2 Corinthians 3 Bible Commentary

The Geneva Study Bible

(Read all of 2 Corinthians 3)
3:3 [Forasmuch as ye are] a manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ b ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the c living God; 1 not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

(a) The apostle says this wisely, that by little and little he may come from the commendation of the person to the matter itself.
(b) Which I took pains to write as it were.
(c) Along the way he sets the power of God against the ink with which epistles are commonly written, to show that it was accomplished by God. (1) He alludes along the way to the comparison of the outward ministry of the priesthood of Levi with the ministry of the Gospel, and the apostolical ministry, which he handles afterward more fully.

3:4 And such d trust have we through Christ to God-ward:

(d) This boldness we show, and thus may we boast gloriously of the worthiness and fruit of our ministry.

3:5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our e sufficiency [is] of God;

(e) In that we are proper and able to make other men partakers of so great a grace.

3:6 2 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the f letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

(2) He amplifies his ministry and his fellows: that is to say, the ministry of the Gospel comparing it with the ministry of the Law, which he considers in the person of Moses, by whom the Law was given: against whom he sets Christ the author of the Gospel. Now this comparison is taken from the very substance of the ministry. The Law is as it were a writing in itself, dead, and without efficacy: but the Gospel, and new Covenant, as it were the very power of God itself, in renewing, justifying, and saving men. The Law offers death, accusing all men of unrighteousness: the Gospel offers and gives righteousness and life. The administration of the Law served for a time to the promise: the Gospel remains to the end of the world. Therefore what is the glory of the Law in comparison of the majesty of the Gospel?
(f) Not of the Law but of the Gospel.

3:7 But if the ministration of death, written g [and] engraven in stones, was h glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which [glory] was to be done away:

(g) Imprinted and engraved: so that by this place we may plainly perceive that the apostle speaks not of the ceremonies of the Law, but of the ten commandments.
(h) This word "glorious" indicates a brightness, and a majesty which was in Moses physically, but in Christ spiritually.

3:8 How shall not the i ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?

(i) By which God offers, indeed, and gives the Spirit, not as a dead thing, but a living Spirit, working life.

3:9 For if the ministration of condemnation [be] glory, much more doth the ministration of k righteousness exceed in glory.

(k) That is, of Christ. And since he is imputed to us as our own, we are not condemned, and what is more we are also crowned as righteous.

3:11 For if that which is l done away [was] glorious, much more that which remaineth [is] glorious.

(l) The Law, indeed, and the ten commandments themselves, together with Moses, are all abolished, if we consider the ministry of Moses apart by itself.

3:12 3 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:

(3) He shows what this glory of the preaching of the Gospel consists in: that is, in that it sets forth plainly and evidently that which the Law showed darkly, for it sent those that heard it to be healed by Christ, who was to come, after it had wounded them.

3:13 4 And not as Moses, [which] put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the m end of that which is abolished:

(4) He expounds along the way the allegory of Moses' covering, which was a token of the darkness and weakness that is in men, who were rather dulled by the bright shining of the Law then given. And this covering was taken away by the coming of Christ, who enlightens the hearts, and turns them to the Lord, that we may be brought from the slavery of this blindness, and set in the liberty of the light by the power of Christ's Spirit.
(m) Into the very bottom of Moses' ministry.

3:17 Now the n Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord [is], there [is] liberty.

(n) Christ is that Spirit who takes away that covering, by working in our hearts, to which also the Law itself called us, though in vain, because it speaks to dead men, until the Spirit makes us alive.

3:18 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.