“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that
the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God
and not from ourselves.”
Before salvation, many of the saints at Corinth had been
involved in extreme depravity. But through
Paul’s ministry to them they had been sanctified, 1 Cor
6:9-11; 2 Cor 3:2-3.
After Paul had painstakingly called them to repentance in
his first letter to them, false teachers arose in the
Church of Corinth. Their intent was to take the place of
Paul as their spiritual mentor of this Church. They
deceptively and recklessly did all they could do to
discredit Paul in the minds of these saints.
But Paul did not defend himself against these personal
attacks. Instead, he disarmed his critics. Paul wrote 2
Corinthians with amazing humility. He did defend
himself for the sake of the gospel, however, he
emphasized that he was of no personal importance.
Paul saw himself as a clay pot, a mere earthen vessel, but
Paul was liberated by the power of the gospel, and
Christ was now living within him. Likewise, Christ
dwelt within those saved at Corinth many of whom had
come to Christ through Paul’s ministry.
the ancient world, clay pots were used to contain
garbage and human waste, but they were also used to
store valuable treasures. Their value was determined by
Paul viewed his many weaknesses as credentials, not
disqualifiers. The treasure he possessed was the gospel’s
saving truth, residing within all Christians.
constant persecutions, Paul pressed on for the sake of the
rejoiced in his infirmities, because when he was beyond the
limits of human endurance, Christ was most gloriously
he told the Church at Corinth; “Therefore I am well
weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with
difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I
strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)
Like Paul, we too are earthen vessels containing the
treasure of Jesus Christ. How then should this impact us?