New International Reader's Version

2 Corinthians 4

A Treasure in Clay Jars

1So because of God’s mercy, we have work to do. He has given it to us. And we don’t give up. Instead, we have given up doing secret and shameful things. We don’t twist God’s word. In fact, we do just the opposite. We present the truth plainly. In the sight of God, we make our appeal to everyone’s sense of what is right and wrong. Suppose our good news is covered with a veil. Then it is veiled to those who are dying. The god of this world has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They can’t see the light of the good news that makes Christ’s glory clear. Christ is the likeness of God. The message we preach is not about ourselves. Our message is about Jesus Christ. We say that he is Lord. And we say that we serve you because of Jesus. God said, “Let light shine out of darkness.” (Genesis 1:3) He made his light shine in our hearts. His light gives us the light to know God’s glory. His glory is shown in the face of Christ.

Treasure is kept in clay jars. In the same way, we have the treasure of the good news in these earthly bodies of ours. That shows that the mighty power of the good news comes from God. It doesn’t come from us. We are pushed hard from all sides. But we are not beaten down. We are bewildered. But that doesn’t make us lose hope. Others make us suffer. But God does not desert us. We are knocked down. But we are not knocked out. 10 We always carry around the death of Jesus in our bodies. In that way, the life of Jesus can be shown in our bodies. 11 We who are alive are always in danger of death because we are serving Jesus. This happens so that his life can also be shown in our earthly bodies. 12 Death is at work in us. But life is at work in you.

13 It is written, “I believed, and so I have spoken.” (Psalm 116:10) We have that same spirit of faith. So we also believe and speak. 14 We know that God raised the Lord Jesus from the dead. And he will also raise us up with Jesus. And he will present both you and us to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit. God’s grace is reaching more and more people. So they will become more and more thankful. They will give glory to God.

16 We don’t give up. Our bodies are becoming weaker and weaker. But our spirits are being renewed day by day. 17 Our troubles are small. They last only for a short time. But they are earning for us a glory that will last forever. It is greater than all our troubles. 18 So we don’t spend all our time looking at what we can see. Instead, we look at what we can’t see. That’s because what can be seen lasts only a short time. But what can’t be seen will last forever.

The Message

2 Corinthians 4

Trial and Torture

11-2 Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.

3-4 If our Message is obscure to anyone, it’s not because we’re holding back in any way. No, it’s because these other people are looking or going the wrong way and refuse to give it serious attention. All they have eyes for is the fashionable god of darkness. They think he can give them what they want, and that they won’t have to bother believing a Truth they can’t see. They’re stone-blind to the dayspring brightness of the Message that shines with Christ, who gives us the best picture of God we’ll ever get.

5-6 Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.

7-12 If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. 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!

13-15 We’re not keeping this quiet, not on your life. Just like the psalmist who wrote, “I believed it, so I said it,” we say what we believe. And what we believe is that the One who raised up the Master Jesus will just as certainly raise us up with you, alive. Every detail works to your advantage and to God’s glory: more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise!

16-18 So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.