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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
2 Corinthians 3

 

 

Verse 1

1.] ἀρχ., are we beginning? πάλιν, alluding to a charge probably made against him of having done this in his former epistle: perhaps in its opening section, and in some passages of 1 Corinthians 5, 9 and 1 Corinthians 14:18; 1 Corinthians 15:10 al.: see 2 Corinthians 10:18.

ἢ μὴ χρ.] Or do we want (the μή gives an ironical turn to the question, which is more strongly expressed in the rec. reading εἰ μή,—‘unless it be thought, that’ …) as some (so τινες, 1 Corinthians 4:18; 1 Corinthians 15:12; Galatians 1:7, of the teachers who opposed him. Probably these persons had come recommended to them, by whom does not appear, whether by churches or Apostles, but most likely by the former ( ἐξ ὑμῶν), and on their departure requested similar recommendations from the Corinthian church to others), letters of recommendation to you ( ἐπιστ. συστατικαί are fully illustrated by Suicer, Thes. in voc. Among other passages he cites the 13th canon of the council of Chalcedon: ξένους κληρικοὺς καὶ ἀγνώστους ἐν ἑτέρᾳ πόλει δίχα συστατικῶν γραμμάτων τοῦ ἰδίου ἐπισκόπου μηδὲ ὅλως μηδαμοῦ λειτουργεῖν; and Epist. cclxxi. (al. xi.) of Basil, vol. iv. p. 417, which has this inscription: εὐσεβίῳ ἑταίρῳ συστατικὴ ἐπὶ κυριακῷ πρεσβυτέρῳ, “Eusebio sodali commendatitia Cyriaci presbyteri”) or from you? The rec. συστατικῶν at the end, as well as συστ. ἐπιστολῶν, have probably been glosses, inserted (the ancient MSS. having no stops) to prevent ἐξ ὑμ. being taken with ἡ ἐπιστ. following.


Verses 1-3

1–3.] He disclaims a spirit of self-recommendation.


Verses 1-10

CH. 2 Corinthians 3:1 to 2 Corinthians 6:10.] BEGINNING WITH A DISOWNING OF SELF-RECOMMENDATION, THE APOSTLE PROCEEDS TO SPEAK CONCERNING HIS APOSTOLIC OFFICE AND HIMSELF AS THE HOLDER OF IT, HIS FEELINGS, SUFFERINGS, AND HOPES, PARTLY WITH REGARD TO HIS CONNEXION WITH THE CORINTHIANS, BUT FOR THE MOST PART IN GENERAL TERMS.


Verse 2

2.] Ye are our epistle (of commendation), written on our hearts (not borne in our hands to be shewn, but engraven, in the consciousness of our work among you, on our hearts. There hardly can be any allusion, as Olsh. thinks, to the twelve jewels engraven with the names of the tribes and borne on the breast-plate of the High Priest, Exodus 28:21. The plural seems to be used, as so often in this Epistle,—see e.g. ch. 2 Corinthians 7:3; 2 Corinthians 7:5,—of Paul himself only), known and read (a play on γιν. and ἀναγιν., as at ch. 2 Corinthians 1:13) by all men (because all men are aware, what issue my work among you has had, and receive me the more favourably on account of it. But ‘all men’ includes the Corinthians themselves; his success among them was his letter of recommendation to them as well as to others from them),


Verse 3

3.] manifested to be (that ye are) an epistle of Christ (i.e. written by Christ,—not, as Chrys. al., concerning Christ:—He is the Recommender of us, the Head of the church and Sender of us His ministers) which was ministered (aor.) by us (i.e. carried about, served in the way of ministration by us as tabellarii,—not, as Meyer and De W. and al., written by us as amanuenses: see below), having been inscribed, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God (so the tables of the law were γεγραμμέναι τῷ δακτύλῳ τοῦ θεοῦ, Exodus 31:18), not on stone tables (as the old law, ib.), but on (your) hearts (which are) tables of flesh (Meyer calls the reading καρδίαις a mistake of the pen. But surely internal as well as external evidence is strong in its favour, the correction to καρδίας being so obvious to those who found the construction harsh). The apparent change in the figure in this verse requires explanation. The Corinthians are his Epistle of recommendation, both to themselves and others; an Epistle, written by Christ, ministered by Paul; the Epistle itself being now the subject, viz. the Corinthians, themselves the writing of Christ, inscribed, not on tables of stone, but on hearts, tables of flesh. The Epistle itself, written and worn on Paul’s heart, and there known and read by all men, consisted of the Corinthian converts, on whose hearts Christ had written it by His Spirit. I bear on my heart, as a testimony to all men, that which Christ has by His Spirit written in your hearts. On the tables of stone and of flesh, see Exod. as above; Proverbs 3:3; Proverbs 7:3; Jeremiah 31:31-34, and on the contrast, also here hinted at in the background, between the heart of stone and the heart of flesh, Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26.


Verse 4

4.] The connexion with the foregoing is immediate: he had just spoken of his consciousness of apostolic success among them (which assertion would be true also of other churches which he had founded) being his worldwide recommendation. It is this confidence of which he here speaks. Such confidence however we possess through Christ towards God: i.e. ‘it is no vain boast, but rests on power imparted to us through Christ in regard to God, in reference to God’s work and our own account to be given to Him:’


Verses 4-11

4–11.] His honour of his apostolic office was no personal vanity, for all the ability of the Apostles came from God, who had made them able ministers of the new covenant (4–6), a ministration infinitely more glorious than that of the old dispensation (7–11).


Verse 5

5.] not that (i.e. ‘I mean not, that’ …:—not,’ not because,’ as Winer in his former editions: see edn. 6, § 61. 5. f) we are of ourselves able to think any thing (to carry on any of the processes of reasoning or judgment, or faith belonging to our apostolic calling: there is no ellipsis, ‘any thing great,’ or ‘good,’ or the like) of ourselves, as if from ourselves ( ἀφʼ ἑαυτ. and ἐξ ἑαυτ. are parallel: the latter more definitely pointing to ourselves as the origin),—but our ability ( λογίσασθαι τὰ πάντα) is from (as its source) God,


Verse 6

6.] Who also (= ‘qui idem;’ so Eur. Bacch. 572, ταῦτα καὶ καθύβρισʼ αὐτόν, ‘hæc eadem illi exprobravi.’ See Hartung, Partikellehre, i. p. 132) enabled us as ministers of the (or, as Stanley, “a:” but not necessarily from the omission of the art.: cf. Hebrews 12:24, καὶ διαθήκης νέας μεσίτῃ ἰησοῦ) new Covenant (i.e. the gospel, Ephesians 3:7; Colossians 1:23, as distinguished from the law; see 1 Corinthians 11:25; Galatians 4:24 :—the πλάκες λίθιναι and σάρκιναι are still borne in mind, and lead on to a fuller comparison of the two covenants),—not of (governed by διακόνους, not by καινῆς διαθ.—‘ministers, not of’.…) letter (in which, viz. in formal and literal precept, the Mosaic law consisted), but of Spirit (in which, viz. in the inward guiding of the Spirit of God, the gospel consists. Bengel remarks: ‘Paulus etiam dum hæc scripsit, non literæ, sed spiritus ministerium egit. Moses in proprio illo officio suo, etiam cum haud scripsit, tamen in litera versatus est’): for the letter (mere formal and literal precept, of the law) killeth (as in Romans 7,—brings the knowledge of sin, its guilt and its punishment. The reference is not, as Meyer, to natural death, which is the result of sin even where there is no law; nor as Chrys. to the law executing punishment), but the Spirit (of the gospel, i.e. God’s Holy Spirit, acting in and through Christ, Who ἐγένετο εἰς πνεῦμα ζωοποιοῦν, 1 Corinthians 15:45. See also below, 2 Corinthians 3:17) giveth life (not merely life eternal, but the whole new life of the man of God, see Romans 6:4; Romans 6:11; Romans 8:2; Romans 8:10). On the history of this meaning of γράμμα, see Stanley’s note.


Verse 7

7.] But (passing to another consideration,—the comparison of the two διακονίαι) if the ministration of death in the letter (of that death which the law, the code of literal and formal precept, brought in. This not having been seen, it was imagined that γράμματι belonged to ἐντετυπωμένη, and hence it was altered, as more according to fact, into γράμμασιν, the received reading.

No art. is required before γράμματι, as Meyer objects,—on account of the preposition ἐν) engraven on stones (it seems strange that ἐντετ. λίθ. should he the predicate of διακονία; but the ministration is the whole putting forth of the dispensation, the purport of which was summed up in the decalogue, written on stones. The decalogue thus written was, as in 2 Corinthians 3:3, διακονηθεῖσα ὑπὸ ΄ωυσέως) was (constituted) in glory (as its state or accompanying condition:—the abstract as yet, to be compared with the glory of the other: the concrete, the brightness on the face of Moses, is not yet before us), so that the sons of Israel could not fix their eyes on (they were afraid to come nigh him, Exodus 34:30—so that μὴ δύνασθαι is not said of physical inability, but of inability from fear) the face of Moses, on account of the glory of his face, which was transitory (‘transitoria et modici temporis,’ Estius;—supernaturally conferred for a season, and passing away when the occasion was over), how shall not rather the ministration of the Spirit (= ἡ διακονία τῆς ζωῆς ἐν πνεύματι, as formally opposed to the other:—but not so expressed, because the Spirit is the principle of life, whereas the Law only led to death) be (future, because the glory will not be accomplished till the manifestation of the kingdom: according to Billroth, ‘esse invenietur si rem recte perpenderimus:’ or as Bengel, ‘loquitur ex prospectu veteris Testamenti in novum:’ but I much prefer the above, as giving the contrast, by and by expressed, between τὸ καταργούμενον and τὸ μένον) in glory?


Verses 7-11

7–11.] And this ministration is infinitely more glorious than was that of Moses under the old Covenant. He argues from the less to the greater: from the transitory glory of the killing letter, to the abiding glory of the life-giving Spirit.


Verse 9

9.] For (an additional reason ‘a minori ad majus’) if the ministration of condemnation was (or, is) glory (the change of ἡ διακονία to the dat. has been made apparently because a difficulty was found in the ministration itself being glory), much more does the ministration of righteousness abound in glory. The ministration of condemnation, because (Romans 7:9 ff.) the Law detects and condemns sin:—the ministration of righteousness, because (Romans 1:17) therein the righteousness of God is revealed and imparted by faith.


Verse 10

10.] For (substantiation of the foregoing πολλῷ μᾶλλον) even that which has been glorified (viz. the διακ. τ. κατακρίς., which was ἐν δόξῃ by the brightness on the face of Moses) has not been glorified (has lost all its glory) in this respect (i.e. when compared with the gospel,— κατὰ τὸν τῆς συγκρίσεως λόγον, Chrys. Hom. vii. p. 481.

De W. takes ἐν τ. τῷ μέρ. with δεδοξασμένον, ‘that which was in this particular glorified,’ viz. in the brightness on the face of Moses:—but that would more naturally be τὸ ἐν τούτῳ τῷ μέρει δεδοξασμένον:—as it now stands I cannot divide otherwise than οὐ δεδόξασται | τὸ δεδοξασμένον | ἐν τούτῳ τῷ μέρει. Meyer takes τὸ δεδοξ. as abstract, and ἐν τούτῳ τῷ μέρει as pointing to the concrete: ‘that which has been glorified (general and abstract) has in this particular department (concrete, viz. the διακ. τ. κατακρίς. which was δεδοξασμ.) no glory: q. d. the glorified is unglorified in this case.’ This may certainly be, and is ingenious: but the other is simpler) on account of (i.e. when we take into consideration) the surpassing glory (viz. of the other διακονία:—present, because spoken of qualitatively).


Verse 11

11.] For (a fresh ground of superiority in glory of the Christian over the Mosaic ministry) if that which is transitory (not here, as above, the brilliancy of the visage of Moses, for that was the δόξα, but the ministry itself, the whole purpose which that ministry served, which was parenthetical and to come to an end) was with glory ( διὰ, see reff., of the condition or circumstances in which a thing takes place), much more is that which abideth (the everlasting gospel) in glory. Estius says, “per gloriam ( διὰ δ.) innuere videtur aliquid momentaneum ac transitorium: in gloria, aliquid manens et stabile.” Similarly, Olshausen: but it is quite in the style of our Apostle to use various prepositions to express nearly the same relation,—see Romans 3:22; Romans 3:30; Romans 5:10.


Verse 12

12. ἐλπίδα] viz. that expressed by ἔσται ἐν δόξῃ, 2 Corinthians 3:8; the hope of the ultimate manifestation of exceeding glory as belonging to his ministration.

παῤῥησίᾳ] πρὸς τίνα, εἰπέ μοι· πρὸς τὸν θεόν, ἢ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητάς; πρὸς ὑμᾶς τοὺς μαθητευομένους, φησί· τουτέστι, μετʼ ἐλευθερίας πανταχοῦ φθεγγόμεθα, οὐδὲν ὑποστελλόμενοι, οὐδὲν ἀποκρυπτόμενοι, οὐδὲν ὑφορώμενοι, ἀλλὰ σαφῶς λέγοντες· καὶ οὐ δεδοίκαμεν μὴ πλήξωμεν ὑμῶν τὰς ὄψεις, καθάπερ ΄ωυσῆς τὰς ἰουδαίων, Chrys. p. 482.


Verse 12-13

12, 13.] From a consciousness of this superior glory of his ministration, the Apostle uses great plainness of speech, and does not, as Moses, use a vail.


Verse 13

13.] καὶ οὐ, and (do) not (place a vail on our face,—so Mark 15:8, ὁ ὄχλος ἤρξατο αἰτεῖσθαι ( ποιεῖν) καθὼς ἀεὶ ἐποίει αὐτοῖς. See Winer, edn. 6, § 64, i. 1 b.) as Moses placed a vail on his face, in order that (see below) the sons of Israel might not look on the termination of the transitory (viz. his διακονία, see 2 Corinthians 3:11, but spoken of as δεδοξασμένη: ‘the glory of his ministration’). A mistake has been made with regard to the history in Exodus 34:33-35, which has considerably obscured the understanding of this verse. It is commonly assumed, that Moses spoke to the Israelites, having the vail on his face; and this is implied in our version—‘till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.’ But the LXX (and Heb.) gave a different account: καὶ ἐπειδὴ κατέπαυσεν λαλῶν πρὸς αὐτούς, ἐπέθηκεν ἐπὶ τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ κάλυμμα. He spoke to them without the vail, with his face shining and glorified: when he had done speaking, he placed the vail on his face: and that, not because they were afraid to look on him, but as here, that they might not look on the end, or the fading, of that transitory glory; that they might only see it as long as it was the credential of his ministry, and then it might be withdrawn from their eyes. Thus the declaration of God’s will to them was not ἐν παῤῥησίᾳ, but was interrupted and broken by intervals of concealment, which ours is not. The opposition is twofold: (1) between the vailed and the unvailed ministry, quoad the mere fact of concealment in the one case, and openness in the other: (2) between the ministry which was suspended by the vailing, that its τέλος might not be seen, and that which proceeds ἀπὸ δόξης εἰς δόξαν, having no termination. On the common interpretation, Commentators have found an almost insuperable difficulty in πρὸς τὸ μὴ ἀτ. The usual escape from it has been to render it, ‘so that the Israelities could not,’ as in 2 Corinthians 3:7. De Wette somewhat modifies this, and sees in it the divine purpose: ‘in order that,’ but not in the intention of Moses, but of God’s Providence. But both these renderings are ungrammatical. πρὸς τό with an infinitive never signifies the mere result, nor, as Meyer rightly remarks against De Wette, the objective purpose, but always the subjective purpose present to the mind of the actor: he refers to Matthew 5:28; Matthew 6:1; Matthew 13:30; Matthew 23:5; Mark 13:22; Ephesians 6:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8; James 3:3 (rec.); and Matthew 26:12 (see my note there). I may remark also, that the narrative in Exodus, the LXX version of which the Apostle here closely follows (see below on 2 Corinthians 3:16), implies that the brightness of Moses’s face had place not on that one occasion only, but throughout his whole ministry between the Lord and the people. When he ceased speaking to them, he put on the vail; but whensoever he went in before the Lord to speak to Him, the vail was removed till he came out, and had spoken to the Israelites all that the Lord had commanded him, during which speaking they saw that his face shone,—and after which speaking he again put on the vail. So that the vail was the symbol of concealment and transitoriness: the part revealed they might see: beyond that, they could not: the ministry was a broken, interrupted one; its end was wrapped in obscurity.

In the τέλος τοῦ καταργ. we must not think, as some Commentators have done, of Christ (Romans 10:4), any further than it may be hinted in the background that when the law came to an end, He appeared.


Verse 14

14.] But (also) their understandings were hardened (on this, the necessary sense of ἐπωρώθη, see note, Ephesians 4:18). These words evidently refer, as well as what follows, not to the τέλος which they did not see, but to that which they did see: to that which answers to the present ἀνάγνωσις τῆς παλαιᾶς διαθήκης, viz. the word of God imparted by the ministration of Moses. And by these words the transition is made from the form of similitude just used, to that new one which is about to be used; q. d. ‘not only was there a vail on Moses’s face, to prevent more being known, but also their understandings were darkened: there was, besides, a vail on their hearts.’ So that ἀλλά = but also, or moreover.

To refer this ἀλλʼ ἐπωρ. to παῤῥησίᾳ χρώμεθα, to the present hard-heartedness of the Jews under the freedom of speech of the Gospel, as Olsh., De W., al., is, in my view, to miss the whole sense of the passage. No reference whatever is made to the state of the Jews under the preaching of the gospel, but only as the objects of the O. T. ministration,—then, under the oral teaching of Moses,—now, in the reading of the O. T.

In order to understand what follows, the change of similitude must be carefully borne in mind.

τὸ αὐτὸ κάλυμμα] ‘the vail once on Moses’s face,’ is now regarded as laid on their hearts. It denoted the ceasing, the covering up, of his oral teaching; for it was put on when he had done speaking to the people. Now, his oral teaching has altogether ceased, and the διακονία is carried on by a book. But as when we listen, the speaker is the agent, and the hearers are passive,—so on the other hand, when we read, we are the agents and the book is passive. The book is the same to all: the difference between those who understand and those who do not understand is now a subjective difference—the vail is no longer on the face of the speaker, but on the heart of the reader. So that of necessity the form of the similitude is changed. For (answering to an understood clause, ‘and remain hardened’) to the present day the same vail (which was once on the face of Moses) remains at the reading of the Old Testament ( ἡ παλ. διαθ. here, as we now popularly use the words, the book comprising the ancient Covenant), the discovery not being made (by the removal of the vail) that it (the O. T.) is done away in Christ (that the Old Covenant has passed away, being superseded by Christ). This I believe to be the only admissible sense of the words, consistently with the symbolism of the passage. The renderings, ‘remains not taken away—for it (i.e. the vail) is done away in Christ,’ and (as E. V.) ‘remaineth … untaken away … which vail ( ὅ τι) is done away in Christ,’—are inadmissible: (1) because they make καταργεῖται, which throughout the passage belongs to the glory of the ministry, to apply to the vail: and (2) because they give no satisfactory sense. It is not because the vail can only be done away in Christ, that it now remains untaken away on their hearts, but because their hearts are hardened. Besides, the Apostle would not have expressed it thus, but ἐν χριστῷ γὰρ καταργ. The word ἀνακαλυπτόμενον has been probably chosen, as is often the practice of the Apostle, on account of its relation to κάλυμμα,—it not being unvailed to them that.…


Verses 14-18

14–18.] The contrast is now made between the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, on whose heart this vail still is in the reading of the O. T., and US ALL (Christians), who with uncovered face behold the glory of the Lord. This section is parenthetical. Before and after it, the ministry is the subject: in it, they to whom the ministry is directed. But it serves to shew the whole spirit and condition of the two classes, and thus further to substantiate the character of openness and freedom asserted of the Christian ministry.


Verse 15

15.] But (reassertion of μὴ ἀνακαλυπτόμενον, with a view to the next clause) to this day, whenever Moses is read, a vail lies upon their heart (understanding. κεῖται ἐπί w. acc.,—pregn., involving the being laid on, and remaining there).


Verse 16

16.] Here, the tertium comparationis is, the having on a vail, and taking it off on going into the presence of the Lord. This Moses did; and the choice of the same words as those of the LXX, shews the closeness of the comparison; ἡνίκα δʼ ἂν εἰσεπορεύετο ΄ωυσῆς ἔναντι κυρίου λαλεῖν αὐτῷ, περιῃρεῖτο τὸ κάλυμμα. This shall likewise be done in the case of the Israelites: when it (i.e. ἡ καρδία αὐτῶν,—not Israel, as Chrys., Theod., Theophyl., Erasm., al.,—nor Moses, as Calv., Estius,—nor τίς, as Orig(4), al.) shall turn to the Lord (here again ἐπιστρέψῃ πρός is carefully chosen, being the very expression of the LXX, when the Israelites, having been afraid of the glory of the face of Moses, returned to him after being summoned by him:— ἐφοβήθησαν ἐγγίσαι αὐτῷ· καὶ ἐκάλεσεν αὐτοὺς ΄ωυσῆς, καὶ ἐπεστράφησαν πρὸς αὐτὸν.…,—and κύριον appears to be used for the same reason) the vail is taken away (not, shall be, because ἡ καρδία is the subject, and thus the taking away becomes an individual matter, happening whenever and wherever conversion takes place). Let me restate this,—as it is all-important towards the understanding of 2 Corinthians 3:17-18. ‘When their heart goes in to speak with God,—ceases to contemplate the dead letter, and begins to commune with the Spirit of the old covenant (the Spirit of God), then the vail is removed, as it was from the face of Moses.’


Verse 17

17.] Now ( δέ exponentis. τίς δὲ οὗτος πρὸς ὃν δεῖ ἀποβλέψαι; Theodoret) the Lord is the Spirit: i.e. the κύριος of 2 Corinthians 3:16, is, the Spirit, whose word the O. T. is: the πνεῦμα,—as opposed to the γράμμα,—which ζωοποιεῖ, 2 Corinthians 3:6.

But it is not merely, as Wetst., ‘Dominus significat Spiritum,’ nor is πνεῦμα merely, as Olsh., the spiritual sense of the law: but, ‘the Lord,’ as here spoken of, ‘Christ,’ ‘is the Spirit,’ is identical with the Holy Spirit: not personally nor essentially, but, as is shewn by τὸ πνεῦμα κυρίου following, in this department of His divine working:—Christ, here, is the Spirit of Christ. The principal mistaken interpretation (among many, see Pool’s Synops., Meyer, De Wette) is that of Chrys., Theodoret, Theophyl., Œcum., Estius, Schulz,—making τὸ πνεῦμα the subject, and ὁ κύρ. the predicate, which though perhaps (but would δέ then have had its present position?) allowable, is against the context, ὁ δὲ κύρ. being plainly resumed from ὁ κύρ. in 2 Corinthians 3:16. The words are then used by them as a proof of the Divinity of the Holy Spirit.

But ( δέ appealing to a known or evident axiom, as in a mathematical demonstration) where the Spirit of the Lord (see above) is, is liberty ( ἐκεῖ has probably been inserted, as being usual after οὗ: but, as Meyer remarks, not in St. Paul’s style, see Romans 4:15; Romans 5:20). They are fettered in spirit as long as they are slaves to the letter, = as long as they have the vail on their hearts; but when they turn to the Lord the Spirit, which is not πνεῦμα δουλείας but πν. υἱοθεσίας, Romans 8:15,—and by virtue of whom οὐκ ἔτι εἶ δοῦλος, ἀλλὰ νἱός, Galatians 4:7,—then they are at liberty. There can hardly be any allusion to a vail over the head implying subjection, as 1 Corinthians 11:10, (Erasm., Beza, Grot., Bengel, Fritz.,) for here the covering of the head with a vail is not thought of, but merely intercepting the sight.


Verse 18

18.] But (the sight of the Jews is thus intercepted; in contrast to whom) WE all (‘all Christians:’ not, as Erasm., Estius, Bengel, al. m., ‘we Apostles and teachers: the contrast is to the νἱοὶ ἰσραήλ above) with unvailed face (the vail having been removed at our conversion: the stress is on these words) beholding in a mirror the glory of the Lord (i.e. Christ: from 2 Corinthians 3:16-17.

κατοπτρίζω is to shew in a mirror, to make a reflexion in a mirror; so Plutarch, de Placitis Philosophorum, iii. 5: Anaxagoras explained a rainbow to be the reflexion of the sun’s brightness from a thick cloud, that always stands opposite τοῦ κατοπτρίζοντος αὐτὸ ἀστέρος. In the middle, it is ‘to behold oneself in a mirror:’ so Diog. Laert., Plato, p. 115, τοῖς μεθύουσι συνεβούλευε κατοπτρίζεσθαι;—but also, to see in a mirror, so Philo, Legis Allegor. iii. 33, vol. i. p. 107, μὴ γὰρ ἐμφανισθείης μοι διʼ οὐρανοῦ ἢ γῆς ἢ ὕδατος ἢ ἀέρος ἤ τινος ἁπλῶς τῶν ἐν γενέσει, μηδὲ κατοπτρισαίμην ἐν ἄλλῳ τινὶ τὴν σὴν ἰδέαν, ἢ ἐν σοὶ τῷ θεῷ. And such is evidently the meaning here: the gospel is this mirror, the εὐαγγέλιον τῆς δόξης τοῦ χριστοῦ, ch. 2 Corinthians 4:4, and we, looking on it with unvailed face, are the contrast to the Jews, with vailed hearts reading their law. The meaning ‘reflecting the glory,’ &c. as Chrys., Luth, Calov., Bengel, Billroth, Olsh., is one which neither the word nor the context (see above) will bear (see, however, Stanley’s note), are transfigured into the same image (which we see in the mirror: the image of the glory of Christ, see Galatians 4:19, which is more to the point than Romans 8:21, cited by Meyer, and 1 John 3:3. But the change here spoken of is a spiritual one, not the bodily change at the Resurrection: it is going on here in the process of sanctification.

No prep. need be understood before τὴν αὐτὴν εἰκόνα—the passive verb indirectly governs the acc., as in ἀποτέμνομαι τὴν κεφαλήν and similar cases) from glory to glory (this is explained, either (1) ‘from one degree of glory to another;’ so most Commentators and De Wette, or (2) ‘from (by) the glory which we see, into glory,’ as Chrys. p. 486, ἀπὸ δόξης, τῆς τοῦ πνεύματος, εἰς δόξαν, τὴν ἡμετέραν, τὴν ἐγγιγνομένην,—Theodoret, Œcum., Theophyl., Bengel, Fritz., Meyer, al. I prefer the former, as the other would introduce a tautology, the sentiment being expressed in the words following) as by the Lord the Spirit. κυρίου πνεύματος = τοῦ κυρίου τοῦ πνεύματος,—the first art. being omitted after the preposition, the second to conform the predicate to its subject, as in ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρός, Galatians 1:3,—and answers to ὁ δὲ κύριος τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν above. This seems the obvious and most satisfactory way of taking the words, and, from 2 Corinthians 3:17, to be necessitated by the context; and so Theodoret, Luther, Beza, Calov., Wolf, Estius, al. The rendering upheld by Fritz., Billroth, Meyer, De Wette, ‘the Lord of the Spirit,’ i.e. ‘Christ, whose Spirit He is,’ seems to me to convey very little meaning, besides being an expression altogether unprecedented. The transformation is effected by the Spirit ( τοῦτο μεταμορφοῖ, Chrys.), the Author and Upholder of spiritual life, who ‘takes of the things of Christ, and shews them to us,’ John 16:14, see also Romans 8:10-11,—who sanctifies us till we are holy as Christ is holy; the process of renewal after Christ’s image is such a transformation as may be expected by the agency of ( καθάπερ ἀπό, so Chrys., καὶ τοιαύτην οἵαν εἰκὸς ἀπὸ …) the Lord the Spirit,—Christ Himself being the image, see ch. 2 Corinthians 4:4. The two other renderings are out of the question, as being inconsistent with the order of the words: viz.: (1) that of E. V. and of Vulg., Theophyl., Grot., Bengel, ‘the Spirit of the Lord,’ and (2) that of Chrys., Theodoret, Calov., Estius, ‘the Spirit who is the Lord.’

Meyer objects to the interpretation given above as inconsistent with the self-evident connexion of the genitives. How would he render ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρός?

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/2-corinthians-3.html. 1863-1878.

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Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
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