Changed Lives Prove Ministry
Verse 1 – Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you?
The false teachers at Corinth had been originally introduced there, by recommendatory letters from abroad. These were letters of introduction and were common among Greeks, Romans, and the Jews. Paul was asking did he need to send letters introducing himself when they already knew him.
Verse 2 – You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by men;
Verse 3 – you are manifestly 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.
The spiritual transformation of the Corinthians were endorsement enough for Paul. Literal letters, written with ink on paper or even on stone tablets, could not compare with changed lives.
Verse 4 – And we have such trust through Christ toward God.
Verse 5 – Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God,
Verse 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.
Trying to keep the Old Testament laws to be approved by God will end in death. No one could or can keep the law perfectly, except Christ. Only by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ can a person receive eternal life through the Holy Spirit. The law made people realize their sin, but could not give a pardon. However, the spirit gives new life to all those who believe in Jesus Christ.
Verse 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,
Verse 8 – how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is far superior to the Old Testament system of sacrifice.
Verse 9 – For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more glory.
Verse 10 – For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels.
Verse 11 – For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.
Verse 12 – Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech –
Verse 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.
Paul concluded that the main purpose of Moses’ veil was to prevent the Israelites from observing the fading of the old-covenant glory. The law was never designed to be permanent.
Verse 14 – But their minds were hardened. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.
Paul implies that even the first-century Jews who had not believed the gospel were unable to recognize the fading temporary nature of the old covenant even when the Scripture was read.
Verse 15 – But even to this day , when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.
Paul is talking about a spiritual impairment. One of the great difficulties Jews have had historically in coming to Jesus as Messiah, is to acknowledge that He has surpassed the fading old-covenant.
Verse 16 – Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
Verse 17 – Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
Those who were trying to be saved by keeping the Old Testament law were soon caught up in rules and ceremonies. But now through the Holy Spirit, God provides freedom from sin and condemnation (Romans 8:11).
Verse 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 the Spirit of the Lord.
The glory that the Spirit imparts to the believer is more excellent and lasts longer than the glory that Moses experienced. Through the gospel, we see the truth about Christ, and it transforms us morally as we understand and apply it. Becoming Christlike is a progressive experience. The more closely we follow Christ and His teachings, the more we will be like Him.