2 Corinthians 3: The Law and the Gospel

(18 verses, 2:13 to read)


What I am about to READ

  • Paul makes a comparison between his need in other places to establish genuine apostolic authority in other places (vv.1-3) to the ministry of death (written on stone and in letter) and the ministry of life (given through Christ and the Spirit).


  • Paul compares two covenants in this chapter. The first is the covenant is the covenant given through Moses. This covenant is marked by its killing function, by letters, by stone, by ending, and by veils.
  • The second covenant is the covenant that is revealed in Christ through His new ministers: the apostles. It is marked by the Spirit, life, a glory that surpasses the old covenant, and by revelation.


  • In many of his letters, St. Paul has to establish his apostolic authority, which has been undermined by his opponents (often the Judiazers, also known as the circumcision party). With the Corinthians, however, this is not necessary. We have two letters Paul has written to this congregation, and we’re fairly certain that there were others. We need not be concerned about having “lost” part of the Biblical text, however. The Lord has preserved all that is necessary for salvation in the text we have.
  • Paul reminds us that our sufficiency is from God. This is a word often spoken to pastors at ordinations and installations. It is tempting for pastors to think that they are solely responsible for the salvation of their people. Or, perhaps they feel completely unqualified for the office they are entering or currently hold. This was true of Moses and the Apostles, too. However, our sufficiency is from Christ. It is He who does the saving through His death, and here in time through the working of the Word and the Sacraments.
  • For those of you who do not occupy the pastoral office, know that your sufficiency is also from God. You sin daily and much, failing in your various vocations. However, God works through you to care for the neighbors He has placed around you. Though you may feel completely inadequate for the job, be confident in the fact that God has placed you there and has promised to be with you, even to the end of the age.
  • The old covenant is said to be a covenant of death. It may be tempting to seize on the idea that it is a covenant of letters, as if we should completely abandon the written word for new revelations or an oral tradition handed down through the generations of the Church’s hierarchy. However, it is a covenant of death because the hearts of those who cling to it are hardened. Just as Moses veiled his face after bringing God’s Word to the people of Israel, the hearts of those who cling to the old covenant are veiled, because they can’t see that the veil of the temple curtain was torn in two at the death of Jesus. He ushered in a new covenant that brings life because it fulfills the old covenant God gave to His people of old.
  • The new covenant comes by the Spirit, Who is sent by Christ (see John 14 and 16). But how does the Spirit work? Through the Word and Sacraments! Jesus is constantly pointing us to His Word, especially in John’s Gospel, as the means by which we would come to know Him. St. Paul tells us that faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17). The real comparison here is in revelation. The old covenant was pointing to Christ. When the new covenant came, the veil was lifted from the old covenant. We can go back and read the Old Testament in light of the new, thus deepening our understanding of Christ and His saving work among us. Christ is the light which changes our sin darkened eyes into eyes that see Him.


  • Holy Lord, teach us to read the Scriptures in the light of Christ. By Your Holy Spirit, enlighten our hearts and minds to the joy and peace You give to us through the word of Scripture, which creates and sustains faith among us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Post below, or join the conversation in our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dailybiblemeditation/

-Rev. Jordan McKinley, pastor
Trinity Lutheran Church, Vallonia, IN

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