New American Standard Bible
who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
King James Bible
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
Darby Bible Translation
who has also made us competent, as ministers of the new covenant; not of letter, but of spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit quickens.
World English Bible
who also made us sufficient as servants of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Young's Literal Translation
who also made us sufficient to be ministrants of a new covenant, not of letter, but of spirit; for the letter doth kill, and the spirit doth make alive.
2 Corinthians 3:6 Parallel
CommentaryBarnes' Notes on the Bible
Who also hath made us able ministers ... - This translation does not quite meet the force of the original. It would seem to imply that Paul regarded himself and his fellowlaborers as people of talents, and of signal ability; and that he was inclined to boast of it. But this is not the meaning. It refers properly to his sense of the responsibility and difficulty of the work of the ministry; and to the fact that he did not esteem himself to be sufficient for this work in his own strength 2 Corinthians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 3:5; and he here says that God had made him sufficient: not able, talented, learned, but sufficient ἱκάνωσεν ἡμᾶς hikanōsen hēmas; he has supplied our deficiency; he has rendered us competent, or fit; if a word may be coined after the manner of the Greek here, "he has sufficienced us for this work." There is no assertion, therefore, here, that they were people of talents, or special ability, but only that God had qualified them for their work, and made them by his grace sufficient to meet the toils and responsibilites of this arduous office.
Of the New Testament - Of the new covenant (note, Matthew 26:28), in contradistinction from the old covenant, which was established through Moses. They were appointed to go forth and make the provisions of that new covenant known to a dying world.
Not of the letter - Not of the literal, or verbal meaning, in contradistinction from the Spirit; see the notes on Romans 2:27, Romans 2:29; Romans 7:6. This is said, doubtless, in opposition to the Jews, and Jewish teachers. They insisted much on the letter of the Law, but entered little into its real meaning. They did not seek out the true spiritual sense of the Old Testament; and hence, they rested on the mere literal observance of the rites and ceremonies of religion without understanding their true nature and design. Their service, though in many respects conformed to the letter of the Law, yet became cold, formal, and hypocritical; abounding in mere ceremonies, and where the heart had little to do. Hence, there was little pure spiritual worship offered to God; and hence also they rejected the Messiah whom the old covenant prefigured, and was designed to set forth.
For the letter killeth - compare notes on Romans 4:15; Romans 7:9-10. The mere letter of the Law of Moses. The effect of it was merely to produce condemnation; to produce a sense of guilt, and danger, and not to produce pardon, relief, and joy. The Law denounced death; condemned sin in all forms; and the effect of it was to produce a sense of guilt and condemnation.
But the spirit giveth life - The spirit, in contradistinction from the mere literal interpretation of the Scriptures. The Spirit, that is, Christ, says Locke, compare 2 Corinthians 3:17. The spirit here means, says Bloomfield, that new spiritual system, the gospel. The Spirit of God speaking in us, says Doddridge. The spirit here seems to refer to the New Testament, or the new dispensation in contradistinction from the old. That was characterized mainly by its strictness of Law, and by its burdensome rites, and by the severe tone of its denunciation for sin. It did not in itself provide a way of pardon and peace. Law condemns; it does not speak of forgiveness. On the contrary, the gospel, a spiritual system, is designed to impart life and comfort to the soul. It speaks peace. It comes not to condemn, but to save. It discloses a way of mercy, and it invites all to partake and live. It is called "spirit," probably because its consolations are imparted and secured by the Spirit of God - the source of all true life to the soul. It is the dispensation of the Spirit; and it demands a spiritual service - a service that is free, and elevated, and tending eminently to purify the heart, and to save the soul; see the note on 2 Corinthians 3:17.
Liberty is the heirloom of all the sons and daughters of Adam. But where do you find liberty unaccompanied by religion? True it is that all men have a right to liberty, but it is equally true that you do not meet it in any country save where you find the Spirit of the Lord. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." Thank God, this is a free country. This is a land where I can breathe the air and say it is untainted by the groan of a single slave; my lungs receive it, and I know there has …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 1: 1855
How to Become Like Christ.
The Two Covenants: the Transition
The Image of God in Man.
"Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.
"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.
But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
1 Corinthians 3:5
What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.
1 Corinthians 11:25
In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
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