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The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians
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Glad to have you back to continue our study of this second letter
from Paul to the Corinthians. We're getting a bit of an idea of what
it was like to be an Apostle.
Of course we can't possibly fathom the intensity of the ups and downs
or the joy or pain of the job, but we sure know that it included all
of those things.
I always like to have you put yourself in the Biblical author's
shoes, to more closely relate to what he's writing, so let's say
you're Paul for a moment, you've been to Corinth and brought many
people out of the darkness of man's world into the light of Faith in
You've poured out your heart to them, you've spent years leading
them, starting them from the beginning, like little children in
Faith, and have watched them grow through good times, and some bad.
You love them, like your own family, you want the best for them, you
try your best to answer all their spiritual needs. In sincerity,
you've given them a part of your life.
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Then ... Wham! Somebody comes along who says you're not for real.
Seeds of doubt are planted. Their roots take hold before you can get
there to remove them, so the doubt grows deeper. Now, you feel like
you have to start at square one again.
Paul didn't hide his disappointment about this in the first two
chapters of this letter. And he didn't hide the fact that this hurt
his feelings either. Paul isn't bashful about expressing himself
about anything, you may have noticed, and he has a very effective way
of wording his wide range of emotions. Now, at this point he gets a
little snappy for a few words, and then he can't help but melt back
into the Paul who understands mankind, and ever seeks to guide them
back to righteousness. You can sort of imagine him, if he were
speaking these things instead of writing them, standing with his
fists propped on his sides and tapping one toe on the ground saying:
So, do we (Paul and Timothy) have to start all over again to prove
ourselves worthy? Or do we need letters of recommendation to show
you, or letters of commendation from you?
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The fists probably open up now and one hand covers the other, placed
over his heart as Paul reminds the Corinthians that they themselves
are the evidence of his worthiness.
You yourselves are the letter we have, written in our hearts
for all to read, known and read by all men, It is clear that Christ
wrote this letter and sent it by us, not written in ink, but with the
of the living God, not in tables of stone, but in human hearts.
And we have confidence that it couldn't come from us, we are only
able to deliver it [the New Covenant] from God by the Spirit because
the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.
We know how Paul likes to compare things by saying, If you think this
old thing was great, how can this new thing not be even greater? This
is sort of more evidence still, on Paul's behalf, of his worthiness,
that he is an able servant of the New Testament, as he said above. He
explains this further:
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2 Corinthians 3:7-8
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 [brilliance] of his
countenance; which glory was to be done away:
8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather
There are a few things to know, here. Firstly, what is the ministry
of death? It's just a phrase that Paul is using to describe law.
Remember how he explained in Romans and in 1 Corinthians, how the law
brings death and destruction, and Faith brings life and peace.
Secondly, the children of Israel didn't know that the Old Testament
was the "Old" Testament, or was going to be done away with and
replaced. They thought it was the "only" testament. As we've
discussed before, it was a glorious thing in those days. It was the
difference between them and the rest of the world. God gave them such
a righteous law, which nobody else had, which made them a people more
righteous than anyone else. It didn't become "Old" until the "New"
was brought to life (Hebrews
8:6-8) just as God predicted (Jeremiah
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Thirdly, the Old Testament was written on stones, the New Testament
is written in hearts. Which one is spiritual?
Okay, now remember that glory means magnificence in these next few
passages, and let's get back to Paul's letter as he repeats the
comparison in different words.
2 Corinthians 3:9-16
9 For if the ministration of condemnation [the Old
Covenant] be glory, much more doth the ministration of
righteousness [the New Covenant] exceed in glory.
10 For even that which was made glorious had no
glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that
excelleth [is greater].
11 For if that which is done away was glorious,
much more that which remaineth is glorious.
12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great
plainness [boldness] of speech:
13 And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face [Exodus
34:33-35], that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look
to the end of that which is abolished:
14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day
remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old
testament; which veil is done away in Christ.
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It's amazing how symbolic so many things from the Old Testament were.
If you haven't read this story about Moses in a while, after reading
Paul's explanation of it here, now is a great time to go back and
read it again, with your new understanding of its symbolism.
2 Corinthians 3:15-16
15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is
upon their heart.
16 Nevertheless when it [one's soul] shall turn to the
Lord, the veil shall be taken away.
34:34, when Moses went to talk to the Lord, he removed the veil.
When a person turns to the Lord, their blindness is taken away, the
veil is done away with, and you can clearly see Christ is the New Way.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18
17 Now the Lord is that Spirit [the Spirit that gives
life, that Paul talked about
earlier]: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty
18 But we all, with open [uncovered] face beholding as in
a glass [like seeing in a mirror] the glory of the Lord, are changed
into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the
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What does this mean? We are not blinded with a veil, so when you look
at yourself, you can see the magnificence of the Lord within you.
When He is in your heart, you reflect Him. You are in His image. His
magnificence is transferred to you by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The next time you look in the mirror, think about that! Now that's an
image to imagine.
Can't wait until next time when we share more Daily Bread. You know
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