Tired of seeing ads while studying? Now you can enjoy an "Ads Free" version of the site for as little as 10¢ a day.

Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

2 Corinthians 3

Verse 1

2 Corinthians 3:1 . Ἀρχόμεθα , do we begin? ) A just reproof to some of those who had so begun . πάλιν , again ) as was formerly done in the first epistle; so, again , ch. 2 Corinthians 5:12 . συνιστάνειν , to commend ) after the manner of men; 2 Corinthians 12:19 , by mentioning transactions that took place elsewhere. εἰ μὴ ) unless . A particle expressive of conciliation [ morata ]. Is it thus and thus only that we are equal to the task of commending ourselves [ i.e. , by mentioning transactions that took place elsewhere], if we do not need [without needing] also letters? Some read ἤ . [15] τινές , some ) of many, 2 Corinthians 2:17 . In this respect also, he shows that he utterly differs from the false apostles. They did need letters of recommendation. ἐξ ὑμῶν , from you ) to others. This then was the practice at Corinth.

[15] So CD( Λ )G fg Vulg. (“aut numquid”). But AB (judging from silence acc. to Tisch: But Lachm. quotes B for ἤ ) read εἰ μὴ as Rec. Text. ED.

Verse 2

2 Corinthians 3:2 . Ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν , in our hearts ) Your faith was written in our heart, in which we carry about it and yourselves a faith everywhere to be known and read. It was reflected from the heart of the Corinthians to the heart of the apostle. πάντων , by all men ) by you and others. This is an argument for the truth of the Gospel, obvious to all, to be derived from believers themselves [2 Corinthians 4:2 ; 1Co 14:25 ].

Verse 3

2 Corinthians 3:3 . Φανερούμενοι , manifested ) construed with ὑμεῖς , ye , 2 Corinthians 3:2 . The reason assigned [aetiologia, end.] why this epistle may be read. Χριστοῦ ὑφʼ ἡμῶν , of Christ by us ) This explains the word our , 2 Corinthians 3:2 . Christ is the author of the epistle. διακονηθεῖσα ) The verb διακονέω , has often the accusative of the thing, 2 Corinthians 8:19-20 ; 2 Timothy 1:18 ; 1 Peter 1:12 ; 1 Peter 4:10 . So Paeanius, τὴν μάχην διακονούμενος , directing the battle , b. 7, Metaphr. Eutr. The apostles, as ministers , διηκόνουν , presented the epistle. Christ, by their instrumentality, brought spiritual light to bear on the tablets of the hearts of the Corinthians, as a scribe applies ink to paper. Not merely ink , but parchment or paper and a pen are necessary for writing a letter; but Paul mentions ink without paper and a pen, and it is therefore a synecdoche [ one material of writing put for all . end.] Τὸ μέλαν does not exactly mean ink, but any black substance, for example, even charcoal, by which an inscription may be made upon stone. The mode of writing of every kind, which is done by ink and a pen, is the same as that of the Decalogue, which was engraved on tables of stone. Letters were engraved on stone, as a dark letter is written on paper. The hearts of the Corinthians are here intended; for Paul was as it were the style or pen. οὐ μέλανι , not with ink ) A synecdoche [ink for any means of writing]; for the tables in the hands of Moses, divinely inscribed without ink, were at least material substances. ζῶντος , of the living ) comp. 2 Corinthians 3:6-7 . λιθίναις , of stone ) 2 Corinthians 3:7 . πλαξὶ καρδίας σαρκίναις , in fleshly tables of the heart ) Tables of the heart are a genus; fleshly tables , a species; for every heart is not of flesh.

Verse 4

2 Corinthians 3:4 . Πεποίθησιν , trust ) by which we both determine and profess to be such as are here described. The antithesis is, to faint , 2 Corinthians 4:1 . διὰ τοῦ Χριστοῦ , through Christ ) not through ourselves. This matter is discussed, 2 Corinthians 3:14 , at the end, and in the following verses. πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν , toward God ) This is discussed, 2 Corinthians 3:6 , and in the following verses.

Verse 5

2 Corinthians 3:5 . [16] Λογίσασθαι , to devise [ to think ]) to obtain by thinking, much less to speak or perform. There seems to be here something of a mimesis [allusion to the words of the persons whom he refutes. Append.] For they do not think, whom God moves: i.e. , they frame or work out nothing by their own thinking, 2 Peter 1:21 . τὶ ) anything; even the least thing.

[16] Ἐσμὲν , we are ) even yet at this very hour. V. g.

Verse 6

2 Corinthians 3:6 . Καὶ , also ) An emphatic addition [to the previous assertion. Epitasis. Append.] He has given sufficiency to us, even the sufficiency of ministers of the New Testament, which demands much more in order to realize it [than ordinary sufficiency]. ἡμᾶς διακόνους , us ministers ) Apposition. καινῆς , new ) An antithesis to old , 2 Corinthians 3:14 . οὐ , not) of the New Testament, i.e., not of the letter, but of the spirit , see Romans 7:6 , and the following verses, with the annot. γράμματος , of the letter ) Even while Paul wrote these things, he was the minister not of the letter, but of the spirit . Moses in that his peculiar office, even when he did not write, was yet employed about the letter. πνεύματος , of the Spirit ) whose ministry has both greater glory, and requires greater ability [sufficiency]. ἀποκτείνει , kills ) : the letter rouses the sinner to a sense of death; for if the sinner had life, before the letter came, there would have been no need of quickening by the Spirit. With this comp. the following verse, of death .

Verse 7

2 Corinthians 3:7 . Ἡ διακονία , the ministry ) which Moses performed. ἐντετυπωμένη ) LXX. κεκολαμμένη , Exodus 32:10 . λίθοις , in stones ) There were then two different tables, not of one stone. Exodus 34:1 : engraven in stones , is an explanation of this clause, in letters . [17] ἘΓΕΝΉΘΗ ἘΝ ΔΌΞᾼ , obtained glory [ was glorious ]) γίνομαι , I become , and εἰμὶ , I am [ ἔσται ], 2 Corinthians 3:8 , are different. ΜῊ ΔΎΝΑΣΘΑΙ ἈΤΕΝΊΣΑΙ ) Exodus 34:30 , ἘΦΟΒΉΘΗΣΑΝ ἘΓΓΊΣΑΙ ΑὐΤῷ . ΜΩΫΣΈΩς , of Moses ) engaged in the duties of his office.

[17] ἐν γράμμασιν , in letters . Eng. Ver. written , etc., at the beginning of 2 Corinthians 3:7 .

So AC, and acc. to Lachm. G (but Tisch. makes G support γράμματι ) fg Vulg. Orig. 1, 708 f: 3, 498 c : 4, 448 a . But B and D( Λ ) corrected later. γράμματι . ED.

Verse 8

2 Corinthians 3:8 . Ἔσται ) shall be . He speaks as looking from the Old Testament point of view to the New. Add, hope , 2 Corinthians 3:12 [which similarly looks from the Old Testament stand-point to the New].

Verse 9

2 Corinthians 3:9 . Κατακρίσεως · δικαιοσύνης , of condemnation; of righteousness ) The glory of God shines back more brightly by the latter, than by the former. The letter condemns; condemnation imposes death as the punishment. The Spirit, along with righteousness, brings life. δόξα , glory ) The abstract for the concrete, for the sake of brevity.

Verse 10

2 Corinthians 3:10 . Οὐδὲ δεδόξασται , was not even glorified [ had no glory ]) The limitation immediately follows, in this respect . The greater light obscures the less. τὸ δεδοξασμένον , that which was glorified ) So LXX:, Exodus 34:29 ; Exodus 34:35 , קרן , δεδόξασται .

Verse 11

2 Corinthians 3:11 . Διὰ δόξης · ἐν δοξῃ , marked by glory; in glory ) The particles are properly varied [the distinction is lost in Engl. Vers., glorious glorious ]. Supply is . τὸ μένον , that which remains ) The διακονία , ministry , itself, does not remain any more than whatever is in part [as for instance, knowledge ], 1 Corinthians 13:10 ; but the Spirit, righteousness, life remain; therefore the neuter gender is used.

Verse 12

2 Corinthians 3:12 . Ἐλπίδα , hope ) He spoke of trust , 2 Corinthians 3:4 ; he now speaks of hope , as he glances at that which remaineth , 2 Corinthians 3:11 . παῤῥησίᾳ ) a plain and open manner of dealing .

Verse 13

2 Corinthians 3:13 . Καὶ οὐ , and not ) supply we are , or we do . κάλυμμα , a veil ) so LXX., Exodus 34:33 . πρὸς τὸ μὴ ) προς [ according as, because that ] denotes congruity. Comp. Matthew 19:8 : [ πρὸς τὴν σκληροκαρδίαν , by reason of, because of the hardness of heart, by reason of the fact]: for τὸ μὴ ἀτενίσαι , the not being able to look stedfastly , took place before the veil was put on, but subsequent to the splendour of Moses [“the glory of his countenance”], 2 Corinthians 3:7 : wherefore, there, ὤστε is used [because their not being able to look stedfastly at him was subsequent to and the consequence of his glory.] What is affirmed of Moses is wholly denied by Paul respecting the ministers of the New Testament, namely, the putting on of a veil, lest the Israelites should look upon them . Often something is inserted in the protasis, which in the proper application is intended to belong to the apodosis. So in 2Co 3:7 we have ὤστε μὴ δύνασθαι ἀτενίσαι ; here, πρὸς τὸ μὴ ἀτενίσαι . Here to wit the act is denied, not the power. The power was wanting to all [the Israelites] in the case of Moses; to some [viz. to them that are lost, 2Co 4:3 ] in the case of the apostles. εἰς τὸ τέλος τοῦ καταργουμένου , to the end of that which is abolished ) Paul turns the words to an allegory. That, which is abolished , has its end in Christ, 2 Corinthians 3:14 , at the end: Romans 10:4 , the law tends to and is terminated in Him, [Christ].

Verse 14

2 Corinthians 3:14 . Ἀλλʼ ἐπωρώθη , but were hardened) but is opposed to the phrase to look stedfastly . τὸ αὐτὸ ) the same , as in the time of Moses. ἐπὶ , upon ) i.e. when they read , and although they read . ἀναγνώσει , reading ) public, frequent, perpetual. Paul makes a limitation. The veil is not now on the face of Moses, or on his writings; but on the reading , while they read Moses, and that too in such a way as not to admit Christ; it is also upon their heart , 2 Corinthians 3:15 . μένει , μὴ ἀνακαλυπτόμενον ) remains lying upon them, so that it is not indeed taken away [ so that the veil is not even lifted off ]. ὅτι , because it is not done away , save in Christ . [But Engl. Ver. “ which veil is done away in Christ.”] This is a statement introductory to the things which follow. καταργεῖται , is abolished [done away]) the Old Testament; comp. 2 Corinthians 3:7 ; 2 Corinthians 3:11 ; 2 Corinthians 3:13 . He does not say, has been abolished , but is being abolished in respect of those, that are about “to turn to the Lord.”

Verse 15

2 Corinthians 3:15 . Ἀλλʼ ἓως , but until) But is opposed to the phrase is not taken away . ἡνίκα ) This is the only place, in which Paul uses this adverb. It seems to have readily occurred from his recent reading of the LXX., Exodus 34:33 . ἀναγινώσκεται Μωϋσῆς , Moses is read ) and that too, studiously, without seeing Christ therein. The antithesis follows, but when it shall have turned to the Lord.

Verse 16

2 Corinthians 3:16 . Ἡνίκα δʼ ἂν περιαιρεῖται τὸ κάλυμμα , but when the veil is taken away ) This is a paraphrase on Exodus 34:34 , ἡνίκα δʼ ἂν εἰσεπορεύετο Μωῦσης ἔναντι Κυρίου λαλεῖν αὐτῷ περιρεῖτο τὸ κάλυμμα . But when Moses went in before the Lord to speak to Him, the veil was taken away . Therefore ἡνίκα , meaning not if , but when , evidently affirms, as in the preceding verse, and frequently in the LXX., ἡνίκα ἐὰν , ἡνίκα ἂν , Genesis 24:41 ; Genesis 27:40 ; Exodus 1:10 ; Exodus 34:24 ; Leviticus 6:4 ; Leviticus 10:9 ; Deuteronomy 25:19 . ἡνίκα δʼ ἂν , Exodus 33:8 ; Exodus 33:22 ; Exodus 40:36 . ἐπιστρέψῃ , shall be turned ) namely their heart . The truth is acknowledged by repentance, 2 Timothy 2:25 . The method, not of disputation, but of conversion, is to be applied to the Jews. πρὸς Κυρίον , to the Lord ) Christ, 2 Corinthians 3:14 . A distinguished appellation, 2 Corinthians 4:5 . περιαιρεῖτιαι ) περιαιροῦμαι is passive, Acts 27:20 , and in the LXX., Leviticus 4:31 ; Leviticus 4:35 ; but middle very often in the LXX., and that too in the very passage to which Paul refers. The antithesis of 2Co 3:15-16 shows, however, that here the signification is passive. The veil lies [ κεῖται , 2Co 3:15 ]; the veil is taken away . The present, is [that moment, and by that very fact] taken away , is emphatic [not as Engl. shall be taken away .]

Verse 17

2 Corinthians 3:17 . Ὁ δὲ Κύριος τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν , but the Lord is that Spirit ) The Lord is the subject. Christ is not the letter, but He is the Spirit and the end of the law . A sublime announcement: comp. Philippians 1:21 ; Galatians 3:16 . The particle but , or now , shows that the preceding is explained by this verse. The turning (conversion) takes place [is made] to the Lord, as the Spirit. οὗ δὲ τὸ πνεῦμα Κυρίου , and where the Spirit of the Lord is ) Where Christ is, there the Spirit of Christ is; where the Spirit of Christ is, there Christ is; Romans 8:9-10 . Where Christ and His Spirit are, there is liberty: John 8:36 ; Galatians 4:6-7 . ἐκεῖ ) there , and there only. ἐλευθερία ) liberty , opposed to the veil , the badge of slavery: liberty , without such fear in looking, as the children of Israel had, Exodus 34:30 .

Verse 18

2 Corinthians 3:18 . Ἡμεῖς δὲ πάντες , but we all ) we all , the ministers of the New Testament, in antithesis to Moses, who was but one person. ἀνακεκαλυμμένῳ προσώπῳ ) our face being unveiled with regard to men; for in regard to God, not even Moses’ face was veiled. The antithesis is hid , 2 Corinthians 4:3 . τὴν δόξαν , the glory ) divine majesty. Κυρίου , of the Lord ) Christ. κατοπτριζόμενοι ) The Lord makes us mirrors , κατοπτρίζει , puts the brightness of His face into our hearts as into mirrors: we receive and reflect that brightness. An elegant antithesis to ἐντετυπωμένη , engraved [2 Corinthians 3:7 , the ministration of death the law engraven on stones ] : for things which are engraven become so by a gradual process, the images which are reflected in a mirror are produced with the utmost celerity. τὴν αὐτὴν ) the same , although we are many. The same expression [lively reproduction] of the glory of Christ in so many believers, is the characteristic mark of truth. εἰκόνα , the image) of the Lord , which is all glorious. μεταμορφούμεθα , we are transformed ) The Lord forms by quick writing ( 2Co 3:3 ) His image in us; even as Moses reflected the glory of God. The passive retains the accusative; as in the phrase, διδάσκομαι υἱόν . ἀπο δόξης εἰς δόξαν , from glory to glory ) from the glory of the Lord to glory in us. The Israelites had not been transformed from the glory of Moses into a similar glory; for they were under the letter. καθάπερ , even as ) an adverb of likeness: comp. 2 Corinthians 3:13 . As the Lord impresses Himself on us, so He is expressed to the life by us. He Himself is the model; we are the copies [images]. ἀπὸ Κυρίου πνεύματος ) from [by] the Lord’s (viz. Christ’s, 2Co 3:14 ) Spirit . This refers to 2 Corinthians 3:17 , but where the Spirit of the Lord , etc. If there were an apposition Paul would have said, ἀπὸ Κυρίου τοῦ πνεύματος . Elsewhere the Spirit of the Lord is the mode of expression; but here the Lord’s Spirit , emphatically. Ἀπὸ is used as in 2 Corinthians 1:2 , and often in other places.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.