2 Corinthians 3:15-4:1
New American Bible (Revised Edition)
15 To this day, in fact, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts,(A) 16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed.(B) 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit,[a] and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 [b]All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.(C)
Integrity in the Ministry. 1 [c]Therefore, since we have this ministry through the mercy shown us, we are not discouraged.
- 3:17 The Lord is the Spirit: the “Lord” to whom the Christian turns (2 Cor 3:16) is the Spirit of whom Paul has been speaking, the life-giving Spirit of the living God (2 Cor 3:6, 8), the inaugurator of the new covenant and ministry, who is also the Spirit of Christ. The Spirit of the Lord: the Lord here is the living God (2 Cor 3:3), but there may also be an allusion to Christ as Lord (2 Cor 3:14, 16). Freedom: i.e., from the ministry of death (2 Cor 3:7) and the covenant that condemned (2 Cor 3:9).
- 3:18 Another application of the veil image. All of us…with unveiled face: Christians (Israelites from whom the veil has been removed) are like Moses, standing in God’s presence, beholding and reflecting his glory. Gazing: the verb may also be translated “contemplating as in a mirror”; 2 Cor 4:6 would suggest that the mirror is Christ himself. Are being transformed: elsewhere Paul speaks of transformation, conformity to Jesus, God’s image, as a reality of the end time, and even 2 Cor 3:12 speaks of the glory as an object of hope. But the life-giving Spirit, the distinctive gift of the new covenant, is already present in the community (cf. 2 Cor 1:22, the “first installment”), and the process of transformation has already begun. Into the same image: into the image of God, which is Christ (2 Cor 4:4).
- 4:1–2 A ministry of this sort generates confidence and forthrightness; cf. 2 Cor 1:12–14; 2:17.
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
New American Bible (Revised Edition)
3 And even though our gospel is veiled,[a] it is veiled for those who are perishing,(A) 4 in whose case the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so that they may not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.(B) 5 For we do not preach ourselves[b] but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus. 6 [c]For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of [Jesus] Christ.(C)Read full chapter
- 4:3–4 Though our gospel is veiled: the final application of the image. Paul has been reproached either for obscurity in his preaching or for his manner of presenting the gospel. But he confidently asserts that there is no veil over his gospel. If some fail to perceive its light, that is because of unbelief. The veil lies over their eyes (2 Cor 3:14), a blindness induced by Satan, and a sign that they are headed for destruction (cf. 2 Cor 2:15).
- 4:5 We do not preach ourselves: the light seen in his gospel is the glory of Christ (2 Cor 4:4). Far from preaching himself, the preacher should be a transparent medium through whom Jesus is perceived (cf. 2 Cor 4:10–11). Your slaves: Paul draws attention away from individuals as such and toward their role in relation to God, Christ, and the community; cf. 1 Cor 3:5; 2 Cor 4:1.
- 4:6 Autobiographical allusion to the episode at Damascus clarifies the origin and nature of Paul’s service; cf. Acts 9:1–19; 22:3–16; 26:2–18. “Let light shine out of darkness”: Paul seems to be thinking of Gn 1:3 and presenting his apostolic ministry as a new creation. There may also be an allusion to Is 9:1 suggesting his prophetic calling as servant of the Lord and light to the nations; cf. Is 42:6, 16; 49:6; 60:1–2, and the use of light imagery in Acts 26:13–23. To bring to light the knowledge: Paul’s role in the process of revelation, expressed at the beginning under the image of the odor and aroma (2 Cor 2:14–15), is restated now, at the end of this first moment of the development, in the imagery of light and glory (2 Cor 4:3–6).