II Corinthians 4:7-18 and Waldenström's Commentary

We Have This Treasure In Earthen Vessels

by Paul Peter Waldenström and translated by Tommy Carlson

Verse 7 — However, we have this treasure1 in a clay vessel2 in that the infinite power may be God's and not from within ourselves3

  • By treasure the Apostle means, according to verse 6, that light that God allowed to state in his heart.
  • that is to say: we are weak, frail beings, we who own this treasure. Treasures one usually preserves in secure rooms. It is moreover, not improbable that these words indicate that the Apostle was suffering from physical debility. Compare with verse 16 and chap.12:7.
  • that power, that the apostle developed in his activity was boundless, that is to say, it overcame magnificently all difficulties. For that reason it must also, in regard to his own infirmity, be evident for all, that this power was God's and did not have its origin in himself. In verse 8 and following he describes the evidence of the infinity of the power.
  • Verse 8 — in everything1 feeling too tight but not locked up2, irresolute but not perplexed3

  • in every way
  • never in such dire straits that we never break out again.
  • compare chap. 1:8, 11:23 f.
  • Verse 9 — persecuted but not abandonedl, discouraged but not defeated2 (psalm 37:24)

  • God never leaves us in trouble.
  • If we are knocked down, we always rise up again. Micah 7:8
  • Verse 10 — always conveying around in the body Jesus' death1, in that way even Jesus' life may be manifested in our bodies2

  • Still, wherever we travel around we are subjected to the peril of being killed like Jesus. See Romans 8:35 f., I Cor. 15:31, Phil. 3:10. death, denotes actually the death of self. This death can in this context be thought of either as an accomplished fact (as in Rom. 4:19) or as ongoing (as here).
  • Every rescue from the peril of death, the Apostle regards figuratively as a resurrection to life, similar to Jesus'. Compare Ps. 107:20
  • Verse 11 — Because1 we who live2 surrender always to death3 for Jesus' sake, in that way even Jesus' life may be manifested in our deadly flesh4. Ps. 44:23, Matt. 5:11

  • The Apostle here explains what he meant in the previous verse.
  • Those who have departed this life have overcome all perils.
  • are continually at the mercy of death.
  • This is a stronger expression for "our body" (verse 10), compare Rom. 6:12, 8:11. Notice the liveliness of the description. When the Jesus' bodily death he experiences; when he is saved from death it is Jesus' corporeal life after the resurrection which is manifested in his body.
  • Verse 12 — In such a manner death is active in us, but life in you1

  • We are constantly at the mercy of death, while you, on the other hand, live and are beyond all mortal danger. This latter addition the Apostle makes to awaken their sympathy more actively.
  • Verse 13 — But having the same spirit of belief according to what is written1: I believed, therefore I also spoke2, even as we believe, therefore we also speak3

  • While we have the same spirit of belief as the psalmist, when he said etc... With the spirit of belief is meant that spirit which produces belief.
  • Ps. 116:10 The Apostle quotes the psalmist' word according to the seventy interpreters' translation (septuagint-Greek translation of Hebrew Bible, c.a. 200 b.c.e.)
  • The connection between this and the previous verse seems to be: Although we constantly, for Jesus' sake, are at the mercy of death, we can not keep from talking about him. While we have the same spirit of belief that is revealed in the Psalmist' word: I believed, therefore I spoke.
  • Verse 14 — knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus1 shall also raise even us2 with Jesus and present us with you3 Rom. 8:11, I Cor. 6:14

  • See comments to John 10:18
  • if we for our confession must sacrifice our life. This assurance about the resurrection, made the Apostle not respect death. Paul waited and generally believed that he would experience the time of Christ's return. See comments to Rom. 13:12. Toward the end of his life he talks with certainty about that (Acts 20:25).
  • before him in the Messiah kingdoms glory. Probably the Apostle thinks about it in this way, that if he is killed, then they will live until Christ returns (compare verse 12); and then shall he and they be reunited with Christ in his glory: he through resurrection and they through transformation. That the Apostle actually thinks only about himself, although he says "us", see comments to Chap. 1:4.
  • Verse 15 — Because everythingl (takes place) for your sake2, in that grace3 may be increased through the many4, shall thanksgiving abound in God's glorification5, 2 Cor. 1:6, 11.

  • all our work and suffering.
  • for your salvation. ( see 2 Tim. 2:10)
  • that God's grace, that has been successful in our work in spite of all difficulties.
  • through the many that without us have shared in it. Grace is increased, that is to say, it spreads out more and more, as more become saved.
  • on that day when all the saved shall gather before him in his glory ( verse 14).
  • Verse 16 — For that reason1 we are not discouraged2 but even if our external body is ruined3 so is renewed4 however our internal5 (person) day by day.

  • when we have such an outlook as we have now said.
  • however large the di8iculties yet may be and however often we may be in perils of death. The same word here as in verse 1 and Luke 18:1.
  • more and more is worn out, til it just disintegrates. See comments to verse 7.
  • grows to health and strength. Compare Isa. 40:31, Ps. 103:5.
  • about the meaning of the expression "the inner and outer person" see comments to Rom. 7:22.
  • Verse 17 — For the momentary easiness in our suffering1 works2 in an infinite way to a boundless degree, an eternal weight of glory3 to us. Ps.30:6. Matt. 5:12, Rom. 8:18, Thess. 1:7.

  • that is to say, our suffering which is light and lasts only a moment.
  • as wages for us in Messiah's kingdom. Compare Matt. 5:12, Luke 16:25, Rom. 8:17, 2 Tim. 2:11 f.
  • a glory which is eternal and heavy. Paul views the distress and glory metaphorically as a scale. The former weighs practically nothing in comparison with the latter. For that reason the former last only a moment and the latter for eternity. It is like a soap bubble on one side of the scale and a mountain of gold on the other.
  • Verse 18 — when we do not search after1 the thing which is visible2 but after that which is not visible;for that which is visible is temporary3 but that which is not visible is eternal. Rom 8:24

  • For the meaning of the word in the original text, see comments to Rom. 16:17
  • that is to say, earthly possessions and benefits. Compare Phil 3:19.
  • Verbatim: are for a time in existent. Compare 1 Cor. 7:29-31.
  • Paul Peter Waldenström was a Swedish revival preacher, and served as editor of Pietisten from 1868-1917.

    See all articles by Paul Peter Waldenström

    Tommy Carlson remodels homes and is an editor of Pietisten.

    See all articles by Tommy Carlson