The Boldness of Hope- 2 Corinthians 3:7-12

In the passage we are currently examining, Paul moves on to clarify something he mentioned in verse 6, that the “letter kills, but the Spirit gives life”. He does so by returning to the incident in which Moses received the law in Exodus 34 to tell us something about the difference between law and grace. He begins by referring to the law as the “ministry that brought death”. The “ministry” referenced here is the law which Moses received from God, when God called Moses into His presence to receive the law and bring it to the people. It is also referred to in verse 9 as the ministry which condemns. The Greek word ministry here is diakonia, literally a “service”. We thus first learn here that the purpose of the law is to condemn, and this condemnation is a “service”. The purpose of the law, then, is not to save us through our obedience to it, but to show us our shortcomings, to show us clearly that we cannot be saved through our own efforts (the works of the law), but only by grace through faith. We are told here that the law “came with glory”, the law is glorious because it is from God and is a reflection of His character. This glory is clearly seen in the fact that Moses’ face was “glowing” to the point he covered it with a veil when he descended from the mountain, from the presence of God. What is interesting to note here is that we are told that this glory faded the farther Moses got from the presence of God, the more we “drift away” from God the less of His glory we will reflect. We are then told why Moses needed the veil, because of the “glory of his face, fading though it was”. Moses face shone with glory from being in the presence of God and the law, and he used a veil to cover his face here for two reasons: his face glowed so brightly Israel could not look directly at it and the glory was “fading”. We must remember here that the law is a ministry of condemnation, and the act of receiving the law showed Moses his shortcomings, and Paul tells us in verse 13 that the veil also served to hide or cover up those shortcomings from the sight of others (more on that in our next post). Paul then tells us, in verse 9-11, that the ministry which condemns is glorious, but that the ministry which brings righteousness is even more glorious. It is more glorious here for four reasons. We find the first when we make note of the fact that everything that exists does so for God’s glory, and something or someone bring glory to God when they do what they were created to do. Grace then is firstly more glorious than law because we are more and better able to do what we were created to do living by grace as opposed to living by law. Secondly, we find that the law was glorious because it came from God and was a reflection of God, but Jesus Christ had a glory which surpassed the law because He did not merely come from God, but He was God. Thirdly, grace is more glorious because our obedience to God and desire to be all He created us to be are motivated not by fear of Him but love for Him. Fourthly, grace is more glorious because the law is always fading away, while grace (the ministry that brings life) is eternal. We conclude, then, that living by grace brings more glory to God than living by law, that a transformed heart and life brings God more glory than rote obedience to the law. Paul then ends this section by drawing a conclusion from all of this, and it is this conclusion which is our primary focus. We find it in verse 12, which Paul begins with a “therefore”, clearly showing what he is about to say can be concluded from what he has just said. His conclusion is that “since we have such a hope we are very bold”. The first question to be addressed here is exactly what “hope” Paul refers to here. It is the hope of eternal life, the hope of a glory which lasts. The biblical idea of hope here is far different from the common understanding of hope, for hope is commonly seen more as a “wish”, while biblical hope is not a wish but an expectation. We fully expect something to happen, so we act on it, an expectation which brings confident action in response to it. Paul knew both who he was and whose he was, he knew why he was created and where he was going when he died. It was this expectation which produced the boldness we see in Paul’s life and ministry. What Paul teaches us here is that when we have this same expectation it will produce the same boldness in our lives. Paul persevered boldly in his ministry in spite of great persecution and opposition, in spite of the very real possibility of death, because he knew whose he was, what he was here for and where he was going when he died. The “hope” enabled him to minister with much boldness, free from the fear which would have otherwise paralyzed him and caused him to fail to carry out his ministry due to fear. He relates this to us here in the “hope” that all who read this will have the same hope he did and carry out their “ministries” free from fear, boldly saying and doing whatever God calls them to say and do, being all God created them to be and doing all God created them to do.

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