Bible Study: 2 Corinthians 4

Chapter 4: 2 Corinthians 4:1-18, treasure in jars of clay


Heavenly Father, give us this day our daily bread, forgive us of our trespasses, as we also forgive those who had trespassed against us. Do not lead us not into temptation, deliver us from the evil one, for Yours is the kingdom and the power, and the glory forever and ever, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

VV 1-4, 1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, 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. 3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

Therefore, connects us to thoughts of the previous chapter, regarding Moses, veiling his face before he met the Israelites. Paul encouraged his audience not to give up hope since they had received God’s mercy. Paul’s dealings with his audience was honest, transparent, truthful, and above board. He preached the truth of the gospel with a clear conscience in God’s sight. He had nothing to hide from anyone. The gospel is veiled for those who did not believe because satan had blinded their eyes, hearts, and minds to keep them in darkness.

VV 5-6, 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Paul and his co-workers did not boast about themselves. They preached the gospel as bondservants of Christ. Paul alluded to Genesis 1:3. The world was in total darkness and chaos until God created the light and commanded the light to shine into the darkness. Our hearts were in total darkness before we are born again until God commanded the light of the Holy Spirit to illuminate our hearts and minds to convict us of sins.

Genesis 1:3, Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

VV 7-9, 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed, we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed,

Our bodies are jars of clay, rough, cheap, fragile, unimpressive, and ordinary. Although on the outside we are unimpressive, fragile, and rough, on the inside, we have the treasure of the Holy Spirit. We carry the presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit in our jars of clay. Although, we are weak and fragile, Christ in us is strong and powerful. Christ used lowly, ordinary, and fragile people to manifest and display His power and glory. Paul described the hardships, sufferings, trials, and persecutions, that he and his team suffered. They were hard-pressed but not crushed, perplexed but not despaired, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed.

VV 10-12, 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.

Greek for manifest is “phaneroo”, which means to make known. We carry the death of Jesus in our bodies to manfest the life of Jesus Christ to others. Paul was rescued from the dead for Jesus’ sake, so that Jesus may be manifested in his mortal life. Death was working for Paul but life was working for his audience.

VV 13-15, 13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, 14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

Paul quoted Psalm 116:10. God who raised Christ from the dead will also raise born again Christians from the dead at a future event called the rapture, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.

Psalm 116:10, I believed, therefore I spoke, “I am greatly afflicted.”

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

VV 16-18, 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Paul encourged the Corinthian Christians not to throw in the towel. Our physical bodies undergo degeneration every day but our souls and spirits are renewed day by day. Our sufferings in this world are only temporary. The glory of heaven awaits us in the future where there will be no more sufferings. We should not look at the visible things which are temporal but at the invisible, eternal things. 


The world was in darkness and chaos until God created the light and commanded the light to shine into the darkness. Before conversion, our hearts were in total darkness, but God commanded the light of the Holy Spirit to illuminate our hearts and minds and we were born again. Our spiritual eyes were opened and we saw Christ. Our spiritual ears were opened and heard the gospel. Our spiritual hearts were softened and we receive Christ into our lives. This was a miracle that only God could do.


Heavenly Father, help us not to be discouraged. Even though our physical bodies are degenerating, our spirits and souls are renewed day by day. We claim the promise that our present sufferings in this world will be compensated by our future glory with You in heaven. Help us not to look at the visible and temporal things but to look at the invisible and eternal things, in Jesus’ name, Amen.