II Corinthians 3:12-18

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Text: II Corinthians 3:12-18

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 chapter 3 we see that it is God the Father Who has made Paul an able minister of the gospel.

We have already seen that -

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

2. Although the law was so glorious that the Israelites could not look steadily at Moses' face, its glory would 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.

3. By contrast, the ministry of the gospel is even more glorious than the ministry of the law had been (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.

In this message we will see that -

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.

As we continue we see that -

IV. PAUL HAS GREAT OPENNESS IN PROCLAIMING THE GOSPEL - 3:12-13

II Corinthians 3:12-13 - 12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished.

Verse 12 explains why Paul speaks boldly and openly. The hope of believers is placed in the gospel rather than in the law.

Seeing . . . that we have, where we is Paul, is because (i.e. since or inasmuch as) we have and suggests we have as a present possession.

Then introduces an inference in the sense of therefore, consequently, accordingly, or so. The inference is that we have such hope.

Such hope is hope such as this or hope of this sort.

Hope is used in the sense of expectation. It is not merely wishful thinking. It is the hope which has been placed in the gospel which remains, rather than in the law which does not remain but is only temporary.

We use, where we refers to Paul, is we make use of or we employ.

Great plainness of speech is a use of speech that conceals nothing and passes over nothing, in the sense of outspokenness or frankness. The idea is that Paul proclaims the gospel plainly, boldly, and openly because he knows it will be effective in the lives of all who believe it.

II Corinthians 3:13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished.

Verse 13 introduces a dissimilarity between what Moses did and the way in which Paul preached the gospel.

And not as Moses is and not just as Moses or and not just like Moses.

Which has been supplied by the translators in the sense of who in reference to Moses.

Put is placed, and its tense indicates repeated action in past time in the sense of kept putting or kept placing. It suggests that Moses wore the veil repeatedly whenever he spoke in public.

A vail is a head-covering.

Over his face, where his refers to Moses, indicates that the veil covered Moses' face.

The idea is that Moses did not use great plainness of speech as Paul did but put a veil over his face instead.

Exodus 34:29-35 - (29) And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist (i.e. knew) not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him (i.e. with the Lord).

(30) And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh (i.e. near) him.

(31) And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them.

(32) And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai.

(33) And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.

(34) But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded.

(35) And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him (comments added).

When Moses spoke with the Lord, his face shone. His face reflected the glory of the Lord. When Moses went to speak with the people, his face still shone but gradually faded. This was repeated numerous times. Every time he went in to speak with the Lord, his face would shine. When he went to speak with the people, his face still shone. Because the people were afraid to speak with him, he put a veil over his face.

This also hid the fact that the shine on his face was gradually fading. It speaks of the necessity of our spending much time studying the Word of God on a consistent basis. Submitting our hearts and minds to the Word of God will have a positive effect on our lives. We need to continue doing this repeatedly.

That the children of Israel is in order that the sons of Israel and refers to the Israelites.

Could not stedfastly look implies that they could never look intently or could not begin to stare.

To the end is understood in the sense of to the termination or to the cessation.

Of that which is abolished, which refers to Moses' shining face, is of what is being done away (i.e. of what is ceasing, of what is passing away, or of what is transitory). In verse 11 the same word is translated that which is done away, where it refers to the law. Moses' shining face, which was fading or passing away, pictures the passing away of the law.

We also see that -

V. THE MINDS OF THE ISRAELITES WERE BLINDED AND REMAIN BLINDED TODAY WHEN THEY READ THE OLD TESTAMENT, BUT THIS VEIL IS REMOVED WHEN THEY GET SAVED - 3:14-16

II Corinthians 3:14-16 - 14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.

Verse 14 is written in contrast to the fact that the law is passing away in verse 13.

But introduces a statement in strong contrast to the children of Israel could not stedfastly to look to the end of that which is abolished. It is because their minds were blinded.

Their minds refers to the minds of the unsaved Jews. Minds refers to the faculty of processing thoughts and refers to their understanding.

In Biblical literature were blinded is only used figuratively of causing someone to have difficulty in understanding or comprehending in the sense were hardened or were petrified. As a consequence, they were unable to perceive the truth of the gospel.

For introduces a clarification of what Paul has said about their minds having been blinded and is understood in the sense of you see.

Until this day means until today, i.e. the day in which Paul wrote II Corinthians. Of course, this statement is still true in the present day inasmuch as Jewish people as a nation have not yet turned to Christ. They are not able to perceive the glory of the Lord.

Remaineth is remains or continues.

The same vail is the same head-covering and represents their spiritual blindness.

Untaken away indicates how the veil remains. Untaken away means not uncovered or not unveiled. The veil has not been removed, which means that the veil is still in place and that the people are still spiritually blind.

In the reading of the old testament is at the reading (or public reading) of the old covenant, i.e. of the law or when the law is read.

Which vail is which to be sure or which by its very nature. It is used to emphasize a characteristic quality of the veil which continues to blind the Jewish people spiritually.

Is done away is is being made ineffective (i.e. powerless or idle). The veil is in the process of passing away as more and more Jews receive Christ as Savior. It will eventually be completely removed when the Lord Jesus returns at the second coming.

In Christ suggests in the person and work of Christ. The use of the name Christ implies all that He is and does.

II Corinthians 3:15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.

According to verse 15, even until the day of Paul's writing II Corinthians, when the Old Testament Scriptures are read, the Jewish people as a whole remain spiritually blind, unable to perceive the truth about the Messiah.

As translated, but introduces a statement in strong contrast to the previous verse. It might instead be emphatic and understood in the sense of certainly or in fact.

Even unto this day is until today, i.e. the day Paul was writing II Corinthians.

When is at the time when, and Moses refers to the law which Moses received and recorded in Exodus and Deuteronomy.

The tense of is read indicates ongoing action and is understood in the sense of is being read. It speaks of the public reading of the Old Testament Scriptures pertaining to the law which Moses wrote.

The vail is a head-covering.

Is indicates that a veil is in a place where it is on something and is understood in the sense of lies. The veil lies upon their heart. Its tense describes an existing circumstance.

Upon their heart indicates where the veil remains when Moses is read. It suggests that they are not willing (or choose not) to perceive the truth that their works will not result in salvation. They need to turn to Christ and receive Him as their Savior from sin and its consequences in order to have their spiritual blindness removed.

II Corinthians 3:16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.

Verse 16 indicates that when the heart shall turn to the Lord, the veil covering the heart, resulting in their spiritual blindness will be removed.

Nevertheless introduces a statement in mild contrast to the statement in verse 15 that when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. It is understood in the sense of but.

When is understood in the sense of whenever. Although the fact of their hearts turning to the Lord is certain, the time of their turning to the Lord is uncertain.

It refers to their heart in verse 15.

Shall turn is understood in the sense of would turn or should turn. Its mood reflects the note of contingency in the passage.

To the Lord refers to Christ and suggests toward the Lord or in the direction of the Lord.

The vail is the same word used in verses 13-15 and refers to the head-covering which is upon their heart whenever Moses is read.

Shall be taken away is actually present tense in the Greek text and is understood in the sense of is being taken away or is being removed. This happens on an individual basis whenever an individual Jew turns to Christ and receives Him as personal Savior. It is an ongoing process which occurs repeatedly every time a Jew gets saved. It will be culminated at the Second Coming of Christ when the Jews as a whole will turn to Christ and recognize Him as their Messiah and Savior.

We furthermore see that -

VI. THE LORD IS THAT SPIRIT WHO PRODUCES LIBERTY - 3:17

II Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

Verse 17 indicates that the Lord produces freedom from the law when He is received as personal Savior.

Now continues the thought expressed in verse 16.

The Lord is that Spirit is the Lord is the Spirit. The Lord is Christ, and the Spirit is the Holy Spirit. The Lord is the Spirit means that Christ is the Holy Spirit. They are not the same Person, but they are the same Being or essence. They are two Persons of the same Godhead just as Jesus and the Father are one (John 10:30 ).

And where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty means that wherever Christ is recognized as Lord or Jehovah, there is freedom from bondage to the law. Salvation has taken place.

Where indicates a situation or circumstance rather than a place and is understood in the sense of in a situation where or in a situation in which.

The Spirit of the Lord is the Lord's Spirit, i.e. Christ's Spirit, and refers to the Holy Spirit.

There refers to the situation where the Lord's Spirit is.

Liberty is freedom and refers to the state of being free. In this context, it is freedom from the law. Freedom from the law occurs at the instant of salvation.

Finally, we see that -

VII. AS BELIEVERS 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

II Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Verse 18 indicates how believers become more and more Christlike.

As translated, but introduces a statement in mild contrast with the veiling of the Jews' heart whenever Moses is read. It is used in the same sense in verse 16 where it is translated nevertheless. It may instead indicate a continuation of the thought of where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty in verse 17 and be understood in the sense of and or now.

We all, where we is emphatic and refers to Paul and the believers in the church of Corinth, functions as the subject of are changed. By extension, it is true of all believers everywhere.

All indicates that there are no genuinely saved people who are exceptions to what is stated in this verse. All believers have the same privilege of having Christlikeness produced in their lives as they look into the face of the Lord Jesus Christ. None are spiritually blind.

With open face is used to describe beholding, indicating how believers behold the glory of the Lord.

Open means unveiled or uncovered. Its tense indicates that its action occurred at some time in the past and that its result has continued to the present time as a state of being.

The face is unveiled or uncovered for all believers at the time of their salvation and remains unveiled from then on to enable them to see clearly. By contrast, the veil is still on in the hearts of the unsaved Jews whenever they hear the Old Testament Scriptures read.

Beholding as in a glass is understood in the sense of while we look at (or while we are looking at) (something) as in a mirror.

What believers are looking at as in a mirror is the glory of the Lord, i.e. the Lord's glory, a reference to Christ's glory.

Are changed into indicates continuing action in the sense of are being changed into and suggests are being changed inwardly in fundamental character in the sense of are transformed into or are being transformed into.

The same image is into the same likeness, i.e. (the same form or the same appearance).

From glory to glory suggests from one degree of glory to another degree of glory. It means that a believer who looks repeatedly into the Word of God will be continually changed and become more and more Christlike in his person as he continues looking into the Word of God.

Moses' face reflected the glory of God and shone as the result of his meeting with God, and believers' lives reflect the glory of God as they study the Word of God and submit their hearts and minds to it. It is the secret for growth. It is how one puts on the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14 ) and has the fruit of the Spirit produced in his life (Galatians 5:22-23 ).

Even as is just as.

By the Spirit of the Lord indicates that it is the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, i.e. God the Holy Spirit, Who is the agent producing the change from glory to glory in the believer who looks repeatedly into the mirror of the Word of God.

CONCLUSION:

This change comes from the Holy Spirit who produces it

What we must realize is the importance of consistent Bible Study. As we study the Bible we are looking into the face of the Lord Jesus Christ. As we study and obey the Bible, God the Holy Spirit will gradually produce a Christlikeness in us. It provides a great incentive for serious personal Bible study.

This is why a verse-by-verse study of the Scriptures in the church services will produce Christlikeness in the lives of believers. It is also why there is very little, if any, growth in much preaching today. It is because there is too little Bible in too much preaching.

Of course Satan would like to hinder this. Don't let him.