VINCENT'S WORD STUDIES
2 CORINTHIANS 3
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Robertson's Word Pictures in the NT - Greek NT
To commend (sunistanai). See on Rom. iii. 5.
Some others. Others is superfluous. The reference is to certain false teachers accredited by churches or by other well-known teachers.
At this point the figure again shifts; the letter being now conceived as written on the Corinthians' hearts, instead of on the hearts of the apostles: written by Christ through the apostles' ministry. This suggests the comparison with the law written on tables of stone, which are used as a figure of the heart, fleshy tables, thus introducing two incongruities, namely, an epistle written on stone, and writing with ink on stone tables. Written in our hearts. See above. Compare Plato: "I am speaking of an intelligent writing which is graven in the soul of him who has learned, and can defend itself" ("Phaedrus," 276).
Ink (melani). From melav black. Only here, 2 John 12 (see note), and 3 John 13.
The Spirit. Instead of ink.
Fleshy tables of the heart (plaxin kardiav sarkinaiv). The best texts read kardiaiv the dative case in apposition with tables. Render, as Rev., tables which are hearts of flesh. Compare Ezek. xi. 19; Jeremiah xvii. 1; xxxi. 33. For of flesh, see on Rom. vii. 14.
Through Christ to God-ward (dia tou Cristou prov ton Qeon). Through Christ who engenders the confidence, toward God, with reference to God who gives us success, and to whom we must account for our work.
Of the new testament (kainhv diaqhkhv). See on Matt. xxvi. 28, 29. There is no article. Render, as Rev., of a new covenant, in contrast with the Mosaic. See on Heb. ix. 15. Of course the term is never applied in the gospels or epistles to the collection of New-Testament writings.
Of the letter (grammatov). Depending on ministers, not on covenant. For letter, see on writings, John v. 47. Here used of the mere formal, written ordinance as contrasted with the Gospel, which is "spirit and life." Compare Rom. ii. 29; vii. 6.
Killeth. See on Rom. v. 12, 13; vii. 9; viii. 2. Compare 1 Cor. xv. 56. "The living testimony borne to his authority in the Corinthian Church suggests strongly the contrast of the dreary, death-like atmosphere which surrounded the old, graven characters on which his opponents rested their claims" (Stanley).
Was glorious (egenhqh en doxh). A very inadequate translation. Egenhqh means came to pass or took place, not simply was. A glory passed from God to Moses, so that his face became shining. It is much more graphic and truthful to render ejn doxh literally, in or with glory, than to convert the two words into a single adjective, glorious. Rev., much better, came with glory.
Steadfastly behold (atenisai). See on Luke iv. 20.
Passing away (katargoumenhn). Lit., being done away or brought to nought. See on Luke xiii. 7; Rom. iii. 3.
Of that which is abolished (tou katargoumenou). See ver. 11. The temporarily glorified ministration of Moses. The end of this, which the veil prevented the Israelites from seeing, was the disappearance of the glory - the type of the termination of Moses' ministry. Paul's comparison is between the ministry of Moses, interrupted by intervals of concealment, and the gospel ministry, which is marked by frank and full proclamation. "The opposition is twofold:
14. Minds (nohmata). Originally, things which proceed out of the mind. Compare hearts and minds, Philip. iv. 7, and devices, 2 Corinthians ii. 11. Hence, derivatively, the minds themselves. The word occurs but once outside of this epistle, Philip. iv. 7. Some render here thoughts. So Rev., in margin.
Were blinded (epwrwqh). See on the kindred noun pwrwsiv hardening, Mark iii. 5. Rev., correctly, were hardened.
The same veil (to auto kalumma). The expression their minds were hardened is carried out figuratively. There is a veil over their minds when the law is read, as there was over Moses' face. They cannot yet recognize the end of the Mosaic ministry.
Untaken away (mh anakaluptomenon). Rev., admirably - giving the force of ajna up-unlifted. But both A.V. and Rev. construe unlifted with veil: the same veil remaineth untaken away (unlifted). This is objectionable, because katargeitai is done away is used throughout the chapter of the glory of the Mosaic ministry, while another word is employed in ver. 16 of the taking away of the veil. Further, the reading of the best texts is oti that or because, and not o ti which. Because is not true to the fact, since the veil remains unlifted, not because it is done away in Christ, but because of the hardness of their hearts. It is better, therefore, to take mh ajnakaluptomenon unlifted, as a nominative absolute, and to render, it not being revealed that it (the veil) is being done away in Christ. This falls in naturally with the drift of the whole passage. The veil remains on their hearts, since it is not revealed to them that the Mosaic economy is done away in Christ.
Shall be taken away (periaireitai). Rev., correctly, is taken away. The verb occurs twice in Acts (xxvii. 20, 40) of the taking away of hope, and of the unfastening of the anchors in Paul's shipwreck; and in Hebrews x. 11, of the taking away of sins. There is an allusion here to the removal of the veil from Moses' face whenever he returned to commune with God. See Exod. xxxiv. 34.
Liberty. Compare Rom. viii. 15; Gal. iv. 7.
"Vainly they tried the deeps to sound E'en of their own prophetic thought, When of Christ crucified and crown'd His Spirit in them taught: But He their aching gaze repress'd Which sought behind the veil to see, For not without us fully bless'd Or perfect might they be. The rays of the Almighty's face No sinner's eye might then receive Only the meekest man found grace To see His skirts and live. But we as in a glass espy The glory of His countenance, Not in a whirlwind hurrying by The too presumptuous glance, But with mild radiance every hour From our dear Savior's face benign Bent on us with transforming power, Till we, too faintly shine. Sprinkled with His atoning blood Safely before our God we stand, As on the rock the prophet stood, Beneath His shadowing hand."
Keble, "Christian Year," Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity.
Beholding as in a glass (katoptrizomenoi). So American Rev. Rev., reflecting. Only here in the New Testament. The verb in the active voice means to show in a mirror; to cause to be reflected. In the middle voice, to took at or behold one's self in a mirror. Rev., reflecting seems to be preferred on internal grounds, as better suiting the comparison with the divine glory as mirrored in the unveiled face of Moses. But this is unwarranted by usage. Stanley, who adopts this rendering, admits that there is no actual instance of the sense of reflecting. This sense, however, is not sacrificed by the translation beholding, but is conveyed by the succeeding clause, changed into the same image, etc. As Heinrici observes, beholding expresses the fact from which the process of change into God's image proceeds. When Moses beheld Jehovah's glory, his own face reflected that glory. The mirror is the Gospel, which is called the Gospel of the glory of Christ, ch. iv. 4.
Are changed (metamorfoumeqa). Rev., transformed. See on Matthew xvii. 2. The present tense expresses the change as in progress; are being changed, which is further defined by from glory to glory.
The same image (thn authn eikona). See on Apoc. xiii. 14. Compare especially 1 John iii. 2; also Rom. viii. 29; John xvii. 24; Colossians iii. 4; Rom. viii. 17; 1 Cor. xv. 48-53.
By the Spirit of the Lord (apo Kuriou pneumatov). Better, as Rev., from the Lord the Spirit. Compare ver. 17. The preposition ajpo from depicts the transformation as proceeding from rather than as caused by.