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The word translated `change' in II Cor. 3: 18 is the Greek metamorphoomai, a word
which is used in the Gospels of the transfiguration of the Saviour. He was there glorified
on our account, even as His sufferings were endured for us men and for our salvation.
Glory had been placed in need of a `transfiguration' had He not for our sakes humbled
Himself to man's low estate. In Him we see the pattern to which God works, and His
transfiguration is fulfillment of the teaching of I Cor. 15: where we read:
"That was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that
which is spiritual" (I Cor. 15: 46).
According to I John 3:, this `change' is associated with seeing Him:
"It does not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He shall appear, we
shall be like Him; FOR WE SHALL SEE HIM AS HE IS" (I John 3: 2).
In like manner, the passage before us (II Cor. 3: 18; 4: 6) is most intimately
connected with `beholding with unveiled face', and `the light of the knowledge of the
glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ'.
The change is `into the same image' and `from glory to glory'. This latter phrase
emphasizes the fact that this change operates in grace and not in law. There are two
kinds of `glory' in the context. The fading glory of the law, as exemplified by the face of
Moses, and the lasting glory of grace as seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
In II Cor. 3: and 4: the Apostle is comparing the two covenants, and does so by a
series of striking contrasts, culminating in the passing glory associated with the face of
Moses, as contrasted with the abiding and transfiguring glory that pertains to the face of
Jesus Christ. In order that these contrasts may be the better appreciated we set out some
of them in two columns, thus:
The Old Covenant
The New Covenant
The letter that killeth (3: 6).
The Spirit that quickeneth (3: 6).
The ministration of death (3: 7, 8).
The ministration of the spirit (3: 7, 8).
The ministration of condemnation (3: 9).
The ministration of righteousness (3: 9).
That which is done away (3: 11).
That which remaineth (3: 11).
Moses and Israel vailed (3: 13-15).
The vail done away in Christ (3: 13-15).
When Israel turn, the vail removed (3: 16-18).
We all with unveiled face (3: 16-18).
The glory of God in the face of Moses (3: 7).
The glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ
This glory is `done away' (3: 7).
This glory `transfigures' (3: 18).
The A.V. has somewhat `veiled' the truth by translating in verse 18 `open face'
instead of `unveiled face' and `hid' in 4: 3 instead of `veiled'. The transfiguration of
this passage is `from glory to glory', that is from the glory of the law which was done
away, to the glory of the new covenant which excelleth. What is here seen in the change
from law to grace, is but a shadow of that change which will be accomplished when the
"shall change the body of our humiliation that it may be fashioned like unto the body of
His glory" (Phil. 3: 21).