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3. Glory of the New Covenant
1Are we beginning again to commend ourselves? or need we, as do some, epistles of commendation to you or from you? 2Ye are our epistle, written in our hearts, known and read of all men; 3being made manifest that ye are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in tables that are hearts of flesh. 4And such confidence have we through Christ to God-ward: 5not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God; 6who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 7But if the ministration of death, written, and engraven on stones, came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look stedfastly upon the face of Moses for the glory of his face; which glory was passing away: 8how shall not rather the ministration of the spirit be with glory? 9For if the ministration of condemnation hath glory, much rather doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10For verily that which hath been made glorious hath not been made glorious in this respect, by reason of the glory that surpasseth. 11For if that which passeth away was with glory, much more that which remaineth is in glory. 12Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness of speech, 13and are not as Moses, who put a veil upon his face, that the children of Israel should not look stedfastly on the end of that which was passing away: 14but their minds were hardened: for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remaineth, it not being revealed to them that it is done away in Christ. 15But unto this day, whensoever Moses is read, a veil lieth upon their heart. 16But whensoever it shall turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit.
12. Having therefore this hope. Here he advances still farther, for he does not treat merely of the nature of the law, or of that enduring quality of which we have spoken, but also of its abuse. True, indeed, this also belonged to its nature, that, being covered with a veil, it was not so manifest to the eye, and that by its brightness it inspired terror, and accordingly Paul says elsewhere, what amounts to the same thing — that the people of Israel had received from it the spirit of bondage unto fear. (Romans 8:15.) Here, however, he speaks rather of an abuse that was foreign and adventitious. 399399 “D’vn abus accidental, et qui estoit venu d’ailleurs;” — “Of an abuse that was accidental, and that had come from another quarter.” There was at that time in all quarters a grievous stumbling-block arising from the wantonness of the Jews, inasmuch as they obstinately rejected Christ. 400400 “De ce qu’ils reiettoyent Iesus Christ d’vne malice endurcie;” — “Inasmuch as they rejected Christ with a hardened malice.” In consequence of this, weak consciences were shaken, being in doubt, whether they should embrace Christ, inasmuch as he was not acknowledged by the chosen people. 401401 “Veu que le peuple esleu ne le recognoissoit point pour Sauueur;” — “Inasmuch as the chosen people did not acknowledge him as a Savior.” This kind of scruple the Apostle removes, by instructing them, that their blindness had been prefigured even from the beginning, inasmuch as they could not behold the face of Moses, except through the medium of a veil. As, therefore, he had stated previously, that the law was rendered glorious by the lustre of Moses’ countenance, so now he teaches, that the veil was an emblem of the blindness that was to come upon the people of Israel, for the person of Moses represents the law. The Jews, therefore, acknowledged by this, that they had not eyes to behold the law, except when veiled.
This veil, he adds, is not taken away, except by Christ. From this he concludes, that none are susceptible of a right apprehension, but those who direct their minds to Christ. 402402 “Ceux qui appliquent leur entendement à cognoistre Christ;” — “Those who apply their understandings to the knowledge of Christ.” In the first place, he draws this distinction between the law and the Gospel — that the brightness of the former rather dazzled men’s eyes, than enlightened them, while in the latter, Christ’s glorious face is clearly beheld. He now triumphantly exults, on the ground that the majesty of the Gospel is not terrific, but amiable 403403 “Aimable, et attrayante;” — “Amiable, and attractive.” — is not hid, but is manifested familiarly to all. The term παῤῥησία confidence, he employs here, either as meaning an elevated magnanimity of spirit, with which all ministers of the Gospel ought to be endowed, or as denoting an open and full manifestation of Christ; and this second view is the more probable, for he contrasts this confidence with the obscurity of the law. 404404 “We speak not only with all confidence, but with all imaginable plainness; keeping back nothing; disguising nothing; concealing nothing; and here we differ greatly from Jewish doctors, and from the Gentile philosophers, who affect obscurity, and endeavor, by figures, metaphors, and allegories, to hide everything from the vulgar. But we wish that all may hear; and we speak so that all may understand.” — Dr. Adam Clarke. — Ed.