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2 Korintus 3:1-11

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!

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[3:1]  1 tn The Greek construction anticipates a negative reply (“No, we do not”) which is indicated in the translation by the ‘tag’ at the end, “do we?”

[3:2]  2 tn That is, “letter of recommendation.”

[3:3]  3 tn Or “making plain.”

[3:3]  4 tn Grk “cared for by us,” an expression that could refer either to the writing or the delivery of the letter (BDAG 229 s.v. διακονέω 1). Since the following phrase refers to the writing of the letter, and since the previous verse speaks of this “letter” being “written on our [Paul’s and his companions’] hearts” it is more probable that the phrase “cared for by us” refers to the delivery of the letter (in the person of Paul and his companions).

[3:3]  5 sn An allusion to Exod 24:12; 31:18; 34:1; Deut 9:10-11.

[3:5]  6 tn Or “competent.”

[3:5]  7 tn Or “competence.”

[3:6]  8 tn Or “competent.”

[3:6]  9 sn This new covenant is promised in Jer 31:31-34; 32:40.

[3:7]  10 tn Grk “on stones”; but since this is clearly an allusion to the tablets of the Decalogue (see 2 Cor 3:3) the word “tablets” was supplied in the translation to make the connection clear.

[3:7]  11 tn Grk “so that the sons of Israel.”

[3:7]  12 sn The glory of his face. When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the tablets of the Decalogue, the people were afraid to approach him because his face was so radiant (Exod 34:29-30).

[3:7]  13 tn The words “a glory” are not in the Greek text, but the reference to “glory” has been repeated from the previous clause for clarity.

[3:7]  14 tn Or “which was transitory.” Traditionally this phrase is translated as “which was fading away.” The verb καταργέω in the corpus Paulinum uniformly has the meaning “to render inoperative, ineffective”; the same nuance is appropriate here. The glory of Moses’ face was rendered ineffective by the veil Moses wore. For discussion of the meaning of this verb in this context, see S. J. Hafemann, Paul, Moses, and the History of Israel (WUNT 81), 301-13. A similar translation has been adopted in the two other occurrences of the verb in this paragraph in vv. 11 and 13.

[3:8]  15 tn Grk “how will not rather the ministry of the Spirit be with glory?”

[3:9]  16 tn Grk “the ministry of condemnation”; translated as an objective genitive, “the ministry that produced condemnation.”

[3:9]  17 tn Grk “the ministry of righteousness”; translated as an objective genitive, “the ministry that produces righteousness.”

[3:9]  18 tn Traditionally, “abound.”

[3:10]  19 tn Grk “in this case.”

[3:10]  20 tn The words “of what replaced it” are not in the Greek text, but have been supplied to clarify the meaning.

[3:11]  21 tn Or “what was fading away.” See note on “which was made ineffective” in v. 7.

[3:11]  22 tn Or “through” (διά, dia).

[3:11]  23 tn Or “what is permanent.”

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