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Introduction to 2nd Corinthians Chapter 3

THIS chapter is closely connected in its design with the preceding. Paul had said in that chapter, (

@@Co 2:14, ) that he had always occasion to triumph in the success which, he had, and that God always blessed his labours; and especially had spoken, in the close of the previous chapter, (2 Co 2:17,) of his sincerity as contrasted with the conduct of some who corrupted the word of God. This might appear to some as if he designed to commend himself to them, or that he had said this for the purpose of securing their favour. It is probable, also, that the false teachers at Corinth had been introduced there by letters of recommendation, perhaps from Judea. In reply to this, Paul intimates (2 Co 3:1) that this was not his design; 2 Co 3:2 that he had no need of letters of recommendation to them, since (2 Co 3:2,3) they were his commendatory epistle; they were themselves the best evidence of his zeal, fidelity, and success in his labours. He could appeal to them as the best proof that he was qualified for the apostolic office. His success among them, he says, (2 Co 3:4,) was a ground of his trusting in God, an evidence of his acceptance. Yet, as if he should seem to rely on his own strength, and to boast of what he had done, he says (2 Co 3:5) that his success was not owing to any strength which he had, or to any skill of his own, but entirely to the aid which he had received from God. It was God, he says, (2 Co 3:6,) who had qualified him to preach, and had given him grace to be an able minister of the New Testament.

It is not improbable that the false teachers, being of Jewish origin, in Corinth, had commended the laws and institutions of Moses as being of superior clearness, and even as excelling the gospel of Christ. Paul takes occasion, therefore, (2 Co 3:7-11,) to show that the laws and institutions of Moses were far inferior, in this respect, to the gospel. His was a ministration of death, (2 Co 3:7;) though glorious, it was to be done away, (2 Co 3:7;) the ministration of the Spirit was therefore to be presumed to be far more glorious, (2 Co 3:8;) the one was a ministration to condemnation, the other of righteousness, (2 Co 3:9;) the one had comparatively no glory, being so much surpassed by the other, (2 Co 3:10;) and the former was to be done away, while the latter was to remain, and was therefore far more glorious, 2 Co 3:11.

This statement of the important difference between the laws of Moses and the gospel is further illustrated, by showing the effect which the institutions of Moses had had on the Jews themselves, (2 Co 3:12-15.) That effect was to blind them. Moses had put a veil over his face, (2 Co 3:13;) and the effect had been that the nation was blinded in reading the Old Testament, and had no just views of the true meaning of their own Scriptures, 2 Co 3:14,15.

Yet, Paul says, that that veil should be taken away, 2 Co 3:16-18. It was the intention of God that it should be removed. When that people should turn again to the Lord, it should be taken away, 2 Co 3:16. It was done where the Spirit of the Lord was, 2 Co 3:17. It was done, in fact, in regard to all true Christians, 2 Co 3:18. They were permitted to behold the glory of the Lord as in a glass, and they were changed into the same manner. The same subject is continued in 2 Co 4, where Paul illustrates the effect of this clear revelation of the gospel, as compared with the institutions of Moses, on the Christian ministry.

Verse 1. Do we begin again. This is designed evidently to meet an objection. He had been speaking of his triumph in the ministry, (2 Co 2:14,) and of his sincerity and honesty as contrasted with the conduct of many who corrupted the word of God, 2 Co 2:17. It might be objected that he was magnifying himself in these statements, and designed to commend himself in this manner to the Corinthians. To this he replies in the following verses.

To commend ourselves? To recommend ourselves; do we speak this in our own praise, in order to obtain your favour?

Or need we, as some others. Probably some who had brought letters of recommendation to them from Judea. The false teachers at Corinth had been originally introduced there by commendatory letters from abroad. These were letters of introduction, and were common among the Greeks, the Romans, and the Jews, as they are now. They were usually given to persons who were about to travel, as there were no inns, and as travellers were dependent on the hospitality of those among whom they travelled.

Of commendation from you? To other churches. It is implied here by Paul, that he sought no such letters; that he travelled without them; and that he depended on his zeal, and self-denial, and success to make him known, and to give him the affections of those to whom he ministered —a much better recommendation than mere introductory letters. Such letters were, however, sometimes given by Christians, and are by no means improper, Ac 18:27. Yet they do not appear to have been sought or used by the apostles generally. They depended on their miraculous endowments, and on the attending grace of God to make them known,

{a} "commend ourselves" 2 Co 5:12 {b} "epistles of commendation" Ac 18:27

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