2 Corinthians 4:7-15 NKJV
2 Corinthians 4:11-12 The Message
BE Grateful Series
I’m not sure that anyone who preached the Gospel message in the 1st Century A.D. didn’t suffer at the hands of the Roman Government. Every Apostle (save John) within reach was captured and martyred. Most of those happened after Nero came to power.
Instead of being martyred, John the Apostle was imprisoned and he was sent to the Island of Patmos to spend his final days. That’s where John received the Revelation.
Even though the Apostle Paul was a Roman Citizen, he was no different.
But that wasn’t always the case…
When we first hear about Saul of Tarsus, he was a Pharisee who studied under the Rabbi Gamaliel. It’s thought that Saul was at Stephen’s trial prior to him being stoned (Acts 7:54-60). In Acts 7:58we know the executioners laid their garments at the feet of Saul at his trial. We know from Acts 8:1-3 that Saul the Pharisee approved of the execution of Stephen and he persecuted the early Christians prior to his experience on the Road to Damascus.
Following his conversion on the Road to Damascus, Saul the Pharisee was known as Paul and the hunter became the hunted.
In 2 Corinthians 4:7-15 Paul wrote, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed-always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 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. So then death is working in us, but life in you. 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, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 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 used the example of being “pressed on every side” because He was hunted down for preaching the message of Jesus (https://www.google.com/amp/s/enduringword.com/Bible-commentary/2-Corinthians-r/amp/). Paul had first hand knowledge of being pressed, being in despair, being persecuted, being struck down. Paul also knew through everything he had experienced because of preaching the Gospel message he had NOT been crushed, was perplexed, was NOT forsaken, but was NOT destroyed. Paul was making a case using his own experiences of his persecution because he preached the message of Jesus.
At the time this passage was written Saul the Pharisee who was present at the trial and stoning of Stephen and who continued to persecute the early Christians prior to his experience on the Road to Damascus was now Paul, the Apostle.
Paul who had been a primary persecutor was now BEING hard-pressed, perplexed, and struck down.
No one knew better than Paul what it would be like to be hunter and hunted.
Paul would have know what both sides were thinking.
In this section of scripture, Paul started out by making it clear that we have and we are a treasure to God. Paul used the word ‘earthen vessels’ to show that as humans we are created from the elements God gave and our earthly bodies become dust in the end. We are ultimately a vessel for God.
Paul lets the reader know that while we are persecuted we are not crushed, we do not despair, we are not forsaken, and we are not destroyed. What he says next is important because Paul tells us we carry IN us the dying of Jesus so we can deeply connect to the life of Jesus. The way Paul wrote about it struck me.
He said in verse 11-12, “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. So then death is working in us, but life in you.”
The same verses in The Message says: “what they did to Jesus, they do to us - trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us - he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!”
Those verses remind me of a few people I’ve known in my life who really spoke out for Jesus. They weren’t wealthy. They weren’t part of the “in” crowd. They weren’t beautiful.
They were rough and rugged.
They had wrinkles and rough looking skin.
They had worked hard all their lives.
They all had one thing in common.
Their knees were rough and worn. They had a glow about them. They spoke few words and spent most of their time listening to the holy inner voice.
When they did speak, people listened because those who really knew them knew that God spoke to them and through them. When they spoke, fire came out. They said words that people needed to hear.
I think that’s what Paul was like.
When people like that reach out they ‘SPEAK God’.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Listen to God so you can speak God
Hear and write down one word or thought you have after praying.
In God, Deborah