The Uncovering (Dis-covery)12-08-2015 - Posted by Andre Piet
Summary of the Bible Study Day of June 17, 2000
Bible study based on 2 Corinthians 3
The KJV refers to the old and new testament. What a mistake! Pinchas Lapside once said: I don’t belief that God makes testaments. He never dies, right?!
Evangel & business
The word testament’ actually is ‘covenant’. Mostly, it is rendered like that, but in a number of cases it is not. A testament is altogether something different. A covenant is made between two living parties. A testament, in contrast, is unilaterally made up and becomes effective after the testator has died. The thought of “testament” has been read into Hebrews 9. But there it is not about a ’testament’ and a ’testator’. The CV has translated it correctly, as follows: a covenant becomes effective with the death of the covenant victim.
authorized or competent?
Paul never used God’s Word for personal gain. The Word is not a commodity wherewith to gain financial benefits. This principle is very much abused. Also in the evangelical world, faith is ‘big business’. And then I, certainly, am not only thinking of American TV evangelists.
2 Corinthians 2:17
The greatest preacher of the Good tidings provided for his own livelihood! It is fair and right for preachers’ to live off the Evangel. BUT: Paul purposely never used this power. He regarded this privilege as an obstacle to the Evangel.
In the Netherlands, we say, “Whose bread you eat, whose word you speak”. When you are employed as a preacher of a faith community, you’re supposed to do and say what your “boss” tells you. When you work this way, you are actually a mercenary …
2 Corinthians 4 speaks of “falsifying the word of God.” The word used there means actually mix with worthless elements. For example, by trying to make the Word acceptable or attractive (?). But adding water to the biblical wine is no different than committing a fraud. The pure Word, that only has power.
In the eyes of his critics, Paul was an unauthorized minister. He arrived without letters of recommendation. He was not sent by some other body and, therefore, lacked (in their view) the necessary papers. Even today, in “the world of believers” it is usually very important to rely on” papers”; diplomas, a university degree, a church appointment. 2 Cor3:1 For a preacher of the Evangel, authorization to preach is unimportant. How could a human organization authorize someone to preach God’s word? It is not about power but about competence. There are countless so-called “authorized ministers”, who are totally incompetent in the work they perform.
2 Corinthians 3:4-6
Paul did not at all suffer from an inferiority complex. He had great confidence in the work that he did. He says, somewhere: “I labored more abundantly than they all” (= ’the twelve’). And yet he was humble and he gave glory to God. He, who according to his past, was not even worthy to be called an apostle, could say: God’s grace to me was not in vain. His skill was the work of God ”
1 Corinthians. 15:9-11; 2 Corinthians 3:5
Someone who had come to faith in Christ Jesus, once said: “I used to have a past, not anymore. Now I have a future…”
The new Covenant
The new covenant will be entered into with the same people as with whom the old covenant, once, was made. With the people of Israel, consequently. Throughout church history, has dominated the fatal idea that the New Covenant is for the Church.
Jeremiah 31:31; Romans 9:4
The New Covenant is promised to Israel in the future. Jeremiah 31 is absolutely clear on that. But the spirit of the new covenant has been working since Christ (in His resurrection) became “a life-giving spirit.”And thereof (i.e. the Spirit of the New Covenant) Paul is a minister. The believers in the present time, have, as firstlings, an allotment of “the Spirit of promise. “For “however many promises of God there are, IN HIM they are Yes … Who also… has given us the Spirit, as an earnest in our hearts.”
Jeremiah 31:31; 1Cor.15:45; 2Cor.3:6; Eph.1:13; 2Kor.1:20-22
The foundation of the new Covenant was established at Calvary. There, the blood of the new Covenant was shed. But the ratification of the new Covenant will take place, only in the future. Hebrews 13:20. Paul’s explanation about the old and new covenant is a response to what his critics accused him. Most likely, supposedly competent preachers brought “another Jesus.” They brought “Christ according to the flesh”, i.e. the Jesus who once lived under the law. Paul’s Evangel began, where that of his his critics ended, at the cross and the open grave.
2Corinthians 10:12; 11:4; 5:16; Galatians 4:4; 1Corinthians 15:3,4
the letter kills…
There are many Christians who are not engaged in the study of Scripture, and they also think to have a biblical argument for that. They say, “the Bible says that the letter kills. Why should we take to ourselves the letters of the Bible?”. Look, this is what you get when you do not study Scripture. Then you do not know that this is a text torn out of context. Because, “the letter” does not indicate “Scripture”, but refers to the “letters engraved on stones”; the stone tablets that Moses had received from God.
The life-giving spirit
Jesus says: “It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life.” Spirit is not contrasted to word. The Spirit comes right to us through the Word. The Word is the vehicle of the Spirit.
Paul had, already previously, told the Corinthian church of the life-giving Spirit. “Adam became a living soul, the last Adam was made a life-giving Spirit.” The life-giving Spirit is the Lord Himself. Indeed, this conclusion is directly confirmed in the last verse of 2Corinthians 3. “The Lord is that Spirit.”
1Corinthians 15:45; 2Corinthians 3:17
The phrase “the last Adam” is quite remarkable. It is often confused with the expression “the second man”. But Christ is not the second Adam. In that case, it could go wrong again, so that a third Adam would be required… No, He is the last Adam. In Him is the entirety of humanity included. In and through Him, all men will be made alive and will be justified.
1Corinthians 15:22,45; Romans 5:18
That the “letter” is a ministry of death and condemnation, is strikingly illustrated in history. When Moses came down from the mountain 3,000 men, in one day, died as punishment. When the Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost (The feast in which the law is celebrated), in sharp contrast, 3,000 people believed… Exodus 32:28; Acts 2:41 When Moses presented himself with tables of stone, the skin of his face radiated glory. So Paul rightly states that the “ministry of condemnation was glorious.” BUT: do not compare it with the ministry of the Spirit and of justification. It is just as it is with stars: they shine until the sun rises. Then they fade away completely.
2 Corinthians 3: 8-11
The ministry of justification abounds in glory. Note, that it brings righteousness. The Law demands righteousness, but because of the inability of man, this results only in condemnation and death. The Evangel, in contrast, brings righteousness and is, therefore, abundant in glory. “… even so it comes by ONE DEED OF RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR ALL MANKIND unto justification of life.” Is that righteousness which abounds in glory or not?
2Corinthians 3:9; Romans 5:18
When we check the word ‘boldness’ in Greek (parresia), it means ‘saying everything’. Someone who is bold, does not mince words, but tells everything he or she has to say. The worst thing a preacher can do, is to withhold the truth. Precisely as in a court of law, it also applies to him: the truth, nothing else but the truth and the whole truth. 2Corinthians 3:12 Boldness assumes that the speaker fully stands behind what he says. The great tragedy of many pastors, today is, that they actually have no message. There is an immense gap between the message they bring and the public they aim to reach. Worse yet, the message does not even reach themselves. No rhetoric and no elocution can disguise that fact.
Moses’ cover on his face
Usually we think that Moses put a veil on his face so that the Israelites would not get sore eyes. But you know what the real reason is? They were not allowed to look at the end as it would disappear. In Exodus we read, “When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.” This way, the Israelites could not see the glory diminish and disappear. They were not to gaze upon transient glory.
2 Corinthians 3:13; Exodus 34:33
“The glory of the LORD” which Moses beheld, was figuratively, but also literally passing. Before he received the tablets of stone, he was placed in the rock and he was allowed to see God’s glory. But only after it had passed. It is symbolic of the ministry that was entrusted to Moses. Exodus 33:20-23 One of the focal points of the argument in 2 Corinthians 3 is that Israel’s thoughts were hardened and there is a cover lying on the reading of the Old Covenant. The word for ‘hardening’ is originally a medical term and indicates a callous layer. Also, a callous layer is a covering.
covering and dis-covering
The key question is: of what does Israel’s covering consist? In other words: what is the reason that the words entrusted to Israel, she does not understand? What does the Scripture say about this? In Romans, Paul states concerning his people that they have a zeal for God, but without understanding. That is a very bold statement. We are inclined to think that nowhere is so much knowledge of Scripture to be found as, precisely, in Orthodox Judaism. Yet, Israel did not attain to the law, asserted the apostle. Why not? Because they did not seek it in faith, but by works. The law should not be approached with works, but with faith, instead. Because the law does not speak about what Israel ought to do, but speaks about who God is and about His promises and His deeds.
See here for a further elaboration of this idea: thou shalt and thou shalt not For Israel, the Word of the LORD is precept upon precept and demand on demand. While it is for those who believe, peace and relief. “Thou shalt” and “thou shalt not” are not commands, but promises. And the only one thing to do with a promise is to believe it.
Isaiah 28:11-13,16, cp Romans 9:33.
Isaiah announces a deep sleep that God would pour over the people. The words of the prophets would become as a sealed book to them. They would not be able to understand it. Why not? Because their fear of God is only a learned commandment of men. He would deal very marvellously with the people and would bring the wisdom of their wise ones to nothing. Talmudic wisdom will fade once the hardening of Israel is finished.
Read Isaiah 29:9-14; Isaiah 8:14-18; cp Romans 11:8,25,26
Christendom has little reason to look down upon Israel. Christianity has exactly done the same with God’s Word as Judaism. Also with them it is completely overgrown by tradition. Also the believers out of the nations live by works instead of ‘gratuitous grace’.
Romans 11:6,21-22 2
Corinthians 3:16 should not be translated as “whenever anyone turns to the Lord” (NIV), but with “when it would return to the Lord.” This translation leaves, both, an individual and a national application open. Deuteronomy 30 foretells that the Israelites, in the Diaspora, will turn to the Lord. Then God will restore them and circumcise the heart of their offspring so they will love the Lord their God with all their heart. What is the circumcision of the heart other than the removal of the cover which is upon their hearts?
Deuteronomy 30: 6; 2 Corinthians 3:16
In the book of Ruth, we find a beautiful type of the removing of the cover (dis-cover). Ruth is a type of the remnant of Israel that penniless returns from the Diaspora to the land. She comes into contact with a wealthy man from Bethlehem. When she on the threshing floor comes face to face with him, he asks her to take off her wrap and keep it so that the cloth can be filled with barley. Thus Israel’s cover will be removed, when it will meet, soon, in Zion, the true Boaz. Instead, they then will receive an abundance of “living bread”. The threshing floor is a picture of Zion (2 Chronicles 3:1; Micah 4:10-13); The barley harvest is related to the day of the firstling Sheaf, This is the day that Jesus rose from among the dead
Ruth 2:1; Leviticus 23:10-16; 1 Corinthians 15:23
Whenever Israel’s face will be un-covered, it will reflect the glory of the Lord. Her “radiance” will not be product anything she has done, but be just a reflection, as the light of the moon is only the reflection of light from the sun.
2 Corinthians 3:18
“How do I become a contagious Christian?” is the title of a popular book. People worry about their ‘aura’ and want to work on it. In vain. If you want a reflector to reflect much light, there’s only one thing to do: Let a strong light shine on it. Or: focus on Him in whose face shines the glory of God. The question is not, what I do with the Word, but what the Word do with me!
2Corinthians 3:18; 4:6
Some Bibles read: “… we are transformed into the same image.” You know what is in the CV? “We … are being transformed into the same image.” It is not human activity, but he experiences it. The word “transformation” is the representation of the Greek word ‘metamorphosis’. Think of the unfolding process from caterpillar to butterfly. That is a miracle. Such a miracle, God is able to work in anyone who looks upwards!
2 Corinthians 3:18