2 Corinthians 3:18
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…
I. WE ARE ALL TRANSFIGURED. If you look back a verse or two it is clearly seen that St. Paul means by these words to include all Christian men. "We all" — the words stand in vivid contrast to the literalising Jew of the apostle's day; the Jew, who had the letter of Scripture, and worshipped it with a veil upon his heart; so that when Moses was read in his hearing, he could not see the meaning of the Old Testament, nor look one inch beyond the letter of the book. His religion was stereotyped, so his heart and life could not be transfigured. A religion of the letter cannot produce growth; it has no beautifying power, it cannot transfigure. In Christ, the case is far otherwise; where He is, there is liberty; where Christ is, there must be growth. Paul could not believe it possible that a Christian life could remain stagnant. Wherever there is growth, there must come, in the end, transfiguration. St. Paul felt that every believer must re-live in some measure the perfect life of Jesus. Here is the secret of transformation — Christ within, Christ about us as an atmosphere of moral growth. Fellowship with His perfect life gives human nature honour and dignity. The Thames is beautiful at Richmond, at Twickenham, at Kew, but not always so. At times the prospect, as you walk from Twickenham to Richmond, is spoiled by ugly flats of mud, and the air is not over pleasant, when the heat of summer draws the miasma from the sedgy bank. You may walk upon the bank and see but little beauty there. Wait a few hours, the tide will return and change the entire aspect of the river. It will become beautiful. The smallest river or tidal basin is beautified by connection with the sea. The pulse of ocean, if it raise the level but a few inches, adds dignity and beauty wherever it is felt. The river repeats, on a smaller scale, the larger life of the ocean, answering in its ebb and flow to what the sea has done before. So Paul felt that our nature is glorified because, through the Divine humanity of Jesus, it is connected with the ocean of eternal power and grace. The incarnation, the life, and the sacrifice of the Son of God have lifted human life to higher levels; they have created new interests and fresh currents in our thought and feeling. If our life flow onward towards Christ, and better still, if His fulness flow back upon us, we must, at flood tide, partake of His cleansing and transforming power. St. Paul does not here refer to the resurrection, his tenses are all present, and point to a change now taking place in our imperfect existence: "Changed from glory to glory." There is a glory of Christian character which we may possess even now. "From glory to glory" implies steps and stages. There is a measure of beauty, of strength, of holy character, of transfiguration, possible to the feeblest Christian — transfiguration of heart and life, a glory now, a foretaste of the eternal glory, a firstfruits of the Spirit.
II. THE CAUSE OF THE CHANGE AND THE MEANS OF ITS ATTAINMENT. It is brought about by looking at Christ. "We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory, are changed." To be like Christ, we must look upon Him intently. Then, on the Divine side, there is the inward change. As we look, the Spirit works within. Both things are necessary. As we gaze, the Divine influence comes down upon us imperceptibly. We are all much affected by the things we look at from day to day. A man will find sights congenial to his heart and mind. If he be artistic, he will be on the look-out for pictures and sculpture, or beautiful scenes in nature. If he have a turn for science, he will find objects of study and delight in every field and wood. If we are affectionate, with strong social instincts, our principal attractions will be found in human society. Now all these objects, in turn, react upon us. The artistic mind grows and expands by the study of beauty. The scientific man becomes more scientific by the study of nature; while the social and affectionate disposition deepens in the search and attainment of its object. Apply this to the gospel. Again, we must not forget that the way we look is also important. Our manner of looking at Christ affects us. St. Paul says, we look with "unveiled face." He here contrasts the Jewish with the Christian Church. Look at Christ, look daily, look appreciatively, lovingly, in tender sympathy, and the spirit of Christ will possess you. We may not be able to tell how the change comes about, nor why, neither need we anxiously inquire, provided we look at Christ and feel the Spirit's power. God has many ways. Stand before the mirror, and you will see the light. We care not at what angle you gaze. Look at Christ through tears of penitence, look in hope, in joy, in love; let His light stream into the heart through any one of the many avenues of thought and feeling.
(G. Walker, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.