* 2 Corinthians Chapter Three

    * The Fading Glory and the Greater Glory

Bible Studies --2 Corinthians three
1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves!
Or do we need, as some other epistles of commendation
to you or letters of commendation from you?


Teachers came to the Corinthian church bearing "LETTERS" of recommendation to convince the people that they are authentic teachers of the gospel. Paul asks, do we need to write recommendations concerning ourselves? "We are not like so many peddling the Word of God; but of sincerity as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ." (2:17)
2 You are our epistle written in our hearts,
known and read by all men;

3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ,
ministered by us,
written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God,
not on tablets of stone
but on tablets of flesh, that is,
of the heart


Paul says, OUR letter or recommendation is YOU! And yet, he says, it is also written in OUR hearts. That is-- this letter of recommendation must be written on both sets of hearts. The true teacher of God has this letter written upon his heart, and the evidence that his teaching is true is that the resulting LIFE of his listeners, which shows the letter written upon the recipients heart.

But Paul takes this further, for he speaks of the TABLETS OF STONE, and later of Moses. He speaks of "ministering"...

Paul and his helpers were the means God used for the Spirit to write God's gospel and God's law upon the hearts of the recipients in such a way that they become living testaments to the power and glory of God. People can read the writing of the Spirit of the living God in the fruit of this ministry revealed in the lives of the believers.

4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God.
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God,


FLASHBACK to chapter 2 verses 15-16:
For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?

Who is sufficient for such things?

This sufficiency comes only from God. Paul says he has no sufficiency whatever and can claim nothing as his own product. All sufficiency is from God. Only a message sent from God could work such changes in the lives of people.

The gospel is a message of triumph. Like a Roman general returning from victory, while the citizens burn incense along the processional route, filling the air with "fragrance", Christ is the victor over sin and death, His followers walk with Him, their life and lifestyle filled with the "fragrance" of the knowledge and love of Christ, which is the greatest testimony of Christ's redeeming power. He is our sufficiency, leading to life. To turn away from Him leads only to death.

6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.


The "new testament" or "covenant" is Christ's victory over sin and death, which, like a fountain of life, flows to all who will drink of the living water and LIVE! The "newness" of the testament is that our REDEEMER has come, died for our sins and lives forever more!

The written letter on stone is righteous, "the commandment holy, and just, and good." (Romans 7:12) But the letter kills, it cannot help it because we are all sinners. Confronted with the letter of the law, our death warrant is sealed. But Christ took our death penalty upon Himself, that we might have LIFE. His Spirit enters the sinner's heart, quickens, regenerates, gives him life.

It is incorrect to assume the "old testament" was all "letter" and that not until Christ came could people receive the gospel or the "quickening spirit" and enjoy the spiritual life walking with God, justified by His grace. Many old testament people of faith were saved just as we are.

The law engraved on stone could no more “justify” anyone before Christ, then it can justify anyone after Christ. It ministered death to all who were faithless to the covenant promises of a coming REDEEMER. Christ came, not to bring another set of commandments, a new moral law, but he came as our Redeemer and Savior in fulfilment of the promises.

7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away


Paul is referring to the greatness of the ministry of Moses. The HIGH POINT of that ministry was when Moses spent time in the physical presence of God, as God Himself inscribed the ten commandment law on two tables of stone.

We need to be clear as to what glory is fading here? Is it the commandments? That's not what it says here. The glory that the Israelites could not look at WAS THE GLORY OF MOSES FACE!

Ex. 34.35 And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the veil upon his face Moses face was reflecting the glory of GOD WHO GAVE THE COMMANDMENTS! It was this reflected glory on Moses' face, that was only temporary, and soon faded away.
8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?
9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.


Moses, coming from the presence of God, reflected a glory on his face too brilliant to look upon. In his hands were the ten commandments-- the law of God. The wages of sin (transgression of that law) is death. That is true with equal force in the Old Testament as in the new. What hope had Israel for LIFE when confronted with the law? How could the condemned sinners be pardoned? What ministry could Moses offer the people?

In Exodus 34, we find God giving Moses the promises of mercy and forgiveness. (vs. 6,7) This "ministry" Moses was to proclaim, but he could only offer the people a veiled glory of the coming REDEEMER. Along with God's moral law which demanded the death sentence of transgressors, Moses brought the gospel in "shadows" (the sanctuary and it's rituals) whereby the sinner could receive pardon.

But now, how much more glorious is the ministry which Paul and the apostles can share! Two great ministries are presented here. That of Moses, and that of the apostles. If Moses ministry came with so much glory, how much more glorious was the news that the REDEEMER had come, and that His Holy Spirit was shining in the hearts of believers. This light would never fade!

10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels.
11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.


While the people in the Old Testament had a "veiled" gospel, shielding them from penalty their transgressions of God's law demanded, this "veiled gospel" was pointing forward to the true offering. The New Testament reveals the Savior in bright, clear, glorious light. The veiled view of the mercy and grace of God brought to Israel through the ministry of Moses, were to point them to Christ.

The law, written and engraved in stone, good and righteous as it is, could only bring death. Without Christ, the transgressor was doomed, the glory of God's righteousness stood as a consuming fire. Though Moses brought them a ministry of mercy and forgiveness in types and shadows, those "shadows" had no glory in themselves, they were but a reflection of the coming REDEEMER. In this point, Moses ministry did not have the full glory-- it was not the superlative, transcendent glory of God Himself taking our sins, and giving giving us new life in Christ.

12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech--
13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away.
14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.
15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.


Now that our REDEEMER has come, we have such glorious hope! The very glory of Moses' ministry is left far behind in the beneficiaries of Christ Who died for our sins and lives evermore. The gospel of Christ ever speaks with full openness calling all to come partake of it's goodness.

The death of Jesus Christ for the redemption of man lifts the veil and reveals light upon the whole Jewish economy. Without Christ the whole system is meaningless. The Jews rejected Christ and therefore their whole system of religion is nothing but an unexplainable ritual. They attach as much importance to the shadows which were to be their hope in the Messiah for forgiveness for breaking God's moral law, as they do to the moral law, or ten commandment law, which was not a shadow.

16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.


The brightness on Moses face which the Israelites could not look upon, impressed upon them the righteousness of God's law which is as a consuming fire to the sinner. The gospel in types was given to them, which covered the condemning glory, and received it's glory from the realities it typified. Yet now, that Christ has come, He took the condemnation and died the penalty for mankinds' transgression of that law. We know longer have to hide from God's law, we can claim the promise found in 1 John 1:9, and know we are no longer condemned.

The Jews still read Moses with "that same veil". They still think they have to rebuild their sanctuary and offer sacrifices. Yet, it all pointed to Christ, Who alone can take away our sins.

Jesus is glory! Haggai 2, prophecied of this glory coming to the temple built after the Babylonian captivity. "And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD (vs. 7,9

The Jews in Jesus' day gloried in the structure of a temple embellished by Herod, and did not see the real glory - the desire of all nations - as the glory God promised. Without faith in the Redeemer, the Real Glory is hidden from them.

19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holy Places by the blood of Jesus,
20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,
21 and having a High Priest over the house of God Hebrews 10:19-21

We have direct access to the glory of God in Christ. His flesh has made it possible to view the glory of God! The way was made clear by His sacrifice, so when He told the Jews - His disciples: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" John 14:6 They were then able to have the ministry that had all power, for Jesus, the glory of God, lived in their hearts by faith. They had the real, no types, shadows or misunderstanding.

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 by the Spirit of the Lord.


As we behold Christ, and dwell on the loveliness of His character, we become changed. It is the Holy Spirit that changes our character till we reflect, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord.

We become living testimonies of His grace.

In this chapter the gospel and the law are in perfect harmony. Each upholds the other. In all its majesty the law confronts the conscience, causing the sinner to realize he is under the death sentence! The gospel reveals Christ as the propitiation for our sins. He is the One Whose blood was shed that we might have forgiveness and LIFE!

The gospel recognizes the power and immutability of the law. The gospel is our only source of pardon, cleansing, and the power of the Holy Spirit for the transformed life with God's law written upon the fleshy tablets of the heart.

Could Christians also have a "veil" blinding them?