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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament
2 Corinthians 3

 

 

Verse 1

2 Corinthians 3:1. ἀρχόμεθα πάλιν ἑαυτοὺς συνιστ.: are we beginning again (sc., as, for instance, in 1 Corinthians 9:15; 1 Corinthians 14:18; 1 Corinthians 15:10, or possibly he alludes to 2 Corinthians 1:12 above; cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 5:12, 2 Corinthians 10:18 below) to commend ourselves? His opponents seem to have made this charge, which he is careful to repudiate again (2 Corinthians 10:12; cf. 2 Corinthians 12:11). The phrase ἑαυτον συνιστάνειν (or συνιστάναι, for both forms occur) is found four times in this Epistle (see reff.), and always in a bad sense, the prominent place of ἑαυτὸν signifying that there has been undue egotism; on the other hand, συνιστάνειν ἑαυτὸν, which occurs three times (see reff.), is always used in a good sense, of that legitimate commendation of himself and his message which every faithful minister will adopt. Neither form occurs elsewhere in the N.T. (unless Galatians 2:18, παραβάτην ἐμαυτὸν συνιστάνω, be regarded as an exception).— μὴ χρῄζομεν κ. τ. λ.: or do we need, as some do (i.e., the οἱ πολλοί of 2 Corinthians 2:17; τινες is his usual vague description of opponents; see 1 Corinthians 4:18; 1 Corinthians 15:12, chap. 2 Corinthians 10:2, Galatians 1:7, 1 Timothy 1:3; 1 Timothy 1:19), epistles of commendation to you or from you? Greek teachers used to give ἐπιστολαὶ συστατικαί (Diogenes Laert., vii. 87); for such commendatory mention cf. Acts 15:25 (of Judas and Silas to the Church at Antioch), Acts 18:27 (of Apollos to the Church at Corinth), Romans 16:1 (of Phœbe to the Church at Rome), chap. 2 Corinthians 8:16-24 (of Titus and his companions to the Church at Corinth); cf. also 1 Corinthians 16:3. St. Paul scouts the idea that he, who first brought the Gospel to Corinth, should need to present formal credentials to the Corinthian Church; and it would be equally anomalous that he should seek recommendations from them ( ἐξ ὑμῶν). He has testimonies to his character and office far superior to any that could be written on papyrus. These can be pointed to if any object that his Apostolic office was self-assumed, and that he delivers the Gospel message in his own way and on his own authority (Galatians 1:12).


Verses 1-3

2 Corinthians 3:1-3. THE CORINTHIANS ARE ST. PAUL’S “EPISTLE OF COMMENDATION”.


Verse 2

2 Corinthians 3:2. ἐπιστολὴ ἡμῶν κ. τ. λ.: ye are our epistle. They are his credentials. Cf. 1 Corinthians 9:2, where he tells them that they are the “seal” of his apostleship. Note the emphasis laid on ἐπιστολή by its position in the sentence.— ἐγγεγραμμένη ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν: written in our hearts, i.e., in the heart of me, Paul (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:3); a somewhat unexpected, and, as it were, parenthetic application of the metaphor, suggested by the memory of his labours among them which had left an indelible impression upon his heart.— γινωσκ. καὶ ἀναγινωσκ. κ. τ. λ.: known and read of all men. This is the legitimate application of the metaphor, and is expanded in the next verse. The letter written on St. Paul’s heart was not open to the world; but the letter written on the heart of the Corinthians by Christ through St. Paul’s ministry was patent to the world’s observation, as it was reflected in their Christian mode of life. Facts speak louder than words. For the jingle γινωσκομένηἀναγινωσκομένη cf. Acts 8:30, γινώσκεις ἀναγινώσκεις, and see the note on 2 Corinthians 1:13 above.


Verse 3

2 Corinthians 3:3. φανερούμενοι ὅτι ἐστὲ κ. τ. λ.: being made manifest that ye are an epistle of Christ (sc., written by Christ), ministered by us (the Apostle conceiving of himself as his Master’s amanuensis).— ἐγγεγραμμένη οὐ μέλανι κ. τ. λ.: written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone but in tables that are hearts of flesh. This “writing” which the Corinthians exhibit is no writing with ink on a papyrus roll, but is the mystical imprint of the Divine Spirit in their hearts, conveyed through Paul’s ministrations; cf. Jeremiah 31:33, Proverbs 7:3. And this leads him to think of the ancient “writing” of the Law by the “finger of God” on the Twelve Tables, and to contrast it with this epistle of Christ on tables that are not of stone but are “hearts of flesh” (see reff.). For σάρκινος (cf. λίθινος, ὀστράκινος) see on 2 Corinthians 1:12 above.


Verse 4

2 Corinthians 3:4. πεποίθησιν δὲ τοιαύτην κ. τ. λ.: and such confidence have we through Christ towards God (cf. Romans 4:2; Romans 5:1 for a like use of πρὸς τὸν θεόυ). That is “we are sufficient for these things” (see 2 Corinthians 2:16-17); but he hastens to explain the true source of his confidence.


Verses 4-6

2 Corinthians 3:4-6. HIS SUCCESS IN THE MINISTRY OF THE NEW COVENANT IS ALTOGETHER DUE TO GOD.


Verse 5

2 Corinthians 3:5. οὐχ ὅτι ἱκανοί κ. τ. λ.: not that we are sufficient of ourselves to judge anything as from ourselves; sc., to judge rightly of the methods to be followed in the discharge of the Apostolic ministry; there is no thought here of the natural depravity of man, or the like. For the constr. οὐχ ὅτιcf. 2 Corinthians 1:24 and reff. λογίζεσθαι is here used in its widest sense of carrying on any of the ordinary processes of reasoning (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:7, 2 Corinthians 12:6). The repetition ἀφʼ ἑαυτῶνἐξ ἑαυτῶν emphasises the statement of the need of God’s grace. St. Paul’s habit of dwelling on a word and coming back to it again and again (an artifice which the Latin rhetoricians called traductio) is well illustrated in this passage. We have ἱκανοί, ἱκανότης, ἱκάνωσεν; γραμμα (following ἐγγεγραμμένη in 2 Corinthians 3:2); διακονηθεῖσα, διάκονος, διακονία; and δόξα eight times between 2 Corinthians 3:7-11. With the sentiment ἱκανότης ἡμῶν ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ, cf. 1 Corinthians 15:10 and chap. 2 Corinthians 12:9.


Verse 6

2 Corinthians 3:6. ὃς καὶ ἱκάνωσεν κ. τ. λ.: who also (“qui idem”; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:8) made us sufficient as ministers of the New Covenant—[ministers] not of the letter (i.e., the Law), but of the Spirit; for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. The Apostle’s opponents at Corinth were probably Judaisers (2 Corinthians 11:22), and thus the description of his office as the διακονία καινῆς διαθήκης leads him to a comparison and a contrast of the Old Covenant and the New. The “covenants” (Romans 9:4, Ephesians 2:12) between Jehovah and Israel were the foundation of Judaism. They began (not to speak of the Covenant with Noah) with the Covenant of Circumcision granted to Abraham (Genesis 17:2) and repeated more than once (Genesis 22:16; Genesis 26:3), which is often appealed to in the N.T. (Luke 1:72, Acts 3:25; Acts 7:8, etc.). This was not abrogated (Galatians 3:17) by the Covenant of Sinai (Exodus 19:5; cf., for its recapitulation in Moab, Deuteronomy 29:1), which, as the National Charter of Israel, was pre-eminently to a Hebrew “the Old Covenant”. The great prophecy of a Deliverer from Zion (Isaiah 59:21) is interpreted by St. Paul (Romans 11:27) as the “covenant” of which the prophet spoke in the next verse; and Jeremiah, in a passage (Jeremiah 31:31-33) from which the Apostle has just now (2 Corinthians 3:3 above) borrowed a striking image, had proclaimed a New Covenant with Israel in the future. The phrase had been consecrated to the Gospel, through its employment by Christ at the Institution of the Eucharist (Matthew 26:28, Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25); and in that solemn context it bore direct allusion to the Blood of Sprinkling which ratified the Old Covenant of Sinai (Exodus 24:8). It is of this “New Covenant” that St. Paul is a διάκονος (Christ is its μεσίτης, Hebrews 9:15); i.e., he is a διάκονος οὐ γράμματος ἀλλὰ πνεύματος, not of the letter of the Law (as might be wrongly inferred from his statement in 2 Corinthians 3:3 that the ἐπιστολὴ χριστοῦ was “ministered” [ διακονηθεῖσα] by him), but of the “Spirit of the living God” (2 Corinthians 3:3). This is a much more gracious διακονία, inasmuch as the Law is the instrument of Death (cf. Romans 5:20; Romans 7:9; Romans 8:2, in all which passages the Apostle brings into closest connexion the three thoughts of the Law, Sin, and Death), but the Spirit of God is the Giver of Life (see reff. and cf. Galatians 3:21, where he notes that the law is not able, ζωοποιεῖν, “to give life”). It will be observed that the article is wanting before καινῆς διαθήκης, as it is before γράμματος and πνεύματος; but we need not on that account with the Revisers translate “a new covenant”. The expression “New Covenant,” like the words “Letter” (for the Law) and “Spirit” for the Holy Spirit, was a technical phrase in the theology of the day; and so might well dispense with the article. The contrast between “letter” and “Spirit” here (so often misunderstood, as if it pointed to a contrast between what is verbally stated and what is really implied, and so justified an appeal from the bare “letter” of the law to the principles on which it rests) is exactly illustrated by Romans 7:6, where St. Paul declares that the service of a Christian is ἐν καινότητι πνεύματος καὶ οὐ παλαιότητι γράμματος, i.e., “in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter”. And (though not so plainly) the same contrast is probably intended in Romans 2:29. In St. Paul’s writings πνεῦμα, when used for the human spirit, is contrasted with σῶμα (1 Corinthians 5:3), σάρξ (2 Corinthians 7:1) and νοῦς (1 Corinthians 14:14), but never with γράμμα. This is a technical term for the “Law” (like γραφή, Scripture; cf. 2 Corinthians 3:7, ἐν γράμμασιν), and is properly set over against the “Spirit” of God, whose office and work were first plainly revealed in the Gospel.


Verse 7

2 Corinthians 3:7. εἰ δὲ διακονία κ. τ. λ.: but if the Ministration of Death (see 2 Corinthians 3:6), written, and engraven in stones, came into existence in glory, etc. The reference is to the glory on the face of Moses (see reff.) when the Tables of the Law were brought down from Mount Sinai. St. Paul argues that for two reasons the glory of the New Covenant is greater, (i.) the former διακονία was one of condemnation, the latter of righteousness (2 Corinthians 3:9), and (ii.) the glory of the former was only a transient gleam, while that of the latter abides for ever (2 Corinthians 3:11). Of the first Tables which Moses broke in anger it is said that the writing was γραφὴ θεοῦ κεκολαμμένη ἐν τοῖς πλαξίν (Exodus 32:16); it is merely said of the second Tables that Moses wrote upon them “the words of the Covenant, the Ten Commandments” (Exodus 34:28). Nevertheless the tradition (see Philo, Vit. Mos., iii., 2) was that the second Tables, like the first, were not only “written” but “engraven” ( ἐντετυπωμένη), as the Apostle has it.— ὥστε μὴ δύνασθαι κ. τ. λ.: so that the Children of Israel could not (sc., through fear, Exodus 34:30) look steadfastly upon the face of Moses on account of the glory of his face, transient as it was. καταργεῖσθαι is nearly always, if not always (for 1 Corinthians 2:6 is doubtful), passive in St. Paul (Romans 6:6; Romans 7:2, 1 Corinthians 13:8; 1 Corinthians 15:26, Galatians 5:4), and as it must be taken passively in 2 Corinthians 3:14 below, there is a good deal to be said for regarding it as passive here and in 2 Corinthians 3:11; 2 Corinthians 3:13 (as the A.V. does; note, however, that the translation “which was to be done away” in this verse is wrong). Yet the sense seems to require the middle voice “which was passing away,” sc., even as he spoke to the people. The position of τὴν καταργουμένην gives it emphasis. Pfleiderer is guilty of the extravagant supposition that the whole story of the Transfiguration (cf. Luke 9:28 ff.) is built up on the basis of this passage (cf. μεταμορφούμεθα, 2 Corinthians 3:18), the disappearance of Moses and Elijah, leaving Jesus alone with His disciples, indicating that the glory of the Old Covenant was passing away ( καταργουμένην)!


Verses 7-11

2 Corinthians 3:7-11. DIGRESSION ON THE MINISTRY OF THE NEW COVENANT. IT IS (a) MORE GLORIOUS THAN THAT OF THE OLD.


Verse 8-9

2 Corinthians 3:8-9. πῶς οὐχὶ μᾶλλον κ. τ. λ.: how shall not rather the Ministration of the Spirit be with glory? For if the Ministration of Condemnation be glory (if we read τῇ διακονίᾳ we must render, with the American Revisers, “has glory”), much rather doth the Ministration of Righteousness exceed in glory. Cf. Romans 5:16, τὸ μὲν γὰρ κρίμα ἐξ ἑνὸς εἰς κατάκριμα, τὸ δὲ χάρισμα ἐκ πολλῶν παραπτωμάτων εἰς δικαίωμα, and Romans 8:1, οὐδὲν γὰρ νῦν κατάκριμα τοῖς ἐν χρ. ἰη. The phrase διακονοι δικαιοσύνης is used again at 2 Corinthians 11:15, as descriptive of the ministers of the New Covenant; it is an essential point of Pauline theology that “righteousness” is not of the “law” (Galatians 3:21). The argument is a minori ad majus.


Verse 10

2 Corinthians 3:10. καὶ γὰρ οὐ δεδόξασται: for that which hath been made glorious, sc., the Ministration of the Old Covenant, hath not [really] been made glorious in this respect, viz., on account of the surpassing glory (of the Ministration of the New Covenant); i.e., the surpassing glory of the second made the glory of the first seem nought. The phraseology of Exodus 34:35 ( τὸ πρόσωπον ΄ωσῆδεδόξασται) is still in the Apostle’s mind. ἐν τούτῳ τῷ μέρει has been otherwise explained as equivalent to “in this instance of Moses”; but it seems (see ref.) to be merely a redundant phrase, added for the sake of emphasis, introducing ἕνεκεν τῆς ὑπερβ. δόξ.


Verse 11

2 Corinthians 3:11. εἰ γὰρ τὸ καταργ. κ. τ. λ.: for if that which passes away was with glory, much more that which abideth is in glory. The difference of prepositions διὰ δόξηςἐν δόξῃ should not be overlooked; the Ministration of the Old Covenant was only with a transient flush of glory, that of the New abides in glory (cf. esp. Hebrews 12:18-27). It is true that St. Paul sometimes changes his prepositions in cases where we find difficult to assign a sufficient reason (e.g., διά and ἐκ, Romans 3:30, Galatians 2:16); but that is no reason for confusing the force of διὰ and ἐν, when the preservation of the distinction between them adds point to the passage (cf. Romans 5:10, where διὰ and ἐν are again confused in the A.V.). See further on 2 Corinthians 6:8.


Verse 12

2 Corinthians 3:12. ἔχοντες οὖν τοιαύτην κ. τ. λ.: having therefore such a hope (sc., of the glorious Ministration of the Spirit, 2 Corinthians 3:8; cf. 2 Corinthians 3:4) we use great boldness of speech. The verses which follow are parenthetical down to 2 Corinthians 3:18, where the subject is again we, i.e., all Christian believers, as contrasted with Jews.


Verses 12-18

2 Corinthians 3:12-18. THE MINISTRY OF THE NEW COVENANT IS (b) OPEN, NOT VEILED, AS WAS THAT OF THE OLD. The illustration from the O.T. which is used in these verses has been obscured for English readers by the faulty rendering of the A.V. in Exodus 34:33. It would appear from that rendering, viz., “till Moses had done speaking with them he put a veil on his face,” that the object of the veil was to conceal from the people the Divine glory reflected in his face. But this is to misrepresent the original Hebrew, and is not the rendering given either by the LXX or by modern scholars. The R.V substitutes when for till in the verse just quoted, thus bringing out the point that the veil was used to conceal not the glory on the face of Moses, but its evanescence; it was fading even while he spoke, and this by his use of the veil he prevented the people from perceiving. When he “went in unto the Lord” again he took the veil off. The Apostle applies all this to the Israel of his day. Still a veil is between them and the Divine glory—a veil “upon their hearts” which prevents them from seeing the transitoriness of the Old Covenant; yet, as it was of old, if they turn to the Lord, the veil is removed, and an open vision is granted. St. Paul is fond of such allegorisings of the history of the Exodus; cf., e.g., 1 Corinthians 10:2, Galatians 4:25.


Verse 13

2 Corinthians 3:13. καὶ οὐ καθάπερ κ. τ. λ.: and (we put no veil upon our face) as Moses put a veil upon his face. The construction is broken, but the sense is obvious; cf., for a somewhat similar abbreviation, Mark 15:8, ὄχλος ἤρξατο αἰτεῖσθαι καθὼς ἐποίει αὐτοῖς.— πρὸς τὸ μὴ ἀτενίσαι κ. τ. λ.: to the end that the children of Israel should not look steadfastly on the end of that which was passing away, sc., the evanescence of the glory on Moses’ face. The A.V., “could not steadfastly look to the end of that which was abolished,” evidently takes τέλος as standing for Christ, the fulfilment of the Mosaic law (Romans 10:4). But this is not suitable to the context. πρὸς τό with an infinitive is sometimes found to express the aim or intention (never the mere result), as, e.g., Ephesians 6:11, 1 Thessalonians 2:9, 2 Thessalonians 3:8.


Verse 14

2 Corinthians 3:14. ἀλλʼ ἐπωρώθη τὰ νοήματα αὐτῶν: but their minds were blinded, sc., in reference to what they saw (cf. Romans 11:25); they took the brightness for an abiding glory (cf. Deuteronomy 29:4). πῶρος, which primarily means a kind of marble, came to mean, in medical writers, a hardening of the tissues; and hence we have πωρός, (1) to petrify, (2) to become insensible or obtuse, and so (3) it comes to be used of insensibility of the organs of vision, to blind. (See J. A. Robinson in Journal of Theological Studies, Oct., 1901, and cf. reff. above.)— ἄχρι γὰρ τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας κ. f1τ. λ.: for until this very day at the reading of the Old Covenant the same veil remaineth unlifted (for it is only done away in Christ). (1) Some commentators take μὴ ἀνακαλυπτόμενον as a nominative absolute, and translate “the same veil remaineth, it not being revealed that it (sc., either the veil or the Old Covenant) is done away in Christ”. But the order of the words seems to force us to take the present participle with μένει—it having a merely explanatory force and being almost redundant. (2) Again both A.V. and R.V. (text), while translating the first part of the clause as we have done, render τι ἐν χρ. καταργεῖται “which veil is done away in Christ”. But it seems indefensible thus to take τι as equivalent to . (3) Field arrives at yet another rendering by taking κάλυμμα per synecdochem for the thing veiled, which is here declared to be the fact that the Old Covenant is done away in Christ. He renders “the same mystery remaineth unrevealed, namely, that it is done away in Christ”. But it is a grave objection to this that τὸ κάλυμμα has to be taken in a sense different from that which it has all through the rest of the passage. (4) We prefer, therefore (with Schmiedel and Schnedermann), to read τι as ὅτι, for, and to regard the phrase ὅτι ἐν χρ. καταργεῖται. as parenthetical: “until this day the veil remains unlifted (for it is only in Christ that it is done away)”; i.e., the Jews do not recognise the vanishing away of the glory of the Law, which yet is going on before their eyes. How completely Judaism was dissociated in St. Paul’s mind from Christianity is plain from the striking phrase παλαιὰ διαθήκη (here only found; but cf. 2 Corinthians 3:6), by which he describes the religious system of his own early manhood, which had only been superseded by καινὴ διαθήκη thirty years before he wrote this letter. ἀνάγνωσις is (see reff.) the public reading of the Law in the synagogues; it seems, however, unnecessarily ingenious to see here, with Schmiedel, an allusion in τὸ κάλυμμα to the covers in which the Synagogue Rolls were preserved.


Verse 15

2 Corinthians 3:15. ἀλλʼ ἕως σήμερον κ. τ. λ.: but unto this day, whensoever Moses (sc., the Law; cf. Acts 15:21) is read, a veil lieth upon their heart. It will be observed that the image has been changed as the application of Exodus 34:29 ff. proceeds: in that history the veil was upon the face of Moses; here it is upon the heart of the people, as God speaks to them through the medium of the Law (see above on 2 Corinthians 3:2 for a similar change in the application of the metaphor suggested by the word ἐπιστολή).


Verse 16

2 Corinthians 3:16. ἡνίκα δʼ ἄν κ. τ. λ.: but whensoever it, i.e., Israel, shall turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away; a paraphrase of Exodus 34:34, ἡνίκα δʼ ἄν εἰσεπορεύετο ΄ωσῆς ἔναντι κυρίου λαλεῖν αὐτῷ, περιῃρεῖτο τὸ κάλυμμα ἔως τοῦ ἐκπορεύεσθαι.


Verse 17

2 Corinthians 3:17. δὲ κύριος τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν: but the LORD, i.e., the Jehovah of Israel, spoken of in the preceding quotation, is the Spirit, the Author of the New Covenant of grace, to whom the new Israel is invited to turn (cf. Acts 9:35). It is quite perverse to compare 1 Corinthians 15:45 (where it is said that Christ, as “the last Adam,” became πνεῦμα ζωοποιοῦν) or Ignatius, Mag., § 15, ἀδιάκριτον πνεῦμα ὅς ἐστιν ἰησοῦς χριστός, and to find here an “identification” of Christ with the Holy Spirit. κύριος is here not Christ, but the Jehovah of Israel spoken of in Exodus 34:34; and in St. Paul’s application of the narrative of the Veiling of Moses, the counterpart of κύριος under the New Covenant is the Spirit, which has been already contrasted in the preceding verses (2 Corinthians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 3:6) with the letter of the Mosaic law. At the same time it is true that the identification of “the Lord” (i.e., the Son) and “the Spirit” intermittently appears afterwards in Christian theology. See (for reff.) Swete in Dict. Chr. Biog., iii., 115a.οὖ δὲ τὸ πνεῦμα κ. τ. λ.: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty; sc., in contradistinction to the servile fear of Exodus 34:30; cf. John 8:32, Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:7, in all of which passages the freedom of Christian service is contrasted with the bondage of the Law. The thought here is not of the freedom of the Spirit’s action (John 3:8, 1 Corinthians 12:11), but of the freedom of access to God under the New Covenant, as exemplified in the removal of the veil, when the soul turns itself to the Divine glory. “The Spirit of the Lord” is an O.T. phrase (see reff.). We now return to the thought of 2 Corinthians 3:12, the openness and boldness of the Apostolical service.


Verse 18

2 Corinthians 3:18. ἡμεῖς δὲ πάντες κ. τ. λ.: but we all, sc., you as well as I, all Christian believers, with unveiled face (and so not as Moses under the Old Covenant), reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, sc., of Jehovah (see reff.), which is the glory of Christ (cf. John 17:24), are transformed into the same image, sc., of Christ (see reff.), from glory to glory (i.e., progressively and without interruption, and so unlike the transitory reflection of the Divine glory on the face of Moses; cf. Psalms 84:7, and on chap. 2 Corinthians 2:16 above), as from (not “by” as the A.V.) the Lord the Spirit; sc., our progress in glory is continuous, as becomes the work of the Spirit from whom it springs (John 16:14, Romans 8:11). The meaning of κατοπτρίζεσθαι (which is not found elsewhere in the Greek Bible) is somewhat doubtful, (i.) The analogy of 1 Corinthians 13:12, of Philo, Leg. All., iii., 33 (a passage where Exodus 33:18 is paraphrased, and which therefore is specially apposite here), and of Clem. Rom., § 36, would support the rendering of the A.V., “beholding as in a glass” (i.e., a mirror). This is also given in the margin of the R.V., and is preferred by the American Revisers. But such a translation is not appropriate to the context, for the Apostle’s thought is not of any indirect vision of the Divine glory, but of our freedom of access thereto and of perception thereof. It seems better therefore (ii.) to render with the R.V. (following Chrysostom) reflecting as in a mirror. And so the image conveyed is “that Christians having, like Moses, received in their lives the reflected glory of the Divine presence, as Moses received it on his countenance, are unlike Moses in that they have no fear, such as his, of its vanishing away, but are confident of its continuing to shine in them with increasing lustre (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:6 below); and in this confidence present themselves without veil or disguise, inviting enquiry instead of deprecating it, with nothing to hold back or to conceal from the eager gaze of the most suspicious or the most curious” (Stanley). The words κυρίου πνεύματος will bear various renderings: (a) the Lord of the Spirit, which is not apposite here, (b) the Spirit of the Lord, as the A.V. takes them and the Latin commentators generally, (c) the Spirit, which is the Lord, the rendering of Chrysostom, which is given a place in the R.V. margin, and (d) the Lord, the Spirit, πνεύματος being placed in apposition to κυρίου, neither word taking the article, as the first does not after the prep. ἀπό. We unhesitatingly adopt (d), the rendering of the R.V., inasmuch as it best brings out the identification of κύριος and πνεῦμα in 2 Corinthians 3:17. It is worth noticing that the phrase in the “Nicene” Creed τὸ πνεῦματὸ κύριον τὸ ζωοποιόν is based on the language of this verse and of 2 Corinthians 3:6 above.

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/2-corinthians-3.html. 1897-1910.

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