|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:12-18 It is the duty of the ministers of the gospel to use great plainness, or clearness, of speech. The Old Testament believers had only cloudy and passing glimpses of that glorious Saviour, and unbelievers looked no further than to the outward institution. But the great precepts of the gospel, believe, love, obey, are truths stated as clearly as possible. And the whole doctrine of Christ crucified, is made as plain as human language can make it. Those who lived under the law, had a veil upon their hearts. This veil is taken away by the doctrines of the Bible about Christ. When any person is converted to God, then the veil of ignorance is taken away. The condition of those who enjoy and believe the gospel is happy, for the heart is set at liberty to run the ways of God's commandments. They have light, and with open face they behold the glory of the Lord. Christians should prize and improve these privileges. We should not rest contented without knowing the transforming power of the gospel, by the working of the Spirit, bringing us to seek to be like the temper and tendency of the glorious gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and into union with Him. We behold Christ, as in the glass of his word; and as the reflection from a mirror causes the face to shine, the faces of Christians shine also.
Verse 13. - And not as Moses. We need not act, as Moses was obliged to do, by putting any veil upon our faces while we speak. And here the image of "the veil" as completely seizes St. Paul's imagination as the image of the letter does in the first verses. Put a veil; literally, was putting, or, used to put, a veil on his face when he had finished speaking to the people. That the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished; rather, that the children of Israel might not gaze on the end of what was passing away. The object of the veil, according to St. Paul, was to prevent the Israelites from gazing on the last gleam of the covenant. In other words, he did not wish them to be witnesses of a fading glory. It is preposterous to imagine that St. Paul is here casting any blame on the conduct of Moses, as though he acted fraudulently or delusively. Moses was aware, and even told the people, float his legislation was not final (Deuteronomy 18:15 -19), but it would be quite natural that he should not wish the people to witness the gradual dimming of the lustre which, in St. Paul's view, was typical of that transitoriness. It seems, however, that St. Paul is here either
(1) following a different reading or rendering of Exodus 34:33; or
(2) is adopting some Jewish hagadah; or
(3) is giving his own turn to the narrative, as the rabbis habitually did, by way of midrash, or exposition. For from the narrative of Exodus we should not gather that it was the object of Moses to hide the disappearance of the splendour, but rather to render the light endurable. In our Authorized Version the verse runs, "till Moses had done speaking with them he put a veil on his face;" but the meaning of the original may be, "after he had done speaking with them," as the LXX. takes it and the Vulgate. The end. To interpret this of Christ, because of Romans 10:4, is an instance of the superstitious and unintelligent way in which systems are made out of a mosaic of broken texts. The foolish character of the interpretation is shown when we consider that it involves the inference that Moses put a veil on his face in order to prevent the Israelites from seeing Christi But this attempt to illustrate Scripture by catching at a similar, expression applied in a wholly different way in another part of Scripture, is one of the normal follies of scriptural interpretation.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face,.... This he did, because there was such a glory upon his face when he came down from the mount, that the Israelites could not bear to look upon him; and also to take off that dread of him which was upon them, for they were afraid to come nigh him; and that so they might be able to hearken and attend to the words of the law, he delivered to them: the account of Moses's putting on this veil is in Exodus 34:33 where Onkelos renders it by , "the house of the face", or a "mask": and Jarchi on the place says it was a "garment", which he put before his face; and both the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem call it "a linen cloth": now this veil upon his face had a mystery in it; it was an emblem of the Gospel being veiled under the law, and of the darkness and obscurity of the law in the business of life and salvation; and also of the future blindness of the Jews, when the glory of the Gospel should break forth in the times of Christ and his apostles; and which was such,
that the children of Israel, the Jews, as in the times of Moses, so in the times of Christ and his apostles,
could not steadfastly look to; not upon the face of Moses, whose face was veiled; not that they might not look, but because they could not bear to look upon him; but they could not look
to the end of that which is abolished; that is, to Christ, who is the end of the law, which is abrogated by him: to him they could not look, nor could they see him to be the fulfilling end of the law for righteousness; which being fulfilled, is done away by him; and this because of the blindness of their hearts, of which blindness the veil on Moses' face was typical: though the Alexandrian copy and the Vulgate Latin version read, "to the face of him which is abolished".
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13. We use no disguise, "as Moses put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel might not look steadfastly upon the end of that which was to be done away" [Ellicott and others]. The view of Ex 34:30-35, according to the Septuagint is adopted by Paul, that Moses in going in to speak to God removed the veil till he came out and had spoken to the people; and then when he had done speaking, he put on the veil that they might not look on the end, or the fading, of that transitory glory. The veil was the symbol of concealment, put on directly after Moses' speaking; so that God's revelations by him were interrupted by intervals of concealment [ALFORD]. But Alford's view does not accord with 2Co 3:7; the Israelites "could not look steadfastly on the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance." Plainly Moses' veil was put on because of their not having been able to "look steadfastly at him." Paul here (2Co 3:13) passes from the literal fact to the truth symbolized by it, the blindness of Jews and Judaizers to the ultimate end of the law: stating that Moses put on the veil that they might not look steadfastly at (Christ, Ro 10:4) the end of that (law) which (like Moses' glory) is done away. Not that Moses had this purpose; but often God attributes to His prophets the purpose which He has Himself. Because the Jews would not see, God judicially gave them up so as not to see. The glory of Moses' face is antitypically Christ s glory shining behind the veil of legal ordinances. The veil which has been taken off to the believer is left on to the unbelieving Jew, so that he should not see (Isa 6:10; Ac 28:26, 27). He stops short at the letter of the law, not seeing the end of it. The evangelical glory of the law, like the shining of Moses' face, cannot be borne by a carnal people, and therefore remains veiled to them until the Spirit comes to take away the veil (2Co 3:14-17) [Cameron].
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