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The Glory of the New Covenant December 7, 2011

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
Tags: , , , ,

Here are my thoughts on 2 Corinthians 3:7-18.

Summary: Paul begins by noting that those who served in the context of the law (that was written on stone tablets) could only produce death for those who tried to obey it, even though the law was (transiently) glorious – preventing the Israelites from looking at the face of Moses while he served in that context; on the other hand, serving in the context of the Gospel is more glorious than serving in the context of the law – as the Gospel is more awesome than the law. Indeed, the law causes men to know that they are condemned, while the Gospel causes those who accept it to be righteous based on the requirements of the law. In fact, the glory of the law pales in comparison with that of the Gospel. Also, while the glory of the law was temporary, the glory of the Gospel is permanent.

Now Paul asserts that since his apostolic calling is righteous in God’s eyes, he is outspoken in proclaiming the Gospel. He contrasts his situation with that of Moses, who was divinely inspired to serve in the context of the law so that the Israelites could not understand its true meaning. In fact, the thoughts of the Israelites became callous – which is shown by the fact that as of the writing of this letter, they still fail to understand the meaning of the law when the Old Testament is read to them; in this regard, they can only be enlightened in Christ. Yet anyone who turns to Christ and accepts the Gospel can be enlightened in this way. This stems from the fact that Christ and the Holy Spirit are identical in terms of their essence and power – and the Holy Spirit frees those in whom He dwells (as God’s children). Paul concludes by noting that those who are free – by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – can see the glory of Christ as if they are looking at a mirror; moreover, they are being conformed to Christ’s likeness, and this flows from His work, as He is identical with the Holy Spirit as noted above.

Thoughts: Paul’s objective in this passage is to draw a contrast between his ministry in the context of the Gospel and that of Moses in the context of the law. Hodge offers some insights in his commentary on verse 13:

If Moses taught obscurely or in types, God intended that he should do so. If in point of fact the Jews misunderstood the nature of their own system, regarding as ultimate and permanent what was in fact preparatory and temporary, this was included in the divine purpose. It was evidently God’s plan to reveal the scheme of redemption gradually.

Hodge then notes that as long as people in the Old Testament trusted in God based on His partial revelation to them up to that point in time, they would be saved. If I were in the shoes of an Israelite in the Old Testament era, would I have put my faith in God and His partially revealed plan of redemption? Given the fact that many people continue to reject the fully revealed plan of redemption in Christ, there’s a good chance that I would have fallen short of salvation in the Old Testament. This highlights the awesome faith that those who are mentioned in the “Hall of Faith” from Hebrews 11 displayed, even when dealing with adverse circumstances.

Verses 17 and 18 reinforce one of the key tenets of Christianity: the presence of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life yields innumerable benefits. Hodge offers some relevant thoughts in his commentary on verse 17:

The Holy Spirit is recognized everywhere in the Bible as the source of all life, truth, power, holiness, blessedness and glory…By turning to Christ we become partakers of the Holy Spirit, that which is living and life-giving, because he and the Spirit are one…This freedom must be the freedom that results from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – that is, that which flows from the application to us of the redemption purchased by Christ.

Now this discussion reminded me of the important truths expounded by Paul in Romans 8, which is, in my opinion, one of the most awesome passages in all of Scripture. Clearly the Holy Spirit plays a critical role in the life of every believer, yet – based on my admittedly informal observations – one could peruse the lyrics of most contemporary Christian worship songs and not realize this fact. For some reason, it is relatively easy for Christians to praise and worship God the Father and God the Son – but not God the Spirit. In general, believers should strike a better balance in that regard – not only in writing worship songs, but in our overall Christian walk.



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