I. Ministry Accreditation (verses 1-5)
1. Paul’s Question:: Are we so lacking of ministerial abilities and divine influence (anointing), in order to be received in different churches, we have to have letters of recommendation from our elders?
A. Certainly not! God causes us to triumph through Christ in every place we went;
B. Your conversion is our Evidence. The members of the Church at Corinth is such an evident seal to our ministry. This leaves no doubt that God is with us. (vs. 1)
Note: Letters of “commendation” were frequent written in the primitive church; to cover the integrity of traveling leaders in the early church who were not endowed with the anointing of the “miraculous” gifts of the Holy Spirit. These letters were necessary to prevent the early churches from being imposed on by false teachers. As we learn from this passage. But these were, in all probability, not used by the apostles; their helpers, successors, and those But when apostles came, they brought their own testimonials, the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit.
2. Paul answer: A Testimonial to the Church (vs. 2)
A. You (The Corinthian Church) are our letter.
B. You’re written in our hearts as a “living” epistle (example)
C. I talk about you everywhere I go. I talk about your gifts, your graces, and praise your knowledge in the gospel. (growth as Christians)
3. Paul’s Declaration Concerning the Corinthian Church (vs.3-4)
A. You are declared an “epistle” (living and active working letter of evidence) of Christ, ministered by us.(You are in our hearts. Christ has written you there; but yourselves are the “letter” of Christ; What the Lord did in your hearts and lives ,the salvation which you have received, is just like Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit dictating His Word and you writing it in your heart and living it your life’s work.)
B. Not “written” with ink, but by the Holy Spirit of God.
God used me as his human pen. Christ dictated His Word…I wrote (proclaimed His Word) and the mind of Christ was produced in you by the Holy Spirit
C. Not in tables of stone (what the 10 commandments were written on) but in the table of your hearts.
D. As a result, our ministry is fully accredited and its integrity is intact.
E. We are not sufficient in and of ourselves. We are sufficient in Christ
We are simply the human instrument the Lord chose to use to minister to other humans we are lost and need a Savior.
II. The Ministry Itself: “Spiritual and Glorious” not “Legal” (the Law) (verse 6-18)
A. God made us “able” ministers of the Gospel (through the Holy Spirit)
“Not according to the Law but by Grace” The law condemns but The Holy Spirit gives life!
B. Verses 7 through 11 presents a series of contrast between the Old Testament and the New; the Mosaic Law and the Ministry of the Holy Spirit,
Important: God’s Moral Law come from His Righteousness and can never be abolished. The phrase “the law was done away with “does not mean we are free to ignore God’s Laws. (Moral or otherwise) It simply means that God’s higher law (the law of agape love) (TOWARDS God and towards our neighbor) now take its place in this dispensation of Grace, and every believer must operate their lives out of the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. In doing so, we will not consistently live our lives contrary to God’s Laws. God’s love makes us obligated to live according to His Moral Laws also.
III. Character of The Ministry (verses 12-18)
A. We as ministers are to use plain speech ( Don’t be clever…just be clear) (vs.12)
B. During Moses time, the Israelites lacked full discernment. (vs.13)
Their minds were blinded: for until this day remains the same veil has not been taken away (Orthodox Judaism) in the reading of the Old Testament; which veil is now done away in Christ.
C. But their minds were blinded By resting in the letter, shutting their eyes against the light that was granted to them, they contracted a hardness or stupidity of heart. And the veil that was on the face of Moses, which prevented the glory of his face from shining out, may be considered as emblematical of the veil of darkness and ignorance that is on their hearts, and which hinders the glory of the Gospel from shining in. (vs.15)
D. The same veil still remains in place (spiritually) (of ignorance, stubbornness, and stupidity) The Orthodox Jews (Israel as a nation) as non believers in Jesus as he Messiah are still ignorant of the spiritual meaning and intention of their own law. They are still operating under to Old Covenant and the Pentateuch (vs. 16)
E. The veil is done away with in Christ.]It is only by acknowledging Christ as our Messiah that the darkness (veil of ignorance) is removed, and the spiritual meaning of the law is correctly discerned.(the Law was our schoolmaster)
IV. Jesus Christ “That Spirit” (verses 17-18)
A. The Lord is ‘that” Spirit (vs. 17)
Jesus Christ is represented as that Spirit, because Christ is the end of the law for righteousness sake to everyone that believes; and because the residue of the Spirit is with him, and he is the dispenser of all its gifts, graces, and influences.
B. Where the Spirit of the Lord is Wherever this Gospel is received, there the Spirit of the Lord is given; and wherever that Spirit lives and works, there is liberty, not only from Jewish bondage, but from the slavery of sin-from its power, its guilt, and its pollution
C. With an open face …The Jews were not able to look on the face of Moses, the mediator of the old covenant, and therefore he was obliged to veil it; but Christians, with face uncovered, behold, as clearly as we can see our own natural face in a mirror, the glorious promises and privileges of the Gospel of Christ; and while we contemplate, we anticipate them by desire and hope, and apprehend them by faith, and are changed from the glory there represented to the enjoyment of the thing which is represented, even the glorious image-righteousness and true holiness-of the God of glory.
D.By the Spirit of the Lord… By the energy of that Spirit of Christ which gives life and being to all the promises of the Gospel; and thus we are made partakers of the divine nature and escape all the corruptions that are in the world.. (vs.18)