Summary: Paul spoke of various vessels within a great house. We are all vessels, belonging to the Master. Each vessel is different, and yet each has potential and is expected to be of use. We are either a vessel of honor or dishonor.
Vessels of Honor
2 Timothy 2: 19-23
Much like the Lord, Paul was a master of using ordinary illustrations to reveal significant truth. Our text today is yet another example of Paul’s unique and memorable imagery. Knowing the need for committed service, along with the struggle to remain pure and usable, Paul spoke of men as vessels within a great house. Each vessel was different from the others, and used in different ways. The make-up of the vessel dictated its use and placement within the house. The Master knows those who abide in Him. These are expected to depart from iniquity, seeking to serve the Lord. 2 Tim.2:19 – Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
As I pondered these words, I was reminded that we are all merely vessels of clay, fashioned by the Potter’s hand. He has crafted us according to His divine plan. Each vessel was crafted with a specific purpose – to hold the contents desired by the Master. 2 Cor.4:6-7 – For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
As we examine the instructions Paul left for the young pastor, Timothy, I want to consider the thought: Vessels of Honor. We notice first:
I. The Diversity in Character (20) – But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. Speaking of different vessels, literally different lives, Paul described the diverse character found among men. Consider:
A. The Placement – We discover that each of these vessels, all varied in make-up, size, and intended use, were found within a “great house.” This creates an image of a grand house, owned and maintained by a wealthy owner, very meticulous about his home. Although the vessels were different, they each belonged to the master of the house and were used according to his wishes.
It is widely accepted that Paul was referring to the church as he spoke of a great house. Certainly, within the context of the passage, this seems to be the intention of the apostle. We know the church is not a building, but is made up of individual believers, creating the core of the body, the local congregation. It is important to keep the vessel’s placement in mind as we continue to move through these verses.
B. The Assortment (20) – But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth. Paul revealed the variety of vessels found within the great house – some of gold and silver, and others of wood and earth. Each of these vessels were created for a particular use, revealed by the material from which they were made. The vessels of gold were created for a particular purpose, and the vessels of wood were unable to meet that particular need. Each contributed in various ways, but each vessel was always used for the purpose it was created.
Within the body of Christ, the great house built by Him, there are different vessels with various uses. Each vessel was carefully created by the Master, according to His divine plan, for a specific use within the house. Those in Christ have been uniquely gifted to carry out the work for which they were created. While the silver and gold vessels were both created of precious metals, they were intended for different uses. Each has its own place within the house, used according to the Master’s design. (While we are all different, gifted with different abilities, and for different purposes, all are needed and necessary to carry out the desire of the Master.)
C. The Assessment (20b) – But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. While each vessel was owned by the same master, each vessel did not bring the same honor. In fact, some vessels brought no honor at all. It is generally accepted that the vessels of gold and silver were vessels of honor, and those of wood and clay were vessels of dishonor. Each vessel was contained within the same house, but the honor they brought the master varied according to their make-up.
The same is true when we consider the local church. There are those who are genuinely born again, placed within the body of Christ; and there are those who are mere pretenders, simply going through the motions with no change of heart. Some who attend the house of God bring honor to the Lord, and some have never repented of sin and received Christ as Savior.