2 Corinthians 3:7-18
From One Degree of Glory to Another
What a glorious passage of Scripture this is, for in it Paul manifests the exceeding glory of the new covenant in Jesus Christ over the old covenant ratified on Mount Sinai. Paul was just speaking about the ministry of the Holy Spirit and how it is he who gives life and not the letter of the law or anything else. Only God can save, and Paul had the honor of sharing the gospel with these Corinthians that they might come to saving faith. He began this discussion in an effort to defend his apostleship to these Corinthians proving such by the obvious work of the Holy Spirit on their lives through his ministry.
But now, having spoken of the Spirit and the letter, Paul’s thoughts race ahead. His defending his apostleship recedes into the background as he loses himself contemplating the glory of gospel and the new covenant it has established. Paul was a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee, zealous for the law and the covenant ratified on that holy mountain (Philippians 3:4-7). But ever since that encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, Paul sees a glory far surpassing the earthquakes, smoke, thunder and lightning when God descended on that hill. Now Paul sees God’s glory reflected in Christ Jesus; now Paul has experienced the covenant of the Spirit which liberates from law, sin and death and makes a new man from the old one—a man no longer compelled by a sense of obligation but by love, devotion, and desire to please his Lord. He is the Holy Spirit who transfers the newborn believer from a dutiful servant of the law to a joyous servant of Christ.
And now the new covenant outshines the glory of the old—and the old was indeed glorious. But the new exceeds the old, as the permanent exceeds the temporary, as the heart exceeds stone, as grace exceeds the letter, in short, as God the Holy Spirit exceeds the law which he himself has written. So glorious was the old covenant that Moses had to cover his face with a veil, the glory shining on his flesh from meeting with God. But our Lord’s glory revealed at his transfiguration was not that of having been with God but of being God. And he in his grace shares his glory with us as we worship and adore him, beholding the glory of the Lord without a veil, as he transforms us into his image, from one degree of glory to another.
And this is our heritage—to finally be changed in the twinkling of an eye to a sinless, radiant, heavenly glory, without spot or blemish, to behold the beauty of the Lord in his holy temple (1 Corinthians 15:52; Psalm 27:4).