2 Corinthians 3:12
Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Seeing then that we have such hope.—The “hope” is in substance the same as the “confidence” of 2Corinthians 3:4; but the intervening thoughts have carried his mind on to the future as well as the present. He has a hope for them and for himself, which is more than a trust in his own sufficiency.

We use great plainness of speech.—The word so rendered expresses strictly the openness which says all, in which there is no reticence or reserve. It stands in contrast with the “corrupting the word” of 2Corinthians 2:17, and answers to the Apostle’s claim to have “kept back nothing that was profitable” in Acts 20:20. We, he practically says, need no veil.

2 Corinthians 3:12-16. Seeing then — Upon these grounds spoken of from 2 Corinthians 3:5-11; that we have such hope — Such confidence of the excellence of our ministry, or such an assurance that the gospel excels the law in its nature and tendency, in its glory and duration; we use great plainness of speech — In discoursing concerning it. Or, as πολλη παρρησια may be rendered, we use great liberty of address. And not as Moses — We do not act as he did; who put a veil over his face — Which is to be understood with regard to his writings also; so that Israel could not look steadfastly to the end of that dispensation; which is now abolished — The end of this was Christ. The whole Mosaic dispensation tended to, and terminated in, him. But the Israelites had only a dim wavering sight of him, of whom Moses spake in an obscure, covert manner. Macknight explains this more at large thus: “Here the apostle intimates that Moses put a veil on his face while he delivered the law, to show the darkness of the types and figures of the law, of which he was the minister. And as he veiled his face, that the children of Israel might not see the vanishing of the glory from his face, it signified that the abrogation of the law, typified by the vanishing of the glory, would be hidden from them. So the apostle hath interpreted these emblems, 2 Corinthians 3:14. Further, to show that the gospel is a clear dispensation, and that it is never to be abolished, and that the ministers of the covenant of the Spirit were able at all times to speak plainly concerning it, they did not, while ministering that covenant, veil their faces like Moses.” But their minds were blinded — Besides the obscurity of that dispensation, there was evidently blindness on their minds. They rested in the outward letter, and did not understand or apprehend the spiritual sense of the law. For until this day — Notwithstanding the many extraordinary miracles that have been wrought, and the wonderful events which have taken place; remaineth the same veil on their understanding untaken away Μη ανακαλυπτομενον, literally, not folded back, namely, so as to admit a little glimmering light; in or during, the reading of the old testament — Which contains such distinct prophecies of Christ, and such lively descriptions of him, that one would think it to be impossible that he should not be immediately acknowledged and adored by all that profess to believe its authority. That is, in other words, “The thing typified by the veil on Moses’s face, hath taken place from that time to this day. For when the Israelites read Moses’s account of the old covenant of the law, a veil lieth on that covenant; its types, and figures, and prophecies, are as dark to them as ever; it not being discovered to them that they are fulfilled in Christ, and consequently that the old covenant itself is abolished by him. Further, as the apostle observes in 2 Corinthians 3:15, a veil lieth also on the hearts of the Jews when they read Moses. Besides the natural obscurity of the old covenant, there is a second veil formed by their own prejudices and lusts, which blind them to such a degree, that they cannot discern the intimations which God in the law itself hath given of his intention to abrogate it by Christ.” Which veil — Of obscurity upon the old testament, and of prejudice and blindness on their own minds; is done away in Christ — By the knowledge of him, and the illumination of his Spirit, with respect to all that truly believe in him. Nevertheless, when it — Their heart; shall turn to the Lord — To Christ by living faith; the veil shall be taken away — Or rather, is taken away, and that from around their heart, as περιαιρειται, signifies; or is taken away entirely, and the genuine sense of the sacred oracles breaks in upon their minds with irresistible light, and they see with the utmost clearness how all the types and prophecies of the law are fully accomplished in him. And this, we may observe, not only will happen at the general conversion of the Jews, but actually does happen as often as any one of that nation is converted. In the expression, when it shall turn to the Lord, &c., there is a manifest allusion to Moses’s taking the veil off from his face, when he turned from the people to go into the tabernacle before the Lord, where by he received a new irradiation from the glory of the Lord. See Exodus 34:34.3:12-18 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.Seeing then that we have such hope - Hope properly is a compound emotion, made up of a desire for an object, and an expectation of obtaining it. If there is no desire for it; or if the object is not pleasant and agreeable, there is no hope, though there may be expectation - as in the expectation of the pestilence, of famine, or sickness, or death. If there is no expectation of it, but a strong desire, there is no hope, as in cases where there is a strong desire of wealth, or fame, or pleasure; or where a man is condemned for murder, and has a strong desire but no prospect of pardon; or where a man is shipwrecked, and has a strong desire, but no expectation of again seeing his family and friends. In such cases, despondency or despair are the results. It is the union of the two feelings in proper proportions which constitutes hope. There has been considerable variety of views among expositors in regard to the proper meaning of the word in this place. Mr. Locke supposes that Paul here means the honorable employment of an apostle and minister of the gospel, or the glory belonging to the ministry in the gospel; and that his calling it "hope," instead of "glory," which the connection would seem to demand, is the language of modesty. Rosenmuller understands it of the hope of the perpetual continuance of the gospel dispensation. Macknight renders it" persuasion," and explains it as meaning the full persuasion or assurance that the gospel excels the Law in the manner of its introduction; its permanency, &c, A few remarks may, perhaps, make it clear:

(1) It refers primarily to Paul, and the other ministers of the gospel. It is not properly the Christian hope as such to which he refers, but it is that which the ministers of the gospel had.

(2) it refers to all that he had said before about the superiority of the gospel to the Law; and it is designed to express the result of all that on his mind, and on the minds of his fellow-laborers.

(3) It refers to the prospect, confidence, persuasion, anticipation which he had as the effect of what he had just said. It is the prospect of eternal life; the clear expectation of acceptance, and the anticipation of heaven, based on the fact that this was a ministry of the Spirit 2 Corinthians 3:8; that it was a ministry showing the way of justification 2 Corinthians 3:9; and that it was never to be done away, but to abide forever 2 Corinthians 3:11. On all these this strong hope was founded; and in view of these, Paul expressed himself clearly, not enigmatically; and not in types and figures, as Moses did. Everything about the gospel was clear and plain; and this led to the confident expectation and assurance of heaven. The word "hope," therefore, in this place will express the effect on the mind of Paul in regard to the work of the ministry, produced by the group of considerations which he had suggested, showing that the gospel was superior to the Law; and that it was the ground of more clear and certain confidence and hope than anything which the Law could furnish.

We use - We employ; we are accustomed to. He refers to the manner in which he preached the gospel.

Great plainness of speech - Margin, boldness. We use the word "plainness" as applied to speech chiefly in two senses:

(1) To denote boldness, faithfulness, candor; in opposition to trimming, timidity, and unfaithfulness; and,

(2) To denote clearness, intelligibleness, and simplicity, in opposition to obscurity, mist, and highly-worked and labored forms of expression.

The connection here shows that the latter is the sense in which the phrase here is to be understood: see 2 Corinthians 3:13. It denotes openness, simplicity, freedom from the obscurity which arises from enigmatical and parabolical, and typical modes of speaking. This stands in opposition to figure, metaphor, and allegory - to an affected and labored concealment of the idea in the manner which was common among the Jewish doctors and pagan philosophers, where their meaning was carefully concealed from the common, and from all except the initiated. It stands opposed also to the necessary obscurity arising from typical institutions like those of Moses. And the doctrine of the passage is, that such is the clearness and fulness of the Christian revelation, arising from the fact, that it is the last economy, and that it does not look to the future, that its ministers may and should use clear and intelligible language. They should not use language abounding in metaphor and allegory. They should not use unusual terms. They should not draw their words and illustrations from science. They should not use mere technical language. They should not attempt to veil or cloak their meaning. They should not seek a refined and overworked style. They should use expressions which other people use; and express themselves as far as possible in the language of common life. What is preaching worth that is not understood? Why should a man talk at all unless he is intelligible? Who was ever more plain and simple in his words and illustrations than the Lord Jesus?

12. such hope—of the future glory, which shall result from the ministration of the Gospel (2Co 3:8, 9).

plainness of speech—openness; without reserve (2Co 2:17; 4:2).

Hope here signifieth nothing but a confident, certain expectation of something that is hereafter to come to pass. The term such referreth to something which went before: the sense is: We being in a certain confident expectation, that our ministration of the gospel shall not cease, as the ministration of the law hath done; and that the doctrine of the gospel brings in not a temporary, but an everlasting righteousness; that there shall never be any righteousness revealed, wherein any soul can stand righteous before God, but that which is revealed in the gospel to be from faith to faith; we are neither ashamed nor afraid to preach the gospel with all freedom and boldness. We do not, as Moses, cover ourselves with a veil when we preach the gospel to people, but we speak what God hath given to us in commission to speak, unconcernedly as to any terrors or affrightments from men: we know, that great is the truth which we preach, and that it shall prevail and outlive all the rage and madness of the enemies of it. Seeing then that we have such hope,.... Having this confidence, and being fully persuaded that God has made us able and sufficient ministers of the Gospel, has called and qualified us for such service; and since we have such a ministry committed to us, which so much exceeds in glory the ministry of Moses, a ministry not of death and condemnation, but of the Spirit and of righteousness; not which is abolished and done away, but which does and will remain, in spite of all the opposition of hell and earth:

we use great plainness of speech; plain and intelligible words, not ambiguous ones: or "boldness"; we are not afraid of men nor devils; we are not terrified by menaces, stripes, imprisonment, and death itself: or "freedom of speech"; we speak out all our mind, which is the mind of Christ; we declare the whole counsel of God, hide and conceal nothing that may be profitable to the churches; we are not to be awed by the terror, or drawn by the flatteries of men to cover the truth; we speak it out plainly, clearly, with all evidence and perspicuity. The apostle from hence passes on to observe another difference between the law and the Gospel, namely, the obscurity of the one, and the clearness of the other.

{3} Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:

(3) He shows what this glory of the preaching of the Gospel consists in: that is, in that it sets forth plainly and evidently that which the Law showed darkly, for it sent those that heard it to be healed by Christ, who was to come, after it had wounded them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 3:12. Ἔχοντες οὖν τοιαύτ. ἐλπ.] οὖν, accordingly, namely, after what has just been said πολλῷ μᾶλλον τὸ μένον ἐν δόξῃ, sc. ἐστι. Since the ἐλπίς has its object necessarily in the future, and not yet in the present (Romans 8:24), τοιαύτη ἐλπίς cannot denote the consciousness of the abiding glory of his office, which Paul possesses (Hofmann; comp. Erasmus and others), but it must be the apostle’s great hope,—a hope based on the future of the Messiah’s kingdom—that the ministry of the gospel would not fail at the Parousia of its glory far surpassing the δόξα of the ministry of Moses. This will be the glorious, superabundant reward of the labour of Christ’s δοῦλοι, as promised by their Master (Luke 22:29 ff.; John 14:3; Matthew 25:14 ff., al.). Comp. 1 Corinthians 3:14; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 1:14; Php 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:19 f. It is the ἄφθαρτος στέφανος of the faithful labour in teaching, 1 Corinthians 9:25 ff.; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 5:4. The reference to the contents of the teaching (Emmerling: “tale munus quum habeam tantorum honorum spem ostendens”), to which Rückert is also inclined, is opposed to the words used and to the context. As little are we to assume, with Neander, an equalization of the ἐλπίς with the πεποίθησις, 2 Corinthians 3:4, and a linking on of the thought to 2 Corinthians 3:4.

πολλῇ παῤῥησίᾳ χρώμ.] denotes the frank unreservedness and openness towards those with whom the teacher has to do: μετʼ ἐλευθερίας πανταχοῦ φθεγγόμεθα, οὐδὲν ἀποκρυπτόμενοι, οὐδὲν ὑποστελλόμενοι, οὐδὲν ὑφορώμενοι, ἀλλὰ σαφῶς λέγοντες, Chrysostom. The evidentia (Beza, comp. Mosheim) or perspicuitas (Castalio) belongs to this, but does not exhaust the idea. On χρώμ. παῤῥησ., comp. Plato, Ep. 8, p. 354 A; Phaedr. p. 240 E; χρῶμ. is utimur, not utamur (Erasmus).2 Corinthians 3:12-18. THE MINISTRY OF THE NEW COVENANT IS (b) OPEN, NOT VEILED, AS WAS THAT OF THE OLD. The illustration from the O.T. which is used in these verses has been obscured for English readers by the faulty rendering of the A.V. in Exodus 34:33. It would appear from that rendering, viz., “till Moses had done speaking with them he put a veil on his face,” that the object of the veil was to conceal from the people the Divine glory reflected in his face. But this is to misrepresent the original Hebrew, and is not the rendering given either by the LXX or by modern scholars. The R.V substitutes when for till in the verse just quoted, thus bringing out the point that the veil was used to conceal not the glory on the face of Moses, but its evanescence; it was fading even while he spoke, and this by his use of the veil he prevented the people from perceiving. When he “went in unto the Lord” again he took the veil off. The Apostle applies all this to the Israel of his day. Still a veil is between them and the Divine glory—a veil “upon their hearts” which prevents them from seeing the transitoriness of the Old Covenant; yet, as it was of old, if they turn to the Lord, the veil is removed, and an open vision is granted. St. Paul is fond of such allegorisings of the history of the Exodus; cf., e.g., 1 Corinthians 10:2, Galatians 4:25.12. Seeing then that we have such hope] i.e. the hope that the Christian covenant is one of which the glory is permanent.

we use great plainness of speech] Trist (i.e. trust) Wiclif. Boldness, Tyndale and Cranmer. The translation boldness of speech we owe to the Geneva version. The word means originally (1) fulness or frankness of speech. Hence it comes to mean (2) openness, frankness generally, and hence (3) boldness, intrepidity. The former is the meaning here. St Paul contrasts the fulness and frankness of the Gospel on all matters relating to the future of man with the mysterious silence of the Law (i.e. the books of Moses), which hardly in the most distant manner allude to a future life. It may be remarked that even Jesus Christ himself used much reserve (Matthew 8:4; Matthew 9:30; Matthew 12:16; Matthew 13:10-13; Matthew 16:20; Matthew 17:9) until His work on earth was finished. Then (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15) He decreed that this reserve should cease for ever. “We speak everywhere with freedom, keeping back nothing, concealing nothing, suspecting nothing, but speaking plainly.” Chrysostom. “A ministry whose very life is outspokenness and free fearlessness—which scorns to take a via media because it is safe in the eyes of the world.” Robertson.2 Corinthians 3:12. Ἐλπίδα, hope) He spoke of trust, 2 Corinthians 3:4; he now speaks of hope, as he glances at that which remaineth, 2 Corinthians 3:11.—παῤῥησίᾳ) a plain and open manner of dealing.Verses 12-18. - The confidence inspired by this ministry and the veil on the hearts of those who will not recognize it. Verse 12. - Such hope. A hope based upon the abiding glory of this gospel covenant. Plainness of speech. The frankness and unreserved fearlessness of our language is justified by the glory of our ministry. It was impossible for Moses to speak with the same bold plainness. Plainness (παῤῥησίᾳ)

Rev., boldness. See on openly, John 7:13; see on confidence, 1 John 2:28; see on freely, Acts 2:29. The contrast is with the dissembling with which his adversaries charged him.

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