2 Corinthians 3
2 Corinthians 3
V1-6: Paul says that his disciples are his “letters of recommendation”, his “commendations”. This is not commendation for Paul’s competence or anything he did, but instead, it is living proof of what God enabled through Paul and how God has made him competent as minister of the New Covenant (i.e., to share the Gospel and make disciples)
V7-11: Paul makes the point that the glory of the New Covenant surpasses the glory seen in the Old Covenant in the Law as recorded by Moses. Moses radiated the after-glow of God’s glory after he was in God’s presence, and, he needed to cover his face until that reflected glory faded away. That was for the Law (“the letter”) which can only identify our sin and our inability to be righteous. Therefore, the Law leads to death (“the letter kills”), but in the New Covenant we have God’s Spirit in us and the Spirit gives life. Paul asks “how much more greater is the glory of that which lasts” (which brings righteousness).
V12-18: Paul now explains the result of us having God’s Spirit dwell in us. We are bold. We have hope. We no longer have a figurative veil over our eyes keeping us from understanding the truth and glory of God. Now, when anyone turns to the Lord, that veil is removed and there is freedom – freedom from the Law, freedom from the limited and veiled experience of God, freedom from the hardening of our hearts. Finally, Paul proclaims that it’s then that we display the glory of God because of His Spirit lives in us and transforms us. As the Spirit transforms us more and more into the Lord’s likeness, we radiate God’s glory more and more! And this is all of God’s doing, not our own.
What a picture of discipleship and how we know that we are making disciples. First, what defines our “letter of recommendation” (our “glory”) is not the law, not our knowledge of the Scriptures, and not our obedience in following rules, customs and traditions. What truly is our “commendation” are the disciples God made through us (it all comes from the Lord). They become our walking, breathing “letters of recommendation”. Furthermore, the glory of God is displayed both in us as His disciples and in those who now follow Jesus because of God working through us. How much more is God’s glory visible to the world through that than was ever reflected through the Law?
So, is this my focus? Is disciple-making my priority or do I treat that more as “icing on the cake”? The fundamental application question is this: Who can I say this about “You are my letter, a letter from Christ - written on my heart, known and read by everyone”?
Lord God, how clearly Paul explains this and yet how I have quickly read past this many times before. God, give me an increasing understanding of how you want me to be making disciples. Show me this week who you want “my letters” (disciples) to be and equip me through your Spirit to minister to them. And as an Elder, help me to continually be an encouragement to others to make disciples. Amen.
Posted on Tue, April 21, 2015
by joel king