But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
— 2 Corinthians 4:7
When I was a small boy, the guys in our neighborhood loved to play like they were pirates. My friends and I would draw detailed maps with palm trees, waterfalls, lagoons, and, of course, buried treasure! The location of the buried treasure was always specified with a huge “X.” As we acted out our game and pretended to look for hidden treasure, we’d remind each other that “X” marked the spot of the buried treasure.
Treasure hunters are always scouring the earth to look for treasures and relics left by previous civilizations and generations. But the greatest treasure in the whole universe is right inside you! I’m talking about a cache of wealth so immense that its reserves can never be completely dug out, explored, discovered, or discerned. These are spiritual assets beyond your wildest imagination!
The apostle Paul wrote about this astonishing treasure in Second Corinthians 4:7, where he said, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” The first thing Paul does in this verse is tell us where this treasure is buried.
Notice that Paul says, “But we have….” The words “we have” in Greek is echomen, which is taken from the Greek word echo. The word echo means to have, to hold, to possess, or to keep. It is the picture of someone who “has” something in his possession because it belongs to him. It is rightfully his, and he has the right to keep it.
But when Paul uses this word in this verse, he speaks in the plural, including himself and all believers. His words could be translated, “We hold and possess as our very own.…” He is describing something that is already in the hands of all believers — something that legally belongs to them and that they have a right to claim! The word “treasure” is the Greek word thesauros, a word that describes a treasure, a treasury, a treasure chamber, or a place of safekeeping where riches and fortunes are kept. It presents the idea of a specially built room designed to be the repository for massive riches and wealth. By using this word, Paul declares that we as believers are the possessors of riches beyond belief. Moreover, we are the chambers, repositories, or treasuries where God has placed this fortune. Because the word echomen (“we have”) precedes the word thesauros, this phrase could be translated, “We already have and hold this wealth in our possession.” Therefore, it is not something we are trying to obtain; it is something we already possess.
However, Paul says that this treasure is contained in “earthen vessels” — a phrase he uses to refer to our human bodies. The phrase “earthen vessels” comes from the Greek word ostrakinos, a word used to describe small, cheap, and easily broken pottery made of inferior materials. This kind of pottery was weak, fragile, and valueless — so cheaply made that it would never have been seen in wealthier homes. These “bargain-basement” dishes were primarily used in the lower-class neighborhoods, purchased by people who couldn’t afford to acquire better merchandise. Because the dishes were made of imperfect materials, they usually had defects.
As time passed, it is interesting that this word ostrakinos came to represent anything inferior, low-grade, mediocre, shoddy, second-rate, or substandard. Furthermore, it is where we get the phrase “to ostracize.”
When people “ostracize” a person, it means they regard him as substandard — too unfit to be a part of their group. They speak derogatorily of him, poke fun at him, and belittle him in front of others. The person being “ostracized” most likely feels as though he has been cut out of the group — shunned, ignored, and treated like something that is shoddy and deficient.
Shoddy, deficient, substandard pottery is exactly the kind of “earthen vessels” Paul had in mind when he wrote Second Corinthians 4:7. He used the illustration of these cheaply made dishes to announce the location of the secret chamber where God placed His greatest treasure on planet earth!
- Where is the secret chamber in which God has put His greatest treasure?
- Where are the earthen vessels Paul refers to in this verse?
By connecting the Greek words echomen, thesauros, and ostrakinos, Paul says that we are the location of this divine treasure! If “X” marks the spot, then the “X” is marked on us! As amazing as this is to consider, it is true that God has placed His greatest gift on earth on the inside of us!
This means that Second Corinthians 4:7 communicates this idea:
“We possess treasure within ourselves! And not only do we possess treasure, but our easily broken, inferior, temporary bodies are themselves the treasure chambers where this astonishing cache is kept.…”
Paul uses these Greek words, almost in amazement, to joyfully announce that the human body is the residence of the Holy Spirit — God’s powerful gift to every believer. Even though our human bodies are fragile and eventually die, it pleased God to deposit this gift inside us. Think about how incredible this is! The human body is so fragile that:
- A wrong diet can kill it.
- Working too hard can break it.
- Too much pressure can damage it.
- And even after caring tenderly for it your entire lifetime, it still eventually dies.
Yet God placed His greatest treasure inside us anyway!
Get ahold of this picture in your heart: You are a treasure hunter’s greatest dream. You have the treasure map. “X” marks the spot for the hidden treasure, but this time you don’t have to go searching for the hidden treasure because the “X” is written on you! You are the hiding place for God’s greatest treasure — the third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit!
So meditate on this truth today: You are valuable and precious in God’s sight. Even though in the natural you may seem weak, fragile, and valueless, God has chosen your human body as the place to hide His greatest treasure. Now you can say, “When God looks at me, ‘X’ really does mark the spot!”
My Prayer for Today
Lord, how can I ever say thank You enough for putting Your Spirit inside me! It is so amazing to think that You would want to live inside someone like me. Yet this was Your choice, and for this I am eternally grateful. Help me live a life that is worthy of Your Presence inside me. Forgive me for times when I’ve treated You wrongly by defiling my mind or my body with things that are not worthy of You. Help me stay constantly aware that I am a carrier of the greatest gift the world has ever known.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I joyfully declare that I carry the Presence of God in my life. I am the temple of the Holy Spirit — a treasury where God has placed His power, His gifts, His grace, His fruit, and His character. Resident within me is enough power and answers to change both my environment and the environment of anyone to whom God uses me to speak the words of life.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Are you daily aware of the wonderful Presence of God that is always resident inside you?
2. Do you look at yourself with disgust, or do you see your body as a wonderfully made treasure chamber for the Holy Spirit?
3. Since the Holy Spirit lives inside you, how should this affect the way you live your life?