Life-Study of 2 Corinthiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Chapters three and four of 2 Corinthians are different in nature. Chapter three is actually a chapter of doctrine. I realize that for many of us doctrine is not a positive word. Because of our background, a background of religion full of doctrine, we do not regard doctrine as something pleasant or tasteful. In giving a testimony in a church meeting, we would want to say, “What I want to share with you is not a doctrine. It is a real and precious experience.” We all appreciate the word experience, and whenever we have the opportunity, we would testify concerning our experience of the Lord or our experience in the Lord. We would hesitate to stand up and say, “What I am about to present to you is a doctrine.” Nevertheless, I have the boldness to say that chapter three of 2 Corinthians is a chapter on doctrine. Of course, as a rule, doctrine should involve experience. In like manner, any genuine spiritual experience involves doctrine. Therefore, we may say that 2 Corinthians 3 is a chapter on doctrine with some amount of experience.
Let me give my reasons for saying that 2 Corinthians 3 is concerned with doctrine. Verses 8 and 9 speak of the ministry of the Spirit and of the ministry of righteousness. Thus, the new covenant ministry is first a ministry of the Spirit and then a ministry of righteousness. Is this not a matter of doctrine? If we are fair and if we are not influenced by a negative concept regarding doctrine, we shall admit that this is in fact a matter of doctrine. Because the Bible is a book of doctrine, we cannot avoid doctrine or ignore it. In chapter three, in particular, we have the doctrine that the new covenant ministry is a ministry of the Spirit and of righteousness.
Chapter three, however, also contains some amount of experience. For instance, in verse 18 Paul says, “And we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.” This verse contains both doctrine and experience. Although Paul speaks here from the standpoint of experience, at the same time his word includes doctrine.
If 2 Corinthians 3 is basically a chapter on doctrine, what is the nature of chapter four? Second Corinthians 4 is a chapter on experience. How do we know this? Verse 1 gives us an indication that this chapter is concerned with experience: “Therefore, having this ministry, as we received mercy we do not lose heart.” Here Paul refers to “having this ministry.” Even this is related to doctrine as well as to experience. But the matter of not losing heart is definitely a matter of experience.
Even in chapter four, a chapter on experience, we can find doctrine. Likewise, in chapter three, a chapter on doctrine, there is experience. We may say that 2 Corinthians 3 is experientially doctrinal and that 2 Corinthians 4 is doctrinally experiential. Having such an understanding of these two chapters is essential to grasping what we shall cover in this message.
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