In this chapter the apostle clears himself from the charge of
arrogance and self-commendation, and ascribes both the virtue and
efficacy of his ministry, and his qualifications for it, to the
Lord; and forms a comparison between the ministration of the Gospel,
and the ministration of the law, showing the preferableness of the
one to the other; and consequently how much more happy and
comfortable the state and condition of the saints under the Gospel
dispensation is, than under the legal one: on account of what the
apostle had said in the latter part of the preceding chapter,
concerning the excellency, usefulness, and success of the Gospel
ministry, he foresaw an objection would arise; that he and his
fellow ministers were proud and arrogant, and commended themselves,
which was unseemly, and not agreeably to the character they bore;
which objection he obviates, \\#2Co 3:1\\, by putting some questions,
signifying that they were not guilty of vain boasting; nor did they
need any commendations of their own, or others, nor any letters to
recommend them, either from Corinth to other places, or thither: a
practice which, he suggests, the false teachers made use of; and in
\\#2Co 3:2\\ he gives the reason why they did not stand in need of such
letters, because the members of the church at Corinth were their
epistle or letter, declaring to all men the efficacy and success of
their ministry among men; but lest he should be charged with arrogating
to himself and others, he declares, \\#2Co 3:3\\ that though the
Corinthians were their epistle, yet not so much theirs as Christ's;
Christ was the author and subject, they only were instruments; the
writing was not human, but the writing of the Spirit of God; and that
not upon outward tables, such as the law was written upon, but upon the
tables of men's hearts, which only God can reach; however, that they
had been useful, successful, and instrumental in the conversion of
souls, through the ministry of the word, that he was confident of,
\\#2Co 3:4\\ though the sufficiency and ability to think, study, and
preach, were not of themselves, and still less to make the word
effectual for conversion and comfort, but of God, \\#2Co 3:5\\
wherefore he ascribes all fitness, worthiness, and ability to preach
the Gospel, to the grace and power of God, by which they were made
ministers of it; and hence he takes occasion to commend the excellency
of the Gospel ministry above that of the law, which he does by
observing their different names and effects; the Gospel is the New
Testament or covenant, or an exhibition of the covenant of grace in a
new form; the law is the Old Testament, or covenant, which is vanished
away; which, though not expressed here, is in \\#2Co 3:14\\ the Gospel
is spirit, the law the letter; the one gives life, and the other kills,
\\#2Co 3:6\\ wherefore the apostle argues from the one to the other,
that if there was a glory in the one which was only a ministration of
death, as the law was, \\#2Co 3:7\\ then the Gospel, which was a
ministration of spiritual things, and of the Spirit of God himself,
must be more glorious, \\#2Co 3:8\\ and if that was glorious which was
a ministration of condemnation, as the law was to guilty sinners; much
more glorious must be the Gospel, which is a ministration of the
righteousness of Christ, for the justification of them, \\#2Co 3:9\\
yea, such is the surpassing glory of the Gospel to the law, that even
the glory of the law is quite lost in that of the Gospel, and appears
to have none in comparison of that, \\#2Co 3:10\\ to which he adds
another argument, taken from the abolition of the one, and the
continuance of the other; that if there was a glory in that which is
abolished, there must be a greater in that which continues, \\#2Co 3:11\\
and from hence the apostle proceeds to take notice of another
difference between the law and the Gospel, the clearness of the one,
and the obscurity of the other; the former is signified by the
plainness of speech used by the preachers of it, \\#2Co 3:12\\ and the
latter by the veil which was over Moses's face, when he delivered the
law to the children of Israel; the end of which they could not look to,
and which is a further proof of the obscurity of it, \\#2Co 3:13\\ as
well as of the darkness of their minds; which still continues with the
Jews in reading the law, and will do until it is taken away by Christ,
\\#2Co 3:14\\ and that there is such a veil of darkness upon the hearts
of the Jews, when reading the law of Moses; and that this continues to
this day, is again asserted, \\#2Co 3:15\\ and an intimation given that
there will be a conversion of them to the Lord, and then it will be
removed from them, \\#2Co 3:16\\ and who that Lord is to whom they
shall be turned, and by whom they shall have freedom from darkness and
bondage, is declared, \\#2Co 3:17\\ and the happy condition of the
saints under the Gospel dispensation, through the bright and clear
light of it, is observed, \\#2Co 3:18\\ in which the Gospel is compared
to a glass; the saints are represented as without a veil looking into
it; through which an object is beheld, the glory of the Lord; the
effect of which is a transformation of them into the same image by
degrees; the author of which grace is the Spirit of the Lord.