The Ministry of the Spirit
2 Corinthians 3 – 5
 
O U T L I N E
– The Ministry of the Spirit 2 Corinthians 3 – 5
– The Ministry of the Spirit & Christian Transformation 2 Corinthians 3
– Epistles of Commendation 2 Corinthians 3:1-2
– An Epistle of Christ 2 Corinthians 3:4-6
– The Ministration of the Spirit vs. the Ministration of Death 2 Corinthians 3:7-16
– Transformation: How the Spirit Writes Christ on Our Hearts 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
– The Treasure of the Spirit & Christian Endurance 2 Corinthians 4
– Practical Effect of Christ Written on Our Hearts 2 Corinthians 4:1-6
– The Breaking Down of the Vessel so the Light Can Shine Out 2 Corinthians 4:7-18
– The Ernest of the Spirit & Christian Ministry 2 Corinthians 5
– When the Vessel is Completely Dissolved (Death) 2 Corinthians 5:1-8
– Practical Effect of this On the Apostles’ Ministry 2 Corinthians 5:9-13
– A New Creation and the Ministry of Reconciliation 2 Corinthians 5:14-21
 
The Ministry of the Spirit & Christian Transformation
2 Corinthians 3
 
 

Epistles of Commendation (3:1-2)

Letters of Commendation. The use of “letters of commendation” was very common among believers in the early Church (Acts 18:27; 2 Corinthians 3:1). The purpose of the letter was to express the unity of the Body of Christ, and the resulting communion between local assemblies gathered to the Lord’s Name. Scripturally, an unknown person traveling to another assembly should carry a letter of commendation signed by two or three brothers (Matt. 18:16 for the principle) from their home assembly. However, if a person has previously visited and is well known, they do not need such a letter; see 2 Cor. 3:1. In 1 Corinthians, Paul suggested that the local assembly might select several deacons to carry the collection to Jerusalem. Because they were unknown, they needed to have letters of commendation; normally written by the assembly, but in this case written by Paul himself because they were working on his behalf (1 Cor. 16:3, see critical translation). Howbeit, if traveling with Paul, they would need no such letters. The pattern laid down in Romans 16 shows that even if some from the “destination” assembly know the visitor (as Aquila and Priscilla most likely did know Phoebe, having lived in Corinth) a letter of commendation is still the proper order. It is a happy thing to read such letters, and often notes of encouragement and love are included, as Paul does in Romans 16. Letters of commendation are one way that we can “endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).
 
CHAPTER 3
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or do we need, as some, commendatory letters to you, or commendatory from you? 2 “Ye” are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read of all men, 
 

An Epistle of Christ (3:3-6)

3 being manifested to be Christ’s epistle ministered by us, written, not with ink, but the Spirit of the living God; not on stone tables, but on fleshy tables of the heart. v.3 the new covenant is the word of God written on the hearts of the children of Israel… as Christians we go beyond that; we have Christ himself written on our hearts!
 
4 And such confidence have we through the Christ towards God: 5 not that we are competent of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but our competency is of God; 6 who has also made us competent, as ministers of the new covenant; not of letter, but of spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit quickens. 
 

The Ministration of the Spirit vs. the Ministration of Death (3:7-16)

7 (But if the ministry of death, in letters, graven in stones, began with glory, so that the children of Israel could not fix their eyes on the face of Moses, on account of the glory of his face, a glory which is annulled; 8 how shall not rather the ministry of the Spirit subsist in glory? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation be glory, much rather the ministry of righteousness abounds in glory. 10 For also that which was glorified is not glorified in this respect, on account of the surpassing glory. 11 For if that annulled was introduced with glory, much rather that which abides subsists in glory. 12 Having therefore such hope, we use much boldness: 13 and not according as Moses put a veil on his own face, so that the children of Israel should not fix their eyes on the end of that annulled. 14 But their thoughts have been darkened, for unto this day the same veil remains in reading the old covenant, unremoved, which in Christ is annulled. 15 But unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil lies upon their heart. 16 But when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away.) vv.14-16 A roman general brings back captives to Rome, the offering to their heathen God is wafting over all these prisoners. Some would be taken as slaves, others would be killed. (life unto life, or a death march). When we preach the gospel, to some it is the means of their deliverance (life unto life) for others it only makes them more responsible in there rejection of the truth (death unto death) but in every case it is a sweet savor to God… who is sufficient for these things?… Who can wrap their mind around that?
 

Transformation: How the Spirit Writes Christ on Our Hearts (3:17-18)

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, but where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But “we” all, looking on the glory of the Lord, with unveiled face, are transformed according to the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit. 
 

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