"THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" Chapter Three OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To learn how one becomes an "epistle of Christ" 2) To see the contrast between the old and new covenants 3) To appreciate the role of the Spirit in the new covenant, and in producing our transformation SUMMARY Having just begun vindicating his ministry as an apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul reminds the Corinthians that he really needs no letter of accreditation, for they are his epistles of commendation. Through his ministry, in which he had written upon their hearts with the Spirit of the living God, they themselves have become an epistle of Christ (1-3). This he says, with full realization that it is God who has made him sufficient as a minister of the new covenant, which is a ministry of the Spirit who gives life (4-6). Paul then proceeds to contrast the new covenant with the old covenant, to illustrate the glorious nature of his ministry. With Exodus 34:29-35 as his reference, he equates the glory of the old covenant with the glory on Moses' face that was temporary. But if the old covenant, described as one of death and condemnation, had glory, then how much more glorious is the new covenant, a ministry of the Spirit and of righteousness which is not passing away (7-11)! Paul then declares that those who listen only to the Old Testament still have a veil on their hearts (12-15). But when we turn to the Lord (whom Paul equates with the Spirit), the veil is taken away and there is liberty. Also, by beholding the glory of the Lord with an unveiled face, we are being transformed into the same glorious image by the Spirit of the Lord (16-18) OUTLINE I. THE "ACCREDITED" NATURE OF PAUL'S MINISTRY (1-3) A. PAUL HAS NO NEED FOR LETTERS OF COMMENDATION (1) 1. He does not mean by his words to commend himself (1a) 2. For Paul does not need, as might others, letters of recommendation (1b) B. THE CORINTHIANS ARE PAUL'S EPISTLES OF COMMENDATION (2-3) 1. They are evidence of his handiwork, which all can know and read (2) 2. They are an "epistle of Christ," upon whose hearts Paul has written with the Spirit of the living God (3) II. THE "GLORIOUS" NATURE OF PAUL'S MINISTRY (4-18) A. HIS TRUST AND SUFFICIENCY IS FROM GOD (4-6) 1. His trust is not based upon confidence in himself, but in Christ and the sufficiency that God provides (4-5) 2. God has made him sufficient as a minister of the new covenant (6) a. A covenant of the Spirit, not of the letter b. A covenant that gives life, not death B. THE GLORY OF THE NEW COVENANT (7-18) 1. In contrast with the Old Covenant, written and engraved on stones (7-11) a. The ministry of death vs. the ministry of the Spirit (7-8) b. The ministry of condemnation vs. the ministry of righteousness (9-10) c. That which is passing away vs. that which remains (11) 2. In comparison with the Lawgiver, Moses (12-16) a. With the more glorious nature of the new covenant, Paul could speak with great boldness (12) b. With the reading of Moses (the Old Testament), however, a veil remains on the heart (12-15) 1) An allusion to the events of Exodus 34:29-35 2) With the veil on Moses' face, the children of Israel could not see that the glory of his face was fading (13) 3) Israel's inability to see then is like their inability today, unless they come to Christ (14-15) c. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed, just as Moses did when he returned to the presence of the Lord (16) 3. Summary explanation (17-18) a. Paul explains that the Lord of verse 16 is the Spirit of the Lord, who provides liberty (17) b. When we (like Moses) are able to behold with unveiled face the glory of the Lord, the Spirit of the Lord transforms us into the same image (18)
REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER Move your mouse pointer underneath each question to see the answer.
1) What are the main points of this chapter? 2) Who was Paul's "epistle of commendation"? (1-2) 3) What writing instrument had Paul used to make the Corinthians an "epistle of Christ"? And upon what had he written? (3) 4) Who made Paul sufficient as a minister of the new covenant? (5-6a) 5) Of what is the new covenant? And what does it give? (6b) 6) How is the "old covenant" described in verses 7-9? 7) How is the "new covenant" described in verses 7-9? 8) What is said of the glory of the old covenant when compared with the glory of the new covenant? (10) 9) How else are the old and new covenants described in verse 11? 10) What remains on the heart when only the Old Testament is read? (14-15) 11) What happens when one turns to the Lord? (16) 12) In turning to the Lord, who is it one is actually turning to, and what does one find? (17) 13) As we behold the glory of the Lord with unveiled face, what happens? (18) 14) By whom does this transformation take place? (18)