2 Corinthians 3:3
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

New Living Translation
Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This "letter" is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.

English Standard Version
And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Berean Study Bible
It is clear that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Berean Literal Bible
being revealed that you are a letter of Christ, having been ministered to by us, having been inscribed not in ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.

New American Standard Bible
being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

King James Bible
Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
It is clear that you are Christ's letter, produced by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God--not on stone tablets but on tablets that are hearts of flesh.

International Standard Version
You are demonstrating that you are the Messiah's letter, produced by our service, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

NET Bible
revealing that you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on tablets of human hearts.

New Heart English Bible
being revealed that you are a letter of Christ, served by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tablets of stone, but in tablets that are hearts of flesh.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
For you know that you are a letter of The Messiah that is ministered by us, written not in ink, but by The Spirit of THE LIVING GOD, not in tablets of stone, but in tablets of hearts of flesh.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
It's clear that you are Christ's letter, written as a result of our ministry. You are a letter written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, a letter written not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

New American Standard 1977
being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

King James 2000 Bible
Since you are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.

American King James Version
For as much as you are manifestly declared to be the letter of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

American Standard Version
being made manifest that ye are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in tables that are hearts of flesh.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Being manifested, that you are the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, and written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in the fleshly tables of the heart.

Darby Bible Translation
being manifested to be Christ's epistle ministered by us, written, not with ink, but [the] Spirit of [the] living God; not on stone tables, but on fleshy tables of [the] heart.

English Revised Version
being made manifest that ye are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in tables that are hearts of flesh.

Webster's Bible Translation
Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not on tables of stone, but on fleshly tables of the heart.

Weymouth New Testament
For all can see that you are a letter of Christ entrusted to our care, and written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the ever-living God--and not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts as tablets.

World English Bible
being revealed that you are a letter of Christ, served by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tablets of stone, but in tablets that are hearts of flesh.

Young's Literal Translation
manifested that ye are a letter of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not in the tablets of stone, but in fleshy tablets of the heart,
Study Bible
Ministers of a New Covenant
2You yourselves are our letter, inscribed on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3It is clear that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 4Such confidence before God is ours through Christ.…
Cross References
Exodus 24:12
Now the LORD said to Moses, "Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandment which I have written for their instruction."

Exodus 31:18
When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.

Exodus 32:15
Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets which were written on both sides; they were written on one side and the other.

Psalm 40:8
I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart."

Proverbs 3:3
Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.

Proverbs 7:3
Bind them on your fingers; Write them on the tablet of your heart.

Jeremiah 17:1
The sin of Judah is written down with an iron stylus; With a diamond point it is engraved upon the tablet of their heart And on the horns of their altars,

Jeremiah 31:33
"But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

Ezekiel 11:19
"And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,

Ezekiel 36:26
"Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Treasury of Scripture

For as much as you are manifestly declared to be the letter of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

the epistle.

Exodus 31:18 And he gave to Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him …

Revelation 2:1,8,12,18 To the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things said he …

Revelation 3:1,7,14,22 And to the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things said …

ministered.

1 Corinthians 8:5-10 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in …

the living.

2 Corinthians 6:16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are …

Joshua 3:10 And Joshua said, Hereby you shall know that the living God is among you…

1 Samuel 17:26 And David spoke to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall …

Psalm 42:2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God: when shall I come and …

Psalm 84:2 My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD: my heart …

Jeremiah 10:10 But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting …

Daniel 6:26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble …

Matthew 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of …

1 Thessalonians 1:9 For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had to you…

Hebrews 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal …

not.

Exodus 24:12 And the LORD said to Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be …

Exodus 34:1 And the LORD said to Moses, Hew you two tables of stone like to the first…

but.

Psalm 40:8 I delight to do your will, O my God: yes, your law is within my heart.

Jeremiah 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of …

Ezekiel 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within …

Ezekiel 36:25-27 Then will I sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean: …

Hebrews 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel …

Hebrews 10:16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, …

(3) Forasmuch, as ye are manifestly declared.--The metaphor appears to shift its ground from the subjective to the objective. It is not only as written in his heart, but as seen and known by others, that they (the Corinthians) are as a letter of commendation. They are as a letter which Christ had written as with the finger of God. That letter, he adds, was "ministered by us." He had been, that is, as the amanuensis of that letter, but Christ was the real writer.

Written not with ink.--Letters were usually written on papyrus, with a reed pen and with a black pigment (atramentum) used as ink. (Comp. 2John 1:12.) In contrast with this process, he speaks of the Epistle of Christ as written with the "Spirit of the living God." It is noteworthy that the Spirit takes here the place of the older "finger of God" in the history of the two tables of stone in Exodus 31:18. So a like substitution is found in comparing "If I with the finger of God cast out devils," in Luke 11:20, with "If I by the Spirit of God," in Matthew 12:28. Traces of the same thought are found in the hymn in the Ordination service, in which the Holy Spirit is addressed as "the finger of God's hand."

Not in tables of stone.--The thought of a letter written in the heart by the Spirit of God brings three memorable passages to St. Paul's memory:--(1) the "heart of flesh" of Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26-27; (2) the promise that the law should be written in the heart, which was to be the special characteristic of the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-33); and (3) the whole history of the circumstances of the first, or older, covenant; and, from this verse to the end of the chapter, thought follows rapidly on thought in manifold application of the images thus suggested.

But in fleshy tables of the heart.--The better MSS. give in tables (or, tablets), which are hearts of flesh, reproducing the words of Ezekiel 11:19. The thought of the letter begins to disappear, and that of a law written on tablets takes its place, as one picture succeeds another in a dissolving view.

Verse 3. - Manifestly declared. The fame and centrality of Corinth gave peculiar prominence to the fact of their conversion. The epistle of Christ ministered by us. The Corinthians are the epistle; it is written on the hearts of St. Paul and his companions; Christ was its Composer; they were its amanuenses and its conveyers. The development of the metaphor as a metaphor would be somewhat clumsy and intricate, but St. Paul only cares to shadow forth the essential fact which he wishes them to recognize. Not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; i.e. not with visible or perishable materials, but spiritual in its origin and character. The notion of "the finger of God" naturally recalled the notion of "the Spirit of God" (comp. Matthew 12:28 with Luke 11:20). Not in tables of stone. God's writing by means of the Spirit on the heart reminds him of another writing of God on the stone tablets of the Law, which he therefore introduces with no special regard to the congruity of the metaphor about "an epistle." But in fleshy tables of the heart. The overwhelming preponderance of manuscript authority supports the reading "but in fleshen tablets - hearts." St. Paul is thinking of Jeremiah 31:33, "I will put my Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts;" and Ezekiel 11:22, "I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh." The tablets were not hard and fragile, but susceptible and receptive. Our letters of introduction are inward not outward, spiritual not material, permanent not perishable, legible to all not only by a few, written by Christ not by man. Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared,.... But lest it should be thought that the apostle attributed too much to himself, by saying that the Corinthians were our epistle; here he says, they were "manifestly declared"

to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us; so that the apostles and ministers of the word were only amanuenses, Christ was the author and dictator; yea, he himself is the very matter, sum, substance, and subject of the epistle; he is formed in the hearts of his people in conversion, his image is stamped, his grace is implanted, his word, his Gospel dwells richly, his laws and ordinances are written here; he also is the exemplar, believers are but copies of him, in grace and duty, in sufferings, in the likeness of his death and resurrection: and they are "manifestly declared" to be so, by the impresses of Christ's grace upon them; by the fairness of the copy; by the style and language of the epistle; by their likeness to Christ; by their having not the form only, but the power of godliness; and by their lives and conversations: now in writing these epistles, the ministers of the Gospel are only instruments, "ministered by us". They are made use of to show the sinner the black characters which are written upon him, and that what is written in him, and to be read by him, by the light of nature is not sufficient for salvation; they are employed as instruments in drawing the rough draught of grace in conversion, and in writing the copy over again, fairer and fairer; being the happy means blessed by God, for the building up of souls in faith and holiness, in spiritual knowledge and comfort. These epistles are

not written with ink; of nature's power, or of rhetorical eloquence and moral persuasion;

but with the Spirit of the living God: every grace that is implanted in the soul is wrought there by the Spirit of God; or he it is that draws every line, and writes every word and letter; he begins, he carries on and finishes the work of grace on the soul; and that as "the Spirit of the living God": hence saints become the living epistles of Christ; and every letter and stroke of his making, is a living disposition of the soul in likeness to him; and such are written among the living in Jerusalem, and shall live and abide for ever as the epistles of Christ: again, the subjects of these epistles, or that on which they are written, are

not tables of stone; such as the law was written upon, on Mount Sinai: of these tables there were the first and second; the first were the work of God himself, the latter were hewed by Moses, at the command of God, Exodus 32:16 the former being broken when he came down from the mount, which by the Jewish writers are said to be miraculously made, and not by the means and artifice of men (l); yea, that they were made before the creation of the world (m), and which, they commonly say, were made of sapphire; See Gill on 2 Corinthians 3:7 these, as the latter, were two stones, which, Jarchi says (n), were of an equal size; and were, as Abarbinel says (o), in the form of small tables, such as children are taught to write upon, and therefore are so called: some pretend to give the dimensions of them, and say (p), that they were six hands long, and as many broad, and three thick; nay, even the weight of them, which is said (q) to be the weight of forty "seahs", and look upon it as a miracle that Moses should be able to carry them; on these stones were written the ten commands; and the common opinion of the Jewish writers is, that five were written on one table, and five on the other; this is the opinion of Josephus (r), Philo (s), and the Talmudic writers (t); and the tables are said to be written on both sides, Exodus 32:15. Some think that the engraving of the letters perforated and went through the tables, so that, in a miraculous manner, the letters were legible on both sides; others think, only the right and left hand of the tables are meant, on which the laws were written, five on a side, and which folded up like the tables or pages of a book; though others are of opinion, that they were written upon, both behind and before, and that the law was written twice, both upon the fore part and back part of the tables, yea, others say four times; and some think the phrase only intends the literal and mystical, the external and internal sense of the law: however, certain it is, as the apostle here suggests, that the law was written on tables of stone, which may denote the firmness and stability of the law; not as in the hands of Moses, from whence the tables fell and were broken, but as in the hands of Christ, by whom they are fulfilled; or else the hardness of man's heart, his stupidity, ignorance of, and not subject to the law of God:

but fleshly tables of the heart: alluding to Ezekiel 36:26 and designs not carnal hearts, but such as are made soft and tender by the Spirit of God. The table of the heart is a phrase to be met with in the books of the Old Testament; see Proverbs 3:3 and very frequently in the writings of the Jews (u).

(l) R. Levi ben Gersom in Pentateuch, fol. 113. 2.((m) Zohar in Exod. fol. 35. 1.((n) Perush in Exodus 31.18. (o) In Pentateuch, fol. 209. 2. & 211. 3.((p) T. Hieres Shekalim, fol. 49. 4. Shemot Rabba, c. 47. fol. 143. 2. Bartenora in Misn. Pirke Abot, c. 5. sect. 6. (q) Targum Jon. in Exodus 31.18. & in Deuteronomy 34.12. (r) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 5. sect. 8. (s) De Decalogo, p. 761, 768. (t) T. Hieros. Shekalim, fol. 49. 4. Shemot Rabba, sect. 47. fol. 143. 2. Zohar in Exod. fol. 35. 1.((u) Vid. Targum Jon. in Dent. vi. 5, & in Cant. iv. 9. 3. declared—The letter is written so legibly that it can be "read by all men" (2Co 3:2). Translate, "Being manifestly shown to be an Epistle of Christ"; a letter coming manifestly from Christ, and "ministered by us," that is, carried about and presented by us as its (ministering) bearers to those (the world) for whom it is intended: Christ is the Writer and the Recommender, ye are the letter recommending us.

written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God—Paul was the ministering pen or other instrument of writing, as well as the ministering bearer and presenter of the letter. "Not with ink" stands in contrast to the letters of commendation which "some" at Corinth (2Co 3:1) used. "Ink" is also used here to include all outward materials for writing, such as the Sinaitic tables of stone were. These, however, were not written with ink, but "graven" by "the finger of God" (Ex 31:18; 32:16). Christ's Epistle (His believing members converted by Paul) is better still: it is written not merely with the finger, but with the "Spirit of the living God"; it is not the "ministration of death" as the law, but of the "living Spirit" that "giveth life" (2Co 3:6-8).

not in—not on tables (tablets) of stone, as the ten commandments were written (2Co 3:7).

in fleshy tables of the heart—ALL the best manuscripts read, "On [your] hearts [which are] tables of flesh." Once your hearts were spiritually what the tables of the law were physically, tables of stone, but God has "taken away the stony heart out of your flesh, given you a heart of flesh" (fleshy, not fleshly, that is, carnal; hence it is written, "out of your flesh" that is, your carnal nature), Eze 11:19; 36:26. Compare 2Co 3:2, "As ye are our Epistle written in our hearts," so Christ has in the first instance made you "His Epistle written with the Spirit in (on) your hearts." I bear on my heart, as a testimony to all men, that which Christ has by His Spirit written in your heart [Alford]. (Compare Pr 3:3; 7:3; Jer 31:31-34). This passage is quoted by Paley [Horæ Paulinæ] as illustrating one peculiarity of Paul's style, namely, his going off at a word into a parenthetic reflection: here it is on the word "Epistle." So "savor," 2Co 2:14-17.3:1-11 Even the appearance of self-praise and courting human applause, is painful to the humble and spiritual mind. Nothing is more delightful to faithful ministers, or more to their praise, than the success of their ministry, as shown in the spirits and lives of those among whom they labour. The law of Christ was written in their hearts, and the love of Christ shed abroad there. Nor was it written in tables of stone, as the law of God given to Moses, but on the fleshy (not fleshly, as fleshliness denotes sensuality) tables of the heart, Eze 36:26. Their hearts were humbled and softened to receive this impression, by the new-creating power of the Holy Spirit. He ascribes all the glory to God. And remember, as our whole dependence is upon the Lord, so the whole glory belongs to him alone. The letter killeth: the letter of the law is the ministration of death; and if we rest only in the letter of the gospel, we shall not be the better for so doing: but the Holy Spirit gives life spiritual, and life eternal. The Old Testament dispensation was the ministration of death, but the New Testament of life. The law made known sin, and the wrath and curse of God; it showed us a God above us, and a God against us; but the gospel makes known grace, and Emmanuel, God with us. Therein the righteousness of God by faith is revealed; and this shows us that the just shall live by his faith; this makes known the grace and mercy of God through Jesus Christ, for obtaining the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. The gospel so much exceeds the law in glory, that it eclipses the glory of the legal dispensation. But even the New Testament will be a killing letter, if shown as a mere system or form, and without dependence on God the Holy Spirit, to give it a quickening power.
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