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2 Corinthians 3

SUMMARY.--Paul's Letters of Commendation. The New Covenant and the Covenant of the Letter; or the Law and the Gospel. The First Written on Tables of Stone; Is a Ministration of Death; Was Glorious, But Is Done Away. That Which Remaineth, the New Covenant, Far More Glorious. The Veil Over the Face of Moses a Type of Blindness of Israel. The Transforming Power of the Gospel.

      7-11. But if the ministration of death. The Old Covenant, the law is so called, because it places under the sentence of death. Written and engraven on stones. Only the Decalogue was written on stones. It was the central and most important part of the Old Covenant. Let it be noted that when Paul speaks of the law, or Old Testament, he includes the Decalogue, and does not mean simply the ceremonial law, as some have urged ( Exod. 34:1 ). Was glorious. So glorious that even the face of Moses was made to shine as he carried down the tables of the law ( Exod. 34:29 ) so that he had to veil his face. Which glory was to be done away. It was only temporary. 8. How shall not rather the ministration of the Spirit be with glory? The gospel, the ministration of life, must have still greater glory. It has a glory now, and will have a fuller glory in the day of the Lord. 9. If the ministration of condemnation. See verse 7 , the law, including the Decalogue. The ministration of righteousness. The gospel. The first condemned; the second justifies men with the righteousness of Christ. With such transcendent blessings, it far exceeds in glory the Old Covenant. 10. For even that which was made glorious. The Old Covenant. As the glory of the moon and stars fades out before the glory of the sun, so its glory disappears in a comparison with the exceeding glory of the gospel. 11. For if that which is done away was glorious. That which was glorious in the Old Covenant, or law. It includes the Decalogue ( 2 Corinthians 1:1 2 Corinthians 2:11 ). The whole is done away. This clear and emphatic statement is made on account of the Judaizing teachers of whom we find many traces in the two Letters to the Corinthian church. It is clearly asserted that the Old Covenant, "the ministration of death written and engraven on stones," is done away. We are "not under the law, but under grace." Compare Hebrews 8:13 . But if that which was done away is glorious, much more is that glorious which abides forever.

      12-18. Seeing then we have such hope. The blessed gospel hope. With such a hope he has boldness to declare the gospel truths boldly and without reserve. 13. And not as Moses, etc. The veil Moses put over his face ( Exod. 34:33 ) is used by Paul as a symbol to show that all was not made plain in the law of Moses, and that there is still blindness on the part of Israel. Could not stedfastly look to the end, etc. The brightness with which the face of Moses shone was to be done away. The veil prevented the children of Israel from observing its fading glory. This typifies the fact that they should not see the end of the law itself which was to be abolished. 14. But their minds were blinded. So blinded that they cannot see to this day that it has been set aside by the New Covenant, and that its types, figures and shadows find their fulfillment in Christ. Which veil is done away in Christ. Meyer, with many other able critics, contends that the proper translation of the latter part of the verse is: "It not being disclosed that the Old Covenant is taken away in Christ." So also Conybeare and Howson. This is no doubt the meaning. 15. When Moses is read, etc. The law, or Old Testament. They read it in their synagogues, but do not understand it. The trouble, too, is in their heart. They are blinded by their prejudices. 16. When it shall turn to the Lord. The heart. Then the veil of blindness will fall away so that they will see clearly. 17. Now the Lord is that Spirit. The New Covenant is of "the Spirit." See 2 Corinthians 3:3 2 Corinthians 3:6 2 Corinthians 3:8 . But turning to the Lord is entering into this covenant, for the "Lord is that Spirit." The Spirit is Christ's presence with us. There is liberty. He who comes into this covenant of the Spirit is freed from the bondage of the law. 18. But we all. All Christians. With open face. Without a veil. Beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord. Looking to Jesus and beholding in his covenant, in our hearts and minds as in a mirror, and contemplating his glory. Are changed. To look to Jesus has a transforming power. If we gaze upon him, we will become like him. As Moses unveiled before the Lord shone with the glory of the Lord, so we shall reflect the glory of Christ, and show forth his likeness. From glory to glory. Developing from one stage of glory to a higher one. Even as by the Spirit of the Lord. Rather, "The Lord the Spirit," as in the Revision. Verse 17 declares the Lord is the Spirit. Our glory is from the Lord the Spirit. The figure here is a very beautiful one. By gazing upon the Lord we become like him and show forth his glory.

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