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 Corinthians Paul first speaks concerning the ministry and then concerning the ministers. In 2:14 he likens the ministry to a triumphal procession celebrating the victory of Christ. Then he goes on to speak of the function and competence of the ministry and also of its glory and superiority. In 3:12—7:16 Paul comes to the ministers of the new covenant. According to 3:12-18, these ministers are constituted by and with the Lord as the life-giving and transforming Spirit. These two aspects of the Spirit are covered in these verses. If we understand these aspects of the Spirit, we shall see the constitution of the New Testament ministers. These ministers are not merely trained or taught; they are constituted.
Verse 12 says, “Having therefore such hope, we use much boldness.” This is the boldness in speaking openly and freely about their ministry; not hiding anything, as Moses did when he covered his face with a veil (v. 13).
The lasting glory of the new covenant ministry is the basis of the apostles’ hope. In their ministry they have a hope. In the ministry of Moses, by comparison, there was no hope. Moses put a veil on his face to conceal the shining. When we read Exodus 34, we may have a positive impression about this. In 2 Corinthians 3, however, Paul does not interpret the veil in a positive sense, but in a negative sense. According to Paul’s interpretation, Moses put a veil on his face because he was afraid that the children of Israel would see the fading of the glory. Fading means termination. Thus, according to Paul’s understanding, Moses realized that the shining on his face would not last very long. In this sense, Moses did not have any hope. On the contrary, he had a fearful concern. But in verse 12 Paul says that the ministers of the new covenant have hope, for the shining glory of the new covenant ministry remains forever.
Having such a hope, the apostles used much boldness. If you read the book of Exodus carefully, you will see that Moses did not have as much boldness in giving the law as the apostles did in ministering Christ. The more they ministered, the more boldness they had. The longer they ministered, the more bold they became. Their boldness came from their confidence in the everlasting glory.
The principle is the same with us today. I can testify that the more I minister Christ, the more bold I become. Even though there is opposition to this ministry, I still have hope. Eventually the opposition will fade. We have the confidence that we are ministering the truth that carries the glory and that the glory in this truth will remain. Others may not believe what we are preaching. But in the next age, or in the New Jerusalem, they will believe it.
In verse 13 Paul continues, “And are not as Moses, who put a veil on his face, that the sons of Israel should not gaze unto the end of that which was being done away.” While Moses spoke the word of God to the sons of Israel, he kept his glorified face unveiled. After speaking, he veiled his face (Exo. 34:29-33) lest they see the end of his ministry, which was passing away. He did not want them to behold the termination of the fading glory of his ministry of the law.
Verse 14 says, “But their thoughts were hardened; for until the present day the same veil remains at the reading of the old covenant, it not being revealed that it is being done away in Christ.” Here the word thoughts denotes “things which proceed out of the mind (2:11; Phil. 4:7). Hence, derivatively, the minds themselves” (Vincent).
In this verse the preposition “it” refers to the fact that the veil is being done away in Christ. Since this fact was not revealed to the sons of Israel, their thoughts were hardened, and their minds were blinded. The veil is being done away in Christ through the new covenant economy, yet it still remains in their minds when they read the old covenant (v. 15).
Verse 15 says, “But unto this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.” Moses here refers to Moses’ writings, the Pentateuch (John 5:47).
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