True ministers are Christ’s instruments, for He is the author of all good that is in them and His love and His likeness are revealed in them by the Holy Spirit. They are ministers, not merely of the letter to read the written Word or to preach the letter of the Gospel only, but ministers of the Spirit also. The Spirit accompanies their ministrations and reveals Christ through their lives.
II Corinthians 3
1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?
2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was 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:
8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?
9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.
11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.
12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:
13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:
14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.
15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.
16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
18 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.
II Corinthians 3:1-5 – J. Vernon McGee
II Corinthians 3:6-10 – J. Vernon McGee
II Corinthians 3:11-13 – J. Vernon McGee
II Corinthians 3:14-17 – J. Vernon McGee
II Corinthians 3:18 – J. Vernon McGee
2 Corinthians 3:1-6 – The Savor of the Knowledge of Christ
The Apostle fancies himself challenged to furnish letters of commendation and he repudiates the claim. “No,” he cries, “the lives and testimonies of those whom I have won for God, are all the credentials that I require!” Every Christian should be a clearly written and legible tractlet, circulating for the glory of God. Men will not read the evidences for Christianity as contained in learned treatises, but they are keen to read us. God alone can suffice us to sustain this searching scrutiny. —Through the Bible Day by Day
2 Corinthians 3:7-18 – The Veil upon the Heart
By a quick turn of thought, Paul passes from the idea of the fleshly tablets of the heart, where God writes His new name, to the Law graven on the ancient tables of stone, and to the Lawgiver, stern and veiled. He argues that if the glory which shone on the face of Moses was so beautiful, surely that of the gospel must be transcendently so. The one is transient, the other abiding; the one is reflected, the other direct.
Not only was Moses veiled, but the hearts of the Jews were covered with a thick covering of prejudice. They did not understand the inner significance of the Levitical Code; and when the Law was read, they listened to it without spiritual insight. Directly men turn to Christ, they see the inner meaning of Scripture. What liberty becomes ours when we live in Christ! We are free to love, to serve, to know, and to be. Note II Corinthians 3:18! We may gaze on the unveiled face of God in Christ. The more we look the more we resemble. The more we endeavor to reflect Him, in doing what He desires, the more certainly and inevitably we become like Him. Only remember that in all things we are deeply indebted to the gracious influence of the Spirit. He produces the Christ-life in us. —Through the Bible Day by Day
II Corinthians 3:18—Beholding as in a glass.
Moses veiled his face, and the veiled lawgiver was characteristic of the dispensation he inaugurated. It was a partial revelation, gleaming through a vail, expressing truths in rites and types and symbols. But Christ has torn away the vail, removed the fences of the mount of vision, and revealed to babes the deepest secrets of God’s heart. The apostle’s phrase is characteristic of Christianity, “Behold, I shew you a mystery” (1 Corinthians 15:51).
The object of visions.—“The glory of the Lord.” Concerning which we may accept the statement of a trustworthy commentator, that the reference is not to the incomprehensible, incommunicable lustre of the absolute Divine perfectness; but to that glory which, as John says, tabernacled in the Lord Jesus Christ, full of grace and truth—the glory of loving, pitying words and lovely deeds; the glory of faultless and complete manhood; the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The nature of the vision.—“We behold.” It is true that we cannot see. “Whom having not seen, ye love” (1 Peter 1:8). But it is also true that the heart has eyes, by which it looks away unto Jesus. “Seeing is believing” is a familiar proverb among men; but “believing is seeing” is a true aphorism of the spirit which clings to the Lord by its faith and love.
The effect of the vision.–First, we reflect. The beauty of his face glancing on ours will be mirrored, as a man’s eye will contain a tiny miniature picture of what he is beholding. Then we shall be changed. If you try to represent Jesus in your character and behaviour, you will become transfigured into his likeness. Love makes like. Imitation produces assimilation. Reflect and resemble. —Our Daily Homily