The Berean Expositor
Volume 21 - Page 75 of 202
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Do you wear a vail?
A word of vital importance to all believers.
pp. 217 - 219
The first item in the equipment necessary for the interpretation of Scripture is surely
the belief that it is absolutely true. The second is revealed in II Tim. 2: 15, and is called
"rightly dividing the Word of truth".
In this paper we desire to draw attention to the necessity of this right division by
referring to the teaching of the apostle Paul in II Cor. 3: and 4:, where he shews the
distinction between law and gospel, and between old and new covenants. He speaks also
of the activity of Satan, who does not scruple to bandage the eyes of believers with truth
that belongs to another dispensation, if he may so prevent them from seeing the light of
the glory of Christ.
Scripture abounds with figures drawn from ordinary life, but we must never lose sight
of the fact that all the manners and customs that are referred to on almost every page of
Scripture are the manners and customs of the East.
When seeking to show the distinction that exists between the old covenant and the
new, the apostle in II Cor. 3: and 4: makes continual reference to the vail. Those who
know anything of Jewish customs will know that the orthodox Jew covers his head with
the talith (or vail) during prayer. Whether this custom is derived from the action of
Moses recorded in Exod. 34: 33, we will not here debate; it is sufficient that the
apostle mentions them together. In II Cor. 3: 13 he reminds his readers that Moses "put
a vail over his face", and that Israel's "thoughts" are to this day "blinded", for until this
day the same vail remains untaken away in the reading of the old covenant.
In this third chapter the apostle draws some severe distinctions between the old and
new covenants. The old covenant was engraven in stone; the new was written in the
fleshy tables of the heart (II Cor. 3: 3 and 7). The old is the letter that killeth; the new
the spirit that giveth life (II Cor. 3: 6). The one is the ministration of death and
condemnation; the other the ministration of the spirit and righteousness (II Cor. 3: 7-9).
The glory of the one was transient; the glory of the other was abiding and excelling
(II Cor. 3: 7, 10, 11, 13). Moses, the minister of the old covenant, vailed his face; Paul,
the minister of the new, used great boldness of speech, not as Moses who put a vail over
his face (II Cor. 3: 12, 13). The glory that shone from the face of Moses transfigured no
man; the glory that shines from the face of Jesus Christ changes those who behold it
from glory to glory (II Cor. 3: 18 and 4: 6).
The A.V. robs the reader of the point of II Cor. 3: 18 by the translation "open face",
but it is restored by the R.V. which reads "unvailed face":--
"We all, with unvailed face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are
transfigured into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit."