2 Corinthians 3

In this chapter Paul explains the enormity of the task set before him.

1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you?

The Corinthians were a wealthy church, and lots of preachers came there to preach. However, not all of them were from God. But the Corinthians were not mature enough to realize that. But Paul was. However, when Paul tried to point such things out to the Corinthians, they accused Paul of trying to exalt himself above the other preachers. Paul recognized their touchiness on this subject of self-commendation and so he tries to explain here that he is not trying to promote himself.

2 You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men;

3 being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

4 Such confidence we have through Christ toward God.

Paul explained that he didn’t need anyone to write a letter of recommendation for him. This was because anyone could examine the outcome of Paul’s work and assess his quality as an apostle. It is an incredible thing to build a church anywhere, but to build a church from carnal, self-seeking people, and raise it to a high spiritual standard is no mean feat. What Paul undertook was a gigantic task. He attempted such a thing only because he had such great confidence that God would help him achieve it.

5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as {coming} from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,

6 who also made us adequate {as} servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Only God can make such a gigantic task successful, and Paul recognized and acknowledged that.

In the Old Covenant, the responsibility of the servant of God ended after delivering the message. But in the New Covenant, you don’t just deliver the message but you also take the responsibility of working with the Holy Spirit to transform the recipients of the message into people to internalize and obey the message. That is, the message (or letter of the Law), if not obeyed, kills, but when the recipient brings the message to life through practice with the help of Holy Spirit, he becomes a living testimony of the message.

7 But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading {as} it was,

8 how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?

9 For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.

10 For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses {it.}

11 For if that which fades away {was} with glory, much more that which remains {is} in glory.

Paul points out that his ministry has such a better outcome than that of Moses.

12 Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in {our} speech,

13 and {are} not like Moses, {who} used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away.

The fact that what God called Paul to do had such a better outcome compared to what God called Moses to do gave Paul great boldness in applying the message to the Corinthians.

14 But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ.

15 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart;

16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

The big difference was the help that came from the Holy Spirit – something that the people in Moses’ time didn’t have, and as a result, their hearts were hard, and they could not see the truth and value of the message.

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, {there} is liberty.

The Holy Spirit is our Master (or Lord). That is, He tells us what to do. When God is your Master, He does not force you to do anything. You are free to obey Him in as much as you want to. So you can be as holy as you want to be.

This is unlike when you make Satan or his demons your master. They force you to do things even if you don’t want to do them. We see this in the gospels, where demon possessed people were forced to do things that they didn’t want to do.

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.

All of us (no exceptions – if this is not happening to you then you are not in Christ) are being transformed by the Holy Spirit to have the character of Jesus.

We don’t have anything preventing us from seeing or understanding what Jesus is like (except our own laziness to study God’s Word).

We learn what Jesus is like (the glory – or the great things – of Jesus) by looking in a mirror (the Bible). We then express a sincere desire to be like that. The Holy Spirit then arranges situations in our life to make us like Jesus, as long as we don’t grumble and complain when find ourselves in those situations.

This happens in stages – from glory to glory. One by one, the unChristlike things in us disappear and we begin to behave more and more like Jesus as the days (or years, depending on how great your desire is) go by.

Is this what you are experiencing today?

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