2 Corinthians 4:7
But [Moreover] we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
Everyone wants to find a treasure, especially a long lost treasure. Well, this is it! It is a treasure that has been lost for almost two thousand years. Actually, it is so lost that almost no one is looking for it any longer. The reason it is no longer sought out is because, a number of years ago, a group of men declared they had found the treasure. Therefore, there was no need for anyone to seek any further.
But as time passed, a problem materialized with the declaration from these men, there was no power of God in what they said was the treasure. Actually, the only power they discovered was a power that they exercised over others who had also sought the treasure.
So we are left with the question, should we be looking for this treasure today? If the answer is yes, then exactly what is this treasure that was placed in earthen vessels? And what is an earthen vessel?
We are looking for a treasure that is "in" an earthen vessel. The word "in" is the Greek word en and means, "...denotes being or remaining within, with the primary idea of rest and continuance." This preposition gives us the idea that this treasure is staying within the vessel, it isn't a treasure we take out or remove. It carries the idea of "rest and continuance". Another Lexicon defines en as, "a primary preposition denoting fixed position..."
So, we know that this treasure is staying put within the earthen vessel. But what is the earthen vessel?
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.
God formed the body of man from the dust of the ground. The Hebrew word for red earth is adamah, and, as can be easily seen, it comes from the word translated Adam. The meaning of the name Adam is red, or red soil because he was formed from the "dust of the ground".
But the Lord said unto him [Ananias], Go thy way: for he [Paul] is a chosen vessel unto me [Jesus Christ], to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.
A vessel can be either a type of clay pot or it could be a man, a person. The earthen vessel of 2 Corinthians 4 is a man. And since the context is using the plural we can say it is men.
2 Corinthians 4:7a
But [Moreover] we have this treasure in earthen vessels,...
This unknown treasure is supposed to be found in men. But, are we speaking of every man or certain men?
2 Corinthians 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:
The second epistle to the Corinthians is addressed to the church at Corinth and the saints in Achaia. The word translated church is the Greek word ekklesia and simply means a group of people that have been called together for a specific purpose. In the case of second Corinthians the purpose was to gather together around the Word of God as taught by the Apostle Paul. Later, in the epistle to the Ephesians, this ekklesia will be identified as the Church of the Body.
These same believers are also called saints. Saints is the Greek word hagios and it means to be holy. When you read the words Holy Spirit in the New Testament hagios is the word translated holy. Saints are not those who died after living a holy life by controlling their flesh. But rather, the saints were people who believed the teachings of Paul and were currently living in Achaia. This is a part of the believers identification in Christ that we have briefly looked at in previous teachings.
So, the men spoken of in 2 Corinthians 4:7 are those who have believed the gospel of grace, as taught by the Apostle Paul when he traveled to Achaia in Acts 18. Since the Epistle of Romans is the foundational doctrine to the Church, or the ekklesia, of the Administration of Grace the doctrine of Romans is what Paul would have proclaimed in Corinth also.
Romans is the doctrine or the right way of believing. Corinthians is reproof because they failed to practice the right way of believing as taught in the doctrine of Romans. The point of Corinthians is to bring the believers back to the right practice of the doctrine of Romans. Then, Galatians is correction because they had practiced the doctrine of Romans incorrectly for so long that their new way, or their new practice, became their new doctrine. The point of Galatians is again to bring the believers back to the right doctrine, the right way of believing as proclaimed in Romans.
So, the earthen vessels are those who have believed the doctrine of Romans but due to improper practice have moved away from the right way of believing in application.
But we still need to establish exactly what is this treasure that can be found in the earthen vessels? To understand the treasure we need to return to Romans.
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
We have seen earlier, in previous teachings, how that we were identified in Adam but because of the accomplished work of Jesus Christ, those who accept him as Lord can change their identification from Adam to Christ. In Romans 3:21 through Romans 5:11 we have seen how the accomplished work of Christ has allowed God to give justification to all who believe. Justification is the release from the penalty of sin, or as phrased by some others, "just as if I had never sinned". Remember, the penalty of sin, or the wages of sin, is death.
A problem many Christian religion teachers have with the concept of justification is found in Romans 3.
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
These teachers see the word "past" and they are sure that we still need to work on the sin's we commit after this point. Their failure enters in because they fail to understanding the fullness of the doctrine of Romans, the fullness of the grace of God. Since the doctrine of immediate justification upon believing is only presented in the gospel of grace these teachers become confused by mixing in doctrine from other administrations. Jesus Christ never taught immediate justification but then again, Jesus Christ did not teach the gospel of grace! Nor did Jesus Christ come to teach the Gentiles, but this is a closely held secret of Christian Religion.
Romans 3:21 through 5:11 is dealing with sin's, our wrong actions before God. Sin's are the product of our sin nature. As long as we draw breath our sin nature will only accomplish sin's. Therefore, God also needed to take care of that nature which can do no good thing. God shows how He does this, take care of the old sin nature, in Romans 5:12 through 8:39 where He deals doctrinally with our old nature, a sin nature that can only produce what it is.
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
As much as Christian religion wants to dress up the flesh and make it look good, it will never come to pass. God understood this from the beginning when Adam fell. Therefore God had a plan to overcome our continued failure in the flesh. God's answer was to create within man a new nature, a new man. A nature not based on sin but rather based on holiness and righteousness.
Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
When Abraham believed, and all others that have believed God outside of the Administration of Grace, their believing is accounted to them looking forward to that time when God would raise all such men in the resurrection of the Just. But, in this administration, God has made those who believe as righteous as He is RIGHT NOW!
2 Corinthians 5:21
For he [God] hath made him [Jesus Christ] to be sin [a sin offering] for us, who [Jesus Christ] knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him [Jesus Christ].
That "we might be made" is in the present tense. We have been made as righteous as God right now, present tense! That is why second Corinthians could be addressed to the saints, those who God has made holy, right now!
Every Church Epistle of Romans through Thessalonians is addressed to those who are holy and righteous right now. Where sin had reigned unto death ever since Adam, now grace reigns by righteousness unto eternal life by our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the doctrine of grace, the gospel of grace, the unmerited favor of God. We don't earn it. We don't work for it. God accomplished the work for us in the accomplishments of Jesus Christ. If it was works, then it isn't grace!
Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Once religion begins to work for the righteousness of God it is no longer grace, it is a debt. Does any sane person really want to appear before God and declare that God owes them something based on their own works? Adam tried this with his action of putting on fig leaves! These fig leaves were mankind's first religious action in a long line of useless religious actions.
Adam is the one who lost the treasure.
Jesus Christ is the one who got it back.
Adam used fig leaves.
Jesus Christ used, It is Written.
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
God created, within those who believe in this Administration of Grace, His gift of holy spirit which is to be created in righteousness and true holiness. I limit this to the Administration of Grace because God does not use the term created in any other administration concerning what He has done for those who believe.
So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
We have already seen this truth from Romans 7:18 when it stated that there is no good thing in the flesh.
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if [since] so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
God no longer views us as in the flesh but in the spirit, which He has created within because we are now identified in Christ and not Adam. The treasure we have in earthen vessels is holy spirit from God. His gift to all who believe in the Administration of Grace. It is because of His spirit created within that we can be called saints.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
This is why in Romans 6 we can walk forth in newness of life.
And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Due to our new identification in Christ we have received God's gift of holy spirit. We can't work for it. We can't earn it. It is God's gift by grace, through the accomplish work of Christ. That is why it is also called Christ in us, or to the individual, Christ in you.
For we are his [God's] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus...
We are God's workmanship. The word "workmanship" is the Greek word poiema and should be translated masterpiece. We are God's masterpiece! He has created within us a treasure! That treasure is His gift of holy spirit.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature [creation].
Circumcision is a work. Works of man accomplish nothing. Those who declared so many years ago that they had found the treasure have only found a multitude of works for you and I to do, as they give us direction. But all the work that needed to be accomplished has been accomplished for us by Jesus Christ, that is why we make him Lord.
We confess Jesus as Lord and God creates within us His gift of holy spirit, His treasure to us, Christ in us.
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
God is Spirit. When He created Adam in His image He gave Adam holy spirit. But Adam received spirit upon the condition of not eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam had to earn that spirit's permanence through obedience. The spirit God created for us is in us, it is our new nature. It is not upon a condition because it has already been earned. It was earned by the accomplished work of Jesus Christ. It was earned by Jesus Christ through his obedience to the Word and Will of God.
This spirit God created within us has enabled us to turn to God and say, Abba, Father. Abba is an Aramaic word and is only used three times in the Bible.
And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, just prior to his arrest, torture, and murder, he prayed to God to see if any other method was possible to accomplish the redemption of mankind. It is during this time when he addressed God as Abba.
Abba is used here in Romans 8 as we have already seen. And finally, it is also used in the Epistle to the Galatians. Remember that Galatians is correcting wrong doctrine. Galatians is trying to bring the believers back to the right doctrine of Romans.
And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father
Because we are sons, God has sent forth the spirit of his son so that we can address God as Abba. It is a term of endearment and love. In today's English we might use the word daddy, or papa. This is the relationship God desires with those who have believed in the Administration of Grace. This is the relationship God has always desired with man. We are His dearly beloved children and his heirs, joint-heirs with His beloved son, Jesus Christ.
This is what God has done in us. The only sins a believer needed taken care of are the sins that are past because at that moment of belief, God created spirit in us, forever making us as righteous as Himself.
What God did for us was to take care of the product of our old nature, sins. What God did in us was to take care of our old sin nature by creating within us a new nature, a nature of righteousness and true holiness.
Let me ask you, if you are as righteous as God, how much sin do you think God Himself is committing? Our old nature cannot be dressed up and our new nature cannot be tarnished, we cannot sin in that spirit that God has created in us.
2 Corinthians 4:7
But [Moreover] we have this treasure [Christ in us, God's gift of holy spirit] in earthen vessels [our old man natural bodies], that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
To understand just how much we cannot clean up the old man nature all we need do is read Romans chapters 6 and 7. Romans chapters 6 and 7 are a parenthesis that explains how even though we have holy spirit within us this spirit is housed in an earthen vessel, our old man nature.
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
That is Paul's summation of the vessel which houses God's gift of holy spirit. No matter how much make-up you put on that body in the casket, it still looks dead! Religion has used a lot of make-up. Can you say, fig leaves?
For nearly two thousand years Christianity has missed the greatness of what God has accomplished for us and in us. It's time for us to accept the accomplished work of Christ and what God has accomplished for us in the work of His dear son.