Jars of Clay – 2


Thoughts on 2 Corinthians 4

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

The chapter follows the Creation pattern. Here are the governors of Day 4, the people of God filled with the Law of God at Pentecost. They become the eyes of God. (See Eye Spy – 1: The Insiders).

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

Paul refers to Adamic clay, even Edom-ic clay, and to the battle of Midian in Judges. (Isaiah quite brilliantly uses Midian as a symbolic reference to the Lampstand lights at the centre of a Trumpets stanza. See Wizards That Peep and Mutter). The light will not be hidden, although it can only be revealed, demonstrated, when the jars are broken (Romans 5:8).

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

The literary structure means this refers to a new wilderness, an exile from the city, a looking forward to a city made without hands.

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

Just as the Restored Jews were to be a priesthood who demonstrated the renewed sacrifices hidden in the second Temple’s Holy Place, so the apostles’ lives were to fill up the sufferings of Jesus—in public.

For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.

We are raised to walk in newness of life. This is the power of His resurrection. The structure moves to Step 5, a new body, a corporate resurrection at Trumpets.

So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

I think this might be what the writer of Hebrews refers to with the phrase “a better resurrection.” Were the saints to submit to death just for greater glory in heaven? That is not what we see in Paul. He was willing to be accursed for the sake of his brethren. The “Christian hedonist” is willing to die for the bride, to be a lone grain of wheat that brings a bumper harvest, ie. a better, more abundant, resurrection. (See Military Cross: The Hungry Eyes of Jesus.)

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak,

Step 5 is very often about the witness which follows resurrection. Psalm 116 follows the same pattern. This quote is right at the centre. It is the man of God who heard the Law received from the mount. He has lived to tell about it because He believed it and obeyed it. Now he speaks as Law incarnate. (See The Well of Souls and also True Gravity.)

because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.

We are up to Atonement, High Priest and people, Adam and Eve before God on Day 6. Again, Paul was willing to be a buried grain so that the harvest would be greater. The gold, silver and precious stones are not rewards but people

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

Paul’s life was a constant death-and-resurrection: like our hair, nails and skin. Renewal by the Spirit is a constant taking in of food from God that flows out into the world not as legislation but as spiritual government, self-government. We see the same thing in the spring of Eden. How often do we resort to “starvation mode,” a kind of inward cannibalism, just to get us through the day, when we have the spring of the Spirit at our disposal.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Step 7 is all about rest and glory. It often concerns our becoming wise judges. Think of Isaac’s, Eli’s, Samson’s and Zedekiah’s blindness. And then of Solomon’s initial sight. The Spirit allows us to see things as they really are. We are able to determine the truth, as Solomon did between the prostitutes. This also prefigured the first century: the true church as bride and the Herodian harlot. Who was the true mother? As the Pentecost eyes of God, the saints were to judge. Revelation also shows the saints as co-executioners of the false woman, the Jezebel they had rightly identified and rejected.

Well, that’s the end of the chapter. Following the general themes, chapter 4 might be the “Day 4″ of a larger cycle:

Chapter 1 – Creation: The God of All Comfort / Paul’s Words
Chapter 2 – Division: Forgiveness for the Sinner and Open Doors
Chapter 3 – Ascension: Tablets of Flesh not Stone / The Face of Moses
Chapter 4 – Testing: Jars of Clay
Chapter 5 – Maturity: Resurrection and Witness
Chapter 6 – Conquest: (Atonement) The Day of Salvation / Paul’s hardships as Head, Christ and Belial as the body to be rightly divided by the Word of Truth (not unequally yoked/twin goats again!)
Chapter 7 – Glorification: Paul’s joy. Titus and the Corinthians as his “succession”

I don’t know how this affects the theory that there is a break after chapter 9. Might have to look at that some other time.

Also, slight correction to yesterday’s post. It was Division in 1 Corinthians, not the super apostles. These men are in the quite negative final chapters of 2 Corinthians, which might be an argument for the unity of the epistle (chiastically). Not only were they exploiting the Corinthian Christians, they boasted in some things Paul now counted as dung:

Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more.

Christians in authority are always tempted to look for credibility outside of Christ. It might be a ministry title, a book you have written, a funny hat (although, see In Defense of Silly Hats) or a call to preach or teach. In the first century, without a finalised New Testament, the temptation to claim some kind of “Jewish” authority would have been very great. After the Temple worship’s demise, it appears that the super-apostles eventually got together and invented apostolic succession out of whole cloth as a replacement for Jewish fables. True credibility always comes from service. As Doug Wilson continually hammers into us, “Authority flows to those who take responsiblity.”

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