|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Verse 9. - The ministration of condemnation. The same antithesis between the Law as involving "condemnation" and the gospel as bestowing "righteousness" is found in Romans 5:18, 19. The glory; perhaps, rather, a glory; a stronger way of describing it as "glorious." Of righteousness. Involving the further conception of "justification," as in Romans 5:21; Romans 1:16, 17; Romans 4:25; Romans 5:21.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For if the ministration of condemnation be glory,.... So the Jews call the law, for they say, , "there is no glory but the law" (f); this is another head of opposition or difference between the law and the Gospel, from whence the superior glory of the one to the other is argued. The law is "the ministration of condemnation"; as sin is a transgression of the law, it accuses for it, convinces of it, pronounces guilty, and adjudges to death on account of it; which is the condemnation it ministers; and this it does to all Adam's posterity, and for his sin too; and to all the actual transgressors of it, to all unbelievers, to all that are under it; even to God's elect themselves, as considered in Adam, and in themselves as transgressors; and this it ministers to their consciences when convicted, though it is never executed on them, because of the suretyship engagement and performances of Christ. The Gospel is
the ministration of righteousness; not of a legal one, or a man's own, but of the righteousness of Christ, by which the law is honoured, justice is satisfied, and God's elect justified from all sin and condemnation; this being perfect, pure, and spotless, and for ever: the Gospel is "the ministration" of it, as it is a means of stripping a man of his own righteousness, of revealing Christ's to him, and of working faith in him, and encouraging him to lay hold upon it for himself; and thus it is not to righteous persons, but sinners, to all believers, to all the second Adam's posterity; now as
much more as righteousness exceeds condemnation, and a justified state a condemned one, so "much more" does the Gospel
exceed the law
(f) Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Lev. fol. 33. 4.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9. ministration of condemnation—the law regarded in the "letter" which "killeth" (2Co 3:6; Ro 7:9-11). The oldest existing manuscript seems to read as English Version. But most of the almost contemporary manuscripts, versions, and Fathers, read, "If to the ministration of condemnation there be glory."
the ministration of righteousness—the Gospel, which especially reveals the righteousness of God (Ro 1:17), and imputes righteousness to men through faith in Christ (Ro 3:21-28; 4:3, 22-25), and imparts righteousness by the Spirit (Ro 8:1-4).
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