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Bible Commentaries

Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected Books of the Bible
2 Corinthians 3

 

 

Introduction

Epistles Known And Read Of All Men

- Second Corinthians Three -

The theme of Paul"s sincerity continues to be contrasted with the conduct of some that corrupted the word of God. God had blessed Paul"s labors because of his faithful service to the Master. Paul was not just bragging on himself to gain the favor of men. Possibly the false teachers had been introduced with letters from elsewhere. Paul had no need of letters of recommendation to them because they were his epistles know and read of all men.

The Corinthians themselves were the best evidence of Paul zeal and faithfulness to the word of truth. Paul"s successful work had nothing to do with his own strength or skill. His work was blessed because of what God had done through him. (2 Corinthians 3:6) Paul used this occasion to show how the New Testament Gospel excelled the laws and institutions of Moses. The Law of Moses was a ministration of death that was done away. The gospel is a glorious ministration of righteousness that remains.

Sadly the Jews did not profit as they should have from the Law of Moses. They were blinded by it. Just as Moses put a veil over his face the Jews had a veil over their heart when the Law was read. They did not understand what God was saying to them through Scripture. Through the New Testament Christians have been permitted to behold the glory of the Lord and to be changed into that same image.


Verses 1-5

Epistles written in our hearts - 2 Corinthians 3:1-5 : At the close of 2 Corinthians two Paul said some good things about himself. "For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:15-17) These things were not said with a boastful spirit. His work was so well known in Corinth that he did not need any commendation from some outside source. Some people needed letters like that because they were unknown to the church.

Paul said the Corinthians were his letter. They were in his heart for everyone to read and understand. The life of these brethren was an open letter for others to observe. It was not a letter written with pen and ink or on tablets made of stone. They were Paul"s letter written in his heart by the Spirit of the living God. "In contrast with the law of Moses that was written on tables of stone, this epistle was written on the human heart or mind of Paul and of the Corinthians."

Christ gave Paul the assurance that these things that he had spoken were correct. Paul gave God the honor and glory for any good that he had done. He said that he did not have the right to claim that he had done anything on his own. He said, "Our sufficiency is of God" or "God gives us what it takes to do all that we do."


Verses 6-11

Ministers of the New Testament - 2 Corinthians 3:6-11 : Paul was made an able minister of the New Testament. The term "Testament" refers to a covenant or an agreement. "New" has reference to being made superior to what it succeeds. In this text the New Testament is contrasted with the Mosaic covenant. The contrast was made with the words "letter" and "spirit." Both the Old Testament and the New Testament were expressed in languages that used letter. Of the Old it was said, "The Letter killeth." This was the case because it was a "law of sin and death." The Law identified sin but provided no eternal forgiveness. The Law of Moses brought only the promise of death. It was given in a glorious way in that it was carved on stone. The shinning of Moses" face was a fading glory just as the glory of the Law was to be done away or to fade away.

The Old Covenant played as important role in God"s arrangement of things. However, we must recognize the superiority of the New Covenant as contrasted with the Old. The covenant written on stone was to be done away. It was a useful covenant but the New Covenant is even more wonderful. The New Covenant makes us acceptable to God. It is in the New Covenant that "the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith." (Romans 1:17) When compared to the New Covenant the Old Covenant has no glory at all. The glory of the First is nothing when compared with the glory of the Second. We do well to remember that the Laws that faded away were those Laws that were written on stone!


Verses 12-15

The veil is done away in Christ - 2 Corinthians 3:12-15 : The hope of the perpetual nature of the New Testament gave Paul the courage to speak freely or with boldness. Just as the veil covered Moses" face to hide the glory so the fact that the Old Covenant was to be done away was hidden to the minds of many Jews. Sometimes the people were so stubborn that they did not see the truth even when the Law was read.

The Jews were guilty of unbelief concerning the temporary nature of the Old Law under Moses and the permanent nature of the New Covenant under Christ. Only Christ could take away the covering that kept them from seeing this truth. We must understand that the glory of the Old Law was to be ended under Christ. Paul said, "When the Law of Moses is read, they have their minds covered over." (2 Corinthians 3:15) Observe that Paul used the idea of their mind being veiled and then in the next verse the veil is said to be upon their heart.


Verses 16-18

Changed into the same image - 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 : The veil that Paul spoke of was taken away from the hearts of those that turned to Christ. During the early days of Christianity many of the Jews finally gave up their rejection of Christ and accepted Him as the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. The New Covenant was given through the Spirit of God by inspired apostles. Whoever is obedient under that covenant is set free or had liberty from the Old Law.

Our faces are not covered. We behold "as in a glass the glory of the Lord." Through surrender to the New Covenant the Lord"s Spirit makes us more and more like our glorious Lord. When we look into the New Covenant we see the Lord"s glory reflected. The more we look into the perfect law of liberty with an honest and obedient heart the more our character will become like the Lord Jesus. Why not gaze into the New Testament and become like its main character?

 


Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:4". "Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/box/2-corinthians-3.html. 2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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