We begin this week by looking at a short but slightly more technical passage: 2 Cor 3:7-11
v7: Engraved on stones: Paul changes the word for writing (2 Cor 2:3) from ‘written’ to ‘engraved’. Paul is beginning to (grammatically) contrast this difference between the old and the new – the letter and the Spirit.
- Was glorious: The old covenant was glorious, it brought about glory. These commandments and laws of G-d have a degree of glory attached to them. Those who reject or disagree with this (saying we need to ‘unhitch’ from the Old Testament) are not Biblically sound. However, as glorious as the law was, that glory was surpassed by a greater glory that came through the new covenant by means of redemption and the ministry of the Spirit.
Note: This glory was from the law. It was not the glory of G-d, as the glory of G-d does not fade away, does not dissipate, does not become obsolete. It was the glory of the law that was reflected from Moses’ face.
- Passing away: (Literally: annulled). Disappearing. Lessening. Fading away. Losing significance. Grammatically this is speaking about a present condition. It is something which is happening now but has not yet reached its fullness (like this earth…it’s fading already but is not quite gone. The earth will be replaced. Like our bodies…. they are presently fading away, but they are going to be transformed/replaced. This is the same as what is currently happening with the law. A change has happened, and that change eventually is going to be in effect in its totality) Eventually, in a time yet future, the law will be done away with and will no longer be relevant, but this time is not yet. Today the law of G-d is not (and cannot be) fully functional in society. Nobody is killed for violating the Sabbath. What Judaism teaches, and what believers need to also affirm, is that in this time allotment because there’s no temple, no altar, no functioning priesthood, it is NOT possible for the laws (eg Sabbath) to be kept according to what the Word of G-d says about keeping it (in order for the Sabbath to be kept, sacrifices had to be offered up etc – Num 28:9-10). This however does not mean that the Sabbath loses all significance and is no longer relevant. It teaches us many things that we can learn and properly apply to our lives. This is true for all the commandments of the Scripture. By means of the Spirit, we need to apply the message of the commandments, the righteousness of the law, to our lives – not walking in the flesh, but in the Spirit (Roms 8:4).
Note: The law exists currently, and it is still relevant for us (eg: it teaches us what sin is – Roms 7:7). However, it has been overshadowed by something that is greater. Eventually the law will be no more, but what overshadows it will be eternal!
v8: Ministry of the Spirit … more glorious: The ministry of the law had glory to the effect that it changed the face of Moses, but that glory slowly faded away (Ex 34:29-35). In contrast to this, the glory of the Spirit does not fade but is going to become greater and greater until it reaches its full measure.
v9: Note: The Torah (those first five books in the Old Testament) defines what righteousness is but it is not an instrument that produces righteousness. It is only through redemption, when the righteousness of Messiah is imputed to us, that we become righteous.
v10: Note: The law is NOT eternal. Its truth is eternal, but its status is temporary. It is however going to be utilized by Messiah in the Millennial Kingdom (The 1000 year reign of Messiah on earth). It is going to be the Torah, the commandments of G-d, that Messiah Yeshua is going to use to rule over this Kingdom, and there will be a functional temple during this time (Isaiah 2:2-3). But when that Kingdom comes to an end there is going to be a transition into the final state of the Kingdom of G-d – the New Jerusalem. In the New Jerusalem there will be no temple (Rev 21:22). At that time the law becomes obsolete and will be completely done away with.
- The glory that excels (surpasses it): The new covenant (not based on the letter but based on the Spirit) is far greater than the glory that the old covenant and its laws had.
v11: (That which) is passing away: G-d is still at work to make this obsolete, but it is not yet obsolete – not in our lifetime, not in this age, not in this dispensation, and not in the Millennial Kingdom – only in the New Jerusalem.
- (That which) remains: Referring to the new (Kingdom) covenant. ‘New’ is the main adjective that describes the Kingdom of G-d.