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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
2 Corinthians 3

 

 

Verses 1-3

‘Are we beginning again to commend ourselves? or do we need, as do some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read of all men, it being revealed openly that you are a letter of Christ, ministered by us, 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.’

‘Are we beginning again to commend ourselves?’ What he has just been describing of their being triumphantly led by God in victory must not be misunderstood. We have not said it, he stresses, in order that we may commend ourselves. For the truth is that he and his fellow-workers do not need to commend themselves. The Corinthian Christians are themselves the proof of their commendation.

So having glorified God for leading him and his fellow-workers continually in triumph Paul now stresses that the Corinthians have even greater reasons for recognising that they are true servants of Christ and that he is God’s true Apostle. Others would come with letters of recommendation, (see Acts 9:2; Acts 22:5; Acts 18:27; Romans 16:1) but he and his fellow-workers do not need letters of recommendation. They do not even need to commend themselves. The Corinthians themselves are his letters of recommendation, openly revealed to all men. For they owed their very rebirth to him and his ministry, and he wants them to know that they are written in the very hearts, both of him and his fellow-ministers.

‘Written on our hearts.’ They are not just converts, they are beloved brothers and sisters. We need not press the illustration It was to get over a point. It soon changes so that it becomes ‘their hearts’.

‘Ministered by us.’ They should remember through whom this wonderful work, now in their hearts, was ministered.

Paul needed no letters of recommendation because he only went to virgin territory, to places of new opportunity or to churches that he himself had founded. In the first case a letter of recommendation would have been useless, in the second it should have been unnecessary.

Note the stress on ‘all men’. Unlike his opponents Paul’s triumph is not localised. All the world knows of it for they see it in those who have come to Christ under his ministry (compare ‘in every place’ - 2 Corinthians 2:14).

Indeed all who see the Corinthian Christians recognise that they are a letter of Christ (a letter that reveals Christ, or that is from Christ and written by Him), written with something far superior to ink. They are written with the Spirit of ‘the living God’, the life-giving God, the powerfully active God, and the writing paper is not stone tablets, but their human, beating hearts. So their very lives, Paul says, declare his credentials.

The contrast is with Moses’ message, written in tablets of stone (Exodus 31:18). Moses’ message was an outward one, even if it was written with the finger of God, the writing of the old covenant. It did not of itself change hearts. It spoke of deliverance, but it also laid down requirements without giving the power to fulfil them. But the message they have received was written on the inward heart by the Spirit of the living God, it was living and vital, life-changing and personally applied, and by it they had entered into God’s new covenant (2 Corinthians 3:6) sealed by the blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:25).

In mind were the words of God in Jeremiah 31:33, ‘I will make a new covenant --- this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts and I will write it in their heart, and I will be their God, and they will be My people --- for they will all know Me from the least of them to the greatest.’ And this combined with Ezekiel 36:27, ‘A new heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.’ In both cases there is the stress on ‘new’. This would not be just a continuation of the old but would have a different basis. It would work within and not from without, an inward transforming rather than a bringing to commitment, although the very transformation would result in full commitment. So, says Paul, all that was promised in God’s word was fulfilled in them through his ministry. What needed he of a better witness?

Paul is not degrading the old covenant. The old covenant was written with ‘the finger of God’, emphasising its importance and God’s personal concern. And it came in glory (2 Corinthians 3:7). But the new was more effective because it was written by ‘the Spirit of the living God’, God’s personal dynamic, life-giving action in the heart, and came with even greater glory. Although here we should note how Luke can use the term ‘the finger of God’ to express the work of the Spirit (compare Luke 11:20 with Matthew 12:28). So the point is more on where the action was carried out, in the first case on tablets of stone, in the second case directly in the heart, than on Who by.

There could be no clearer distinction than here of those who are offered a means of life, but of whom many turn it down, and those who by the working of God’s sovereign power are brought to respond and be saved. The one are offered the writing of God on the tablets of stone, the other receive the work of the Spirit in their hearts establishing His word there and transforming them.


Verses 1-6

He Is Not Speaking Like This To Commend Himself. Indeed The Corinthians Themselves Are His Letter of Recommendation, Written By The Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 3:1-6).

He firmly points out that he does not need to commend himself to them like this, for are they not themselves a testimony to his success in Christ? They are his letters of recommendation. And he goes on to describe the wonder of what has happened to them. It is the Spirit of the living God Who has written in their hearts the new covenant sealed by the blood of Christ. They have been reborn and transformed by His activity. What they are enjoying is no outward covenant written on stone, which in the end results in failure and condemnation. It is one written by God within them which has transformed them, and it all began through the ministry of Paul. Thus can they know that he is a true Apostle of God.


Verses 4-6

‘And such confidence have we through Christ to God-ward. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant. Not of the letter, but of the spirit, for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.’

And this is the confidence that he has, a confidence that he has through Christ as he looks towards God. His confidence is not in himself, or in his own resources, but in the fact that what has come, has come through Christ and what He has deserved. Thus as he looks towards God he has no doubts of what will result, for it is all of Christ.

So it is not that he looks to his own sufficiency. He and his fellow-workers do not look on themselves as sufficient (adequate). They have no high opinion of themselves. They make no claims of superiority for themselves. They do not look to their own resources. They are not boasters like others. Their sufficiency is from God, and it is He Who, having called them, has made them sufficient with His own sufficiency, as ministers of the new covenant.

In the background of this idea of sufficiency and adequacy may lie the question in Joel 2:11 (LXX), ‘who is sufficient (adequate) in it (the day of the Lord)?’ The answer is no one. In LXX it is God alone Who is ‘the Sufficient One’, for this is regularly the translation for El Shaddai (Ruth 1:20; Job 21:15; Job 31:2; Job 40:2). Thus they recognise that any sufficiency that they have must come from Him.

And this new covenant (binding relationship with God) is not written in letters, it is totally of the Spirit, as He writes the covenant within their very beings. For the covenant given in letters was one that they were unable to fulfil. At first they received it with joy and gladly subscribed to it. But later, even as they read it, it condemned them and destroyed them. It withered their hearts. They had failed to live up to its demands. But in contrast the Spirit gives life. He makes them as those who love God and desire to keep His law (Romans 8:4). It renews their hearts. And He gives them life and makes them aware of that new life that they possess (Romans 6:4), because they have been accepted by God in Christ, and have received His very life within them (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 3:17). It continually renews their hearts.

‘For the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.’ For a similar idea compare Romans 2:29; Romans 7:6. There was nothing wrong with the words of the old covenant itself. It was holy, and righteous and good (Romans 7:12). The wrong was in man’s heart and in his attitude towards it, and the description ‘the letter’ emphasises that wrong use. Man was taken up too much with the detail and failed to see behind it the graciousness of God and the need for a change of heart wrought by God. He refused to respond to God through it, thus bringing on himself the sentence of death. He relied on outward circumcision, and failed to recognise that he must be ‘inwardly circumcised’ (Romans 2:29). Thus the detail killed him. But the Spirit first gives life, revivifying the spirit, and as a result He brings about that response, so that man responds in the newness of the spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter which inhibits response (Romans 7:6). The same fragrance is wafted to all, but to one it brings life, while to the other it brings death (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).


Verse 7-8

The Contrast Between the Old and the New, Between Moses’ Covenant and Christ’s Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:7-11)

‘But if the ministration of death, written, and engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly on the face of Moses for the glory of his face, which glory was passing away, how shall not rather the ministration of the spirit be with glory?’

At the thought of the new covenant he now digresses as he considers the wonder of what he is talking about. What a contrast there is between the two covenants. The first, the old covenant, did come with glory. But it proved to be a ministry of death in that it could not give life because of man’s insufficiency, and could only therefore sentence to death. Yet as it was given, did not the glory of God shine on the face of Moses? Yes, but the significant fact was that Israel could not even look at him (Exodus 34:29; Exodus 34:35). That was in itself an indication of the situation. They could not accept the glory because of the sinfulness of their hearts. They could not bear the holiness of God. What God was giving was glorious, but man shied from it. He could not bear it. And even then the glory connected with its giving was a passing glory, a fading glory. Eventually it passed way. Thus indicating its temporary nature.

But if such a covenant was given in glory, even if it was fading glory, how much more glorious will be the ministration of the spirit. The thought here is of the new spirit of life put within them, in contrast with death. That is far more glorious.

‘The ministration of death.’ Paul later expands on this idea elsewhere. The prime intention of the Law was to give life. The man who does it shall live by it (Romans 10:5). But it became a ministration of death because of man’s weakness. He did not live by it. Thus it could only condemn him.


Verse 9

‘For if the ministration of condemnation has glory, much rather does the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.’

He compares the two covenants. The one administered condemnation. It pointed man to his sin but could do nothing further for him (although God did provide through the sacrificial system a means of atonement. But even that became trivialised - Isaiah 1:11-15). But the other actually administers righteousness. It firstly makes men righteous in the sight of God (2 Corinthians 5:21) and then it works righteousness within their hearts. But what does ‘righteousness’ signify here? We do not have to take either/or. It means righteousness overall. At the moment of conversion righteousness is imputed, we are accounted righteous, and at the same time righteousness is imparted, we are made righteous by the impartation of the Spirit and the transformation of the heart. How much more glorious then is the second covenant rather than the first. It is a covenant that ministers forgiveness and mercy from the start, and which works within men the ability to succeed (Philippians 2:12-13).


Verse 10-11

‘For truly that which has been made glorious has not been made glorious in this respect, by reason of the glory that surpasses For if that which passes away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.’

‘In this respect’ or ‘in this case’ may also be translated ‘partially’ (thus ‘that which has been made glorious partially has not been made glorious’ i.e fully glorious), but either way the sense is clear.

For while we can certainly say that the first was made glorious, its glory is as nothing when compared with (in respect of) the second. For the second so surpassed the first in glory, that the glory of the first is totally outmatched. So while the first covenant was made in glory, it was in a glory that was passing away, it was a secondary glory. How much more then will the superior second covenant be made in glory, and in a glory which remains. It will never pass away. For that glory is the glory of the Lord revealed and enjoyed by those who can now look on Him without fear (2 Corinthians 3:18).

For the first covenant ministers death and is passing. The second ministers life and righteousness, and is eternal. We must, however, remember that this is the final verdict, looked at from what each can finally achieve. Of course the same God Who acts through the second covenant acted through the first. That too was a covenant of grace, and that too offered a means of salvation. But in the end it turned out that it was only taken up by the few. It was a matter of their choice. On the other hand all who enter into the second covenant find salvation, for it is a covenant of salvation, and puts those who respond to it within God’s saving purposes in Christ. It is a matter of His choice. The first covenant having given deliverance (I am the Lord Who has delivered you), goes on to make demands, which may not be fulfilled, the second gives deliverance, and then gives power, and goes on giving and giving again and again.

We are not to think from this that the first covenant was a failure. It succeeded in what it set out to do. It established Israel as a nation made up of many conglomerate parts, it provided them, especially through the prophets, with a basis for moral living which was unsurpassed until Christ came, and it provided a means of salvation through God’s appointed means. But in itself it could not give life. It offered life, but only on condition of a true response of faith and obedience, and that response was mainly lacking. Under it God did in mercy give life to those who truly responded to Him, but true response was small. The second covenant is, however, a covenant of life. It does not only offer life, it imparts life. And those who respond to it are in Christ, and enjoy all the benefits that He has purchased for them through His blood.

We may summarise the situation, some of which is read in by implication, as follow:

1) The written covenant, the letter, kills, because it is external and cannot change the heart of a man. It is a ministration of death. It catches a man out, points the finger at him, and destroys him. But the Spirit gives life, because He enters into a man’s very being and writes on His heart, imparting the righteousness that is required. His is an unceasing ministration of life.

2) Both covenants came with glory, but one was passing away and was less glorious, because it led to condemnation, while the other is permanent and is exceedingly glorious, because it leads to righteousness and acceptance.

3) The mediator of the first bore a fading glory and the covenant was temporary, the Mediator of the second has a continuing glory and the covenant is eternal

Paul’s purpose in writing this downstaging of the old covenant and exaltation of the new may partly have been as a result of Judaising influences in the church. Especially if missionaries had come from Jerusalem with letters of commendation, causing part of the opposition against his message (see 2 Corinthians 11:18-23 compare 2 Corinthians 3:1) and laying a great emphasis on Moses as God’s ideal. It is pointing out that in the end what Moses brought was not sufficient.


Verses 12-14

Consideration of the Consequences of the Difference In the Two Covenants (2 Corinthians 3:12-18)

‘Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness of speech, and are not as Moses, who put a veil on his face, that the children of Israel should not look steadfastly on the end of that which was passing away, but their minds were hardened, for up to this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains, it not being revealed to them that it is done away in Christ.’

The contrast between Moses and the Gospel continues. Having such a hope, the hope of experiencing glory, results in the preacher (in context Paul and his fellow-workers) being able to speak with much boldness of speech, in comparison with Moses who was compelled to hide his face. For the Gospel is an everlasting Gospel, and its glory goes on and on, and it imparts glory, but what was on Moses’ face slowly passed away, and was largely unwelcome to those who saw it. They did not want God to get too close. The one is eternally permanent, and applies to all, the other was temporary, for it was of limited application.

‘That which was passing away.’ It is not strictly the glory that is seen as ‘that’, as what was passing away, for doxa is feminine. It is probably the idea that lay behind the glory, the significance of the glory, what God had wanted to convey through the glory, that was what was passing away.

So the veil on Moses’ face resulted in a hardening of their hearts. Because of the veil they were not made to face up to the reality of what God was. They could hide from God’s light. Thus their obedience also fell away. And, Paul adds, the same situation continues today. When men hear ‘Moses’ read there is still a veil there, just as when they heard the covenant of old. The words are there but the significance is hidden. Had their eyes been opened to see the significance of what God was offering they would have recognised that the old covenant has been done away in Christ. But they have failed to see what He is offering because like the people of old they prefer the veil to remain. They shy away from the true revelation of God.

‘That the children of Israel should not look steadfastly on the end of that which was passing away.’ This could mean that it was so that they would not be able to look at the final stages of the fading (the end), or so that they would not look on the purpose (the end, the aim) of the glory, which was to reveal to them something of Himself.

Paul was not the only Jew to believe that the Jews were in darkness. The Qumran community was of the opinion that those in Jerusalem "do not know the hidden meaning of what is actually taking place, nor have they ever understood the lessons of the past" (1QMyst 2-3), while the Essenes likened the nation to "the blind and those that grope their way" (Cairo Damascus Document 2 Corinthians 1:8-9). The sad thing, however, is that their hearts too were veiled unless some did finally respond to the Gospel.


Verse 15

‘But to this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.’

The final phrase in 2 Corinthians 3:14 is repeated, but this time going a step further and applies the veil, not to ‘Moses’ but to their own heart. For the fact is that it is not just ‘Moses’ (the Torah) that is veiled, there is a veil on their own hearts. It is there as a result of their choice. They chose to let Moses wear the veil. Now they choose not to come to the light of God (John 3:19). They prefer darkness, hiddenness. As he will say later they have been blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). We can contrast this with the disciples whose minds were opened so that they saw the significance of Messianic teaching in the Old Testament (Luke 24:45-46 compare Luke 24:32 with Luke 24:25-27).


Verse 16

‘But whenever it shall turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away.’

Here we have to interpret ‘it’. So, it could mean ‘but whenever the heart (referring back to 2 Corinthians 3:15) of a man turns to the Lord’, or ‘whenever there is a turning to the Lord’ or ‘whenever a person turns to the Lord’, the veil is taken away. The overall idea is the same and the verb gives the impression of the swiftness of it. The person looks and lives.

‘To the Lord.’ Taken in context we would expect ‘the Lord’ to mean Jesus Christ (compare 2 Corinthians 1:2-3; 2 Corinthians 1:14; 2 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 4:10; 2 Corinthians 4:14; 2 Corinthians 11:17 and see 1 Corinthians 8:6 and Paul’s regular unquestionable references to Jesus Christ in that letter as ‘the Lord’ (1 Corinthians 2:8; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 10:21; 1 Corinthians 11:20; 1 Corinthians 11:26-27; 1 Corinthians 11:29; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 Corinthians 12:5; 1 Corinthians 15:47). Then the idea would be the general one that all men have a veil over their hearts, and when they turn to the Lord Jesus Christ it results in the veil being taken away (see 2 Corinthians 4:4).

But strictly the veil is in context said to be over the hearts of those who hear ‘Moses’. So alternately it may mean ‘whenever anyone (who is listening to the reading of the Law) turns to the Lord the veil is taken away’ signifying those who listen to the reading of ‘Moses’ (2 Corinthians 3:15). It is then declaring that any such who genuinely reach out to the Lord, here referring back to the Lord of the Old Testament, (Who however is Jesus Christ) will in that be enlightened, with the necessary result that they turn to Jesus Christ. The corollary is that those who cling to Moses are still veiled.


Verse 17

‘Now the Lord is the spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.’

We must probably see this as an explanation of Whom ‘the Lord’ is in 2 Corinthians 3:16. If ‘the Lord’ there refers back to the Lord in the Old Testament because it has Jews in mind, then this is simply pointing out that the Spirit of the Lord is the Lord manifested in power. The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom, freedom from the Law, freedom from condemnation. Turning to the Lord truly results in such freedom.

The suggestion that it simply means the Holy Spirit as bearing the title ‘Lord’ must be seen as doubtful because it would be unusual to speak of ‘turning to the Spirit’ as would be implied in 2 Corinthians 3:16. That would be using an idea which is unparalleled elsewhere. The Spirit always points away from Himself. Furthermore the reference to the ‘Spirit of the Lord’ in the second part of this verse also suggests that there too the Lord is not the Spirit either. He cannot be the Spirit of Himself. In fact taking ‘Spirit of the Lord’ to signify the Spirit of Yahweh, ‘the Lord’ in that phrase here means the God of the Old Testament.

But if it did mean ‘the Lord is the (Holy) Spirit’ then it would suggest that it was Paul’s intentions to indicate that Jesus is the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:16), and the Spirit is the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:17 a), although also still being the Spirit of Yahweh (the Lord) (2 Corinthians 3:17 b), Who is Lord over all, a clear statement of the triunity of ‘the Lord’.

However, the probability in the context of Corinthians must be that the Lord in 2 Corinthians 3:16 refers to Jesus Christ. And there is no difficulty in the phrase ‘the Spirit of the Lord’ then because Paul would certainly have no difficulty in aligning Jesus Christ with the Lord of the Old Testament. He calls Him ‘the Lord, Jesus Christ’ and elsewhere declares that ‘Jesus is Lord’, bearing the name that is above every name (Romans 10:9; Philippians 2:8-11). Thus it is the equivalent of the Spirit of Christ (Romans 10:9). But if that is so what could the first part of this verse mean.

How then is ‘the Lord that spirit’? One possible explanation in this case is that we should use a small ‘s’ and see ‘the Lord is that spirit’ as being intended as an explanation, tying together the reference to the Lord in 2 Corinthians 3:16, where His function is to give light and life, with the references to the spirit in 2 Corinthians 3:6 b and 6c, where the idea is similar, to show that the ‘spirit’ referred to there is not intended to refer directly to the Spirit of the living God of 2 Corinthians 3:3 but to ‘the spirit of Jesus’, this being seen in terms of the ‘life-giving spirit’ of 1 Corinthians 15:45; (‘spirit in 2 Corinthians 3:6 b is without the article, possibly to distinguish it from the reference in 2 Corinthians 3:3, so that the article in 6c and here in 17 could be referring back to 2 Corinthians 3:6 b). Compare also 1 Corinthians 6:17.

Then Paul is saying, ‘the Lord in 2 Corinthians 3:16 is the essence of the ‘spirit’ which is in contrast to the ‘letter’, the spirit that reveals, the spirit that gives life, the life-giving spirit, and it is Jesus Who is the life-giving spirit, (1 Corinthians 15:45) Who works by means of the Spirit of the Lord’, Who can elsewhere be described as the Spirit of Christ (Romans 10:9). Compare John 5:22; John 5:26 where ‘the Son makes alive whom He will’ and ‘has life in Himself’. He is the life-giving spirit. This would not have the same difficulties for Paul’s readers as it does to us, for they would not in their minds have crystallised the persona of God as much as we do. They were happy to see God as Spirit (John 4:24), Jesus as life-giving Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45), and the Holy Spirit as Spirit.

Alternately it may simply mean that the Lord reveals His truth through the Spirit. The Lord is manifested by the Spirit.

The final implication is that again through Him there is freedom from the Law as interpreted in the Synagogue, and from its condemnation, from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). They are no longer legally bound by its requirements, they have escaped the spirit of bondage and the fear it produces (Romans 8:15 a). They are instead free and at liberty, they are sons who observe the family rules (Romans 8:15 b). They are under the law to Christ, responsible to obey Him (1 Corinthians 9:21). But they are not under the condemnation of the Law.

All this is not, of course, to deny the clear implication of the closeness of the Lord with the Holy Spirit, as the second half of 2 Corinthians 3:17 reveals, for such closeness can be paralleled in John 14:17-18; John 14:20; John 14:23 and Romans 8:9. Whatever view we take it clearly indicates the close relationship between the Lord and the Spirit.


Verse 18

‘But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror (or ‘beholding intently’) the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit.’

The literal order of the words is ‘but we all with unveiled face the glory of the Lord beholding as in a mirror.’ So we could translate, ‘beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord (manifested) with unveiled face (singular)’.

So the first question must be as to whose face is here seen as unveiled. Is it our ‘face’ (each of our faces) that is unveiled, or is it the face of the church as a whole, or is it the face of the Lord Jesus Christ which is unveiled revealing His glory? The thought of the unveiled face of the glory of Christ ties in with the contrast of Moses whose glory was veiled in 2 Corinthians 3:13 and with the reference to the glory of God which is in the face of Jesus Christ in 2 Corinthians 4:6. Then is brought out the continuing impact of continually seeing the glory of Christ, even if not fully, on our continuing Christian lives.

On the other hand the context has already moved the veil from the face of Moses (2 Corinthians 3:13), and from the Law which represented Moses (2 Corinthians 3:14), to the veiling of the heart (2 Corinthians 3:15). Thus the veiling of faces, and the unveiling of the faces of believers, is only the next step. In 2 Corinthians 4:3 it is the Good News which is veiled, but as that Good News is of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6) it may be seen as supporting the idea of the unveiled face of Jesus Christ.

If the thought is of the unveiling of the glory of Christ, we may see us as gazing in rapture upon His unveiled face, even though not seeing Him in the fullness of what He is, and thus being made more and more like Him. We become what we fix our attention on (compare 1 John 1-3), and our attention is on Him.

But if the thought is of the veil being removed from our faces, then the idea is that once the veil has been removed we become like that happy person of 2 Corinthians 3:16. For we are all (all we who are Christians) are then seen as beholding with unveiled face the glory of the Lord, just as Moses did when he went into the presence of the Lord after taking of the veil. We are no longer of those whose understanding is limited by a veil, our veil has been removed. And like Moses we can enter the presence of God unveiled. And there we can behold the glory of the Lord, although only as in a mirror, for the fullness of His glory would be too much for us.

In the final analysis the significance is the same. There is now nothing which hides us from seeing the glory of the Lord, save the fact that we are limited by what we are able to receive.

And the result of our beholding His glory is that we are transformed into the same image, we are made like Him, moving from one level of glory to another (Philippians 3:21), and all this we have from the Spirit of the Lord. ‘The same image.’ We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).

‘Moving from one degree of glory to another.’ This may mean that as we polish the mirror by growing in grace and reading His word, the glory of the Lord that we behold increases, or it may mean that our glory increases stage by stage until we achieve full glory at the rapture or the resurrection. Or it may include both, for the idea is that the more we see of His image, the more we become like Him, until we are conformed to His image (Romans 8:29; Galatians 4:19). This is in contrast with those who fail to see the light of the Good News of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God, because their minds are blinded (2 Corinthians 4:4).

The alternative possible translation ‘reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord’ provides a beautiful picture, but does not fit so well into the context which is based on Exodus 34:29-35, especially as the idea of the veil continues.

‘Even as from the Lord the Spirit.’ This would confirm that he has Christ as the life-giving spirit of 1 Corinthians 15 in mind in context. He is not saying that the Lord is the Spirit, in the sense of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God. But that the Lord is active Spirit, just as God is Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is Spirit. All work spiritually within man.

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/2-corinthians-3.html. 2013.

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Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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