2 Corinthians 3


3     Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Some people were carrying false letters of recommendation with them. 

Even with their flaws Paul did not disown them or say they weren’t saved.  All Christians are still a little “saved and confused” in the sense that we have not been completely made holy yet.

4 Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Trying to save yourself by following the letter of the law will kill you.  You can’t get to God that way.  The Old Testament proved that over and over again.  We must have faith in Jesus to be saved.  That gives us new life – spiritual life.   

The Glory of the New Covenant

7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone 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 freedom. 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

[1][1] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Paul’s reference to Moses was from Exodus 34, where Moses’ face was radiant after he came down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments. 

The Israelites still had a barrier between them and God, symbolized by the curtain in the holy-of-holies in the temple where the High Priest went once per year to make atonement for the people.  But that curtain was torn when Jesus died on the cross.  Now the Holy Spirit comes to live in us as believers. 

Sometimes we quench the Holy Spirit by ignoring him or grieve him with our sins, but He is there.  As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:19, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s spirit lives in you?”  We have this glory accessible to us if only we use it.


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