Condemnation and Righteousness
2 Corinthians 3:9-11
For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more does the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.…

here replace death and life, because it is through condemnation that man becomes the prey of death; and the grace which reigns in him to eternal life reigns through righteousness (Romans 5:21). The contrast of these two words is very significant for Paul's conception of the gospel: it shows how essential to and fundamental in his idea of righteousness is the thought of acquittal or acceptance with God. Man is sinful, under God's condemnation; and he cannot conceive a gospel which does not announce, at the very outset, the removal of that condemnation, and a declaration in the sinner's favour. Mere pardon may be a meagre conception, but it is that without which no other Christian conception can exist for a moment. That which lies at the bottom of the new covenant, and supports all its promises and hopes is this, "I will forgive their iniquities," etc. Of course, righteousness is more than pardon; it is not exhausted when we say that it is the opposite of condemnation; but unless we feel that the very nerve of it lies in the removal of condemnation, we shall never understand the N.T. tone in speaking of it. It is this which explains the joyous rebound of the apostle's spirit whenever he encounters the subject: he remembers the black cloud, and now there is clear shining. He cannot exaggerate the contrast, nor the greater glory of the new state. The stars are bright till the moon rises; the moon herself reigns in heaven till her splendour pales before the sun; but when the sun shines in his strength there is no other glory in the sky. All the glories of the old covenant have vanished for Paul in the light which shines from the Cross and from the throne of Christ.

(J. Denney, B. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.

WEB: For if the service of condemnation has glory, the service of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.

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