2 Corinthians 3:6
New International Version
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

New Living Translation
He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.

English Standard Version
who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Berean Study Bible
And He has qualified us as ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Berean Literal Bible
who also has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

New American Standard Bible
who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

King James Bible
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

Christian Standard Bible
He has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Contemporary English Version
He makes us worthy to be the servants of his new agreement that comes from the Holy Spirit and not from a written Law. After all, the Law brings death, but the Spirit brings life.

Good News Translation
it is he who made us capable of serving the new covenant, which consists not of a written law but of the Spirit. The written law brings death, but the Spirit gives life.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
He has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit produces life.

International Standard Version
who has also qualified us to be ministers of a new covenant, which is not written but spiritual, because the written text brings death, but the Spirit gives life.

NET Bible
who made us adequate to be servants of a new covenant not based on the letter but on the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

New Heart English Bible
who also made us sufficient as servants of a New Covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
He who made us worthy to be Ministers of The New Covenant, not in The Scripture, but in The Spirit, for The Scripture kills, but The Spirit gives life.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
He has also qualified us to be ministers of a new promise, a spiritual promise, not a written one. Clearly, what was written brings death, but the Spirit brings life.

New American Standard 1977
who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Jubilee Bible 2000
who also has made us able ministers of the new testament, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

King James 2000 Bible
Who also has made us able ministers of the new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.

American King James Version
Who also has made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.

American Standard Version
who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Who also hath made us fit ministers of the new testament, not in the letter, but in the spirit. For the letter killeth, but the spirit quickeneth.

Darby Bible Translation
who has also made us competent, [as] ministers of [the] new covenant; not of letter, but of spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit quickens.

English Revised Version
who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

Webster's Bible Translation
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

Weymouth New Testament
It is He also who has made us competent to serve Him in connexion with a new Covenant, which is not a written code but a Spirit; for the written code inflicts death, but the Spirit gives Life.

World English Bible
who also made us sufficient as servants of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Young's Literal Translation
who also made us sufficient to be ministrants of a new covenant, not of letter, but of spirit; for the letter doth kill, and the spirit doth make alive.
Study Bible
Ministers of a New Covenant
5Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim that anything comes from us, but our competence comes from God. 6And He has qualified us as ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7Now if the ministry of death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at the face of Moses because of its fleeting glory,…
Cross References
Jeremiah 31:31
Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.

Luke 22:20
In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you.

John 6:63
The Spirit gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.

Romans 2:29
No, a man is a Jew because he is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise does not come from men, but from God.

Romans 7:6
But now, having died to what bound us, we have been released from the Law, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

1 Corinthians 3:5
What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, as the Lord has assigned to each his role.

1 Corinthians 11:25
In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."

2 Corinthians 3:3
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.

2 Corinthians 3:14
But their minds were closed. For to this day the same veil remains at the reading of the old covenant. It has not been lifted, because only in Christ can it be removed.

2 Corinthians 11:23
Are they servants of Christ? I am speaking like I am out of my mind, but I am so much more: in harder labor, in more imprisonments, in worse beatings, in frequent danger of death.

Hebrews 8:8
But God found fault with the people and said: "Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.

Hebrews 8:13
By speaking of a new covenant, He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

Treasury of Scripture

Who also has made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.

hath.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; …

Matthew 13:52
Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

Romans 1:5
By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:

the new.

2 Corinthians 3:14
But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.

Jeremiah 31:31
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

Matthew 26:28
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

not.

Romans 2:27-29
And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? …

Romans 7:6
But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

for.

2 Corinthians 3:7,9
But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: …

Deuteronomy 27:26
Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.

Romans 3:20
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

but the.

John 6:63
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

Romans 8:2
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

1 John 1:1
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

giveth life.







Lexicon
And
καὶ (kai)
Conjunction
Strong's Greek 2532: And, even, also, namely.

He
ὃς (hos)
Personal / Relative Pronoun - Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong's Greek 3739: Who, which, what, that.

has qualified
ἱκάνωσεν (hikanōsen)
Verb - Aorist Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's Greek 2427: To make sufficient, render fit, qualify. From hikanos; to enable, i.e. Qualify.

us
ἡμᾶς (hēmas)
Personal / Possessive Pronoun - Accusative 1st Person Plural
Strong's Greek 1473: I, the first-person pronoun. A primary pronoun of the first person I.

[as] ministers
διακόνους (diakonous)
Noun - Accusative Masculine Plural
Strong's Greek 1249: Probably from an obsolete diako; an attendant, i.e. a waiter; specially, a Christian teacher and pastor.

of a new
καινῆς (kainēs)
Adjective - Genitive Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 2537: Fresh, new, unused, novel. Of uncertain affinity; new

covenant,
διαθήκης (diathēkēs)
Noun - Genitive Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 1242: From diatithemai; properly, a disposition, i.e. a contract.

not
οὐ (ou)
Adverb
Strong's Greek 3756: No, not. Also ouk, and ouch a primary word; the absolute negative adverb; no or not.

of [the] letter
γράμματος (grammatos)
Noun - Genitive Neuter Singular
Strong's Greek 1121: From grapho; a writing, i.e. A letter, note, epistle, book, etc. plural learning.

but
ἀλλὰ (alla)
Conjunction
Strong's Greek 235: But, except, however. Neuter plural of allos; properly, other things, i.e. contrariwise.

of [the] Spirit;
πνεύματος (pneumatos)
Noun - Genitive Neuter Singular
Strong's Greek 4151: Wind, breath, spirit.

for
γὰρ (gar)
Conjunction
Strong's Greek 1063: For. A primary particle; properly, assigning a reason.

the
τὸ (to)
Article - Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong's Greek 3588: The, the definite article. Including the feminine he, and the neuter to in all their inflections; the definite article; the.

letter
γράμμα (gramma)
Noun - Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong's Greek 1121: From grapho; a writing, i.e. A letter, note, epistle, book, etc. plural learning.

kills,
ἀποκτέννει (apoktennei)
Verb - Present Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's Greek 615: To put to death, kill; fig: I abolish. From apo and kteino; to kill outright; figuratively, to destroy.

but
δὲ (de)
Conjunction
Strong's Greek 1161: A primary particle; but, and, etc.

the
τὸ (to)
Article - Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong's Greek 3588: The, the definite article. Including the feminine he, and the neuter to in all their inflections; the definite article; the.

Spirit
πνεῦμα (pneuma)
Noun - Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong's Greek 4151: Wind, breath, spirit.

gives life.
ζωοποιεῖ (zōopoiei)
Verb - Present Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's Greek 2227: To make that which was dead to live, cause to live, quicken. From the same as zoon and poieo; tovitalize.
(6) Able ministers of the new testament.--Better, perhaps, as keeping up the stress on the word that had been used in 2Corinthians 2:16, in the English as in the Greek, sufficient ministers. The noun is used as carrying out the thought implied in the "ministered by us" in 2Corinthians 3:3. In the "new covenant"--new, as implying freshness of life and energy--we have a direct reference, both to our Lord's words, as cited in 1Corinthians 11:25, and given in the Gospel narrative of the Last Supper (see Notes on Matthew 26:28), and to Jeremiah 31:31. The Greek omits the article before all three words, "of a new covenant, one not of a written letter, but of spirit." The idea of "spirit" comes from Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26-27.

For the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.--The word "letter" (gramma) stands, not for what we call the literal meaning of Scripture, as contrasted with one which is allegorical or spiritual, but for the whole written code or law of Judaism. St. Paul does not contrast the literal meaning of that code with the so-called mystical exposition of it (a view which has often led to wild and fantastic interpretations), but speaks of the written code as such. So the plural "the writings, the Scriptures" (grammata), are used of the sacred Books of Israel (John 5:47; 2Timothy 3:15), and the scribes (grammateis) were those who interpreted the writings. The contrast between the "letter" in this sense and the "spirit" is a familiar thought with St. Paul (Romans 2:27-29; Romans 7:6). Of this written code St. Paul says that it "killeth." The statement seems startlingly bold, and he does not here stop to explain its meaning. What he means is, however, stated with sufficient fulness in the three Epistles written about this time (1Corinthians 15:56; Galatians 3:10; Galatians 3:21; Romans 7:9-11; Romans 8:2-3, the references being given in the chronological order of the Epistles). The work of the Law, from St. Paul's view, is to make men conscious of sin. No outward command, even though it come from God, and is "holy, and just, and good" (Romans 7:12), can, as such, do more than that. What was wanting was the life-giving power of the Spirit. The word here (as in Romans 2:27; Romans 7:6) appears to hover between the sense of "spirit" as representing any manifestation of the Divine Life that gives life--in which sense the words of Christ are "spirit and life" (John 6:63), and Christ Himself is a "quickening spirit" (1Corinthians 15:45, and 2Corinthians 3:17 of this chapter)--and the more distinctly personal sense in which St. Paul speaks of "the Spirit," the Holy Spirit, and to which we commonly limit our use of the name of "the Holy Ghost" in His relation to the Father and Son. Of that Spirit St. Paul says that "it quickens:" it can rouse into life not only the slumbering conscience, as the Law had done, but the higher spiritual element in man--can give it strength to will, the healthy energy of new affections, new prayers, new impulses. If we cannot suppose St. Paul to have been acquainted with our Lord's teaching, as recorded in John 6:63 (where see Note), the coincidence of thought is, at any rate, singularly striking.

Verse 6. - Who also. Either, "And he it is who;" or, "Who besides this power, has made us adequate ministers." Hath made us able ministers; rather, made us sufficient ministers. Of the new testament; rather, of a fresh covenant (Jeremiah 31:31). The "new testament" has not the remotest connection with what we call "The New Testament," meaning thereby the book - which, indeed, had at this time no existence. The word "testament" means a will, and in this sense implies neither the Hebrew berith nor the Greek diatheke, both of which mean "covenant." In one passage only of the New Testament (Hebrews 9:16, 17) does diatheke mean a "testament" or "will." For the thought, see Ephesians 3:7; Colossians 1:25; 1 Timothy 1:11, 12. Not of the letter, but of the spirit. In other words, "not of the Law, but of the gospel;" not of that which is dead, but of that which is living; not of that which is deathful, but of that which is life-giving; not of bondage, but of freedom; not of mutilation, but of self-control; not of the outward, but of the inward; not of works, but of grace; not of menace, but of promise; not of curse, but of blessing; not of wrath, but of love; not of Moses, but of Christ. This is the theme which St. Paul develops especially in the Epistles to the Romans and the Galatians (see Romans 2:29; Romans 3:20; Romans 7:6, 10, 11; Romans 8:2; Galatians 3:10; Galatians 5:4, etc.). Not of the letter. Not, that is, of the Mosaic Law regarded as a yoke of externalism; a hard and unhelpful "thou shalt" and "thou shalt not;" a system that possessed no life of its own and inspired no life into others; a "categoric imperative," majestic, indeed, but unsympathetic and pitiless. Both the Law and the gospel were committed to writing; each covenant had its own book; but in the case of the Mosaic Law there was the book and nothing more; in the case of the gospel the book was nothing compared to the spirit, and nothing without the spirit. Out of the spirit. That is, of the gospel which found its pledge and consummation in the gift of the Spirit. The Law, too, was in one sense "spiritual" (Romans 7:14), for it was given by God, who is a Spirit, and it was a holy Law; but though such in itself (in se) it was relatively (per aceidens) a cause of sin and death, because it was addressed to a fallen nature, and inspired no spirit by which that nature could be delivered (see Romans 7:7-25). But in the gospel the spirit is everything; the mere letter is as nothing (John 6:63). For the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. This is one of the very numerous "texts" which have been first misinterpreted and have then been made, for whole centuries, the bases of erroneous systems. On this text more than any other, Origen, followed by the exegetes of a thousand years, built his dogma that the Scripture must be interpreted allegorically, not literally, because "the letter" of the Bible kills. The misinterpretation is extravagantly inexcusable, and, like many others, arose solely from rending words away from their context and so reading new senses into them. The contrast is not between "the outward" and the inward sense of Scripture at all. "The letter" refers exclusively to "the Law," and therefore has so little reference to "the Bible" that it was written before most of the New Testament existed, and only touches on a small portion of the Old Testament. Killeth. Two questions arise.

(1) What and whom does it kill? and

(2) how does it kill?

The answers seem to be that

(1) the letter - the Law regarded as an outward letter - passes the sentence of death on those who disobey it. It says, "He who doeth these things shall live in them;" and therefore implies, as well as often says, that he who disobeys them shall be cut off. It is, therefore, a deathful menace. For none can obey this Law with perfect obedience. And

(2) the sting of death being sin, the Law kills by directly leading to sin, in that it stirs into existence the principle of concupiscence (Romans 7:7-11; 1 Corinthians 15:56; Galatians 3:10, 21). But the spirit giveth life. This contrast between a dead and a living covenant is fundamental, and especially in the writings of St. Paul (Romans 2:27-29; Romans 7:6; Romans 8:11; Galatians 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:45). The Law stones the adulteress; the gospel says to her, "Go, and sin no more." 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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