Olive oil was a very important commodity in the Roman world. Not only was it used for consumption; it was also used for medicine, skin care and of course as fuel for lamps.
Extracting the oil from the olives was a very labor-intensive process which is still used today. To the right you can see an olive press which would have been used during the time of Christ. The olives were pressed or crushedby the heavy stone over and over again until the oil contained within them was released.
When I read these words, I always think about the olive press:
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.
But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, I believed in God, so I spoke. We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus,will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God's grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:8-16 (NLT)
Paul would have been very familiar with the olive press and I cannot help but wonder if he was thinking about it as well when he wrote those words.
The process of extracting "oil" fromus is a long and often painful process. Like the olive, we get bruised for it is the only way to release the oil that is within us. However, unlike the olive, God promises that though we may be pressed, He will not allow us to be destroyed.
We must always remember that... no matter what!