Wednesday 26 May 2010

Bible Book:
2 Corinthians

"Such is the confidence that we have through Christ towards God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God." (v.4-5)

2 Corinthians 3:4-18 Wednesday 26 May 2010


Some scholars believe that this passage from Paul's secondletter to the Corinthians is directed against the Judaizers - agroup of visiting teachers who were seeking to impose the demandsof the Jewish law (eg circumcision, only eating Kosher food) uponthe new Christian community.

Paul is encouraging the Christians at Corinth to recognise that thegospel (the good news of Jesus) emphasises the permanent things ofa new age as revealed in the splendour of God through Christ. Hedoes not reject the importance of the Law, but suggests that it isof fading significance when compared with the grace of Christ. Pauluses the image of the veil, which Moses wore after being in thepresence of God (Exodus 34:29-35), to great effect.

In the old dispensation - the time when theIsraelites alone were deemed to be God'schosen nation - the people were not allowed to behold the glory inall its splendour. In the new dispensation of God's Spirit - inwhich the coming of Christ opened God's Covenant upto everyone - the people themselvesbecome the glory of God. As we consider the impact of thedescending Spirit on the Christian community, so we recognise theegalitarian and universal significance of the Pentecostevent.

In the Christian community of Paul's time, the old glory has beensurpassed by the new glory of the Spirit. Paul uses this as ametaphor, pointing to the new way of thinking and suggesting thatthe old order based upon the Jewish Law has been surpassed by thenew order of the freedom of the Spirit (see Romans, Galatians).This is not to suggest that in the new order the Christiancommunity is not to be bound by any laws at all, and the people arefree to do whatever they wish. To suggest that would be a heresy.Paul's point is that the children of God, living in the liberty ofthe Spirit, will live Godly and rightful lives because of theinfluence of that same Spirit upon them. Through the power andinfluence of the Spirit of God, the people of God will be changed"from glory into glory".

To Ponder

The apostle Paul reminds the people of Corinththat their strength is in Christ and not in their own merit. Haveyou ever felt so worthless and weak that you have found the onlyway forward was to trust in God? What happened?

Think about the mission implications found withinthis passage. There are some people whom wider society disregardsor treats with suspicion or fear - asylum seekers, prisoners, theelderly, the homeless, 'hoodies', bearded Asian men. What is themission of the Church to such people? How do we encourage the widersociety to recognise worth and dignity in everyone?

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