At verse 12 Paul turns from a consideration of the merits of the old and new covenants to what it means to be a minister of each. What most likely prompts this discussion is the fact that rival missionaries at Corinth were looking to Moses as the consummate minister. Only in this way can Paul's contrast in verses 12-18 between Moses and the new covenant minister be explained. An additional reason Paul pursues what he does in these verses is the evangelistic conundrum that existed both then and now. One of the most difficult audiences to reach with the gospel today is a Jewish one. This is an amazing fact considering that the gospel is the good news of God's fulfillment through Jesus of his promises to his people Israel. The Jewishness of the gospel is reflected in the early Christian preaching that Jesus is the Messiah of Jewish expectation and in the attempt to prove from the Scriptures that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead (Acts 2:22-36; 13:26-39; 17:2-3; 18:4-5). No one struggled with this conundrum more than Paul. His own success rate among his people was so low that it caused him "great sorrow and unceasing anguish" (Rom 9:1-3). The "why" of this state of affairs was something that constantly preyed on his mind. 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 is a brief version of Paul's lengthier reflections in Romans 9—11.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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