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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Corinthians 3:18

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

Adam Clarke Commentary

But we all, with open face - The Jews were not able to look on the face of Moses, the mediator of the old covenant, and therefore he was obliged to veil it; but all we Christians, with face uncovered, behold, as clearly as we can see our own natural face in a mirror, the glorious promises and privileges of the Gospel of Christ; and while we contemplate, we anticipate them by desire and hope, and apprehend them by faith, and are changed from the glory there represented to the enjoyment of the thing which is represented, even the glorious image - righteousness and true holiness - of the God of glory.

As by the Spirit of the Lord - By the energy of that Spirit of Christ which gives life and being to all the promises of the Gospel; and thus we are made partakers of the Divine nature and escape all the corruptions that are in the world. This appears to me to be the general sense of this verse: its peculiar terms may be more particularly explained.

The word κατοπτριζομενοι, catoptrizomenoi, acting on the doctrine of catoptries, which we translate beholding in a glass, comes from κατα, against, and οπτομαι, I look; and properly conveys the sense of looking into a mirror, or discerning by reflected light. Now as mirrors, among the Jews, Greeks, and Romans, were made of highly polished metal, (see the note on 1 Corinthians 13:12;), it would often happen, especially in strong light, that the face would be greatly illuminated by this strongly reflected light; and to this circumstance the apostle seems here to allude. So, by earnestly contemplating the Gospel of Jesus, and believing on him who is its Author, the soul becomes illuminated with his Divine splendor, for this sacred mirror reflects back on the believing soul the image of Him whose perfections it exhibits; and thus we see the glorious form after which our minds are to be fashioned; and by believing and receiving the influence of his Spirit, μεταμορφουμεθα, our form is changed, την αυτην εικονα, into the same image, which we behold there; and this is the image of God, lost by our fall, and now recovered and restored by Jesus Christ: for the shining of the face of God upon us, i.e. approbation, through Christ, is the cause of our transformation into the Divine image.

Dr. Whitby, in his notes on this chapters produces six instances in which the apostle shows the Gospel to be superior to the law; I shall transcribe them without farther illustration: -

  1. The glory appearing on mount Sinai made the people afraid of death, saying: Let not God speak to us any more, lest we die; Exodus 20:19; Deuteronomy 18:16; and thus they received the spirit of bondage to fear, Romans 8:15. Whilst we have given to us the spirit of power, and love, and of a sound mind, 2 Timothy 1:7; and the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father! and to this difference the Epistle to the Hebrews alludes, Hebrews 12:18-24.
  • Moses, with all his glory, was only the minister of the law, written on tables of stone; the apostles are ministers of the Gospel, written on the hearts of believers. Moses gave the Jews only the letter that killeth; the apostles gave the Gospel, which is accompanied with the spirit that gives life.
  • The glory which Moses received at the giving of the law did more and more diminish, because his law was to vanish away; but the glory which is received from Christ is an increasing glory; the doctrine and the Divine influence remaining for ever.
  • The law was veiled under types and shadows; but the Gospel has scarcely any ceremonies; baptism and the Lord's Supper being all that can be properly called such: and Believe, Love, Obey, the great precepts of the Gospel, are delivered with the utmost perspicuity. And indeed the whole doctrine of Christ crucified is made as plain as human language can make it.
  • The Jews only saw the shining of the face of Moses through a veil; but we behold the glory of the Gospel of Christ, in the person of Christ our Lawgiver, with open face.
  • They saw it through a veil, which prevented the reflection or shining of it upon them; and so this glory shone only on the face of Moses, but not at all upon the people. Whereas the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ, shines as in a mirror which reflects the image upon Christian believers, so that they are transformed into the same image, deriving the glorious gifts and graces of the Spirit, with the Gospel, from Christ the Lord and Distributor of them, 1 Corinthians 12:5; and so, the glory which he had from the Father he has given to his genuine followers, John 17:22. It is, therefore, rather with true Christians as it was with Moses himself, concerning whom God speaks thus: With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord (την δοξαν Κυριου, the glory of the Lord) shall he behold; Numbers 12:8. For as he saw the glory of God apparently, so we with open face behold the glory of the Lord: as he, by seeing of this glory, was changed into the same likeness, and his face shone, or was δεδοξασμενη, made glorious; so we, beholding the glory of the Lord in the face of Jesus Christ, 2 Corinthians 4:6, are changed into the same glory.
  • Thus we find that in every thing the Gospel has a decided superiority over the law and its institutions.


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Bibliography
    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-corinthians-3.html. 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    But we all - All Christians. The discussion in the chapter has related mainly to the apostles; but this declaration seems evidently to refer to all Christians, as distinguished from the Jews.

    With open face - compare note on 1 Corinthians 13:12. Tyndale renders this: “and now the Lord‘s glory appeareth in us all as in a glass.” The sense is, “with unveiled face,” alluding to the fact 2 Corinthians 3:13 that the face of Moses was veiled, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look on it. In contradistinction from that, Paul says that Christians are enabled to look upon the glory of the Lord in the gospel without a veil - without any obscure intervening medium.

    Beholding as in a glass - On the word “glass, and the sense in which it is used in the New Testament, see the note on 1 Corinthians 13:12. The word used here κατοπτριζόμενοι katoptrizomenoihas been very variously rendered. Macknight renders it, “we all reflecting as mirrors the glory of the Lord.” Doddridge, “beholding as by a glass.” Locke, “with open countenances as mirrors, reflecting the glory of the Lord.” The word κατοπτρίζω katoptrizō occurs no where else in the New Testament. It properly means to look in a mirror; to behold as in a mirror. The mirrors of the ancients were made of burnished metal, and they reflected images with great brilliancy and distinctness. And the meaning is, that the gospel reflected the glory of the Lord; it was, so to speak, the mirror - the polished, burnished substance in which the glory of the Lord shone, and where that glory was irradiated and reflected so that it might be seen by Christians. There was no veil over it; no obscurity; nothing to break its dazzling splendor, or to prevent its meeting the eye. Christians, by looking on the gospel, could see the glorious perfections and plans of God as bright, and clear, and brilliant as they could see a light reflected from the burnished surface of the mirror. So to speak, the glorious perfections of God shone from heaven; beamed upon the gospel, and were thence reflected to the eye and the heart of the Christian, and had the effect of transforming them into the same image. This passage is one of great beauty, and is designed to set forth the gospel as being “the reflection” of the infinite glories of God to the minds and hearts of people.

    The glory of the Lord - The splendor, majesty, and holiness of God as manifested in the gospel, or of the Lord as incarnate. The idea is, that God was clearly and distinctly seen in the gospel. There was no obscurity, no veil, as in the case of Moses. In the gospel they were permitted to look on the full splendor of the divine perfections - the justice, goodness, mercy, and benevolence of God - to see him as he is with undimmed and unveiled glory. The idea is, that the perfections of God shine forth with splendor and beauty in the gospel, and that we are permitted to look on them clearly and openly.

    Are changed into the same image - It is possible that there may be an allusion here to the effect which was produced by looking into an ancient mirror. Such mirrors were made of burnished metal, and the reflection from them would be intense. If a strong light were thrown on them, the rays would be cast by reflection on the face of him who looked on the mirror, and it would be strongly illuminated. And the idea may be, that the glory of God, the splendor of the divine perfections, was thrown on the gospel, so to speak like a bright light on a polished mirror; and that that glory was reflected from the gospel on him who contemplated it, so that he appeared to be transformed into the same image. Locke renders it: “We are changed into his very image by a continued succession of glory, as it were, streaming upon us from the Lord.” The figure is one of great beauty; and the idea is, that by placing ourselves within the light of the gospel; by contemplating the glory that shines there, we become changed into the likeness of the same glory, and conformed to that which shines there with so much splendor.

    By contemplating the resplendent face of the blessed Redeemer, we are changed into something of the same image. It is a law of our nature that we are moulded, in our moral feelings, by the persons with whom we associate, and by the objects which we contemplate. We become insensibly assimilated to those with whom we have social contact, and to the objects with which we are familiar. We imbibe the opinions, we copy the habits, we imitate the manners, we fall into rite customs of those with whom we have daily conversation, and whom we make our companions and friends. Their sentiments insensibly become our sentiments, and their ways our ways. It is thus with the books with which we are familiar. We are insensibly, but certainly moulded into conformity to the opinions, maxims, and feelings which are there expressed. Our own sentiments undergo a gradual change, and we are likened to those with which in this manner we are conversant.

    So it is in regard to the opinions and feelings which from any cause we are in the habit of bringing before our minds. It is the way by which people become corrupted in their sentiments and feelings, in their contact with the world; it is the way in which amusements, and the company of the frivolous and the dissipated possess so much power; it is the way in which the young and inexperienced are beguiled and ruined; and it is the way in which Christians dim the luster of their piety, and obscure the brightness of their religion by their contact with the “happy and fashionable world. And it is on the same great principle that Paul says that by contemplating the glory of God in the gospel, we become insensibly, but certainly conformed to the same image, and made like the Redeemer. His image will be reflected on us. We shall imbibe his sentiments, catch his feelings, and be moulded into the image of his own purity. Such is the great and wise law of our nature; and it is on this principle, and by this means, that God designs we should be “made” pure on earth, and “kept” pure in heaven forever.

    From glory to glory - From one degree of glory to another. “The more we behold this brilliant and glorious light, the more do we reflect back its rays; that is, the more we contemplate the great truths of the Christian religion, the more do our minds become imbued with its spirit” - Bloomfield. This is said in contradistinction probably to Moses. The splendor on his face gradually died away. But not so with the light reflected from the gospel. It becomes deeper and brighter constantly. This sentinient is parallel to that expressed by the psalmist; “They go from strength to strength” Psalm 84:7; that is, they go from one degree of strength to another, or one degree of holiness to another, until they come to the full vision of God himself in heaven. The idea in the phrase before us is; that there is a continual increase of moral purity and holiness under the gospel until it results in the perfect glory of heaven. The “doctrine” is, that Christians advance in piety; and that this is done by the contemplation of the glory of God as it is revealed in the gospel.

    As by the Spirit of the Lord - Margin, “Of the Lord of the Spirit.” Greek “As from the Lord the Spirit.” So Beza, Locke, Wolf, Rosenmuller, and Doddridge render it. The idea is, that it is by the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of the law, the spirit referred to by Paul above, 2 Corinthians 3:6, 2 Corinthians 3:17. It is done by the Holy Spirit procured or imparted by the Lord Jesus. This sentiment is in accordance with that which prevails everywhere in the Bible, that it is by the Holy Spirit alone that the heart is changed and purified. And the “object” of the statement here is, doubtless, to prevent the supposition that the change from “glory to glory” was produced in any sense by the “mere” contemplation of truth, or by any physical operation of such contemplation on the mind. It was by the Spirit of God alone that the heart was changed even under the gospel, and amidst the full blaze of its truth, Were it not for his agency, even the contemplation of the glorious truths of the gospel would be in vain, and would produce no saving effect on the human heart.

    Remarks

    1. The best of all evidences of a call to the office of the ministry is the divine blessing resting on our labors 2 Corinthians 3:1-2. If sinners are converted; if souls are sanctified; if the interests of pure religion are advanced; if by humble, zealous, and self-denying efforts, a man is enabled so to preach as that the divine blessing shall rest constantly on his labors, it is among the best of all evidences that he is called of God, and is approved by him. And though it may be true, and is true, that people who are self-deceived, or are hypocrites, are sometimes the means of doing good, yet it is still true, as a general rule, that eminent, and long-continued success in the ministry is an evidence of God‘s acceptance, and that he has called a minister to this office. Paul felt this, and often appealed to it; and why may not others also?

    2. A minister may appeal to the effect of the gospel among his own people as a proof that it is from God, 2 Corinthians 3:2-3. Nothing else would produce such effects as were produced at Corinth, but the power of God. If the wicked are reclaimed; if the in temperate and licentious are made temperate and pure; if the dishonest are made honest; and the scoffer learns to pray, under the gospel, it proves that it is from God. To such effects a minister may appeal as proof that the gospel which he preaches is from heaven. A system which will produce these effects must be true.

    3. A minister should so live among a people as to be able to appeal to them with the utmost confidence in regard to the purity and integrity of his own character, 2 Corinthians 3:1-2. He should so live, and preach, and act, that he will be under no necessity of adducing testimonials from abroad in regard to his character. The effect of his gospel, and the tenor of his life, should be his best testimonial; and to that he should be able to appeal. A man who is under a necesity, constantly, or often, of defending his own character; of bolstering it up by testimonials from abroad; who is obliged to spend much of his time in defending his reputation, or who chooses to spend much of his time in defending it, has usually a character and reputation “not worth defending.” Let a man live as he ought to do, and he will, in the end, have a good reputation. Let him strive to do the will of God, and save souls, and he will have all the reputation which he ought to have. God will take care of his character; and will give him just as much reputation as it is desirable that he should have; see Psalm 37:5-6.

    4. The church is, as it were, an epistle sent by the Lord Jesus, to show his character and will, 2 Corinthians 3:3. It is his representative on earth. It holds his truth. It is to imitate his example. It is to show how he lived. And it is to accomplish that which he would accomplish were he personally on earth, and present among people - as a letter is designed to accomplish some important purpose of the writer when absent. The church, therefore, should be such as shall appropriately express the will and desire of the Lord Jesus. It should resemble him. It should hold his truth; and it should devote itself with untiring diligence to the great purpose of advancing his designs, and spreading his gospel around the world.

    5. Religion has its seat in the heart, 2 Corinthians 3:3. It is engraved there. It is written not with ink, or engraved on stone, but it is written by the Spirit of God on the heart. That professed religion, therefore, which does not reach the heart, and which is not felt there, is false and delusive. There is no true religion which does not reach and affect the heart.

    6. We should feel our dependence on God in all things, 2 Corinthians 3:5. We are dependent on him:

    (1) For revelation itself. Man had no power of originating the truths which constitute revelation. They are the free and pure gift of God.

    (2) for success in saving souls. God only can change the heart. It is not done by human reasoning; by any power of man; by any eloquence of persuasion. It is by the power of God; and if a minister of religion meets with any success, it will be by the presence and by the power of God alone.

    (3) we are dependent on him for the power of thought at all; for clearness of intellect; for such a state of bodily health as to permit us to think; for bright conceptions; for ability to arrange our thoughts; for the power of expressing them clearly; for such a state of mind as shall be free from vain fancies, and vagaries, and eccentricities; and for such a state as shall mark our plans as those of common sense and prudence. On such plans much of the comfort of life depends; and on such plans depends also nearly all the success which people ever meet with in any virtuous and honorable calling. And if people “felt,” as they should do, how much they are dependent on God for the power of “clear thinking,” and for the characteristics of sound sense in their schemes, they would pray for it more than they do; and would be more grateful that such a rich blessing is so extensively conferred upon people.

    7. Religion has a living power, 2 Corinthians 3:6. It is not the letter, but the spirit. It is not made up of forms and ceremonies. It does not consist in cold, external rites, however regular they may be; nor in formal prayer, or in stated seasons of devotion. All these will be dead and vain unless the heart is given to God, and to his service. If these are all, there is no religion. And if we have no better religion than that, we should at once abandon our hopes, and seek for that which does not kill, but which makes alive.

    8. The office of the ministers of the gospel is glorious, and most honorable, 2 Corinthians 3:7-9. It is “far more” honorable than was the office of Moses; and their work is far more glorious than was his. his consisted in giving the Law on tables of stone; in the external splendor which attended its promulgation; and in introducing a system which must be soon done away. His was a ministry “of death” and of “condemnation.” theirs is a ministration by which the Holy Spirit is communicated to people - through them as channels, or organs by which the saving grace of that Spirit is imparted; it is a work by which people are made righteous, justified, and accepted; it is a work whose effects are never to fade away, but which are to live amidst the splendors of heaven.

    9. The responsibility and solemnity of the work of the ministry. It was a solemn and responsible work for Moses to give the Law amidst the thunders of Sinai to the children of Israel. It is much more solemn to be the medium by which the eternal truths of the gospel are made known to people. The one, imposing as it was, was designed to be temporary, and was soon to pass away. The other is to be eternal in its effects, and is to enter vitally and deeply into the eternal destiny of man. The one pertained to laws written on stone; the other to influences that are deeply and forever to affect the heart. No work can be more solemn and responsible than that through which the Holy Spirit, with renewing and sanctifying power, is conveyed to man; that which is connected with the justification of sinners; and that which in its effects is to be permanent as the soul itself, and to endure as long as God shall exist.

    10. We see the folly of attempting to be justified by the Law, 2 Corinthians 3:7, 2 Corinthians 3:9. It is the ministration of death and of condemnation. It speaks only to condemn. Law knows nothing of pardon. It is not given for that purpose; and no perfect law can contain within itself provisions for pardon. Besides, no one has ever complied with all the demands of the Law; no one ever will. All have sinned. But if all the demands of the Law be not complied with, it speaks only to condemn, James 2:10. If a man in other respects has been ever so good a citizen, and yet has committed murder, he must die. So says the Law. If a man has been ever so valiant, and fought ever so bravely, and yet is guilty of an act of treason, he must die. The question is not what he has been in in other respects, or what else he may, or may not have done, but has he committed This offence? If he has, the Law knows no forgiveness; and pronounces his condemnation. If pardoned, it must be by some other system than by the regular operation of Law. So with the sinner against God. If the Law is violated, it speaks only to condemn. If he is pardoned, it can be only by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    11. The danger of grieving the Holy Spirit, 2 Corinthians 3:8. The gospel is the field of the operations of the Holy Spirit in our world. It is the ministration of the Spirit. It is the channel by which his influences descend on man. To reject that gospel is to reject Him, and to cut off the soul from all possibility of being brought under his saving influence and power forever.” He strives with people only in connection with the gospel; and all hope, therefore, of being brought under his saving power, is in attending to that gospel, and embracing its provisions. The multitudes, therefore, who are rejecting or neglecting that gospel, are throwing themselves beyond his saving influences; and placing themselves beyond the possibility of salvation.

    12. We see the “guilt” of neglecting or rejecting the gospel. It is the scheme, and the only scheme for pardon, 2 Corinthians 3:8-10. It is a far more glorious manifestation of the goodness of God than the Law of Moses. It is the glorious and benevolent manifestation of God through the incarnation, the sufferings, and the death of his Son. It is the only plan of pardoning mercy that has been, or that will be revealed. If people are not pardoned through that, they are not pardoned at all. If they are not saved by that, they must die forever. What guilt is there, therefore, in neglecting and despising it! What folly is there in turning away from its provisions of mercy, and neglecting to secure an interest in what it provides!

    13. The gospel is to spread around the world, and endure to the end of time, 2 Corinthians 3:11. It is not like the institutions of Moses, to endure for a limited period, and then to be done away. The cloud and tempest; the thunder and lightning on Mount Sinai which attended the giving of the Law, soon disappeared. The unusual and unnatural splendor on the countenance of Moses soon vanished away. All the magnificence of the Mosaic ritual also soon faded away. But not so the gospel. That abides. That is the “last” dispensation; the “permanent” economy: that under which the affairs of the world are to be brought to an end. That is to pervade all lands; to bless all people; to survive all revolutions; to outlive all the magnificence of courts, and all the splendor of mighty dynasties, and is to endure until this world shall come to an end, and live in its glorious effects forever and ever. It is, therefore, to be the fixed principle on which all Christians are to act, that the gospel is to be permanent, and is to spread over all lands, and yet fill all nations with joy. And if so, how fervent and unceasing should be their prayers and efforts to accomplish this great and glorious result!

    14. We learn from this chapter the duty of preaching in a plain, simple, intelligible manner, 2 Corinthians 3:12. Preaching should always be characterised indeed by good sense, and ministers should show that they are not fools, and their preaching should be such as to interest thinking people - for there is no folly or nonsense in the Bible. But their preaching should not be obscure, metaphysical, enigmatical, and abstruse. It should be so simple that the unlettered may learn the plan of salvation; so plain that no one shall mistake it except by his own fault. The “hopes” of the gospel are so clear that there is no need of ambiguity or enigma; no need of abstruse metaphysical reasoning in the “pulpit.” Nor should there be an attempt to “appear” wise or profound, by studying a dry, abstruse, and cold style and manner. The preacher should be open, plain, simple, sincere; he should “testify” what he feels; should be able to speak as himself animated by “hope,” and to tell of a world of glory to which he is himself looking forward with unspeakable joy.

    15. It is the privilege of the Christian to look on the unveiled and unclouded glory of the gospel, 2 Corinthians 3:12-13. He does not look at it through types and shadows. He does not contemplate it when a veil of obscurity is drawn designedly over it. He sees it in its true beauty and splendor. The Messiah has come, and he may contemplate openly and plainly his glory, and the grandeur of his work. The Jews looked upon it in the light of “prophecy;” to us it is history. They saw it only through obscure shadows, types, and figures; we see it in open day, may survey at leisure its full beauty, and contemplate in the fullness of its splendor the gospel of the blessed God. For this we cannot be too thankful; nor can we be too anxious lest we undervalue our privileges, and abuse the mercies that we enjoy.

    16. In reading the Old Testament, we see the importance of suffering the reflected light of the New Testament to be thrown upon it, in order correctly to understand it, 2 Corinthians 3:13-14. It is our privilege to “know” what the institutions of Moses meant; to see the “end” which he contemplated. And it is our privilege to see what they referred to, and how they prefigured the Messiah, and his gospel. In reading the Old Testament, therefore, there is no reason why we should not take with us the knowledge which we have derived from the New Testament, respecting the character, work, and doctrines of the Messiah; and to suffer them to influence our understanding of the laws and institutions of Moses. Thus shall we treat the Bible “as a whole,” and allow one part to throw light on another - a privilege which we always concede to any book. There is no reason why Christians in reading the Old Testament should remain in the same darkness as the ancient, or the modern Jews.

    17. Thus read, the Old Testament will be to us of inestimable value, 2 Corinthians 3:14. It is of value not only as introducing the gospel; as furnishing predictions whose fulfillment are full demonstration of the truth of religion; as containing specimens of the sublimest and purest poetry in the world; but it is of value as embodying, though amidst many types and shadows and much obscurity, all the great doctrines of the true religion. Though to the Jews, and to the world, there is a veil cast over it; yet to the Christian there is a beauty and splendor on all its pages - for the coming of Christ has removed that veil, and the sense of those ancient writings is now fully seen. True piety will value the Old Testament, and will find there, in the sweetest poetry in the world, the expression of feelings which the religion of the Messiah only can produce; and pure and elevated thoughts which could have been originated by nothing but his anticipated coming: It is no mark of piety or of wisdom to disparage the Jewish Scriptures. But the higher the attainments in Christian feeling, the more will the writings of Moses and the prophets be loved.

    18. People may have the Bible, and may read it for a long time, and often, and yet not understand it, 2 Corinthians 3:15. So it was, and is with the Jews. The Scriptures were attentively read by them, and yet they did not understand them. So it is still. There is a veil upon their heart, and they are blinded. So it is often now with others. People often read the Bible and see little beauty in it. They read, and they do not understand it. The reason is, the heart is not right. There should be a correspondence of feeling between the heart and the Bible, or a congeniality of view in order to appreciate its value and its truth. No man can understand or appreciate Milton or Cowper who has not a taste like theirs. No man can understand and appreciate a poem or an essay on patriotism, who is not a lover of his country; or on chastity, who is impure; or on temperance, who is intemperate; or on virtue in general, who is a stranger to virtue in every form. And so in reading the Bible. To appreciate and understand fully the writings of David, Isaiah, Paul, or John, we must have their feelings: our hearts must glow with their love to God and the Redeemer; we must feel as they did the guilt and burden of sin; and we must rejoice as they did in the hope of deliverance, and in the prospect of heaven. Until people have these feelings, they are not to wonder that the Bible is to them a dead letter, or a sealed book, and that they do not understand it, or see any beauty in its pages.

    19. This chapter furnishes an argument for the fidelity and truth of the statement of Paul, 2 Corinthians 3:15. The argument is, that his description is as applicable to the Jews now as it was in his own time - and that, therefore, it must have been drawn from nature. The same veil is on their hearts now as in his time; there is the same blindness and darkness in regard to the true meaning of their Scriptures. The language of Paul will accurately express that blindness now; and his description, therefore, is not drawn from fancy, but from fact. It is true now in regard to that singular people, and it was true in his own time; and the lapse of 1,800 years (circa 1880‘s) has only served to confirm the truth of his description in regard to the people of his own nation and time.

    20. That veil is to be removed only by their turning to God, 2 Corinthians 3:16. It is only by true conversion that the mind can be brought to a full and clear understanding of the Scriptures; and that event will yet take place in regard to the Jews. They will still be converted to the Messiah whom their fathers killed, and whom they have so long rejected; and when that event shall occur, they will see the beauty of their own Scriptures, and rejoice in the promises and glorious hopes which they hold out to the view.

    21. The duty of “meditating” much on the glory of the gospel, 2 Corinthians 3:18. It is by that we are purified. It is by keeping it constantly before the mind; dwelling on it splendor; thinking of its glorious truths, that we become transformed into the same image, and made like God. If the character is formed by the objects which we contemplate, and with which we are familiar; if we are insensibly moulded in our feelings and principles by that with which we constantly associate, then we should “think” much of the truths of the gospel. We should pray much - for thus we come in contact with God and his truth. We should read the Scripture much. We should commune with the good and the pure. We should make our companions of those who most love the Lord Jesus, and most decidedly bear his image. We should think much of a pure heaven. Thus shall we be moulded, insensibly it may be, but certainly, into the image of a holy God and Saviour, and be prepared for a pure and truly heaven.


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Bibliography
    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-corinthians-3.html. 1870.

    The Biblical Illustrator

    2 Corinthians 3:18

    But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image.
    --

    Mirrors of Christ

    1. We should substitute “reflecting” for “beholding.” Christians are represented not as persons looking into a mirror, but as themselves the mirrors. They who uncover their souls to the influence of Christ reflect His glory, and by continuing to do so they attain to that glory. It is as if by some process the image of a person who gazes into a mirror should not be merely reflected for the moment, but permanently stamped upon it.

    2. Recall the incident which suggested the figure. When Moses came down from the Mount his countenance shone so as to dazzle beholders; he acted, as it were, like a mirror to the glory of God. But Moses knew that the reflection would pass away, and therefore he put on a veil, that the people “might not see the end of it.” Had they done so they might have supposed that God had retired from him, and that no more authority belonged to him, and therefore Moses put on the veil; but when he returned to receive new communications from God he met God with unveiled face. But, says Paul, the wrong-headedness of the Jews is perpetuating this veil. When the O. T. is read, there is a veil preventing them from seeing the end of the glory of Moses in Christ; they think the glory still abides in Moses. But when they return, as Moses used to return, to the Lord, they will lay aside the veil as he did, and then the glory of the Lord shall shine upon, and be reflected by, them. This reflection will not fade away, but increase from one glory to another--to perfect resemblance to the original. This is a glory not skin-deep like that of Moses, but penetrating the character and changing our inmost nature into Christ’s image.

    3. The idea, then, is that they who are much in Christ’s presence become mirrors to Him, reflecting more and more permanently His image until they themselves perfectly resemble Him. This assertion rests on the well-known law that a reflected image tends in many circumstances to become fixed. Your eye, e.g., is a mirror which retains for a little the image it has been reflecting. Let the sun shine upon it, and wherever you look for a time you will still see the sun. The child who grows up with a parent he respects unconsciously reflects a thousand of his attitudes, looks, and ways, which gradually become the child’s own. We are all of us, to a great extent, made by the company we keep. There is a natural readiness in us all to reflect and respond to the emotions expressed in our presence. If another person laughs, we can scarcely refrain from laughing; if we see a man in pain, our face reflects what is passing in him. And so every one who associates with Christ finds that to some extent he reflects His glory. It is His image which always reawakens in us a response to what is good and right. It is He who saves us from becoming altogether a reflection of a world lying in wickedness, from being formed by our own evil-heartedness, and from persuading ourselves we may live as we list. His own patient lips seem to say, “Follow Me; be in this world as I was in it.” Our duty, then, if we would be transformed into the image of Christ, is plain.

    I. We must associate with him. Even one thought of Him does some good, but we must learn to abide with Him. It is by a series of impressions that His image becomes fixed in us. As soon as we cease to be conscious of Christ we cease to reflect Him, just as when an object passes from before a mirror, the reflection simultaneously goes with it. Besides, we are exposed to objects the most destructive to Christ’s image in us. As often as our hearts are exposed to some tempting thing and respond to it, it is that reflection which is seen in us, mingled often with the fading reflection of Christ; the two images forming together a monstrous representation.

    II. We must be careful to turn fully round to Christ. The mirror must be set quite square to that which it is to reflect. In many positions you can see many other images in a mirror without seeing yourself. And so, unless we give our full front, our direct, straightforward, whole attention to Christ, He may see in us, not His own image at all, but the images of things abhorrent to Him. The man who is not wholly satisfied in Christ, who has aims or purposes that Christ will not fulfil for him, is not wholly turned towards Christ. The man who, while he prays to Christ, is keeping one eye open towards the world, is a mirror set obliquely; so that he reflects not Christ at all, but other things which are making him the man he is.

    III. We must stand in His presence with open, unveiled face. We may wear a veil in the world, refusing to reflect it; but when we return to the Lord we must uncover our face. A covered mirror reflects nothing. Others find Christ in the reading of the Word, in prayer, in the services of His house, in a number of little providences--in fact everywhere, because their eyes are unveiled. We may read the very same word and wonder at their emotion; we may pass through the same circumstances and be quite unconscious of Christ; we may be at the communion table side by side with one who is radiant with the glory of Christ and yet an impalpable veil between us and him may hide all this from us. And our danger is that we let the dust gather upon us till we see and reflect no ray of that glory. We do nothing to brush off the dust, but let Him pass by and leave no more mark on us than if He had not been present. This veil is not like a slight dimness occasioned by moisture on a mirror, which the warm presence of Christ will itself dry up; it is rather an incrustation that has grown out from our own hearts, thickly covering them and making them thoroughly impervious to the light of Heaven. The heart is overlaid with worldly ambitions; with fleshly appetites; with schemes of self-advancement. All these, and everything which has no sympathy with what is spiritual and Christlike, must be removed, and the mirror must be kept clean, if there is to be any reflection. In some persons you might be tempted to say that the mischief is produced not so much by a veil on the mirror as by a lack of quicksilver behind it. There is no solid backing to the character, no material for the truth to work upon, or there is no energetic thinking, no diligent, painstaking spiritual culture. Conclusion:

    1. Observe the perfectness of this mode of sanctification. It is perfect--

    2. Some of us lament that there is so little we can do for Christ. But we can all reflect Him, and by reflecting Him we shall certainly extend the knowledge of Him on earth. Many who do not look at Him, look at you. As in a mirror persons (looking into it from the side) see the reflections of objects which are themselves invisible, so persons will see in you an image of what they do not directly see, which will cause them to wonder, and turn to study for themselves the substantial figure which produces it.

    3. The mirror cannot produce an image of that which has no reality. And as little can any man produce in himself dud of himself the character of Christ. (M. Dods, D. D.)

    The gospel the reflective mirror of the glory of the Lord

    I. We must explain the object of vision. “The glory of the Lord.” Every discovery which the Lord has made of Himself to His rational creatures is for the manifestation of His own glory. The works of creation were intended to show forth His glory. In process of time the Divine Being gave a more complete revelation of His glory, by the ministry of Moses, to a nation whom He had ordained to be the repository of His truth.

    II. The reflective medium. A glass or mirror. Divine revelation is a mirror in which we perceive, and from which is reflected, the glory of the Lord. The ministration of the Spirit exceeds in glory the ministration of death and condemnation, inasmuch as--

    1. Its discoveries are more satisfactory.

    2. The miracles by which they were attested were more benevolent.

    3. The grace of the latter is more abundant than that of the former. By grace here we mean the bestowment of spiritual life and salvation to the souls of sinful men. If we look at the general character of the Israelitish nation, from the time of Moses to the coming of Christ, we shall perceive but little manifestation of genuine piety towards God. But how abundant was the grace when Christ appeared, “in the fulness of time,” “to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself!” Then Jews and Gentiles received the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit in so copious a manner as to fulfil the beautiful predictions of the prophet: “Until the Spirit be poured on us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.”

    III. The distinctness of its perception. “With open” or “unveiled face.”

    IV. The transforming power of this vision. “Changed from glory to glory.” Thus faith in Divine revelation is a holy perception of the mind, by which the glory of God in Christ is discovered, and this discovery has a powerful reaction upon the soul, and as the object is more distinctly perceived, the progressive sanctification of good men is advanced till they possess the perfect image of their Lord.

    V. The divine agent by which this is effected. “The Spirit of the Lord,” or “the Lord the Spirit.”

    1. Here the personality and divinity of the Holy Spirit are asserted.

    2. None but a Divine Being could accomplish His work. The Spirit of God creates the soul of every converted man anew.

    In improvement of the subject we have been considering I shall make only two observations.

    1. How great is your privilege, and how awful your responsibility i

    2. The Christian has to leave reflective mirrors for the full vision of the Saviour’s glory. (W. Jones.)

    Mirrors of Christ

    I. In every reflector there must be an exposure of itself to the sun, so that the light may fall full upon it. So if we would reflect the glories of God, we must make a full presentation of ourselves to God. How many of us fail to shire just because of some spiritual obliquity of aim and purpose!

    II. A reflector can only answer its purpose when there is nothing interposed between it and the source of light. We need to have our face unveiled in order to receive the light as well as to reflect it. The introduction of some substance renders the reflector useless. Now observe, the sun is very seldom eclipsed, but when that is so the world itself is in no way accountable; another orb is interposed between the earth and the sun. Even so the Christian’s light may sometimes be eclipsed, not because of any fault of ours, but for some wise purpose which God has in view. But it is otherwise with self-caused darkness. The sun, while seldom eclipsed, is frequently beclouded, and by clouds which are due to exhalations arising from the earth. Alas! how many Christians live under a clouded sky, for which they have only to thank themselves.

    1. Here is one who lives under the ominous thundercloud of care.

    2. Here is another who dwells in the fog of earthly-mindedness.

    3. Here is yet another who is wrapped round in the cold mist of doubts and fears, steaming up from the restless sea of human experiences.

    III. If a mirror is to reflect it must be kept clean. I saw an ancient mirror of polished steel in an old baronial hall. There it was, in just as good condition as when fair ladies saw their faces reflected in it in the days of the Plantagenets. But its preservation in the damp atmosphere of Cornwall was due to the fact that generation after generation of servants had always kept it clean. Just think how one small spot of rust in all these hundreds of years would have marred that surface for ever. Oh, Christian, no wonder that thou hast lost thy reflecting power. Thou hast been careless about little things; but nothing can be smaller than the dust which robs the mirror of its reflecting power. Or perhaps thou hast allowed the rust spots of evil habits to spoil thy surface. Let us see to it that we keep the mirror bright and unsullied! The most virulent corrosive acid can do but little harm to the surface of polished steel, if wiped off the moment it falls; but let it remain, and very soon an irreparable mischief is done. Even so you may be overtaken even in a very serious fault; but when it has been promptly confessed and put away, the truth is realised: “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light,” etc.

    IV. Note the way in which the ancient mirrors were formed. The metal had to be smoothed and polished by friction.

    1. And are we not God’s workmanship in this respect, and does He not employ our trying experiences here just to induce this end?

    2. The mirror needs to be polished by a skilled hand; and as long as we are in God’s hands, He can, and will, polish us for Himself. But when we take ourselves out of His hands, and only see chance or circumstances or stern old mother Nature, in our experiences, these clumsy operators only scratch the surface, which needs to be polished.

    V. But there comes a point when the figure breaks down, for the mirror always remains a mirror--dark itself, however much light it may reflect. But it is otherwise with the true Christian.

    1. The light not only falls on but enters into him, and becomes part of himself. The true Christian is not only a light-giver--he is light. “Now are ye light in the Lord.” The Christian who puts a veil on his face because he does not care to give, will find that he is also precluded by his veil from receiving; but he who both receives and gives will also find that he keeps.

    2. And that which he keeps proves within him a transforming power by which he is changed from glory into glory. Thank God for our capacity of change. There are some who seem to be proud of never changing.

    3. We are familiar with the idea that God is to be glorified in each fresh stage of spiritual experience, but are we equally familiar with the thought that each fresh acquisition that faith lays hold of brings new glory with it to him by whom the acquisition is made? From glory unto glory.

    The transforming influence of faith

    I. The contemplation of Christ. “We all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord.”

    1. The object beheld. “The glory of the Lord,” “He is the Lord of all”--of all men, of all creatures, of all things. He is the rightful Proprietor of the universe. The primary meaning of glory is brightness, splendour; and the secondary meaning is excellence displayed, according to its subject, and the nature of the object to which it is ascribed. In which of these senses is glory here ascribed to the Lord Christ? In the latter, not in the former sense. It is not the glory of His might, nor the glory of His majesty, nor even the glory of His miracles, of which His personal disciples were eye-witnesses; but the glory of His moral perfections. God is “glorious in holiness,” and “the glory of the Lord” is His moral excellence, comprised and displayed in all His moral attributes. The former are displayed in His works; the latter shine brightest in His Word. In a word, the glory of the Lord was the manifestation of His Divine philanthropy--“of the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward men.”

    2. The medium in which His glory is beheld. “Beholding as in a glass,” or rather, as in a mirror. What, then, is the mirror which receives the image, and reflects back on the eye of the beholders, the glory of the Lord? What, but the gospel of Christ. And Christ is at once the Author, the subject, and the sum of the gospel. It derives all the glory it possesses and reflects, from the glory of the Lord. It receives its being, its name, its character, and its efficacy from Him. It originates nothing; all that it is, all that it says, and all that it does, is from Him, about Him, and for Him. And the image of Him which the gospel receives as the image of the invisible God, the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, it reflects back as from a burnished mirror, in all its lineaments, and fulness, and glory, and distinctness. The glory of the gospel of Christ, as a mirror, contrasts strikingly with the law as “a shadow of things to come.” The good things to come were seen by the Old Testament saints in the types and ceremonies of the law. The view was dim as well as distant; indistinct, uncertain, and unsatisfying. But the sight of the glory of the Lord in the mirror of the gospel is near and not distant, luminous and not dark, distinct and not obscure or uncertain, and transforming but not terrifying.

    3. The manner. “With open face.” The face is said to be open when it is guileless, ingenuous, and benevolent, and not sinister, crafty, or malicious; or, when the face itself is fully exposed, and not covered. This last is obviously the meaning of the expression employed. With open, that is, with unveiled face. Those who apply it to the face of the Lord make a slight transposition of the words to make the sense more apparent. Thus: “We all, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord with unveiled face.” His face is unveiled, and His glory is thus undimmed. It shines forth in all its splendour. If the “unveiled face” be understood of the beholders, according to our version, then the reference is to the more immediate context in the fifteenth verse, and the contrast is between them, and “the veil which is upon the heart” of the unbelieving Jews. Now, all this serves to show that, while the most obvious reference may be to the veil over the face of Moses as contrasted with the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, it is not to the exclusion of the veil upon the heart of the Jews as contrasted with the open, unveiled face of the beholders of the glory of the Lord. “Which veil is done away in Christ?” Indeed, both veils are now removed, and done away in Christ:--the obscurity caused by the former is removed by the luminous exhibition of the gospel of Christ, and the blindness of mind caused by the latter is removed by the ministration of the Spirit.

    4. The beholders. Who are the persons indicated by, and included in the “we all” who thus behold the glory of the Lord? Is it all we apostles only? or even all we whom He hath “made able ministers of the New Testament”? The expression includes all who are subjects of the new covenant, who are under grace, and in a state of grace, “all who have turned to the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:16). Not only do all who turn, or are converted to the Lord, possess, exercise, and maintain their Christian liberty, but they are all “light in the Lord.” The light of the glorious gospel of Christ, the medium of spiritual vision, is not only held up as a mirror before their eyes, as before the eyes of the world; but the organ of spiritual vision is opened, unveiled, and directed to the image beheld there, radiant with beauty, and reflecting back the glory of the Lord on the eyes of the beholders.

    II. Conformity to Christ. The change thus produced is--

    1. Spiritual in its nature. All the glory seen on the summit, and around the base, of Mount Sinai, was of a material and sensible kind. Moses saw the glory of the Lord with his bodily eyes; the shekinah, or symbol of the Divine glory, made the skin of his face to shine. It is otherwise with the glory beheld, with the medium, the manner, and the organ of vision here--all is spiritual, and not material in its nature. The gospel reveals, and holds up to view, the things of the Spirit. And spiritual things must be spiritually discerned. They do not act as a charm. Nothing can possibly affect, impress, or influence us mentally, any longer than it is in our thoughts; or, morally, any longer than it is in our memory and in our heart. The gospel of Christ operates according to the attention and reception given to it, and the use we make of it.

    2. Transforming in its influence. It is a law in nature, and a truth in proverb, that “like produces like.” The man who is much at court, naturally and almost unconsciously catches the air, impress, and polish of the court, so that he become courtly, if not courteous in spirit, in address, in manners and deportment. In going to the house of mourning, which it is better to go to than to the house of feasting, we almost insensibly catch the spirit of sympathy, and feel the spirit of mourning creeping over us. The heart softens; the countenance saddens; the eye moistens. Constituted as we all are, how can it be otherwise? Looking steadfastly and intently at such moral excellence we admire; admiring we love; loving we long to imitate it; imitation produces likeness to Him in mind, in disposition, in will, in walk, and way. Do we thus behold the love of Christ? “We love Him, because He first loved us.” Do we behold Him as “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world”? We become “dead to sin, and alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

    3. Glorious in its progress. The glory of Moses’ countenance became more and more dim, by distance of time and of place from the scene and sight of glory, till it entirely disappeared. But the glory of the Lord remains the same, and the glory of the gospel reflecting it remains the same, and the more steadfastly and earnestly we behold it, the more will we be changed into the same glorious image. The expression employed is an evidence that grace and glory are not only inseparable, but in substance identical. So far from differing in kind they are so essentially the same, that the sacred writers sometimes use the words interchangeably. Paul here uses “glory” for grace in speaking of the glorious transformation of believers from grace to glory; and Peter uses “grace” for glory in speaking of the glory “ that is to be brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” And the reason is no less plain than the lesson is instructive and important. The partaker of grace is “also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed.”

    4. Divine in efficiency, “Even as by the Spirit of the Lord,” or as the margin has it more literally and properly. “Even as by the Lord the Spirit.” It is His prerogative, and it becomes His spiritual dominion to open and unveil the heart, to enlighten the eyes of the understanding, to fix them on the glory of the Lord, to quicken the spirit, and thus to make His subjects “a willing people in the day of His power.” This subject sets before us the privilege of gospel hearers, and the honour of gospel believers, and the doom of gospel despisers.

    It shows--

    1. The privilege of gospel hearers. All who have the Word of God, who read or hear the gospel of Christ, are “not under the law, but under grace.” They are more highly privileged than were the Jews who were under the law, or the Gentiles who have not the law, and know not God.

    2. The blessedness of gospel believers. They are the blessed people who know the joyful sound; they walk in the light of God’s countenance.

    3. The doom of gospel despisers. They make light of the gospel of Christ; despise the Saviour it presents, and the salvation it proffers, and turn away from “the glory of the Lord.” (Geo. Robson.)

    The physiognomy and photography of Christianity

    I. The physiognomy of the text.

    1. The open face. This is the antithesis of the covered face of Moses, and must therefore be Christ’s (2 Corinthians 4:6). The idea is physiognomical, face reading. Men profess to comprehend each other’s temperaments and dispositions by the study of their faces. Thus a man’s face is his character, at least the key to it. In this face of Jesus Christ shines the resplendent glory of God; it is an index of the Divine mind and feelings towards a sinful world. The human face becomes a profound mystery apart from the soul within. Its wonderful expressions cannot be understood except on the supposition of an indwelling spirit. When the sky is overcast, suddenly, maybe, a beam darts through, shedding a glow of beauty over the spot upon which it gleams. The mystery of that ray could not be solved except by the existence of a sun behind. It is only in the same way that the character of Christ can be understood. Denied His Divine nature Christ becomes a profounder mystery than when regarded as God incarnate.

    2. It is an open face in a glass. Once it was an open face without any intervening object, when “He dwelt among men and they beheld His glory.” But now that His bodily presence has departed we have His face reflected in the gospel-mirror (2 Corinthians 4:4). It is through Christ we know God, and it is through the gospel that we know Christ. The sun, when it has set, is invisible to us. We then look up to the heavens, and there we observe the moon, which reflects the, to us, invisible sun. This moon is the sun’s image. Again, looking into the placid waters of the pool, we observe in its clear depth the moon’s reflection. God is imaged in Christ, and Christ is imaged in the gospel. Now, the superiority of the gospel over the Old Testament is represented by the difference between the glass and the veil. The veil obscures the face, the glass reveals it. In fact the mirror is of all instruments the one which gives the most correct representation of the original. The idea of a person conveyed by a mirror is immeasurably superior to that conveyed by the best painting. The face in the painting may represent a dead one, but the face in the mirror must represent a living one. If the mirror excels so much the best painting, how much must it excel a shadow! The Old Testament was only a “shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things.” A person’s shadow will give but a very indifferent idea of him. What, however, would be thought of the person who essayed to draw a picture of another from his shadow? Yet, this the Jews attempted to do in relation to Christ. So “to His own He came, and His own received Him not,” because His appearance did not harmonise with their preconceived conceptions of Him drawn from His shadow. Men, therefore, should seek Him in the gospel mirror, where alone He can be seen as He is.

    II. The photography of the text. “But we all … are changed into the same image,” etc. Here the apostle explains the effects of this transparent clearness of the gospel teaching. Beholding the Lord in the gospel transforms the beholder into His own image. This is in accordance with the analogy of natural photography. The light falls upon the object, that object again reflects it in its own form upon the prepared glass. The resplendent glory of God falls, so to speak, upon Christ in His mediatorial character; Christ reflects it upon the believing mind; the mind beholding Him in faith. The mind thus reflected upon by the incomparable beauties of Christ’s character is transformed into the same image. The work is progressive, but the first line of it is glory, and every additional one the same--“from glory to glory.” (A. J. Parry.)

    The image

    I. The image. We must lay Exodus 34:33, etc., alongside of this chapter. So the sight of Christ’s glory does far more for us than the sight of God’s glory did for Moses. The skin of his face was lighted up; but our very souls are changed into likeness to Christ; and this change does not soon pass away, but continues growing from glory to glory, as might be expected, seeing it is the Spirit of the Lord who works the change in us.

    1. Christ, as we see Him in the New Testament, is the most perfect image in the world. Only a little of God’s glory was revealed by Moses, but Christ is “ God manifest in the flesh.”

    2. This image is not like the image of the ascending Christ, which faded into heaven while the disciples gazed after it on the Mount of Olives. This is an unfading portrait. Age cannot dim it, earth’s mildew cannot discolour it, man’s rude hand cannot destroy it; it only grows brighter as it gathers fresh beauty from the blessed changes it is working in the world.

    II. Beholding of the image. I never saw the beauty of the sun so well as one day in a Highland lake, whose surface was like a mirror of polished glass. To see the naked sun face to face would have blinded me. When John saw Christ’s glory directly, though ii was only in a vision, he fell down as a dead man, and the same glory blinded Saul of Tarsus. The Bible is a glass in which you may gaze without fear upon the glory of the Lord therein reflected, Moses was the one privileged man in his day. But now all Christians can draw as near to God as Moses did, for where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is this liberty, How can I rightly behold the glory of the Lord?

    1. With an open or unveiled face, just as Moses took Off his veil when he turned to speak with Jehovah. A lady visiting a picture gallery on a wintry day shields her face from the biting blast with a thick veil; but, upon entering the gallery, she lifts up her veil that with open face she may fully behold the images created by sculptor and painter. Many veils hide Christ’s glory. The god of this world is busy blinding our minds by drawing a veil of prejudice, false shame, ignorance of an earthly mind over them (2 Corinthians 4:4).

    2. You are to behold the image in the glass of the Bible. A picture or statue often serves only to remind me that the man is dead or far away, not so the image of Christ in the Bible, Some images, however, fill us with a sense of reality. Raphael painted the Pope, and the Pope’s secretary at first took the image for the living man, knelt and offered pen and ink to the portrait, with the request that the bill in his hand might be signed. The image we behold is drawn by the Divine hand, and should be to us a bright and present reality, 3, This beholding must be steady and life-long. Unless you look often at this image and love to do so, you will not get much good from Christ. Even man-made images impress only the steady beholders of them.

    III. The beholders.

    1. “They are changed into the same image.” Some people think that the beholding of beautiful pictures must do great good to the beholders; but when Athens and Rome were crowned with the most splendid pictures and statues, the people were the most wicked the world has yet seen. But the right beholding of this image gains a life of the same make as Christ’s. We become what we behold. Two boys had been poring over the life of Dick Turpin and Jack Sheppard. In that glass they beheld the image of lawless adventurers. They admired: they would be bold heroes too. They are soon changed into the image they gaze upon from shame to shame, even as by the spirit of the devil. Here is a gentle, lovely girl. Her mother is to her the very model and mirror of womanly perfection. She gladly yields herself up to her mother’s influence, and the neighbours say, “That girl is the living image of her mother”; for she receives what she admires, and silently grows like what she “likes” best. When some newspaper compared Dr. Judson to one of the apostles, he was distressed, and said, “I do not want to be like them. I want to be like Christ.”

    2. This change is to be always going forward from glory to glory.

    3. Your beholding of Christ and likeness to Christ are both imperfect on earth. In heaven there shall be a perfect beholding, and so a perfect likeness to Christ (Psalms 17:15). There as here being and beholding go together. We see this change growing towards perfectness in the martyr Stephen as he stood on the borderland between earth and heaven. Even his foes “saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.”

    4. Christ’s people are to be changed so thoroughly into His image that they shall have a soul like His, and even a body like His. For “as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” (J. Wells, M. A.)

    The Christian’s transfiguration

    I. We are all transfigured. If you look back a verse or two it is clearly seen that St. Paul means by these words to include all Christian men. “We all”--the words stand in vivid contrast to the literalising Jew of the apostle’s day; the Jew, who had the letter of Scripture, and worshipped it with a veil upon his heart; so that when Moses was read in his hearing, he could not see the meaning of the Old Testament, nor look one inch beyond the letter of the book. His religion was stereotyped, so his heart and life could not be transfigured. A religion of the letter cannot produce growth; it has no beautifying power, it cannot transfigure. In Christ, the case is far otherwise; where He is, there is liberty; where Christ is, there must be growth. Paul could not believe it possible that a Christian life could remain stagnant. Wherever there is growth, there must come, in the end, transfiguration. St. Paul felt that every believer must re-live in some measure the perfect life of Jesus. Here is the secret of transformation--Christ within, Christ about us as an atmosphere of moral growth. Fellowship with His perfect life gives human nature honour and dignity. The Thames is beautiful at Richmond, at Twickenham, at Kew, but not always so. At times the prospect, as you walk from Twickenham to Richmond, is spoiled by ugly flats of mud, and the air is not over pleasant, when the heat of summer draws the miasma from the sedgy bank. You may walk upon the bank and see but little beauty there. Wait a few hours, the tide will return and change the entire aspect of the river. It will become beautiful. The smallest river or tidal basin is beautified by connection with the sea. The pulse of ocean, if it raise the level but a few inches, adds dignity and beauty wherever it is felt. The river repeats, on a smaller scale, the larger life of the ocean, answering in its ebb and flow to what the sea has done before. So Paul felt that our nature is glorified because, through the Divine humanity of Jesus, it is connected with the ocean of eternal power and grace. The incarnation, the life, and the sacrifice of the Son of God have lifted human life to higher levels; they have created new interests and fresh currents in our thought and feeling. If our life flow onward towards Christ, and better still, if His fulness flow back upon us, we must, at flood tide, partake of His cleansing and transforming power. St. Paul does not here refer to the resurrection, his tenses are all present, and point to a change now taking place in our imperfect existence: “Changed from glory to glory.” There is a glory of Christian character which we may possess even now. “From glory to glory” implies steps and stages. There is a measure of beauty, of strength, of holy character, of transfiguration, possible to the feeblest Christian--transfiguration of heart and life, a glory now, a foretaste of the eternal glory, a firstfruits of the Spirit.

    II. The cause of the change and the means of its attainment. It is brought about by looking at Christ. “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory, are changed.” To be like Christ, we must look upon Him intently. Then, on the Divine side, there is the inward change. As we look, the Spirit works within. Both things are necessary. As we gaze, the Divine influence comes down upon us imperceptibly. We are all much affected by the things we look at from day to day. A man will find sights congenial to his heart and mind. If he be artistic, he will be on the look-out for pictures and sculpture, or beautiful scenes in nature. If he have a turn for science, he will find objects of study and delight in every field and wood. If we are affectionate, with strong social instincts, our principal attractions will be found in human society. Now all these objects, in turn, react upon us. The artistic mind grows and expands by the study of beauty. The scientific man becomes more scientific by the study of nature; while the social and affectionate disposition deepens in the search and attainment of its object. Apply this to the gospel. Again, we must not forget that the way we look is also important. Our manner of looking at Christ affects us. St. Paul says, we look with “unveiled face.” He here contrasts the Jewish with the Christian Church. Look at Christ, look daily, look appreciatively, lovingly, in tender sympathy, and the spirit of Christ will possess you. We may not be able to tell how the change comes about, nor why, neither need we anxiously inquire, provided we look at Christ and feel the Spirit’s power. God has many ways. Stand before the mirror, and you will see the light. We care not at what angle you gaze. Look at Christ through tears of penitence, look in hope, in joy, in love; let His light stream into the heart through any one of the many avenues of thought and feeling. (G. Walker, B. A.)

    The change produced by faith in Jesus

    I. The beholding.

    1. By beholding we are to understand faith in one of its liveliest and most important exercises. Faith is a living principle. It hath eyes, and it beholds Christ. This beholding does not consist of a single glance, of a passing survey. “Looking” is not a single act, but the habit of his soul. “Looking unto Jesus,” etc.

    2. With open face. Under the Jewish dispensation Christ was exhibited, but it was as it were through a veil. There was a mystery attached to it. But now, when Christ came, the mystery which had been hid for ages is revealed. At the hour when Jesus said, “It is finished,” the veil that hid the holiest of all, and the innermost secrets of the covenant, was rent in twain from top to bottom.

    3. As in a glass. We, whose eye is dimmed by sin, cannot see God as the spirits made perfect do in heaven. “No man hath seen God at any time.” Moses desired on one occasion to behold the glory of God. But the request could not be granted. “No man can see God and live.” Yet God gave him a signal manifestation of His presence (Exodus 34:5). Such is the view which God gives to the believer, of Himself in the face of His Son, as a just God who will by no means clear the guilty, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus--a gracious and encouraging view, not indeed of His essential glory, which the sinner cannot behold, but of His glory as exhibited in His grace, and on which the eye of the believer delights to rest.

    II. What is beheld. “The glory of the Lord.” The Lord, as the whole context shows, is the Lord Christ--the proper object of faith. We look into the Word as into a mirror to fix our attention on the object reflected. In Him as thus disclosed we shall behold a glory. In His person He is “the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of His person.” In His work all the perfections of the Divine character meet as in a focus of surpassing brilliancy. There was a glory in His incarnation which the company of the heavenly host observed as they sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will to the children of men.” There was glory in His baptism, when the Holy Ghost descended upon Him, and the voice of the Father was heard declaring, “This is My well-beloved Son.” There was an imposing glory in His transfiguration. There was a glory, too, in His very humiliation in His sorrow, in the cursed death which He died. There was an evident glory in His resurrection, when, having gone down to the dark dominions of death, He came up a mighty conqueror, bearing the fruits of victory, and holding death in chains as His prisoner; and angels believed themselves honoured in announcing that “the Lord is risen.” There was a glory in His ascension. “Thou hast ascended on high, leading captivity captive” (Psalms 24:1-10.) He is in glory now at the right hand of God, which glory Stephen was privileged to behold. He shall come in glory at the last day to judge the world. He shall dwell in His glory through all eternity, and the saints shall be partakers with Him of that glory, Now all this glory is exhibited in the volume of the Book, just as we have seen an expansive scene of sky and cloud, of hills and plains, of streams and woods, reflected and exhibited before us in a mirror, and we all with open face behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord.

    III. The effect produced.. This transforming power of faith arises from two sources not independent of each other, but still separable.

    1. Faith is the receiving grace of the Christian character, and the soul is enriched by the treasures poured through it as a channel. Herein lies the great efficacy of faith; it receives that which is given it, and through it the virtue that is in Christ flows into the soul, enriches and satisfies it, and changes it into the same image.

    2. Faith produces this effect, inasmuch as it makes us look to and copy Christ. The Spirit carries on the work of sanctification by making us look unto Jesus, and whatever we look to with admiration and love we are disposed willingly, sometimes almost involuntarily, to imitate. We grow in likeness to Him whom we love and admire.

    IV. The agent. “The Spirit of the Lord.” Note--

    1. The harmony between the work of the Spirit and the principles of man’s mind. He does not convert or sanctify sinners against their will, but by making them a willing people in the day of His power. What He does in us He does by us. It is when we are beholding the glory of the Lord Christ that the Spirit changes us into the same image from glory to glory.

    2. The harmony between the work of Christ the Lord and the work of the Spirit of the Lord. The Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, who takes of the things that are Christ’s and shows them unto us. The Spirit directs our eyes to Christ, and it is when we look to the Lord Christ that we are changed into the same image. (J. McCosh, D. D.)

    Transformation by beholding

    I. The Christian life is a life of contemplating and reflecting Christ. It is a question whether the single word rendered in our version “beholding as in a glass,” means that, or “reflecting as a glass does.” But, whatever be the exact force of the word, the thing intended includes both acts. There is no reflection of the light without a previous reception of the light. In bodily sight, the eye is a mirror, and there is no sight without aa image of the thing perceived formed in the perceiving eye. In spiritual sight, the soul which beholds is a mirror, and at once beholds and reflects.

    1. The great truth of a direct, unimpeded vision sounds strange to many of us. Does not Paul himself teach that we see through a glass darkly? Do we not walk by faith and not by sight? “No man hath seen God at any time, nor can see Him”; and beside that absolute impossibility have we not veils of flesh and sense, to say nothing of the covering of sin. But these apparent difficulties drop away when we take into account two things--

    2. Note the universality of this prerogative: “We all.” This vision does not belong to any select handful. Christ reveals Himself to all His servants in the measure of their desire after Him. Whatsoever special gifts may belong to a few in His Church, the greatest gift belongs to all.

    3. This contemplation involves reflection. What we see we shall certainly show. If you look into a man’s eye, you will see in it little pictures of what he beholds; and if our hearts are beholding Christ, Christ will be mirrored there. Our characters will show what we are looking at, and ought, in the case of Christian people, to bear His image so plainly that men cannot but take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus. And you may be quite sure that, if little light comes from a Christian character, little light comes into it; and if it be swathed in thick veils from men, there will be no less thick veils between it and God. Away then with all veils! No reserve, no fear of the consequences of plain speaking, no diplomatic prudence regulating our frank utterance, no secret doctrines for the initiated! Our power and our duty lies in the full exhibition of the truth.

    II. This life of contemplation is therefore a life of gradual transformation.

    1. The brightness on the face of Moses was only skin-deep. It faded away, and left no trace. Thus the superficial lustre, that had neither permanence nor transforming power, becomes an illustration of the powerlessness of law to change the moral character into the likeness of the fair ideal which it sets forth. And, in opposition to its weakness, the apostle proclaims the great principle of Christian progress, that the beholding of Christ leads to the assimilation to Him.

    2. The metaphor of a mirror does not wholly serve us here. When the sunbeams fall upon it, it flashes in the light, just because they do not enter its cold surface. The contrary is the case with these sentient mirrors of our spirits. In them the light must first sink in before it can ray out. They are not so much like a reflecting surface as like a bar of iron, which needs to be heated right down to its obstinate black core, before its outer skin glow with the whiteness of a heat that is too hot to sparkle. The sunshine must fall on us, not as it does on some lonely hillside, lighting up the grey stones with a passing gleam that changes nothing, and fades away, leaving the solitude to its sadness; but as it does on some cloud cradled near its setting, which it drenches and saturates with fire till its cold heart burns, and all its wreaths of vapour are brightness palpable, glorified by the light which lives amidst its mists.

    3. And this contemplation will be gradual transformation. “We all beholding … are changed.” It is not the mere beholding, but the gaze of love and trust that moulds us by silent sympathy into the likeness of His wondrous beauty, who is fairer than the children of men. It was a deep true thought which the old painters had when they drew John as likest to his Lord. Love makes us like. We learn thai even in our earthly relationships. Let that pure face shine upon heart and spirit, and as the sun photographs itself on the sensitive plate exposed to its light, and you get a likeness of the sun by simply laying the thing in the sun, so He will “be formed in you.” Iron near a magnet becomes magnetic. Spirits that dwell with Christ become Christ-like.

    4. Surely this message--“behold and be like”--ought to be very joyful and enlightening to many of us, who are wearied with painful struggles after isolated pieces of goodness that elude our grasp. You have been trying half your lifetime to cure faults, and make yourselves better. Try this other plan. Live in sight of your Lord, and catch His spirit. The man that travels with his face northwards has it grey and cold. Let him turn to the warm south, where the midday sun dwells, and his face will glow with the brightness that he sees. “Looking unto Jesus” is the sovereign cure for all our ills and sins.

    5. Such transformation comes gradually. “We are changed”; that is a continuous operation. “From glory to glory”; that is a course which has well-marked transitions and degrees. Be not impatient if it be slow. Do not be complacent over the partial transformation which you have felt. See to it that you neither turn away your gaze nor relax your efforts till all that you have beheld in Him is repeated in you.

    6. Likeness to Christ is the aim of all religion. To it conversion is introductory; doctrines, ceremonies, churches, and organisations are valuable as auxiliary. Prize and use them as helps towards it, and remember that they are helps only in proportion as they show us the Saviour, the image of whom is our perfectness, the beholding of whom is our transformation.

    III. The life of contemplation finally becomes a life of complete assimilation. “Changed into the same image, from glory to glory.”

    1. The likeness becomes every way perfecter, comprehends more and more of the faculties of the man; soaks into him, if I may say so, until he is saturated with the glory: and in all the extent of his being, and in all the depth possible to each part of that whole extent, is like his Lord. That is the hope for heaven, towards which we may indefinitely approximate here, and at which we shall absolutely arrive there. There we expect changes which are impossible here, while compassed with this body of sinful flesh. We look to Him to “change the body of our lowliness, that it may be fashioned like unto the body of His glory”; but it is better to be like Him in our hearts. His true image is that we should feel, think, will as He does; that we should have the same sympathies, the same loves, the same attitude towards God, and the same attitude towards men. Wherever there is the beginning of that oneness and likeness of spirit, all the rest will come in due time. As the spirit, so the body. But the beginning here is the main thing, which draws all the rest after it as of course. “If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you,” etc.

    2. “We are all changed into the same image.” Various as we are in disposition and character, differing in everything but the common relation to Jesus Christ, we are all growing like the same image, and we shall come to be perfectly like it, and yet each retain his own distinct individuality. Perhaps, too, we may connect with this idea that passage in the Ephesians in which Paul describes our all coming to “a perfect man.” The whole of us together make a perfect man; the whole make one image. No one man, even raised to the highest pitch of perfection, can be the full image of that infinite sum of all beauty; but the whole of us taken together, with all the diversities of natural character retained and consecrated, being collectively His body which He vitalises, may, on the whole, be not a wholly inadequate representation of our perfect Lord. Just as we set round a central light sparkling prisms, each of which catches the glow at its own angle, and flashes it back of its own colour, while the sovereign completeness of the perfect white radiance comes from the blending of all their separate rays, so they who stand round about the starry throne receive each the light in his own measure and manner, and give forth each a true and perfect, and altogether a complete image of Him that enlightens them all, and is above them all. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

    The transfiguring vision

    I. The mirrored glory.

    1. Glory is the effulgence of light; the manifested perfection of moral character.

    2. In the gospel we have an exhibition of the blended righteousness and compassion of God; so it is called “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God.” And since these attributes shine with softened splendour in Christ, it is called the “gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

    3. And we may all behold it. Like the famous fresco in the ceiling of the cathedral, which was brought within easy reach by reflecting mirrors on the floor. We could not all be contemporaries of the living Jesus. But now, in the fourfold biography, we may all at our leisure behold the glory of the Lord.

    II. The transfiguring vision. In the very act of looking we are “metamorphosed.” The same Greek word used to describe the transfiguration of Christ.

    1. Some gaze and are not changed. They have never so felt the evil of sin as to put the whole soul into a look. So multitudes of hearers have their minds filled with Christian truth, but they do not gaze so long, fixedly, lovingly, as to experience the interior and radical transformation.

    2. Others gaze and are changed. Flinging away obscuring veils, and fixing the steadfast gaze on Jesus, they are transfigured.

    III. Its Great Author. “The Lord the Spirit.” When the veil of unbelief is taken away, the Lord Himself obtains access to the heart and imparts Himself. Where He is, there, too, is the Holy Ghost. He effects the marvellous transformation. He supplies the-needed illumination. He reveals the saving sight, removes obscuring veils, purges the spiritual perceptions, and dwells within as source of the transfiguring and assimilative power. (A. Wilson, B. A.)

    True human greatness

    1. Every man has a strong natural instinct for greatness and applause.

    2. A wrong direction of this instinct originates enormous mischief.

    3. The mission of Christianity is to give a right direction to this instinct. Of all the systems on earth it alone teaches man what true greatness is, and the way to attain it. The text teaches three things concerning it:

    I. The ideal of true greatness is divine. What is the glory of the Lord? (See Exodus 18:19). This passage teaches that the Eternal regarded His glory as consisting not in the immensity of His possessions, the almightiness of His power, or the infinitude of His wisdom, but in His goodness. The true greatness of man consists in moral goodness.

    1. This greatness is soul-satisfying--and this alone.

    2. This greatness commands the respect of all moral intelligence--and this alone.

    3. This greatness is attainable by all persons--and this alone.

    4. This greatness we carry into the other world--and this alone.

    II. The path of true greatness is moral transformation. How is man to come into possession of God’s glory? t. By means of an instrument--glass. What is the glass? The mirror that reflects the glory of God. Nature is a glass. Judaism is a glass. Christ is a glass. He is the brightest glass of all--reflects more Divine rays upon the universe than any -other.

    2. By means of attention to that instrument. “By looking.” Men look at the glitterings of worldly glory, not on the glowing beams of the Divine, and hence they are not changed into the Divine. Observe--

    III. The law of true greatness is progressive. “From glory to glory.” Glory in God is unprogressive, but in all intelligent creatures it is ever advancing. Two things show that the human soul is made for endless advancement.

    1. Facts in connection with its nature.

    2. Arrangements in connection with its history. There are three things which always serve to bring out the latent powers of the soul.

    IV. The author of true greatness is the Spirit of God. How does He do it? As He does everything else in creation--by means; and the means are here stated, “Beholding as in a glass.” Conclusion: How transcendently valuable is Christianity, inasmuch as it directs the human soul to true glory and indicates the way of realising it! (D. Thomas, D. D.)

    The unfolded glory

    Man has an instinct for glory. Religion therefore to adapt itself to this instinct. Hence the glorious character of the two dispensations whereof the last is the greater.

    I. The gospel is a reflection of God’s glory.

    1. The person of Christ reflects the Divine nature.

    2. The ministry of Christ reflects the Divine mind.

    3. His death reveals the Divine heart.

    II. The believer reflects the glory of God.

    1. Spiritual mindedness (2 Peter 1:4).

    2. Immortal life.

    III. Beholding and reflecting the glory of the Lord is progressive (2 Peter 2:5-7). (T. Davis, Ph. D.)

    Mortal assimilation

    Our moral nature is intensely assimilative. The mind gets like that which it feeds on. Alexander the Great was incited to his deeds of conquest by reading Homer’s “Iliad.” Julius Caesar and Charles the Twelfth of Sweden derived much of their military enthusiasm from studying the life of Alexander. When a sensitive, delicate boy, Cowper met with and eagerly devoured a treatise in favour of suicide. Can we doubt that its plausible arguments were closely connected with his four attempts to destroy himself? If, however, we cherish thoughts of the good and the noble, we shall become both. “Beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image.” Ecclesiastical tradition declares that St. Martin once had a remarkable vision. The Saviour stood before him. Radiant with Divine beauty, there the Master appeared. One relic of His humiliation remained. What was it? His hands retained the marks of the nails. The spectator gazed sympathetically and intently. So long did he look that, when the apparition ceased, he found that he had in his own hands marks precisely resembling those of Christ. None but the superstitious believe the story; nevertheless, it “points a moral.” It reminds us of the great fact that devout and affectionate contemplation of our Lord makes us Christ-like. (T. R. Stevenson.)
    .


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

    Bibliography
    Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Corinthians 3:18". The Biblical Illustrator. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/2-corinthians-3.html. 1905-1909. New York.

    Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

    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.

    On the identification of Lord and Spirit, see under preceding verse.

    Unveiled face ... All Christians, not just one man, as in the case of Moses, behold the glory of the Lord; and no veil is required. This has a transforming effect on all who do it. It is in the looking of the Christian upon the Lord, as invariably entailed in the worship of him, that a miracle of transformation is wrought in his life. Here Paul revealed the secret of how to "be ... transformed" (Romans 12:2).

    Beholding as in a mirror ... The word "beholding" in classical Greek means "looking at one's self in a mirror"; "But that requires steady looking when mirrors are metal, and so the word came to mean simply, TO GAZE STEADILY."[31]

    From the Lord the Spirit ... McGarvey gave the import of this to be, "Now Jesus is that Spirit, or new covenant of which I have been speaking (2 Corinthians 3:3,6,8); and where that new covenant is, there is liberty, especially the liberty of seeing (without a veil)."[32] In this view, spirit would not be capitalized. Tasker also favored this understanding of it. He said, "(What the Christian beholds) is the manifestation of Christ's glory which is made in his word and by his Spirit, whose office it is to glorify Christ by revealing him to us."[33]

    We all ... The notion has persisted in history that only certain special persons could be transformed in Christ; but as John Calvin (as quoted by Hughes) said, "It is evident that Paul is speaking of an experience that is common to all believers."[34] Under the old covenant, only the face of Moses shone; only the high priest went into the Holy of Holies; only the priests might serve at the altar, etc., etc. But in the glorious new covenant, "All who are Christ's, whether great or small, whether known or unknown, have this blessed privilege of beholding and being transformed."[35]

    [31] David J. A. Clines, op. cit., p. 423.

    [32] J. W. McGarvey, op. cit., p. 186.

    [33] R. V. G. Tasker, op. cit., p. 67.

    [34] Philip E. Hughes, op. cit., p. 117.

    [35] Ibid.


    Copyright Statement
    James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

    Bibliography
    Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/2-corinthians-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    But we all with open face,.... We are not like Moses, who had a veil on his face; nor like the Jews, who have one on their hearts: "but we all"; not ministers and preachers of the Gospel only, but all believers, whether Jews or Gentiles, greater or lesser believers, who are enlightened by the Spirit of God, and are converted to Christ: "with open face"; which may regard the object beheld, the glory of Christ unveiled, that has no veil on it, as Moses had on his face, when he delivered the law; or the persons beholding, who are rid of Jewish darkness; the veil of the ceremonial law, and of natural darkness and blindness of mind; and so clearly and fully, comparatively speaking,

    beholding as in a glass; not of the law, but of the Gospel, and the ordinances of it; not with the eyes of their bodies, but with the eyes of their understandings, with the eye of faith; which sight is spiritual, delightful, and very endearing; throws a veil over all other objects, and makes souls long to be with Christ: the object beheld is

    the glory of the Lord; Jesus Christ: not the glory of his human nature, which lies in its union to the Son of God, and in its names which it has by virtue of it; and in its being the curious workmanship of the Spirit of God, and so is pure and holy, and free from all sin; and was outwardly beautiful and glorious, and is so at the right hand of God, where we see him by faith, crowned with glory and honour; and shall behold him with the eyes of our bodies, and which will be fashioned like to his glorious body; but this sight and change are not yet: rather the glory of his divine nature is meant, which is essential and underived, the same with his Father's; is ineffable, and incomprehensible; it appears in the perfections he is possessed of, and in the worship given to him; it was manifested in the doctrines taught, and in the miracles wrought by him; there were some breakings forth of this glory in his state of humiliation, and were beheld by the apostles, and other believers, who saw his glory, as the glory of the only begotten of the Father. Though the glory of Christ as Mediator, being full of grace and truth, seems to be chiefly designed; this he has from God, and had it from everlasting; this he gives to his people, and is what makes him so glorious, lovely, and desirable in their eye: and whilst this delightful object is beheld by them, they are

    changed into the same image; there was a divine image in man, in his first creation; this image was defaced by sin, and a different one took place; now in regeneration another distinct from them both is stamped, and this is the image of Christ; he himself is formed in the soul, his grace is wrought there; so that it is no wonder there is a likeness between them; which lies in righteousness and holiness, and shows itself in acts of grace, and a discharge of duty. The gradual motion of the change into this image is expressed by this phrase,

    from glory to glory: not from the glory of the law to the glory of the Gospel; or from the glory of Moses to the glory of Christ; rather from the glory that is in Christ, to a glory derived in believers from him; or which seems most agreeable, from one degree of grace to another, grace here being signified by glory; or from glory begun here to glory perfect hereafter; when this image will be completed, both in soul and body; and the saints will be as perfectly like to Christ, as they are capable of, and see him as he is: now the efficient cause of all this, "is the Spirit of the Lord". It is he that takes off the veil from the heart, that we may, with open face unveiled, behold all this glory; it is he that regenerates, stamps the image of Christ, and conforms the soul to his likeness; it is he that gradually carries on the work of grace upon the soul, increases faith, enlarges the views of the glory of Christ, and the spiritual light, knowledge, and experience of the saints, and will perfect all that which concerns them; will quicken their mortal bodies, and make them like to Christ; and will for ever rest as a spirit of glory on them, both in soul and body: some read these words,

    by the Lord of the Spirit, and understand them of Christ, others read them, "by the Lord the Spirit", as they very well may be rendered; and so are a proof of the true and proper deity of the Holy Spirit, who is the one Jehovah with the Father and the Son. The ancient Jews owned this;

    "the Spirit of the living God, (sayF11R. Moses Botril in Sepher Jetzirah, p. 40. Ed. Rittangel. they,) היינו הבורא, this is the Creator himself, from him all spirits are produced; blessed be he, and blessed be his name, because his name is he himself, for his name is Jehovah.'


    Copyright Statement
    The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
    A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

    Bibliography
    Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-corinthians-3.html. 1999.

    Geneva Study Bible

    5 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord.

    (5) Continuing in the allegory of the covering, he compares the Gospel to a glass, which although it is most bright and sparkling, yet it does not dazzle their eyes who look in it, as the Law does, but instead transforms them with its beams, so that they also are partakers of the glory and shining of it, to enlighten others: as Christ said unto his own, "You are the light of the world", whereas he himself alone is the light. We are also commanded in another place to shine as candles before the world, because we are partakers of God's Spirit. But Paul speaks here properly of the ministers of the Gospel, as it appears both by that which goes before, and that which comes after, and in that he sets before them his own example and that of his fellows.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

    Bibliography
    Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-corinthians-3.html. 1599-1645.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

    But we all — Christians, as contrasted with the Jews who have a veil on their hearts, answering to Moses‘ veil on his face. He does not resume reference to ministers till 2 Corinthians 4:1.

    with open face — Translate, “with unveiled face” (the veil being removed at conversion): contrasted with “hid” (2 Corinthians 4:3).

    as in a glass — in a mirror, namely, the Gospel which reflects the glory of God and Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 Corinthians 13:12; James 1:23, James 1:25).

    are changed into the same image — namely, the image of Christ‘s glory, spiritually now (Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:3); an earnest of the bodily change hereafter (Philemon 3:21). However many they be, believers all reflect the same image of Christ more or less: a proof of the truth of Christianity.

    from glory to glory — from one degree of glory to another. As Moses‘ face caught a reflection of God‘s glory from being in His presence, so believers are changed into His image by beholding Him.

    even as, etc. — Just such a transformation “as” was to be expected from “the Lord the Spirit” (not as English Version, “the Spirit of the Lord”) [Alford] (2 Corinthians 3:17): “who receives of the things of Christ, and shows them to us” (John 16:14; Romans 8:10, Romans 8:11). (Compare as to hereafter, Psalm 17:15; Revelation 22:4).


    Copyright Statement
    These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
    This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

    Bibliography
    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/2-corinthians-3.html. 1871-8.

    Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

    We all (ημεις παντεςhēmeis pantes). All of us Christians, not merely ministers.

    With unveiled face (ανακεκαλυμμενωι προσωπωιanakekalummenōi prosōpōi). Instrumental case of manner. Unlike and like Moses.

    Reflecting as in a mirror (κατοπτριζομενοιkatoptrizomenoi). Present middle participle of κατοπτριζωkatoptrizō late verb from κατοπτρονkatoptron mirror (κατα οπτρονkataεγκατοπτρισασται εις το υδωρoptron a thing to see with). In Philo (Legis Alleg. iii. 33) the word means beholding as in a mirror and that idea suits also the figure in 1 Corinthians 13:12. There is an inscription of third century b.c. with μεταμορπουμεταegkatoptrisasthai eis to hudōr to look at one‘s reflection in the water. Plutarch uses the active for mirroring or reflecting and Chrysostom takes it so here. Either makes good sense. The point that Paul is making is that we shall not lose the glory as Moses did. But that is true if we keep on beholding or keep on reflecting (present tense). Only here in N.T.

    Are transformed (μεταμορποωmetamorphoumetha). Present passive (are being transformed) of metamorphoō late verb and in papyri. See note on Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2 where it is translated “transfigured.” It is the word used for heathen mythological metamorphoses.

    Into the same image (tēn autēn eikona). Accusative retained with passive verb την αυτην εικοναmetamorphoumetha Into the likeness of God in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:48-53; Romans 8:17, Romans 8:29; Colossians 3:4; 1 John 3:2).

    As from the Lord the Spirit (μεταμορπουμεταkathaper apo Kuriou pneumatos). More likely, “as from the Spirit of the Lord.”


    Copyright Statement
    The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

    Bibliography
    Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/2-corinthians-3.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

    Vincent's Word Studies

    All

    Contrasted with Moses as the sole representative of the people.

    Open ( ἀνακεκαλυμμένῳ )

    Rev., correctly, unveiled, as Moses when the veil was removed.

    “Vainly they tried the deeps to sound

    E'en of their own prophetic thought,

    When of Christ crucified and crown'd

    His Spirit in them taught:

    But He their aching gaze repress'd

    Which sought behind the veil to see,

    For not without us fully bless'd

    Or perfect might they be.

    The rays of the Almighty's face

    No sinner's eye might then receive

    Only the meekest man found grace

    To see His skirts and live.

    But we as in a glass espy

    The glory of His countenance,

    Not in a whirlwind hurrying by

    The too presumptuous glance,

    But with mild radiance every hour

    From our dear Savior's face benign

    Bent on us with transforming power,

    Till we, too, faintly shine.

    Sprinkled with His atoning blood

    Safely before our God we stand,

    As on the rock the prophet stood,

    Beneath His shadowing hand.”

    Keble, “Christian Year,” Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity.

    Beholding as in a glass ( κατοπτριζόμενοι )

    So American Rev. Rev., reflecting. Only here in the New Testament. The verb in the active voice means to show in a mirror; to cause to be reflected. In the middle voice, to took at or behold one's self in a mirror. Rev., reflecting seems to be preferred on internal grounds, as better suiting the comparison with the divine glory as mirrored in the unveiled face of Moses. But this is unwarranted by usage. Stanley, who adopts this rendering, admits that there is no actual instance of the sense of reflecting. This sense, however, is not sacrificed by the translation beholding, but is conveyed by the succeeding clause, changed into the same image, etc. As Heinrici observes, beholding expresses the fact from which the process of change into God's image proceeds. When Moses beheld Jehovah's glory, his own face reflected that glory. The mirror is the Gospel, which is called the Gospel of the glory of Christ, 2 Corinthians 4:4.

    Are changed ( μεταμορφούμεθα )

    Rev., transformed. See on Matthew 17:2. The present tense expresses the change as in progress; are being changed, which is further defined by from glory to glory.

    The same image ( τὴν αὐτὴν εἰκόνα )

    See on Revelation 13:14. Compare especially 1 John 3:2; also Romans 8:29; John 17:24; Colossians 3:4; Romans 8:17; 1 Corinthians 15:48-53.

    By the Spirit of the Lord ( ἀπὸ Κυρίου πνεύματος )

    Better, as Rev., from the Lord the Spirit. Compare 2 Corinthians 3:17. The preposition ἀπό fromdepicts the transformation as proceeding from rather than as caused by.


    Copyright Statement
    The text of this work is public domain.

    Bibliography
    Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/2-corinthians-3.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

    But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

    And, accordingly, all we that believe in him, beholding as in a glass - In the mirror of the gospel.

    The glory of the Lord — His glorious love.

    Are transformed into the same image — Into the same love. From one degree of this glory to another, in a manner worthy of his almighty Spirit. What a beautiful contrast is here! Moses saw the glory of the Lord, and it rendered his face so bright, that he covered it with a veil; Israel not being able to bear the reflected light. We behold his glory in the glass of his word, and our faces shine too; yet we veil them not, but diffuse the lustre which is continually increasing, as we fix the eye of our mind more and more steadfastly on his glory displayed in the gospel.


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

    Bibliography
    Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/2-corinthians-3.html. 1765.

    Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

    18.But we all, with unveiled face. I know not how it had come into the mind of Erasmus, to apply to ministers exclusively, what is evidently common to all believers. The word κατοπτριζεσθαι, it is true, has a double signification among the Greeks, for it sometimes means to hold out a mirror to be looked into, and at other times to look into a mirror when presented. (417) The old interpreter, however, has correctly judged, that the second of these is the more suitable to the passage before us. I have accordingly followed his rendering. (418) Nor is it without good reason, that Paul has added a term of universality — “We all, ” says he; for he takes in the whole body of the Church. It is a conclusion that suits well with the doctrine stated previously — that we have in the gospel a clear revelation from God. As to this, we shall see something farther in the fourth chapter.

    He points out, however, at the same time, both the strength of the revelation, and our daily progress. (419) For he has employed such a similitude to denote three things: first, That we have no occasion to fear obscurity, when we approach the gospel, for God there clearly discovers to us His face; (420) secondly, That it is not befitting, that it should be a dead contemplation, but that we should be transformed by means of it into the image of God; and, thirdly, that the one and the other are not accomplished in us in one moment, but we must be constantly making progress both in the knowledge of God, and in conformity to His image, for this is the meaning of the expression — from glory to glory

    When he adds, — as by the Spirit of the Lord, he again reminds of what he had said — that the whole excellence of the gospel depends on this, that it is made life-giving to us by the grace of the Holy Spirit. For the particle of comparison — as, is not employed to convey the idea of something not strictly applicable, but to point out the manner. Observe, that the design of the gospel is this — that the image of God, which had been effaced by sin, may be stamped anew upon us, and that the advancement of this restoration may be continually going forward in us during our whole life, because God makes his glory shine forth in us by little and little.

    There is one question that may be proposed here. “Paul says, that we behold God’s face with an unveiled face, (421) while in the former Epistle we find it stated, that we do not, for the present, know God otherwise than through a mirror, and in an obscure manner.” In these statements there is an appearance of contrariety. They are, however, by no means at variance. The knowledge that we have of God for the present is obscure and slender, in comparison with the glorious view that we shall have on occasion of Christ’s last coming. At the same time, He presents Himself to us at present, so as to be seen by us, and openly beheld, in so far as is for our advantage, and in so far as our capacity admits of. (422) Hence Paul makes mention of progress being made, inasmuch as there will then only be perfection.


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    Bibliography
    Calvin, John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/2-corinthians-3.html. 1840-57.

    Scofield's Reference Notes

    Lord Jehovah.

    Exodus 34:34.

    changed into transformed. The same Greek word is rendered "transfigured" in Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2.


    Copyright Statement
    These files are considered public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available in the Online Bible Software Library.

    Bibliography
    Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/2-corinthians-3.html. 1917.

    James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

    REFLECTING CHRIST

    ‘But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.’

    2 Corinthians 3:18

    It is the law of human nature that whatever we habitually, intelligently, and lovingly contemplate gives a colour to our minds, and affects our character for good or evil. Here St. Paul puts it, when Christ is viewed lovingly, the viewer becomes Christlike. Therefore, our duty is plain.

    I. If we would be transformed into the image of Christ we must associate with Him, must take Him as our constant companion. Just remember how often He said ‘Follow Me.’ We must not reflect Him in an occasional way, but steadily and continually. In a word, we must live with Jesus. ‘Abide in Me, and I in you,’ is the law of the Christian life, and the great means by which we become what we wish to be—Christlike.

    II. Reflect Christ.—That is something we can all do for Christ. You are not all called upon to preach. You may not be able to give much money to extend His cause. But still you can reflect Him. By reflecting Him you will extend the knowledge of Him; and by knowledge of Him, as the Holy Book says, shall many be justified. We all remember the story of Moses, how, when he came down from the mount, his face shone, after having seen the glory of God, and the people saw it. Well, is not that a true parable of what you can make your own life? By reflecting the glory which you have gained from Christ you may convert sinners. You have read in the Acts how those who came against St. Peter and St. Paul ‘took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.’ And they learned their lesson. It is how the world will be converted.

    III. Fall upon your knees and sometimes ask yourselves, can you see in yourself, in your character, anything of the features of Christ, any likeness to Him? Do not be afraid, from time to time, just to put that question, and see how you are getting on. If you have been living with Him, you ought to be able to find in your life some likeness to Him. You will be met sadly enough by fallings away, with doubts and fears, with evil thoughts and acts, but still the fruits of the Spirit will be manifested in your daily life and conduct in spite of your sins and falls. Have I the mind of Christ? Is the love of Christ the controlling power?

    ‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.’ If you think in your heart that you are Christ’s, and seek that He shall come in and abide with you, then the victory is being won, and Christ will come and claim you for His own.

    —Rev. Canon Benham.

    Illustrations

    (1) ‘There is a Greek fable that tells us of a very remarkable temple erected to the honour of a certain idol, and it says that those wishing to enter it had first to look at themselves in a glass placed at the entrance, and that this mirror was so constructed that at first the beholder only saw his own natural visage, but that by degrees his countenance was changed into the form of the idol which he worshipped. St. Paul apparently knew of this story, and he gave it a spiritual meaning of absolute truth. He writes to the Corinthians, who knew all these stories very well. They were the learned people of the New Testament whom he wrote to, full of Greek myths, Greek history, and Greek idols till now, but they had cast them away. Well, he says, then, that the Gospel, the grace of God, is that mirror which they who desire to enter the temple of heaven must look into first. They begin well by looking into the Gospel, into the character of Christ, and then, as they continue to look into it, Christ’s image is so impressed upon them that it becomes prominent in their character and conduct. That is the idea which lie puts forward—that we all with unveiled faces reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord are transformed into the same image, “from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”’

    (2) ‘A little child was asked, “What is a Christian?” The answer was a good one, “A Christian is to live as Jesus Christ would live if He came and lived in our house.”’


    Copyright Statement
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    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

    Bibliography
    Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". Church Pulpit Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/2-corinthians-3.html. 1876.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

    Ver. 18. Are changed] As the pearl by the often beating of the sunbeams upon it becomes radiant.

    From glory to glory] That is, from grace to grace. Fulness of grace is the best thing in glory. Other things, as peace and joy, are but the shinings forth of this fulness of grace in glory.


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

    Bibliography
    Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-corinthians-3.html. 1865-1868.

    Sermon Bible Commentary

    2 Corinthians 3:18

    The Intuition of Faith.

    St. Paul says that we, as members of Christ, behold the manifold glory of God as in a glass, as if it were a direct object of sight, and that by beholding it we are changed. It has an assimilating power, and that which makes us capable of its transforming influence is our beholding it "with open face." What, then, is this power of vision, this spiritual sight by which the unseen is visible; in one word, what is faith? It is the power which the Son of God gives us to behold the glory of the Lord. But we are asked, What is this power, this faith which is given us?

    I. The controversies of these later ages have committed two evils; they have dethroned the object of faith, and they have degraded faith itself. Faith is something more Divine than disputants believe. Some will have it to be a speculative assent to truths revealed, and some, to correct them, will have it to be a principle of moral action, and others, to set both sides right, join together these two definitions in one, and tell us that faith is a principle of moral action springing out of a speculative assent to truths revealed. As if faith were something partial and fragmentary, the action of half our being; an effect without a cause, or with a cause simply human, and within the natural endowments of the human intelligence. Surely all these alike, if not equally, come short of truth. We might as well say that sight is a belief of things seen, or that sight is action arising out of a belief in what we see. What are these but the effects of sight demanding and pointing to a cause? They are the consequences of sight, not sight itself. As our waking sense checks our irregular thoughts and subjects us to the conditions of the world we see, so faith brings the whole spiritual nature of man under the dominion and laws of the unseen kingdom of God. This supernatural gift was infused into us as a habit by the Spirit of God, but in its acting it depends upon our will.

    II. A clear intuition is the very life of the consciousness of God and of His kingdom. And this clear intuition of the heart is to be attained only by habitual self-examination and penitent confession made under the eyes in which the heavens are unclean. The next condition essential to beholding the glory of the Lord is a habitual use of spiritual exercises, such as meditation and prayer, whether mental or in words, and the like. By spiritual exercise is meant specially, an exercise of the will awakening the consciousness of our spiritual life. The whole catholic faith, the worship of the Church, the discipline of spiritual life through devotions and sacraments, has no existence for us, until we have united our spiritual consciousness with them by acts of faith and of the will. And the last and highest means of perfecting the gift of faith is to exercise it habitually upon the real presence of our blessed Lord in the Sacrament of His body and of His blood. For this very end it was ordained, that when He should withdraw His visible presence, He might still abide with us unseen; that when He ceased to be an object of sight, He might become an object of faith; and that the spiritual consciousness of our hearts should there for ever meet with the reality of His presence.

    H. E. Manning, Sermons, vol. iv., p. 369.


    Transformation by Beholding.

    I. The Christian life is a life of contemplating and reflecting Christ. Note (1) Paul's emphasis on the universality of the vision—"We all." (2) This contemplation involves reflection, or giving forth the light which we behold.

    II. This life of contemplation is a life of gradual transformation. The brightness on the face of Moses was only skin-deep. It faded away and left no trace. It effaced none of the marks of sorrow and care, and changed none of the lines of the strong, stern face. But, says Paul, the glory which we behold sinks inward, and changes us, as we look, into its own image. Thus the superficial lustre, that had neither permanence nor transforming power, becomes an illustration of the powerlessness of law to change the moral character into the likeness of the fair ideal which it sets forth. And in opposition to its weakness, the Apostle proclaims the great principle of Christian progress, that the beholding of Christ leads to the assimilation to Him.

    III. The life of contemplation finally becomes a life of complete assimilation. Christ's true image is that we should feel as He does, should think as He does, should will as He does; that we should have the same sympathies, the same loves, the same attitude towards God and the same attitude towards men. The whole nature must be transformed and made like Christ's, and the process will not stop till that be accomplished in all who love Him. But the beginning here is the main thing, which draws all the rest after it as of course.

    A. Maclaren, Sermons in Manchester, 3rd series, p. 77.


    The Gift of the Spirit.

    I. Some insight is given into the force of the word "glory" as our present privilege, by considering the meaning of the title "kingdom of heaven," which has also belonged to the Church since Christ came. The Church is called by this name as being the court and domain of Almighty God, who retreated from the earth, as far as His kingly presence was concerned, when man fell. Not that He left Himself without witness in any age; but even in His most gracious manifestations, still He conducted Himself as if in an enemy's country, "as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night." But when Christ had reconciled Himself to His fallen creatures, He returned according to the prophecy "I will dwell in them and walk in them; I will set My sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore." From that time there has really been a heaven upon earth, in fulfilment of Jacob's vision. Since the Christian Church is a heaven upon earth, it is not surprising that in some sense or other its distinguishing privilege or gift should be glory, for this is the one attribute which we ever attach to our notion of heaven itself, according to the Scripture intimations concerning it. The glory here may be conceived of by considering what we believe of the glory hereafter.

    II. Next, if we consider the variety and dignity of the gifts ministered by the Spirit, we shall perhaps discern in a measure why our state under the gospel is called a state of glory. The Holy Ghost has taken up His abode in the Church in a variety of gifts, as a sevenfold Spirit. The gift is denoted in Scripture by the vague and mysterious term "glory," and all the descriptions we can give of it can only, and should only, run out into a mystery.

    III. It were well if these views were more understood and received among us. They would, under God's blessing, put a stop to much of the enthusiasm which prevails on all sides, while they might tend to dispel the cold and ordinary notions of religion which are the opposite extreme. For ourselves, in proportion as we realise the higher view of the subject, which we may humbly trust is the true one, let us be careful to act up to it. Let us adore the sacred presence within us with all fear, and rejoice with trembling. Prayer, praise, and thanksgiving, good works and alms deeds, a bold and true confession and a self-denying walk, are the ritual of worship by which we serve Him in these His temples. As we persevere in them the inward light grows brighter and brighter, and God manifests Himself to us in a way that the world knows not of. In this, then, consists our whole duty, first in contemplating Almighty God, as in heaven, so in our hearts and souls; and next, while we contemplate Him, in acting towards and for Him in the works of every day; in viewing by faith His glory without and within us, and in acknowledging it by our obedience. Thus we shall unite conceptions the most lofty concerning His majesty and bounty towards us, with the most lowly, minute, and unostentatious service to men.

    J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. iii., p. 254.


    I. The Picture. "We all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord." The glory of God in Christ, or the excellence and beauty of the Divine nature and purpose as they are revealed in the gospel—that is the picture on which we are invited to gaze. Jesus Christ is the brightness of God's glory. He honours law and expresses love. His death is the centre of universal harmony. His resurrection is victory over hell and death. His ascension opens immortality and heaven. His Second Coming is the hope, as it will be the joy and triumph, of every loving heart.

    II. The Beholders. We are all beholding. "We," Christians, that is. The whole context requires this interpretation. There is a sense, no doubt, in which it may be said, that all who have heard of the Lord Jesus Christ, so as to have anything like correct views of His person and character, are beholders of God's glory in Him. All Christendom, in this sense, stands beholding. Even heathen lands are turning to gaze. Light from the great picture streams over Christendom, penetrates the darkness of heathendom, and men cannot but look towards a vision so bright and beautiful. But it is the doctrine of this, and many other passages in the New Testament, that a new sense is needed, what may be called a new soul-sense, by which to apprehend and appreciate spiritual things.

    III. The Transformation. We are changed into the same image, changed as we gaze. We gaze and become like that which we behold, like Him whom we love. The spiritual apprehension we have, the vivid appreciative faculty within us, transfers to us and fixes upon our souls the beauty we behold. This is a truth acknowledged by philosophy and everywhere recognised in the word of God. By perceiving we become. By knowledge, spiritual, apprehensive knowledge, we grow in grace.

    IV. The author and finisher of this transformation is the blessed Spirit of God—"Even as by the Spirit of the Lord." He reveals the picture, He clarifies the eye, He vitalises the spiritual law, and He dwells in the soul. He changes and watches the great work from birth to perfection. He takes of the things of Christ and shows them unto us. He leads us out of all our darkness into the realm of gospel light and glory, where we are transfigured as we stand.

    A. Raleigh, Quiet Resting Places, p. 123.


    References: 2 Corinthians 3:18.—Good Words, vol. iii., pp. 636, 639; Homilist, 2nd series, vol. iii., p. 217; J. Clifford, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxv., p. 121; G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines of Sermons, p. 392; Preacher's Monthly, vol. vi., p. 94; E. Paxton Hood, Sermons, p. 356. 2 Corinthians 4:1.—T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. iii., p. 242; Ray, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. xvi., p. 17. 2 Corinthians 4:1-15.—F. W. Robertson, Lectures on Corinthians, p. 301.




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    Bibliography
    Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/2-corinthians-3.html.

    Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

    2 Corinthians 3:18. But we all, with open face St. Paul justifies his freedom and plainness of speech, by his being made by God himself a minister of the Gospel, which is a more glorious ministry than that of Moses in promulgatingthe law. This he does from 2 Corinthians 3:6 to 2 Corinthians 3:12 inclusively: thence to the end of the chapter, he justifies his liberty of speaking, in that he, as a minister of the Gospel, being illuminated with greater and brighter rays of light than Moses, was to speak, as he did, with more freedom and clearness than Moses had done. This being the scope of St. Paul in this place, it is plain that all, from the words, which put a vail upon his face, 2 Corinthians 3:13 to the beginningof this verse, is a parenthesis; which being so read, the comparison between the ministers of the Gospel and Moses stands clear. "Moses with a veil covered the brightness and glory of God which shone in his countenance; but we, the ministers of the Gospel, with open countenances, reflecting as mirrors the glory of the Lord, &c." So Mr. Locke would understand the word κατοπτριζομενοι, and not beholding as in a mirror, because the comparison is between the ministers of the Gospel and Moses, and not between the ministers of the Gospel and the children of Israel. Now the action of beholding was the action of the children of Israel; but that of shining or reflecting the glory received in the mount, was the action of Moses; and therefore it must be something answering to that in the ministers of the Gospel, wherein the comparison is made; as is farther manifest in another express part of the comparison, between the veiled face of Moses, 2 Corinthians 3:13 and the open face of the ministers of the Gospel in this verse. The face of Moses was veiled, so that the bright shining or glory of God remaining on it, or reflected from it, might not be seen. But the faces of the ministers of the Gospel are open, that the bright shining of the Gospel, or the glory of Christ, may be seen. Thus the justness of the comparison stands fair, and has an easy sense. We are changed into the same image, imports, "The reflection of Christ from us is so bright and clear, that we are changed into his very image; whereas the light which shone in Moses's countenance, was but a faint reflection of the glory which he saw when God shewed him his back-parts." Exodus 33:23. From glory to glory means, "With a continued influx and renewing of glory;" in opposition to the shining of Moses's face, which decayed and disappeared in a little time. See on 2 Corinthians 3:7. The next clause should be rendered, even as from the Lord the Spirit; that is, "As if this irradiation of light and glory came immediately from the source of it, the Lord himself, who is that Spirit, whereof we are the ministers, 2 Corinthians 3:6 which giveth life and liberty, 2 Corinthians 3:17." The liberty there spoken of is παρρησια, mentioned 2 Corinthians 3:12 and the subject of St. Paul's discourse here:—as is further manifest from what immediately follows in the first six verses of the next chapter, wherein the attentive reader may find a clear comment on the present verse, which is there explained in the sense here given. It may be proper, however, to observe, that there are some who do not entirely agree with this interpretation. Dr. Doddridge paraphases the verse thus: "In consequence of the liberty enjoyed by virtue of the Gospel, we all, who have been so happy as suitably to welcome it, with unveiled face attentively beholding, as by a glass or mirror, the glory of the Lord reflected from his word, are transformed into something of the same resplendent image of the blessed Redeemer, whose shining face we there see. And the more steadfastly we behold this illustrious and amiableform, the more do we partake of it, proceeding gradually from glory to glory; and all this is as proceeding from the Lord the Spirit." Dr. Heylin observes, that instead of beholding as in a mirror, he thinks the original imports receiving as on a mirror. Theodoret, explaining this verse, says, "As clear water represents the face of those who look on it, so the pure heart becomes as it were a mirror and effigies of the divine glory." Therefore the transformation is not imputed ultimately to the seeing our God, but to his regard to us, whereby he impresses his image on the pure heart, as a polished mirror,while it persists in his presence steadily, and with an uninterrupted serenity. I think then that the verse before us may be thus rendered: We, on whom the unveiled face of the Lord impresses his glory, as on a mirror, are transformed into his resemblance, &c.

    Inferences.—Who can forbear wishing, that the infinite importance of the Gospel message may be deeply impressed upon all who preach, and all who hear it? Life or death is in question,—eternal life or eternal death: and while it is from day to day reviving its thousands, it is to be feared, that in some places it is, by the righteous judgment of God on hard and impenitent hearts, aggravating the guilt and misery of its thousands.

    How awful is the work of dispensing this Gospel! Who can pretend to be sufficient for such things as these? Who, that considers the nature and importance of the ministerial work, can undertake or pursue it but with fear and trembling? Yet, insufficient as they ought humbly to acknowledge themselves to be, to reckon upon any thing as from themselves, there is a sufficiency in God imparted to faithful ministers: In consequence of which, they are often made to triumph in Christ, borne on in a holy superiority to all the difficulties of their work, and seeing that their labour is not in vain in the Lord. Well may that support them under the discouragements which in other instances they feel, when the fruit of their labours does not immediately appear; yea, when the present state of many under their care is directly contrary to what they could desire. For their work is still with the Lord, and they are a sweet savour to God in them that perish, as well as in them that are saved. Let them therefore gird up the loins of their mind, and exert themselves with the utmost vigour; rejoicing in this, that God will on the whole be glorified, and they, faithful unto death, shall be finally accepted, and through his abundant grace be amply rewarded.

    But, as they desire to secure this acceptance, they should never allow themselves, by any foreign mixtures, to adulterate the word of God; solicitous to speak it in its uncorrupted sincerity, as in the sight and presence of God, and as those who know it is not their business to devise a message out of their own heart, but to deliver what they have received of the Lord: so may they hope there shall not be wanting those, who, according to the view which the Apostle gives us of these Corinthians, shall appear as epistles written by the hand of Christ himself, in attestation of their commission from him.

    That ministers may more cheerfully hope for and expect such an honour, we should pray that the Spirit of God may lead them into the true sense and meaning of Scripture; that they may not unprofitably amuse themselves and their hearers with vain and cold criticisms on the letter of it, so as to neglect and forget what is most spiritual in its design and meaning; but that they may, under the divine illumination, attain to the mind of the Spirit, and be enabled to make greater proficiency in unfolding and illustrating the important mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, and may be to multitudes a savour of life unto life.

    Still full in our view stands the glorious glass of the Gospel, from which the lustre of the Redeemer's countenance is reflected: it is our duty daily to behold his image there, and contemplate it with an attentive eye, as being solicitous that we may wear some of those rays; yea, that we may wear them with still increasing lustre; that we may be transformed from glory to glory, and, reflecting these rays, shine as lights in the world.

    It will greatly conduce to raise our minds to this laudable temper, if we frequently reflect on the excellence of the Christian dispensation, as a dispensation of the Spirit and of life; whereas the law was the ministration of death: and while from the glory attending the law we infer, with the Apostle, the super-eminent glory of the Gospel, we shall learn also the superior obligation under which it brings us to regard and obey it, and the proportionably greater danger of despising it. The law of Moses was soon to be abolished; the Gospel still remains, and shall remain to the end of time. Let us pray for its prosperity, and do our utmost to promote it; and let us earnestly plead with God, that whereas there is now a veil upon the face of the Jews, even to this day, when the sacred records are read among them, they may turn unto the Lord, and find the veil taken away: that so, by the conversion of Israel as a nation, there may be a glorious accession of evidence to Christianity; and that the Jews themselves may be happy in the blessing of him whom their fathers crucified, and whom they continue so unhappily to reject.

    While defending so divine a cause, and enforcing so important a message, may the ministers of the Gospel use all becoming plainness of speech; and may all Christians know more of that liberty which the Spirit of the Lord gives; that God may in all things be glorified through Jesus Christ!

    REFLECTIONS.—1st, To silence his traducers, the Apostle was compelled to protest his sincerity; and,

    1. He apologizes for seeming thus to commend himself Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we as some others, the false Apostles, epistles of commendation to you from other churches, or letters of commendation from you, in order to gain credit and influence? No, we need them not, our conduct speaks for us. And ye yourselves are our epistle, our best letters testimonial, written in our hearts, in the deep affection that we bear you; some read your hearts, where their conversion bore an honourable testimony to the instrument of it; known and read of all men, who observe the work of God's grace evident in you through our labours; forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, the Author of all the gifts and graces which you possess; not in tables of stone, as the law of Moses, but in the fleshly tables of the heart, softened and renewed by grace, where the impression of the gospel-word is deep and effective. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward, that our ministry has been made thus effective to you, to God's glory, your benefit, and our own commendation.

    2. He prevents any suggestion, as if he herein arrogated ought to himself. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, who cannot from ourselves naturally produce one good thought, and much less by the mere power of our reasoning effect your conversion: no, but our sufficiency is of God, who alone furnishes us with ability, and crowns our labours with success. To him therefore should the praise of all be for ever ascribed. Note; The best of men have always the lowliest thoughts of themselves.

    2nd, The Apostle runs a parallel between the Mosaical and Gospel dispensations, shewing the superior excellency of the latter, and the honour of those who were the ministers of it.

    Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament, furnishing us with abilities, and giving us success; not of the letter, not ministers of the law, which the Judaizing teachers so affect; but of the Spirit, of the Gospel, which the Holy Ghost accompanies with his divine energy: for the letter, the law, killeth, commanding an immaculate innocence which men cannot perform, and denouncing a curse on the least transgression; but the Spirit, the Gospel, attended with the quickening power of the Holy Ghost, giveth life, bringeth penitent sinners into a state of favour with God, and raises them to spiritual life.

    But if the law, which was the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, when the two tables were delivered with such solemn pomp on Sinai, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance, so bright it shone, which glory was to be done away in a while; how shall not the ministration of the Spirit, in the Gospel, be rather glorious, which is attended with such mighty energy and quickening influence? And how much do its ministers also exceed in glory? For if the ministration of condemnation, which could only denounce wrath on the disobedient, be glory; how much more doth the ministration of righteousness, even of the righteousness of God by faith, exceed in glory? And they who minister this glorious gospel must as much excel the ministers of the law, as righteousness and eternal life are preferable to condemnation and wrath: for even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth, as stars disappear before the rising sun. For if that which is done away, as is now the case with the Mosaical dispensation, was glorious, and introduced with such majesty and splendor; much more that which remaineth, the Gospel dispensation, is glorious: its privileges and blessings are incomparably greater.

    3rdly, The Apostle's observations from 2 Corinthians 3:12 to the conclusion of the chapter, make the inference from the foregoing comparison.

    Seeing then that we have such hope in the superior excellence of the Gospel above the law, and trust in the divine power to make it effectual, we use great plainness of speech, freely delivering our message, and affecting no embellishments:—Not as Moses which put a vail over his face, to hide the splendor of his countenance, intimating thereby, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished; they, in general, stopped at the letter and the shadows, and perceived not that all was intended to lead them to Christ, that they might be justified by faith: but their minds were blinded, in general wilfully stupified, ( επωρωθη ;) for not only then, but until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; besides the natural vail of darkness on the minds of the wilfully impenitent, there was an obscurity in the revelation itself, as wrapped up in types and figures, which covered it in some degree from the truly pious; which vail is done away in Christ, in whom all the types and prophecies received their accomplishment, and who is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth, into whose hearts he shines with the light of his Gospel: but even unto this day, when Moses is read, the carnal Jews are so hardened through pride, prejudice, and sensuality, that the vail is still upon their heart, and they continue ignorant of him to whom the law and the prophets bear witness. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, either the heart of any individual among them, or the people in general in the last days, the vail shall be taken away, and they will see, know, and receive the true Messiah. Now the Lord Jesus Christ is that quickening Spirit, who alone can effect this mighty work: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, and the Gospel is truly embraced, there is liberty, freedom from darkness, guilt, and bondage, and access with boldness to a reconciled God. But we all with open face, who, through the illumination of the Spirit, have received the Gospel in the light and love of it, beholding there, as in a glass, or mirror, which distinctly reflects the person and the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image of the adored Jesus, from glory to glory, from grace to grace, (for grace is glory in a degree,) till, if faithful unto death, his likeness is most completely perfected in us to all eternity: and all this is effected even as by the Spirit of the Lord, or by the Lord the Spirit, the great and glorious Agent in this new creation, who is very God, and in the ministration of his Gospel effectually brings the faithful saints to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. Lord, thou Spirit of all grace, thus transform my soul into the Saviour's perfect image!


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    Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/2-corinthians-3.html. 1801-1803.

    Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

    That is, we who live under the light, and enjoy the liberty of the gospel, with open face beholding as in a clear glass the glory of the Lord Jesus, as Moses did the glory of God in the mount, are by degrees changed into the same image with him, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord working in us, and transforming us into his own likeness.

    Learn hence, 1. That the word and ordinances of God are the glass, wherein we have now a sight of the glory of God.

    Learn, 2. That the sight of God in his ordinances is transforming, as well as the sight of him in heaven; the glory into which we are changed, is our conformity to that holiness which shineth in the word. Vision, or the sight of God here in his ordinances, assimilates as well as in heaven; perfect vision produceth perfect assimilation; but the soul's present assimilation, or imperfect conformity to God here, is gradually carried on by daily communion with him. All sorts of communion among men have an assimilating power and efficacy; he that converses with vain company, grows more vain; and he that delights in holy and spiritual company, grows more serious than he was before. But nothing so transforms the spirit of a man, as communion with God in his ordinances doth; none so like him, as those that converse most frequently with him.

    Learn, 3. That if the sight of God in the glass of an ordinance be so assimilating, how transforming will be the sight of God in heaven, when we shall there behold and see him face to face! If the vision of Christ here be so influential upon believers, what an illustrious and infallible efficacy will the immediate, clear, and perfect sight of his glory have in heaven; 1 John 3:2 We shall be perfectly like him, when once we shall see him as he is.


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    Burkitt, William. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/2-corinthians-3.html. 1700-1703.

    Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

    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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    Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/2-corinthians-3.html. 1863-1878.

    Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

    REFLECTIONS

    READER! let you and I, learn to rightly value our privileges!. Blessed be God, we are not come to the Mount, that might be touched, and that burned with fire, and blackness, and darkness, and tempest! Oh! what an awful dispensation, to shadow forth the terror, and dread, with which the broken law of God stood over the alarmed conscience of the trembling, guilty soul! Well might it be called, the ministration of death. For it denounced everlasting indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, to every soul of man that doeth evil. Reader! what a mercy is it, that the poor sinner is come not to Mount Sinai, but Mount Zion; not to the law to condemn, but to the Gospel to save; even to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant; and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. Lord! Take away every remaining vail, of darkness and unbelief. Cause my soul, with open face, to behold as in a glass, the glory of the Lord! Cause my soul to be changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. And do thou, Almighty Spirit, grant me freedom of access, to the mercy-seat of my God, in Christ. For where thou, Lord, art, there is liberty. Oh! for liberty to pray, to plead, to wrestle with my God in prayer, in the blood, obedience, and death, of our Lord Jesus Christ. Give me, Lord, that sweet spirit of adoption, that I may be no longer under a spirit of bondage, but cry, Abba Father! And, oh! do thou be an unceasing witness to my spirit, that I am a child of God!


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    Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/2-corinthians-3.html. 1828.

    Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

    DISCOURSE: 2012

    THE EXCELLENCY AND EFFICACY OF THE GOSPEL

    2 Corinthians 3:18. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

    THE Jews, when compared with the heathen world, were highly privileged; but the dispensation under which they lived was in every respect inferior to that of the Gospel. Of this we are fully informed in the chapter before us. The Apostle, in vindicating his own character, incidentally mentions the blessings which the Corinthians had experienced by means of his ministry: hence he takes occasion to set forth the superior excellency of the Gospel above the law. In confirmation of this point, we will shew,

    I. The excellency of the Gospel—

    In the context the law is spoken of as a ministration of condemnation; whereas the Gospel is a ministration of the Spirit and of righteousness. Of the Gospel it may be said,

    1. It is a revelation of the “glory of the Lord”—

    [The law was in some degree a manifestation of the Divine glory; it displayed, however, chiefly the majesty and holiness of the Deity: but the Gospel displays the love and mercy of God; it exhibits all the perfections of God harmonizing and glorified in the work of redemption. Thus it is a revelation of “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ [Note: 2 Corinthians 4:6.].”]

    2. It manifests this glory to the soul—

    [Moses veiled the Divine lustre which shined in his face. This was an intimation to the Jews that they could not comprehend the full scope of the law which he published [Note: ver. 13.]: but this veil is taken away by Christ [Note: ver. 14.]. The Gospel reflects Christ’s glory as a mirror reflects the sun — — — We behold that glory “with open, i. e. unveiled face.” This is the common privilege of “all” who believe.]

    Nor is it more excellent in its discoveries than in its effects:

    II. The efficacy of it—

    The Apostle ascribes a wonderful efficacy to the Gospel. Experience attests the truth of his declarations. It transforms the soul into the Divine image—

    [A view of Jehovah’s glory caused the face of Moses to shine; but a view of Christ’s glory in the Gospel changes our hearts. It renews us after the very image of our Lord and Saviour. It does this in every person who truly beholds it.]

    Every fresh discovery which it makes to us of Christ’s glory increases that effect—

    [The first exercise of faith in Christ makes a great change, but subsequent views of his glory advance the work of sanctification. In this way is our progress in holiness carried on to perfection.]

    This power, however, it derives wholly from “the Spirit of the Lord”—

    [The Gospel has not that power in itself. Were its power inherent, it would operate uniformly on all: but its operation is dependent on the will of God [Note: 1 Corinthians 12:11.]. The word is called “the sword of the Spirit.” It is the Spirit’s instrument whereby he subdues souls to the obedience of faith. Every fresh effect produced by it arises from the concurring operation of the Spirit: yet as it is the great instrument whereby the Spirit works, the effects are properly ascribed to it.]

    Infer—

    1. How great a blessing it is to have the Gospel preached to us—

    [Nothing else will produce the effects here ascribed to the Gospel. The terrors of the law may alarm, but will not sanctify the heart; but the mild accents of the Gospel win the soul. A manifestation of Christ’s glory constrains us to obedience. Let all rejoice therefore in hearing the glad tidings. Let all endeavour to experience these glorious effects.]

    2. Whence it is that many make so small a proficiency in holiness—

    [Many truly desire to advance in holiness, but they seek it in dependence on their own strength. Hence they make but a small progress in the divine life. They should rather use the means prescribed in the text. They should be often occupied in surveying the glory of Christ. The discoveries of his glory would do more than all their legal exertions — — — Let every eye therefore be fixed on him, till the effects appear both in our hearts and lives. Our views of him ere long shall be incomparably brighter [Note: 1 Corinthians 13:12.]; then the effects also shall be proportionably increased [Note: 1 John 3:2.].]


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    Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/2-corinthians-3.html. 1832.

    Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

    2 Corinthians 3:18. The ἐλευθερία just mentioned is now further confirmed on an appeal to experience as in triumph, by setting forth the (free, unrestricted) relation of all Christians to the glory of Christ. The δέ is the simple μεταβατικόν, and forms the transition from the thing ( ἐλευθερία) to the persons, in whom the thing presents itself in definite form. For the freedom of him who has the Spirit of the Lord forms the contents of 2 Corinthians 3:18, and not simply the thought: “we, however, bear this Spirit of the Lord in us.”(181) Flatt and Rückert are quite arbitrary in attaching it to 2 Corinthians 3:14.

    ἡμεῖς] refers to the Christians in general, as the connection, the added πάντες, and what is affirmed of ἡ΄εῖς, clearly prove. Erasmus, Cajetanus, Estius, Bengel, Michaelis, Nösselt, Stolz, Rosenmüller are wrong in thinking that it refers merely to the apostles and teachers.

    The emphasis is not on πάντες (in which Theodoret, Theophylact, Bengel find a contrast to the one Moses), but on ἡμεῖς, in contrast to the Jews, “qui fidei carent oculis,” Erasmu.

    ἀνακεκαλ. προσώπῳ] with unveiled countenance; for through our conversion to Christ our formerly confined and fettered spiritual intuition (knowledge) became free and unconfined, 2 Corinthians 3:16. After 2 Corinthians 3:15-16 we should expect ἀνακεκαλυμμένῃ καρδίᾳ; but Paul changes the figure, because he wishes here to represent the persons not as hearing (as in 2 Corinthians 3:15) but as seeing, and therewith his conception has manifestly returned to the history of Moses, who appeared before God with the veil removed, Exodus 34:34. Next to the subject ἡμεῖς, moreover, the emphasis lies on ἀνακεκαλ. προσώπῳ: “But we all, with unveiled countenance beholding the glory of the Lord in the mirror, become transformed to the same glory.” For if the beholding of the glory presented in the mirror should take place with covered face, the reflection of this glory (“speculi autem est lumen repercutere,” Emmerling) could not operate on the beholders to render them glorious, as, indeed, also in the case of Moses it was the unveiled countenance that received the radiation of the divine glor.

    τὴν δόξαν κυρίου] said quite without limit of the whole glory of the exalted Christ(182). It is the divine, in so far as Christ is the bearer and reflection of the divine glory (Colossians 1:15; Colossians 2:9; John 17:5; Hebrews 1:3); but κυρίον does not (in opposition to Calvin and Estius) apply to God, on account of 2 Corinthians 3:16-17.

    κατοπτριζόμενοι] beholding in the mirror. For we behold the glory of Christ in the mirror, inasmuch as we see not immediately its objective reality, which will only be the case in the future kingdom of God (John 17:24; 1 John 3:2; Colossians 3:3 f.; Romans 8:17 f.), but only its representation in the gospel; for the gospel is τὸ εὐαγγ. τῆς δόξης τοῦ χριστοῦ, 2 Corinthians 4:4, consequently, as it were, the mirror, in which the glory of Christ gives itself to be seen and shines in its very image to the eye of faith; hence the believing heart (Osiander), which is rather the organ of beholding, cannot be conceived as the mirror. Hunnius aptly remarks that Paul is saying, “nos non ad modum Judaeorum caecutire, sed retecta facie gloriam Domini in evangelii speculo relucentem intueri.” Comp. 1 Corinthians 13:12, where likewise the gospel is conceived of as a mirror, as respects, however, the still imperfect vision which it brings about. κατοπτρίζω in the active means to mirror, i.e. to show in the mirror (Plut. Mor. p. 894 D); but in the middle it means among the Greeks to look into, to behold oneself in a mirror. To this head belong Athen. xv. p. 687 C, and all the passages in Wetstein, also Artemidorus, ii. 7, which passage is erroneously adduced by Wolf and others for the meaning: “to see in the mirror.” But this latter signification, which is that occurring in the passage now before us, is unquestionably found in Philo (Loesner, Obss. p. 304). See especially Alleg. p. 79 E: μηδὲ κατοπτρισαίμην ἐν ἄλλῳ τινὶ τὴν σὴν ἰδέαν ἐν σοὶ τῷ θεῷ. Pelagius (“contemplamur”), Grotius,(183) Rückert, and others quite give up the conception of a mirror, and retain only the notion of beholding; but this is mere caprice, which quite overlooks as well the correct position of the case to which the word aptly corresponds, as also the reference which the following εἰκόνα has to the conception of the mirror. Chrysostom and his successors, Luther, Calovius, Bengel, and others, including Billroth and Olshausen, think that κατοπτρίζεσθαι means to reflect, to beam back the lustre, so that, in parallel with Moses, the glory of Christ is beaming; καθαρὰ καρδία τῆς θείας δόξης οἷόν τι ἐκμαγεῖον καὶ κάτοπτρον γίνεται, Theodoret. Comp. Erasmus, Paraphr., and Luther’s gloss: “as the mirror catches an image, so our heart catches the knowledge of Christ.” But at variance with the usage of the language, for the middle never has this meaning; and at variance with the context, for ἀνακεκαλ. προσώπῳ must, according to 2 Corinthians 3:14-17, refer to the conception of free and unhindered seeing.

    τὴν αὐτὴν εἰκόνα μεταμορφ.] we become transformed to the same image, i.e. become so transformed that the same image which we see in the mirror—the image of the glory of Christ—presents itself on us, i.e. as regards the substantial meaning: we are so transformed that we become like to the glorified Christ. Now, seeing that this transformation appears as caused by and contemporaneous with ἀνακεκ. προσ. τ. δόξ. κ. κατοπτρ., consequently not as a future sudden act (like the transfiguration at the Parousia, 1 Corinthians 15:51 f.; comp. Philippians 3:21), but as something at present in the course of development, it can only be the spiritual transformation to the very likeness of the glorified Christ(184) that is meant (comp. 2 Peter 1:4; Galatians 4:19; Galatians 2:20), and not the future δόξα (Grotius, Fritzsche, Olshausen would have it included). Against this latter may be urged also the subsequent καθάπερ ἀπὸ κυρίου πνεύματος, which has its reference precisely to the spiritual transformation, that takes place in the present αἰών, and the sequel of which is the future Messianic glory to which we are called (1 Thessalonians 2:12; Romans 8:30); so that the present spiritual process, the καινότης ζωῆς (Romans 6:4) and πνεύ΄ατος (Romans 7:6)—the spiritual being risen with and living with Christ (Romans 6:5 ff.)—experiences at the Parousia also the corresponding outward συνδοξασθῆναι with Christ, and is thus completed, Colossians 3:4.

    τὴν αὐτὴν εἰκόνα] is not to be explained either by supplying κατά or εἰς, or by quoting the analogy of παρακαλεῖσθαι παράκλησιν and the like (Hofmann), but the construction of ΄ετα΄ορφοῦν with the accusative is formed quite like the commonly occurring combination of ΄εταβάλλειν with the accusative in the sense: to assume a shape through alteration or transmutation undergone. See Stallbaum, ad Plat. Rep. p. 424 C. The passive turn given to it, in which the accusative remains unaltered (Krüger, § lii. 4. 6; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 164 [E. T. 190]), yields therefore the sense: we are so transformed, that we get thereby the same image.

    ἀπὸ δόξης εἰς δόξαν] i.e. so that this transformation issues from glory (viz. from the glory of Christ beheld in the mirror and reflected on us), and has glory as its result (namely, our glory, see above). Comp. 2 Corinthians 2:16, also Romans 1:17. So in the main the Greek Fathers (yet referring ἀπὸ δόξης, according to their view of ἀπὸ κυρίον πνεύ΄ατος, to the glory of the Holy Spirit), Vatablus, Bengel, Fritzsche, Billroth, and others, also Hofmann. But most expositors (including Flatt, Rückert, Olshausen, de Wette, Osiander, Ewald) explain it of ascending to ever higher (and at length highest, 1 Corinthians 15:51 ff.) glory. Comp. ἐκ δυνάμεως εἰς δύναμιν, Psalms 84:7, also Jeremiah 9:2. In this way, however, the correlation of this ἀπό with the following ( ἀπὸ κυρ. πν.) is neglected, although for ἀπὸ εἰς expressions like ἀπὸ θαλάσσης εἰς θάλασσαν (Xen. Hell. i. 3. 4) might be compare.

    καθάπερ ἀπὸ κυρίου πνεύματος] so as from the Lord of the Spirit, people, namely, are transformed, μεταμόρφωσις γίνεται. In this there lies a confirmation of the asserted τὴ αὐτήν δόξαν. Erasmus rightly observes: “ ὡς hic non sonat similitudinem sed congruentiam.” Comp. 2 Corinthians 2:17; John 1:14, al. Lord of the Spirit (the words are rightly so connected by “neoterici quidam” in Estius, Emmerling, Vater, Fritzsche, Billroth, Olshausen, de Wette, Ewald, Osiander, Kling, Krummel; comp. however, also at an earlier date, Erasmus, Annot.) is Christ, in so far as the operation of the Holy Spirit depends on Christ; for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:17; Romans 8:9 f.; Galatians 4:6), in so far as Christ Himself rules through the Spirit in the hearts (Romans 8:10; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 3:16 f.); the sending of the Spirit(185) is brought about through Christ (Titus 3:6), and by His operations service is done to Christ (1 Corinthians 12:5). Here, too, the relation of subordination in the divine, Trinity is most distinctly expressed.(186) Why, however, is Christ here named κύριος πνεύμστος? Because that spiritual metamorphosis, which proceeds from Christ, cannot take place otherwise than by the influence of the Holy Spirit on us. The explanations: a Domini spiritu, (Syriac, Vulgate, Augustine, Theophylact, Pelagius, Erasmus, Castalio, Calvin, Grotius, Bengel, and others, including Schrader and Hofmann) and a Domino spiritu, i.e. a Domino qui est spiritus (Chrysostom: ὅρα πῶς καὶ ἐνταῦθα τὸ πνεῦμα κύριον καλεῖ, Theodoret, Valla, Luther, Beza, Calovius, Wolf, Estius, and several others, including Flatt and Neander(187)), agree, indeed, with the doctrine of the Trinity as formulated by the church, but deviate without reason or warrant from the normal order of the words (comp. 2 Corinthians 3:17, and see Buttmann, neut. Gramm. p. 295 [E. T. 343]), in particular, from the genitive-relation which quite obviously suggests itself. Rückert hesitatingly allows a choice between the two erroneous views.


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    Bibliography
    Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/2-corinthians-3.html. 1832.

    Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

    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 (2 Corinthians 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, 2 Corinthians 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.


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    Bibliography
    Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/2-corinthians-3.html. 1897.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    Some by we here understand all believers; others think it is better understood of ministers: but the universal particle all rather guideth us to interpret it of the whole body of believers, of whom the apostle saith, that they all behold the glory of God with open face; that is, not under those dark types, shadows, and prophecies, that he was of old revealed under, but as in a looking glass, which represents the face as at hand; not as in a perspective, which showeth things afar off. We behold him in the glass of the gospel, fully opened and preached; and this sight of Christ in the gospel is not a mere useless sight, but such a sight as changeth the soul into the image and likeness of Christ,

    from glory to glory; carrying on the souls of believers from one degree of grace to another; or making such a glorious change in the heart, as shall not be blotted out until a soul cometh into those possessions of glory which God hath prepared for his people. And all this is done

    by the Spirit of the Lord, working with the word of God in the mouths of his ministers, but so as the Spirit hath the principal agency and efficiency in the work.


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    These files are public domain.
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    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-corinthians-3.html. 1685.

    Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

    2 Corinthians

    TRANSFORMATION BY BEHOLDING

    2 Corinthians 3:18.

    This whole section of the Epistle in which our text occurs is a remarkable instance of the fervid richness of the Apostle’s mind, which acquires force by motion, and, like a chariot-wheel, catches fire as it revolves. One of the most obvious peculiarities of his style is his habit of ‘going off at a word.’ Each thought is, as it were, barbed all round, and catches and draws into sight a multitude of others, but slightly related to the main purpose in hand. And this characteristic gives at first sight an appearance of confusion to his writings. But it is not confusion, it is richness. The luxuriant underwood which this fertile soil bears, as some tropical forest, does not choke the great trees, though it drapes them.

    Paul’s immediate purpose seems to be to illustrate the frank openness which ought to mark the ministry of Christianity. He does this by reference to the veil which Moses wore when he came forth from talking with God. There, he says in effect, we have a picture of the Old Dispensation-a partial revelation, gleaming through a veil, flashing through symbols, expressed here in a rite, there in a type, there again in an obscure prophecy, but never or scarcely ever fronting the world with an unveiled face and the light of God shining clear from it. Christianity is, and Christian teachers ought to be, the opposite of all this. It has, and they are to have, no esoteric doctrines, no hints where plain speech is possible, no reserve, no use of symbols and ceremonies to overlay truth, but an intelligible revelation in words and deeds, to men’s understandings. It and they are plentifully to declare the thing as it is.

    But he gets far beyond this point in his uses of his illustration. It opens out into a series of contrasts between the two revelations. The veiled Moses represents the clouded revelation of old. The vanishing gleam on his face recalls the fading glories of that which was abolished; and then, by a quick turn of association, Paul thinks of the veiled readers in the synagogues, copies, as it were, of the lawgiver with the shrouded countenance; only too significant images of the souls obscured by prejudice and obstinate unbelief, with which Israel trifles over the uncomprehended letter of the old law.

    The contrast to all this lies in our text. Judaism had the one lawgiver who beheld God, while the people tarried below. Christianity leads us all, to the mount of vision, and lets the lowliest pass through the fences, and go up where the blazing glory is seen. Moses veiled the face that shone with the irradiation of Deity. We with unveiled face are to shine among men. He had a momentary gleam, a transient brightness; we have a perpetual light. Moses’ face shone, but the lustre was but skin deep. But the light that we have is inward, and works transformation into its own likeness.

    So there is here set forth the very loftiest conception of the Christian life as direct vision, universal, manifest to men, permanent, transforming.

    I. Note then, first, that the Christian life is a life of contemplating and reflecting Christ.

    It is a question whether the single word rendered in our version ‘beholding as in a glass,’ means that, or ‘reflecting as a glass does.’ The latter seems more in accordance with the requirements of the context, and with the truth of the matter in hand. Unless we bring in the notion of reflected lustre, we do not get any parallel with the case of Moses. Looking into a glass does not in the least correspond with the allusion, which gave occasion to the whole section, to the glory of God smiting him on the face, till the reflected lustre with which it glowed became dazzling, and needed to be hid. And again, if Paul is here describing Christian vision of God as only indirect, as in a mirror, then that would be a point of inferiority in us as compared with Moses, who saw Him face to face. But the whole tone of the context prepares us to expect a setting forth of the particulars in which the Christian attitude towards the manifested God is above the Jewish. So, on the whole, it seems better to suppose that Paul meant ‘mirroring,’ than ‘seeing in a mirror.’

    But, whatever be the exact force of the word, the thing intended includes both acts. There is no reflection of the light without a previous reception of the light. In bodily sight, the eye is a mirror, and there is no sight without an image of the thing perceived being formed in the perceiving eye. In spiritual sight, the soul which beholds is a mirror, and at once beholds and reflects. Thus, then, we may say that we have in our text the Christian life described as one of contemplation and manifestation of the light of God.

    The great truth of a direct, unimpeded vision, as belonging to Christian men on earth, sounds strange to many of us. ‘That cannot be,’ you say; ‘does not Paul himself teach that we see through a glass darkly? Do we not walk by faith and not by sight? “No man hath seen God at any time, nor can see Him”; and besides that absolute impossibility, have we not veils of flesh and sense, to say nothing of the covering of sin “spread over the face of all nations,” which hide from us even so much of the eternal light as His servants above behold, who see His face and bear His name on their foreheads?’

    But these apparent difficulties drop away when we take into account two things-first, the object of vision, and second, the real nature of the vision itself.

    As to the former, who is the Lord whose glory we receive on our unveiled faces? He is Jesus Christ. Here, as in the overwhelming majority of instances where Lord occurs in the New Testament, it is the name of the manifested God our brother. The glory which we behold and give back is not the incomprehensible, incommunicable lustre of the absolute divine perfectness, but that glory which, as John says, we beheld in Him who tabernacled with us, full of grace and truth; the glory which was manifested in loving, pitying words and loveliness of perfect deeds; the glory of the will resigned to God, and of God dwelling in and working through the will; the glory of faultless and complete manhood, and therein of the express image of God.

    And as for the vision itself, that seeing which is denied to be possible is the bodily perception and the full comprehension of the Infinite God; that seeing which is affirmed to be possible, and actually bestowed in Christ, is the beholding of Him with the soul by faith; the immediate direct consciousness of His presence the perception of Him in His truth by the mind, the feeling of Him in His love by the heart, the contact with His gracious energy in our recipient and opening spirits. Faith is made the antithesis of sight. It is so, in certain respects. But faith is also paralleled with and exalted above the mere bodily perception. He who believing grasps the living Lord has a contact with Him as immediate and as real as that of the eyeball with light, and knows Him with a certitude as reliable as that which sight gives. ‘Seeing is believing,’ says sense; ‘Believing is seeing’ says the spirit which clings to the Lord, ‘whom having not seen’ it loves. A bridge of perishable flesh, which is not myself but my tool, connects me with the outward world. It never touches myself at all, and I know it only by trust in my senses. But nothing intervenes between my Lord and me, when I love and trust. Then Spirit is joined to spirit, and of His presence I have the witness in myself. He is the light, which proves its own existence by revealing itself, which strikes with quickening impulse on the eye of the spirit that beholds by faith. Believing we see, and, seeing, we have that light in our souls to be ‘the master light of all our seeing.’ We need not think that to know by the consciousness of our trusting souls is less than to know by the vision of our fallible eyes; and though flesh hides from us the spiritual world in which we float, yet the only veil which really dims God to us-the veil of sin, the one separating principle-is done away in Christ, for all who love Him; so as that he who has not seen and yet has believed, has but the perfecting of his present vision to expect, when flesh drops away and the apocalypse of the heaven comes. True, in one view, ‘We see through a glass darkly’; but also true, ‘We all, with unveiled face, behold and reflect the glory of the Lord.’

    Then note still further Paul’s emphasis on the universality of this prerogative-’We all.’ This vision does not belong to any select handful; does not depend upon special powers or gifts, which in the nature of things can only belong to a few. The spiritual aristocracy of God’s Church is not the distinction of the law-giver, the priest or the prophet. There is none of us so weak, so low, so ignorant, so compassed about with sin, but that upon our happy faces that light may rest, and into our darkened hearts that sunshine may steal.

    In that Old Dispensation, the light that broke through clouds was but that of the rising morning. It touched the mountain tops of the loftiest spirits: a Moses, a David, an Elijah caught the early gleams; while all the valleys slept in the pale shadow, and the mist clung in white folds to the plains. But the noon has come, and, from its steadfast throne in the very zenith, the sun, which never sets, pours down its rays into the deep recesses of the narrowest gorge, and every little daisy and hidden flower catches its brightness, and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. We have no privileged class or caste now; no fences to keep out the mob from the place of vision, while lawgiver and priest gaze upon God. Christ reveals Himself to all His servants in the measure of their desire after Him. Whatsoever special gifts may belong to a few in His Church, the greatest gift belongs to all. The servants and the handmaidens have the Spirit, the children prophesy, the youths see visions, the old men dream dreams. ‘The mobs,’ ‘the masses,’ ‘the plebs,’ or whatever other contemptuous name the heathen aristocratic spirit has for the bulk of men, makes good its standing within the Church, as possessor of Christ’s chiefest gifts. Redeemed by Him, it can behold His face and be glorified into His likeness. Not as Judaism with its ignorant mass, and its enlightened and inspired few-we all behold the glory of the Lord.

    Again, this contemplation involves reflection, or giving forth the light which we behold.

    They who behold Christ have Christ formed in them, as will appear in my subsequent remarks. But apart from such considerations, which belong rather to the next part of this sermon, I touch on this thought here for one purpose-to bring out this idea-that what we see we shall certainly show. That will be the inevitable result of all true possession of the glory of Christ. The necessary accompaniment of vision is reflecting the thing beheld. Why, if you look closely enough into a man’s eye, you will see in it little pictures of what he beholds at the moment; and if our hearts are beholding Christ, Christ will be mirrored and manifested on our hearts. Our characters will show what we are looking at, and ought, in the case of Christian people, to bear His image so plainly, that men cannot but take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus.

    This ought to lead all of us who say that we have seen the Lord, to serious self-questioning. Do beholding and reflecting go together in our cases? Are our characters like those transparent clocks, where you can see not only the figures and hands, but the wheels and works? Remember that, consciously and unconsciously, by direct efforts and by insensible influences on our lives, the true secret of our being ought to come, and will come, forth to light. The convictions which we hold, the emotions that are dominant in our hearts, will mould and shape our lives. If we have any deep, living perception of Christ, bystanders looking into our faces will be able to tell what it is up yonder that is making them like the faces of the angels-even vision of the opened heavens and of the exalted Lord. These two things are inseparable-the one describes the attitude and action of the Christian man towards Christ; the other the very same attitude and action in relation to men. And you may be quite sure that, if little light comes from a Christian character, little light comes into it; and if it be swathed in thick veils from men, there must be no less thick veils between it and God.

    Nor is it only that our fellowship with Christ will, as a matter of course, show itself in our characters, and beauty born of that communion ‘shall pass into our face,’ but we are also called on, as Paul puts it here, to make direct conscious efforts for the communication of the light which we behold. As the context has it, God hath shined in our hearts, that we might give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus. Away with all veils! No reserve, no fear of the consequences of plain speaking, no diplomatic prudence regulating our frank utterance, no secret doctrines for the initiated! We are to ‘renounce the hidden things of dishonesty.’ Our power and our duty lie in the full exhibition of the truth. We are only clear from the blood of men when we, for our parts, make sure that if any light be hid, it is hid not by reason of obscurity or silence on our parts, but only by reason of the blind eyes, before which the full-orbed radiance gleams in vain. All this is as true for every one possessing that universal prerogative of seeing the glory of Christ, as it is for an Apostle. The business of all such is to make known the name of Jesus, and if from idleness, or carelessness, or selfishness, they shirk that plain duty, they are counteracting God’s very purpose in shining on their hearts, and going far to quench the light which they darken.

    Take this, then, Christian men and women, as a plain practical lesson from this text. You are bound to manifest what you believe, and to make the secret of your lives, in so far as possible, an open secret. Not that you are to drag into light before men the sacred depths of your own soul’s experience. Let these lie hid. The world will be none the better for your confessions, but it needs your Lord. Show Him forth, not your own emotions about Him. What does the Apostle say close by my text? ‘We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord.’ Self-respect and reverence for the sanctities of our deepest emotions forbid our proclaiming these from the house-tops. Let these be curtained, if you will, from all eyes but God’s, but let no folds hang before the picture of your Saviour that is drawn on your heart. See to it that you have the unveiled face turned towards Christ to be irradiated by His brightness, and the unveiled face turned towards men, from which shall shine every beam of the light which you have caught from your Lord. ‘Arise! shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee!’

    II. Notice, secondly, that this life of contemplation is therefore a life of gradual transformation.

    The brightness on the face of Moses was only skin-deep. It faded away, and left no trace. It effaced none of the marks of sorrow and care, and changed none of the lines of that strong, stern face. But, says Paul, the glory which we behold sinks inward, and changes us as we look, into its own image. Thus the superficial lustre, that had neither permanence nor transforming power, becomes an illustration of the powerlessness of law to change the moral character into the likeness of the fair ideal which it sets forth. And, in opposition to its weakness, the Apostle proclaims the great principle of Christian progress, that the beholding of Christ leads to the assimilation to Him.

    The metaphor of a mirror does not wholly serve us here. When the sunbeams fall upon it, it flashes in the light, just because they do not enter its cold surface. It is a mirror, because it does not drink them up, but flings them back. The contrary is the case with these sentient mirrors of our spirits. In them the light must first sink in before it can ray out. They must first be filled with the glory, before the glory can stream forth. They are not so much like a reflecting surface as like a bar of iron, which needs to be heated right down to its obstinate black core, before its outer skin glows with the whiteness of a heat that is too hot to sparkle. The sunshine must fall on us, not as it does on some lonely hill-side, lighting up the grey stones with a passing gleam that changes nothing, and fades away, leaving the solitude to its sadness; but as it does on some cloud cradled near its setting, which it drenches and saturates with fire till its cold heart burns, and all its wreaths of vapour are brightness palpable, glorified by the light which lives amidst its mists. So must we have the glory sink into us before it can be reflected from us. In deep inward beholding we must have Christ in our hearts, that He may shine forth from our lives.

    And this contemplation will be gradual transformation. There is the great principle of Christian morals. ‘We all beholding . . . are changed.’ The power to which is committed the perfecting of our characters lies in looking upon Jesus. It is not the mere beholding, but the gaze of love and trust that moulds us by silent sympathy into the likeness of His wondrous beauty, who is fairer than the children of men. It was a deep, true thought which the old painters had, when they drew John as likest to his Lord. Love makes us like. We learn that even in our earthly relationships, where habitual familiarity with parents and dear ones stamps some tone of voice or look, or little peculiarity of gesture, on a whole house. And when the infinite reverence and aspiration which the Christian soul cherishes to its Lord are superadded, the transforming power of loving contemplation of Him becomes mighty beyond all analogies in human friendship, though one in principle with these. What a marvellous thing that a block of rude sandstone, laid down before a perfect marble, should become a copy of its serene loveliness just by lying there! Lay your hearts down before Christ. Contemplate Him. Love Him. Think about Him. Let that pure face shine upon heart and spirit, and as the sun photographs itself on the sensitive plate exposed to its light, and you get a likeness of the sun by simply laying the thing in the sun, so He will ‘be formed in, you.’ Iron near a magnet becomes magnetic. Spirits that dwell with Christ become Christ-like. The Roman Catholic legends put this truth in a coarse way, when they tell of saints who have gazed on some ghastly crucifix till they have received, in their tortured flesh, the copy of the wounds of Jesus, and have thus borne in their body the marks of the Lord. The story is hideous and gross, the idea beneath is ever true. Set your faces towards the Cross with loving, reverent gaze, and you will ‘be conformed unto His death,’ that in due time you may ‘be also in the likeness of His Resurrection.’

    Dear friends, surely this message-’Behold and be like’-ought to be very joyful and enlightening to many of us, who are wearied with painful struggles after isolated pieces of goodness, that elude our grasp. You have been trying, and trying, and trying half your lifetime to cure faults and make yourselves better and stronger. Try this other plan. Let love draw you, instead of duty driving you. Let fellowship with Christ elevate you, instead of seeking to struggle up the steeps on hands and knees. Live in sight of your Lord, and catch His Spirit. The man who travels with his face northwards has it grey and cold. Let him turn to the warm south, where the midday sun dwells, and his face will glow with the brightness that he sees. ‘Looking unto Jesus’ is the sovereign cure for all our ills and sins. It is the one condition of running with patience ‘the race that is set before us.’ Efforts after self-improvement which do not rest on it will not go deep enough, nor end in victory. But from that gaze will flow into our lives a power which will at once reveal the true goal, and brace every sinew for the struggle to reach it. Therefore, let us cease from self, and fix our eyes on our Saviour till His image imprints itself on our whole nature.

    Such transformation, it must be remembered, comes gradually. The language of the text regards it as a lifelong process. ‘We are changed’; that is a continuous operation. ‘From glory to glory’; that is a course which has well-marked transitions and degrees. Be not impatient if it be slow. It will take a lifetime. Do not fancy that it is finished with you. Life is not long enough for it. Do not be complacent over the partial transformation which you have felt. There is but a fragment of the great image yet reproduced in your soul, a faint outline dimly traced, with many a feature wrongly drawn, with many a line still needed, before it can be called even approximately complete. See to it that you neither turn away your gaze, nor relax your efforts till all that you have beheld in Him is repeated in you.

    Likeness to Christ is the aim of all religion. To it conversion is introductory; doctrines, devout emotion, worship and ceremonies, churches and organisations are valuable as auxiliary. Let that wondrous issue of God’s mercy be the purpose of our lives, and the end as well as the test of all the things which we call our Christianity. Prize and use them as helps towards it, and remember that they are helps only in proportion as they show us that Saviour, the image of whom is our perfection, the beholding of whom is our transformation.

    III. Notice, lastly, that the life of contemplation finally becomes a life of complete assimilation.

    ‘Changed into the same image, from glory to glory.’ The lustrous light which falls upon Christian hearts from the face of their Lord is permanent, and it is progressive. The likeness extends, becomes deeper, truer, every way perfecter, comprehends more and more of the faculties of the man; soaks into him, if I may say so, until he is saturated with the glory; and in all the extent of his being, and in all the depth possible to each part of that whole extent, is like his Lord. That is the hope for heaven, towards which we may indefinitely approximate here, and at which we shall absolutely arrive there. There we expect changes which are impossible here, while compassed with this body of sinful flesh. We look for the merciful exercise of His mighty working to ‘change the body of our lowliness, that it may be fashioned like unto the body of His glory’; and that physical change in the resurrection of the just rightly bulks very large in good men’s expectations. But we are somewhat apt to think of the perfect likeness of Christ too much in connection with that transformation that begins only after death, and to forget that the main transformation must begin here. The glorious, corporeal life like our Lord’s, which is promised for heaven, is great and wonderful, but it is only the issue and last result of the far greater change in the spiritual nature, which by faith and love begins here. It is good to be clothed with the immortal vesture of the resurrection, and in that to be like Christ. It is better to be like Him in our hearts. His true image is that we should feel as He does, should think as He does, should will as He does; that we should have the same sympathies, the same loves, the same attitude towards God, and the same attitude towards men. It is that His heart and ours should beat in full accord, as with one pulse, and possessing one life. Wherever there is the beginning of that oneness and likeness of spirit, all the rest will come in due time. As the spirit, so the body. The whole nature must be transformed and made like Christ’s, and the process will not stop till that end be accomplished in all who love Him. But the beginning here is the main thing which draws all the rest after it as of course. ‘If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.’

    And, while this complete assimilation in body and spirit to our Lord is the end of the process which begins here by love and faith, my text, carefully considered, adds a further very remarkable idea. ‘We are all changed,’ says Paul, ‘into the same image.’ Same as what? Possibly the same as we behold; but more probably the phrase, especially ‘image’ in the singular, is employed to convey the thought of the blessed likeness of all who become perfectly like Him. As if he had said, ‘Various as we are in disposition and character, unlike in the histories of our lives, and all the influences that these have had upon us, differing in everything but the common relation to Jesus Christ, we are all growing like the same image, and we shall come to be perfectly like it, and yet each retain his own distinct individuality.’ ‘We being many are one, for we are all partakers of one.’

    Perhaps, too, we may connect with this another idea which occurs more than once in Paul’s Epistles. In that to the Ephesians, for instance, he says that the Christian ministry is to continue, till a certain point of progress has been reached, which he describes as our all coming to ‘a perfect man.’ The whole of us together make a perfect man-the whole make one image. That is to say, perhaps the Apostle’s idea is, that it takes the aggregated perfectness of the whole Catholic Church, one throughout all ages, and containing a multitude that no man can number, to set worthily forth anything like a complete image of the fulness of Christ. No one man, even raised to the highest pitch of perfection, and though his nature be widened out to perfect development, can be the full image of that infinite sum of all beauty; but the whole of us taken together, with all the diversities of natural character retained and consecrated, being collectively His body which He vitalises, may, on the whole, be a not wholly inadequate representation of our perfect Lord. Just as we set round a central light sparkling prisms, each of which catches the glow at its own angle, and flashes it back of its own colour, while the sovereign completeness of the perfect white radiance comes from the blending of all their separate rays, so they who stand round about the starry throne receive each the light in his own measure and manner, and give forth each a true and perfect, and altogether a complete, image of Him who enlightens them all, and is above them all.

    And whilst thus all bear the same image, there is no monotony; and while there is endless diversity, there is no discord. Like the serene choirs of angels in the old monk’s pictures, each one with the same tongue of fire on the brow, with the same robe flowing in the same folds to the feet, with the same golden hair, yet each a separate self, with his own gladness, and a different instrument for praise in his hand, and his own part in that ‘undisturbed song of pure content,’ we shall all be changed into the same image, and yet each heart shall grow great with its own blessedness, and each spirit bright with its own proper lustre of individual and characteristic perfection.

    The law of the transformation is the same for earth and for heaven. Here we see Him in part, and beholding grow like. There we shall see Him as He is, and the likeness will be complete. That Transfiguration of our Lord {which is described by the same word as occurs in this text} may become for us the symbol and the prophecy of what we look for. As with Him, so with us; the indwelling glory shall come to the surface, and the countenance shall shine as the light, and the garments shall be ‘white as no fuller on earth can white them.’ Nor shall that be a fading splendour, nor shall we fear as we enter into the cloud, nor, looking on Him, shall flesh bend beneath the burden, and the eyes become drowsy, but we shall be as the Lawgiver and the Prophet who stood by Him in the lambent lustre, and shone with a brightness above that which had once been veiled on Sinai. We shall never vanish from His side, but dwell with Him in the abiding temple which He has built, and there, looking upon Him for ever, our happy souls shall change as they gaze, and behold Him more perfectly as they change, for ‘we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.’


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    MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/2-corinthians-3.html.

    Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

    With open face; literally, with unveiled face, the veil having been, to us, taken away in Christ.

    The glory of the Lord; the Lord Jesus.

    From glory to glory; from one degree of glory to another.

    By the Spirit of the Lord; or, as the margin, by the Lord the Spirit; that is, by the Lord Jesus, who is the Spirit, 2 Corinthians 3:17. Both renderings come to the same thing; since it is by the Holy Spirit that the Lord Jesus transforms us into his own image.


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    Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "Family Bible New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/2-corinthians-3.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

    Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

    18. ἡμεῖς δὲ πάντες. This refers, not (as in 2 Corinthians 3:1-12) to the ministers of the Gospel, but to all Christians, to all who have been set free by the presence of the Spirit. In the new dispensation the privilege is universal, not, as in the old, confined to one mediator. The δέ refers back to 2 Corinthians 3:16. The Jews are still in need of conversion to Christ that the veil may be removed from them: but all we Christians, with unveiled face. For the dative comp. ἀκατακαλύπτῳ τῇ κεφαλῇ (1 Corinthians 11:5).

    κατοπτριζόμενοι. In the active this means ‘to show in a mirror,’ in the middle [1] ‘to behold as in a mirror,’ or [2] ‘to reflect as in a mirror.’ Chrysostom adopts the latter meaning, and it makes excellent sense: with unveiled face reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord. The idea is taken from Moses removing the veil when he talked with God, and thus catching a reflexion of the Divine glory. Augustine points out that we are not obliged to believe that “we shall see God with the bodily face in which are the eyes of the body”; it is “the face of the inner man” which is meant (De Civ. Dei XXII. 29).

    τὴν αὐτὴν εἰκόνα μεταμορφούμεθα. Are being transfigured into the same image; acc. of definition. As S. Paul, perhaps purposely, uses the same word as is used of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2), the same English word should be used here as there. The Vulgate changes from transfigurari in Mt. and Mk to transformari here, and has influenced English Versions. Comp. Romans 12:2; Philippians 3:21. Seneca again has something a little similar, “Not only corrected but transfigured” (Ep. Mor. VI. 1); and “A man is not yet wise, unless his mind is transfigured into those things which he has learned” (Ep. Mor. XCIV. 48). By τὴν αὐτὴν εἰκόνα is meant the same image as that which is reflected in the mirror, the image of the perfection that is manifest in Christ: Galatians 4:19. It carries the mind back to the Creation (Genesis 1:26) and implies that this transformation is a re-creation (Colossians 3:10). See on μετασχηματίζεσθαι. 2 Corinthians 11:13.

    ἀπό δόξης εἰς δόξαν. The words emphasize the contrast to Moses. Comp. ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν (Romans 1:17), ἐκ δυνάμεως εἰς δύναμιν (Psalms 83:8). The probable meaning is that the process of transfiguration is a gradual one; “from one stage of glory to another” (Lias). Comp. Enoch li. 4, 5, lxii. 15, 16, cviii. 11–15; Apoc. of Baruch li. 1, 3, 5, 7–12. But the sense may be, as Bengel gives it, a gloria Domini ad gloriam in nobis.

    καθάπερ ἀπὸ κυρίου πνεύματος. See critical note. This again is difficult and of doubtful meaning, like ὁ δὲ κύριος τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν (2 Corinthians 3:17), to which it looks back. There are several possible renderings. [1] Even as by the Spirit of the Lord (A.V.), which is that of the Vulgate, tanquam a Domini Spiritu. But the order of the Greek is against this, and, had S. Paul meant this, he would perhaps have written καθάπερ ἀπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ κυρίου. [2] Even as by the Lord of the Spirit, viz. Christ, through whose instrumentality the Spirit is given (Titus 3:5-6; John 16:7). This is perhaps the simplest grammatical meaning of the words, if κυρίου is a substantive. Tertullian seems to have read πνευμάτων, for he gives tanquam a domino spirituum as S. Paul’s words (Adv. Marc. 2 Corinthians 3:11). [3] Even as from the Lord the Spirit (R.V.; comp. A.V. margin), which is found in some MSS. of the Vulgate, a domino spiritu. [4] Even as from the Spirit which is the Lord (R.V. margin). [5] Even as from a Spirit exercising lordship (Hort), or, by a paraphrase, a Spirit which is Lord. This last takes κυρίου as an adjective, and it has great advantages. As Hort suggests, it may be “the Scriptural source of the remarkable adjectival phrase τὸ κύριον in the (so called) Constantinopolitan Creed”—τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον τὸ κύριον τὸ ζωοποιόν. Such a use of κύριος is not found elsewhere in Scripture, but its adoption in the Creed is evidence that it was thus understood by some. If this rendering stands, the conjectural reading κύριον for Κυρίου in 2 Corinthians 3:17 becomes not improbable. We may adopt any of the three last, [3], [4], or [5], and interpret that by the influence of the Spirit all Christians are step by step made similar to the glorified Christ. The Jew does not catch the reflexion of even the glory of the Law; he sees nothing but the dull and deadening letter. Much less does he reflect the glory of the Gospel. The καθάπερ characterizes the transformation; our transformation is one which answers to its source, viz. a spirit which is Sovereign,—again in contrast to Moses, who had to deal with the γράμμα. Throughout the verse there is contrast between the Old Covenant and the New; between one man and ‘we all’; between the face often veiled and ‘with unveiled face’; between glory that is transient and ‘reflecting as in a mirror’ (present of continued state) ‘from glory to glory’; between glory that is external and glory that is a penetrating and assimilating influence; between the ministry of the γράμμα and the agency of the πνεῦμα. See Briggs, The Messiah of the Apostles, pp. 127 ff.


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    "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/2-corinthians-3.html. 1896.

    William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

    SPIRITUAL PROGRESS

    18. But we all with unveiled face, beholding in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transfigured into the same image from glory unto glory, as by the Lord the Spirit.” This is a beautiful, vivid and glorious description of the experience enjoyed by people after they have been truly sanctified. This verse is inapplicable to unsanctified Christians, from the fact that their faces are already unveiled, which is not peculiar to the justified experience normal to Moses, who had the vail on his face. Again, we see that the transfiguration here mentioned is not from carnality to the glory of holiness, as in the case of people entering the sanctified experience, but from “glory to glory,” i. e., from the glory of holiness to the glory of transfiguration. The theme of discourse is the reading of God’s Word, under the Mosaic dispensation with a vail over your face, but now that the vail is taken away in Christ, we read the same Word with face unveiled. Hence the Bible is God’s looking-glass, in which we see ourselves mirrored and reflected back. The reason why the wicked hate the Bible is because it shows them their own faces polluted by devils and coiled about with rattlesnakes. The reason why unsanctified Christians do not take much interest in the Bible is because it reveals to them their own faces awfully dirty, ugly and filthy, and it is murderous to all their pride to behold the sight, while sanctified people are unutterably surprised and delighted to see their faces so bright, clean and beautiful that they never get tired looking at them. But beauty hath a charm insatiable, and, while astounded beyond measure as we contemplate the beauty of holiness reflected in our own features from the looking-glass of God’s Word, though we see all the wounds and lacerations of leprosy and small-pox are gloriously healed, odoriferous with Heavenly fragrance and beautiful as the roses of Sharon, yet the old scars are still there, and we long for their final obliteration. Where the E.V. has “transformed” the better reading is “transfigured.” While sanctification is the perfection of grace, the transfiguration is the perfection of glory, the grand ultimatum in the restitutionary economy, actually conferring homogeneity to the Heavenly state, our destination, whither we are bound and to which we are running night and day, like the Grecian racers in the Olympic stadium. Now, remember that the transfiguration glory is really the constant and supreme desideratum of every truly sanctified soul; and as sanctification, though suddenly entered, is gradually approximated, so glorification, though instantaneously wrought upon the soul by the Holy Ghost the very moment of its translation out of the body, yet it is gradually approached during the entire period of the sanctified life. We all desire supremely a part in the rapture of the saints when the Lord comes after His Bride. As we are constantly on the lookout for His appearing, of course we are not expecting to die, but to see our coming King and meet Him in the clouds. In that case, we must be transfigured, body, mind and spirit. Hence there is a prominent sense in which that transfiguration is going on. John Wesley taught a gradual sanctification, antecedent to the instantaneous experience and a necessary preparation for its reception. In a similar manner there is a gradual transfiguration, in which we are weaned from earth and ripened for Heaven. In this gradual transfiguration, great physical changes, as well as intellectual and spiritual, transpire, making us less physical, gross and earthly, and more spiritual, intellectual, ethereal and Heavenly in our constitution and habitude, thus, in a mysterious and indefinable way, preparing us for the wonderful change out of materiality into pure spirituality, when these bodies shall cease to be the tenement of the animal life and intellect, but become the glorified house for our glorified spirit to occupy forever. While looking into this mirror, i. e., God’s wonderful Word, we see our own being reflected back as you see your person when you stand before the looking-glass. What a significant fact! the Heaven bound pilgrim, as the years go by, actually sees himself as he reads his Bible, clearly showing up changes, revolutions and transfigurations, effecting obvious elimination’s of the earthy, and taking on discernible accessions of the Heavenly, and thus more and more approximating the beauty, purity and glory of our blessed Paragon, till the moment of final victory arrives, and, responsive to the call of the Heavenly Bridegroom, this mortal will put on immortality, and fly away to meet Him in the skies. Again, in case that He shall call me to evacuate this tenement to go and meet Him, it is equally pertinent that I should be ripe for translation, so that I will enjoy a part in the first resurrection and a place in the glorified Bridehood of my Lord. I find that this is all done by “the Lord the Spirit,” a better translation than “the Spirit of the Lord,” as in E.V.; setting forth the fact that the Holy Ghost, who is identical with the Lord Himself, i. e., the spiritual Christ to whom we are wedded in sanctification, and who abides here (Matthew 28:20) to the end of the age, i. e., the present age, which will end when the millennium is ushered in. Meanwhile He here abides, is wedded to us in sanctification, and prepares us — soul, body and mind — in the fullness of our redeemed humanity to be wedded to Him in the fullness of His glorified humanity, when we shall gather in the marriage supper of the Lamb. Hence the Holy Ghost, who is none other than the Spirit of our Savior, is the Omnipotent Agent here with us, felicitously transfiguring us through His Word, and getting us ready for glorification, whether through translation or resurrection.


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    Godbey, William. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/2-corinthians-3.html.

    Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

    ‘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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    Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/2-corinthians-3.html. 2013.

    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

    18. Thus emancipated by the spirit of evangelic liberty from the vail upon the heart, (which was also a vail upon the eyes,) we, the free and freshly un-Judaized Christians, with open—Or, more accurately, unvailed faces, behold the glory of the Lord. Happier than Israel, to whom even Moses was vailed, we behold the glory of Jesus himself without a vail. Yet not, indeed, as yet, his living person; but his glorious image in the gospel, as in a mirror. The ancient mirror was not glass, but polished metal.

    Are changed—Are metamorphosed, transformed, transfigured. It takes a degree of likeness of nature for one being to see and realize another. Man can understand man as brute cannot understand man or man brute. We possess some assimilation to Jesus, even in order to discern him truly in the gospel; and the more we gaze in sympathy upon him the more we cognise him and become like him, which again increases our perceptive power, and thus there is a constant interaction and progress.

    Into the same image— As Moses, looking upon the glory of Jehovah, had his face irradiated with the same glory.

    From glory—By sanctification on earth.

    To glory—By glorification, conformity with the glorified image of Christ, in heaven. This is better than to read: From the causative glory of the image in the mirror to the caused glory we acquire from it.

    By the Spirit of the Lord—Which 2 Corinthians 3:6 vivifies with both sanctifying and glorifying life; life spiritual and life eternal. This entire imagery, in which St. Paul expresses the power of evangelic liberty (as opposed to the letter slavery of the Judaists) of glorifying the believer into the glorious image of Jesus, is eminently beautiful. But no reader who would appreciate its full richness must stop here, (though induced so to do by the unfortunate chapter division,) but trace its continuity through to 2 Corinthians 4:6.


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    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-corinthians-3.html. 1874-1909.

    Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

    In conclusion, Paul referred to Christian experience generally. All Christians, not just the Israelites" leader, Moses, experience transformation daily as we contemplate the glory of God revealed in His Word and especially in the living Word, Jesus Christ. The perception of that revelation is still indirect. Paul"s point was that the image of God that we see in the Word accurately reflects God, though we do not yet see God Himself. What we see in the mirror of God"s Word is the Lord, not ourselves. We experience gradual transformation. As we observe Christ"s glory we advance in Christ-likeness and reflect His glory, not in our faces but in our characters (cf. 2 Peter 3:18). This glory will not fade but will increase over time providing we continue to contemplate the Lord. The Spirit who is the Lord is responsible for this gradual transformation. [Note: See Robert A Pyne, "Antinomianism and Dispensationalism," Bibliotheca Sacra153:610 (April-June1996):141-54.] Another view is that Christ as divine wisdom is the mirror in view. [Note: Keener, p170.]

    "Moses reflected the glory of God, but you and I may radiate the glory of God." [Note: Wiersbe, 1:640.]

    ". . . Paul may also have in mind the Semitic idiom in which "to uncover the face (head)" means "to behave boldly (frankly)." If Song of Solomon , then "with unveiled face" has practically the same meaning as "with boldness" (Gk parrhesia) and may help to explain Paul"s use of the latter expression in 2 Corinthians 3:12." [Note: Bruce, p193.]


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    Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/2-corinthians-3.html. 2012.

    Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

    2 Corinthians 3:18. But we all, with unveiled face, reflecting as a minor the glory of the Lord—the Lord Christ,—are transformed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit. In the 12th verse the apostle had said, “We are not as Moses, who put a veil on his face, that the children of Israel should not look stedfastly to the end of that which was passing away.” And we naturally expect he will next tell us what we are in contrast with Moses, in his veiled and transitory economy. And here at length, after several parenthetical explanations, we have it. Moses’ face was veiled, but ours is unveiled. And as Moses was in this but the visible expression of the economy he represented, and of all under it, so the “we” here are all who, believing, see this veil “done away in Christ.”(1) But the next clause involves some difficulty. For it must be admitted that the Authorised Version, “beholding,” gives the classical sense of the Greek word, when used, as here, in the middle voice; and some of the best interpreters (as Meyer) not only insist on this here, but judge any other to be unsuitable to the context. But if this last test is to decide the question, we think Dean Stanley has shewn that “beholding” here is quite unsuitable. Certainly Chrysostom, who takes “reflecting as a mirror” to be the true sense here, and who knew Greek usage, was not deterred from so taking it on account of the customary usage of the word; and since the word is used nowhere else either in the LXX. or N. T., we ought to be guided by what suits the context: so Erasmus, Luther, Bengel, Olshausen, Billroth, take it,—are transformed (as in Romans 12:2; in Matthew 17:2, “transfigured”) into the same image from glory to glory. If anything could justify the rendering we have adopted, of “reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord,” it seems to be this. The allusion plainly is to Moses, whose face, beholding without a veil the glory of Jehovah, shone with such brightness that the people were afraid to come near him, and he had to veil himself when he spoke to them. He “mirrored” the glory which he beheld; he was “transformed” into it. But that was a purely visible and transitory glory, whereas we who believe, beholding with unveiled face the glory of Christ—“in whom it hath pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell, and in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily”—mirror forth that glory; we are transformed into His image,—not, however, all at once: it proceeds from stage to stage; the assimilation is a progressive one, until the transformation is complete.(2) But how is it carried on? The answer follows; even as from the Lord the Spirit. The “even as” here is not that of similitude, but of congruity; it is not ‘like what the Lord the Spirit effects,’ but ‘this transformation advances majestically in a style befitting the Lord the Spirit to effect in us.’ Compare 2 Corinthians 2:17, “as of sincerity, as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ;” and John 1:14, “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of (such as became) the only begotten of the Father.”(3)

    Another rendering—the Lord of the Spirit” makes good Greek, and is advocated by Meyer, De Wette, Ostander, etc. But, as a title of Christ, it is totally unexampled; and though an appeal is made in support of it to Christ’s being the Giver or the Spirit, the two phrases are not similar, and it is incongruous with N. T. usage. The only other rendering, “the Lord the Spirit,” while it is the usual sense of two nouns so placed (such as “from God the Father,” Galatians 1:3, Gr.), is in more strict consistency with the immediate context than the others.


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    Bibliography
    Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/2-corinthians-3.html. 1879-90.

    The Expositor's Greek Testament

    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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    Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/2-corinthians-3.html. 1897-1910.

    George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

    ===============================

    [BIBLIOGRAPHY]

    St. Augustine, de gloria fidei in gloriam speciei, de gloria, qua Filii Dei sumus, in gloriam, qua similes ei erimus, quoniam videbimus eum sicuti est.

    ====================


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    Bibliography
    Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-corinthians-3.html. 1859.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    open = unveiled. See 2 Corinthians 3:14. Here is the contrast. Moses alone beheld and reflected the Shekinah glory, we all behold and reflect the Lord"s glory.

    beholding . . . glass = reflecting, as Revised Version. Greek. katoptrizo. Only here.

    changed = transformed. Greek. metamorphoomai. See Mark 9:2.

    image. Greek. eiken. Compare Romans 8:29. Co 2 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:10. . Greek. apo. App-104.

    by = from, Greek. apo.

    the Spirit of the Lord = the Lord the Spirit. The word "Spirit" is in the Genitive of Apposition. App-17. See 2 Corinthians 3:6.


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    Bibliography
    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-corinthians-3.html. 1909-1922.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

    (18) But we all, with open face.—Better, And we all, with unveiled face.—The relation of this sentence to the foregoing is one of sequence and not of contrast, and it is obviously important to maintain in the English, as in the Greek, the continuity of allusive thought involved in the use of the same words as in 2 Corinthians 3:14. “We,” says the Apostle, after the parenthesis of 2 Corinthians 3:17, “are free, and therefore we have no need to cover our faces, as slaves do before the presence of a great king. There is no veil over our hearts, and therefore none over the eyes with which we exercise our faculty of spiritual vision. We are as Moses was when he stood before the Lord with the veil withdrawn.” If the Tallith were in use at this time in the synagogues of the Jews, there might also be a reference to the contrast between that ceremonial usage and the practice of Christian assemblies. (Comp. 1 Corinthians 11:7; but see Note on 2 Corinthians 3:15.)

    Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord.—The Greek participle which answers to the first five words belongs to a verb derived from the Greek for “mirror” (identical in meaning, though not in form, with that of 1 Corinthians 13:12). The word is not a common word, and St. Paul obviously had some special reason for choosing it, instead of the more familiar words, “seeing,” “beholding,” “gazing stedfastly;” and it is accordingly important to ascertain its meaning. There is no doubt that the active voice signifies to “make a reflection in a mirror.” There is as little doubt that the middle voice signifies to look at one’s self in a mirror. Thus Socrates advised drunkards and the young to “look at themselves in a mirror,” that they might learn the disturbing effects of passion (Diog. Laert. ii. 33; iii. 39). This meaning, however, is inapplicable here; and the writings of Philo, who in one passage (de Migr. Abrah. p. 403) uses it in this sense of the priests who saw their faces in the polished brass of the lavers of purification, supply an instance of its use with a more appropriate meaning. Paraphrasing the prayer of Moses in Exodus 33:18, he makes him say: “Let me not behold Thy form (idea) mirrored (using the very word which we find here) in any created thing, but in Thee, the very God” (2 Allegor. p. 79). And this is obviously the force of the word here. The sequence of thought is, it is believed, this:—St. Paul was about to contrast the veiled vision of Israel with the unveiled gaze of the disciples of Christ; but he remembers what he had said in 1 Corinthians 13:12 as to the limitation of our present knowledge, and therefore, instead of using the more common word, which would convey the thought of a fuller knowledge, falls back upon the unusual word, which exactly expresses the same thought as that passage had expressed. “We behold the glory of the Lord, of the Jehovah of the Old Testament, but it is not, as yet, face to face, but as mirrored in the person of Christ.” The following words, however, show that the word suggested yet another thought to him. When we see the sun as reflected in a polished mirror of brass or silver, the light illumines us: we are, as it were, transfigured by it and reflect its brightness. That this meaning lies in the word itself cannot, it is true, be proved, and it is, perhaps, hardly compatible with the other meaning which we have assigned to it; but it is perfectly conceivable that the word should suggest the fact, and the fact be looked on as a parable.

    Are changed into the same image.—Literally, are being transfigured into the same image. The verb is the same (metemorphôthè) as that used in the account of our Lord’s transfiguration in Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:2; and it may be noted that it is used of the transformation (a metamorphosis more wondrous than any poet had dreamt of) of the Christian into the likeness of Christ in the nearly contemporary passage (Romans 12:2). The thought is identical with that of Romans 8:29 : “Conformed to the likeness” (or image) “of His Son.” We see God mirrored in Christ, who is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), and as we gaze, with our face unveiled, on that mirror, a change comes over us. The image of the old evil Adam-nature (1 Corinthians 15:49) becomes less distinct, and the image of the new man, after the likeness of Christ, takes its place. We “faintly give back what we adore,” and man, in his measure and degree, becomes, as he was meant to be at his creation, like Christ, “the image of the invisible God.” Human thought has, we may well believe, never pictured what in simple phrase we describe as growth in grace, the stages of progressive sanctification, in the language of a nobler poetry.

    From glory to glory.—This mode of expressing completeness is characteristic of St. Paul, as in Romans 1:17, “from faith to faith “; 2 Corinthians 2:16, “of death to death.” The thought conveyed is less that of passing from one stage of glory to another than the idea that this transfiguring process, which begins with glory, will find its consummation also in glory. The glory hereafter will be the crown of the glory here. The beatific vision will be possible only for those who have been thus transfigured. “We know that we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).

    Even as by the Spirit of the Lord.—The Greek presents the words in a form which admits of three possible renderings. (1) That of the English version; (2) that in the margin, “as of the Lord the Spirit”; (3) as of the Lord of the Spirit. The exceptional order in which the two words stand, which must be thought as adopted with a purpose, is in favour of (2) and (3) rather than of (1), and the fact that the writer had just dictated the words “the Lord is the Spirit” in favour of (2) rather than (3). The form of speech is encompassed with the same difficulties as before, but the leading thought is clear: “The process of transformation originates with the Lord (i.e., with Christ), but it is with Him, not ‘after the flesh’ as a mere teacher and prophet (2 Corinthians 5:16), not as the mere giver of another code of ethics, another ‘letter’ or writing, but as a spiritual power and presence, working upon our spirits. In the more technical language of developed theology, it is through the Holy Spirit that the Lord, the Christ, makes His presence manifest to our human spirit.” (Comp. Notes on John 14:22-26.)


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    Bibliography
    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-corinthians-3.html. 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
    with
    as in
    1 Corinthians 13:12; James 1:23
    the glory
    4:4,6; John 1:14; 12:41; 1 Timothy 1:11; *Gr:
    are
    5:17; Romans 8:29; 12:2; 13:14; 1 Corinthians 15:49; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:10; Titus 3:5; 2 Peter 1:5-9
    from
    Romans 8:4,7
    by the Spirit of the Lord
    or, of the Lord the Spirit.

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    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-corinthians-3.html.

    The Bible Study New Testament

    All of us, then. MacKnight thinks Paul means the apostles only, but it seems better to understand this to mean every Christian, as Johnson does. With uncovered faces. As Moses removed his veil when he came before the Lord, we Christians reflect the Lord's glory without any need to cover our faces! [There may be a reference here to the fact that Jewish men prayed with their heads covered.] Transforms us. Christians are new in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and are transformed by their direct access to God. The Spirit is involved in this (2 Corinthians 4:16); and none of this transformation was available through the old covenant.


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    Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". "The Bible Study New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/2-corinthians-3.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

    Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible

    2 Corinthians 3:18

    "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18

    A view of Christ"s glory, and a foretaste of the bliss and blessedness it communicates, has a transforming effect upon the soul. We are naturally proud, covetous, and worldly, often led aside by, and grievously entangled in various lusts and passions, prone to evil, averse to good, easily elated by prosperity, soon dejected by adversity, peevish under trials, rebellious under heavy strokes, unthankful for daily mercies of food and clothing, and in other ways ever manifesting our vile origin. To be brought from under the power of these abounding evils, and be made "fit for the inheritance of the saints in light," we need to be "transformed by the renewing of our mind," and conformed to the image of Christ.

    Now this can only be by beholding his glory by faith, as the Apostle speaks, "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." It is this believing view of the glory of Christ which supports under heavy TRIALS, producing meekness and resignation to the will of God. We are, therefore, bidden to "consider him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest we be wearied and faint in our minds;" and to "run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus."

    SICKNESSES, also, sometimes befall us, when we need special support; the sands of our time are fast running out, and there is no turning the glass; our "days are passing away as the swift ships, as the eagle that hastens to the prey;" and death and eternity are fast hastening on. When the body sinks under a load of pain and disease, and all sources of happiness and enjoyment from health and strength are cut off; when flesh and heart fail, and the eye-strings are breaking in death, what can support the soul or bear it safe through Jordan"s swelling flood, but those discoveries of the glory of Christ, that shall make it sick of earth, sin and self, and willing to lay the poor body in the grave, that it may be forever ravished with his glory and his love?

    Thus we see how the glory of Christ is not only in heaven the unspeakable delight of the saints, whose glorified souls and bodies will then bear "an exceeding and eternal weight of glory;" but here on earth, in their days of tribulation and sorrow, this same glory, as revealed to their hearts, supports and upholds their steps, draws them out of the world, delivers them from the power of sin, gives them union and communion with Christ, conforms them to his image, comforts them in death, and lands them in glory.

    We thus see Christ, like the sun, not only illuminating all heaven with his glory, the delight of the Father, the joy of the spirits of just men made perfect, and the adoration of all the angelic host, but irradiating also the path of the just on earth, casting his blessed beams on all their troubles and sorrows, and lighting up the way wherein they follow their Lord from the suffering cross to the triumphant crown.

    "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18

    When our desires and affections ascend to where the Lord Jesus Christ now Isaiah , when raised out of all the smoke and fog, din and strife, noise and bustle, cares and anxieties, pursuits and pleasures, sins and sorrows of this earthly scene, we can in faith and hope, in love and affection, live above and beyond all things here below, and beholding with unveiled face the glory of the Lord, "are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord"—this is being made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

    When the Lord Jesus went up on high he entered into his glory. As then we behold him in his glory in faith and love, there is the reflection of his glory, and saints thus favored enter into heaven when still upon earth, and have the foretaste of the glory which is to be revealed at the Lord"s coming before they are forever clothed with it. There are indeed comparatively few who are so highly favored, and even they only at rare intervals, and for short moments; but that does not affect the truth and certainty of the fact. It is a most blessed truth that if we are members of the mystical body of Christ, the deficiency of our experience, though it deprives us of much of the enjoyment, does not deprive us of our interest in, or union with, our great covenant Head, and of the fruits which spring out of it.


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    Bibliography
    Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:18". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jcp/2-corinthians-3.html.

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