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Epistles of Paul: 33 - 2 Corinthians 2:12-3:11

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Epistles of Paul

33 - 2 Corinthians 2:12-3:11

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Epistles of Paul: 33 - 2 Corinthians 2:12-3:11

MP4 Video - 1080p (1.73 GB)
MP4 Video - 720p (1.04 GB)
MP3 Audio (32.73 MB)

In this class we will discuss 2 Corinthians 2:12 thru 2 Corinthians 3:11 and examine the following: Paul describes his journey to Troas, his anxiety over Titus' absence, and his relief upon meeting Titus in Macedonia. He expresses gratitude for God's triumph in spreading the Gospel and portrays himself as a living testimony of Christ's transformative power.


[Steve Myers] Well, this is Epistles of Paul. We are going to continue in 2 Corinthians. We left off last time in Chapter 2. If you remember, one of the reasons Paul was writing was to explain why he hadn't returned back to Corinth. And so he's explaining those things throughout Chapter 2. And right about where we left off, he begins to get into one of the chief reasons why he wasn't able to come back to Corinth. So let's take a look at…

2 Corinthians 2:12-13 Where he says, "Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord." And so here Paul talks about this opportunity to preach the truth. And he expresses it like a door that is opening, that God opened this door. He says, "I had no rest in my spirit because I didn't find Titus my brother, but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia."

And so if you remember your maps, Troas is over here, and he has this opportunity to go off into Europe, to go across the ocean. He ends up in Philippi. And that's described over in the book of Acts. If you want to hold your place here, let's remind ourselves of that over in Acts 16. In Acts 16, he describes that event that he's mentioning here in 2 Corinthians. So Acts 16, if you notice what he says in verse...well, let's go down to verse 8.

Acts 16:8-9 He says, "So passing by Mysiah, they came to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.'"

Sometimes they call this the Macedonian call, that Paul has this vision from God, basically, telling him, "Go to Macedonia, preach the gospel." And so guess what happens? He does just that.

Acts 16:10 "After he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them."

And so this is the gospel opening up to Europe. And so that's exactly what he's describing. If you want to head back to 2 Corinthians, that's exactly what he's describing here. He's at Troas in verse 12. He describes it as an open door, an opportunity to preach the gospel, take the gospel to Europe. And so, oftentimes, throughout scripture, we'll find different indications of this, that God opens these possibilities for the word to be preached. This isn't the only time that Paul uses this type of an analogy, but oftentimes, whether he should preach or teach or go this direction or that direction, he oftentimes describes it as a door. Give you another example. If you turn over to Colossians 4, we'll find another description of a door that Paul describes to the Colossians that was open to him. Colossians 4, notice verse 2. Colossians 4:2, now, here Paul is actually in prison in Rome, and he writes to those in Colossae.

Colossians 4:2-3 He says, "Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant with thanksgiving. Meanwhile, praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the Word to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains."

And so here Paul is reminding them, pray, pray that God would open a door that the gospel would be preached. And, of course, maybe specifically, he's talking here to preach the gospel as he's in prison. He's going to go on trial, and he's going to tell the truth about what is the truth of God. And so he asked them to pray for that very thing. And so this idea of an open door oftentimes is associated with preaching the truth. Can you think of other examples of that? In fact, there's quite a few of them throughout the New Testament. Maybe one that comes to mind is all the way at the end of the book. If you head over to the book of Revelation, there are letters to the churches that are written at the beginning of Revelation, in Revelation 2 and Revelation 3. And if you notice in Chapter 3, the letter to this particular church points to this idea of a door. Let's read it for ourselves in verse 7. Revelation 3:7, this is the letter to the church in Philadelphia. And notice what it says.

Revelation 3:7-8 It says, "'These things says He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens.'" That sound like a door to you? Well, I guess it could be a window at this point, but he's going to make it very clear in the next verse. He says, "'I know your works. See, I've set before you an open door. No one can shut it, for you have a little strength, have kept my word and have not denied my name.'"

And so here's an open door, an opportunity to speak the truth, preach the truth, live the truth. And so we see that analogy oftentimes used as an opportunity to preach and teach. And so if you head back to 2 Corinthians, here's God opening that door to the apostle Paul to take the gospel to Europe. And so he takes advantage of that opportunity and tells the Corinthians, "Hey, that's one of the reasons I didn't make it back to Corinth there's this open door to Europe was available," and he felt God was leading him that way. And so he reminds them of that very fact that that's why he left then from Macedonia. So if you're back in 2 Corinthians, take a look at verse 14.

2 Corinthians 2:14 He says, "Now, thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ."

So point to the fact God opened the door, He's leading him that way. Now, he uses another metaphor. So the metaphor of the door, okay, I've got this open door. I'm going to walk through this door and preach the gospel. Now, what does he say? He says, "Thanks be to God, who leads us in triumph in Christ." Now, you might just say maybe thinking just in the English words that are written here, "Okay, God leads us to victory. He leads us to triumph." But there's more going on here that would come to the minds of the Corinthians as he wrote this.

Notice what he says again in verse 14, "Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place." What's he getting at here? Well to a good Roman, something pretty specific would come to mind as he writes this. Not only that we have victory in Christ, but what happened when the Romans were victorious over their enemies? Oftentimes, they would bring many of the captives of that victory back to Rome. You know what they would do? They would have a victory parade for the victorious generals, and they would march through the streets of Rome with the captives showing them off and illustrating the fact that the Romans were unable to be conquered, and they would have these triumph parades, victory parades throughout Rome. And they would be big celebrations. They would be these festive gatherings. So here Paul uses the imagery of those victory ceremonies, these triumph parades that would be all through the streets of Rome as the victors were honored and the captives disgraced. Of course, they would have censers full of fragrant aromas, different smoke that they would wave as they're going down these victory parades. They would throw flowers out that the horses would trample, and you can imagine these very festive kind of aromas that would have been emitted from the censers and then from the flowers that the horses would have stepped on as they were carrying their victorious generals throughout the streets.

Paul's referring to that here when he talks about the triumph that we have in Christ. The triumph we have in Christ. So I think in a way we have to ask ourselves... He says, "Through us he diffuses the fragrance of his knowledge in every place." So you couldn't get away from the fragrance in Rome from these victory parades. That should tell us something. That we as true Christians, we should be fragrant. Okay, we shouldn't be smelly Christians, but we better be fragrant Christians. A little bit of a difference there, right? Between the kind of odors that we're emitting here. We need to be examples of God's way that sends a good message. We're the light of the world. We're a fragrance of Christ. And so that sweet, strong-smelling incense from the censers that were used in these victory parades would certainly be one of those signals of victory. And that should then remind us that we have victory in Christ. And because of the victory we have, we should be examples. We should be emitting this beautiful fragrance throughout every place that we go. So we could ask ourselves, are we smelly Christians or are we fragrant Christians? Paul's drawing that analogy here. In fact, he even takes it a step further. Notice what he says here in verse 15.

2 Corinthians 2:15-16 "For we are to God the fragrance of Christ." Do we smell like Christ? We should be acting like Christ. We should be living like Christ. Is it in every aspect of our life? He says, "We are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing." He goes on and says, "To the one, we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other, the aroma of life leading to life. And who's sufficient for these things?"

So he's doing a little comparing and contrasting. Imagine this victory parade. What was the fragrance like? Well, to the victor, yeah, this is a great smell. This is awesome. It's reminding us of this fantastic accomplishment. We have conquered the enemies. So the victors would certainly think... Now, if you're being drug and chained and pulled behind the victorious general, what is this smell to you? They're going to take you to the end of the parade, and what are they going to do with you? They're going to kill you. They're going to kill the enemies. They're going to parade them through the streets, show them off as the losers, and show the great conquering Romans as the victors. And at the end of the parade, that's what they would do. They would kill those individuals. So to them, this beautiful fragrance was a fragrance of death.

And so kind of interesting the way he words this very thing and then compares it to us, to us. In fact, you can find some similar references if you studied some of the rabbinical literature that's out there, this idea of life and death, these parallels. In fact, in some of the rabbinical things, they don't use a victory parade as the analogy there. Do you know what they use in some of the rabbinical writings? They use the law, that the law brought life or it could be death, could be death. And so a similar thing, and I often wonder if Paul maybe got this idea from some of those rabbinical teachings that he would have been very, very well versed in. And so here he uses this idea that we're the aroma of death leading to death. Okay, so if people fight against God's way, where does that lead you? Well, it leads to death. No doubt about that. But when we repent and we change, he says, "It's the aroma of life leading to life, leading to life." And so then he poses a rhetorical question there in that sense, "Who's sufficient for these things?" Is that some possibility that we could have life leading to life? And in a way, he's saying, "We are sufficient for these things. It is possible to have life in Christ."

Now, he's going to kind of give a fuller explanation in just a couple of verses here, but are we sufficient? Well, not on ourselves, not on our own, but yes, we are. We are with God's help. There's no doubt about that. And so he uses this analogy, not only to say, "Hey, Corinthians, here's why I didn't make it because I ended up going to Macedonia," but, you know, there is victory in Christ. God leads us in the way He wants us to go, and it leads us to victory. And oh, by the way, you've had a bunch of phony teachers who have been trying to mislead you. And so he points that out as he concludes this thought about this aroma of death leading to death or life leading to life. He says, "We're not like those phony teachers. We're not like those false apostles."

2 Corinthians 2:17 He says, "We are not as so many peddling the Word of God."

And that's an interesting word, that peddling word there, that's the word in the New King James. We're not peddlers. We're not snake oil salesmen in that regard. That's not what we're about. Some of the translations say, "We're not corrupting the Word." I mean, literally, that can mean like a huckster. That's another one of those words you often hear maybe in the old westerns, you know, that are selling the old snake oil, "You buy this and it'll fix everything." Paul says, "No, we're not like that. That's not who we're about. We're not selling off the word of God just to make a profit."

And so here he's saying, "What were those false teachers doing? They're just making money off you. They're just telling you what you want to hear." In fact, this is an interesting word that sometimes the Greeks would use for those that were corruptive and oftentimes used in the marketplace. And so this would have really meant something to the Corinthians. I mean, here they are, you know, they're one of the centers of trade. People would, you know, float into town on their merchant ships, and they would sell their goods. They distribute these goods. Well, oftentimes in the marketplace, one of these that were corrupters, one of these hucksters or snake oil salesmen, they would sell their goods. Let's say they were selling fruit. So here would be this basket of fruit that would look absolutely amazing. But you know what they would do? They would put the best fruit on the top of the basket. And what do you suppose was below? The stuff that wasn't so good, right? The fruit that was corrupted, that maybe was already, you know, spoiled. And they put this beautiful stuff on top and, "Hey, buy this." And then they'd sell it.

And you think you've got this wonderful deal on a basket of fruit. And yet, nope, they were corrupted. They were corrupted. And so this word is used in that regard. Oh, on the surface looks great. Oh, on the surface, these false teachers seem to be pretty good, seem to be right. But underneath, he's saying, "No way. That is not God's way. That is corruptible." And so they've corrupted not just a basket of fruit, they've corrupted God's Word. And so Paul uses that very thing, that we're to be the fragrance of Christ, not like these phony teachers, not like these false instructors. And so he reminds the Corinthians of that very thing. We're not peddlers. We're preaching the truth of God. That's what we're about. And he says, "This is something that we are sincere about."

2 Corinthians 2:17 He says, "We speak in the sight of God in Christ."

These others, they're just in it for their own benefits. And so he makes that point so very powerfully that that's what we're about. We're the fragrance of Christ. And so what a difference, what a difference between those that were in it for themselves.

And then he even talks about this relationship he has with God. I mean, you talk about a connection, this absolutely, I think you could say a solemn view of his relationship with God as the one who is the preacher, the teacher, the instructor. And Paul was absolutely sincere in what he taught because he knew he taught the truth. And so here we see that interesting difference that ultimately, yes, we're not the peddlers of this world. We are teaching sincerity and truth, almost a little reminiscent of what he wrote in that first letter, remember? When he talked about that very fact that that's who we're supposed to be. We're supposed to be like that unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. And so Paul kind of hearkens back to that idea here as he concludes Chapter 2. All right, let's go right on to Chapter 3 then. We're skipping over a couple of things here that we will discuss a little bit later. If you look back, one of the things that we'll talk about later in verse 15, he talks about we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. We'll talk about this whole idea of salvation and being saved a little bit later on, especially as we look at some of the, I guess you could say, stages of salvation that we are saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. And so we'll kind of get into that a little bit later on as we think about that. So I'm not just skipping over things, but we'll definitely get there as we go through this particular letter. All right, so for the moment, let's go on then to Chapter 3. And as Paul begins this section.

2 Corinthians 3:1 He says, "Do we begin again to commend ourselves?" Or is this like the first time I ever met you? What are you talking about, commending yourself? Well, let's read about it. He says, "Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you?"

You see, that's oftentimes what teachers would do as they traveled around. They'd bring their little letters that said "oh, these are wonderful teachers." They're letters of commendation. They're recommendation letters. You know, sometimes you need a recommendation letter as you apply for a college or for a job. You need a recommendation from your old boss. Well, here's what he's saying to the Corinthians, "Do I need to be commended to you?" Well, what's the obvious answer? "No, are you kidding me? I lived with you for a year and a half. The reason there's even a congregation here in Corinth is because God used me as an instrument to raise up the Church here." These false teachers were probably accusing Paul of not having the right letters of commendation. They were probably putting him down, probably saying, "Hey, we printed these commendation letters off the internet. Look how great we are." Okay, they didn't have the internet back then, but you can get whatever you want on the internet, right? You can print off your own ordination letters. You can print off anything you want there.

And so these letters back in the day were supposed to introduce you to a people. They were supposed to authenticate someone in that regard. Paul's saying their papers were illegitimate. They weren't real. And why would I need to be doing something like that? In fact, notice what he says in verse 2.

2 Corinthians 3:2 He says, "You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men."

You want a letter of recommendation? You're the letter. You Corinthians are actually the letter. You're evidence of the very fact that my ministry is legitimate, that I am an apostle of Jesus Christ. You're the evidence of that very fact. You're the letter written in our hearts, known and read by everyone. And so what was the evidence that Paul was legit? Changed lives. The fact that the Corinthians became converted. These changed lives were proof that God was working with them. They had transformed themselves by the power of God's Spirit. And of course, we know that's definitely scriptural. And he says, "It's written and known by all men." In fact, notice what he says.

2 Corinthians 3:3 "Clearly, you are an epistle of Christ. You're the letter ministered by us," yep, Paul was the instrument that God used, "written not with ink, but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of flesh. That is of the heart."

Now, why make a big deal about that? Okay, here we're contrasting the letter of the law and the spirit of the law, tablets of the heart. Where was God writing His law? Was it on stone? No, not at all. He's in a way saying, "Buy your fruits, you'll know them." God was writing His law on their minds and their hearts. So he's referencing back to the way that God's working through the New Covenant. If you hold your place here, we certainly can reference Jeremiah 31. He mentioned this in his first letter, but let's just go back to the source in Jeremiah 31. We begin in verse 33. It's a great reminder of that very fact. This should have come to mind for the Corinthians where he talks about the covenant.

Jeremiah 31:33 He says, "This is the covenant I'll make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord." Is His law going to be written on tablets of stone? He says, "No, I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I'll be their God and they shall be my people."

And so no wonder Paul refers to that in 2 Corinthians 3. God was writing his law on the hearts of the Corinthians, on the hearts of anyone that's truly converted. And so he mentions that very fact. In fact, since you're here in Jeremiah, just take a peek across the page in Jeremiah 32. In Jeremiah 32, he mentions it again. Notice in verse 38.

Jeremiah 32:38-40 He says, "They shall be my people, I will be their God. I'll give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever for the good of them and their children after them. I'll make an everlasting covenant with them, that I'll not turn away from doing them good. I'll put my fear in their hearts so they will not depart from me."

So we see God's law written in our hearts. That's the New Covenant that we have not only these laws on stone, but, now, we're talking about the spiritual aspects of the law. It's written on our hearts and on our minds. And so Paul reminds the Corinthians of that very fact that God's law isn't just something that was written in stone, but it's supposed to be applied spiritually, written in our hearts and minds.

In fact, maybe one other reference we should go to is one that's in the book of Ezekiel. Take a look at Ezekiel 36. Here's God's intent as he writes here about that time, that time of the New Covenant. In verse...let's see, where should we go to? How about verse 26? Ezekiel 36:26, he's describing this time that Paul is referencing all the way back there in 2 Corinthians.

Ezekiel 36:26 -27 He says, "I will give you a new heart and a new spirit within you. I'll take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." So here he's showing this spiritual side of the law. Verse 27, "I'll put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you'll keep my judgments and do them."

And so here he has that contrast really emphasized that God's way will be written in our hearts and our minds. And He'll give us His Spirit. He'll give us the ability to overcome sin. He'll give us the ability to keep the spiritual aspects of His law. And so no wonder he says, "Hey, Corinthians, you're the letter, you're the letter that's written in our hearts. You're that representation of God's way. You're the evidence of God's way. We don't need recommendation letters like some phony false teacher. You're the evidence of that very fact. You're an epistle of Christ."

So pretty cool connection when you really think of that, that God was writing his law on their hearts and their minds and their changed lives. That was the evidence. That was the evidence of that very fact. So head back to 2 Corinthians 3 once again, and he says, "They're the evidence." And that certainly reminds us of the fact that by their fruits, you'll know them. Their changed lives was evidence to that very fact. And so you shouldn't have to convince them of that. Those false teachers should have known the difference. Even though they were accusing Paul of not having the right credentials. He says, "Yeah, I absolutely have the right credentials and you're it. You're it. You're the evidence."

2 Corinthians 3:4-5 He says, "And we have such trust through Christ toward God." We have such trust. The trust word is that faith word, the confidence word. We have absolute confidence, not in ourselves, but he says, "Through Christ toward God." And notice what he ties in here. He says, "Not that we're sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God."

Now, remember what he just said a couple of verses ago, a couple of verses ago, didn't he just tell us that? Well, in a sense, yeah, he shows that we have sufficiency in Christ. Verse 16, if you go back to Chapter 2, remember this one?

3 Corinthians 2:16 He said, "Where the aroma of death leading to death and the other, the aroma of life leading to life. Who's sufficient for these things?"

Well, we are, we're sufficient, but not on our own power, not by our own abilities. And so here's where he finally finishes that thought. Yes, we're sufficient. Yes, we can accomplish these things. We can be spiritual creations in Christ. So it's not of our own doing. And that's why he says then, verse 5 of Chapter 3.

2 Corinthians 3:5 "Not that we're sufficient of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God."

So we have the power to overcome by God's Holy Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:6 So he says, "Who also made us sufficient, He makes us sufficient," in verse 6, "as ministers of the New Covenant." Okay, it's not this old letter. He says, "Not of the letter, but of the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."

So who's competent to serve God on our own power? Nobody. Whose own strength is enough to really be a true Christian? He says, "That's not possible." He's saying our sufficiency, our competency, our ability, our qualification, comes from God. So really he's saying only God is adequate, is the only way that we can be adequate to be a true Christian, to fulfill God's calling. And so he points to that very fact. And then he says, "That's what we've been called to. We've been called to the New Covenant."

Yeah, that's it, the New Covenant, this new contract that we've been called to. And this covenant is an agreement, an agreement between two parties. And so we have been called to that New Covenant. And he contrasts that to the Old Covenant, that the law, the letter of the law pronounced a death sentence for those who broke it. But what's the answer to that death sentence? Well, that Old Covenant was this administration that administered the letter of the law. And there were capital crimes that were committed that would incur the death penalty. That's just the way that it was. Could the law then give you life? He says, "No, no, not at all. The law showed what sin is."

And he says, in contrast, "It's the Spirit that gives life." And that kind of reminds us a little bit of what the Gospel of John talks about. Remember that passage? Maybe we could turn over there just for a moment. Hold your place here in 2 Corinthians. If you turn over to John, let me see if I can come up with it. I'm pretty sure it's John 6. Let's see if that's it. John 6. Yeah, he mentions that very fact as he talks about this. And of course, these are Christ's words here. It's in John 6. Notice verse 63. To get toward the end of the Gospel of John 6:63.

John 6:63 Christ Himself said, "'It is a Spirit that gives life, the flesh profits nothing. The words I speak to you are spirit, they are life.'"

And so here we see that contrast between the ministry of death versus the Spirit which gives life. He's contrasting really the Old Covenant and the New. Go back to 2 Corinthians for just a moment and we'll break that down just a little bit. Let's notice this.

2 Corinthians 3:6-7 In the New King James, it says, "If the ministry of death, written engraved on stones, was glorious..." So what is he talking about? "We're to be ministers, servants of the New Covenant," he says in verse 6. Then in verse 7, "The ministry of death was engraved on stones."

So some translations say, "The administration of death," not just the ministry, but the administration. Sometimes that word can be translated that. Quite a few translations will say the administration of death. Why call it the administration of death? Well, when you look at the covenant, there were civil laws that were given in the Old Covenant. Why was that? Well, think about the Old Covenant for a moment. Who did that apply to? It applied to ancient Israel. Ancient Israel had civil laws that govern society. That was part of the Old Covenant. They were a physical nation, and they didn't really understand the spiritual aspects of God's law. And so they were promised physical blessings for their obedience.

You can make note of Leviticus 26. It describes the physical blessings that would come if they obeyed. And so their civil law, all the rules of their society, they were based on God's law. They were based on the Ten Commandments. And so God spelled those things out. In fact, it's kind of interesting that as God commanded them to obey His laws, His statutes, His judgments, those things were written down for them. They were written down for them. And in fact, it's kind of interesting here that he mentions the way that it was brought to their minds. Let's notice that. If you look back at verse 7 once again.

2 Corinthians 3:7-8 He says, "If the administration of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?"

So He's comparing and contrasting here. So let's remind ourselves, what is He talking about here? This administration of death, the civil laws, the guidance that God gave them so that their society would run decently and in order, he says, "It was written and engraved on stones." In fact, it's kind of interesting. He doesn't say, "Oh, that Old Covenant was horrible and terrible and awful, that we had to dump it in order to do something better." No, He doesn't say that. What does He say? "This administration of death was glorious. This was a good thing. This was a good thing." And do you remember, He already told us where the problem was. Where was the problem when it came to the Old Covenant? Was it the Old Covenant itself? Was that the problem? No, the problem was the people. That was the problem. The problem was the people. It wasn't the covenant itself. And so here He reminds us that God told Moses to write down the laws on stones when they were crossing over into the promised land. He had them do that very thing. Hold your place here, and we'll remind ourselves of that.

If we go back to Deuteronomy 27. Deuteronomy 27 is where we're reminded that God told them to do just that, to write down those laws on stones that had been whitewashed. So Deuteronomy 27, right at the very beginning, here God is commanding Moses what the children of Israel should do when they cross over in the promised land.

Deuteronomy 27:1-3 He says, "'Keep all the commandments which I command you today. It shall be, on the day when you cross over the Jordan to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, that you set up for yourselves large stones, and whitewash them with lime. Write on them all the words of this law, when you've crossed over, that you may enter the land which the Lord your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey just as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you.'"

So He says, "Set up these stones." Now, is it just the Ten Commandments on those stones? No, not at all. In fact, He begins to spell that out here as He goes through Chapter 27. And so look at verse 16.

Deuteronomy 27:16-19 He says, "'Cursed the one who treats his father and mother with contempt, and all the people shall say, 'Amen.' Cursed the one who moves his neighbor's landmark. People shall say, 'Amen.'" So here we see various civil laws are also being written down. "'Cursed is the one who makes the blind to wander off the road.'" Verse 19, "'Cursed the one who perverts the justice due to the stranger, the fatherless, the widow.'"

So here we have rules for society that are being spelled out, civil laws as well as the commandments. In fact, we see that they actually did this then when they crossed over. You may have studied this in the former prophets. Joshua records them actually doing this in Joshua 8. So let's make a note of that as we head back toward Corinthians here. Joshua 8, let's see, where should we begin here?

Joshua 8:31-32 Says, "Moses, the servant of the Lord, had commanded the children of Israel as is written in the Book of the Law, 'An altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron tool.' They offered on it burnt offerings. And there, in the presence of the children of Israel," verse 32, "he wrote on the stones a copy of the law."

And so here we see that copy written, and they followed those instructions then that were given. And so we see at the end of verse 33, he talks about half of them standing on Mount Gerizim and half of them on Mount Ebal just as they were instructed back in Deuteronomy 27. And so that's what's coming to mind when we get back to 2 Corinthians.

So head back to 2 Corinthians. And so what's Paul talking about here? As he talks about this administration of death, he's talking about the death penalty of the civil law of Israel. God had designated them as to be an example nation. They were to be a model of living God's way. And yet they didn't follow through. They didn't follow through. And so here he's pointing out that fact that how much better is the New Covenant? And so no wonder he says, "Even though that law, that way of life was glorious."

2 Corinthians 3:8 He says, "How will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?"

So you can't help but think, well, why was the Old Covenant, the administration of death glorious? Well, it was supposed to show mankind how to follow the Ten Commandments. It gave them guidance on that. That law was still a reflection of the nature of God. It was a reflection of God's character. But he says that "old administration, that administration of death was passing away." Verse 11 reminds us of that. Well, let's read down to it, and we'll see what he says here.

2 Corinthians 3:9-11 He says, "If the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more glory." So the New Covenant is so much better because it's not just based on physical promises, it's spiritual promises. Verse 10, "Even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect because the glory that excelled." The New Covenant is so much better. This is so much more glorious. The others pale by comparison is really what he's saying there. And so he says, verse 11, "For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious."

And, of course, that Old Covenant, why does he say, "It's passing away?" Why does he just say, "It's over, it's done, it's finished?" Why not? Because it was still going on at this time. The temple was still there. The Jews were still sacrificing at the temple at the time of this writing. It wasn't until 70 AD that the temple was finally wiped out.

So that's why we even read in the book of Hebrews about this is going to be obsolete because even when Hebrews was written in Hebrews 8, it reminds us of that, that it was passing away. It was going to be gone once we get to the destruction of the temple. And so he reminds us, yes, it is passing away. And the New Covenant that remains is much more glorious. So the blessings for obedience in the Old Covenant, that was cool. That was great. That could have been glorious, but the New Covenant and the spiritual blessings are so much more glorious. And that's the point that he's making here. He says, "This ministry of the Spirit so much more glorious." Now, let's think about that. Why the New Covenant so much more glorious? Well, we've got the promise of the Holy Spirit. That certainly makes it so much better. We have the power over sin by having been given the Holy Spirit.

We also have the forgiveness of sin. That was never possible under the Old Covenant. We have forgiveness of sin through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And what's the promise? Not just some physical land, not just some physical blessing, we have the promise of eternal life. That's so much better, so much more glorious. We have the hope of the resurrection, so much better. Of course, we also have the ability to repent and to change. That's so much better. We will fall short and yet we can repent and change. And so when we look at the blessings of the ministry of the Spirit, of the New Covenant that Paul's talking about here, it is so much better. And so he emphasizes that very fact, that that Old Covenant is passing away. It's almost gone by this time. And now here we are. It is gone. It is gone. And, now, we are under the terms of the New Covenant. And so what a blessing that we have. What a blessing that those Corinthians had being called under the terms of the New Covenant.

And so Paul brings that to mind, that through Jesus Christ, we can be sufficient. And by being given the Holy Spirit, we can have that promise, and we have the help that we need. We have the forgiveness through the sacrifice of Christ. So what a blessing. What an amazing blessing. And so from here, he's going to talk about that even more as he contrasts the difference between these false teachers and what they were promoting and the blessings that we have because we can have a relationship with God that is so far better than what Israel ever had the opportunity to have. So we'll pick it up there next time in verse 12, Chapter 3:12, next time when we come back and continue on in 2 Corinthians.

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