Notes on 2 Corinthians 4:7-11

2 Corinthians 4:7-11
Such then is the ministration of the Spirit and of righteousness in Christ, the revelation of God's glory in His face. This is the treasure which grace gives.
“But we have this treasure, in earthenware vessels, that the surpassingness of the power may be God's, and not of us, in everything being afflicted, yet not straitened, sorely yet not utterly perplexed, persecuted yet not forsaken, cast down yet not destroyed, always bearing about in the1 body the dying [or, putting to death] of Jesus,2 that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body.3 For we that live are ever being delivered up unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus4 may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (Vers. 7-11.)
Thus does the apostle meet the natural thought of men which the carnal mind among the Corinthians had taken up against himself, to their loss and his grief. In an apostle they had looked for a grand style of speech, for lofty speculation and subtle argument, as well as a dignified and attractive presence, backed up by such a display of power as would overawe all the world. They could not understand therefore that one who was not a whit behind the chiefest apostles should be with them in weakness and fear and much trembling, and that on principle he should forego every advantage of intellectual ability and acquired learning, of all that which is a matter of boast to the flesh; nay more, that he should glory in infirmities, and treat as his foolishness all reference to his devoted service and mighty deeds, signs and wonders, with the vast and deep effects of his preaching. He was indeed the most remarkable of sufferers no less than of laborers; but he insists that, whim he was weak, then was he strong. What he gloried in was the Lord, and His strength made perfect in weakness. Doubtless, as the apostle surpassed all others in depth of heart and all-endurance for Christ and the church and the gospel, so in this also, the most abiding consciousness of weakness and insufficiency keeping him in dependence on the Lord.
Here he lays down the general principle. “We have this treasure in earthenware vessels,” and this “that the surpassingness of the power may be God's, and not of us.” The deposit was none the less precious because laid up in the coarsest ware. The very object is to make evident, by the contrast of man, weak and fragile and suffering, that the power is God's. On the one hand a revelation of grace, and truth which goes down into all depths of evil, and extricates so completely as to put those who were once slaves of Satan into the closest living association by the. Spirit with the Christ glorified in heaves; on the other, the vessels of this delivering power exposed not to an occasional assault of the enemy, but kept up by God in the face of constant pressure and excessive trial and extreme weakness, yet with blessing flowing out on every side: hard pressed, but not straitened; at a loss, but not absolutely so; pursued, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
What was it then that the Spirit set before those who thus held on their way? What gave patience in a path so strange to flesh and blood? “Always bearing about in the body the putting to death of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body.” Such was the habitual course of the apostle himself. He went about everywhere as one that realized Christ's portion, in the world, at all times applying death to the body, keeping it down as dead. It is the power of the cross applied to that which otherwise craves present ease and enjoyment, in order “that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body.” For the believer lives of the very same life as the Savior, in contrast with his old Adam life shared by all the race; and it is the activity of the natural life which hinders the working and manifestation of the life of Jesus. Hence the importance of ever applying by faith the putting to death (ωέκρωσιν) of Jesus, in its moral power, to the body, disallowing its energy by holding it for dead, that the life of Jesus also may be shown out.
And as this is the constant bent of those who are true to the cross practically, so God helps such souls in fact by continuous exposure to sorrow and suffering, difficulty, to danger, and death itself, for Jesus' sake, in order that the blessed end of manifesting the life of Jesus may be the more effectuated. “For we that live are ever being delivered up unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” A far weightier testimony, in such unwearied and unceasing trial, to God's power with His servant, than enduring a martyr's death through some sudden outburst of the world's hatred, however blessed and honorable such a death undoubtedly is.