The Old and the New
2 Corinthians 3:6-11
Who also has made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills…

The warm and affectionate nature of the apostle had embraced the religion of Christ with a fervour, an attached devotion, exceeding even that which he had shown in his earlier days towards the dispensation in which he had been nurtured, Not that he had lost any of the reverence, the affection, he had cherished towards the covenant which God had established with his Hebrew ancestors; but that the new dispensation was so glorious to the view of his soul that it shed its brightness upon the economy which it replaced. The contrast drawn here seems almost depreciatory of that Law which was "given by Moses," when that Law was brought into comparison with the "grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ."

I. THE NEW IS BETTER THAN THE OLD. If God is a God of order, if progress characterizes his works, if development is a law of his procedure, then it is only reasonable to believe, what we find to be the ease, that that which displaces and supersedes what was good is itself preferable and more excellent.

II. THE SPIRIT IS BETTER THAN THE LETTER. Yet "the letter" was adapted to the childhood of the race, and was indeed necessary for the communication of the spiritual lesson to be conveyed from heaven. But Christianity cannot be compressed into any document; it is itself a spirit, unseen and intangible, but felt to be mighty and pervasive.

III. RIGHTEOUSNESS IS BETTER THAN CONDEMNATION. The old covenant abounded in prohibitions and in threats of punishment. The Law, when broken, as it incessantly was broken, is a sentence of condemnation to all who are placed under it. But it is the distinctive honour of Christianity that it brings in a new, a higher, an everlasting righteousness. It has thus more efficacy than the most faultless law of rectitude, for it supplies the motive and the power of true obedience.

IV. LIFE IS BETTER THAN DEATH. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die - such is the import of the old covenant, which thus ministered death to those who were under it. The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" - such is the evangel of the new covenant to mankind. Death is the emblem of all that is dark, dreary, and repulsive; life is fraught with brightness, beauty, joy, and progress. Well might the apostle rise to fervid eloquence when depicting the incomparable moral excellence and beauty of the covenant of Divine grace. And justly might he deem his office one of highest honour and happiness, as bringing salvation and a blessed immortality to the lost and dying sons of men.

V. ETERNAL GLORY IS BETTER THAN TRANSITORY AND PERISHABLE SPLENDOUR. There was a glory in the scene and circumstances amid which the Law was given; there was a glory in that code of piety and rectitude which was then conferred upon the chosen nation; there was a glory in the illumined countenance of the great lawgiver when he came down from the mount. But this glory was for a season, and indeed it almost lost its title to be spoken of as glory, by reason of the glory that excelleth. The ministration of the Spirit, of righteousness, that which remaineth, this is encompassed with a halo, an aureole, of spiritual and heavenly splendour which shall brighten until it merges in the ineffable glory of eternity. - T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: who also made us sufficient as servants of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

The New Covenant
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