Hello Jim. Do you have some comments on 2 Corinthians 3? How could Paul’s readers of this letter been his letter, written on his heart, known and read by all? How do those we minister to do this? Tim
Hello Tim! Good to hear from you again. :) Let’s look at it in context here:
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, 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 toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it. For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory. Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 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 from the Lord, the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 2:14-3:18 NASB
“Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you?”
This tells us a lot right here. Consider, why would Paul put this in there - “are WE beginning to commend ourselves AGAIN?” - unless it was the obvious insinuation from some who would hear the letter? Consider that many of the Corinthians had been getting an earful of criticism regarding what was claimed to be Paul’s continual self-promotion. Remember, some were doing their doggonedest to disqualify Paul in the eyes of the Corinthians, and they had read all kinds of things into his words. To those who played that game, Paul would have seemed to be tooting his own horn to have written what he did about always being led in triumph in Christ and being an aroma from life to life and of being sincere, rather than being like those who were peddling the word of God. I think the criticism of Paul had been so intense that many of the Corinthians found themselves listening to Paul’s words to see if it verified the critics claims. Hence, the questions.
But Paul walked in the assurance that Christ was his adequacy, and not as those who produced letters of commendation to supposedly prove their qualification. Notice: “do we NEED, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you?” For Paul, the people themselves - screwed up as they may have been - were the only statement of qualification he valued. Why? Because Christ is the life of those who believe, and God has no respect of man. That is, he is not moved one way or the other by anything produced of the flesh. And for Paul, Christ IS the only true validation. And that was his demand to the people. Consider what he wrote to the Galatians:
But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. Galatians 6:4 NASB
This statement coming at the end of the most profound testimony to the working of Christ alone is not about comparing one’s work with another but with each seeing himself and therefore everything he does in view of Christ alone. For if I examine my own work without any comparison to any other, where is my boasting truly found? In me, or in Christ? For I would know the miraculous working of God in me.
They themselves, those he considered dear BECAUSE OF CHRIST were his letters of commendation. And it was all that he would hold forth to validate his preaching of Christ to them. For they knew he refused to compare himself among those who compared themselves to one another. This flies in the face of the establishment of man. You see, the logic of the flesh sees qualification the other way around, for it establishes a qualification based upon the opinions of those considered important by those who consider themselves important, rather than upon the Spirit. Letters or promotions from VIPs are really meaningless in view of the reality of the unifying Spirit. Paul’s bottom line demand is that adequacy is of God, so much so that he rested solely on the Spirit that was also in them.
And what do you think it means that we with unveiled face behold in a mirror the glory of the LORD and are transformed into the same image, from glory to glory? How do we behold Christ in a mirror? What does from glory to glory mean? Tim
To better address your questions, consider first why Moses veiled his face. It was not due to the brightness…but to the fading. Fear may have caused Israel to not “look intently” at his face, but Moses didn’t put the veil over his face until after he finished speaking to them.
When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he would take off the veil until he came out; and whenever he came out and spoke to the sons of Israel what he had been commanded, the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with Him. Exodus 34:33-35 NASB
Apparently, Israel never knew why Moses put the veil over his face. They did not know that it kept them from seeing the glory of God fade from his face. They saw his face shine, and it put fear into their hearts, then they saw the veil go back over his face. They did not see him take it off again until after he came back out from having met with God again. They assumed that his face remained glowing, when the truth was that he had to keep recharging. Moses hid the real truth that the glory of God shining on his skin was only temporary. And the temporary is the ministry of death, the ministry of condemnation, which is contained in those words written in stone (i.e. the law God gave through Moses).
For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it. For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory. 2 Corinthians 3:10
“That which remains…” The glory of God that is external (that which is contained in ordinances and laws) is temporary, but that which is internal is permanent. In Christ, the glory of God has been written on our hearts. It doesn’t fade away so as to constantly need refreshing. It is only the lie that tells us otherwise.
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 from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 3:18
By God’s doing we have been brought into the presence of his glory. In Christ, there is no veil. There is no need to veil the fading glory of God, because God’s glory, in truth, does not fade. It only fades as an external reflection, as it did on Moses’ face … as it also does in countless cases all across the world as the ministry of death and condemnation stir men and women to glow with a sense of righteousness for a short while. And it’s because we get caught up in the lie of still needing the temporary glory that we overlook the lasting glory that is our life.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord”
Do you realize how powerful this is? How do we behold the glory of the Lord? As in a MIRROR. No, this is not the “mirror of the written word”. That doesn’t even make sense in context. When you look into a mirror what are you looking at? Your face … your unveiled face! And as WE look as in a mirror WE are looking into the collective unveiled face of Christ, the hope of glory!! Whew! Do you hear that? No, it’s not the fleshly face, nor the performance of, nor the will of the fleshly mind. For we are seeing the face of God as we behold it in one another. The lie will insist that we examine the fleshly face of the body of Christ for faults and defects and imperfections … and when we listen to that lie then that is all we will see. And then we will fall back to the fallacy that we need to refresh the temporary glory we have difficulty seeing.
“are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
As the face of God’s glory is being beheld as in a mirror we are being transformed into that same image. While this is mostly quoted as an example of the gradual progression of our becoming more and more like God (the so-called progressive sanctification) it instead refers to what we are seeing in the new creation as we look past the temporal shell into the face of Christ. Remember how Jesus healed the one man of blindness where at first all he could see was “men like trees walking” until the second touch where he could see things as they really were. We look, and only see a blurred reality, but he says, Look again and tell me what you see!! Let us look past the blur to see the reality of God’s image in the body. :)