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2 Corinthians 3

Servants of the New Covenant
1Are we beginning to sound like those who speak highly of themselves? Do you really need letters of recommendation to validate our ministry, like others do? # 3:1 Apparently, there were some insecure and phony ministers who would carry forged letters of recommendation in an attempt to validate their ministry. Paul’s supernatural ministry needed no such letter of recommendation. Do we really need your letter of endorsement? Of course not! 2For your very lives are our “letters of recommendation,” permanently engraved on our hearts, recognized and read by everybody. 3As a result of our ministry, you are living letters written by Christ, not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God—not carved onto stone tablets # 3:3 See Ex. 24:12; 31:18; 34:1; Deut. 9:10–11; Jer. 38:33 (LXX). but on the tablets of tender hearts. 4We carry this confidence in our hearts because of our union with Christ before God. 5Yet we don’t see ourselves as capable enough to do anything in our own strength, for our true competence flows from God’s empowering presence. 6He alone makes us adequate ministers who are focused on an entirely new covenant. Our ministry is not based on the letter of the law but through the power of the Spirit. The letter of the law kills, but the Spirit pours out life. # 3:6 To illustrate this, on the day when the law was given by Moses, three thousand people were killed, but on the day the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, three thousand people received new life. See Ex. 32:28; Acts 2:41.
The Glorious Ministry of the Spirit
7Even the ministry that was characterized by chiseled letters on stone tablets came with a dazzling measure of glory, # 3:7 Glory or glorious is mentioned fourteen times in this chapter. No chapter in the Bible refers to God’s glory more than 2 Cor. 3. though it produced death. The Israelites couldn’t bear to gaze on the glowing face of Moses # 3:7 See Ex. 34:29. because of the radiant splendor shining from his countenance—a glory destined to fade away.
8Yet how much more radiant is this new and glorious ministry of the Spirit that shines from us! 9For if the former ministry of condemnation was ushered in with a measure of glory, how much more does the ministry that imparts righteousness far excel in glory. # 3:9 The contrast here is between a ministry that brings awareness of sin and leads to condemnation and a new ministry that confirms to us that we are made righteous and innocent by the work of the cross and the grace of the Spirit. 10What once was glorious no longer holds any glory because of the increasingly # 3:10 As translated from the Aramaic and implied contextually in the Greek. greater glory that has replaced it. 11The fading ministry came with a portion of glory, but now we embrace the unfading ministry of a permanent impartation of glory. 12So then, with this amazing hope living in us, we step out in freedom and boldness to speak the truth.
13We are not like Moses, who used a veil to hide the glory to keep the Israelites from staring at him as it faded away. # 3:13 Or “the end of what was fading.” 14Their minds were closed and hardened, for even to this day that same veil comes over their minds when they hear the words of the former covenant. The veil has not yet been lifted from them, for it is only eliminated when one is joined to the Messiah. 15So until now, whenever the Old Testament # 3:15 Or “Moses,” an obvious metonymy. is being read, the same blinding comes over their hearts. 16But the moment one turns to the Lord # 3:16 The Aramaic can be translated “Lord Yahweh.” with an open heart, the veil is lifted and they see. # 3:16 See Ex. 34:34. 17Now, the “Lord” I’m referring to is the Holy Spirit, # 3:17 Paul is teaching us that not every time the word Lord appears does it mean Jesus Christ. Here we see that “the Lord” refers to the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is ruling, speaking, convincing us of truth, there is freedom. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Lord of the harvest who prepares the workers and the harvest fields, sending them out into specific places for the reaping of souls. See Matt. 9:38. and wherever he is Lord, there is freedom.
18We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. # 3:18 Or “We all, with unveiled faces, behold the glory of the Lord as in a mirror.” We are being transfigured # 3:18 The Greek verb metamorphoō is the same word used for Jesus’ being transfigured on the mountain (Matt. 17:2; Mark 9:2) and for our transfiguration through the renewing of the thoughts of our minds (Rom. 12:2). into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. # 3:18 The source of our transformation comes from Christ’s glory, and the destination we are brought to is more glory. The transforming glory is the result of gazing upon the beauty and splendor of Jesus Christ. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. # 3:18 Notice the ten aspects of New Testament ministry given by Paul: (1) It is based on the triumph of Christ over every power of darkness (2:14). (2) It diffuses the fragrant aroma of Christ everywhere (2:15–16). (3) It refuses to water down the Word of God (2:17). (4) It produces living letters of Christ (3:3). (5) It is not based on the clever abilities of men but God’s empowering presence (3:6). (6) It imparts life (3:6). (7) It flows from the Holy Spirit (3:8, 17–18). (8) It imparts righteousness (3:9). (9) It contains a greater glory than the law (3:10–11). (10) It brings the transfiguration of believers into greater levels of glory (3:18).

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2 Corinthians 3: TPT





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