2 Corinthians 3:7
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was,

King James Bible
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:

Darby Bible Translation
(But if the ministry of death, in letters, graven in stones, began with glory, so that the children of Israel could not fix their eyes on the face of Moses, on account of the glory of his face, a glory which is annulled;

World English Bible
But if the service of death, written engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly on the face of Moses for the glory of his face; which was passing away:

Young's Literal Translation
and if the ministration of the death, in letters, engraved in stones, came in glory, so that the sons of Israel were not able to look stedfastly to the face of Moses, because of the glory of his face -- which was being made useless,

2 Corinthians 3:7 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

But if the ministration of death - In the previous verses, Paul had referred incidentally to the institutions of Moses, and to the superiority of the gospel. He had said that the former were engraved on stones, but the latter on the heart 2 Corinthians 3:3; that the letter of the former tended to death, but the latter to life 2 Corinthians 3:6. This sentiment he proceeds further to illustrate, by showing in what the superior glory of the gospel consisted. The design of the whole is, to illustrate the nature, and to show the importance of the ministerial office; and the manner in which the duties of that office were to be performed. That the phrase "ministration of death" refers to the Mosaic institutions, the connection sufficiently indicates, 2 Corinthians 3:13-15. The word "ministration" (διακονία diakonia) means, properly, ministry; the office of ministering in divine things. It is usually applied to the officers of the church in the New Testament, Acts 1:17, Acts 1:25; Romans 11:13; 1 Corinthians 12:5.

The word here, however, seems to refer to the whole arrangement under the Mosaic economy, by which his laws were promulgated, and perpetuated. The expression "a ministration - written and engraved on stone," is somewhat harsh; but the sense evidently is, the ministration of a covenant, or of laws written on stones. The word "ministration "there refers to the arrangement, office, etc. by which the knowledge of these laws was maintained; the ministering under a system like that of the Jewish; or, more strictly, the act and occasion on which Moses himself ministered, or promulgated that system to the Jews, and when the glory of the work was irradiated even from His countenance. And the purpose of the apostle is to show that the ministry of the gospel is more glorious than even the ministry of Moses, when he was admitted near to God on the holy mountain; and when such a glory attended his receiving and promulgating the Law. It is called the "ministration of death," because it tended to condemnation; it did not speak of pardon; it was suited only to deepen the sense of sin, and to produce alarm and dread; see the note on 2 Corinthians 3:6.

Written and engraven in stones - The Ten Commandments - the substance of all the Mosaic institutes, and the principal laws of his economy - were written or engraved on tables of stone.

Was glorious - Was attended with magnificence and splendor. The glory here referred to, consisted in the circumstance of sublimity and grandeur in which the Law of Moses was given, It was:

(1) The glory of God as he was manifested on Mount Sinai, as the Lawgiver and Ruler of the people.

(2) the glory of the attending circumstances, of thunder, fire, etc. in which God appeared. The Law was given in these circumstances. Its giving - called here the "ministration" - was amidst such displays of the glory of God. It was,

(3) A high honor and glory for Moses to be permitted to approach so near to God; to commune with him; and to receive at his hand the Law for his people, and for the world. These were circumstances of imposing majesty and grandeur, which, however, Paul says were eclipsed and surpassed by the ministry of the gospel.

So that the children of Israel ... - In Exodus 34:29-30, it is said, that "When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone, while He talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him." The word rendered "steadfastly behold" (ἀτενίσαι atenisai), means to gaze intently upon; to look steadily, or constantly, or fixedly; see the note on Acts 1:10. There was a dazzling splendor, an irradiation; a diffusion of light, such that they could not look intently and steadily upon it - as we cannot look steadily at the sun. How this was produced, is not known. It cannot be accounted for from natural causes, and was doubtless designed to be to the Israelites an attestation that Moses had been with God, and was commissioned by him. They would see:

(1) That it was unnatural, such as no known cause could produce; and,

(2) Not improbably they would recognize a resemblance to the manner in which God usually appeared - the glory of the Shechinah in which he so frequently manifested himself to them. It would be to them, therefore, a demonstration that Moses had been with God.

Which glory was to be done away - The splendor of that scene was transitory. It did not last. It was soon destroyed (τὴν καταργουμένην tēn katargoumenēn. It was not adapted or designed long to continue. This does not mean, as Doddridge supposes, "soon to be abolished in death;" or, as others, "ceasing with youth;" but it means, that the shining or the splendor was transitory; it was soon to cease; it was not designed to be permanent. Neither the wonderful scenes accompanying the giving of the Law on Sinai, nor the shining on the countenance of Moses, was designed to abide. The thunders of Sinai would cease to roll; the lightenings to play; the visible manifestations of the presence of God would all be gone; and the supernatural illumination of the face of Moses also would soon cease - perhaps as Macknight, Bloomfield, and others suppose, as a prefiguration of the abrogation of the glory of the whole system of the Levitical law. Paul certainly means to say, that the glory of Moses, and of his dispensation, was a fading glory; but that the glory of the gospel would be permanent, and increasing forever.

2 Corinthians 3:7 Parallel Commentaries

Library
Spiritual Liberty
Liberty is the heirloom of all the sons and daughters of Adam. But where do you find liberty unaccompanied by religion? True it is that all men have a right to liberty, but it is equally true that you do not meet it in any country save where you find the Spirit of the Lord. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." Thank God, this is a free country. This is a land where I can breathe the air and say it is untainted by the groan of a single slave; my lungs receive it, and I know there has
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 1: 1855

How to Become Like Christ.
"But we all, with unveiled face reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."--2 COR. iii. 18 (Revised Version). I suppose there is almost no one who would deny, if it were put to him, that the greatest possible attainment a man can make in this world is likeness to The Lord Jesus Christ. Certainly no one would deny that there is nothing but character that we can carry out of life with us, and that our prospect
Marcus Dods—How to become like Christ

The Two Covenants: the Transition
"Now the God of peace, who brought again from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep, in the blood of the everlasting covenant, even our Lord Jesus, make you perfect in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ."--HEB. xiii. 20, 21. THE transition from the Old Covenant to the New was not slow or gradual, but by a tremendous crisis. Nothing less than the death of Christ was the close of the Old. Nothing less than His resurrection
Andrew Murray—The Two Covenants

The Image of God in Man.
"As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."--1 Cor. xv. 49. One more point remains to be discussed, viz., whether the divine image refers to the image of Christ. This singular opinion has found many warm defenders in the Church from the beginning. It originated with Origen, who with his brilliant, fascinating, and seducing heresies has unsettled many things in the Church; and his heresy in this respect has found many defenders both East and West. Even
Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit

Cross References
Exodus 24:12
Now the LORD said to Moses, "Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandment which I have written for their instruction."

Exodus 31:18
When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.

Exodus 32:15
Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets which were written on both sides; they were written on one side and the other.

Exodus 34:29
It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses' hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him.

Exodus 34:30
So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.

Romans 4:15
for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.

Romans 5:20
The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

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