The apostle declared that the Church is the supreme credential of the power of the ministry. The Corinthian Christians are "known and read of all men." This, however, was not the deepest truth. They were the epistle of Christ. The author and the Writer of the living epistle is Christ; the pen or instrument is the apostle. The ink, or means of accomplishing the revelation, is the Spirit. The true credentials of Christian ministry are always such epistles.
Then follows a comparison between the ministry of the old economy, which was of the letter, and that of the new, which is of the Spirit. What, then, is the difference between the letter and the Spirit? The letter reveals, the Spirit realizes. The revelation of the letter can do no other than destroy, for man, standing in its light, finds his own imperfection and becomes conscious of his own inability. The Spirit, realizing in man that which the letter presents to man, corrects his inability and imparts life.
The glory of the letter flashing on the life of man could but reveal his sin and announce his death. Moses, the minister of the letter, must veil his face, because the issue of his message is death to those to whom it is delivered. "But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit." The supreme power of the ministry, therefore, lies in the fact that it is the declaration of a message of transforming life by the Spirit, which is demonstrated by the transformation wrought in those who declare that message.
the Second Week after Epiphany