Life-Study of 2 Corinthiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 2:12-17 Paul speaks of the triumph and effect of the apostolic ministry; in 3:1-6, of its function and competency; and in 3:7-11, of its glory and superiority. As we shall see, verses 7 through 11 show the inferiority of the glory of the Mosaic ministry, the ministry of law, a ministry of condemnation and death, and the superiority of the apostolic ministry, the ministry of grace, a ministry of righteousness and the Spirit. The former was through glory temporarily; the latter remains in glory forever.
After speaking of the triumph and effect of the ministry of the new covenant, Paul goes on to speak of the function and competency of that ministry. The function is to inscribe living letters of Christ, and the competency, the qualification, is God Himself. The writer of these living letters is actually not Paul; the writer is the very God who has been constituted into Paul’s being. Therefore, God is not only the writer; He is also the “ink,” the substance or element, of what is written. This means that God is writing Himself into His chosen people. The result of this writing is a constitution of the Triune God into His people. Thus, the writer is God, the writing substance is God, and the issue, the result, is also God.
We may take writing with a ballpoint pen as an illustration of how God writes Himself into us. First a pen is filled with ink. Then it is used for writing certain words on paper. It is not the pen that actually does the writing; it is the ink, the substance which fills the pen, that does this. Nothing of the pen is put on paper. Rather, it is the substance of the ink that is inscribed on the paper. Eventually, the writing on the paper is a composition, a constitution, of the ink. In the same principle, the processed Triune God as the all-inclusive life-giving Spirit is both the writer and the writing substance. In the writing of living letters of Christ, the Spirit is the substance that is inscribed into us.
In this message we come to the glory of the new covenant ministry. The writing substance is inward, but the glory is outward. The writing element is hidden, but the glory is expressed. Actually, the glory is the shining out of the hidden substance. Once again, we may use electricity as an illustration. The element of electricity flows into a light bulb. This element is the substance of the light that shines from within the bulb. But the shining of the light is the glory of the electricity. Hence, with electricity there is both the essence, the element, and the shining out, the glory.
Paul’s writing concerning the ministry of the new covenant is in a good sequence. First he shows that the new covenant ministry is triumphant and effective. This ministry is triumphant because Christ has triumphed and gained the victory. It is triumphant also because the apostles have been captured and have become submissive to Christ. All the early apostles were conquered, subdued, and captured by Christ and became very submissive to Him. Their preaching was a sign of their submission. Consider the example of Saul of Tarsus. How rebellious he was against the Lord Jesus, against the churches, against God’s administration, and against God’s New Testament economy! But even though he had been so rebellious, he was conquered, subdued, and captured. Then he became so submissive to Christ that he had no problems with God’s economy. On the contrary, wherever he went, he preached the New Testament economy of God. This preaching was a strong indication that he had become submissive to God’s government and administration. Paul, therefore, became a submissive captive of Christ. His submission was an expression of Christ’s victory.
Every captive in Christ’s triumphal procession is a proof of Christ’s victory. This procession celebrates the victory of Christ. As the apostles were marching in this procession, they could say, “Jews and Gentiles, look at us and realize how triumphant Christ is.” This was Paul’s concept in 2:14. As he passed through Ephesus, Troas, and Macedonia, he was in Christ’s triumphal procession. Today, God is also leading us in a triumphal procession to celebrate Christ’s victory. We all are captives in this procession. Christ has conquered us, subdued us, and made us submissive to Him. Praise Him!
The ministry of the new covenant is not only triumphant—it is also effective. It is so effective that to some it results in life unto life, and to others, in death unto death. Therefore, this ministry is a matter of life and death.
As we have emphasized, the function of the ministry of the new covenant is to write, even to inscribe, living letters of Christ. And the competence of this ministry is the processed Triune God as the life-giving Spirit. The glory of this ministry is its shining, its expression.
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