CONTINUITY AND CONTRAST
Holy Spirit, you were there at creation, bringing order out of nothing. I pray that you will bring order into my life, and into our broken world.
Read 2 CORINTHIANS 3:7-18
The Greater Glory of the New Covenant
7 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, transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 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. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
- 2 Corinthians 3:18 Or reflect
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
On this Pentecost Sunday, continue to offer yourself up to the Spirit of God. Pray, ‘Come, Holy Spirit!’
Mention of ‘ministers of a new covenant’ (v 6) sets Paul off in a wonderful direction. Understanding the relationship between Old and New Testaments (or covenants) is crucial if we are to read the Bible aright. The New grows out of the Old and is unintelligible without it. It does not merely repeat it but takes it to a new level, that is ‘much more glorious’ (v 9). There is therefore both continuity and contrast in the way Christians read the Hebrew Scriptures. The new covenant both renews the story of redemption that has begun in the history of Israel and introduces new and crucial elements. These are focused in the revelation that comes in Christ (vs 12–16) and in the gift and coming of God’s Spirit, through whom Christ’s presence and work continue in the world (vs 17,18).
It is clear that Paul finds limitations in the old covenant given through Moses. Glorious though it was, it brings condemnation (v 9). It exposes the extent of human sin without providing the inner transformation needed to overcome it. The glory that was seen on Moses’ face after his encounter with the Lord on Mount Sinai was radiant and powerful, so much so that Moses had to wear a veil.1 This glory faded, however, and Jewish believers themselves have a veil when reading the Scriptures and so do not see where it leads. Only in Christ is this taken away (v 14). By contrast, in the new covenant the glory of Christ never fades. Gazing upon him as we do, we undergo a steady transformation into his image (vs 16–18).
This is an apt reading for Pentecost. Worship is about turning to the Father through Christ in the Spirit and being changed as we do so. Keep coming back until the work is done.
‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in his wonderful face.’2
Holy Spirit, I release you anew in my life. Continue your work of making me more like Jesus.
Last Updated on May 29, 2023 by kingstar