2 Corinthians 3:8
How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?
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(8) How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?—Better, be more in glory. The ministration of the spirit—that which has spirit for its characteristic attribute, and proceeds from the Spirit and imparts it to others—is that which St. Paul claims as his ministry. The glory of the new covenant, must be as much above the glory of the old, as the living, life-giving Spirit is above the dead and death-bringing code which he speaks of as the “letter.”

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.How shall not the ministration of the Spirit - This is an argument from the less to the greater. Several things in it are worthy of notice:

(1) The proper contrast to the "ministration of death" 2 Corinthians 3:7, would have been 'ministration of life.' But Paul chose rather to call it the 'ministration of the spirit;' as the source of life; or as conferring higher dignity on the gospel than to have called it simply the ministration of life.

(2) by the "Spirit" here is manifestly meant the Holy Spirit; and the whole phrase denotes the gospel, or the preaching of the gospel, by which eminently the Holy Spirit is imparted.

(3) it is the high honor of the gospel ministry, that it is the means by which the Holy Spirit is imparted to human beings. It is designed to secure the salvation of people by his agency; and it is through the ministry that the Holy Spirit is imparted, the heart renewed, and the soul saved. The work of the ministry is, therefore, the most important and honorable in which man can engage.

Be rather glorious -

(1) Because that of Moses tended to death; this to life.

(2) because that was engraved on stone; this is engraved on the heart.

(3) because that was the mere giving of a law; this is connected with the renovating influences of the Holy Spirit.

(4) because that was soon to pass away. All the magnificence of the scene was soon to vanish. But this is to remain. Its influence and effect are to he everlasting. It is to stretch into eternity; and its main glory is to be witnessed in souls renewed and saved; and amidst the splendors of heaven. "The work of the Spirit of God on the heart of a rational being, is much more important than any dead characters which can be engraved on insensible stones" - Doddridge.

8. be rather glorious—literally, "be rather (that is, still more, invested) in glory." "Shall be," that is, shall be found to be in part now, but fully when the glory of Christ and His saints shall be revealed. How shall not that ministration, which is more spiritual, and the effects of which are much more spiritual, be accounted much more glorious? Thus the apostle doth not only magnify the gospel above the law, but he also magnifieth his offices in the ministration of the gospel; which ministration he reasonably concludeth to be a more glorious ministration than that which Moses had, in whom the Jews so much gloried.

How shall not the ministration of the Spirit,.... By "the ministration of the Spirit", is meant the Gospel; so called not only because it ministers spiritual things, as peace, pardon, righteousness and salvation, spiritual joy and comfort, and even spiritual life; but because it ministers the Spirit of God himself, by whom it is not only dictated, and by him at first confirmed, and who qualities persons for the preaching of it; but by it he conveys himself into the hearts of men, and makes it powerful for illumination, consolation, edification, and an increase of every grace; and therefore must be rather glorious, or much more glorious than the law, the ministration of death. How shall not the {i} ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?

(i) By which God offers, indeed, and gives the Spirit, not as a dead thing, but a living Spirit, working life.

2 Corinthians 3:8. The ministry dedicated to the Holy Spirit, i.e. forming the medium of His operation (the teaching ministry of the gospel), is as such the specific opposite of the διακονία τοῦ θανάτου ἐν γράμμασιν ἐντετυπ. λίθοις, 2 Corinthians 3:7. In τοῦ πνεύματος are contained the elements of contrast. See 2 Corinthians 3:6.

ἔσται] is not the future of the inference (Billroth, Hofmann, and the older commentators); nor does it refer to the advancing steady development (Osiander), but rather to the gloria futuri seculi. Comp. on 2 Corinthians 3:12, where the δόξα—which is therefore not to be understood, as it usually is, of inner elevation and dignity—appears as the object of the ἐλπίς. We cannot therefore say with Bengel: “loquitur ex prospectu V. T. in Novum,” but: loquitur ex prospectu praesentis seculi in futurum.

2 Corinthians 3:8-9. πῶς οὐχὶ μᾶλλον κ.τ.λ.: how shall not rather the Ministration of the Spirit be with glory? For if the Ministration of Condemnation be glory (if we read τῇ διακονίᾳ we must render, with the American Revisers, “has glory”), much rather doth the Ministration of Righteousness exceed in glory. Cf. Romans 5:16, τὸ μὲν γὰρ κρίμα ἐξ ἑνὸς εἰς κατάκριμα, τὸ δὲ χάρισμα ἐκ πολλῶν παραπτωμάτων εἰς δικαίωμα, and Romans 8:1, οὐδὲν γὰρ νῦν κατάκριμα τοῖς ἐν Χρ. Ἰη. The phrase διακονοι δικαιοσύνης is used again at 2 Corinthians 11:15, as descriptive of the ministers of the New Covenant; it is an essential point of Pauline theology that “righteousness” is not of the “law” (Galatians 3:21). The argument is a minori ad majus.

8. How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?] Literally, how shall not the ministration of the spirit rather be in glory, i.e. if the brightness which was actually fading was so glorious that the Israelites could not bear to look at it, how much more shall the ministration of the spirit, which is not destined to be transitory, be and remain glorious. The preposition ἐν denotes the permanency of the glory, the future tense of the verb indicates that whatever the glory of the Gospel dispensation now, there are greater glories in store. All this glory proceeds from the fact that it is the spirit of a Living God that the new dispensation ministers. See 2 Corinthians 3:3.

2 Corinthians 3:8. Ἔσται) shall be. He speaks as looking from the Old Testament point of view to the New. Add, hope, 2 Corinthians 3:12 [which similarly looks from the Old Testament stand-point to the New].

Verse 8. - The ministration of the spirit. That is, "the apostolate and service of the gospel." Be rather glorious. A contrast may be intended between the ministration of the letter, which "became glorious," which had, as it were, a glory lent to it (ἐγενήθη ἐν δόξῃ), and that of the spirit, which is, of its own nature, in glory. 2 Corinthians 3:8Glorious (ἐν δόξῃ)

As in 2 Corinthians 3:7, with glory.

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