STUDY II Corinthians
3:7-18 (click here for notes)
Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts, that whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (NIV)
In this passage Paul gives one of the most picturesque descriptions of the old and new covenants found in the New Testament. By means of comparison and contrast he shows clearly how the new covenant is superior to and has replaced the old.
1.In order to understand the comparison Paul is making between Moses and himself as "ministers" of different covenants, look up the definition of "minister" and "ministry" in the dictionary.
2.After Moses received the tables of stone from God and his face shone with God's glory, why did he put the veil over his face AFTER he finished speaking to the Israelites? (see Exodus 34:29-35; also v. 13 this chapter)
3. Why does Paul call the old covenant "the ministry that brought death"? (see Romans 4:15; 7:7-25; 1 Cor. 15:56; Galatians 3:10)
4. If the law brought the curse of death, why did it come with glory? (see Isaiah 42:41; Romans 7:7-16; 8:3-4; Galatians 3:21; 1 Timothy 1:8-11)
5. What exactly was the curse the law delivered? (Deuteronomy 27:26)
6. In what ways was the old covenant a "ministry," and of what was Moses a "minister"?
7. What made the old covenant glorious? (see Galatians 3:22-24)
8. Why did Moses want to prevent the people from seeing the glory fade from his face?
9. Why is the old covenant "fading away"? (Matthew 5:17; 17:1-9)
9. How does the "more glorious" "ministry of the Spirit" bring righteousness instead of death? (see Romans 1:17; 3:21-26; Galatians 5:1, 4-6; 22-23)
10. What exactly is the "righteousness" the ministry of the Spirit brings? (see Romans 1:17; 3:21-22; 9:30; Philippians 1:9-11; 1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Gal. 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:1,2)
11. Why is the new covenant, the "ministry of the Spirit," more glorious than the old covenant, the "ministry that brought death"? (see Galatians 4:4-7; 5:16-18; Ephesians 2:1-10)
12. What is "such a hope" (v.8) which Paul says we have? (see Romans 5:4-5; 8:23-28; 1 Thessalonians 5:8; Titus 3:7)
13. Paul contrasts Moses' veiling his face from Israel with our boldness as participants in the new covenant. Using Moses' veil as a metaphor, as Paul did, why would he cover his face while we do not?
Veiled vs. Unveiled
Verse 14 says, "But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read."
14. What is the "old covenant"? (see v. 6; Acts 13:15; 15:31; )
15. What is the dulling of the mind, or the veil, that this verse declares is present "when the old covenant is read"? (see Isaiah 6:9-10; Romans 11:7-8; 9:31-32; 2 Corinthians 4:4)
16. If the old covenant was glorious when Moses gave it, why does a veil remain "to this day" "when the old covenant is read"? (see Colossian 2:10, 13-17; Hebrews 8:5-6; 10:1-2; Galatians 4:8-11)
17. Using the insights gained from the preceding two questions and reference texts, explain the metaphor of the veil in practical, real-life terms. (see verse 13; also Exodus 34:34; Isaiah 25:7)
18. How does the Spirit bring freedom? (see v. 6; Galatians 4:6,7; John 8:32)
The NASB translates verse 18 more accurately than does the NIV. It says, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."
19. What does it mean that we have "unveiled faces"?
20. What does it mean that we behold God's glory "as in a mirror"? (see also 1 Corinthians 13:12)
21. What glory are we being transformed FROM, and what glory are we being transformed TO? (see also Exodus 33:18; 40:34; John 1:14; 17:22,24; 2 Corinthians 4:4, 6)
22. What role does the Spirit play in this transformation?
23. What is the difference between the glory shining on Moses' face and the glory in your face?
24. How is your understanding of Jesus different since the veil was removed from your heart?
25. How is your life different under the ministry of the Spirit than it was under the ministry that brings death?
26. What in your life is God showing you he wants to transform into his likeness?
27. Ask God to shine his light of truth into your heart and to lift completely the veil of dullness. Ask him to help you know him the way he wants you to know him and to reveal himself to you. Open your heart to Jesus, and let his Spirit transform your heart and mind and life into his likeness.
Copyright (c) 2002 Graphics Studio, Redlands,
CA USA. All rights reserved. Posted March 2, 2002.