Reading through the Bible together

Thursday, April 2, 2015

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The Apostle Paul reminds the believers in Corinth that they don’t need a letter of introduction to know about his character (3:1). Their very existence testifies about him and their own character.  And what is more, their lives testify about their spiritual journey. “You weren’t written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God. You weren’t written on tablets of stone but on tablets of the human heart (vs. 3).

In this way Paul is functioning as a pastor. He cares about them.  I know how Paul feels because as a pastor who now teaches pastors, I can tell you that I love to hear from my former church members. I rejoice with them when I hear good news, and weep with them at other times. Our hearts are bound together even though I may not hear from them very often.

Paul then goes into a contrast between his own ministry and that of Moses (as the following chart helps to illustrate):

Ministry of Moses 
Ministry had glory but also brought death and condemnation (2 Cor. 3:7, 9) 
Carved in letters on stone tablets (2 Cor. 3:7) 
Came with a glory that was temporary and faded away (2 cor. 3:7, 9-11)
Moses wore a veil to hide this temporary  glory (2 Cor. 3:13)
Minds of readers of Moses are closed, hearts veiled (2 Cor. 3:14-15) 

Ministry of Paul
Ministry of the “life-giving) Spirit that brings righteousness (2 Cor. 3:8, cf. 2 Cor. 3:6)
Written on tablets of human hearts (2 Cor. 3:3)
More glorious ministry with brighter, lasting glory (2 Cor. 3:8-11)
More glorious ministry with brighter, lasting glory (2 Cor. 3:8-11)
“All of us looking with unveiled faces at the glory of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18)
Those who turn to the Lord have the veil removed (2 Cor. 3:16)

Ultimately it is the “ministry of the Spirit” that is “much more glorious” (vs. 8). In fact it was Moses who pointed forward to the present day through the “old covenant.” These are not two separate covenants, but rather what Moses taught was like a “veil” that was “removed and taken away by Christ.” In other words, the work and words of Moses pointed forward to Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah.

Michael W. Campbell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Historical/Theological Studies
Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies