2 Corinthians 3

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Read 2 Corinthians 3

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 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.

Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 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.

The Greater Glory of the New Covenant

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, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was 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 transitory 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 prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing 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 all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 

Go Deeper
Paul appears to be calling out his opponents that had come to Corinth with letters of recommendation and demanded that Paul produce similar letters to prove that he was a true apostle. He responds by saying the church in Corinth is his letter. He says that the letter was not written on stone but written on their hearts. Paul knew that it is nothing but the blood of Christ that grants us justification and upon receiving the Spirit upon believing we are more than qualified to spread this good news.
Paul compares and contrasts the two covenants: the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant. Though both are important for believers to understand, the new is superior. The old covenant was fading and was meant to point to the need of a new covenant. The Covenant that Jesus’s blood represents as Jesus told us in Luke 22:20, transforms the believer. We are no longer slaves to the law of sin, but are free in Christ. The Spirit transforms the believer into the image of our savior Jesus. 
God told us through the prophets His plan to write His law on the human heart. In Jeremiah 31:33, we read:
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
    after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
    and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
Unlike the glory that was experienced by Moses which was fading, the glory that we have been given is only getting brighter. We are made new in Christ and Paul tells us that because of the Spirit we’ve been given, we are capable of sharing the gospel with those around us! 
  1. Are you depending on your own abilities or the competency coming from God to minister to those around you? 
  2. Are you working for your salvation or working out of your salvation? 
  3. What does this chapter teach you about God? What does it teach you about man? 
Did You Know?
Paul was not wholeheartedly against letters of recommendation in themselves. He even wrote one for Onesimus to Philemon. Paul was against letters that commended ourselves (v. 1), and thought them to be unnecessary as the pagans that Paul met on his missionary journey to Corinth were now following Jesus. That was the only testimony Paul needed.
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6 thoughts on “2 Corinthians 3”

  1. The only goodness that truly matters is that of Christ. Compared to his, the prophet Isaiah labeled our righteousness as filthy rags. That’s powerful imagery! There is never a need to boast or take credit for our accomplishments, as success comes from God. Anything that’s good in us has been enabled by his spirit at work in us. It is essential as witnesses of Christ who carry the gospel to the world to put aside our pride and humbly accept that he died to free us from sin and condemnation. There’s no need to qualify ourselves, we are already received, forgiven and made righteous. Now we must follow Jesus and live boldly for him. He alone is our righteousness.

  2. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17

    I will never be able to put into words the feeling, the realization, the liberation I felt to the core of my being when God through Holy Spirit revealed this truth to me at age 50!
    After four decades of performing for God, performing for man, performing for my employer; all aimed at the desire to be approved and affirmed and accepted and SAVED…God met me up to my neck in my self-righteousness and pride – my arrogance and self-sufficiency – and told me He loved me, He forgave me…and He wanted a relationship with me. (Insert long story that broke me and got me to the end of myself)
    When that happened, Luke 4:18 came ALIVE:
    “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,…”

    YES, where the Spirit of the Lord is, indeed, there is freedom.
    Thank you Lord God that you came to set us free from the law – not abolish the law, but free us from it’s death into life and freedom through Jesus who bore the consequences of the law in my place, even though He did not transgress the law. Wow…

  3. Paul pulled NO punches in his letter. He was asking whether we were commending ourselves (instead of giving that glory to God). That’s relevant today too. What does the world see in us? They should see us as a clear reflection of our faith and the transformation within us BY God. I’ve been guilty of trying to tout my own service, my own changes without giving God the credit – and when I look back at it, it feels icky.

    Just as it says in verse 18, “and we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the spirit”. I mean… WOW! God is literally shaping me by His spirit!

  4. Diane Frances Rogers

    Wow, I am in awe again and again. It is the work of God’s Spirit that we become believers transformed into His image. Our conversion is a result of God’s implanting His Spirit in our hearts, giving us new power to live for Him. I am not competent in my own right, but only by the grace of God. Hallelujah, thank you Lord for this freedom to lean and glean into You.

  5. Verse 4 (ESV) Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit.
    “Our sufficiency is of God; let us practically enjoy this truth. We are poor, leaking vessels, and the only way for us to keep full is to put our pitcher under the perpetual flow of boundless grace. Then, despite its leakage, the cup will always be full to the brim.” (Spurgeon)
    This chapter is so encouraging. I do not have to be sufficient in myself. I have flounder through out my life because of my insufficiency. I wanted so bad to have a steady rock to lean on. When I got married I thought this is it and yes he is still my rock and I love him dearly but I still felt insufficient. I love how Spurgeon puts it that we are leaky vessels having to refill ourselves continually to have that flow of boundless grace for our sufficiency. I am so thankful for the solid Rock to lean on.

    O God thank You from the depths of my heart for being my sufficiency. Thank You that it is not found in this crazy world. Thank You that I can keep filling my leaky cup with You in Jesus name amen!!!

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