This is a paper that I wrote for my 2 Corinthians class. The reasons that I will post some of my own work for classes are two fold: 1. My writing needs to be critique and challenged. I will never become a better writer, arguer, and thinker if people don’t question my reasoning and point out my errors in writing. So please, if you read these let me know where you disagree with me with precision, not just a general “I don’t like.” Let me know what you don’t like and why you don’t like it. This would be a help to me to interact with you and hopefully sharpen both of our thinking. 2. Because what things I do study need to be passed on to aid others. Not that I have a lot of deep, spiritual things to say. But I want to aid in pointing people to Christ in any way I can. So enjoy!
2 Corinthians 3:1-18
What gave Paul confidence in his sufficiency for ministry was the glorious nature of the new covenant. In the midst of being rejected by Jews and seeing the churches he founded weakened by false teachers, one could think that Paul would consider his ministry futile. But nothing could be further from the truth.
What we see in this chapter is Paul’s sufficiency found in the effectual nature of the new covenant. Paul could press forward in his ministry because the nature of the old covenant had been supplanted by the glory of the new. This new covenant would be the ministry of the Spirit who was the one who accomplished the work.
This paper will argue the thesis by looking at four main sections of the chapter. The first section will look at the context leading up to the chapter. The next section will look at verses 1-6 and the aspects of the new covenant found there. Then in verses 7-11 Paul’s contrasting of the old and new covenants will be explored. Finally, we will look at the contrast between Paul’s and Moses’ ministry in verses 12-18.
The beginning context of the passage is chapter 2 verses 14 through 17. In this section Paul sees himself as a thankful prisoner of God spreading the knowledge of God for either the life or death of the hearers. We will see that Paul considers himself being made sufficient for this commission because of the manner by which he performs it.
Paul begins by proclaiming thankfulness to God. This thankfulness is given to God for what He is accomplishing through His apostles. God is leading Paul as a thankful prisoner in a triumphal procession.
Paul sees himself as a conquered, yet thankful, prisoner in God victory procession. When Paul uses the word θριαμβεύω it pictures an “elaborate celebration of victory for the conquering Roman general parading through the streets of Rome.” Part of the celebration was the general leading, “prisoners of war in a victory procession.” Thus, Paul sees himself as prisoner of God’s conquest through Christ.
Paul, also, sees Christ spreading the fragrance of the knowledge Himself everywhere through the apostle’s ministry. Paul builds on the fragrance metaphor to expound on the reception of the gospel message. Paul switches from Roman imagery to the sacrificial imagery used in the Old Testament. Paul was the aroma of Christ being offered to God among the world. This aroma separates the world into two groups: Those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To those being saved it is a fragrance of life. But “Paul does not smell sweet to everyone.” To those perishing it is a fragrance to death. Thus, its reception had eternal significance.
These truths act as the foundation for Paul’s ministerial actions. Paul is Christ’s trophy. Christ conquered Paul and uses him to spread the knowledge of God to everyone. The aroma of this message either saved or killed. Paul then asks the question about sufficiency. Who can be sufficient for such a calling that either brings death or life?
What is the answer to this question? On the one hand Paul could imply a negative answer and so deny self-sufficient for the ministry. Yet, “the idea of ‘sufficiency,’ in and of itself, carries no such pejorative connotations.” A person can say that he is capable of fulfilling a task without necessitating the denial of divine enablement. Paul will clarify why he is sufficient in verses 4 through 6 in chapter 3. Thus, Garland and Harris would see a “yes” and “no” tension. On the one hand, Paul is a qualified and capable messenger of this gospel and thus, his apostleship should not be rejected. Though, the reason he is capable is because God makes him sufficient (3:5). Also, the logical flow between 16b and 17 implies a positive answer. Finally, there is a connecting sufficiency theme running from these verses into chapter three. Thus, a positive answer for the first usage fits the theme of the whole passage. Therefore, Paul is sufficient for the task of this life and death commission given to him. For Paul, unlike those who are peddlers of the word of God, was sincere in his task. His commission demands that he comes with openness.
Therefore, Paul is compelled to be a minister of Christ. The question raised against him was one of sufficiency. Thus, the following chapter answers the question, “How does the new covenant relate to the theme of Paul’s sufficiency for ministry?”
In this section Paul will appeal to the Corinthians based on their inclusion into the new covenant. This new covenant is not like the old one which was ineffectual in what it produced. The new covenant supplies Paul’s sufficiency for ministry because of the effectual nature of the covenant. The old covenant could not provide salvation, the new covenant brings life and transformation by the power of the Spirit.
Paul asks about being commended about his ministry. Does his ministry need to be recommended to them again? If the Corinthians would look at themselves they would see the authenticity of Paul’s ministry. “The Corinthians need look only at themselves for proof that the new age of the new covenant has dawned.” They are on Paul’s heart as well as being open for all to read. Their conversion and growth in Christ demonstrates the authenticity of Paul’s ministry. Then Paul begins to lay out truths of the new covenant of which the Corinthians are partakers in.
Paul gives four descriptions/aspects of the new covenant. First he shows the Pneumtalogical and Christological dimensions of the new covenant. Second, he describes the hearts of men which received God’s actions. Third, Paul shows the sufficiency he receives from the covenant. And forth, he demonstrates the contrast between the letter and Spirit.
The first description of the new covenant in verse 3 displays the instrumentality of the Spirit through the person and work of Christ in the work of the new covenant. Paul tells the Corinthians that they are a letter from Christ. “Christ was the author of the letter, Paul was simply the amanuensis.” Paul was the servant (διακονέω) of Christ who brought about the salvation of the Corinthians. The Corinthians “have their origin in Christ and belong to him.” Paul highlights this truth to shed “light on the Christological newness of the new covenant.” The Spirit’s work is never accomplished outside and contrary to but always in correlation and agreement to the purposes and workings of Christ. For the letter, which is the Corinthians, was written with the Spirit himself. As Fee states, “This, of course, is for Paul the key to everything.” The Spirit takes an essential role in the salvation of the Corinthians in this new covenant. It is the Spirit who brings about their salvation.
The connection of the contrasts in this verse must be explored. What is the connection with the first contrast of ink with Spirit to tablets of stone and tablets of human hearts? Commentators have pointed out that it would be natural for Paul to speak in the second contrast about being written on papyrus. Yet, “Paul’s imagery is fluid, as one image leads to another that leads to another.” Thus, Paul makes the transition into this set of imagery. And the generally agreed upon understandings of “tablets of stone” has to do with the law and the old covenant. Some would see a denigration of the law taking place in this contrast. Thrall, for example, writes, “[it is contrasted] in such a way as to emphasise the superiority of Christian existence to life under the law of Moses.” The context, however, does not favor such a speculation. Instead, the context supports Meyer’s assertion, “The contrast of ineffectualness and effectualness lies at the heart of this comparison.” About the relation to law he writes,
We should not assume that Paul aims to denigrate the Mosaic law…Paul would affirm the divine origin of the law in that the very finger of God inscribed the Ten Words on those tablets of stone. Paul’s emphatic point lies elsewhere. The contrasting phrase highlights the different ways God acts under both covenants by focusing on the different objects of God’s inscribing action.
For Paul, the nature of the contrast will be the foundation of his confidence in verse 4. Also, the contrast is in relation to the Corinthian’s salvation. Thus, Paul’s point in the contrast lies in the effectual nature of the new covenant to salvation.
The second main point of the new covenant expressed in this verse is the object of God’s action. God no longer writes on πλαξὶν λιθίναις but on πλαξὶν καρδίαις σαρκίναις. The tablets of stone have already been connected with the Law given to Moses. In Deuteronomy 9:10 God gave to Moses tablets of stone with His law written upon them. The metaphor of the heart (καρδία) speaks as the “seat of physical, spiritual and mental life” With these two different tablets, Paul is describing the two different objects which God acted upon: One was of stone, and the other was of the heart.
The tablets of stone, the law, was God’s action for his people in the old covenant which was ineffectual in bringing new life. “God granted a great gift to Israel when he intervened in human history and provided a written expression of His will.” However, the problem with the law was that it did not grant the power upon one to conform to it. The law was a written code as to how one should live, no more than that. No enablement was given as part of the covenant. Thus, no inward effect happened to the Israelites.
Now, in the new covenant, the Spirit writes on tablets of “fleshly hearts” (καρδίαις σαρκίναις) which produces an effect. Undoubtedly Paul is referring to the passages in Ezekiel about God giving the Israelites a heart of flesh. “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh”  (Ezek. 11:19). and “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh”  (36:26). With both verses, the outcome of the new heart is a people who walk in obedience to the Lord. “That they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them” (11:20). Thus, on Paul’s mind is the promise that the fleshly hearts, which the Spirit inscribes on, will live after the Lord.
Thus, “For Paul, the old and the new are characterized by two different accounts of divine agency.” With the old covenant God gave external demands to the people. Yet, these demands met hearts of stone, the πλαξὶν λιθίναις, which would not receive them. But with the new “there is creation.” God turns a heart of stone into a heart of flesh, a heart which can be written on by the Spirit.
Paul then links these truths with another aspect of the new covenant, his confidence, through Christ to God, in verses 4-6. The truth that the hearts of the Corinthians are fleshly hearts allows Paul to be confident in regards to his ministry. Paul’s confidence is then directed though the person of Christ to be grounded in God. Paul can claim no part in this new creation of καρδίαις σαρκίναις. All the sufficiency and competency to be a minister comes from God.
The final aspectual nature of this new covenant is the letter and Spirit contrast. The new covenant, which is the foundation of Paul’s confidence, is not of γράμματος but of the πνεύματος. There are three classifications on different understandings of γράμματος. The first is to see a hermeneutical principal being conveyed. In this understanding there is a spiritual and a literal way of reading scripture. The second is to see a misuse or distorted view of the law taking place. Those under the law either misunderstood its purpose or used it in a legalistic way. The third does see γράμματος referring back to the law of Moses. From there, however, the view can be subdivided into two smaller categories. First, some see the law being cast in a negative light. Second, others would see negativity being place on the effectual nature of the law.
The best of these positions would be to see γράμματος as referring back to the law to show the ineffectual nature of it. Meyers pinpoints the primary problem with the first two groups. In the following verse Paul uses the same word which conveys the meaning, “that which is inscribed.” This clearly points to the words of Moses written in the law, rather than pointing to hermeneutics or hypothetical background situations. Thus, those in the new covenant are no longer under the ineffectual law.
Those in the new covenant are under the effectual power of the Spirit. The Spirit gives life, where as the “external work of the Law stands in contrast with the work of the Spirit, which is inward, effective and eschatological.” Ζωοποιέω points to the eschatological life the Spirit brings. The law can only stand to give condemnation to those under it since it cannot impart life, the Spirit “grants the physical and spiritual life of which he is the source.” Thus, “The new covenant is marked preeminently by inward divine enablement to carry out God’s will.”
Paul’ ministry is recommended to the Corinthians because of the effectual power of the new covenant. He does not need a written letter because the Spirit has already done His work in their lives. Paul is confident about this work because, where as the letter leads to death, the Spirit brings life.
Paul is going more in-depth into the sufficiency and confidence for His ministry by contrasting the covenants. To do this Paul discusses the supplanting of the new covenant in place of the old one. Two main contrasts of the covenants come out. The first is that the old one is defined by death and condemnation. While the new one is of the Spirit and defined by righteousness. The second is that the old covenant, under the law of Moses, was temporal and now done away with. But the new covenant is permanent. As such, the new covenant is more glorious than the first.
The old covenant was a glorious temporal covenant which brought condemnation upon those under it. Paul calls the covenant a ἡ διακονία τοῦ θανάτου. Death was one of the attributes of the old covenant according to Paul. The law did not bring death with itself but allowed sin to produce death through the commandment (Rom 7:11-14). But even with sin understood, the old covenant was “death-dealing.” For this ministry is also a τῇ διακονίᾳ τῆς κατακρίσεως. The old covenant only gave condemnation. Those under it could not live up to the demands of the law so they fell condemned.
With the new covenant we have a ministry of the Spirit which brings righteousness. Once again Paul defines the new covenant as being of the Spirit. “Transformation of human beings did not occur in the old era under the Mosaic law, but it has been effected by the power of the Spirit in the new age.” Thus, the workings of the Spirit in this ministry produce righteousness.
The primary issue regarding the nature of the covenants in this section is the temporal and permanent glories of each of the covenants. Paul uses the term for glory 10 times within these 5 verses. Both covenants are attributed with glory. Yet, the one carved in letters of stone was καταργουμένην. There is debate to whether this participle should be rendered “to nullify” or “come to and end” The best evidence suggests that the participle be rendered “to come to an end.” Hence, the glory from the face of Moses was “fading.” Thus, the old covenant, being symbolized by the face of Moses was being brought to an end “from the moment of its inception in Exodus.” Thus, the glories of the first covenant were temporal.
Now, we are under the ministry of the Spirit which is permanent and more glorious. The first covenant was ineffectual in producing righteousness. The new one is the ministry of Spirit who, “grants life to human beings and produces righteousness. Those who have the freedom of the Spirit have the ability to keep God’s requirements.” Because of the Israelites’ hardness of heart the commands of God where only carved letters on stone which pronounced judgment upon them. But now, those who are indwelt by the Spirit can produce righteousness. Thus, the old covenant is vastly inferior to the new age of the Spirit. The glory of the new covenant shines with more intensity to those that are in Jesus Christ.
It is on this truth that Paul is resting his sufficiency. He is a confident minister of the new covenant because of its permanent glory. The Spirit now works in the hearts of those who believe in Jesus to produce righteousness. The glory of the old covenant is now gone, what there is now is far better. Thus, Paul is a sufficient minister, for the very reason that he is not the ministry, but the Spirit is.
Paul grounds his boldness by contrasting his ministry with the ministry of Moses. Under Moses the people were unable to see the outcome of the covenant. They did not see the temporal nature and the fulfillment of it. This was because Moses put a veil over his eyes. Under the new covenantal ministry of Paul the veil is removed through Christ. And all those with unveiled faces become transformed by beholding the glory of the Lord. Thus, the covenantal realties undergird Paul’s boldness in ministry.
The contrast in these verses is one of κάλυμμα. Those under Moses were veiled and those who turn to Christ have the veil removed. Under the veil there is hardness; without the veil there is transformation. Paul switches in usage from the physical veil Moses used to the spiritual veil over people’s heart. To understand the contrast we will have to look at Paul’s usage and meaning of the veil.
To understand this section we must understand the veiling of Moses communicated here. This paper has already defended the position that by writing καταργουμένου Paul is referring to the old covenant. So, Paul would have Moses putting on the veil so that the Israelites would not gaze at the end of the fading old covenant. Several suggestions have been made to what is happening in this verse. What is difficult is Paul saying that the purpose of Moses putting on the veil was to keep them from seeing the end. Is there deception coming from Moses actions? The answer is of course, “no.” The reason we can give this answer is from what is written in the next verse.
Paul writes that the Israelites minds were ἐπωρώθη. This is a passive form of πωρόω which when used in the New Testament tells of “a situation of unbelief or misunderstanding…an obtuseness toward God’s revelation in Christ.” In the gospel accounts the passages in Mark 8 and in John 12 can be connected with Isaiah 6:9-10. And in Isaiah 6:9-10 Isaiah is given the charge to be a means of hardening Israel. Then in the passage in Romans 11:7-8 Paul says those who were not elect were ἐπωρώθησαν. Then to he uses Isaiah 29:10 and Deuteronomy 29:4 to prove this. And in these passages we have a clear testament to divine hardening.
Thus, Moses was a means of divine hardening upon Israel. No life was given with the old covenant. So “the Lord had not given spiritual perception and so Israel was hardened in unbelief.” Thus, the putting on the veil of Moses was an act of judgment upon Israel. This judgment kept them from seeing the end of what was fading. They were kept from seeing the future ministry of the Spirit coming through the Christ.
What happened with the veil physically with Moses happens spiritually upon those who still live under the old covenant. For the Jews in the Old Testament to the Jews that Paul interacted with, they both lived with veils over their eyes. “The spiritual veil over the hearts prevents the Israel of Paul’s day from perceiving the eclipse of that same covenant in the form of the new covenant.” They could not see the end of the covenant they were living in. Thus, when Paul interacted with the Jews, “they did not accept Paul’s preaching of the gospel of Christ from the Scriptures.”
This is contrasted, however, with the glorious nature of the new covenant. In the new covenant, when one turns to the Lord the veil is removed. This unveiling is a change in the heart. The heart is no longer hard against the things of God. Through Christ the veil is gone and the one enjoys the freedom of the Spirit. In this context it is best to see ἐλευθερία as speaking to both the “freedom from the veil of hard-heartedness,” and “freedom for beholding God’s glory.” Understanding freedom in this way bridges the two subjects of the veiled hearts (v12-16) and transformation from beholding God’s glory (v18). With this unveiled heart one is able to behold the glory of God. And from this glory he is transformed into the same image of who he is beholding. No longer are people’s hearts hard. Their hearts are open to the things of God. This is the glory of the new covenant.
Thus, Paul is very bold. Unlike Moses who was a means of divine hardening, his ministry unveils the heart to the glories of God. Paul can believe that his ministry will be a success because the sufficiency for it does not rest in him. He cannot unharden hearts. But the covenant he is under is defined by the Spirit who unveils hearts to see and glory of God. Thus, Paul is bold and confident.
Paul was a sufficient minister of Christ because his sufficiency was not from himself. He was a minister of a new covenant. This is in contrast to the old covenant which has faded away. The old covenant was ineffectual in changing the hearts of those under it. Thus, it became a ministry of death and condemnation. In this new covenant, however, the Spirit effectually unveiled hearts to the glory of God. And this unveiling would produce righteousness in those who had turned to the Lord. Paul could then strive forward in his apostleship knowing that his ministry would prove effective because of the Spirit.
Who or what is our hope for success in ministry. Like Paul, we minister while being surrounded by discouragement. There are individuals who come into the church for a while but then abandon the faith. There are countless false gospels coming from the world and from those who claim to be Christians. The world is losing interest in orthodoxy Christianity. The desire is for something that will fit the modern mood of spirituality. Those who do join along with this modern mood become the objects of ridicule and scorn.
There are several ways we could answer these problems. We could answer by cultural accommodation. We could attempt to make the church look exactly like the world wants it to look. We could answer by toning the message down. If we never talk about the things which offend others then they will never be offended by us. Or we can make the standard of truth so low that practically everyone gets in.
The problem with these, however, is that they are the means were by the church no longer remains the church. Those actions are none other than spiritual adultery with the world. So where then are we to get our hope and confidence that church will not prove futile?
It is right where Paul found it, in the new covenantal realties brought by God. We exist in a ministry where the sovereign Lord unveils the eyes to His glory. In a world where there is nothing but rebellion the indwelling Spirit produces righteousness in those who have been given fleshly hearts. We do not minister under a covenant where the people look unto the glory of God with harden hearts. We minister under a covenant where people are transformed by the glory when the Lord unveils their hearts. We are not the sufficiency for this, the Spirit is. And so, like Paul, we can move out in confidence that God will give us the victory.
Harris would classify this as a doxology since it is ascribing praise and glory to God. Murray J. Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2005), 141
Victor Paul Furnish, II Corinthians, In The Anchor Bible, vol. 32a. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1984), 187.
David E. Garland, 2 Corinthians, The New American Commentary, vol 29. ed. E. Ray Clendenen (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1999), 140.
Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament : Based on Semantic Domains, electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. (New York, NY: United Bible Societies, 1996, c1989), LN. 39:59.
Some would dispute the idea that Paul was seeing himself as being a prisoner in this procession. Barrett, Paul Barnett, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997), 97-98. and Calvin, John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XX: I Corinthians and II Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005), 157-158. would see Paul being a soldier in Christ’s army and sharing in the victory. For a rebuttal of this see Scott J. Hafemann, Suffering and Ministry in the Spirit: Paul Defense of His Ministry in II Corinthians 2:14-3:3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990), 19-34.
Another question arises about the outcome of the prisoners. Hafemann would say that what awaited the prisoners s of the procession was death. Hafemann, Suffering and Ministry in the Spirit, 21-22. He looks at triumphal processions described from the first century B.C. to the end of the first century A.D. and concludes, “to be ‘led in triumph’ means, in fact, to be ‘lead to death.’” Ibid., 34. This could work considering that Paul was one who felt as if he “had received the sentence of death” (2 Cor. 1:9). Who was “always carrying in the body the death of Jesus,” (2 Cor. 4:10) and who states that “death is at work” in him” (2 Cor. 4:12). Death was a constant possibility for Paul because of the sufferings he received.
Yet, Harris would point out, it does not fit the immediate context if Paul is seeing himself as being lead to death in verse 14. In verse 16 Paul speaks about death in such a connotation that Paul could not see himself as being a partaker in it. Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 246. Harris also points out that there were times when the captives were not executed. Ibid., 246.
So it may be the wisest to not push the metaphor too far. We do know that Paul was highlighting God’s triumph over him. But beyond that, any theory should not play a major role in understanding the passage.
Thus, ὀσμὴν, in verse 14, should be read with the same imagery in view. Scott J. Hafemann, 2 Corinthians, in The NIV Application Commentary, ed. Terry Muck (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 110-111. Against this, however, Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 246, and Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, International Critical Commentary (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1915), 67-68, would say that ὀσμὴν in verse 14 is still displaying the Roman metaphor of the incense being burned during the procession. Yet, even Harris says that the sacrificial system is being referred to in verses 15 and 16. Thus it seems inconsistent to have ὀσμή in verse 14 picture something different than what is pictured in verse 16. For a thorough study of the linguistic reason for making the switch on metaphor with ὀσμὴν in verse 14 see Hafemann, Suffering and Ministry in the Spirit, 35-45.
Cf. Peter Balla, “2 Corinthians” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, eds. G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 754. who says one does not have to chose one or the other. However, I believe the arguments made by Hafemann still stand.
Garland, 2 Corinthians, 150.
Barnett, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 102-103. See also Furnish, II Corinthians, 190-191.
Hafemann, Suffering and Ministry in the Spirit, 90.
Garland, 2 Corinthians, 150.
Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 253.
Hafemann, Suffering and Ministry in the Spirit, 89-90. See also Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 253, and Plummer, Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, 72-73.
Jason C. Meyer, The End of the Law: Mosaic Covenant in Pauline Theology, NAC Studies in Bible & Theology, ed. E. Ray Clendenen (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2009), 65.
Hafemann, 2 Corinthians, 118.
I am roughly following the four points Meyer lays out: (1) The Spirit is the instrument of writing in the new covenant, (2) the heart is the object of writing in the new covenant, and (3) the new covenant is the source of his ministerial sufficiency because (4) the Spirit is the intrinsic element of the new covenant that ensures its sufficiency for ministry. Meyer, The End of the Law, 67.
Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 263.
Gordon D. Fee, God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994), 303.
Meyer, The End of the Law, 69.
Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 303.
Plummer, Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, 82. Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 264.
Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 303.
Margaret E. Thrall, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on The Second Epistle to the Corinthians Volume I (Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark, 1994), 226.
Meyer, The End of the Law, 69.
Ibid., 69. See also Hafemann, “it is a contrast between the law as it usually functioned in the old covenant, in its impotency to change one’s heart, and the potency of the Spirit in its work in the heart within the new covenant.” Hafemann, Suffering and Ministry in the Spirit, 222.
καὶ ἔδωκεν κύριος ἐμοὶ τὰς δύο πλάκας τὰς λιθίνας γεγραμμένας ἐν τῷ δακτύλῳ τοῦ θεοῦ
Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, ed. and trans. Frederick W. Danker, William F. Arndt, and F. Wilber Gingrich [BDAG], 3rd Edition. (Chicago, Ill: University of Chicago Press, 2000), s.v. “καρδία”
Meyer, The End of the Law, 70.
καὶ δώσω αὐτοῖς καρδίαν ἑτέραν καὶ πνεῦμα καινὸν δώσω ἐν αὐτοῖς καὶ ἐκσπάσω τὴν καρδίαν τὴν λιθίνην ἐκ τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτῶν καὶ δώσω αὐτοῖς καρδίαν σαρκίνην
καὶ δώσω ὑμῖν καρδίαν καινὴν καὶ πνεῦμα καινὸν δώσω ἐν ὑμῖν καὶ ἀφελῶ τὴν καρδίαν τὴν λιθίνην ἐκ τῆς σαρκὸς ὑμῶν καὶ δώσω ὑμῖν καρδίαν σαρκίνην.
See Balla, “2 Corinthians”, 755, for the context of these verses.
Francis Watson, Paul and the Hermeneutics of Faith (New York, NY: T & T Clark, 2004), 312.
Jan Lambrecht, “Structure and Line of Thought in 2 Cor 2,14-4,6,” Biblica 64 (1983): 352. See also Barnett, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 111.
One cannot help but notice the distinctive redemptive works of each member of the trinity being mentioned by Paul here. Paul’s confidence is grounded in the salvific workings of each member of the trinity. The Spirit is the life of the new creation, Christ is the means of salvation, and God the Father is the final grounds of salvation’s plan.
Meyer footnotes present scholars who would accept variants of this view. Meyer, The End of the Law, 79 n. 61.
Barnett, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 112-113. Furnish, II Corinthians, 201. James D. G. Dunn, The Theology of the Apostle Paul (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998), 149.
There is a debate to the extent of the reference. Is it to the whole law of Moses or to just the Decalogue? Such a debate does not affect the outcome of the thesis so it will be passed.
For instance, the law was “a written code of duty so onerous as to kill hope and love.” Plummer, Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, 87. See also Thrall, 235.
Thus, “Again, the problem is not with the Law itself, but with the people whose hearts have remained hardened under the Sinai covenant.” Scott J. Hafemann, Paul, Moses, and the History of Israel (Tubingen, Germany: J. C. B. Mohr, 1995), 161. See also Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 305-306, Garland, 2 Corinthians, 166.
Meyer, The End of the Law, 80.
Mark A. Seifrid, “Unrighteous by Faith: Apostolic Proclamation in Romans 1:18-3:20,” in Justification and Variegated Nomism: Volume 2-The Paradoxes of Paul, eds. by D. A. Carson, Peter T. O’Brien, and Mark A. Seifrid (Tubingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2004), 134.
Meyer, The End of the Law, 82.
Richard B. Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (London, England: Yale University Press, 1989), 131.
Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 273-274.
Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 282.
This gives further proof that the old covenant was ineffectual. Meyer, The End of the Law, 86.
Thomas R. Schreiner, New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 481.
Meyer, The End of the Law, 87.
This has caused problems for scholars. As Paul Duff states, “That problem has to do with Paul’s association of δόξα with a διακονία that is otherwise described in association with death and condemnation.” Paul B. Duff, “Glory in the Ministry of Death: Gentile Condemnation and Letters of Recommendation in 2 Cor. 3:6-18,” Novum Testamentum 46 (2004): 318.
Sanders tries to bridge the association by saying that Paul held a tension. “Paul does not explain how it is that something which condemns and kills can be glorious. He is caught here as elsewhere between two convictions, but here there is no struggle to resolve them; he states them both as facts.” E. P. Sanders, Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. 1983), 138.
Hafemann would say that the point of Paul’s argument in these passages in not in differences of the covenants. “Indeed, the foundation of the argument is the similarity between the δόξα of the ‘ministry of death’ and that of ‘the ministry of the Spirit.’” Hafemann, Paul, Moses, and the History of Israel, 270-271. Cf. also Duff, “Glory in the Ministry of Death,” 319-320. Each one then takes this point to a different conclusion.
The position of this paper follows along the lines of Meyers who says, “Paul has no problem attributing glory to the old covenant as long as readers put the ‘old’ covenant in its proper eschatological place.” Meyer, The End of the Law, 87. n91.
BDAG gives it four ranges of meanings: 1) to cause something to be unproductive; 2) to cause something to lose its power or effectiveness; 3) to cause something to come to an end or to be no longer in existence; 4) to cause the release of someone from an obligation. BDAG, s.v. “καταργέω.”
Hafemann would render the meaning of the term, “to nullify.” Thus, Paul would be saying that the glory of the Lord shining off the face of Moses was nullified during that time to forestall judgment. “The glory on Moses’ face would have destroyed Israel due to their “stiff-necked” condition. Hafemann, Paul, Moses, and the History of Israel, 301-309.
However, Meyer gives three reasons against this proposal. 1) In verse 11 the contrasts of the same word speaks of something coming to an end. 2) The parallels in verses 14 and 16 have the veil being removed, not being nullified. 3) The Israelites had encounters with the glory shining off Moses’ face when he did not have the veil on (Ex. 34:34-35). Meyer, The End of the Law, 91.
BDAG, s.v. “καταργέω.” Gerhard Kittel and Geoffrey William Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-c1976), S. 1:452-454.
Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 284-285.Meyer, The End of the Law, 91-92.
Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 285.
Meyer, The End of the Law, 92.
There is a lot of discussion about how Paul uses the passage in Exodus 34. The text in Exodus never mentions that the glories of Moses were fading after Moses put the veil on. Balla’s words, however, suffice to give a good explanation of what is going on. “It is unnecessary to see in Paul’s words a reference to Moses actually hiding the fading of the glory, because it is Paul’s view of the character of the old dispensation that it is fading away. Thus Paul does not necessarily add to the OT text any content that was not there, but he refers to the OT and at the same time says that from a view point of the permanent new covenant, the old covenant is transitory. Balla, “2 Corinthians”, 760.
Thomas R. Schreiner, Paul: Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 135.
Thrall, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 257.
There have been a good amount of arguments about the proper rendering of τέλος here. The arguments are whether it should be rendered in a temporal sense (end) or a telic sense (goal). Yet, either understanding does not affect the thesis of this paper or section.
See Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 297-298. and Thrall, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 259-261. For thorough lists on the different positions.
Mark 6:52, 8:17; John 12:40; Romans 11:7.
Carol Kern Stockhausen, Moses’ Veil and the Glory of the New Covenant: The Exegetical Substructure of II Cor. 3,1-4,6, Analecta Biblica (Roma: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1989), 135.
It is well understood that John referencing Isaiah 6:9-10. For the passage in Mark, Gregory Beale puts the passage in the context of the book. In Mark 4 the direct quote from Isaiah was used to condemn the nation of Israel. And in Mark 8 Jesus uses the same terms in asking the disciples “whether they are also fulfilling the Isaiah 6 prophecy like the rest of hardened Israel.” G. K. Beale, We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008), 271.
Meyer, The End of the Law, 97-98.
This is one of the great tensions in the Bible, God judging those whom He hardens. One of the best examples of this is Pharaoh in Exodus. Before Moses came into Egypt God told him that He, the Lord, would harden Pharaoh’s heart (Ex. 4:21). Paul comments on this very passage in Romans and exclaims, “So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills” (Rom. 9:18). This mystery will never be solved on this side of eternity. We must keep ourselves faithful to both sides of the revelation: we are responsible, and He controls our choices. He hardens and those hardened are responsible for their hardness of heart.
Garland, 2 Corinthians, 194-195.
The Christological and Pneumtalogical issues with the phrase, “the Lord is the Spirit” will be passed over. Sufficient to say that this author holds to the orthodoxy understanding of the Trinity.
Meyer lists 4 main views about the meaning of ἐλευθερία found here. Meyer, The End of the Law, 103.
Hafemann, Paul, Moses, and the History of Israel, 401.
Meyer, The End of the Law, 103.
Plummer would want to render the participle κατοπτρίζω “to reflect.” Plummer, Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, 105-106. Yet, as Jan Lambrecht points out, the πάντες to ἡμεῖς reveals that Paul has all Christians κατοπτριζόμενοι. Thus, “to reflect” would not make sense. To understand it as “to behold” if perfectly. Jan Lambrecht, “Transformation in 2 Corinthians,” Biblica 64 (1983): 246-248. See Also Meyer, The End of the Law, 100-102.