II Corinthians 3:6-11

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

Text: II Corinthians 3:6-11

PAUL'S CONTRAST OF THE

OLD AND NEW COVENANTS

INTRODUCTION:

In 3:6-18 as Paul contrasts the old and new covenants, the law is referred to variously as the old covenant, the letter, the ministry of death, and the ministry of condemnation; whereas, the gospel is referred to as the new covenant, the ministry of the Spirit, and the ministry of righteousness.

In this chapter we will see that it is God the Father Who has made Paul an able minister of the gospel.

1. The gospel is not of the law, which kills, but of the Holy Spirit, Who gives life (3:6).

2. Although the law was so glorious that the Israelites could not look steadily at Moses' face, its glory would fade (3:7).

3. By contrast, the ministry of the gospel is even more glorious than the ministry of the law had been (3:8-11).

4. Paul has great openness in proclaiming the gospel (3:12-13).

5. The minds of the Israelites were blinded and remain blinded today when they read the Old Testament Scriptures, but this veil is removed when they get saved (3:14-16).

6. The Lord is that Spirit Who produces liberty (3:17); and as believers with unveiled faces look into the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit changes them into the image of Christ from one degree of glory to another, gradually making them more and more Christlike (3:18) in this lifetime.

We see that -

I. THE GOSPEL IS NOT OF THE LAW BUT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT - 3:6

II Corinthians 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

In verse 6 Paul states that God the Father has made him an able servant of the new testament or covenant, i.e. an able servant of the gospel.

Who refers to God the Father.

Also introduces something God has done with Paul in addition to calling him into His ministry and sending him on the missionary trip to Corinth.

Hath made us able, where us refers to Paul, is made us sufficient or qualified us. This occurred in the past, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

Ministers are servants. The same word is translated deacons in other contexts.

Of the new testament indicates what Paul is serving and is used in contrast to the old covenant. The new testament or new covenant refers to the gospel message. Paul's reference to himself as a minister of the new covenant suggests that the false apostles were Judaizers, i.e. ministers of the old covenant, i.e. servants of the law.

The new testament is described in this passage as the spirit (v. 6), the ministry of the spirit (v. 8) and the ministry of righteousness (v. 9).

By contrast, the old covenant is the law and is variously referred to in this passage as the old covenant, the letter, the ministry of death, and the ministry of condemnation.

Not of the letter indicates that Paul is not a minister of the law. He is not serving the law.

But introduces a statement in strong contrast to not of the letter.

Of the spirit (i.e. the Holy Spirit) Who works in and through the gospel of the grace of God. This indicates that God has made Paul a qualified minister of the gospel message.

Again, Paul's statement hints that the false apostles were ministers of the law, the old covenant. This suggests that they were Judaizers

For clarifies the previous statement and is used in the sense of you see or now.

The letter refers to the law. It is the letter of the law.

The letter killeth, i.e. the law kills, is understood in the sense of the letter of the law causes a person to die. This is because the Bible teaches that the soul that sinneth, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:4 ). When a person violates the law of God, he becomes subject to spiritual death in the lake of fire where, unless he trusts Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, he will spend eternity suffering for his sins.

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to the law killeth: the spirit giveth life.

The spirit is the Holy Spirit Who works in and through the gospel of the grace of God, the good news that Christ died on the cross, paying for the sins of the whole world, that He was buried, and that He rose again from the dead on the third day.

Giveth life is makes alive, in that the Holy Spirit uses the gospel message to produce eternal life in the believer.

John 3:14-16 - (14) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

(15) That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

(16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The tense of killeth and the tense of giveth life indicate timeless truths, i.e. things which are true at all times under all circumstances.

We also see that -

II. THE GLORY OF THE LAW WILL FADE - 3:7

II Corinthians 3:7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away.

Verse 7 is the condition of a conditional statement, and verse 8 is the conclusion of this conditional statement. The structure of the condition indicates that, for sake of discussion, it is assumed to be true.

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to what Paul has written in verse 6.

Inasmuch as this condition is actually true, if should be understood in the sense of because, since, inasmuch as, or in view of the fact that.

The ministration of death, written and engraven in stones refers to the law of Moses.

The ministration, which is the service or the ministry, appears four times in verses 7-9. The ministration of death in verse 7 and the ministration of condemnation in verse 9 refer to the law. The ministration of the spirit in verse 8 and the ministration of righteousness in verse 9 refer to the gospel message.

Of death indicates that the ministry of the law produces death. The law shows that men are sinners and deserving of death in order to pay for their own sins.

Romans 7:7-11 - (7) What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

(8) But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.

(9) For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

(10) And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.

(11) For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

The ministry of death written and engraven in stones is the ministry of death in letters, engraven in stones.

The word translated written was translated letter twice in verse 6. Here it means in letters.

Engraven means carved or impressed.

These letters were carved or engraved in the two stones in the past, and they remained carved in the stones as long as the stones existed.

In stones is reminiscent of the two tablets of stone in which the law was given to Moses and later replaced after he smashed them.

The tense of was indicates action which took place in the past, and it indicates that something changed or happened which had not been true previously. It is understood in the sense of became.

Glorious indicates a state of being. The ministry of death, carved in letters in stones, was (or became) glorious. Glory indicates a condition of being bright or shining and is understood in the sense of brightness, splendor, or radiance.

When he met with God, Moses' face became bright, shining, radiant, or glorious.

So that is understood in the sense of with the result that.

The children of Israel refers to the Israelites.

Could not stedfastly behold is were not able to look intently at or stare at.

What they could not steadfastly behold, look intently at, or stare at was the face of Moses.

For the glory of his countenance is because of the glory (i.e. the brightness, the splendor, or the radiance) of his face.

Which glory was to be done away restricts or limits the meaning of glory to the particular glory being done away, (i.e. to the one in the process of being abolished, of being wiped out, of being set aside, or of being removed). The glory, brightness, splendor, or radiance of Moses' face was fading. It was only temporary.

Next, we see that -

III. THE MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS EVEN MORE GLORIOUS THAN THE MINISTRY OF THE LAW - 3:8-11

II Corinthians 3:8-11 - 8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

Whereas verse 7 is the condition of a conditional statement, verse 8 is the conclusion. Inasmuch as the condition is true, the conclusion will also be true. The ministry of the spirit will be more glorious than the ministry of death. The gospel message will be more glorious than the law has been.

How? is in what way?

Shall not . . . be indicates that something will be.

The ministration is the service or the ministry.

The ministration of the spirit is the ministry of the Holy Spirit Who works in and through the gospel message as it is proclaimed.

Rather is more, all the more, more surely, or more certainly.

Glorious was previously used in verse 7, indicating a state of being. It refers to a condition of being bright or shining and is understood in the sense of brightness, splendor, or radiance. Although the ministry of death, carved in letters in stones was glorious, the ministry of the Holy Spirit through the gospel is even more glorious.

II Corinthians 3:9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.

Verse 9 confirms the thought expressed in verses 7-8 in different words. Verse 9 is a conditional statement. The condition is if the ministration of condemnation be glory, and the conclusion is much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. The structure of the condition in the Greek text indicates that, for sake of discussion, it is assumed to be true.

For introduces a cause or reason and is understood in the sense of because. It is used in the same sense in verses 10 and 11, which introduce additional confirmations of verses 7-8.

If introduces the conditional statement. Inasmuch as the conditional statement is not only assumed to be true but is in fact true, if may be understood in the sense of because, since, inasmuch as, or in view of the fact that.

The ministration of condemnation refers to the law. It is the ministration (i.e. the service or the ministry) which produces condemnation, a judicial verdict which demands a penalty. Failure to keep the law produces condemnation. Everyone will fail to keep it because no one can keep it.

Inasmuch as everyone has an old sin nature, no one will ever keep the law perfectly throughout his entire lifetime. And when he fails just one time to keep the law, he will find himself under the law's condemnation; and unless he receives God's forgiveness for his sins, he will ultimately pay the penalty for his sins in hell, the lake of fire.

The word translated glory is used eight times in verses 7-11 and is supplied by the translators one additional time. Four times it is translated glory, and four times it is translated glorious. Its verb form is used two times in verse 10 where it is translated was made glorious and had . . . glory.

II Corinthians 3:7-11 - (7) But if the ministration (i.e. the service or the ministry) of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:

(8) How shall not the ministration (i.e. the service or the ministry) of the spirit be rather glorious?

(9) For if the ministration (i.e. the service or the ministry) of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration (i.e. the service or the ministry) of righteousness exceed in glory.

(10) For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.

(11) For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

Glory indicates a condition of being bright or shining and is understood in the sense of brightness, splendor, or radiance.

Much is by how much and shows a degree of difference between the ministration (i.e. the service or the ministry) of condemnation (i.e. the service or the ministry of the law) and the ministration (i.e. the service or the ministry) of righteousness (i.e. the service or the ministry of the gospel message).

More is all the more, more surely, or more certainly. The combination of much and more is understood as by how much more surely or by how much more certainly.

Doth . . . exceed is is . . . extremely rich or is . . . extremely abundant.

The ministration of righteousness refers to the gospel message. It is the ministration (i.e. ministry or service) which produces righteousness. God declares the one who trusts Christ as Savior to be righteous and forever afterward treats him as righteous.

In glory suggests in brightness, in splendor, or in radiance. No matter how glorious the ministry of the law was (and it was glorious), the ministry of proclaiming the gospel is even more glorious.

II Corinthians 3:10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.

Verse 10 provides a second confirmation of the thoughts expressed in verses 7-8. When the glory of the law is compared with the glory of the gospel, the glory of the law is not glorious at all.

For introduces a cause or reason and is understood in the sense of because. It is used in the same sense in verses 9 and 11, which introduce additional confirmations of verses 7-8.

Even is slightly emphatic. It might instead be understood in a more emphatic way as indeed, in fact, yea, verily, or certainly.

That which was made glorious functions as the subject of had . . . glory. Its reference is to the law.

That which was made glorious is what was caused to have splendid greatness, what was clothed in splendor, or what was glorified. Its time of action occurred in the past, and its result has continued until the time Paul was writing II Corinthians. It means that the law had glory. It represents a state of being which began when the law was given on Mount Sinai and continued until Christ became the end of the law for all who believed.

Had no glory is has no glory, has no splendid greatness, or has no clothing in splendor.

In this respect, where the content of this is by reason of the glory that excelleth, i.e. in this case or in this matter.

By reason of indicates the cause of (or reason for) something and is understood in the sense of because of or on account of.

The glory that excelleth is the surpassing (i.e. the extraordinary or outstanding) glory. It means that the glory of the gospel far surpasses the glory of the law.

II Corinthians 3:11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

Verse 11 provides a third confirmation of the thoughts expressed in verses 7-8. When the glory of the law fades away, the glory of the gospel remains.

For introduces a cause or reason and is understood in the sense of because. It is used in the same sense in verses 9 and 10, which introduce additional confirmations of verses 7-8.

Verse 11 is in the form of a conditional statement. Its structure indicates that, for sake of discussion, its condition is assumed to be true. Furthermore, it is actually true with the result that if may be understood in the sense of because, since, inasmuch as or in view of the fact that. The condition is if that which is done away was glorious.

That which is done away refers to the law. It is literally what is being done away (i.e. what is ceasing, what is passing away, or what is transitory). In verse 14 the same word is translated that which is abolished.

As indicated by the italics, was has been supplied by the translators to aid the understanding of the English reader.

Glorious refers to a state of being. Glory indicates a condition of being bright or shining and is understood in the sense of brightness, splendor, or radiance.

Much is by how much and shows a degree of difference between what is passing away and what is remaining.

More is all the more, more surely, or more certainly. The combination of much and more is understood as by how much more surely (or by how much more certainly).

That which remaineth refers to the gospel. It is the thing remaining or the thing which is continuing.

Is glorious is understood in the sense of (is) splendorous or is radiant.