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II Cor. Chapter 3:1-18

Memory verses for this week: 1 Peter 5: 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.. 

Introduction:     Last week in Chapter 2, Paul spoke of how the church needed to be forgiving when it came to the one that had been excluded from the church if the man repented and asked for forgiveness.   The purpose of church discipline is to bring believers back in fellowship with the body of Christ. 

I.  True Gospel Ministry Proves Itself by Changed Lives  

2 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:

It is evident that some of Paul’s critics had accused him of boasting about himself.  He states that he had need of no letter of commendation to them or from them.   Some might have requested this, but Paul says his life had been a letter of commendation by his example.   Our lives should be lived that others can know that Jesus lives in our heart.   The people there in the church were the epistles of Paul written in his heart.  There is no better letter of recommendation that for a Christian to have a consecrated life with the law of God written in their hearts.   And lives lived like this will produce fruits.

Romans 2:28-29  For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

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;

In verse 3, Paul amplifies his illustration to its full extent.  The author of the epistles Paul speaks of is Christ.  Paul is the one who pens the words that the  Holy Spirit gives to him.  The wonderful thing about these epistles are that they were not written on tablets of stone like the ten commandments, but were on the fleshly tables of the heart.  The changed lives of Paul’s converts provided sufficient commendation for his ministry.  God is the one who provides the sufficiency, and that is why Paul had this great confidence.


II.  The Greater Glory of the New Testament Ministration

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.   

God had made Paul an able minister of the “New Covenant” which was the New Testament.  There was great difference between the written law and the ministration of the Spirit.   The Law killed because it made us come to the realization of our sin.   The penalty for disobeying any of the ten commandments was death. (thus the term “ministration of death”)  But praise God, the ministration of the spirit was life. 

J. Vernon McGee said this about verse 6: 

We are ministers “of the new testament” would be better translated, ministers of the new covenant. We will see a contrast between the old covenant (the Old Testament) and the new covenant (the New Testament). There is a contrast here in several different ways.

“Not of the letter, but of the spirit.” In the Old Testament, and specifically in the Law, the letter kills; the letter of the Law actually condemns us. The Law says that you and I are guilty sinners. Those letters which were written on the tablets of stone condemned man. The Mosaic Law never gave life. That is the contrast he is making here. The letter kills. “For the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

I have often challenged congregations to name somebody who was saved by the Law. Did you know that even Moses, the law-giver, could not be saved by the Law? Do you know why not? He was a murderer! Also David broke the Law even though he was a man after God’s own heart. Friend, you can’t be saved by keeping the Law. The Law kills you; the Law condemns you. 

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: 

The service of Moses in bringing the law of God to the people of Israel was described as “glorious.”  The glory of the law was manifested by the fact that the very face of Moses shone when he descended from Mount Sinai to present God’s statutes to the people. 

Exodus 34:29-30  And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. 30 And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.

As time passed, the glory that shone on Moses’ face gradually disappeared and was eventually “done away”… this speaks of the law going away, but certain things, like the ten commandments, did not go 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. 

No glory prior to the appearance of Christ was so wonderful.  His appearance provided superior and exceeding glory.  This spoke of the superior glory of the New Testament ministration. 

Matthew 17:1-3  And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.


11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.  

This verse does not teach that the then commandments were done away with.  Verse 7 clearly teaches that the “glory” on Moses’ face was what was removed.

The ceremonial part  of the law was done away with when Christ fulfilled it on the cross.  The glory of the New Testament ministration will never be removed. 

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:  

The ministration of the New Testament remains with glory and gives great hope. New Testament ministers are not like Moses  who put a veil over his face to keep the children of Israel from seeing the glory pass away.  The glory of Moses was not recognized by Israel as a figuration of Christ’s glory since their minds were blinded.  Even to this day, Jews have this same veil of blindness when the Old Testament is read.  The have unbelief concerning scriptures about Jesus Christ being the son of God. 

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.  

There is a day coming when the nation of Israel will recognize their great error and mistake… the veil shall be taken away.   

III.                   The Glory of the Children of Liberty 

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.   

The Lord is said to be “that spirit.”  This is a direct reference to verse 6.  He is the Spirit who gives life in contrast to the letter of the law which brings forth death.  The Spirit of the Lord gives life and true liberty.    The believer who looks unto God’s Word prayerfully and regularly takes on the likeness of Christ.  As he or she reads, the Word of God reveals the risen Savior.  One day, we will be totally changed and take on a glorified body like Christ’s.


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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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