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Book chapters «The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians»
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  • The believers were the fruit of the apostles' labor, commending the apostles and their ministry to others. Thus, they became the apostles' living letter of commendation, written by the apostles with the indwelling Christ as the content in every part of their inner being.

  • The Corinthian believers, as the apostles' living letter of commendation, were inscribed in the apostles' hearts; thus, they were carried by the apostles and could not possibly be severed from the apostles. They were in the apostles' hearts (2 Cor. 7:3), brought by them everywhere as their living commendation.

  • A letter of Christ is written with Christ as the content to convey and express Christ. All Christ's believers should be such a living letter of Christ, that others may read and know Christ in their beings.

  • I.e., written by the ministry of the apostles. The apostles were filled with Christ, so that their ministry spontaneously ministered Christ to those whom they contacted, inscribing Christ in their hearts and making them living letters that conveyed Christ. That the letters were inscribed both in the apostles' hearts (v. 2) and in the believers' hearts (v. 3) shows that the proper new covenant ministry, described in this book, always writes something both in the hearts of those who receive the ministry and in the hearts of those who minister. This kind of ministry is in the way of life, with the life-giving Spirit as the essence of the writing (see v. 6 and note 2 Cor. 3:33).

  • The Spirit of the living God, who is the living God Himself, is not the instrument, like a pen, but the element, like ink used in writing, with which the apostles minister Christ as the content for the writing of living letters that convey Christ.

  • Our heart, composed of our conscience (the leading part of our spirit), our mind, our emotion, and our will, is the tablet in which the living letters of Christ are written with the living Spirit of God. This implies that Christ is written into every part of our inner being with the Spirit of the living God to make us His living letters, that He may be expressed and read by others in us.

  • Or, reckon, evaluate.

  • Or, competency, qualification. The living God Himself is the sufficiency, competency, and qualification of the apostles' ministry for God's New Testament economy, which is to dispense Christ into God's chosen people for the building up of Christ's Body.

  • The written code of the law.

  • The Spirit of the living God, with whom the apostles ministered Christ into the believers to make them the living letters of Christ (v. 3). Unlike the Mosaic ministry for the Old Testament, the apostolic ministry for the New Testament is not of dead letters but of the living Spirit, who gives life.

  • The letter of the law, which only requires of man. It is unable to supply man with life (Gal. 3:21). Because of man's inability to fulfill the requirements of the law, the law kills man (Rom. 7:9-11).

  • The Spirit, the ultimate expression of the processed Triune God, who became a life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45), imparts the divine life, even God Himself, into the believers and the apostles, making them ministers of a new covenant, the covenant of life. Hence, their ministry is one constituted with the Triune God of life by His life-giving Spirit.

  • The ministry of the old covenant, a covenant of the dead letter, which kills.

  • The glory that shone temporarily and only on Moses' face (Exo. 34:29, 35).

  • The apostolic ministry of the new covenant, a covenant of the living Spirit, who gives life.

  • The glory of God manifested in the face of Christ, which is God Himself shining forever in the hearts of the apostles (2 Cor. 4:6), surpassing the glory of the Mosaic ministry of the old covenant (v. 10).

  • The ministry of the old covenant became one of death (v. 7) because the old covenant brought in condemnation unto death (Rom. 5:13, 18, 20-21). Hence, it was also the ministry of condemnation.

  • The ministry of the new covenant is a ministry of the Spirit who gives life (6, vv. 8), because the new covenant brings in God's righteousness unto life (Rom. 5:18, 21). Hence, it is also the ministry of righteousness, the ministry of justification. The focus of the ministry of the new covenant is thus both the Spirit as the life supply, and righteousness, the living out and genuine expression of Christ (the image of God), who as the Spirit is our life (v. 17).

  • The apostolic ministry of the new covenant not only has glory but also abounds with the glory of God, which surpasses the glory of the Mosaic ministry of the old covenant (v. 10).

  • Temporarily in the shining of Moses' face.

  • I.e., in the fact that the glory of the ministry of the law was a temporary glory shining on Moses' face. In this respect it was being done away with on account of the surpassing glory. Because of the glory of the new covenant ministry (which is the glory of God, even God Himself, manifested in the face of Christ forever, surpassing the temporary glory of the old covenant ministry, which was shining on Moses' face), the temporary glory of the ministry of the law disappeared and no longer exists.

  • I.e., was being done away with (v. 7).

  • I.e., in the process of being abolished through the spreading of the new covenant ministry.

  • Verses 2 Cor. 3:7-11 show the inferiority of the glory of the Mosaic ministry, the ministry of the law, a ministry of condemnation and death, and the superiority of the apostolic ministry, the ministry of grace, a ministry of righteousness and the Spirit. The former was through glory in a temporary way; the latter remains in glory forever.

    In 2 Cor. 2:12-17 the apostle spoke of the triumph and effect of the apostolic ministry. In vv. 1-6 of this chapter he spoke of its function and competency, and in vv. 7-11, of its glory and superiority.

  • I.e., the hope that the shining glory of the new covenant ministry will remain forever. The apostles' having hope was in contrast to Moses' lacking hope because of the fading glory of his old covenant ministry of the law, which was being done away with (v. 13).

  • The Greek word implies speaking. In contrast to Moses, who covered his face with a veil (v. 13), the apostles had the boldness to speak openly and freely concerning their ministry, not hiding, not dissembling.

  • While Moses spoke the word of God to the sons of Israel, he kept his glorified face unveiled. But after speaking, he veiled his face (Exo. 34:29-33) lest they see the end of his ministry, which was passing away. He did not want them to behold the termination of his ministry of the law, which was being done away with.

  • "Originally, things which proceed out of the mind....Phil. 4:7...2 Cor. 2:11. Hence, derivatively, the minds themselves" (Vincent).

  • It refers to the fact that the veil is being done away with in Christ. Since this fact had not been unveiled to the sons of Israel, their thoughts were hardened and their minds were blinded. The veil is being done away with in Christ through the new covenant economy, yet it still remains on their heart when they read the old covenant (v. 15).

  • Referring to Moses' writings, the Pentateuch (John 5:47).

  • This indicates that when their heart is away from the Lord, the veil lies on their heart. When their heart turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Actually, their turned-away heart is the veil. To turn their heart to the Lord is to take away the veil.

  • Or, furthermore, in addition. When the heart turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. In addition to this, furthermore, the Lord is the Spirit, who would give us freedom. Since the Lord is the Spirit, when the heart turns to Him, the veil is taken away and the heart is freed from the bondage of the letter of the law.

  • According to the context of this section, which begins at 2 Cor. 2:12, the Lord here must refer to Christ the Lord (2 Cor. 2:12, 14-15, 17; 3:3-4, 14, 16; 4:5). This then is a strong word in the Bible, telling us emphatically that Christ is the Spirit. "The Lord Christ of v. 16 is the Spirit who pervades and animates the new covenant of which we are ministers (v. 6), and the ministration of which is with glory (v. 8). Compare Rom. 8:9-11; John 14:16, 18" (Vincent). "The Lord of v. 16, is the Spirit ... which giveth life, v. 6: meaning, `the Lord,' as here spoken of, `Christ,' `is the Spirit,' is identical with the Holy Spirit ... Christ, here, is the Spirit of Christ" (Alford). "All that transforming and indwelling Spirit is Christ Himself. `The Lord is the Spirit' " (Williston Walker).

  • The Spirit, who is the ultimate expression of the Triune God, was not yet in John 7:39, because at that time Jesus had not yet been glorified. He had not yet finished the process that He, as the embodiment of God, had to pass through. After His resurrection, that is, after the finishing of all the processes, such as incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, that the Triune God had to pass through in man for His redemptive economy, He became a life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45). In the New Testament, this life-giving Spirit is called "the Spirit" (Rom. 8:16, 23, 26-27; Gal. 3:2, 5, 14; 6:8; Rev. 2:7; 3:22; 14:13; 22:17), the Spirit who gives us the divine life (v. 6; John 6:63) and frees us from the bondage of the law.

  • The Lord Spirit may be considered a compound title like the Father God and the Lord Christ. Again, this expression strongly proves and confirms that the Lord Christ is the Spirit and the Spirit is the Lord Christ. In this chapter, this Spirit is revealed as the inscribing Spirit (v. 3), the Spirit who gives life (v. 6), the ministering Spirit (v. 8), the freeing Spirit (v. 17), and the transforming Spirit (v. 18). Such an all-inclusive Spirit is crucial to the ministers of Christ and to their ministry for God's new covenant economy.

    After speaking about the ministry of the new covenant, the apostle spoke about the ministers of the new covenant. From v. 12 through v. 18 he depicted the new covenant ministers as persons whose hearts have turned to the Lord, whose faces are unveiled, who are enjoying the Lord as the Spirit, freeing them from the bondage of the law, and who are being transformed into the image of the Lord by beholding and reflecting Him. Through such a process of transformation they are constituted ministers of Christ by the Spirit with the elements of Christ's person and work. Hence, their person is constituted of and with Christ, and their ministry is to minister Christ to others, infusing them with the all-inclusive Christ as the indwelling, life-giving Spirit. All believers should imitate such ministers to be the same kind of person and to accomplish the same kind of ministry.

  • From indicates that the transformation is proceeding from the Spirit rather than being caused by Him.

  • I.e., from one degree of glory to another. This indicates an ongoing process in life in resurrection.

  • The image of the resurrected and glorified Christ. To be transformed into the same image is to be conformed to the resurrected and glorified Christ, to be made the same as He is (Rom. 8:29).

  • When we with unveiled face are beholding and reflecting the glory of the Lord, He infuses us with the elements of what He is and what He has done. Thus we are being transformed metabolically to have His life shape by His life power with His life essence; that is, we are being transfigured, mainly by the renewing of our mind (Rom. 12:2), into His image. Being transformed indicates that we are in the process of transformation.

  • I.e., the glory of the Lord, the resurrected and ascended One, who as both God and man passed through incarnation, human living on the earth, and crucifixion, entered into resurrection, accomplished full redemption, and became a life-giving Spirit. As the life-giving Spirit, He dwells in us to make Himself and all that He has accomplished, obtained, and attained real to us, that we may be one with Him and be transformed into the same image as the Lord from glory to glory.

  • We are like mirrors beholding and reflecting the glory of the Lord. This being the case, our face should be fully unveiled that we may see well and reflect properly.

  • To behold the glory of the Lord is to see the Lord ourselves; to reflect the glory of the Lord is to enable others to see Him through us.

  • In contrast to the veiled mind, the veiled heart (vv. 14-15). That our face is unveiled means that our heart has turned to the Lord, so that the veil has been taken away, and the Lord as the Spirit has freed us from the bondage, the veiling, of the law, so that there is no more insulation between us and the Lord.

  • The apostles, who, as the examples and representatives of all believers, are the ministers of Christ. In vv. 8-9 the glory is related to the ministry of the new covenant. Here the glory is related to the apostles, the ministers of the new covenant. This shows that the ministry of the new covenant is not merely an activity carried out by the new covenant ministers; rather, it is what the new covenant ministers are. They are one with their ministry, for the same invisible glory saturates and pervades both their work and their being, so that there is no difference between the two.

  • But indicates that we believers are different from the children of Israel. They were veiled, but we with unveiled face behold and reflect like a mirror the glory of the Lord and are thus being transformed into the same image as the Lord from glory to glory.

  • Freedom from the letter of the law under the veil (Gal. 2:4; 5:1).

  • The Spirit of the Lord is the Lord Himself, with whom is freedom.

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