Life-Study of 2 Corinthiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Before we consider the matter of the ministers and the ministry becoming one, we need to consider the words of the Lord Jesus concerning righteousness. When He issued the decree of the constitution of the kingdom of the heavens (Matt. 5:1—7:29), He said some important things concerning righteousness. Again and again He emphasized righteousness. He declared, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6). Then He went on to say, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens” (Matt. 5:10). He also taught His disciples, “Unless your righteousness surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens” (Matt. 5:20). The Lord Jesus also emphasized righteousness when He said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Instead of worrying about food and clothing, we need to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. But what is this righteousness emphasized by the Lord Jesus? This righteousness is Christ lived out from within us to be the expression of God and the kingdom of God. When we have this righteousness, we surely have God’s reign. We have God’s ruling, administration, and government. This means that we have the kingdom with peace and joy in our daily life, family life, and church life.
Again and again I would emphasize the fact that the new covenant ministry is a ministry of the Spirit and of righteousness. I never grow tired of repeating this. This new covenant ministry is the ministry in the Lord’s recovery. In the recovery we only minister Christ as the life-giving Spirit and as our living righteousness.
If we read 3:8, 9, and 16 through 18, we can see clearly that eventually all the ministers of the new covenant become one with their ministry. This means that the ministers are the ministry. Their ministry is what they are, not merely what they do or the work they accomplish. The very being of the new covenant ministers is their ministry. Therefore, we may speak of the ministers and the ministry becoming one.
Second Corinthians 3:8 and 9 say, “How shall not rather the ministry of the Spirit be in glory? For if the ministry of condemnation came in glory, much rather the ministry of righteousness abounds in glory.” Notice that verse 8 says that the ministry of the new covenant is in glory, and verse 9 says that this ministry abounds in glory. Here we see two stages of the new covenant ministry. The first stage is the ministry of the Spirit; the second stage is the ministry of righteousness. When the ministry is of the Spirit, it is in the first stage. This is the ministry in glory. When the ministry is of righteousness, it is in the second stage. In this stage the new covenant ministry not only is in glory—it abounds in glory. The reason it abounds in glory is that righteousness comes forth.
These two stages of the new covenant ministry can be applied to our family life. Suppose a brother, his wife, and child receive the ministry of the Spirit. With the ministry of the Spirit there is glory, but this ministry does not abound in glory, for there is not yet any righteousness. But perhaps after a period of time the husband, the wife, and the child all live out righteousness according to the Spirit of life within them. This is the ministry of righteousness abounding in glory. Anyone visiting that family would be able to realize what a glory there is with them.
In the initial stage, the stage of the ministry of the Spirit, the ministry of the new covenant is in glory. But when this ministry becomes the ministry of righteousness, the ministry abounds in glory. Whenever the ministry of the Spirit is lived out in us with the expression of righteousness, the ministry abounds in glory.
In 3:8 and 9 “in glory” and “abounds in glory” are both related to the ministry. But in verses 16 through 18 glory is related not to the ministry, but to the ministers. 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.” In this verse the word “we” refers to the apostles, who, as examples and representatives of all believers, are the ministers of Christ. Thus, in verses 8 and 9 the glory is related to the ministry, but in verse 18 it is related to the ministers.
Although the glory in verses 8 and 9 is related to the ministry, and the glory in verse 18 is related to the ministers, there are not two kinds of glory. There is not one kind of glory attached to the ministry and another kind of glory related to the ministers. No, there is only one kind of glory. This proves that eventually all the ministers of the new covenant become one with their ministry. What they are in their being, their person, is their ministry.
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