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 Study with us ...  

2nd Corinthians 4:8-10

(A verse-by-verse commentary)


Here we shall study, Lord willing, four so-called "small" victories that led Paul the Apostle to one truly "great" victory in his godly life!


 A Preacher in his Study






"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." 2nd Corinthians 4:8-10



Paul the Apostle seldom opens his heart to us like he does in the Epistle of 2nd Corinthians.

There we learn of his many hardships, most of which he encountered because of his dedication to the Lord Jesus.

Yes, Paul had many "troubles!"

He said so numerous times, but primarily in the Text we are now studying. "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." 2nd Corinthians 4:8-10

See those words, "troubled on every side?"

Elsewhere Paul nearly says the same thing. I would never have believed Paul to have uttered these following words, apart from the inerrant nature of the Word of God. The Bible just makes no mistakes! "For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life." This is quoted from 2nd Corinthians 1:8. Look! Paul "despaired even of life!" He was so grieved, so troubled, so wearied that he tired of living life itself! So he says under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God! The Greek word "despaired" her is picturesque. "Exaporeomai" means to see absolutely "no way out" of a situation! "Poreuomai" means "to travel a road." The letter "a" prefixed to it negates the verb ... "not able to travel" or "not able to escape!" The opening preposition in the term is "ek" and means "out of!" Put it all together and you get something like this:  "no way out!" The word is built to show intenisty!

Paul actually got that "low" one day!

By the way, "pressed out of measure," uses the Greek verb "bareo" that means to carry a heavy load, so heavy it's nearly unbearable! "Out of measure" translates the now English word "hyperbole!" Thrown so far it is beyond the horizon! Unimaginably distant!

And "above strength" is "hyper dunamis!" Exceedingly past any human's power or ability to respond!

Of course to be fair, this is the same Apostle Paul who in Philippians 4:13 said: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Or who taught us that the Same Holy Spirit Who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in our hearts and lives right now! Yes, Paul wanted us to personally know ... "What is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places." Ephesians 1:20-21

Yet in 2nd Corinthians 4:8, today's verse, our dear Apostle friend is "troubled on every side." 

Thank God for verses like these! They give us all hope and strength! If Paul had such feelings, surely my having them is more understandable!

The verb "troubled" is spelled "thlibo" and means "pressed!" "Pressed" as one stomps or squeezes grapes to burst them and produce every drop of juice held within their bulging skins!

It thus means "to afflict" or "to be under great pressure!"

Here's one way Paul used "thlibo" elsewhere. "For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears." Talk about being all "torn up!" Our verse here in 2nd Corinthians 7:5 so indicates such a condition.

The saints of all the ages have encountered such "pressure" too. Here "thlibo" is translated as "afflicted" in the King James Bible. "They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth." Hebrews 11:37-38

Thank God Paul was so honest! So brutally honest!

Yet I still occasionally am told of some television preacher or well-known evangelist who asserts again and again that the Christian life is trouble free, money filled and health oriented!

Paul would have thought otherwise.

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The Apostle Paul was an amazing man!

He could find the bright side of any situation, filtering it through the mighty power and loving grace of Almighty God!

In an unusual way, Paul has told us something about himself. He said that he was "troubled" on every side! The exact word he used, "thlibo," means being pressured or cramped or squeezed into some tight place, maybe even an ever tightening place!

But here's the good news. Though troubled ... Paul quickly adds "yet not distressed!"

The whole verse, 2nd Corinthians 4:8 reads like this: "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair."

The Greek conjunction that gives us "yet" is spelled "alla" and means "but" 573 times in the King James Bible, while being translated "yet" only 11 times. It can also mean "nevertheless." Obviously a contrasting thought is being introduced.

"Not," an adverb, is spelled "ou" and means just what it says, the negative response. It is often used in Greek syntax to give a "no" answer when a "yes" answer was expected!

Paul reasons, yes ... I am troubled but, surprisingly, not to the point of distress!

How could Paul get so pressured ... yet not "cave" under the load?

The verb "distressed" is spelled "stenochoreo" and is a beautifully compound term. The prefix "stenos" means "narrow." The word "chora" means something like "space or room!"  It's related to the word "chasm!"

See the picture?

"Troubled," which Paul was, means that things were squeezing in all around him. "Distressed," which Paul was not, means that absolutely no room was left at all!

Paul admits that things were currently getting heavier to bear and his path was becoming more and more constricted ... but, even so, there still was "room" to operate! Room to minister for Jesus' Sake! Space to preach the Word! Opportunities to labor for the Glory of God!

Here's Paul practicing what he preached. "But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you. I will come to you." That's Romans 15:23. If no "room" is left in Corinth ... Paul will go to Rome. There God will give him "space" to work!

What a victory this was!

For a man to see that no matter how tight and difficult things became ... there is a God in Heaven Who will always grant his servant a little more space, more room, more liberty to stay busy for Jesus!

If one room closes completely, God can "open the door" to the adjoining one!

In one line: "Tight ... but still room!"

God has not been squeezed out of the picture!

Nor can He ever be!


Troubled? Yes!

In despair? No! A hundred times "no!"

Praise the Lord!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The Apostle Paul admitted to being "perplexed!"


In 2nd Corinthians 4:8 we read his own words: "We are perplexed, but not in despair."

These few short words include a definite "low" time emotionally and perhaps even spiritually, but they are immediately followed by a "hint" of victory!

The verb "perplexed" is spelled "aporeo" and is the combination of two Greek terms. "A," the opening letter, just means "no" or "not." It negates a coming concept. "Poreo" is derived from "poros," a way or path or trail leading somewhere. 

By "perplexed," Paul means initially seeing "no way" to escape a bad situation! No exit available! This word is used only 4 times in the New Testament. In John 13:22 "aporeo" is translated "doubting," not knowing what to believe! No mental escape route could be found! It is "doubted" again in Acts 25:20. And it is "stand in doubt" in Galatians 4:20. Only here in 2nd Corinthians chapter 4 is it "perplexed" in the King James Bible.

It is astounding that this feeling of Paul's, this statement of his utter humanity, even perhaps his "weakness," was not excised from Scripture.  Another proof of its glorious inspiration and authenticity!

"Poreo" here is not an aorist verb either! It is not depicting a one time event, now concluded! It is portrayed as a present participle! This "doubting" of Paul's, this "perplexity" was an on-going thing in his life! He battled it from time to time it seems!

In the New Testament the Disciples were perplexed, filled with doubts in John 13:22. So was Festus, the Roman official, in Acts 25:20. Then Paul!


You can just hear the exasperation, the frustration, the seeming failure!

But then, immediately, Paul springs back, emotionally and spiritually rising as rapidly as he had descended!

"We are perplexed, but not in despair."

The conjunction "but" is dramatic here. "Alla" means "nevertheless" or "howbeit" or "yet." It is translated all three ways in the New Testament. It often introduces a surprising thought of contrast! "Perplexed, but unexpectedly ... not in despair!"

The verbal unit "in despair" introduces a "play on words!" The Holy Spirit, the Grammarian of all the ages, changes spelling a bit.

Let me show you what I mean.  "Perplexed" is "aporeo." While "despair" is "exaporeo!"

Paul says: "At first I saw 'no way' to handle the many problems, the pressures that had come my way!"

But, "After further examination and prayer and trust, I realized things were not quite that bad! I was not completely hemmed in, not fully enclosed! There was some light shining through! I saw a hint of sunshine at the far end of the tunnel!"

"Exaporeo," here expressed as just another present participle in the middle voice, means "absolutely no way out" ... a condition which Paul now knows is not true!

The "ex" which before assimilation is an "ek" in Greek means "out of" or "away from." It also intensifies any verb to which it is attached! And you are by now familiar with "aporeo," no way to escape!

It looked bad to Paul ... but, with God's help, things were not a bad as they initially seemed!

All things were going to work together!

This too would be a light affliction!

Even here God could get the Glory!

Our Lord indeed has a way, even through such "perplexity!"

See the victory?

It may appear small to many of you. After all, Paul is still in the battle ... but He knows there is a way through it all ... a way to Jesus! A way to the old rugged Cross! A way to more spiritual maturity! A way to further rewards, another crown perhaps!

What a view of life!

A man like that just won't stay "down," will he?

This kind of Christian will end up writing things like: "If God be for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31

Or, "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." Romans 8:37


                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The great Apostle certainly was persecuted!

He even wrote these words, no doubt reflecting his own experience, but even more so ... following the Holy Spirit Who fully inspired the Scriptures! "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." 2nd Timothy 3:12

In 2nd Corinthians 4:9 Paul gives us his "secret" on handling persecution! Succinctly he writes of himself: "Persecuted, but not forsaken."

Brief, but powerful!

Simple, yet sublime!

The verb "persecuted" is "dioko" in Greek. It means, depending on the context where it occurs, "to chase after or to pursue" something or someone. Paul was being chased by the devil and his crowd, enemies of the Gospel! Also "dioko" can mean "to flee," what one occasionally must do in the face of such persecution! Where? "The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." Proverbs 10:18

Here, being the first word in the Greek sentence as well as the English, "dioko" is to be given great emphasis. It is framed as a present participle, indicating on-going linear action. Paul was persecuted nearly everywhere he went!

To get another view of Paul's attitude toward suffering, read with me 1st Corinthians 4:12, where "dioko" is again a present participle: "And we labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it." To "suffer" something means to "anecho" it, to hold up under such pressure, continuing to go forward for the Glory of God!

The first three times the word "persecuted" (as a form of "dioko") appears in the New Testament, they flow from the lips of Jesus. I will capitalize them for you. "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." These well known words are found in Matthew 5:10-12.

Again, from our Lord: "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Matthew 5:44

To Paul, he is simply experiencing what our Saviour taught a Christian to expect.

If you would like a brief list of some of Paul's "persecutions," read 2nd Corinthians chapter eleven. There the Apostle lists some of his hardships: "In labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches."

Yes, Paul was persecuted!

But, and here's the "key" again to Paul's magnificent resilience, even though "persecuted" ... he was not "forsaken!"


This verb, "egkataleipo," is obviously compounded. Twice so!

"Leipo," its root, means "to abandon, to leave behind!" It has the idea of leaving someone in dire straits! Once in ancient literature it pictured a rescue boat sailing past a needy soldier, not even stopping to help, leaving him to fare for himself!

Paul is saying that no matter how "bad" things get ... he is keenly aware that the Lord never leaves him, never forsakes him, not at all!

Jesus promised: "And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Matthew 28:20

Then again: "For He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Hebrews 13:5

But let's allow Paul to attest this fact to young Timothy. The Apostle had just stood before Nero in court. "At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me." 2nd Timothy 4:16-17

Regardless of the depth of the pressure, the pursuit, the hatred, as long as Paul knew the Lord was with him ... all would be well!

Once in Corinth, when severe persecution came Paul's way, the Lord appeared to the dear Man of God! At his lowest moment: "Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them." See the strength Paul derived from that assuring word! He continued preaching there another year and a half ... in the face of daily danger! I've referenced Acts 18:9-11 here.

Paul was not forsaken!

Again, in that terrible ordeal onboard the doomed ship ... during that fierce storm ... Paul told his shipmates: "For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me." Acts 27:23-25

Not forsaken!

Christian friends, maybe if we can flooded with that assurance, with the fact that we too are never forsaken, we will also be armed to face the trials and heartaches and pressures that providentially come our way!

After all, as John tells us in his first Epistle: "Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." He's speaking of Jesus of course!

What a difference His Presence makes!

                                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The Apostle Paul once admitted to being "cast down!" Listen to him in just one verse: "Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed." 2nd Corinthians 4:9

What does that mean?

"Cast down" translates a verb, "kataballo," which literally means "to throw" ("ballo") down ("kata") to the ground. Here Paul's enemies, or the devil himself, has given Paul a "body slam!"

Now "kataballomenoi," which is the spelling of "kataballo" when it's a present participle in the passive voice, is NOT saying that Paul fell! He did not trip or stumble either! He was overcome and forcefully dropped, purposely so, to the ground or to the floor or to the valley below ... whatever would have been rock bottom!

This verb only occurs three times in the whole Bible! Here's one of those times: "And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." Revelation 12:10

Its remaining appearance is milder. To identify "kataballo" I have capitalized its equivalent. "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God ...." Hebrews 6:1

Either way, something or someone is on the ground  ... looking up! At the very lowest point! He has been overtaken and dropped ... and this ordeal lasted a while or occurred more than once! At least that's the implication of a present participle! Prolonged defeat, apparently!

If we had to leave Paul there the whole situation would be so discouraging!

Therefore the Holy Spirit has inserted a conjunction, a contrasting conjunction! It is again "alla" and means this: "on the contrary, rather, notwithstanding or nevertheless!" While "A" is true, quickly "B" must be added, insists Paul! Yes, I am cast down! BUT I am also ... "not destroyed!"

Here's our verse again: "Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed."

The negative, "ou or ouk," means no! Now it is especially used in situations where its object was expected to be positive! It expresses a surprising outcome!

"Paul is down! We will hear little from him now," so reason the Devil and his crowd!

But wait!

The Preacher may be "down," indeed he is! "Cast down!"

BUT he is not "out!"

"Not destroyed!"

In spite of everyone's expectations, Paul is still with us! Still alive! Still proclaiming the Word of God! Still an enemy of Satan! Still a servant of God! Still a warrior of faithfulness!

"Destroyed" translates "apollumi" and means "ruined, perished" or even "put to death!"

The enemy can defeat me!

But he can't rob me of my soul!

He can press my body to the ground!

He cannot do so with my spirit!

"Apollumi" is found 92 times in the New Testament. The first appearance is in Matthew 2:13 where Herod the King sought the Baby Jesus to "destroy" Him! It's also "perish" in John 3:16! "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

This may be one of Paul's ways of saying that no matter what Satan does, the Apostle remains eternally secure as far as his soul and spirit are concerned! I say that because "apollumi" is translated "perished" 33 times and "lost" 9 more times in the King James Text.

And, believe me, it is a victory ... a major victory ... when someone assuredly learns that he or she is "saved" and Satan can do nothing about it!

Cast down but not destroyed!

Indestructible in Christ!

Secure in the Lord!

What a victory to realize such a thing! 

"Cast down, but not destroyed."


                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Paul had learned to take everything in life, the so-called good and the bad, and attach to each happening some spiritual truth!

Put him in jail and he writes: "But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places." Philippians 1:12

Load him with an incurable physical malady, and he declares that the Lord told him: "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." 2nd Corinthians 12:9

Threaten him with death, martyrdom, and he soars! "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." 2nd Timothy 4:6-8

What a way to live for Christ Jesus!

But let me show you one more example from Paul's life.

In one Text, 2nd Corinthians 4:8-10, he shares with us four defeats. Then in Christ he immediately turns them into victories!

He is there "troubled on every side!"

Also he is "perplexed!"

And "persecuted!"

Then "cast down!"

Let me define quickly these terms in order.

Troubled ... under great pressure!

Perplexed ... almost without hope, no apparent way to continue!

Persecuted ... chased and driven and pursued by those who would harm him!

Cast down ... thrown to the ground, ready to be stomped!

Four defeats!

Four trials!

Four situations that have each claimed a lot of Christians, derailing them from the tracks of faithfulness!

But, watch Paul!

Yes, "troubled," but NOT distressed! There's a small victory!

Yes, "perplexed," but NOT in despair! This is good!

Yes, "persecuted," but NOT forsaken! Jesus is with me!

Yes, "cast down," but NOT destroyed! Still saved, eternally so!

Paul is literally taking the good, however much can be found, from the mouth of the bad! That's victorious living!

Jeremiah was taught to do this too. The Lord said to him: "Thou shalt stand before Me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them." Jeremiah 15:19

Paul was mining the "vile" experiences of life, extracting every ounce of "precious" ore he could find!

Then the Apostle piled it all together in two groups, analyzing it all carefully!

In the "bad" stack he saw something comparable to death!

In the "good" stack he saw something comparable to resurrection!

Watch: "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." 2nd Corinthians 4:10

More problems awaited Paul.

But when they came, painful and grievous as they were, akin to death itself ... Paul went straight to Jesus! Jesus died ... so will Paul! Paul will "sanctify" his sufferings by letting them draw him closer and closer to His suffering Saviour!

But then, Jesus did not stay dead! He was raised from the grave!

So Paul will not remain troubled and perplexed and persecuted and cast down either! He will instead claim, through Jesus, no distress and no despair and never being forsaken and indestructibility!

In other words, resurrection life ... in the Lord!

Before you know it he will be writing these words: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20

Now folks, a man like that will go to heaven, shouting all the way!

                                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The Apostle Paul was thrilled by the Resurrection of our Lord!

And remember, Paul KNEW Jesus was alive!

He saw Him ... on the road to Damascus!

He heard Him and talked to Him!

Furthermore, if the man "caught up to the third heaven" in 2nd Corinthians chapter 12 is Paul himself as many preachers believe ... the great Apostle has personally seen Jesus in even greater detail, the living Saviour!

Paul believed that as Christians we were once dead in sin. See Ephesians 2:1. That's why Jesus identified with us on Calvary, dying vicariously in our stead.

Then Paul pictured us, having repented and believed unto salvation, being alive in Christ, raised in His Power! Once dead, but now quickened! Resurrection power ... in you and me!

Paul further believed that we are even now spiritually ascended into Heaven with Jesus. That we are today already "in heavenly places!" See Ephesians 1:3. "The Lord hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ!"

Then ... just as the ascended Jesus was immediately invited by His Father in Heaven to "be seated" at His Right Hand ... so Paul taught that we believers, in Christ, are already seated there in Christ our Lord! We have been ... "made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." That's Ephesians 2:6. Now listen to the Father talk to the Son: "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." Psalm 110:1

Yes, Paul accented and emphasized and lived in the Presence of the Living Lord! The Resurrection of Jesus was literal and victorious and permanent and personal and energizing to this great Believer.

He brought the Resurrection to bear in every area of his life, applying it in unique and beautiful ways.

Even when he was troubled and perplexed and persecuted and cast down! He pictured these trials and pressures and symbols of death. They drove him to the old rugged Cross! He went from the things that were nearly "killing" him to the Saviour he loved, pondering His Death, the greatest Death of all!

Then naturally ... or rather supernaturally ... just as Jesus was raised form the dead, Paul was delivered from his trials, or at least some of them! He pictured these victories over pressure and hatred and discouragement and depression as a deliverance form what was "killing" him!  A symbol of the very Resurrection of Jesus!

Paul once even said that he died daily! See 1st Corinthians 15:31. But then he also was "raised" daily too!  Raised to walk "in newness of life" as he said in Romans 6:4.

This was Paul's worldview! He preached it and taught it and wrote it again and again!

In today's verse, 2nd Corinthians 4:10, for example: "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body."


Paul would have said to us today ... I am always bearing about in my body the dying of Jesus (through my trials, persecutions, sicknesses, perplexities and so forth) ... that the Life of Jesus might be made manifest in my body (deliverance and peace and victory, either here on earth eventually or in heaven finally)!

The verb "made manifest" is spelled "phaneroo" and gives us our English word "epiphany." A visible appearance! A flash of glorious light! Folks can "see" this Resurrection Life ... in us!

Even through one's trials ... the powerful Resurrection Life of Jesus propels us and motivates us and lifts us to victory!

Indeed, let's ask Paul to speak one more time: "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1st Corinthians 15:57


                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The "battle" often raged in and around the Apostle Paul, both physically and spiritually.

He admits to us, rarely but certainly under the direct Inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, that he at times was surrounded with troubles, beset with perplexities, persecuted by enemies and even "cast down" by the oppressor, Satan himself!

It's a wonder Paul didn't "break" under the load!

Sometimes he did even "despair" of life itself! That's from 2nd Corinthians 1:8-11. And this may be the very "lowest" Paul ever sank! Sounds suicidal!

How does one explain such series of trials and difficulties and pressures ... even in the life of a godly man like Paul?

Surely the motif, the pattern or paradigm as theologians call it, is one of spiritual battle!

We are at war with the devil!

But there may be more to it than that!

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

The "treasure" of which he speaks in undoubtedly the Gospel, the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Word of God, the knowledge of the Holy, and other such precious things! The noun here is spelled "thesauros," our very English word meaning a "storage chest" of good and valuable and precious things! All 18 times this word is used in Scripture it is translated "treasure," at least in the King James Bible!

The "earthen vessels" of whom Paul speaks represent you and me, born-again Believers in Christ Jesus the Lord! The adjective is "ostrakinos" and means "clay" or "of the earth, the soil." It obviously suggests frailty, being so easily cracked or broken!

"Vessels" translates "skeuos" and means tools or utensils or implements or gear or even a lowly clay pot that proves so helpful in the kitchen or bedroom! The latter definition is clearly what Paul has in mind here. The context demands such a view.

We, saved folks washed in the Blood of the Lamb, are as weak as clay pots! Common and economical!

But in this particular "vessel," you and me Brother and Sister, has been placed a Treasure. For now we shall identify that Treasure as God the Holy Spirit, Who indwells us from very the second of salvation! He is Precious!

But WHY would God place such a priceless Person with us? Within an often chipped or cracked clay pitcher? One so susceptible to pressures and falls and accidents?

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

The pronoun "that" is spelled "ina," and is pronounced "hina." It means "for the purpose of" or "in order that."

We, such weak humans with such great trials, have indwelling invaluable deposits within us because ... so that ... "the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."

That God's power, His "dunamis," might be visible! That His Glory might shine! That His strength might be magnified ... not ours!

The adjective "excellency" is quite well-known. It's spelled "huperbole," our exact English word "hyperbole!" It means that which is thrown far beyond one's greatest expectations! Preeminent, superior, unsurpassed!

"Of God" is a prepositional phrase based on the Genitive case, the power is the Lord's possession! He owns it! He creates it! He provides it! He is its Source! Omnipotently so!

"Not of us" is translated with the preposition supplied. "Ek" means "out from" or even "by means of!" We are not the sources of strength and ability and expertise when it comes to living for God! He is ... in us and through us!

And just to prove that fact, God apparently allows certain "illustrations" to come our way! Our Lord occasionally burdens us with troubles and perplexities and persecutions and even defeats at the hands of the enemy ... so our powerlessness can become more evident ... and His Power more visible!

And if that's God Choice ... so be it! To Him be the Glory!

Let's hear Paul one more time. Here he says about the same thing I've been trying to explain, only Paul does so better. Of course he is Spirit inspired too, verbally!

 "For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: but we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; ye also helping together by prayer for us." 2nd Corinthians 1:8-11

Battles for the saint? Yes, they will come.

But victories are just as sure to follow!

That God may be "All in All!" 1st Corinthians 15:28


                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell





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