Living Epistles of Christ
2 Corinthians 3:1-5
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, letters of commendation to you…

I. "AN EPISTLE OF CHRIST" IS THE TITLE OF EVERY BELIEVER. In the N.T. Epistles we have the promised further revelation of Christ. We call them for convenience the epistles of Paul, or of Peter, etc.; but they are the epistles of Christ, from and concerning Him. So believers are a revelation of the Redeemer to the world; and as these apostolic letters carried light wherever they went, so the world is to read on the Christian the mind and grace of Jesus.

1. Christ's work will necessarily witness to Him. The world cannot look on any true servant of Christ without receiving an impression of the Master.

2. Christ's purpose concerning the world requires that every Christian be an epistle of Christ. With multitudes the gospel will be powerless until its truth is proved by its effects.

3. Christ's love to His people affords this usefulness to all of them. For to help others to Him is to enter into the joy of our Lord, and He would deprive none of His beloved of that. One of the Florentine princes commanded Michael Angelo to fashion a statue from the drifted snow before his palace, and the great artist, ignoring the scorn, wrought at the task as though he chiselled the enduring marble; and when it began to melt at the sun's touch, and the contemptuous prince laughed at what he thought the vanity of the toil, the sculptor solaced himself with the reflection, "The thought I threw into that snow shall stir this gazing people when their gaze is done." Our common tasks are fleeting, yet we may throw a piety into them whose memory will abide for good with those that saw it to distant years.


1. There must be the erasure of the old writing. In ancient monasteries the monks would take old parchments, and, removing the writing they bore, write sacred truth on them instead; so it happened that, where before men read annals of conquest, or heathen laws, or pagan blasphemies, then they read the Word of God. Till the old heathen writing on us be removed, there is no room for the new, nor would it stand much chance of being seen. So Christ removes it. We cannot; no human skill can cleanse the blotted page of an evil character.

2. There must be the impression of His will on the character by fellowship with Him. In fellowship with Christ a subtle influence is exerted on us which must leave its mark; we cannot be with Him without acquiring a hatred of sin, without His peace possessing us, without our love and courage being inflamed, which must show themselves when we pass out to men again.

3. When He has done that there may remain the bringing out of some of His deepest writings by fire. For as great secrets have been written on that prepared surface which conceals the writing till it is exposed to heat, and then line after line of unsuspected story appears, so some of Christ's most sacred messages only steal out in the lives of His people in the hour of trial. The chamber of Christian sorrow has many a time been the place of Divine revelation.

III. Then, surely, HAVING WRITTEN HIS EPISTLE, HE SENDS IT. To write a letter without sending it were vain. The Bible is God's letter to the world; we may think of His people as supplementary letters to individuals.

1. Then He will see it comes to them. This is the meaning of many of His providential dealings with us.

2. We may expect Him to call their attention to us whom He means us to reach. He will not suffer that to be unread which He has written; His Spirit works with His providence, and turns men's eyes where He would have them look.

3. And that shows God's special mercy to some. When they have failed to read the Bible He has given them, He is so earnest for their redemption that He sends a letter to themselves.


(C. New.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?

WEB: Are we beginning again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as do some, letters of commendation to you or from you?

Living Epistles
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