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4. Treasures in Jars of Clay
1Therefore seeing we have this ministry, even as we obtained mercy, we faint not: 2but we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by the manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. 3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled in them that perish: 4in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn upon them. 5For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6Seeing it is God, that said, Light shall shine out of darkness, who shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves; 8we are pressed on every side, yet not straitened; perplexed, yet not unto despair; 9pursued, yet not forsaken; smitten down, yet not destroyed; 10always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body. 11For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12So then death worketh in us, but life in you. 13But having the same spirit of faith, according to that which is written, I believed, and therefore did I speak; we also believe, and therefore also we speak; 14knowing that he that raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also with Jesus, and shall present us with you. 15For all things are for your sakes, that the grace, being multiplied through the many, may cause the thanksgiving to abound unto the glory of God. 16Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. 17For our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; 18while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
13. Having the same spirit. This is a correction of the foregoing irony. He had represented the condition of the Corinthians as widely different from his own, (not according to his own judgment, but according to their erroneous view,) inasmuch as they were desirous of a gospel that was pleasant and free from all molestation of the cross, and entertained less honorable views of him, because his condition was less renowned. Now, however, he associates himself with them in the hope of the same blessedness. “Though God spares you, and deals with you more indulgently, while he treats me with somewhat more severity, this diversity, nevertheless, will be no hinderance in the way of the like glorious resurrection awaiting both of us. For where there is oneness of faith, there will, also, there be one inheritance.” It has been thought, that the Apostle speaks here of the holy fathers, who lived under the Old Testament, and represents them as partakers with us, in the same faith. This, indeed, is true, but it does not accord with the subject in hand. For it is not Abraham, or the rest of the fathers, that he associates with himself in a fellowship of faith, but rather the Corinthians, whereas they separated themselves from him by a perverse ambition. “However my condition,” says he, “may appear to be the worse for the present, we shall, nevertheless, one day be alike participants in the same glory, for we are connected together by one faith.” Whoever will examine the connection attentively, will perceive, that this is the true and proper interpretation. By metonymy, he gives the name of the spirit of faith 481481 Calvin adverts to this form of expression in the Institutes, (volume 2) as an evidence that faith is implanted by the Divine Spirit. — Ed. to faith itself, because it is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
As it is written What has given occasion for the mistake 482482 “Que i’ay dit;” — “That I have mentioned.” Calvin refers to the mistake of supposing that Paul alludes to the Old Testament believers. — Ed. is, that he quotes the testimony of David. It ought, however, to be taken in connection with the confession — not with the oneness of faith, or if you prefer it, it agrees with what follows — not with what goes before, in this way: “Because we have an assured hope of a blessed resurrection, we are bold to speak and preach what we believe, as it is written, I believed, therefore have I spoken ” Now, this is the commencement of Psalm 116, 483483 “The Septuagint, and some other ancient versions, make the latter part of the 116th Psalm” (commencing with the Psalm 116:10 — I believed, therefore have I spoken) “a distinct Psalm, separate from the former, and some have called it the Martyr’s Psalm, I suppose for the sake of Psalm 116:15.” — Henry’s Commentary. — Ed. where David acknowledges, that, when he had been reduced to the last extremity, he was so overpowered that he almost gave way, but, having soon afterwards regained confidence, he had overcome that temptation. Accordingly, he opens the Psalm thus: I believed, therefore will I speak. For faith is the mother 484484 “Comme la mere;” — “As it were, the mother.” of confession. Paul, it is true, stirring himself up to imitate him, 485485 “S’accourageant... imiter cest exemple de Dauid;” — “Stirring himself up to imitate this example of David” exhorts the Corinthians to do the same, and, in accordance with the common Greek translation, has used the preterite instead of the future, but this is of no consequence 486486 “I believed, for I did speak, (Psalm 116:10) — which is a sure proof of the presence of faith. Confession and faith are inseparably connected. Compare 2 Corinthians 4:13. The Apostle places, after the example of the Septuagint, therefore instead of for: ‘I believed, therefore I spake,’ without any material alteration of the sense.” — Hengstenberg on the Psalms, (Edin. 1848,) volume 3 p. 372. — Ed. For he simply means to say, that believers ought to be magnanimous, and undaunted, in
Let now our pretended followers of Nicodemus 488488 “There were also at this time” (about the year 1540) “certain persons who, having renounced the Protestant faith through dread of persecution, flattered themselves, that there was no harm in remaining in the external communion of the Church of Rome, provided they embraced the true religion in their hearts. And because Calvin who condemned so pernicious a sentiment was considered by them as carrying his severity to an extreme, he showed clearly that his opinion was in unison, not only with those of the fathers of the Church, but also with the doctrine of the most learned theologians of the age, such as Melancthon, Bucer, and Martyr, as well as the ministers of Zurich; and so completely extinguished that error, that all pious persons censured the Nicodemites — a name given to those who defended their dissimulation by the example of Nicodemus.” — Mackenzie’s Life of Calvin, p. 59. See also Calvin on John, vol. 1, p. 317, Calvin on the Psalms, vol. 5, p. 481; [A reference to the entry for Nicodemites in the index, which states, “a class in the time of Calvin who professed to have embraced the gospel, but who concealed their sentiments, and joined in the superstitious observances of the Papists.” — sg.] and Calvin’s Tracts, volume 1, p. 49. — Ed. mark, what sort of fiction they contrive for themselves in the place of faith, when they would have faith remain inwardly buried, and altogether silent, and glory in this wisdom — that they utter, during their whole life, not a single word of right confession.
15. For all things are for your sakes He now associates himself with the Corinthians, not merely in the hope of future blessedness, but also in these very afflictions, in which they might seem to differ from him most widely, for he lets them know, that, if he is afflicted, it is for their benefit. Hence it follows, that there was good reason why they should transfer part of them to themselves. What Paul states, depends first of all on that secret fellowship, which the members of Christ have with one another, but chiefly on that mutual connection and relationship, which required more especially to be manifested among them. Now this admonition was fraught with great utility to the Corinthians, and brought with it choice consolation. For what consolation there is in this — that while God, sparing our weakness, deals with us more gently, those that are endowed with more distinguished excellence, are afflicted for the common advantage of all! They were also admonished, that, since they could not aid Paul otherwise, they should, at least, help him by their prayers and sympathy.
That the grace which hath abounded. That agreement 489489 “Ceste vnite et consentemente mutuel;” — “That unity and mutual agreement.” between the members of Christ he now commends on the ground of the fruit that springs from it — its tendency to advance the glory of God. By a metonymy, according to his usual manner, he means, by the term grace, that blessing of deliverance, of which he had made mention previously — that,
while he was weighed down, he was, nevertheless, not in anxiety: while oppressed with poverty, he was not left destitute, etc.,
(2 Corinthians 4:8, 9,)
and in fine, that he had a deliverance continually afforded him from every kind of evil 490490 “De toutes sortes de maux desquels il estoit assailli;” — “From all sorts of evils with which he was assailed.” This grace, he says, overflows. By this he means, that it was not confined to himself personally, so that he alone enjoys it, but it extends itself farther — namely, to the Corinthians, to whom it was of great advantage. When he makes the overflowing of God’s gift consist in gratitude, tending to the glory of its Author, he admonishes us, that every blessing that God confers upon us perishes through our carelessness, if we are not prompt and active in rendering thanks.