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Verse 6. Who also hath made us able ministers, etc. This translation does not quite meet the force of the original. It would seem to imply that Paul regarded himself and his fellow-labourers as men 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 Co 2:16; 3:5;) and he here says that God had made him sufficient—not able, talented, learned, but sufficient, (ikanwsen hmav;) 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 men of talents or peculiar ability, but only that God had qualified them for their work, and made them by his grace sufficient to meet the toils and responsibilities of this arduous office.

Of the new testament. Of the new covenant, See Barnes "Mt 21:28, 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 Barnes "Ro 2:27, See Barnes "Ro 2:29"; See Barnes "Ro 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. Comp. See Barnes "Ro 4:15"; See Barnes "Ro 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 front the mere literal interpretation of the Scriptures. The Spirit, that is, Christ, says Locke. Comp. 2 Co 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 Barnes "2 Co 3:17".


{c} "able ministers" Eph 3:7; 1 Ti 1:12 {d} "the new testament" Mt 26:28; He 8:6-10 {e} "but of the spirit" Ro 2:28,29 {f} "letter killeth" Ro 4:15; 7:9,10

{g} "spirit giveth" Joh 6:63; Ro 8:2 {1} "giveth life" "quickeneth"

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