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THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 13

Verse 13. And not as Moses. Our conduct is not like that of Moses. We make no attempt to conceal anything in regard to the nature, design, and duration of the gospel. We leave nothing designedly in mystery.

Which put a vail over his face. That is, when he came down from Mount Sinai, and when his face shone: Ex 34:33, "And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face." This vail he put off when he went to speak with God, but put on again when he delivered his commands to the people. What was the design of this, Moses has not himself declared. The statement which he makes in Exodus would lead us to suppose that it was on account of the exceeding brightness and dazzling splendour which shone around him, and which made it difficult to look intently upon him; and that this was in part the reason, even Paul himself seems to intimate in 2 Co 3:7. He, however, in this verse intimates that there was another design, which was that he might be, as Doddridge expresses it, "a kind of type and figure of his own dispensation."

That the children of Israel. Mr. Locke understands this of the apostles, and supposes that it means, "We do not vail the light so that the obscurity of what we deliver should hinder the children of Israel from seeing in the law, which was to be done away, Christ who is the end of the law." But this interpretation is forced and unnatural. The phrase rendered "that" (prov to) evidently connects what is affirmed here with the statement about Moses; and shows that the apostle means to say that Moses put the vail on face in order that the children of Israel should not be able to see to the end of his institutions. That Moses had such a design, and that the putting on of the vail was emblematic of the nature of his institutions, Paul here distinctly affirms. No one can prove that this was not his design; and in a land and time when types, and emblems, and allegorical modes of speech were much used, it is highly probable that Moses meant to intimate that the end and full purpose of his institutions were designedly concealed.

Could not stedfastly look. Could not gaze intently upon, (atenisai.) See Barnes "2 Co 3:7".

They could not clearly discern it; there was obscurity arising from the fact of the designed concealment. He did not intend that they should clearly see the full purport and design of the institutions which he established.

To the end. eiv to telov. Unto the end, purpose, design, or ultimate result of the law which he established. A great many different interpretations have been proposed of this. The meaning seems to me to be this: There was a glory and splendour in that which the institutions of Moses typified, which the children of Israel were not permitted then to behold. There was a splendour and lustre in the face of Moses, which they could not gaze upon, and therefore he put a vail over it to diminish its intense brightness. In like manner there was a glory and splendour in the ultimate design and scope of his institutions, in that to which they referred, which they were not then able, i.e. prepared to look on, and the exceeding brightness of which he of design concealed. This was done by obscure types and figures, that resembled a vail thrown over a dazzling and splendid object. The word "end," then, I suppose, does not refer to termination, or close, but to the design, scope, or purpose of the Mosaic institutions; to that which they were intended to introduce and adumbrate. THAT END was the Messiah, and the glory of his institutions. See Barnes "Ro 10:4, "Christ is the end of the law." And the meaning of Paul, I take to be, is, that there was a splendour and a glory in the gospel which the Mosaic institutions were designed to typify, which was so great that the children of Israel were not fully prepared to see it, and that he designedly threw over that glory, the vail of obscure types and figures; as he threw over his face a vail that partially concealed its splendour. Thus interpreted there is a consistency in the entire passage, and very great beauty. Paul, in the following verses, proceeds to state that the vail to the view of the Jews of his time was not removed; that they still looked to the obscure types and institutions of the Mosaic law, rather than on the glory which they were designed to adumbrate; as if they should choose to look on the vail on the face of Moses, rather than on the splendour which it concealed.

Of that which is abolished. Or rather, to be abolished, (tou katargoumenou;) whose nature, design, and intention it was that it should be abolished. It was never designed to be permanent; and Paul speaks of it here as a thing that was known and indisputable that the Mosaic institutions were designed to be abolished.

{*} "children of Israel" "Israelites" {a} "to the end of that" Ro 10:4

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