Summary: The Old Covenant of Moses was written on stone in Ten Commandments. Where was the New Covenant written? Look at what God tells us!
From Moses to Christ
In this chapter we have a contrast between the old and new covenants. What seems to be happening is this: some false teachers who are attempting to undermine his credibility and authority in the church here are accusing Paul. He saves his biggest assaults against them till the end of the letter where he lets loose his fury. It is there that we find out that these teachers are Jewish and are preaching another Jesus, a different spirit, and another gospel.
Look at chapter 11: 3 But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.
4 For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.
5 For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles.
6 But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things.
see also verses 16-23a.
16 Again I say, let no one think me foolish; but if you do, receive me even as a fool, that I also may boast a little.
17 That which I am speaking, I am not speaking as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting.
18 Since many boast according to the flesh, I will boast also.
19 For you, being so wise, bear with the foolish gladly.
20 For you bear with anyone if he enslaves you, if he devours you, if he takes advantage of you, if he exalts himself, if he hits you in the face.
21 To my shame I must say that we have been weak by comparison. But in whatever respect anyone else is bold (I speak in foolishness), I am just as bold myself.
22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.
23 Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as if insane) I more so;
Here in chapter 3 in the early part of this letter Paul lays the groundwork. He will later launch a full counter attack. What is especially helpful to us at this point is how this reveals Paul’s understanding of the relationship between the Old and New Covenants. We see that our Covenant relationship to God in Christ is abundantly superior to the Old Covenant.
It is technical and somewhat obscure unless you are familiar with Moses and giving of the law that is recorded in Exodus. I’m going to ask you to work hard with me this morning as we dig through this and uncover the gold of glory in Christ that is buried here.
Are you ready? Let’s go…
3:1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you?
2 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men;
3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.
4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God.
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God,
6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away,
8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?
9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.
10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels.
11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.
12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech;
13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away.
14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.