ICC New Testament Commentary
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?3:1-6:10. THE GLORY OF THE APOSTOLIC OFFICE
The first three verses, like 1:12-14, are transitional. They are closely connected with the preceding expression of thankfulness and confidence, for ἑαντοὺς συνιστάνειν clearly looks back to ἐξ εἰλικρινίας … λαλοῦμεν. But μὴ χνήσομεν κ.τ.λ equally clearly anticipates πεποίθνσιν τοιαύτην, and there is more pause between the chapters than between vv. 3 and 4. These three verses, therefore, are best regarded as introductory to the Apostle’s vindication, not only of himself, but of the high office which he holds, and of the message which he is commissioned to deliver.
The first verse gives us further insight into the opposition which confronted St Paul at Corinth. Evidently one of the charges brought against him was that he was always asserting himself and singing his own praises,—of course because nobody else praised him. A man who has often to speak with authority is open to this kind of criticism, and there are passages in 1 Cor. which would lend themselves to such a charge; 2:6-16, 3:10, 4:3, 14-21, 9:1-6, 11:1, 14:18. But more probably it was the severe letter, of which 10-13. may be a part, which provoked this criticism. There is plenty of material for such criticism in those four chapters. Titus, no doubt, had reported the existence of these cavillings, and perhaps he knew that they had not been completely silenced. The Apostle does not assert that they still exist, but he meets the possibility of their existence with a tactful question. Then he still more tactfully asks a question which can be turned against his opponents. Finally, he makes a statement which is likely to go home to the hearts of the Corinthians and win those who are still wavering back to their devotion to him. The readiness with which the passionate outburst of 2:14-17 is turned to account for the vindication of the Apostolic office is very remarkable.
3:1-3. I have no desire to commend myself. The only testimonial which I need I have in you, and all the world can read it.
1 In claiming to be competent to deliver a message which involves the momentous alternative of ultimate life and death, do I seem to be commending myself once more? I was obliged to assert myself in my last letter, but I have no need to do so now. There are people who bring letters of recommendation to you, and ask you to give them such; and no doubt they require them. 2 But what need have I of such things, when you yourselves are my letter of recommendation written on my very heart, a letter which the whole world can get to know and construe, wherever I go and tell of you? 3 It is made plain to all that you are a letter composed by Christ and published by me; written not with the blackness of perishable ink, but with the illuminating Spirit of the living God ; written not, like the Law, on dead tables of stone, but on the living tables of sensitive human hearts.
1. Ἀρχόμεθα πάλιν ἑαυτοὺς συνιστάνειν; ‘Are we beginning again to commend ourselves?’ It makes no difference whether we take πάλιν with ἀρχόμεθα or with συνιστάνειν. The sentence is certainly a question. Taking it as a statement involves a clumsy insertion in order to get a connexion with ἢ μὴ κ.τ.λ., such as, ‘Or if you object to our commending ourselves, I reply with this question, Do we need, etc.’ Ἀρχόμεθα is a sort of echo of the supposed criticism; ‘He is beginning to belaud himself again.’ The πάλιν plainly shows that St Paul is aware that this charge of self-praise had been made. He alludes to it again 4:5, 5:12, 6:4. It may have been an insult offered to him by ὁ ἀδικήσας, the great offender; but, whoever started it, it was accepted as true by some of the Corinthians. There are passages 1 Cor. which would give a handle to such a charge; 9:15, 14:18, 15:10 ; cf. 4:16, 7:40, 11:1; 2 Corinthians 1:12.
The question may be a direct reference to τῶν ἑαυτοὺς συνιστανόντων (10:12) and to ὑφʼ ὑμῶν συνίστασθαι (12:11). If they are, we have further evidence that 10-13. is part of the severe letter written between 1 Cor. and 2 Cor. 1-9. These three verses are strangely out of harmony with the last four chapters, if those chapters are part of the same letter: they are natural enough, if those chapters had been previously sent to Corinth and had occasioned, or intensified, the charge that St Paul was too fond of praising himself. See Rendall, p. 65.
We find συνιστάνειν or συνιστάναι, ‘to bring together,’ used in two senses in N.T. (1) ‘To bring persons together,’ to introduce or commend them to one another; 4:2, 5:12, 6:4, 10:12, 18; Romans 16:1. (2) ‘To put two and two together,’ to prove by argument and evidence; 7:11; Galatians 2:18; Romans 5:8. This difference of meaning is not clearly marked in LXX, but in Susann. 61, Theod. has συνέστησεν of Daniel’s proving that the elders have borne false witness. See on Romans 3:5. In these two senses the verb is peculiar to Paul in N.T. and is found chiefly in this Epistle. It occurs elsewhere only Luke 9:32 and 2 Peter 3:5, in quite other senses. The position of the reflexive pronoun is to be noted. In this Epistle we have ἑαυτού̀ς συν, in a bad sense, 3:1, 5:12, 10:12, 18 ; and συν. ἑαυτούς, in a good sense, 4:2, 6:4, 7:11.
ἢ μὴ χρῄζομεν ὥς τινες; ‘Or is it the fact that we need, as some people do?’ This side-stroke at the false teachers is very effective ; he alludes to the οἱ πολλοί of 2:17 and others like them. St Paul often speaks of his opponents as ‘certain persons,’ τινες (10:2; 1 Corinthians 4:18, 1 Corinthians 4:15:12; Galatians 1:7; 1 Timothy 1:3, 1 Timothy 1:19). The μή, implying a negative answer, throws back its force on the previous question, and shows that the suggested criticism is unjust. Harnack thinks that the Apostles required a fresh commission for each missionary expedition. That was clearly not the case with St Paul.
συστατικῶν ἐπιστολῶν πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἢ ἐξ ὑμῶν. These words tell us three things : that the Judaizers had brought letters of recommendation from some one; that they had already left Corinth ; and that before leaving they had obtained, or had tried to obtain, letters of recommendation from the Corinthian Church. We know nothing, however, as to who gave recommendations to the Judaizers ; perhaps leading persons in Palestine did so. It is not likely that they had obtained credentials from any of the Twelve or from the Church at Jerusalem.* Letters of this kind were commonly brought by travelling brethren as evidence that they were Christians and honest persons. The Epistle to Philemon is a συστατικὴ ἐπιστολή for Onesimus; and ἐλάβετε ἐντολάς, Ἐὰν ἔλθῃ πρὸς ὑμᾶς, δέξασθε αὐτόν (Colossians 4:10) probably refers to a previous letter of recommendation. St Paul sometimes commends individuals to the Church whom he addresses; e.g. Titus and his companion (8:22 f.), Timothy (1 Corinthians 16:10 f.), Phoebe (Romans 16:1). Cf. Acts 15:25 f., Acts 15:18:27; 2 John 1:12. Papyri yield examples; Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, p. 226) says that the letters in Episiolographi Graeci, Hercher, pp. 259, 699, begin, like Rom. 16., with συνίστημι. Suicer (ii. 1194) gives instances of such letters in the early Church. The Latins called them epistolae commendaticiae or literae formatae. How necessary they were is shown by Lucian, who says that an adroit unscrupulous fellow, who has seen the world, has only to get among these simplehearted Christians, and he can soon make a fortune out of them (Perigr. Prot. 13). Diogenes condemned γράμματα συστατικά as useless ; nothing but personal experience of men, he said, was of any real value (Arrian, Epict. 11, iii. 1). This, however, was what existed between St Paul and the Corinthians; and it was πασῆς συοτατικώτερον ἐπιστολῆς Cf. Acts 28:21, and see Harnack, Mission and Expansion, i. p. 328.
If we are right in inferring from this verse that the Judaizers had left Corinth, we have a strong argument for the view that 10-13. was written before 1-9, for in 10-13. the Judaizers are denounced as a present plague in Corinth.
If the reading εἰ μή be adopted, we must translate, ‘unless it possibly be the case that we are needing, etc.’; and we must interpret this as a sarcasm ; ‘unless it be the case that we are so unable to get recommendations that we are compelled to praise ourselves.’ This sarcasm shows that the charge of St Paul’s praising himself is ridiculous. So clumsy an interpretation need not be accepted, for the balance of evidence is decisive against εἰ μή א B C D E F G, Latt. and other versions have ἢ μή, A K L P, Arm. have εἰ μή B D 17 have συνιστᾶν, F G συνιστάναι, all other witnesses συνιστάνειν A D have ὥσπερ τινες, other authorities ὥς τινες D E F K L P, d e Syrr. add συστατικῶν after ἐξ ὑμῶν, and F G add συστ. ἐπιστολῶν. Omit both words with א A B C 17, 67* *, Vulg. Copt. Arm. Aeth., Chrys. Ambrst.
2. ἡ ἐπιστολὴ ἡμῶν ὑμεῖς ἐστέ. The asyndeton is effective, and the two pronouns are in telling juxtaposition. The convincing statement is flashed out with emphatic suddenness and brevity; ‘The letter of recommendation which we have to show are ye.’* No other testimonial is needed, either to the Corinthians or from them. They know what Apostolic teaching has done for them ; and all the world can see this also. Their changed life is an object lesson to themselves and to all outside ; and both they and the outsiders know how this change has been produced; it is writ large in the history of the foundation of a Church in such a city as Corinth. The Apostle appeals, not to written testimony, which may be false, but to the experience of all who know the facts. There seems to be an allusion to this passage in the Ep. of Polycarp (11:3), where he says “among whom the blessed Paul laboured, who were his letters in the beginning.” See on 4:14 and 8:21.
The details which follow are neither quite clear nor quite harmonious. St Paul dictates bold metaphors, in order to set forth the convincing character of his credentials, and he does not stop to consider whether they can all be combined in one consistent picture. ‘Written in our hearts’ does not agree well with ‘read by all men,’ and yet both were true. The Christian life of the Corinthians was impressed in thankful remembrance on the hearts of those who had converted them, and it was recognized by all who knew them. It was also impressed on the hearts of the Corinthians themselves. See on 1 Corinthians 9:2. Experience showed to the teachers that their ministry had been blessed by God; the existence of the Corinthian Church convinced them of this, and they could appeal to that conviction with a good conscience. Experience also taught the world at large that the men who had produced this change at Corinth were no charlatans ; and it had taught the Corinthians themselves the same truth.
ἐνγεγραμμένη ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν. There is probably no allusion to Aaron ‘bearing the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate (pouch) of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually’ (Exodus 28:36). The idea of intercession is foreign to this passage. ‘Written on our hearts’ suggests to us the idea of deep affection, and Chrys. interprets the words of the love to the Corinthians which causes Paul to sing their praises in other Churches. But it may be doubted whether this is the exact meaning of the words. The context seems to require some such meaning as this; ‘Our own hearts tell us that you are our recommendation, and everybody else can see this also.’ The compound ἐνγεγρ implies that this fact cannot slip from our hearts, cannot be forgotten ; cf. ἣν ἐγγράφου σὺ μνήμοσιν δέλτοις φρενῶν (Aesch. Pr. V. 789) ; and ἐπίγραψον ἐπὶ τὸ πλάτος τῆς καρδίας σου (Proverbs 7:3). The plur. ‘hearts’ probably implies that other teachers are included with the Apostle; contrast ‘our heart’ in 6:11 The ‘heart’ in Scripture is the inner man, the centre of personality, known only to God; Romans 5:5, Romans 5:8:27; Ephesians 1:18, Ephesians 1:3:17; 1 Peter 3:4; Revelation 2:23. See art. ‘Heart’ in Hastings, DB. and DCG.; Milligan on 1 Thessalonians 2:4.
Lietzmann and Bousset would read ὑμῶν for ἡμῶν with א 17 after καρδίαις. Confusion between the two pronouns is often found in MSS., and might easily be made at the outset in dictating, the pronunciation being similar.
‘My testimonial is written in your hearts and can be read by all, for all can see that you are Christians.’ Schmiedel and J. Weiss would omit the whole clause as a gloss.
γινωσκομένη καὶ ἀναγινωσκομένη. Note the change from perf. to pres. participles. It was written long ago and the writing still remains, and this is continually becoming known and being read. See on 1:13 respecting the word-play* and the meaning of ἀναγινωσκομένη. Some suggest that these participles are in the wrong order, for one reads a letter before one knows its purport. Has St Paul been careless, or has he sacrificed sense to sound? Probably neither: one recognizes the hand-writing before one reads the letter; at any rate, one perceives that it is a letter before one reads it.
ὑπὸ πάντων ἀνθρώπων. Another blow, whether intended or not, to his opponents, whose testimonials were not published.
3. φανερούμενοι. The construction is continued from ὑμεῖς ἐστέ, and the meaning is continued from ἀναγινωσκομένη. ‘Ye are our epistle, read by all, for you are being made manifest.’ The idea of ‘making manifest’ is freq. in this part of the letter; 4:10, 11, 5:10, 11, 7:12.
ἐπιστολὴ Χριστοῦ. Is the genitive subjective, objective, or possessive? Probably the first, and in that case it may be another hit at the false teachers; ‘their testimonials have little authority, but ours were written by Christ.’* Or he may be merely disclaiming all credit; ‘Christ is the agent to whom the composition of the letter is due; I am only the instrument.’ Chrys. takes the genitive as objective; ‘a letter which tells of Christ.’ Some moderns make it possessive; ‘ye are a letter belonging to Christ,’ i.e. ‘ye are Christians.’
διακονηθεῖσα ὑφʼ ἡμῶν. We need not seek an exact interpretation and ask whether, if Christ is the author of the letter, διακ. ὑφʼ ἡμῶν means that St Paul was His amanuensis, or that he carried the letter to its destination.† The metaphor is not thought out in detail. The words mean that St Paul and his colleagues were Christ’s ministers in bringing the letter of recommendation into existence by converting the Corinthians. See on 1 Corinthians 3:5, 1 Corinthians 4:1. We have ὑπό here, not, as in 1:19, 1:4, the more usual διά. Chrys. understands διακονηθεῖσα of St Paul’s preparation of their hearts; ‘for as Moses hewed the stones and tables, so we your souls.’ Per ministerium nostrum scripsit Christus in vobis fidem seem caritatem ac reliqua bona (Herveius). We have the passive διακονεῖσθαι, as here, in 8:19, of the service rendered; in Mark 10:45 it is used of the person who receives the service.
οὐ μέλανι. Cf. 2 John 1:12; 3 John 1:13; Jeremiah 36:18. See artt. ‘Ink’ and ‘Writing’ in Hastings, DB., atramentum and tabulae in Diet. of Ant. Ink could be blotted out (Exodus 32:33) or washed off (Numbers 5:23, where see Gray’s note). Non atramento scriptum est, id est non ita ut possit deleri, sicut ea quae atramento scribuntur; sed Spiritu Dei vivi, id est ut aeternaliter et vivaciter in cordbus nostris aut vestris permaneat, sicut ille qui scripsit vivit et aeternus est (Herveius). See the beautiful passage in Plato, Phaedrus, 276 C, in which it is said of the good teacher, that he does not much care to write his words in perishable ink, tracing dumb letters which cannot adequately express the truth, but finds a congenial soul, and then with knowledge sows words which can help themselves and him who planted them, and can bear fruit in other natures, making the seed everlasting and the possessor of it happy.
πνεύματι Θεοῡ ζῶντος. See on 1 Corinthians 12:3 and Romans 8:9, Romans 8:14. The epithet ζῶντος is not otiose; the Spirit is an efficient force, and the letter which it produces consists of living persons. Moreover, the epithet accentuates the contrast between the abiding illumination of the Spirit and the perishable blackness of inanimate ink. In the Pauline Epp. and Hebrews, Θεὸς ζῶν is frequent; in Matthew 16:16, Matthew 16:26:63; Revelation 15:7, we have the less common ὁ Θεὸς ὁ ζῶν. For the difference see Westcott on Hebrews 3:12.
οὐκ ἐν πλαξίν λιθίναις. This again is not quite in harmony. It would have agreed better with the metaphor of a letter to have said ‘not on parchment’ (ἐν μεμβράναις, 2 Timothy 4:13), or ‘not on papyrus’ (ἐν χάρτῃ, 2 John 1:12). But the Apostle has already in his mind the contrast between the Mosaic and the Christian ministry (vv. 4-11), and he therefore introduces here ‘tables of stone’ (Exodus 31:18, Exodus 34:1) rather than ordinary writing materials. He suggests that the living ‘letter of Christ,’ which is his testimonial, is superior, not only to the formal letters brought by the Judaizing teachers, but even to the tables at Sinai. Those tables were indeed written with the finger of God; yet they remained an external testimony, and they had no power of themselves to touch men’s hearts; whereas the credentials of the Christian teachers are internal, written on the yielding hearts both of themselves and of their converts. The Corinthians cannot disregard a commendation written on their own hearts. The law written externally is a terror to evil-doers; the internal law is an inspiration to those who do well. As soon as the Apostle’s thought had reached the ‘tables of stone,’ the current contrast between ‘the heart of stone’ and a ‘heart of flesh,’ τὴν καρδίαν τὴν λιθίνην and καρ. σαρκίνην (Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26; cf. Jeremiah 31:33, Jeremiah 32:38), would easily come in to strengthen the comparison.
Omitting details, which give fulness but somewhat disturb the metaphor, we have as the main thought this; ‘That which Christ by the Spirit of God has written on your hearts is recorded in our hearts as commending us to all mankind.’ Once more (see on 1:22) we can perceive how the elements of Trinitarian doctrine lie at the base of the Apostle’s mind and influence his thought and language; cf. Romans 15:16.
ἐν πλαξὶν καρδίαις σαρκίναις. This difficult expression is the better attested reading: καρδίαις is a manifest correction, for no one would alter KapBias to Unless with WH. and Wendland we suspect a primitive error, such as the accidental insertion of the second πλαξίν, we must accept the harder reading and take καρδίαις in apposition with πλαξίν Two ways are possible, according as σαρκίναις is taken with πλαξίν or with καρδίαις. The former is very awkward; ‘on tables (viz. hearts) of flesh.’ It does not follow, because σαρκίναις balances λιθίναις, and λιθίναις agrees with πλαξίν, that therefore σαρκίναις agrees with πλαξίν. But Syr-Hark. takes it so; ‘on tables of flesh—on hearts.’ ‘On tables (which are) hearts of flesh’ is less awkward, but not pleasing. In dictating, St Paul might easily utter the words slowly in the order in which we have them, ἐν πλαξίν— καρδίαις— σαρκίναις. But the proposal to omit πλαξίν is attractive. Both λιθίναις and σαρκίναις indicate the material of the πλαξίν, which in each case has ἐν, while the instruments (μέλανι, πνεύματι) have no preposition; σαρκικαῖς (1:12, 10:4; see on 1 Corinthians 3:1) would indicate quality, especially ethical quality.
B, f Vulg. insert καί before ἐνγεγραμμένη. K has γεγραμμένη. καρδίαις (א A B C D E G L P, Syr-Hark., Eus.) rather than καρδίας (F K, Latt. Syr-Pesh. Copt. Aeth. Arm. Goth. Iren. and perhaps Orig. Did. Cyr-Alex.).
3:4-11. The Superiority of the New Ministration to the Old
God alone made us competent to be ministers of the new covenant, which in splendour immeasurably surpasses the old.
4This confidence, that you are a letter composed by Christ testifying to the effectiveness and validity of our commission, is no fiction of my own invention: it comes through Christ, and it looks reverently to God as its source. 5It is not a confidence that of ourselves we are competent to form any estimate of results, as though we made ourselves sufficient. All our competence to form such an estimate has its source in God. 6For of course He did not leave us incompetent of serving Him when He called us to be ministers of His new covenant with men,—a covenant which consists, not of a lifeless written code, but of an active penetrating Spirit. For the written code imposes a sentence of death, but the Spirit breathes new life.
7Now if the Law’s dispensation of death, which was a thing of letters graven on stones, was inaugurated with such dazzling manifestations of glory that the Children of Israel could not look steadily at the brightness on the face of Moses, a brightness which was already beginning to fade away, 8how much greater must be the glory of the dispensation of the Spirit! 9For, surely, if the dispensation which sentences men to death can be a manifestation of God’s glory, then the dispensation which offers righteousness as a gift to men must be a far greater manifestation. 10For the former may be said to have had no real glory, because its glory pales and vanishes before the overwhelming glory of the latter. 11For if that which comes and soon passes away has somewhat of glory, much more must that which for ever abides be arrayed in glory.
4. Πεποίθησιν δὲ τοιαύτην ἔχομεν. ‘And confidence of this kind we possess through Christ to God-ward.’ He refers to the πεποίθησις just expressed, viz. that he has no need of any credentials other than the testimony which the existence of the Corinthian Church bears: that fact by itself suffices to prove his Apostleship. But he at once hastens to show that in this confidence there is no self-praise and no claim to credit; for it is conditioned in two ways which entirely exclude vain-glorious thoughts; it is through Christ, and it is towards God. In LXX πεποίθησις occurs only in the taunt of Rabshakeh, Τί ἡ πεπ. αὕτη ἣν πέποιθας; but it is fairly freq. in other versions. It is found six times in Paul and nowhere else in N.T. See Index IV.
διὰ τοῦ Χριστοῦ. ‘Therefore not through any innate power of our own. Apart from Him we could do nothing (John 15:5). He gave us the power that we have’— τοῦτο ἡμῖν δεδωκότος τὸ θάρσος (Thdrt.).
πρὸς τὸν Θεόν. Erga Deum, which is the second security against boastfulness. ‘The quiet confidence which gives us strength (Isaiah 30:15) is not directed towards anything earthly as the ultimate source of strength, but towards God’ (Romans 15:16). The idea is that of looking towards the person on whom one relies. This use of πρός is rare; the usual prepositions after πεποίθησις are εἰς (8:22) and ἐν (Php 3:4), and after πεποιθέναι, which is very freq. in N.T. and LXX, εἰς, ἐν, and ἐπί with dat. (1:9) or acc. (2:3). In 2 Thessalonians 3:4 we have πεποίθαμεν δὲ ἐν Κυρίῳ ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς, a construction which would have stood very well here.
5. οὐχ ὅτι …ἀλλʼ. The πεποίθησις is further explained, both negatively and positively, in order to exclude still more emphatically the suspicion of self-commendation. ‘I do not mean that (1:24) of ourselves we are sufficient (2:16) to account anything as originating with ourselves.’ He does not claim the right or power to judge that he and his fellows are the real authors of any part of the work; they claim no credit whatever. Experience has proved that as ministers they are competent, for the Corinthian Church exists; but all their competency comes from above.
The statement is particular, not general; and it has reference simply to the successful work at Corinth. The Apostle is not denying free will, nor is he declaring that the natural man can do nothing but evil. Calvin’s remark, Paulus non Poterat igitur magis hoininem nudare omni bona, is altogether beside the mark.
By a fanciful derivation, El Shaddai, as a name for God, was sometimes interpreted as meaning ‘The Sufficient One.’ In Ruth 1:20, Ruth 1:21, ὁ Ἱκανός, and in Job 21:15, Job 31:2, 39:32 [40:2]. Ἱκανός, is used as a Divine name. It is just possible that St Paul had this in his mind here; ‘Our sufficiency comes from the Sufficient One.’ Nowhere else in LXX or N.T. is ἱκανότης found.
ἀφʼ ἐαυτῶν should be placed before ἱκανοί ἐσμεν (א B C, Copt. Arm.) rather than after λογ. τι (A D E F G P, Latt.) or after ἱκ. ἐσμεν (K L, Syr. Hark.) or be omitted (17, Syr-Pesh.). λογίσασθαι (א A B K L P) rather than λογίζεσθαι (C D E F G). For έξ ἑαυτῶν, B F G have έξ αὑτῶν (WH. ii. p. 144).
6. ὃς καὶ ἱκάνωσεν ἡμᾶς. ‘Who also made us sufficient as ministers,’ where ‘who’ = ‘for He.’ No English version before the RV. marks the repetition, ἱκανοί, ἱκανότης, ἱκάνωσεν: nor does the Vulgate, which has sufficientes, sufficientia, idoneos fecit. There is a similar repetition in διακονηθεῖσα, διακόνους, διακονία, and this is followed by δόξα (eight times in five verses), δεδόξασται, τὸ δεδοξασμένον. As in 1 Corinthians 3:5, διάκονος is used in quite a general sense. There is no evidence that at this time διάκονος had an exclusively official sense, or designated any particular class of Christian minister: see Westcott on Ephesians 4:12. The aorist ἱκάνωσεν points to the time when St Paul was called to be an Apostle; at that crisis he was made competent (Colossians 1:12) to respond to the call. See Index IV.
καινῆς διαθήκης. ‘Of a new covenant’ (RV): ‘of the New Testament’ (AV) is misleading. The covenant is fresh and effective, with plenty of time to run, in contrast to the old covenant, which is worn out and obsolete. Thiss is the constant meaning of καινός as distinct from νέος, so that καινός always implies superiority to that which is not καινός, whereas what is νέος may be either better or worse than what is not νέος. See Trench, Syn. § lx. and Lightfoot on Colossians 3:10.
The usual word for ‘covenant’ is συνθήκη, which occurs thirteen times in LXX, but not at all in N.T. It is not suitable for a covenant between God and man, for it suggests that the parties meet on equal terms. See on 1 Corinthians 11:25. Here the emphasis is on καινῆς. Contrast διαθήκης καινῆς μεσίτης (Hebrews 9:15), where the emphasis is on διαθήκης. To be ministers of the old covenant was no great distinction; there were large numbers of them, and their duties were largely matters of routine. But to be made competent ministers of a new covenant with God was an extraorinary grace. In Hebrews 12:24 we have διαθήκης νέας μεσίτης, the only passage in which διαθήκη νέα occurs. Christianity was both νέα and καινή, it was of recent origin and it was effective, whereas Judiasm was old and effete. It was also αἰωνία. ‘I will make a new covenant (διαθήκην καινήν) with the house of Israel’ (Jeremiah 31:31. ‘And I will make an everlasting covenant (δ. αίωνίαν) with them, that I will not cease to do them good’ (Jeremiah 32:40).
We are not yet in a position to say the final word respecting the rendering of διαθήκη in N.T., where the word occurs thirtythree times, mostly in Paul (nine) and in Hebrews (seventeen). Probably the extremists on both sides are in error. It seems to be reasonable to hold that διαθήκη cannot always be rendered ‘covenant’ in accordance with LXX use, and that it cannot always be rendered ‘testament’ in accordance with the usage of classical writers and that of Greek-speaking populations in the East in the first century. Among the crucial passages are Galatians 3:15-18 (see Lightfoot) and Hebrews 9:16, Hebrews 9:17 (see Westcott). It does not follow that, because ‘covenant’ is the meaning elsewhere in N.T., therefore ‘covenant’ is the meaning in both these passages; or that, because ‘testament’ is the meaning in one or both of these, therefore ‘testament’ is the meaning everywhere. Deissmann (Light from Anc. East, p. 341; Licht von Osten, p. 243) says; “There is ample material to back me in the statement that no one in the first century a.d. would have thought of finding in the word διαθήκη the idea of ‘covenant.’ St Paul would not, and in fact did not. To St Paul the word meant what it meant in his Greek O.T., ‘a unilateral enactment,’ in particular ‘a will or testament.’ This one point concerns more than the superficial question whether we write ‘New Testament’ or ‘New Covenant’ on the title-page of the sacred volume; it becomes ultimately the great question of all religious history; a religion of grace, or a religion of works? It involves the alternative, was Pauline Christianity Augustinian or Pelagian?” On this Lietzmann rightly remarks that, however true it may be that διαθήκη almost always means ‘testament’ in profane literature, yet in the very numerous passages in LXX in which a διαθήκη between God and man is mentioned it cannot have this meaning; and this is true also of the passages in N.T. which have been influenced by the LXX. “I know of no instances of ‘a unilateral enactment’ (einseitige Verfügung). We must abide by the Hebrew and translate ‘covenant.’ One instance of this usage we at any rate have in Aristoph. Birds, 440. Peisthetairos refuses to have any dealings with the birds, ἢν μὴ διάθωνταί γʼ οἵδε διαθήκην ἑμοί—not to peck him.” See Ramsay’s valuable dissertation, Galatians, §§ 33, 34, pp. 349-370; A. Lukyn Williams, Galatians, pp. 68-70; Wickham, Hebrews, pp. 71-73; Expositor, Dec. 1908, pp. 563-565; E. Riggenbach, Der Begriff der Diatheke im Hebraerbrief, 1908; Muntz, Rome, St Paul, and the Early Church, pp. 146 f., 165 f.
οὐ γράμματος ἀλλὰ πνεύματος. ‘Not of letter, but of spirit, for the letter puts to death but the spirit gives life.’ This saying holds good of many other things besides the Law and the Gospel; everywhere letter prescribes, spirit inspires. But we must not be misled by the common contrast in English between ‘letter’ and ‘spirit,’ which means the contrast between the literal sense and the spiritual or inward sense of one and the same document or authority. By γρμάμα and πνεύμα St Paul means two different authorities; γράμμα is the written code of the Law, πνεῦμα is the operation of the Spirit in producing and promulgating the Gospel. See on Romans 2:29, Romans 7:6.* This passage is almost a summary of the Ep. to the Romans. St Paul mentioned the tables of stone (v. 3) in preparation for this comparison between the old ministration and the new. The old put forth a written code of duty, so onerous as to kill hope and love; the new is inspired by the spirit, which is able to revive what is ready to die. See Swete, The Holy Spirit in N.T., p. 319.
We see here once more (see on 1 Corinthians 9:20; Dobschütz, Probleme, p. 82) how completely St Paul had broken with the Jewish Law.† He has now reached the main topic in this portion of the Epistle (3:1-6:10), viz. the glory of Apostleship under the new covenant. The Judaizing teachers had not been able to extricate themselves from the trammels of the old covenant. But experience has taught St Paul that the embrace of the Law has now become deadly. It is effete and cannot adapt itself to the new conditions. It is purely external; ‘Thou shalt not do this overt act,’ ‘Thou shalt do this overt act.’ It has no power to set free and strengthen the moral elements in man. It makes heavy demands, but it gives nothing. It commands and imposes a punishment for disobedience; but it gives no power or encouragement to obey. The spirit of Christianity is the opposite of this. It is a living force. Instead of pressing the man down from without, it lays hold of him from within; it supplies, not slavish rules, but emancipating principles. It enriches and quickens those who welcome it, and it makes them both desirous and able to follow its inspirations. “The Law,” says Chrys., “when it takes a murderer, puts him to death; grace, when it takes a murderer, gives him light and life.”
It is evident from the language used that the Apostle is contrasting the spirit of the Gospel, not merely with ceremonial regulations, but with the whole code, whether ceremonial or moral, of the Mosaic Law. That Law said to the Jew, “Obey, or it will be worse for you.” The Christian says to the Gospel, “Obedience is the thing that I long for.”
The genitives, γράμματος and πνεύματος, probably depend on διακόνους (see v. 8); but the meaning is much the same if we take them after διαθήκης. They are qualifying or characterizing genitives and are equivalent to adjectives: we might translate, ‘not letter-ministers, but spirit-ministers.’ Winer, p. 297; Blass, § 35. 5.
τὸ γὰρ γράμμα ἀποκτ. This does not refer to capital punishment, which the Law inflicted for a variety of crimes, such as adultery, blasphemy, dishonour to parents, idolatry, murder, prophesying falsely, sabbath-breaking, witchcraft, etc., although there may be some indirect allusion. In a much more serious sense the Law kills, in that it sends men along the road which leads to eternal death. It does this by its prohibitions, which at once suggest the doing of what is prohibited, and also make men conscious of having sinned and merited punishment. “By giving edge to the conscience, it intensifies the sense of remorse. A child will go on doing a wrong act ignorantly, till it has become a habit, without any inward dissatisfaction; till at length some authoritative voice says, ‘That is a wicked act.’ Then everything is changed. Each recurrence of the evil habit brings misery to the child. It has the sentence of condemnation in itself. The commandment has slain the child” (Lightfoot). Again, the letter kills by setting up lofty standards, which it does not help men to reach, and which without help they cannot reach. This takes the heart out of them, for they feel from the first that disastrous failure is certain. Moreover, the Law held out no hope of a resurrection, by means of which the failures of this life might be rectified. Lex non est adjutrix legentium, sed testis peccantium quae mortificat peccatores (PseudoPrimasius). Spiritus vivivicat qui intus docet animam qualiter ea quae audit intelligere debeat (Herveius). With St Paul the principle that ‘the letter puts to death’ is an axiom; and it was confirmed by his own experience. See on Romans 7:7-25, pp. 184-189. But this verse would have been very obscure if we had not possessed Romans, which was written in Corinth and shows what St Paul had been teaching there. In all this disparagement of τό γράμμα there was no danger of seeming to disparage Christian writings, for as yet there were no Christian Scriptures. The Apostle, without being aware of it, was beginning to make such writings.
The excellent cursive 17 has οὐ γράμματι ἀλλὰ πνεύματι, which is supported by Lat-Vet. non litera sed spiritu; but Vulg. has non litterae sed spiritus. B has ἀποκτείνει, א G K P 17 have ἀποκτέννει, a form said to be Aeolic, A C D E L ἀποκτενει which D3 L accentuate ἀποκτένει.
7. ἡ διακονία τοῦ θανάτου. See on 1 Corinthians 15:56 and comp. Galatians 3:10, which quotes Deuteronomy 27:26: διακονία is not abstract for concrete, ‘ministry’ for ‘ministers’; it means the whole dispensation of the Mosaic Law. The Apostle’s main object is to show the superiority of the Christian ministration. This involves disparaging the Jewish ministration, which he does in strong language, because of the mischief done by the Judaizers. “See,” says Chrys., “how he again cuts the ground from under the Judaistic point of view.” He adds that the Apostle does not say that the Law produced death, but that its ministry tended to death, when it declared ‘the soul that sinneth, it shall die’ (Ezekiel 18:4).* The inferiority of the Law to the Gospel is shown in three different aspects, the second of which is an explanation or justification of the first; it is a ministration of death, a ministration of condemnation, and a ministration which was designed to be only temporary.
ἐν γράμμασιν, ἐντετυπωμένη λίθοις. ‘In letters, and engraven on stones.’ It is necessary to insert ‘and,’ in order to make clear that we have here two attributes of the διακονία, which was in writing that might never be read or understood, and written on dead and heavy material. ‘Graven in letters on stones’ would give only one of these ideas. Κεκολαμμένη ἐν ταῖς πλαξίν is said of the writing made by God on the first tables (Exodus 32:16). It is not said who wrote on the second tables (the nom. may be God or Moses), nor whether the writing was engraved or not (Exodus 34:28). The Commandments, as the centre and basis of the Mosaic code, are here put for the whole of it, as the Sermon on the Mount is sometimes put for the whole of the Christian code. ‘In writing’ would be better than ‘in letters’; but the connexion between γράμμα and ἐν γράμμασιν must be preserved.
ἐγενήθη ἐν δόξῃ. ‘Came into existence in glory,’ i.e. had a glorious inauguration; or ‘came to be in glory,’ i.e. was transported into a glorious condition. Bachmann defends the latter rendering by a number of instances from papyri in which γίγνεσθαι ἐν seems to mean ‘pass into a certain state’; ἐν νόσῳ γενόμενος, ἐν ἀσφαλεῖ γενέσθαι, κ.τ.λ. This use is not rare in N.T. Cf. [Luke 22:44]; Acts 22:17; Php 2:7; 1 Timothy 2:14; 1 Timothy 1:10, 1 Timothy 1:4:2; but it does not fit the context here. The Law was not given in an inglorious condition and afterwards promoted to a glorious one; it was ἐν δόξῃ from the first. Driver notices that St Paul’s key-words in this passage (δόξα, δεδόξασται) are suggested by the LXX rendering of ‘shone’ in Exodus 34:29, Exodus 34:35, viz. δεδόξασται. We may contrast the aor. here with the fut. ἔσται in v. 8; the latter implies permanence, the former not.
ὥστε μὴ δύνασθαι ἀτενίσαι. Exodus 34:30 says no more than that ‘they were afraid to come nigh him’; but Philo (Vita Moys. i. 2, p. 665) gives the current belief; κατέβαινε πολὺ καλλίων τὴν ὄψιν ἢ ὅτε ἀνῄει, ὡς τοὺς ὁρῶντας τεθηπέναι καὶ καταπεπλῆχθαι, καὶ μηδὲν ἐπιπλέον ἀντέχειν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς δύνασθαι κατὰ τὴν προσβολὴν ἡλιοειδοῦς φέγγους ἀπαστράπτοντος. There was a Jewish tradition that the light which shone in Moses’ face was the light which inaugurated the Creation. Vulg. here varies the translation of πρόσωπον in a capricious way; ut non possent intendere filii Israhel in faciem Mosi propter gloriam oultus ejus, quae evacuatur. See Index IV. On the difference between ὥστε with the infinitive and ὥστε with the indicative, see T. S. Evans in Expositor, 3rd series, iii p. 3. Excepting here and v. 13, ἀτενίζειν is peculiar to Luke in N.T.; it is freq. in Acts. In LXX it is rare and late.
τήν καταργουμένην. ‘Which was being done away’; imperfect participle. It was very splendid, but it was very transient. This is not stated in Exodus, but it seems to be implied, and it is brought in here with much effect at the end of the sentence, to be enlarged upon as a separate point of inferiority in v. 11. ‘Was to be done away’ (AV) is certainly wrong,* and ‘was passing away’ (RV) is doubtful. In v. 14, as generally in Paul, the verb is passive, and it may be passive here and in vv. 11, 13; see on 1 Corinthians 1:28, 1 Corinthians 15:26 and on Luke 13:7 for the meaning of the verb.
γράμμασιν (א A C D2 and 3 E K L P, d e f g Vulg. Copt. Syr. Pesh. Goth.) rather than γράμματι (B D* F G). f Vulg. omit the ἐν before γραμμ, אc D2 and 3 E K L, d e f Vulg. Arm. insert ἐν before λίθοις. In all three cases note the divergence between Greek and Latin in bilingual MSS.
8. πῶς οὐχὶ μᾶλλον. ‘How shall not to a greater extent the ministration of the spirit be in glory?’ The ἔσται does not point to the future coming of the Messianic Kingdom; it indicates that διακονία τ. πνεύματος will continue to be in an atmosphere of glory. Or ἔσται may be the logical future, of the natural consequence of what has been stated. Cf. εἰ δὲ ἀπεθάνομεν σὺν Χριστῷ, πιστεύομεν ὅτι καὶ συζήσομεν αὐτῷ (Romans 6:8).
9. εἰ γὰρ ἡ διακονία τῆς κατακρίσεως. The second point of contrast is explanatory (γάρ) of the first; the Law is a διακ. τ. θανάτου because it is διακ. τ. κατακρ, for condemnation results in death. ‘If such a ministration is glory, to a much greater extent the ministration of righteousness is superabundant in glory.’* The use of the pres. here is against ἔσται being the logical future. By ‘righteousness’ is meant that which is attributed to man when he is justified. Through faith in Christ man is more than forgiven; his debt is cancelled and he has something placed to his credit.
The ἐν which is usual after περισσεύειν (8:7; Ephesians 1:8; etc.) is omitted here, probably to balance δόξα in the first clause. In the first contrast we have ἐν δόξῃ … ἐν δόξῃ in the second, δόξα … δόξῃ Cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:12; Acts 16:5; here many texts insert ἐν.
ἠ διακονία το. κατ (B D2 E K L P, f g Vulg. Copt. Goth.) is probably to be preferred to τῇ διακονίᾳ τ. κατ (א A C D* F G 17 d e Syrr.); but the latter may be original ; ‘For if the ministration of condemnation has glory.’ D E G have ἐστιν after δόξα א3 D E F G K L P, Latt. Arm. have ἐν before δόξῃ.
10. καὶ γὰρ οὐ δεδόξασται τὸ δεδοξασμένον. ‘For indeed that which has been made glorious in this respect has been deprived of glory by reason of the glory which exceeds it?’ It is outshone by something which is much more dazzling and beautiful. When the sun is risen, lamps cease to be of use; orto sole lumen lucernae caecatur. In this way the paradox becomes true that ‘what had been made glorious was not made glorious.’ In comparison with the glory which superseded it, it seemed to have had no glory at all. Cf. ὁμοῖοι τοῖς τυφλοῖς ἂν ἦμεν ἕνεκά γε τῶν ἡμετέρων ὀφθαλμῶν (Xen. Mem. iv. iii. 3). Stallbaum on Plato, Rep. 329 B gives other examples of this use of ἕνεκα.
If ἐν τούτῳ τῷ μέρει be taken with τὸ δεδοξασμένον, the meaning will be ‘in respect of the illumination of Moses’ countenance.’ But it is better to take the words with οὐ δεδόξασται and understand them as anticipating what follows; ‘in this respect,’ viz. because of the overwhelming glory of the Gospel. The phrase is repeated 9:3, and nowhere else in N.T. Ὑπερβάλλειν is found only 9:14; Ephesians 1:19, Ephesians 1:2:7, Ephesians 1:3:19; and its derivative ὑπερβολή is also purely Pauline in N.T., peculiar to this group, and most freq. in 2 Cor. (1:8, 4:7, 17, 12:7); in LXX only 4 Malachi 3:18.
For οὐ δεδοξ a few cursives and a few Latin texts have οὐδὲ δεδοξ. Vulg. has nec and also spoils the oxymoron by rendering nam nec glorificatum est quod claruit in hac parte. εἵνεκεν (א A B D E G P) rather than ἕνεκεν (C K L).
11. Third contrast; again explanatory (γάρ) and in support of what precedes. ‘For if that which was being done away was through glory, to a much greater extent that which abideth is in glory.’ What is given to last only for a time is as nothing in comparison with what is given to last for ever. Christianity is εὐαγγέλιον αἰώνιον (14:6), a Gospel reaching forward into eternity and bringing with it σωτηρίαν αἰώνιον (Isaiah 45:17; Hebrews 5:9), and its ministers are ministers διαθήκης αἰωνίου (Hebrews 13:20). They have not the transitory glory of Moses in their faces, but in their souls they have the everlasting glory of the message which they deliver. Supply ἐστίν rather than ἔσται with ἐνδόξῃ.
The change from διὰ δόξης to ἐν δόξῃ may indicate the difference between what passes and what abides. We have a similar change Romans 5:10, in a sentence very similar in construction to this; εἰ γὰρ ἐχθροὶ ὄντες κατηλλάγημεν τῷ Θεῷ διὰ τοῦ θανάτου τοῦ υἱτοῦ αὐτοῦ πολλῶ μᾶλλον καταλλαγέτεσσωθησύμεθα ἐν τῇ ζωῇ αὐτοῦ. In Ephesians 1:7 we have the converse change from ἐν to διά, from what is permanent to what was transitory; ἐν ᾧ ἔχομεν τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν διὰ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ. St Paul is fond of changes in prepositions; 1 Corinthians 12:8; Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:30.
These verses (7-11) show what a revolution had taken place in the mind of St Paul since he had exchanged the Law for the Gospel. Christianity is so superior to Judaism that it has extinguished it. Even in its best days, when it also was a Divine revelation to the human race, Judaism had a glory which was infinitesimal compared with that which was inaugurated by Christ. A rich variety of expressions is used to bring this out. The Gospel is μᾶλλον ἐν δόξῃ is πολλῷ μᾶλλον ἐν δόξῃ πολλῷ μᾶλλον περισσεύει δόξῃ, and the δόξα is ὑπερβάλλουσα. It secures from death, it secures from condemnation, and it abides. In this argument the Apostle has chiefly in view the Judaizers who made the Law indispensable and superior to the Gospel. Beet, p. 349.
3:12-4:6. The Great Boldness of the New Ministers
Conscious of the vast superiority of the New Covenant, we need no veil to cover deficiencies, but deliver our message with boldness and openness.
12 Seeing, therefore, that we servants of the Gospel have a sure expectation that the glory of the new covenant will prove as superior in duration as it is in splendour, and will never disappear before a far greater glory, we venture to preach with great confidence, frankness, and courage, at the risk of being accused of self-commendation. 13 Unlike our opponents, we have nothing to conceal. We have no need to act as Moses did. He used to put a veil over his face, to prevent the children of Israel from gazing at the gradual dying away of the glory which the presence of the Lord had imparted to his countenance. The passing away of that glory symbolized the transitory character of the Mosaic dispensation; and by concealing the former from the people Moses might seem to be concealing the other also. 14 But, so far from seeing what the fading of the glory signified, or profiting by our plain speaking, their spiritual perceptions were deadened. For down to this very day, when the records of the old covenant (which might teach them so much) are read, the same veil of ignorance as to the transitory character of the Law lies still upon their minds, still unlifted, because by becoming members of Christ, and in that way alone, is it done away. 15 And unto this very day, whenever the Law of Moses is read in their synagogues, a veil of miscomprehension lies upon their hearts. 16 But just as Moses, when he returned to the presence of the Lord, removed the veil from his face, so, when any one of them turns to the Lord, the veil is removed from his heart, and he sees that the dispensation of the Law has come to an end. 17 Now the Lord to whom such an one turns is the Spirit of Christ, and where the Spirit of Christ is, there is emanicipation from the bondage of the Law and of sin. 18 And all we Christian men, freed from the Law and freely obeying a higher commandment, have a glory which resembles that of the unveiled Moses. As we gaze with unveiled face upon the glory of the Lord Christ, before which the glory of Moses vanished away, we are daily being transformed into spiritual likeness to Him, from one degree of brightness to another,—an amazing transformation, but not beyond belief, when we remember that the power which transforms us is a Spirit which is Lord.
4. 1 Seeing then that the Gospel is so glorious and is so unreservedly made known, and that we by God’s mercy have been made competent for the ministration of it, we have a courage which corresponds with that mercy. 2 We are not cowardly schemers,—far from it. We have from the first refused to adopt underhand methods of unworthy trickery; we follow no courses of unscrupulous cunning; we do not tone down or in any way tamper with God’s message. On the contrary, we set forth the truth so clearly and purely that this at once commends us to the conscience of our hearers, however much it may differ in different men. If, however, the verdict of all human consciences may err, we are not afraid to appeal to the judgment of God. 3 I do not deny that the Gospel which we proclaim so openly and honestly does not penetrate to the hearts of all who hear it; a veil intervenes. That is true, but only of those who are lost, 4 in whose case the god of this evil dispensation has blinded their understandings, unbelievers, as they are, so that for them there is no morning-glow from the light which is shed by the Gospel,—the Gospel which is charged with all the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 Yes, the glory of Christ; for it is not our own claims that we press, but those of Christ Jesus, as the risen and glorified Lord. Our relation to you is that of bondservants, in the service of Him who Himself took the form of a bondservant. 6 Is say that we do not press our own merits, because we have none; all that is of value in us is derived. To the God who in the beginning said, Out of darkness light shall shine, we owe the light that has shined in our hearts, the light which springs from the knowledge of the glory of God, which we must pass on to others. I have knowledge of that glory, for I have seen it myself on the face of Christ.
The closing words of this section are a complete explanation of the statement made at the beginning of it and elaborated in 4:2. The man who has always in his heart the Divine light which shone into it from the face of the glorified Lord cannot be guilty of tricky artifices and double-dealing with a view to commending himself and winning applause. The light transfigures him, and he is ever transparent and open. He works to impart the light to others, not as coming from himself, but from God through Christ.
We may notice the close correspondence between the last seven verses of this chapter and the first six verses of the next chapter. In both we have three subjects in the same order; the excellence of the Gospel ministry, the sad condition of those who are so blind as to be unable to see the excellence of the Gospel, and the Divine source of the excellence. Both passages begin with similar words expressing the rich possession of those to whom the ministry of the Gospel has been entrusted, and in both the metaphor of the veil is used. In the first passage this metaphor is applied to the unbelieving Jews, in the second to unbelievers generally, especially, but not exclusively, Gentiles. The repetition of ἔχομεν and ἔχοντες of the treasure possessed by Christian misssionaries should be noted (3:4, 12, 4:1, 7, 13). See below on 4:1.
12. Ἔχοντες οὖν τοιαύην ἐλπίδα. That he says ‘hope’ rather than ‘confidence’ (v. 4) does not prove that ἔσται is to be supplied with ἐν δόξῃ in v. 11. The glory of the Gospel has already begun, and therefore ἐστίν rather than ἔσται is required. But that the Gospel will prove permanent (τὸ μένον) is a matter of hope, and therefore ἐλπίδα is here quite in place. ‘Because, therefore, we have a sure hope that our glory will continue, we use great boldness.’ For οὖν following a participle see 1:17, 5:6, 11, 7:1; 1 Corinthians 11:20; Romans 5:1; Hebrews 4:14, Hebrews 4:10:19; 1 Peter 2:1.
πολλῇ παρρησίᾳ χρώμεθα. He had been accused of having in one matter used such levity that his word could not be relied on (1:17). He says here that he habitually uses great boldness and openness of speech, because he is in possession of a great hope. The word παρρησία implies that the boldness is exhibited either in speech or in action. It is opposed, not only to timidity, but to reserve, and it is sometimes misunderstood, for it may seem to imply self-confidence and self-commendation.* But it has quite other sources. Ministers who feel that God has made them competent (2:16, 17), and that their work will endure, have ground for παρρησία. Chrys. expands, οὐδὲν ἀποκρυπτόμενοι, οὐδὲν ὑποστελλόμενοι, οὐδὲν ὑφορώενοι. Calv., aperta et plena Christi manifestatio. It is possible that in explaining the nature of this παρρησία the Apostle is not only following up his answer to the charge of ἑαυτοὺς συνιστάνειν (v. 1), but also again glancing at the hole-and-corner methods of his Judaizing opponents; but what follows is on a higher level than mere controversy.
In Vulg. παρρησία is generally fiducia, but also constantia (Acts 4:13), and confidentia (Hebrews 10:35), while μετὸ παρρησίας is audenter (Acts 2:29), and παρρησίᾳ (adv.) is palam or manifeste. Beza’s in loguendo evidentia is no improvement on fiducia, and Erasmus goes wrong in changing utimur (Vulg.) to utamur. See Index IV.
13. καὶ οὐ καθάπερ Μωυσῆς. The structure is defective, but the sentence is quite intelligible; ‘And we do not put a veil over our faces, as Moses used to put a veil over his face.’ Comp. Mark 15:8, where there is nothing to correspond to καθὼς ἐποίει αὐτοῖς and ‘to do’ has to be supplied. From the lofty position in which God has placed him the Apostle looks down even on Moses. Moses and the Prophets often spoke obscurely, for they did not always understand their own message, and much had not been even dimly revealed to them that was clearly known to the Apostles. ‘Many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things which ye see and saw them not’ (Matthew 13:17). ‘Concerning which salvation the prophets sought and searched diligently.’ And ‘not unto themselves but unto you did they minister these things’ (1 Peter 1:10, 1 Peter 1:12). For καθάπερ see on 1:14.
πρὸς τὸ μὴ ἀτενίσαι. ‘That the children of Israel should not look steadfastly upon the end of that which was passing away.’ There is no δύνασθαι in this verse, and we have πρὸς τὸ μή, and not ὥστε μή. In v. 7 ‘could not look steadfastly’ is right; but here ‘could not’ (AV) is incorrect and misleading. The difference is considerable. In v. 7 it is said that the glory was so dazzling that the people could not look steadily at it. This is not stated in Exodus 34:29 f., but it is not inconsistent with what is stated there. Here it is said that Moses used to veil his face so that the people should not see the fading away of the glory on it. This is inconsistent with the AV. Of v. 33; ‘Till Moses had done speaking with them he put a veil on his face’; which means that the people were terrified by the brightness and would not come near him, and so he wore a veil all the time that he was addressing them. This is erroneous. The correct translation is, ‘When Moses had done speaking with them he put a veil on his face.’ He knew that the brightness was caused by converse with Jehovah, and would fade away when he was absent from the Divine presence. He did not wish the people to see the disappearance of the brightness, and therefore, when he had delivered his message, he covered his face, until he returned to the presence of the Lord. This is plain in LXX and Vulg., * as also in RV., but it is quite obscured in AV. Apparently we are to understand that this practice was continued by Moses throughout the wanderings in the wilderness.
The Apostle’s main point is this fading of the glory, which he treats as symbolizing the temporary nature of the Mosaic Law. He does not say that it was intended to convey this lesson; but, as in 1 Corinthians 10:2-4 and Galatians 4:21-26, he takes the O.T. record and gives it a spiritual meaning. The meanig of πρὸς τό with the infinitive is in N.T. generally final, expressing the subective purpose, ‘with a view to,’ ‘in order that.’ Matthew 5:28, Matthew 16:12, and Luke 18:1 seem to be exceptions. St Paul has it four times (here; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8; Ephesians 6:11), and in each case it expresses the purpose of the agent or agents. In this case it was the purpose of Moses that the Israelites should not witness the vanishing of the glory from his face. This does not imply that Moses understood the vanishing to be a sign of the transitory character of the Law; still less that he wished to conceal its transitory character from the Israelites. He wished to conceal from them the end of the fading illumination. He did not wish them to go on watching him till there was no more glory to watch.
It is the Apostle who makes the passing away of the glory a symbol of the transitoriness of the Law, and the veil a symbol of obscurity and concealment. In these two respects the Gospel ministration is greatly superior to that of the Law. It is permanent, and it conceals nothing that its adherents can understand. Its ministers deliver a message which reaches out into eternity, and they deliver it fearlessly, with entire frankness and freedom.
τὸ τέλος τοῦ καταργουμένου. The whole phrase and the context make the meaning of τέλος certain: ‘the end of that which was passing away,’ or (passive) ‘was being done away,’ means the cessation of the glory. We may set aside ‘the end of that which is abolished’ (AV), which seems to mean Christ as the end of the abolished Law (Romans 10:4). This meaning of τὸ τέλος is adopted by Aug. and Thdrt., but it does not stand investigation. St Paul could not mean that Moses veiled his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing Christ. Nor does τὸ τέλος mean the final cause, the aim and object of the Law. Why should that be concealed from the people, and how would the use of a veil conceal it? And Luther is certainly wrong in making τοῦ καταργουμένου masc., ‘of him who is passing away,’ viz. Moses, which is quite alien from the context. The Vulg. is puzzling, in faciem ejus, quod evacuatur, but the quod shows that this reading gives no support to the view that τοῦ καταργ is masc.
αὐτοῦ (A B C G L P 17) rather than ἑαυτοῦ (א D E K). For τέλος, A has πρόσωπον, which some copyist may have taken from the previous line or from v. 7. f Vulg., Ambrst. have faciem for finem.
14. ἀλλὰ ἐπωρώθη τὰ νοήματα αὐτῶν. ‘But their minds were dulled.’ The ἀλλά looks back to the preceding μή. ‘Dulled’ is perhaps better than either ‘blinded’ (AV) or ‘hardened’ (RV). The Rhemish version has ‘their senses were dulled,’ following the Vulg., which has obtunsi sunt census eorum. Vulg. generally has excaecare, but John 12:4, indurare. ‘Harden’ is the original meaning of the verb, but this does not agree well with ‘minds’; minds are blinded, blunted, dulled. As ‘blinded’ is wanted for ἐτὐφλωσεν (4:4), ‘blunted’ or ‘dulled’ will be better here. J. A. Robinson (Ephesians, pp. 264-274) gives a full history of πωρόω and πώρωσις, and comes to the conclusion that from the original idea of petrifaction the words come to indicate insensibility, especially of the eyes. The meaning generally required by the context in the N.T. is obtuseness or intellectual blindness rather than hardness. Lightfoot on 2 Thessalonians 2:8 remarks that St Paul sometimes uses καταργεῖν in opposition to ‘light’ (1 Corinthians 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:10) as here in vv. 7, 13, and this is somewhat in favour of ‘blinded’ or ‘dulled’ rather than ‘hardened.’ Strictly speaking, νοήματα are the products of νοῦς, and therefore ‘thoughts’ rather than ‘minds’: but here, as in 4:4 and 11:3, νόημα seems to mean the thinking faculty. The same difference of meaning is found in class. Grk.* See on 2:11.
It is not necessary to decide whether St Paul is speaking of the Jews of his own day, as what follows seems to intimate, or of the contemporaries of Moses, as what precedes rather implies. He is thinking of the nation as a whole without distinction of time. The aor. may be timeless, and in that case may be rendered ‘have been dulled’ or ‘are dulled.’ Nor need we ask whether their minds were dulled by God, or by the evil one, or by themselves: in different ways all three contributed to the result. The indefinite passive has the advantage of raising no side issue; the one important fact is the intellectual πώρωσις of the Jews, which is a warning to the Corinthians not to exchange Christian clearness and freedom for the obscure entanglements of Judaism.
To what does But’ (ἀλλά) refer? To the main topic of these verses, the παρρησία of the Apostle and his colleagues. ‘We do not use concealments, as Moses did; we speak openly to the people; but (aber) in spite of that, they do not understand. Even the free preaching of the Gospel is powerless against the deep-seated insensibility of Jewish prejudice. This is one of the strongest of St Paul’s strong statements against Judaism. Others explain, ‘But (Moses had no need to hide anything, for) their minds were dulled.’ This is a less obvious connexion.
ἄχρι γὰρ τ. σήμερον ἡμέρας. It must have been insensibility, for it remains unyielding still. “Why are ye perplexed that the Jews believe not Christ? They do not even believe the Law. They are ignorant of grace also, because they did not know even the Old Covenant, nor the glory which was in it. For the glory of the Law is to turn men to Christ” (Chrys.). Nisi enim credideritis, non intelligetis (Pseudo-Primasius).
τὸ αὐτὸ κάλυμμα. Not of course the same veil that Moses used, but one which had the same effect, viz. preventing them from recognizing that the Mosaic dispensation was transient. Aug. evidently thought that Moses wore the veil while he was speaking to the Israelites, for he says on this passage, sonabat enim vox Moysi per velum, et facies Moysi non apparebat; sic et modo Judaeis sonat vox Christi per vocem Scripturarum veterum: vocem earum audiunt, faciem sonantis non vident (Serm. lxxiv. 5). The tallith, which Jews now wear as a scarf on the shoulder when worshipping in the synagogue, was formerly worn on the head. It is just possible that there may be some reference to this. A reference to the wrappers in which the rolls of the sacred books were kept is not probable.
ἐπὶ τῇ ἀναγνώσει. ‘At the reading.’ This use of ἐπί of the occasion on which or circumstances in which something takes place is common enough (1:4, 7:4; 1 Corinthians 14:6; etc.). It makes rather strange sense to take ἐπὶ τ. ἀν after μένει, for a veil abiding on reading is a picture difficult to realize. We know from Acts and other sources that the synagogues, where the O.T. was publicly read (Acts 13:15), were often the headquarters of hostility to the Gospel (Acts 13:45, Acts 13:50, Acts 13:14:2, Acts 13:19, etc.). Aug. De Civ. Dei, xviii. 7, says; “The O.T. from Mount Sinai which gendereth to bondage, profiteth nothing, except so far as it bears witness to the N.T.”
τῆς παλαιᾶς διαθήκης. ‘The Old Covenant’ and ‘the New Covenant’ are such familiar expressions to us that we are apt to forget their enormous significance to those who first used their equivalents. This is plainly stated in Hebrews 8:13; ‘In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. But that which is becoming old and waxeth aged is nigh unto vanishing away.’ Nowhere else in N.T. is the expression παλαιὰ διαθήκη found, and it is possible that St Paul was the first person to declare the abrogation of the covenant made with Israel by speaking of the Pentateuch as ἡ παλαιὰ διαθήκη. Παλαιός implies far more than ἀρχαῖος does, that what is ‘old’ is the worse for wear. Trench, Syn. § lxvii.
μὴ ἀνακαλυπτόμενον. This probably agrees with τὸ κάλυμμα just mentioned; ‘the same veil abideth, without being lifted, because it is in Christ (and in Him alone) that it is done away.’ But μὴ ἀνακ may be a nom. or acc. absolute; ‘the same veil abideth, the revelation not having been made that it is done away in Christ.’ Field suggests a third method; ‘the same mystery remains unrevealed, viz. that it is done away in Christ.’ The second method labours under two disadvantages; (1) the clumsy absolute case, which, however, is not without examples; see Winer, p. 669, who rejects it as inapplicable to this passage; (2) the meaning given to ἀνακαλυπτόμενον, which in this context seems almost necessarily to refer to the moving of the veil; see v. 18. The third method avoids these drawbacks, but involves one which is more serious, viz. taking κάλυμμα in a different sense from that which it bears both before and after this verse. Everywhere else it means the veil and not the thing veiled, i.e. a mystery. The second method may be right; it is strongly supported by Meyer, Stanley, Alford, Bachmann, and others, and is admitted to RV. marg. But with AV, RV., most ancient writers, Waite, Way, Weymouth, J. H. Bernard, Massie, De Wette, Neander, B. Weiss, Schmiedel, Bousset, and others, it seems better to take μὴ ἀνακαλυπτόμενον with τὸ κάλυμμα.
ὅτι ἐν Χριστῷ καταργεῖται. AV and RV. read ὅ τι, and translate, ‘which veil is done away in Christ.’ But this use of ὅ τι for ὅ is open to question. Reading ὅτι, our rendering will depend on the rendering of μὴ ἀνακ. Either, ‘abideth without being lifted, for it is in Christ that it is done away’; or ‘abideth, the revelation not having been made that it is done away in Christ.’ Adopting the former, we make the sentence a parenthetical explanation of μένει μὴ ἀνακαλυπτόμενον, for it is union with Christ which does away with the veil, and this union the unconverted Jews reject. Note the emphatic position of ἐν Χρ. It is in union with Him, and in that alone, that the removal of this ignorance takes place. The difference between ἐν (1:14, 17) and διά (v. 4, 1:5) should be observed. The number of passages in which ὅτι may be either ‘because’ = ‘for,’ or ‘that,’ is considerable (1:14, 7:9, 13, 16; 1 Corinthians 1:5, 1 Corinthians 1:14; etc.). They are specially common in Lk. (1:45, 7:16, 39, 9:22, 10:21, 11:38, 22:70).
τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας is the reading of nearly all authorities, but K L Syr. Pesh. Aeth., under the influence of v. 15. omit ἡμέρας.
15. The metaphor of the veil is changed in a way somewhat similar to that in which the metaphor of the epistle is changed in vv. 1-3. Previously, the veil was something external to themselves which hid from them the truth that the dispensation of the Law was temporary and vanishing. Now it is something within them which keeps them from recognizing and welcoming the truth, viz. their prejudice in favour of the old dispensation; see on Luke 5:39. It is probably because of this change of meaning that κάλυμμα has no article; ‘the veil’ would mean ‘veil’ in the same sense as before, and AV obscures the sense by inserting the definite article. In v. 16, τὸ κάλυμμα means the veil mentioned in v. 15.
ἀλλʼ ἕως σήμερον ἡνίκα ἂν ἀναγινώσηται. ‘But unto this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies upon their heart.’ The ἀλλά refers to μὴ ἀνακαλυπτόμενον, ‘not lifted up, but (so far from that) a veil lies on their heart.’ ‘Heart,’ as often in Scripture, and especially in Paul, is the seat of the intelligence (4:6; 1 Corinthians 2:9; Romans 10:6, Romans 10:8, Romans 10:10; Php 4:7) as well as of the affections. Therefore it is beside the mark to say that the veil is said to be on the heart and not on the head, because “it was moral and not intellectual blindness which caused their unbelief.” If any contrast is implied in ἐπὶ τ. καρδίαν αὐτῶν, it is to the effect that the existing veil does not lie on the head of Moses, hiding the vanishing of the glory of the Law, but on the hearts of his people, hiding the dawn of the glory of the Gospel. We might have expected τῇ καρδίᾳ, but ἐπί with acc. usurps the place of ἐπί with dat., not only where motion previous to rest may be implied (Mark 2:14, Mark 4:38, etc.), but where there has been no previous motion (Mark 8:2; Luke 1:33; etc.). Blass, § 43. 1. With ἕως σήμερον (Ecclus. 47:7) comp. ἕως ἄρτι (1 Corinthians 4:13, 1 Corinthians 8:7, 1 Corinthians 15:6).
ἡνίκα ἄν with א A B C (17 has ἐάν): D F E G K L P omit ἄν. ἀναγινώσκηται (א A B C D E P) rather than ἀναγινώσκεται (F G K L).
There is no sufficient reason for suspecting with Heinrici that the verse is a gloss. The ἠνίκα in v. 16 looks like a reference to ἡνίκα here.
16. ἡνίκα δὲ ἐὰν ἐπιστρέψῃ πρὸς Κύριον. ‘But, whensoever a man shall turn to the Lord, at once the veil is taken away.’ The emphasis on περιαιρεῖται justfies ‘at once’; ‘away the veil is taken.’ The nom. to ὲπιστρέψῃ is probably τις (so Origen); anyone in the synagogue, any who hears the Law read. Others make ἡ καρδία αὐτών the nom., or Israel, or Moses as the representative, either of the old Israel, or of the new. The last is Calvin’s idea. No doubt St Paul has Exodus 34:34 in his mind; ἡνίκα δʼ ἂν εἰσεπορεύετο Μωσῆς ἔναντι Κυρίον λαλεῖν αὐτῷ, περιῃρεῖτο τὸ κάλυμμα ἕως τοῦ ἐκπορεύεσθαι. But that does not prove that here he is thinking of Moses as a type, or that here περιαιρεῖται is midd., as περιῃρεῖτο is in Exodus. Whenever Moses turned to the Lord (in the tabernacle), he took off the veil from his head; whenever a Jew turns to the Lord (Christ), the veil is taken off from his heart. The compound verb expresses the removing of something which envelops.
In ἐπιστρέψη πρὸς Κύριον we have another echo of Ex. 34., and possibly more than one. When the people were afraid to come near him, Moses called them, καὶ ἐπεστράφησαν πρὸς αὐτόν. And St Paul probably says Κύριον rather than Χριστόν, because of ἔναντι Κυρίου in Exodus. Frequently the Apostle transfers to Christ expressions which in O.T. are used of Jehovah; and Κύριον here clearly means Christ, for it balances ἐν Χριστῷ, and Jews had no need to turn to Jehovah. He is speaking of devout Jews worshipping in the synagogue, and perhaps he is thinking of his own conversion.
It is difficult to decide between ἡνίκα δὲ ἐάν (א* A 17) and ἡνίκα δʼ ἄν (א3; B D E F G K L P) the latter may be assimilation to v. 15, where, however, D E F G K L P omit ἄν. There is good reason for suspecting that, independently of v. 15, ἄν may be a correction to literary form. Cf. ὃ ἐὰν ποιήση (1 Corinthians 6:18); οὓς ἐὰν δοκιμάσητε (1 Corinthians 16:3); ὃ γὰρ ἐὰν σπείρῃ (Galatians 6:7). In many places WH. have restored ἐάν, in accordance with the best, MSS., where inferior texts have ἄν. The evidence of papyri is overwhelming as to this use of ἐάν for ἄν after ὅς, ὅστις, ὅπου, etc., being very common in the vernacular Greek of the first three centuries. “It seems that in this small point the uncials faithfully reproduce originals written under conditions long obsolete” (J. H. Moulton, p. 43). See Deissmann, Bible Studies, pp. 202 f.; he gives numerous examples.
17. These two abrupt sentences supply premises in support of the emphatic statement, ‘away is taken the veil.’ They might be omitted without loss to the argument, for no proof is required for the assertion that whenever men turn to the Lord, the veil which hides Him from them is taken away, and v. 18 would follow well immediately after v. 16. Using these two sentences as premises, we get an argument in this form; ‘The Lord is the spirit,’ ‘Where the spirit is, is freedom.’ Therefore, ‘Where the Lord is, the bondage of the letter is taken away.’ Or, as Pseudo-Primasius puts it, Dominus spiritus est. Liber est spiritus. Idcirco non potest velamen accipere, sed magis ipse revelat. Injected statements and appeals are found elsewhere in Paul; 1 Corinthians 15:56, 1 Corinthians 15:16:13, 1 Corinthians 15:14; Galatians 3:20.
In these two verses (17, 18) the fluctuation between τὸ πνεῦμα as that which is opposed to τὸ γράμμα, and to τὸ πνεῦμα as the spiritual nature or the inspiring power of Christ, must be allowed for. The contrast between Moses and Christ is one between letter and spirit, between compulsion and inspiration; that is the main fact. How far St Paul thinks of the Spirit as a power distinct from Christ is not clear; at any rate Christ and the Spirit work in the same way and produce the same effects. See on 1 Corinthians 2:12.
The two verses have a rhythm and swing, the balance of which is easily felt in reading aloud.
ὁ δὲ Κύριος τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν.
οὗ δὲ τὸ πνεῦμα Κυρίου, ἐλευθερία.
ἡμεῖς δὲ πάντες ἀνακεκαλυμμένῳ προσώπῳ
τὴν δόξαν Κυρίου, κατοπτριζόμενοι
τὴν αὐτὴν εἰκόνα μεταμορφούμεθα
ἀπὸ δόξης εἰς δόξαν,
καθάπερ ἀπὸ Κυρίου πνεύματος.
These rhythmical passages, of which there are several in the Epistle, are evidence of exalted emotion, and perhaps of rhetorical skill that has been acquired by study. In the next chapter note the correspondence in structure between v. 4 and v. 6 and the evenly balanced clauses in vv. 8-10.
ὁ δὲ Κύριος τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν. This statement has been misused controversially; on the one side to prove the Divinity of the Holy Spirit, on the other to show that St Paul identifies the Holy Spirit with the Lord Christ. The Apostle is not constructing metaphysical propositions respecting the Divine Nature. He has still in his mind the distinction between ἡ διακονία γράμματος and ἡ διακονία πνεύματος, the former of which is transient and is obscured by ignorance and exclusiveness, while the latter is permanent, informing, and open. Moses placed restrictions on external conduct; Christ transforms the inner life. Therefore to turn from Judaism to Christianity is to turn from the letter which enslaves to the spirit which gives freedom, and to welcome Christ is to receive in oneself the Spirit of the Lord. “It is impossible in the Pauline Epistles to make a rigid distinction between the Holy Spirit and the Spiritual Christ. Life in Christ and life in the Spirit are the same. It is by partaking of the Holy Spirit that believers grow into Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:45 Paul says that the last Adam, that is Christ, was made a life-giving Spirit. In 2 Corinthians 3:17 he says, ‘The Lord is the Spirit.’ Paul sometimes falls into the way of speaking of the Christian community as a manifestation of the Divine Spirit, and sometimes he speaks of the indwelling Christ. In Romans 8:9, Romans 8:10 the words ‘Spirit of God,’ ‘Spirit of Christ,’ ‘Spirit’ and ‘Christ’ are all used interchangeably” (P. Gardner, The Religious Experience of St. Paul, pp. 176 f.).
It is in the interests of the Trinitarian doctrine that the possible, but most improbable translation, ‘The Spirit is the Lord,’ is sometimes adopted. Grammar allows it, for both terms have the article; but the preceding πρὸς Κύριον, which shows that ὁ Κύριος means Christ, and the order of the words forbid it. Lias, in Appendix I., has collected patristic interpretations; Meyer-Heinrici gives several modern suggestions. It is a passage, about the exact meaning of which we must be content to remain in doubt. It is well treated by Headlam, St Paul and Christianity, pp. 106 f.
οὗ δὲ τὸ πνεῦμα Κυρίου, ἐλευθερία. ‘He who possesses the Spirit of Christ has liberty.’ Spiritual freedom of all kinds is meant, with special reference to the bondage of the Law and of sin; cf. 1 Corinthians 9:1, 1 Corinthians 9:19, 1 Corinthians 9:10:29; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6, Galatians 4:7. In Romans 6:15-23, Romans 7:1-6, St Paul expounds the freedom which comes by leaving the strictness of the Law for union with Christ. He compares it to release from slavery and to marriage with a second husband after the death of the first. In each case there is the substitution of new ties for old ones, not the abolition of all ties. Christian freedom is not licence; it is the free acceptance of the ties of affection instead of the enforced acceptance of bonds of fear. Service voluntarily rendered to Him who is the Truth is the most perfect freedom of which a creature is capable; ἡ ἀλήθεια ἐλευθερώσει ὑμᾶς. ἐὰν οὖν ὁ υἱὸς ὑμᾶς ἐλευθερώσῃ ὄντως ἐλεύθεροι ἔσεσθε (John 8:32, John 8:36). * Ubicunque est Spiritus Filii, ibi est mentis libertas, ut remoto servili velamine possit libere mens veritatem inspicere (Herveius). Cf. 1 Corinthians 7:22, and Seneca, De vite beata, 15:6, In regno nati sumus; Deo parere libertas est.
Several conjectural emendations of the text have been suggested. In the first sentence for ὁ δὲ κύριος Baljon and othere would read οὗ δὲ κύριος or οὗ δʼ ὁ κύριος, ‘Now where the Lord is, there is the Spirit.’ In the second sentence, for Κύριου Hort would read κύριον, ‘Where the Spirit (or, ‘the spirit,’ in opposition to the letter) is Sovereign, is freedom.’ But Hort admits that there is no obvious difficult in the universally attested reading; and St Paul would be familiar with the expression πνεῦμα Κυρίου in LXX (1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 2:16; Isaiah 61:1).
L has τὸ ἅγιον instead of Κυρίου. The ἐκεῖ before ἐλευθερία should be omitted with א* A B C D* 17, 67*, Syr-Pesh. Copt. Elsewhere St Paul does not write ἐκεῖ answering to οὗ (Romans 4:15, Romans 5:20).
18. ἡμεῖς δὲ πάντες. ‘And we Christians, all of us.’ ‘And’ rather than ‘But’ (AV, RV), for there is probably no contrast in δέ, but mere transition from ‘liberty’ to those who have been set free. The main contrast is marked by the very emphatic ἡμεῖς: ‘we freed believers, unlike the servile Jews, qui fidet carent oculis’ (Erasmus). A second contrast is marked by πάντες, which is in antithesis to the one Moses. But this contrast is greatly weakened if, with Bengel and others, we confine ἡμεῖς, as in vv. 1-12, to ‘we ministers of the Gospel.’ There is a tone of triumph in πάντες, which would be out of place if the meaning were confined to a handful of teachers. The contrast is between the one Hebrew leader and the whole body of Christians. Then only one was illuminated, and his illumination was hidden from all the rest; now all are illuminated and there is no concealment. Point after point in the comparison is brought out, and in most of them superiority is brought out also. The rhythm throughout the two verses (17, 18) is jubilant.
ἀνακεκαλυμμένῳ προσώπῳ. This is a third contrast. ‘In our case there is no need of concealment; there is no fear and there is nothing to hide. We Christians know that the glory which is seen in us is permanent, and no one will see it vanishing away. Neither ‘with open face’ nor ‘with unveiled face’ gives quite distinctly the full meaning of ἀνακεκαλυμμένῳ More clearly than ἀκατακάλυπτος (1 Corinthians 11:5, 1 Corinthians 11:13) or ἀκάλυπτος (not in N.T. and rare in LXX), ἀνακεκαλυμμένος shows that there has been a veil and that it has been removed. We might have expected καρδίᾳ rather than προσώπῳ, for the veil was on their heart before conversion (v. 15); but the comparison here is chiefly with Moses, whose face was veiled.
τὴν δόξαν Κυρίου. ‘The glory of the risen and glorified Christ,’ which is given here as equivalent to the glory of Jehovah in the Holy of Holies or on the Mount. It is inadequate to interpret this of Christ’s moral grandeur and beneficence during the life of His humiliation. It is rather the glory of Him ‘in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily’ (Colossians 2:9), and who was revealed to Stephen as ‘standing at the right hand of God’ (Acts 7:55, Acts 7:57; cf. 6:15). See Briggs, The Messiah of the Apostles, pp. 127, 128; The Messiah of the Gospels, pp. 292, 293.
κατοπτριζόμενοι. Pres. part. of what continually goes on; either ‘beholding as in a glass’ (AV), or ‘reflecting as a mirror’ (RV). The former is clearly the meaning in Philo, Legis Alleg. iii. 33, where he expands the prayer of Moses in Exodus 33:13 thus; Ἐμφάνισόν μοι σαυτόν, γνωστῶς ἴδω σε, μὴ γὰρ ἐμφανισθείης μοι διʼ οὐρανοῦ ἢ γῆς ἢ ὕδατος ἢ ἀέρος ἤ τινος ἁπλῶς τῶν ἐν γενέσει, μηδὲ κατοπτρισαίμην ἐν ἄλλῳ τινι τὴν σὴν ἰδέαν, ἢ ἐν σοὶ τῷ Θεῷ. The latter meaning is adopted by Chrys., and it makes excellent sense. When Moses spoke to the people, he covered with a veil the reflexion of the Divine glory which shone in his face; but it is with unveiled face that Christians reflect the glory of Christ and make known their changed condition with openness and boldness. The force of the participle is ‘by continually reflecting’; it is by this process that the metamorphosis takes place.
The Latins adopt the other meaning and translate κατοπτριζόμενοι speculantes or contemplantes, neither of which preserves the allusion to κάτοπτρον, ‘a mirror.’ Speculantes seems to preserve it, but does not, for speculari is ‘to see from a watch-tower’ (specula), not ‘see in a mirror’ (speculum). In any case, τὴν δόξαν Κυρίου is in an emphatic position in reference to κατοπτριζόμενοι, as τὴν αὐτὴν εἰκόνα in reference to μεταμορφούμεθα.
τὴν αὐτὴν εἰκόνα μεταμορφούμεθα. ‘Are transformed’ (RV) is better than ‘are changed’ (AV), for ‘to be changed’ is the rendering of ἀλλάσσεσθαι (1 Corinthians 15:51, 1 Corinthians 15:52; etc.). But ‘are being transfigured’ brings out both the force of the pres. and also the fact that we have here the same word that is used of the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2; Matthew 17:2), and nowhere else, excepting Romans 12:2.* Vulg. has three different words in the four passages; transfigurari in the Gospels, transformari here, and reformari Romans 12:2. Comp. μετασχηματιζόμενοι in 11:13, where a less complete change is implied than that which is indicated here. See on Romans 12:2, Lightfoot’s detached note on Php 2:7, and Trench, Syn. § lxx. Seneca (Ep. vi. 1) has Intelligo, Lucili, non emendari me tantum, sed transfigurari. Again (Ep. xciv. 48), Philosophiam qui didicit nondum sapiens est nisi in ea quae didicit animus ejus transfiguratus est.
‘The same image’ means the image of Christ reflected in the mirror. St Paul may have in his mind the εἰκόνα Θεοῦ (Genesis 1:27), the image of God, marred in Adam and restored in Christ. The construction τὴν αὐτὴν εἰκόνα is regular. Beza and others say that κατά rather than εἰς is to be understood: but nothing is to be understood. Like other compounds of μετά which mean change, μεταμορφοῦσθαι means ‘to be transformed into.’ Thus, μεταβάλλειν is often ‘to change to.’ When Menelaus taxes Agamemnon with acting very differently before and after gaining power, he says, κᾆτʼ ἐπεὶ κατέσχες ἀρχάς, μεταβαλὼν ἄλλους τρόπους, and with being shifty about the surrender of Iphigeneia, κᾆθʼ ὑποστρέψας λέληψαι μεταβαλὼν ἄλλας γραφάς (Eur. Iph. in Aul. 343, 363). Similarly Plato has μεταβάλλειν καινὸν εἶδος, μεταβ. τὴν φιλοπονίαν (Rep. iv. 424 C, vii. 535 D), and μεταλλάσσειν χώραν ἑτέραν ἐξ ἐτέρας (Parm. 138 C). In all these cases the verb means ‘to make a change and adopt.’ The omission of εἰς in the last example is conclusive. Again, while μετατίθεσθαι τῆς γνώμης is ‘to change from one’s opinion,’ μετατίθεσθαι τῆν γνώμην is ‘to change to one’s new opinion’ (Hdt. vii. 18). This usage is regular and not rare, whereas we lack evidence that τὴν αὐτὴν εἰκόνα can be used absolutely like τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον, τοῦτον τὸν τρόπον, τόνδε τὸν τρόπον, and τρόπον τινά. See Stallbaum’s note on Plat. Rep. iv. 424 C, where he renders μεταβάλλειν mutando assumere.
Driver says of the narrative in Exodus 34:29-35, that it is “a beautiful symbolical expression of the truth that close converse with God illumines the soul with Divine radiance, and that those who ‘with unveiled face’ behold spiritually as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are gradually through its influence transformed more and more completely into His likeness” (Exodus, p. 376). We find similar ideas in the Book of Enoch, where it is said that the righteous “will become angels in heaven,” and “their faces will be lighted up with joy because the Elect One has appeared” (51:45), “the glory will not pass away” (62:16), “and they will be resplendent for times without number, for righteousness is the judgment of God” (108:13). Again, in the Apocalypse of Baruch; “Their splendour will be glorified in changes, and the form of their face will be turned into the light of their beauty, that they may be able to acquire and to receive the world which does not die, which is then promised to them.” “They shall be changed into every form they desire, from beauty into loveliness, and from light into the splendour of glory” (51:3, 10). This Apocalypse is contemporaneous with the chief writings of the N.T. Its authors were orthodox Jews, and it is a good representative of the Judaism against which the Pauline dialectic was directed” (R. H. Charles, Preface).
ἀπὸ δόξης εἰς δόξαν. There is no fading away, as in the case of Moses, for it is no superficial glory. It penetrates to the spiritual nature of the inner man and makes that, like the Lord from whom it comes, a source of light. Yet it is no sudden change, completed, as if by magic, in an instant; that might end in stagnation. It is a continual and gradual progress, ‘from strength to strength’ (Psalm 84:7), ‘shining more and more unto the perfect day’ (Proverbs 4:18). It passes on from this world to the next, from what is temporal to what is eternal. Less probably, ἀπὸ δόξης is interpreted of the Divine glory imparted, and εἰς δόξαν of that which is received. Thus Bengel; a gloria Domini ad gloriam in nobis: and Neander; ‘from the glory which we contemplate to the glory which we receive in ourselves.’ Thdrt. perhaps means the same. Aug. De Trinitate, xv. 8; de gloria creationis in gloriam justificationis, vel etiam; de gloria fidei in gloriam speciei, de gloria, qua filii Dei sumus, in gloriam, qua similes ei erimus, quoniam videbimus eum sicuti est. ‘From the glory of Moses to that of the Spirit’ (Ambrose), and ‘from the glory lost in Paradise to the glory to be received in Heaven’ (Ephraem) are curiosities of exegesis.
καθάπερ ἀπὸ Κυρίου πνεύματος. Like the first half of v. 17, this is a passage about the exact meaning of which we are obliged to remain in doubt. It is impossible to decide with certainty what the words mean. Every possible translation has been advocated. Are the genitives in apposition? or is one dependent on the other? If the latter, which of the two is dependent? Is the definite or the indefinite article to be supplied in each case? If the definite with one and the indefinite with the other, which is to have which? May the article, whether definite or indefinite, be in either case omitted in English? May κυρίου be an adjective? AV and RV. give us four renderings, which may be reduced to three, for AV marg. is almost the same as RV. text. These three are; ‘by the spirit of the Lord’ (AV), ‘from the Lord the Spirit’ (RV), ‘from the Spirit which is the Lord’ (RV marg.). Add to these renderings three more; ‘from the Lord of the Spirit,’ ‘from the Lord who is spirit,’ and ‘from a sovereign Spirit,’ i.e. a Spirit which exercises lordship, making κυρίου an adjective. These six do not exhaust the possibilities in English, but they probably include the right rendering.
It will help us to select one or more of these as more probable than the others, if we consider why these words are added. The καθάπερ (see on 1:14), ‘even as,’ means ‘as one would expect,’ ‘as is natural,’ and the words which follow καθάπερ explain how it is that the marvellous transfiguration into the very image of Christ is possible. It is because the Lord is spirit that He effects this change. A spiritual effect must have a spiritual cause, and from a cause of the highest order we may expect very high effects. On the other hand, a spiritual effect of the greatest magnitude requires an adequate cause. The Lord of glory as the giver of glory satisfies these conditions, and the Apostle shows talem gloriam dari, quae sublimitati congruat dantis (Ambrst.). These considerations are in favour of ‘Even as from the Lord who is spirit’ (John 4:24), ‘the Lord’ being Christ, as is shown by ἐν Χριστῷ and πρὸς Κύριον. It is the glory of Christ that is reflected in Christians; for which reason ‘Even as from a Spirit who is Lord,’ or ‘Even as from the Spirit which is the Lord,’ is less probable. ‘Even as from the Lord of the Spirit,’ i.e. from Christ who sends the Spirit (John 16:7), is the simplest translation grammatically, unless κυρίου is an adjective; but it has against it (1) the absence of the articles, which would have made this meaning clearer, and (2) the fact that St Paul generally represents God as the giver of the Spirit (1:22, 5:5; 1 Corinthians 2:12, 1 Corinthians 2:6:19; 1 Thessalonians 4:8), through the instrumentality of Christ (Titus 3:6). Hort’s proposal to make κυρίου an adjective is attractive, but it has against it the fact that nowhere else in Scripture is κύριος thus used, and this is a strong objection, for the fact can hardly be accidental.* Writers would avoid using as a mere epithet a word which was so constantly employed as one of the Divine names. ‘Even as from the Lord who is spirit,’ or ‘from the Lord, the Spirit,’ is on the whole to be preferred. AV text is not likely to be right.
There is no transforming power so effectual as spirit, and in this case it is the Lord Christ Himself who is the transforming power. Spiritual agency is here at its highest. The most wonderful changes are not only possible but natural, when such a cause is operating. But the conditions must be observed, and they are mainly three. There is the turning to the Lord; every veil that might hide Him must be removed; and it is His glory and no other that is reflected. When these three things are secured, by continual reflexion of the Lord’s glory Christians are transfigured into the very image of Him whose glory they have caught and retained, and step by step the likeness becomes more and more complete— εἰς μέτρον ἠλικίας τοῦ πληρώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ‘unto the full measure of the maturity of the fulness of Christ’ (Ephesians 4:13).
* The relation of the Judaizers to the Twelve is unknown to us, as also are the details of their teaching. “It was the life, not the teaching of the original Apostles which appeared to support the Judaizers. They continued in attendance upon the Temple services. To a superficial observer, they were simply pious Jews. They were not simply pious Jews. But the Judaizers failed to penetrate beneath the outward appearance. Because the original Apostles continued to observe the Jewish Law, the Judaizers supposed that legalism was of the essence of their religion” (J. G. Machen, Princeton Biblical Studies, p. 555).
אԠא (Fourth century). Codex Sinaiticus; now at Petrograd, the only uncial MS. containing the whole N.T.
B B (Fourth century). Codex Vaticanus.
C C (Fifth century). Codex Ephraemi, a Palimpsest; now at Paris, very defective. Of 2 Corinthians all from 10:8 onwards is wanting.
D D (Sixth century). Codex Claromontanus; now at Paris. A Graeco-Latin MS. The Latin (d) is akin to the Old Latin. Many subsequent hands (sixth to ninth centuries) have corrected the MS.
E E (Ninth century). At Petrograd. A copy of D, and unimportant
F F (Late ninth century). Codex Augiensis (from Reichenau); now at Trinity College, Cambridge.
G G (Late ninth century). Codex Boernerianus; at Dresden. Interlined with the Latin (in minluscules). The Greek text is almost the same as that of F, but the Latin (g) shows Old Latin elements.
A (Fifth century). Codex Alexandrinus, now in the British Museum. All of 2 Corinthians from ἐπίστευσα 4:13 to ἐξ ἐμοῦ 12:6 is wanting.
K K (Ninth century). Codex Mosquensis; now at Moscow.
L L (Ninth century). Codex Angelicus; now in the Angelica Library at Rome.
17 17. (Evan. 33, Act_13. Ninth century). Now at paris. “The queen of the cursives” and the best for the Pauline Epistles; more than any other it preserves Pre-Syrian readings and agrees with B D L.
P P (Ninth century). Codex Porfirianus Chiovensis, formerly possessed by Bishop Porfiri of Kiev, and now at Petrograd.
d d The Latin companion of D
e d The Latin companion of E
67 67. (Eleventh century). At Vienna. Has valuable marginal readings (67 * *) akin to B and M; these readings must have been copied from an ancient MS., but not from the Codex Ruber itself.
* information respecting the commentator is to be found in the volume on the First Epistle, pp. lxvi f.
* “Observe the remarkable expression of the Apostle ; his letter! He was writing on men’s hearts ; and each man here is writing something ; and his writing lasts for ever. Pilate uttered a deeper truth than be thought when he said, ‘What I have written, I have written.’ For deeds are permanent and irrevocable : that which you have written on life is for ever. You cannot blot it out ; there it is for ever ; your Epistle to the world, to be known and read of all men” (F. W. Robertson).
* Cf. μηδὲν ἐργαζομένους ἀλλὰ περιεργαζομένους (2 Thessalonians 3:11) ; μὴ ὑπερφρονεῖν παρʼ δ δεῖ φρονεῖν (Romans 12:3) ; γινώσκεις ἂ ἀναγινώσκεις (Acts 8:30).
* Chirstum facit auctorem, se vero organum, ut calumniatores intelligant sibi cum Christo csse negotium, si maligne contra obtrectare pergant (Calvin).
† See Swete, The Holy Spirit in the N.T., pp. 193 f. ; Deissmann, Light from the Anc. East, p. 379.
f d The Latin companion of F
* “No idea is more familiar to us than the distinction between the spirit and the letter. … Yet, so far as I am aware, it occurs in S. Paul for the first time. No doubt the idea was floating in the air before. But the fixed it; he made it current coin” (Lightfoot, Sermons in St Paul’s. p. 206).
† “The third chapter is a polemic against the doctrine that believers in Christ ought to pay respect to the Law of Moses” (Menzies, p. xxc)
* Ministratio mortis lex estr, quae ostenso reveintoque peciato confundit, conterret et ocidit conscientiam (Melanchthon, Loci Theologici, p. 65, ed. Volbeding).
* The same error is made by Beza, quae gloria eral abocienda, and is repeated in v. 13, in finem ejus quod abolendum est, where AV inconsistently has ‘is abolishe.’
g d The Latin companion of G
* “Paul, then, must be not less distinguished than Moses; this is the extraordinary claim made by the Apostle in this passage. To have set up a genuine and lasting spiritual movement in a society like the Church at corinth is proof that it is so; for Moses produced no such result; the opposite is the result of what he did. And what is being done at Corinth is being done in other places also; mankind is passing into the final stage of its history” (Menzies).
* Arrian in his letter to Lucius Gellius, introductory to his report of the Discourses of Epictetus, says that they are memoirs of the philosopher’s thought and freedom of speech (παρρησία), the aim of which was simply to move the minds of his hearers to the best things; but it may not have this effect on those who read the report of hese utterances.
* ἐπειδὴ κατέπαυσεν λαλῶν πρὸς αὐτούς, ἐπέθηκεν ἐπὶ τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ κάλυμμα: impletisque sermonibus, posuit velamen super faciem suam.
* In Agathon’s speech in praise of Eros, he ends with mention of the beautiful song which Eros sings, Θέλγων πάντων θεῶν τε καὶ ἀνθρώπων νόημα (Plat, Symp. 197 E).
* “There can be no liberty of though without the love of truth” (Paget, The Spirit of Discipline, p. 106). The hapter is a good comment on this text. “By the use of one of the splendid paradoxes of the higher life, the acceptance of the service of God is equated wtih a supreme and glorious liberty’ (P. Gardner, The Religious Experience of St Paul, p. 34).
* Cf. ἐν δόξῃ in 3:7 with ἐν δόξῃ in Luke 9:31, and ἔλαμψεν in 4:6 with ἔλαμψεν in Matthew 17:2.
* The familiar language of the Creed, “the Lord, and Giver of Life,” is based on these verses (3:6, 17, 18). The Greek, τὸ Κύριον τὸ ζωοποιόν, shows that it is wrong to rehearse the words as if they meant. “the Lord of life and the Giver of life.”
Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
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.
And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
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.
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:
How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?
For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.
For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.
Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:
And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:
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.
But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.
Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.