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Chapter 3

3:1 To commend ourselves? [heautous sunistanein?]. Late (Koinē) form of [sunistēmi], to place one with another, to introduce, to commend. Paul is sensitive over praising himself, though his enemies compelled him to do it. Epistles of commendation [sustatikōn epistolōn]. Late verbal adjective from [sunistēmi] and often in the papyri and in just this sense. In the genitive case here after [chrēizomen]. Such letters were common as seen in the papyri (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 226). N.T. examples of commending individuals by letters occur in Ac 15:25f.; 18:27 (Apollos), 1Co 16:10f. (Timothy); Ro 16:1 (Phoebe with the verb [sunistēmi]; Col 4:10 (Mark); 2Co 8:22f. (Titus and his companion).

3:2 Ye are our epistle [hē epistolē hēmōn humeis este]. Bold turn. Paul was writing in their hearts. Known and read [ginōskomenē kai anaginōskomenē]. Play on the word. Literally true. Professing Christians are the Bible that men read and know.

3:3 An epistle of Christ [epistolē Christou]. He turns the metaphor round and round. They are Christ’s letter to men as well as Paul’s. Not with ink [ou melani]. Instrumental case of [melas], black. Plato uses [to melan] for ink as here. See also 2Jo 1:12; 3Jo 1:13. Of stone [lithinais]. Composed of stone [lithos] and ending [-inos]. Of flesh [sarkinais]. “Fleshen” as in 1Co 3:1; Ro 7:14.

3:4 Through Christ [dia tou Christou]. It is not self-conceit on Paul’s part, but through Christ.

3:5 Of ourselves [aph’ heautōn]. Starting from ourselves (reflexive pronoun). As from ourselves [hōs ex hautōn]. He says it over again with preposition [ex] (out of). He has no originating power for such confidence. Sufficiency [hikanotēs]. Old word, only here in N.T.

3:6 Who also made us sufficient for such confidence [hos kai hikanōsen hēmas]. Late causative verb from [hikanos] (verse 5) first aorist active indicative, “who (God) rendered us fit.” In N.T. only here and Col 1:12. As ministers of a new covenant [diakonous kainēs diathēkēs]. Predicate accusative with [hikanōsen]. For [diathēkē] see on Mt 26:28 and for [diakonos] on Mt 20:26 and for [kainēs] (fresh and effective) on Lu 5:38. Only God can make us that.

3:7 Of death [tou thanatou]. Subjective genitive, marked by death in its outcome (cf. 1Co 15:56; Ga 3:10). The letter kills. Engraven on stones [entetupōmenē lithois]. Perfect passive participle of [entupoō], late verb, to imprint a figure [tupos]. Used by Aristias (67) of the “inlaid” work on the table sent by Ptolemy Philadelphus to Jerusalem. [Lithois] in locative case. Came with glory [egenēthē en doxēi]. In glory. As it did, condition of first class, assumed as true. See Ex 34:29, 35. Look steadfastly [atenisai]. Late verb from [atenēs] (stretched, intent, [teinō] and [a] intensive) as in Lu 4:20; Ac 3:4. Was passing away [katargoumenēn]. Late verb, to render of no effect, and present passive participle here as in 1Co 2:6.

3:8 How shall not rather? [pōs ouchi mallon?]. Argumentum a minore ad majus (from the less to the greater). Of the spirit [tou pneumatos]. Marked by the spirit. Picture of the Christian ministry now.

3:9 Of condemnation [tēs katakriseōs]. Genitive, that brings condemnation because unable to obey the law. Is glory [doxa]. No copula, but makes the figure bolder. Paul freely admits the glory for the old dispensation. Of righteousness [tēs dikaiosunēs]. Marked by and leading to righteousness. See 11:15. Much more [pollōi mallon]. Instrumental case, by much more. Exceed [perisseuei]. Overflow.

3:10 In this respect [en toutōi tōi merei]. The glory on the face of Moses was temporary, though real, and passed away (verse 7), a type of the dimming of the glory of the old dispensation by the brightness of the new. The moon makes a dim light after the sun rises, “is not glorified” [ou dedoxastai], perfect passive indicative of [doxazō]. By reason of the glory that surpasseth [heineken tēs huperballousēs doxēs]. The surpassing [huper-ballō], throwing beyond) glory. Christ as the Sun of Righteousness has thrown Moses in the shade. Cf. the claims of superiority by Christ in Mt 5-7.

3:11 Passeth away [katargoumenon]. In process of disappearing before the gospel of Christ. Remaineth [menon]. The new ministry is permanent. This claim may be recommended to those who clamour for a new religion. Christianity is still alive and is not dying. Note also [en doxēi], in glory, in contrast with [dia doxēs], with glory. Boldness [parrēsiāi]. Instrumental case after [chrōmetha]. Old word, [panrēsis=parrēsis], telling it all, absolute unreservedness. Surely Paul has kept nothing back here, no mental reservations, in this triumphant claim of superiority.

3:13 Put a veil upon his face [etithei kalumma epi to prosōpon autou]. Imperfect active of [tithēmi], used to put (Ex 34:33). That the children of Israel should not look steadfastly [pros to mē atenisai tous huious]. Purpose expressed by [pros] and the articular infinitive with negative [] and the accusative of general reference. The Authorized Version had a wrong translation here as if to hide the glory on his face.

3:14 But their minds were hardened [alla epōrōthē ta noēmata autōn]. Their thoughts [noēmata] literally. [Pōroō] (first aorist passive indicative here) is late verb from [pōros], hard skin, to cover with thick skin (callus), to petrify. See on Mr 6:52; 8:17. Of the old covenant [tēs palaias diathēkēs]. The Old Testament. [Palaios] (ancient) in contrast to [kainos] (fresh, verse 6). See Mt 13:52. The same veil [to auto kalumma]. Not that identical veil, but one that has the same effect, that blinds their eyes to the light in Christ. This is the tragedy of modern Judaism. Unlifted [mē anakaluptomenon]. Present passive participle of [anakaluptō], old verb, to draw back the veil, to unveil. Is done away [katargeitai]. Same verb as in verses 7, 11.

3:15 Whensoever Moses is read [hēnika an anaginōskētai Mōusēs]. Indefinite temporal clause with [hēnika] an and the present passive subjunctive. A veil lieth upon their heart [epi tēn kardian autōn keitai]. Vivid and distressing picture, a fact that caused Paul agony of heart (Ro 9:1-5). With wilful blindness the rabbis set aside the word of God by their tradition in the time of Jesus (Mr 7:8f.).

3:16 It shall turn [epistrepsei]. The heart of Israel. The veil is taken away [periaireitai to kalumma]. Present passive indicative of [periaireō], old verb, to take from around, as of anchors (Ac 27:40), to cut loose (Ac 28:13), for hope to be taken away (Ac 27:20). Here Paul has in mind Ex 34:34 where we find of Moses that [periēireito to kalumma] (the veil was taken from around his face) whenever he went before the Lord. After the ceremony the veil is taken from around [peri-] the face of the bride.

3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit [ho de Kurios to pneuma estin]. Some, like E. F. Scott (The Spirit in the N.T.), take [Kurios] here to be Christ and interpret Paul as denying the personality of the Holy Spirit, identifying Christ and the Holy Spirit. But is not Bernard right here in taking [Kurios] (Lord) in the same sense here as in Ex 34:34 [enanti Kuriou], before the Lord), the very passage that Paul is quoting? Certainly, the Holy Spirit is interchangeably called in the N.T. the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ (Ro 8:9f.). Christ dwells in us by the Holy Spirit, but the language here in 2Co 3:17 should not be pressed unduly (Plummer. See also P. Gardner, The Religious Experience of St. Paul, p. 176f.). Note “the Spirit of the Lord” here. Liberty [eleutheria]. Freedom of access to God without fear in opposition to the fear in Ex 34:30. We need no veil and we have free access to God.

3:18 We all [hēmeis pantes]. All of us Christians, not merely ministers. With unveiled face [anakekalummenōi prosōpōi]. Instrumental case of manner. Unlike and like Moses. Reflecting as in a mirror [katoptrizomenoi]. Present middle participle of [katoptrizō], late verb from [katoptron], mirror [kata, optron], a thing to see with). In Philo (Legis Alleg. iii. 33) the word means beholding as in a mirror and that idea suits also the figure in 1Co 13:12. There is an inscription of third century B.C. with [egkatoptrisasthai eis to hudōr], to look at one’s reflection in the water. Plutarch uses the active for mirroring or reflecting and Chrysostom takes it so here. Either makes good sense. The point that Paul is making is that we shall not lose the glory as Moses did. But that is true if we keep on beholding or keep on reflecting (present tense). Only here in N.T. Are transformed [metamorphoumetha]. Present passive (are being transformed) of [metamorphoō], late verb and in papyri. See on Mt 17:2; Mr 9:2 where it is translated “transfigured.” It is the word used for heathen mythological metamorphoses. Into the same image [tēn autēn eikona]. Accusative retained with passive verb [metamorphoumetha]. Into the likeness of God in Christ (1Co 15:48-53; Ro 8:17,29; Col 3:4; 1Jo 3:2). As from the Lord the Spirit [kathaper apo Kuriou pneumatos]. More likely, “as from the Spirit of the Lord.”

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