Bible: 2 Corinthians 3-6
A Living Letter
3:1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? We don’t need letters of recommendation to you or from you as some other people do, do we? 1 3:2 You yourselves are our letter, 2 written on our hearts, known and read by everyone, 3:3 revealing 3 that you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us, 4 written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets 5 but on tablets of human hearts.
3:4 Now we have such confidence in God through Christ. 3:5 Not that we are adequate 6 in ourselves to consider anything as if it were coming from ourselves, but our adequacy 7 is from God, 3:6 who made us adequate 8 to be servants of a new covenant 9 not based on the letter but on the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
The Greater Glory of the Spirit’s Ministry
3:7 But if the ministry that produced death – carved in letters on stone tablets 10 – came with glory, so that the Israelites 11 could not keep their eyes fixed on the face of Moses because of the glory of his face 12 (a glory 13 which was made ineffective), 14 3:8 how much more glorious will the ministry of the Spirit be? 15 3:9 For if there was glory in the ministry that produced condemnation, 16 how much more does the ministry that produces righteousness 17 excel 18 in glory! 3:10 For indeed, what had been glorious now 19 has no glory because of the tremendously greater glory of what replaced it. 20 3:11 For if what was made ineffective 21 came with 22 glory, how much more has what remains 23 come in glory! 3:12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we behave with great boldness, 24 3:13 and not like Moses who used to put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites 25 from staring 26 at the result 27 of the glory that was made ineffective. 28 3:14 But their minds were closed. 29 For to this very day, the same veil remains when they hear the old covenant read. 30 It has not been removed because only in Christ is it taken away. 31 3:15 But until this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds, 32 3:16 but when one 33 turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 34 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, 35 there is freedom. 3:18 And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, 36 are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, 37 which is from 38 the Lord, who is the Spirit. 39
Paul’s Perseverance in Ministry
4:1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, just as God has shown us mercy, 40 we do not become discouraged. 41 4:2 But we have rejected 42 shameful hidden deeds, 43 not behaving 44 with deceptiveness 45 or distorting the word of God, but by open proclamation of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience before God. 4:3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing, 4:4 among whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe 46 so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel 47 of Christ, 48 who is the image of God. 4:5 For we do not proclaim 49 ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves 50 for Jesus’ sake. 4:6 For God, who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” 51 is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge 52 of God in the face of Christ. 53
An Eternal Weight of Glory
4:7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power 54 belongs to God and does not come from us. 4:8 We are experiencing trouble on every side, 55 but are not crushed; we are perplexed, 56 but not driven to despair; 4:9 we are persecuted, but not abandoned; 57 we are knocked down, 58 but not destroyed, 4:10 always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, 59 so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible 60 in our body. 4:11 For we who are alive are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible 61 in our mortal body. 62 4:12 As a result, 63 death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 64 4:13 But since we have the same spirit of faith as that shown in 65 what has been written, “I believed; therefore I spoke,” 66 we also believe, therefore we also speak. 4:14 We do so 67 because we know that the one who raised up Jesus 68 will also raise us up with Jesus and will bring us with you into his presence. 4:15 For all these things are for your sake, so that the grace that is including 69 more and more people may cause thanksgiving to increase 70 to the glory of God. 4:16 Therefore we do not despair, 71 but even if our physical body 72 is wearing away, our inner person 73 is being renewed day by day. 4:17 For our momentary, light suffering 74 is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison 4:18 because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
Living by Faith, Not by Sight
5:1 For we know that if our earthly house, the tent we live in, 75 is dismantled, 76 we have a building from God, a house not built by human hands, that is eternal in the heavens. 5:2 For in this earthly house 77 we groan, because we desire to put on 78 our heavenly dwelling, 5:3 if indeed, after we have put on 79 our heavenly house, 80 we will not be found naked. 5:4 For we groan while we are in this tent, 81 since we are weighed down, 82 because we do not want to be unclothed, but clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5:5 Now the one who prepared us for this very purpose 83 is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment. 84 5:6 Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth 85 we are absent from the Lord – 5:7 for we live 86 by faith, not by sight. 5:8 Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away 87 from the body and at home with the Lord. 5:9 So then whether we are alive 88 or away, we make it our ambition to please him. 89 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, 90 so that each one may be paid back according to what he has done while in the body, whether good or evil. 91
The Message of Reconciliation
5:11 Therefore, because we know the fear of the Lord, 92 we try to persuade 93 people, 94 but we are well known 95 to God, and I hope we are well known to your consciences too. 5:12 We are not trying to commend 96 ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to be proud of us, 97 so that you may be able to answer those who take pride 98 in outward appearance 99 and not in what is in the heart. 5:13 For if we are out of our minds, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 5:14 For the love of Christ 100 controls us, since we have concluded this, that Christ 101 died for all; therefore all have died. 5:15 And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised. 102 5:16 So then from now on we acknowledge 103 no one from an outward human point of view. 104 Even though we have known Christ from such a human point of view, 105 now we do not know him in that way any longer. 5:17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away 106 – look, what is new 107 has come! 108 5:18 And all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 5:19 In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s trespasses against them, and he has given us 109 the message of reconciliation. 5:20 Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His plea 110 through us. We plead with you 111 on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God!” 5:21 God 112 made the one who did not know sin 113 to be sin for us, so that in him 114 we would become the righteousness of God.
God’s Suffering Servants
6:1 Now because we are fellow workers, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 115 6:2 For he says, “I heard you at the acceptable time, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” 116 Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation! 6:3 We do not give anyone 117 an occasion for taking an offense in anything, 118 so that no fault may be found with our ministry. 6:4 But as God’s servants, 119 we have commended ourselves in every way, 120 with great endurance, in persecutions, 121 in difficulties, in distresses, 6:5 in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, 122 in troubles, 123 in sleepless nights, in hunger, 6:6 by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by benevolence, by the Holy Spirit, 124 by genuine 125 love, 6:7 by truthful 126 teaching, 127 by the power of God, with weapons of righteousness both for the right hand and for the left, 128 6:8 through glory and dishonor, through slander and praise; regarded as impostors, 129 and yet true; 6:9 as unknown, and yet well-known; as dying and yet – see! – we continue to live; as those who are scourged 130 and yet not executed; 6:10 as sorrowful, but always rejoicing, as poor, but making many rich, as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
6:11 We have spoken freely to you, 131 Corinthians; our heart has been opened wide to you. 6:12 Our affection for you is not restricted, 132 but you are restricted in your affections for us. 6:13 Now as a fair exchange – I speak as to my 133 children – open wide your hearts to us 134 also.
6:14 Do not become partners 135 with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 6:15 And what agreement does Christ have with Beliar? 136 Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever? 6:16 And what mutual agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are 137 the temple of the living God, just as God said, “I will live in them 138 and will walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 139 6:17 Therefore “come out from their midst, and be separate,” says the Lord, “and touch no unclean thing, 140 and I will welcome 141 you, 142 6:18 and I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,” 143 says the All-Powerful Lord. 144