James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.2 Corinthians 2:14-4:7
TRIUMPHS OF PAUL’S MINISTRY
Pursuing the consideration of his principles of action, Paul now shows his ministry to have been a triumphant one, notwithstanding the opposition of his enemies (2 Corinthians 2:14-17). The triumph however, was of God’s power and grace, and not in himself. Note the comparison between himself and the false teachers (2 Corinthians 2:17).
It was not only a triumphant ministry but one fully accredited by themselves (2 Corinthians 3:1-5).
It was a spiritual ministry as distinguished from one of legalism (2 Corinthians 3:6-18). This is the meaning of “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (2 Corinthians 3:6), the first referring to Judaism and the latter to the Gospel of grace. Not that Paul would disparage the former which was glorious in its revelation (2 Corinthians 3:7), but the latter more so (2 Corinthians 3:8-15). Prof. Robertson in The Glory of the Ministry gives a beautiful exposition of the last-named verses. The glory of Moses was:
1. A Real Glory “the ministration of death written and engraven in stones, was glorious”; 2. A Hidden Glory “Moses put a veil over his face; 3. A Temporary Glory “Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished”; 4. An Overshadowed Glory “if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory”; 5. A Defective Glory “who hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter but of the spirit” 6. An Ineffective Glory “their minds were blinded.”
Verses 13-14 referring to Exodus 34:33-35, are rather obscure because of a wrong rendering of the Old Testament passage. The Revised Version indicates that the Israelites saw the glory on Moses’ face as he spake; but when he had ceased, the veil was put on that they might not look on the end, i.e., the fading of that transitory glory. They were permitted to see it as long as it was necessary to be seen as a credential of his ministry but then it was withdrawn. Thus the declaration of God’s will to them was not in openness of speech, but interrupted and broken by intervals of concealment. This was not the case in the Christian dispensation of which Paul was a minister.
It was an honest ministry (2 Corinthians 4:1-7), for the reason that the apostle’s life harmonized with the truth he preached (2 Corinthians 4:1-2); because it was Jesus Christ he preached and not himself (2 Corinthians 4:3-6); and because the power in which he preached was of God (2 Corinthians 4:7).
1. What four points concerning Paul’s ministry are here named?
2. How do you understand the distinction between the “letter” and the “spirit”?
3. Give an analysis of 2 Corinthians 3:8-15.
4. How does the Revised Version throw light on Exodus 34:35?
5. On what grounds was Paul’s ministry honest?