Paul here also thinking about the day He literally experienced that Bright Light of God's Glory? He related that event again and again, in Acts 9 and Acts 22 and Acts 26, not counting His Epistles! In the whole 2nd Corinthians setting, Moses' face has been shining as a result of those forty days in the presence of God! But, Paul says, our faces can shine even more brightly! The Light of God's Glory, ours by viewing Jesus constantly via the eye of faith, literally resides deep within us! That light will never go away! Moses' light did! And, just as Paul reasons: "For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious." (2nd Corinthians 3:1) Again I say, Amazing!"




Paul had just painted one of the most effective pictures of "weakness" that one could have ever imagined, a frail brittle earthen vessel!

Made of dirt, clay really, and certainly not permanent, not like a silver one would have been!

Then, having discussed such a vessel, a creation of some potter, Paul immediately begins to use words like "treasure" and "power" and "excellency" and even "God," all in reference to that little lump of clay!

Here's the verse. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." 2nd Corinthians 4:7

This word "power" is spelled "dunamis" and means strength or ability or might. It is particularly applicable to "inherent" power, that which God has placed "with" us, a not-so-veiled reference to the Holy Spirit I suspect! This is strength readily available to God's children, right now!

In other words "power" just might be another thing to add to the list, the expanding list, of "treasured" things housed within our weak bodies! We know beyond doubt that the Holy Spirit indwells us, physically even! Paul clearly asks in 1st Corinthians 6:19, "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" The Apostle is not merely asking a question either, he's teaching a principle.

When God used Moses to lead millions of Jews form the bowels of Egypt to the front door of the Promised Land, that was "power" being displayed in a vessel of clay! Clay that was nearly thrown into the Nile River many years before the Exodus!

When God used some of the Judges of Israel, weak and mediocre as they were, any "power" they displayed had to come from the Lord! Think of Samson pushing those walls to the ground!  Or Gideon's "few" defeating the Midianite "many!" Or the woman Jael hammering a tent peg through the enemy's head, Sisera!

When God used David, the sweet singer of Israel, to write nearly half the Psalms, such "power" did not originate in that ruddy little son of Jesse! It was of God!

When God took Jeremiah, a single man who remained unmarried all his days, and through a fifty-year ministry of preaching and suffering logged not one convert, not one mentioned in Scripture anyway, yet remained faithful ... that is "power" beyond human constitution! And God gets the Glory!

When God took Job, allowing him untold agony and pain, and then miraculously brought him out of the "fire" ... having made him stronger and sweeter and  more "purified as gold," surely that power belonged to God!

Our Lord did the same with some of His Disciples it seems, transforming them from typical and often fearful men into giants for God! But such things as Pentecost preaching and lame men walking and boldness upon arrest and the writing of Epistles and even their deaths as martyrs ... those belong to the realm of God's power, not man's!

Many others could be listed, but today I'd like to mention one more, YOU my dear saved Brother or Sister!

Yes, YOU, reading here today!

God has taken you, saving you by His Grace, washing you in the Blood of the Lamb, purging you of sin, and placed His Power within your very being. So that everything you do, "in word of deed," might reflect that Power, that great Power of God!

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." 2nd Corinthians 4:7

This being the case, dear Christian friend ... live faithfully for the Lord!

Go to Church today ... and every Sunday hereafter!

Study God's precious Word!

Pray like you should!

Live for God!

Maintain constant communion with the Lord Who saved you!

Let Him use you as He so chooses!

And be sure through it all, to give Him Glory!

Be reservoirs for "the excellency of the power of God!"

When you are cursed, yet you bless ... that's the Power of God!

When life has been catastrophic, yet you stay sweet and continue to live faithfully for Jesus ... that's the Power of God too!

When feelings are hurt, yet you still empty the garbage or cook her supper, that's the Power of God!

When you were by-passed for that promotion, yet you accused not God of unfairness ... that's the Power of God!

And when, after perhaps dozens of years of living for God, you near death's door with peace and victory ... that's the Power of God!

For, you see, no mere human can do these things consistently. We're too weak and brittle and undependable!

But God can, through us, do them!

One more thing, that noun "power" or "dunamis" is built upon a Greek word stem that means "to be able" or "to be possible!"

I can't!

God can!

Therefore, as Paul says in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ Which strengtheneth me."

Only through Christ!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The word is "excellency."

It is spelled, as Paul used it, like this: "huperbole."

In English that is the word hyperbole.

It is a fusing of two Greek words.

"Huper" means "over or above."

"Ballo" means "to throw."

It describes something that is a "throwing beyond" another thing, or another group of things. It means "that which is more excellent!" That which is "superlative." Or that which is "beyond measure."

Paul has told us that we are, even after being "born-again," mere earthen vessels, simple clay pots. Of course the Apostle is using a word picture to express how frail we really are!

Yet into that weak body, that earthen vessel, God has deposited treasure, a valuable collection of precious cargo!

Beautifully worded, Pauline style: "We have this treasure in earthly vessels ...." That's a seven word summary of the mechanics of the Christian life!

But then, when that "treasure" needs to be displayed or spent or invested or counted or tested ... God reveals Himself ... through us!

Atomically speaking, tamper with "electrons," and electricity will be produced!

Spiritually speaking, rearrange that "treasure" within a Believer, and POWER is also released!

Split the atom, and you have made a nuclear bomb!

Rearrange the treasure, and you have a super-abounding out-of-range example of God's ABILITY and GRACE and LOVE!

As God works through us Christians, beautiful POWER is radiated for all to see! Much like when sunshine passes through a prism ... beautiful colors appear, red and orange and yellow and green and blue and indigo and violet!

And it's the infra-reds and the ultra-violets that are "hyper-bolic," that's the Bagwell coinage of "hyperbole!"

But now let's insert our whole verse, 2nd Corinthians 4:7, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."

God uses our earthly bodies to display the "riches," read that as "treasure," of His Grace! I blended those two words, using something Paul said in Ephesians 2:7.  The Riches of His Grace!

God flows through us, showing the treasure He has deposited in each saint, to reveal the "riches of His Glory" too! That term is from Ephesians 3:16! The Riches of His Glory!

Christ in us, on display, expressing the "riches of His "full assurance!" See Colossians 2:2. The Riches of Full Assurance!

And ...

The Riches of His Goodness!

The Riches of His Forbearance!

The Riches of His Longsuffering!

Those three come from Romans 2:4.

Folks, I'm following a Bible thought here! "That God might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory." Exactly what I'm saying! Romans 9:23

Even ... The Riches of His Liberality can be exalted!

Put all these together, and you have some more expression of the "excellency of the power of God!"


Christian friend, you are a spiritual "power house!"

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




An old Hymn Christians once sang was entitled "Let Others See Jesus in You."

Our Lord Himself taught the same truth when, in Matthew 5:16, He tells us: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

That's indeed letting others see the Lord ... in you!

This Bible Principle is woven through all God's Word.

An indirect, but nevertheless accurate, way of wording it is again found in Second Corinthians 4:7. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."

We Christians here are compared to clay bowls or pots or vases or lamps. Having little value within ourselves, but "filled" by the Grace of God with priceless "treasure!" Like God the Holy Spirit and knowledge of the Word of God and wisdom in winning souls to Christ and many other such traits.

But then God does something "in" us or "through" us and folks tend to say, "Did that person do such a thing? He or she is so quiet and shy and average!" Another adds, "No, it's not that person who did this. It is their mighty God within them Who has worked so beautifully! To Him be the Glory"

That's the idea!

Today, having already spent six Lesson in 2nd Corinthians 4:7, let's concentrate on the verb "may be." That God's Power "may be" evident, not ours! In fact, we have none!

"May be" is spelled "eimi" in Greek, except it is framed as a present subjunctive verb. That means it is not a foregone conclusion or automatic result that a Christian will so live!  I mean live like this verse instructs us. It's not a "given" that we will allow God's love or power or grace to flow through us, others seeing it and praising the Lord Who authored it!

A subjunctive verb, "may be" included, indicates a writer's desire or longing or hope, that the excellency of God's Power may be seen, not us!

It's possible!

More than that, it's probable!

With mature Believers it's even expected!

But today, 2007 as these words are being written, it's not always visible!

There are just too many "glory grabbers" in today's professing Church!

And we must remember what the Lord said long ago: "I am the LORD: that is My Name: and My Glory will I not give to another." Isaiah 42:8

Again, let others see Jesus in you!


                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




There are many verses of Scripture that appear repulsive to modern man!

Theological liberals deny the inspiration of the Bible, suggesting rather that man is the author of God's Word!

Let me tell you something today. Man isn't smart enough to have written the precious Book of God.

And even if he had been that intelligent, he WOULD NOT HAVE DONE DO, the Bible presenting him in such a sinful position.

Further, even after a person is saved by the Grace of God, he or she is constantly encouraged to live humbly and never seek self-glory, making oneself last in nearly every category of life.

Here's how John the Baptist taught this fact: "He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30

Paul in Romans 12:10 ... "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another." That verb "preferring" literally means let the other person "go ahead" of you!

Three times even the Old Testament says for us to "humble ourselves." And the New Testament adds two more! "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord," James 4:10 is typical.

For Christ's sake, Paul was willing to be "nothing," really, "less than nothing!" He wrote in 1st Corinthians 4:13, "We are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day."

That's humility!

Scripturally speaking, we are merely "tools" in the Hands of our Lord! "Slaves" to His Cause! "Vessels" for His Honor!

And that last fragment leads us to today's Verse; "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." 2nd Corinthians 4:7

We are here identified with a bowl or vase or pot of clay! Yes, it's a metaphor, but a living one!

And this "vessel" word picture is not limited to Paul or even the New Testament.

Isaiah agrees! "But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand." Isaiah 64:8

So does Jeremiah. "O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel."

Really the Lord is a Potter way back in the Garden of Eden, molding a lump of dirt, a mound of clay, into the first human being! Adam was created by God! "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Genesis 2:7 here uses the verb "formed" or "yatzsar" in Hebrew, meaning to fashion or frame as does the potter to the clay! In fact, seventeen times in the King James Bible some member of the "yatzsar" family of words is rendered as "potter!"

Back to our Text, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." 2nd Corinthians 4:7

We are vessels, worth very little in that analogy!

And here the very stated purpose for our being such a thing, a mere clay container, is that we might NOT get any recognition or glory or power ... at all! But that God would be able to "use" us, His working through us being the paramount and visible thing! To Him be the Glory!

This fact alone makes Christianity, I mean the real thing, less and less appealing to humanity in this increasingly "post-modern" age!

But true Believers say, if God wants to "minimize" us ... that He might be "uplifted," so be it!

When Paul was about to die a martyr's death, he compared his life blood to just that ... an offering poured out to God, sacrificed gladly in our Lord's Name and for His Glory!

He knew that "the time of his departure was at hand! "Departure" in 2nd Timothy 4:6 just means "an untying of the ship on this side of the river ... in order to sail to the other side!" Yes, "analusis" means "to loose, to untie!"

Paul further knew he had fought a good fight, like an athlete! He had finished the course, like a runner! He had kept the faith, like a guard or watchman in a time of danger!

But, most importantly here, Paul was ready "to be offered" on the altar! Let me give you that verb, "to be offered." It is spelled "spendo!" To be spent, to be poured out! Literally the Apostle's blood being a picture of the wine that was deliberately emptied upon an altar of worship, thanking God for His Grace!

That's not only humility, but proper and fitting self abasement too!

We're just vessels!

We are still here to stay out of the way ... and bring attention to our great God!

The God who saved our lost souls!


                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




I was studying a Book about Old Testament financial practices, how the Jewish people handled their money.

The author, who is a trained historian, said something like this. In ancient days, before money was coined and placed into standard forms for circulation, Kings and other wealthy people would take gold or silver, the pure metals mind you, and melt them down to a kind of semi-liquid.

Then, before they cooled back into hardness, they would pour them into clay containers, vessels really!

These then, little clay pots full of great treasure, became absolutely priceless to such men of renown!

When they wished to trade in the market place, they just took their sharp knives and sliced off a piece of the gold or silver, including the surrounding clay, placing it all in the hands of the seller! "Here are two ounces of silver, sir! Just knock that clay off it when you're ready to use it further!" Of course the rest of the metal was put away, with whatever portion of the vessel was left surrounding it, all for another day!

If those little clay pitchers or boxes or vessels could talk they would have said something like this: "I am just an earthen container. I have no value whatsoever, being made of dirt! But, when my Master fills me with his precious gold or silver or even brass for that matter, I take on a whole new purpose in life! I have significance! Oh, yes, I know I will be sliced and cut and eventually completely spent in my task, pleasing my lord ... but that's why I was created anyway! Just to serve the King!

I can't help but think, as I read these words, of a verse of Scripture. One where Paul compares us saints to clay pots, earthen vessels he says. And we too are filled with our Master's goods, the Holy Spirit and the Word of God and the Gospel of Truth among other things, and He can use us however He pleases!

Just as long as He profits thereby!

After all, we long to serve our Lord and bring Him glory and honour!

Our lives are, hopefully anyway, spent advancing the Lord's Cause!

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." 2nd Corinthians 4:7

And if we come to the end of our temporal days on earth, beaten to pieces and sliced and battered, scarred Paul would have said, all will be well ... if the Lord's power and glory and wealth have been shown and shared and distributed through our "earthen vessels!"

To God be the Glory!


                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell


It's indeed an honor to be an "earthen vessel" in the service of our great Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! We have now concluded our study of this precious Verse of Scripture.



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