The Letter v. The Spirit

In 2 Corinthians 3, as Paul defends himself and his ministry, he describes a few differences between “the letter” and “the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:6). In reading through the chapter, we can quickly learn that the letter references the Old Testament or Law of Moses and the Spirit refers to the gospel of the New Testament.

In 2 Corinthians 3:7, Paul writes about events first recorded in Exodus 34. After speaking with God on Mt. Sinai, Moses came down to the people, and “they were afraid to come near him” because “the skin of his face shone” (Exodus 34:30). Being in the presence of God, as Moses had been, left a mark. God’s unending glory caused Moses’ face to shine frighteningly. Ultimately, Moses would cover his face with a veil while in the presence of the people and remove the veil when he “went before the Lord” (Exodus 34:34).

Paul eventually makes the point that for Christians, there is no longer a veil between us and the glory of God. Near the end of the chapter, we read, “But whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (2 Cor. 3:16). We do not need to be afraid of God’s glory as the Israelites were. Because of God’s love for us and Christ’s death on the cross, the veil or barrier has been removed, “and we all, with unveiled face,” now reflect that glory by Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Matt Langfield