Summary: Here Paul contrasts the glory of the Ten Commandments with the glory of the life-giving Spirit. If the Law that leads to death was glorious, how much more glorious is God’s plan to give us life through His Spirit
2 CORINTHIANS 3: 7-11 [GAINING PERSPECTIVE Series]
A MINISTRY OF DEATH OR LIFE
In our study on 2 Corinthians 3:1-6 we again heard that by works of law no one shall be justified or sanctified (Gal. 2:16, 3:11). Only by accepting Christ is a man justified and only by being obedient to His Spirit can man be sanctified. The law can give no one life but brings condemnation to those who break it. Life comes from the Spirit of Jesus Christ, who is the only law-keeper, to those who will receive His transforming new heart by receiving Him.
Tonight we find Paul contrasting the glory of the Ten Commandments with the glory of the life-giving Spirit. If the Law that leads to death was glorious, how much more glorious is God’s plan to give us life through His Spirit (CIT)!
I. LIFE NOT DEATH, 7-8.
II. GLORY NOT CONDEMNATION, 9-10.
III. PERMANENT NOT TEMPORARY, 11.
The superiority of the new covenant is argued on three counts. The first found in verses 7 & 8 is that the ministry of the Spirit is more splendid than the ministry that brought death. “But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face; fading as it was,”
“The Ministry of death” is here defined as letters engraved on stone or the Ten Commandments. The design and effect of the law was to kill, to prove man guilty of condemnation. It certified man a transgressor because he broke this law. Through the law sin receives its strength and power against man (1 Cor. 15:56; Galatians 3:10), for it would not establish as wrong if there was no law against it. Yet this ministry of death had glory. When Moses descended from the mountain with the Ten Commandments after conversing with God, his face shone with the glory of this encounter. His face was so radiant that the people were afraid to approach him (Ex. 34:29-30). This is part of the glory of the giving of the Law and it impressed the people.
Moses is view as the minister of the Covenant of death because he was the agent through whom God delivered it to the people and God delivered it with glory (Ex. 19:16-20). God’s glory was seen in the countenance of Moses. Apparently this radiance would fade, or pass away, over time until Moses again would go into the Tabernacle of God’s Presence and meet with God. Moses glory was an outward brightness because the people were directed to follow external regulation; the rituals, the priesthood, the Temple, the Sacrifices.
Today we have an inward glory because God lives within and it is permanent because God is eternally with us. [The Greek word for glory, doxa, refers to the splendor of God’s manifest presence.]
If this ministry of death so manifested the glory of God, verse 8 asks will not the ministry of the Spirit be far more glorious? “how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?”