3:1 Are we beginning again to commend ourselves?
Or do we need, as do some, letters of commendation to you or from
3:2 You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all
3:3 being revealed that you are a letter of Christ, ministered by
written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God;
not in tablets of stone, but in tablets that are hearts of flesh.
The Spirit Makes Us Competent Ministers
3:4 Such confidence we have through Christ toward God;
3:5 not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as
but our sufficiency is from God;
3:6 who also made us sufficient as servants of a new covenant;
not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the
Spirit gives life.
The Spirit Reveals the Lord
and Transforms Us into His Image
3:7 But if the service of death, written engraved on stones,
came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look
on the face of Moses for the glory of his face; which was passing
3:8 won't service of the Spirit be with much more glory?
3:9 For if the service of condemnation has glory,
the service of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.
3:10 For most assuredly that which has been made glorious
has not been made glorious in this respect, by reason of the glory
3:11 For if that which passes away was with glory, much more that
remains is in glory.
3:12 Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness of speech,
3:13 and not as Moses, who put a veil on his face,
that the children of Israel wouldn't look steadfastly on the end of
that which was passing away.
3:14 But their minds were hardened,
for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same
because in Christ it passes away.
3:15 But to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their
3:16 But whenever one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is liberty.
3:18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the
of the Lord,
are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as
the Lord, the Spirit.
vs 1-3 How would you measure fruitfulness in ministry?
And what are some ways in which it has been measured?
vs 4-6 How does God develop people to be competent
Does this necessarily include going to seminary?
What "letter" kills?
Was that "letter" a part of Jesus' ministry?
vs 7-16 Why is the New Covenant ministry more
What application does Paul derive from this fact?
What can people do to help them understand the Bible better, if
veiled to them?
vs 17,18 What is the difference between the Lord and the
What effect does the Holy Spirit mean to have on the believer's
A Recommendation Letter
2Cor 3:1-3Are we beginning to commend
again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation
you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our
known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from
Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with
Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets
Part of Paul's credentials was his fruitfulness measured by his
on those to whom he has been ministering. And that impact is not
measured by mere attendance, which is in a sense the letter. For
fruitfulness by numbers. But that just measures popularity. Some
measure it by the size and extravagance of buildings and programs.
Rather Paul measures it by a behavior which is a reflection of what
the person's heart. For God said, "I
my law in their minds and write it on their hearts." Jer 31:33b
Jesus said, "Thus, by their
you will recognize them."Mt 7:20This principle holds both
false teachers and true. Jesus said,
"This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing
yourselves to be my disciples."
John 15:8 If people were to evaluate Christianity based
your example, (and they do), what kind of credence does your
offer? For what you do as a Christian reflects both on Christ and on
those who have spent timing teaching you. Give them nothing bad to
about us. "In everything set
an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity,
seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so
those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad
say about us." Titus
2Cor 3:4-6Such confidence as this is ours
Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim
anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has
us competent as ministers of a new covenant— not of the letter but
the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
The Holy Spirit not only produced the fruitfulness evident
in the Corinthians, but also made Paul into a competent minister. It
not by going to a seminary that one can be made a competent
rather as one ministers in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, one
competent. Where does your competance come from?
Don't confuse the "letter" (NIV) of verse 3 which is "epistole"
in Greek with the "letter" (NIV) of verse 6 which is "gramma". Paul says in Rom 2:29"He is a Jew who is one inwardly; and
circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the
Gamma is the written code,
the outward form, the rules and regulations. Paul did not approach
as a "Moses", with a set of rules and regulations
that failing to obey they would be held guilty. Nor did he measure
competence by adherence to programs and outward forms, but rather by
their hearts. For the Christian life should come naturally to those
have been born of the Spirit of God.
Now there are those who claim that the "letter" refers to the
preaching of the gospel. But it says, the letter kills. Does the
kill? Indeed there are those who claim that the preaching of the
kills people's interest as it can turn some people off and even
them hostile. Rather they claim to preach by their lives
rather than through the Word of God. But while a person's life may
a door for the gospel, the actual content of the gospel message is
has been written in the Bible as testified by eyewitnesses. See
yourself. In Acts did Peter preach about himself? or Paul? No,
The letter (gamma) it's referring to is not the gospel message.
the letter which kills is the Law, which is not without value. Paul
writes, "I was alive once
the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died."Rom
7:9 But he goes on to say that's a good thing. "For I through the law died to the
that I might live to God."Gal
the law we become conscious of sin."Rom 3:20 and consequently "the law was our tutor to bring us
Christ, that we might be justified by faith."Gal 3:24
2Cor 3:7-11 Now if the ministry that brought
death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so
the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses
its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the
even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious,
much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For
was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing
And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is
glory of that which lasts!
As for Moses, it is written,
Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the
in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because
spoken with the LORD. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses,
face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him." ...
so "When Moses finished
speaking to them,
he put a veil over his face."Ex 34:29-30,33
But as for the engravings on stone, here again the word "letters" is
"gramma" of which he said, "the letter kills". For the
kills. "Once I was alive apart
from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I
I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life
actually brought death."Rom 7:9,10
This is the main distinction between the Old and New Covenant. The
brings condemnation. The New brings righteousness. The Old was only
intended to bring people to a sense of hopelessness by revealing the
awesome holiness of God, his hatred of sin and his judicial nature.
what a priviledge to be involved in propagating the New the central
theme of which is God's grace, forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
For "no one will be declared
his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become
conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from
been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This
righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all
believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall
the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through
redemption that came by Christ Jesus."Rom 3:20-24
2Cor 3:12-16 Therefore, since we have such a
we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over
face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance
fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the
veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been
because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day
Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone
the Lord, the veil is taken away.
Ever notice how hope affects one's enthusiasm, and consequently
courage? If you anticipate a good outcome, you will be enthusiastic
overcome fears counter to that outcome. Paul was bold in confronting
sin in the Corinthian church with an unveiled frankness of speech.
There was little hope under the Old Covenant. Most sins were
by death, sacrifices of atonement being only for sins of ignorance,
many sins, like polygamy, were simply overlooked by the Law because
knew that people were too hardened of heart to come anywhere close
living up to His standards. (Mark
there was a reluctance among the Israelites to deal with
sinfulness among themselves, and especially among their family
But under the New Covenant there was hope because all sin was
forgiveable. Therefore one could deal with it boldly as there was
And one can now call sin for what it is and not hide behind a veil.
To this day the meaning behind the Old Covenant alludes the Jews.
they see it only as rules and regulations and miss the purpose
it. As Paul said, "the natural
man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are
foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are
discerned"1Cor 2:14 But
person turns to the Lord, then also comes revelation of the meaning
behind the Old Covenant.
How can a person turn to the Lord without understanding the Old
Covenant? Understanding the Old Covenant is not necessary for
salvation, though it drives one to conviction of sin. But it's not
necessary to understand the spiritual meaning and purpose behind the
Old Covenant to turn to the Lord. But the New Covenant is not veiled
allegory. Rather it's clearly preached so that anyone can
2Cor 3:17,18Now the Lord is the Spirit, and
the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with
faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his
likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Spirit
Some take the phrase "the Lord is the Spirit" as a justification for
theology of "modalism" in which the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are
distinct persons, but rather different modes of God. But to do so is
overlook almost every other verse which speaks of the Father, Son
Spirit. Jesus is spoken of as being in heaven sitting at the
right hand, having sent the Holy Spirit - the Spirit of Christ -
the believers. Throughout the New Testament these are spoken of as
distinct persons. And even here a modalistic interpretation doesn't
hold for the very next phrase is "the Spirit of the Lord". So how
the Spirit be "of the Lord" if in fact it is the Lord? But the
is a proxy server to the Lord, an ambassador. As such he represents
Lord's will in all matters.
He brings up the Spirit because he's talking about the "ministry of the Spirit"
mentioned earlier in 2Cor 3:6 and "the Spirit gives life" in 2Cor 3:8 and all the way back
chapter 1 he said, "He set his
seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a
guaranteeing what is to come."2Cor
The Christian life and Christian ministry is led by the
Spirit of God.
Concerning freedom, he warned the Galatians getting caught up in
legalism, "It is for freedom
Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do
not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Gal 5:1 But also, "You, my brothers, were called to
free. But do not use your freedom
to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love."Gal 5:13 The idea is
not live the Christian life as if it were merely a matter of
rules and regulations, but rather to do what is right because it is
right thing to do - to be transformed into the likeness of Christ
walk according to that new nature as the Spirit directs. Thus the
Christian life would come naturally to those born of the Spirit of
just as the Christian life is natural to the Lord himself. For the
transformation - the regeneration - comes from the Spirit of the