which corrupt the word of God; by "the word of God", may be meant the Scriptures in general, which are from God, contain his will, and which he uses for the good of men, and his own glory, and may be corrupted by false glosses, and human mixtures, and by adding to them, or taking from them; or the Gospel in particular, which is the word of truth, of faith, righteousness, reconciliation, and salvation, and which was corrupted by these false teachers, by making merchandise of it; they huckstered the word of God, made gain of it, sought merely their own worldly interest and advantage in it, and so mixed it with their own vain philosophy, to please the carnal ears and hearts of men; they blended law and Gospel, grace and works, in the business of salvation; they did, as peddling merchants do, mix good and bad commodities together, and then vend them for sound ware; or as vintners, who mix their wine with water, and sell it for neat wine. The Septuagint interpreters on Isaiah 1:22, translate the last clause of that verse thus, , "thy vintners mix wine with water"; which may be understood in a moral or spiritual sense; so did these men mix, and hereby corrupt the Gospel, the word of God; and so the Syriac version reads the words "who mix the word of God": now the apostle says, they did not do so; they delivered out the word pure and unmixed, without any corruption or adulteration:
but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, says he,
speak we in Christ; they spoke "in Christ", in the name of Christ, of or concerning him, and him only, and freely, fully, and plainly, as God's free gift, and the only way of salvation without the works of men: and they spoke, "as of sincerity"; what they delivered was the sincere milk of the word; the manner in which they did it was sincere, with all integrity and faithfulness; and so were their views, which were not their own profit and applause, but the glory of God and the good of souls; they spoke in Christ, and with all sincerity, "as of God"; by whom they were called and sent forth to speak in his name, and from whom they received the Gospel, and gifts, and abilities to preach it; and all this they did, in the sight of God, as the searcher of hearts, and to whom they knew they must give an account of their ministry another day.
INTRODUCTION TO 2 Corinthians 3
In this chapter the apostle clears himself from the charge of arrogance and self-commendation, and ascribes both the virtue and efficacy of his ministry, and his qualifications for it, to the Lord; and forms a comparison between the ministration of the Gospel, and the ministration of the law, showing the preferableness of the one to the other; and consequently how much more happy and comfortable the state and condition of the saints under the Gospel dispensation is, than under the legal one: on account of what the apostle had said in the latter part of the preceding chapter, concerning the excellency, usefulness, and success of the Gospel ministry, he foresaw an objection would arise; that he and his fellow ministers were proud and arrogant, and commended themselves, which was unseemly, and not agreeably to the character they bore; which objection he obviates, 2 Corinthians 3:1, by putting some questions, signifying that they were not guilty of vain boasting; nor did they need any commendations of their own, or others, nor any letters to recommend them, either from Corinth to other places, or thither: a practice which, he suggests, the false teachers made use of; and in 2 Corinthians 3:2 he gives the reason why they did not stand in need of such letters, because the members of the church at Corinth were their epistle or letter, declaring to all men the efficacy and success of their ministry among men; but lest he should be charged with arrogating to himself and others, he declares, 2 Corinthians 3:3 that though the Corinthians were their epistle, yet not so much theirs as Christ's; Christ was the author and subject, they only were instruments; the writing was not human, but the writing of the Spirit of God; and that not upon outward tables, such as the law was written upon, but upon the tables of men's hearts, which only God can reach; however, that they had been useful, successful, and instrumental in the conversion of souls, through the ministry of the word, that he was confident of, 2 Corinthians 3:4 though the sufficiency and ability to think, study, and preach, were not of themselves, and still less to make the word effectual for conversion and comfort, but of God, 2 Corinthians 3:5 wherefore he ascribes all fitness, worthiness, and ability to preach the Gospel, to the grace and power of God, by which they were made ministers of it; and hence he takes occasion to commend the excellency of the Gospel ministry above that of the law, which he does by observing their different names and effects; the Gospel is the New Testament or covenant, or an exhibition of the covenant of grace in a new form; the law is the Old Testament, or covenant, which is vanished away; which, though not expressed here, is in 2 Corinthians 3:14 the Gospel is spirit, the law the letter; the one gives life, and the other kills, 2 Corinthians 3:6 wherefore the apostle argues from the one to the other, that if there was a glory in the one which was only a ministration of death, as the law was, 2 Corinthians 3:7 then the Gospel, which was a ministration of spiritual things, and of the Spirit of God himself, must be more glorious, 2 Corinthians 3:8 and if that was glorious which was a ministration of condemnation, as the law was to guilty sinners; much more glorious must be the Gospel, which is a ministration of the righteousness of Christ, for the justification of them, 2 Corinthians 3:9 yea, such is the surpassing glory of the Gospel to the law, that even the glory of the law is quite lost in that of the Gospel, and appears to have none in comparison of that, 2 Corinthians 3:10 to which he adds another argument, taken from the abolition of the one, and the continuance of the other; that if there was a glory in that which is abolished, there must be a greater in that which continues, 2 Corinthians 3:11 and from hence the apostle proceeds to take notice of another difference between the law and the Gospel, the clearness of the one, and the obscurity of the other; the former is signified by the plainness of speech used by the preachers of it, 2 Corinthians 3:12 and the latter by the veil which was over Moses's face, when he delivered the law to the children of Israel; the end of which they could not look to, and which is a further proof of the obscurity of it, 2 Corinthians 3:13 as well as of the darkness of their minds; which still continues with the Jews in reading the law, and will do until it is taken away by Christ, 2 Corinthians 3:14 and that there is such a veil of darkness upon the hearts of the Jews, when reading the law of Moses; and that this continues to this day, is again asserted, 2 Corinthians 3:15 and an intimation given that there will be a conversion of them to the Lord, and then it will be removed from them, 2 Corinthians 3:16 and who that Lord is to whom they shall be turned, and by whom they shall have freedom from darkness and bondage, is declared, 2 Corinthians 3:17 and the happy condition of the saints under the Gospel dispensation, through the bright and clear light of it, is observed, 2 Corinthians 3:18 in which the Gospel is compared to a glass; the saints are represented as without a veil looking into it; through which an object is beheld, the glory of the Lord; the effect of which is a transformation of them into the same image by degrees; the author of which grace is the Spirit of the Lord.
though we have no need, as some others, of epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you; our persons, characters, and usefulness are too well known, to require commendatory letters front others to you, or from you to others. The false apostles are here struck at, whose practice it was to get letters of commendation from place to place; which they carried about and made use of for their temporal advantage, having nothing truly good and excellent in them to recommend them to others. The apostle does not hereby condemn letters of recommendation, which in proper cases may be very lawfully given, and a good use be made of them; only that he and other Gospel ministers were so well known, as to stand in no need of them.
written in our hearts; some think it should be read, "in your hearts"; and so the Ethiopic version reads it; and it looks as if it should be so read, from the following verse, and from the nature of the thing itself; for the conversion of the Corinthians was not written in the heart of the apostle, but in their own; and this was so very notorious and remarkable, that it was
known and read of all men; everyone could read, and was obliged to acknowledge the handwriting; it was so clear a case, what hand the apostle, as an instrument, had in the turning of these persons from idols to serve the living God; and which was so full a proof of the divinity, efficacy, truth, and sincerity of his doctrine, that he needed no letters from any to recommend him.
to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us; so that the apostles and ministers of the word were only amanuenses, Christ was the author and dictator; yea, he himself is the very matter, sum, substance, and subject of the epistle; he is formed in the hearts of his people in conversion, his image is stamped, his grace is implanted, his word, his Gospel dwells richly, his laws and ordinances are written here; he also is the exemplar, believers are but copies of him, in grace and duty, in sufferings, in the likeness of his death and resurrection: and they are "manifestly declared" to be so, by the impresses of Christ's grace upon them; by the fairness of the copy; by the style and language of the epistle; by their likeness to Christ; by their having not the form only, but the power of godliness; and by their lives and conversations: now in writing these epistles, the ministers of the Gospel are only instruments, "ministered by us". They are made use of to show the sinner the black characters which are written upon him, and that what is written in him, and to be read by him, by the light of nature is not sufficient for salvation; they are employed as instruments in drawing the rough draught of grace in conversion, and in writing the copy over again, fairer and fairer; being the happy means blessed by God, for the building up of souls in faith and holiness, in spiritual knowledge and comfort. These epistles are
not written with ink; of nature's power, or of rhetorical eloquence and moral persuasion;
but with the Spirit of the living God: every grace that is implanted in the soul is wrought there by the Spirit of God; or he it is that draws every line, and writes every word and letter; he begins, he carries on and finishes the work of grace on the soul; and that as "the Spirit of the living God": hence saints become the living epistles of Christ; and every letter and stroke of his making, is a living disposition of the soul in likeness to him; and such are written among the living in Jerusalem, and shall live and abide for ever as the epistles of Christ: again, the subjects of these epistles, or that on which they are written, are
not tables of stone; such as the law was written upon, on Mount Sinai: of these tables there were the first and second; the first were the work of God himself, the latter were hewed by Moses, at the command of God, Exodus 32:16 the former being broken when he came down from the mount, which by the Jewish writers are said to be miraculously made, and not by the means and artifice of men (l); yea, that they were made before the creation of the world (m), and which, they commonly say, were made of sapphire; See Gill on 2 Corinthians 3:7 these, as the latter, were two stones, which, Jarchi says (n), were of an equal size; and were, as Abarbinel says (o), in the form of small tables, such as children are taught to write upon, and therefore are so called: some pretend to give the dimensions of them, and say (p), that they were six hands long, and as many broad, and three thick; nay, even the weight of them, which is said (q) to be the weight of forty "seahs", and look upon it as a miracle that Moses should be able to carry them; on these stones were written the ten commands; and the common opinion of the Jewish writers is, that five were written on one table, and five on the other; this is the opinion of Josephus (r), Philo (s), and the Talmudic writers (t); and the tables are said to be written on both sides, Exodus 32:15. Some think that the engraving of the letters perforated and went through the tables, so that, in a miraculous manner, the letters were legible on both sides; others think, only the right and left hand of the tables are meant, on which the laws were written, five on a side, and which folded up like the tables or pages of a book; though others are of opinion, that they were written upon, both behind and before, and that the law was written twice, both upon the fore part and back part of the tables, yea, others say four times; and some think the phrase only intends the literal and mystical, the external and internal sense of the law: however, certain it is, as the apostle here suggests, that the law was written on tables of stone, which may denote the firmness and stability of the law; not as in the hands of Moses, from whence the tables fell and were broken, but as in the hands of Christ, by whom they are fulfilled; or else the hardness of man's heart, his stupidity, ignorance of, and not subject to the law of God:
but fleshly tables of the heart: alluding to Ezekiel 36:26 and designs not carnal hearts, but such as are made soft and tender by the Spirit of God. The table of the heart is a phrase to be met with in the books of the Old Testament; see Proverbs 3:3 and very frequently in the writings of the Jews (u).
(l) R. Levi ben Gersom in Pentateuch, fol. 113. 2.((m) Zohar in Exod. fol. 35. 1.((n) Perush in Exodus 31.18. (o) In Pentateuch, fol. 209. 2. & 211. 3.((p) T. Hieres Shekalim, fol. 49. 4. Shemot Rabba, c. 47. fol. 143. 2. Bartenora in Misn. Pirke Abot, c. 5. sect. 6. (q) Targum Jon. in Exodus 31.18. & in Deuteronomy 34.12. (r) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 5. sect. 8. (s) De Decalogo, p. 761, 768. (t) T. Hieros. Shekalim, fol. 49. 4. Shemot Rabba, sect. 47. fol. 143. 2. Zohar in Exod. fol. 35. 1.((u) Vid. Targum Jon. in Dent. vi. 5, & in Cant. iv. 9.
through Christ, the grace of Christ,
to God-ward: who is the object of our confidence and hope, and the ground thereof.
but our sufficiency is of God; to think, to speak, and to act for his glory.
of the New Testament, or "covenant"; the covenant of grace, of which Christ is the Mediator and surety; called "new", not because newly made, for it was made with Christ from everlasting; nor newly revealed, for it was made known to Adam after his fall, and to all the Old Testament patriarchs, and was exhibited under the legal dispensation, though but darkly, in types, shadows, sacrifices, &c. which therefore waxing old is vanished away; and the covenant of grace is now more clearly revealed under the Gospel dispensation, free from all the obscurity it before laboured under; and therefore is called "new", as well as because it will always continue so, and never give way to another covenant: now the Gospel, and the ministry of it, is nothing else but an exhibition of the covenant of grace, its blessings and promises; and the work and business of those who are ministers of it is not to insist upon the covenant of works, the terms, conditions, obligations, promises, and threatenings of that covenant; but to open and explain the nature, promises, and blessings of the covenant of grace: for such who are fit and proper ministers, are ministers
not of the letter, but of the spirit; which is to be understood, not of any difference between the books of the Old and the New Testament, for a faithful minister of the word may and will bring forth things new and old, out of the one as well as the other; nor of the literal and allegorical, or mystical sense of the Scriptures, as if the latter and not the former was only to be attended to; nor of the difference of communicating the Gospel by letters, and preaching it by word of mouth; since both methods may be used for the spread of it, as were by the apostles themselves; but of the difference there is between the law and the Gospel. The law is "the letter", not merely because written in letters, for so likewise is the Gospel; but because it is a mere letter, hereby showing what is to be done or avoided, without any efficacy in it, or communicating any to enable persons to obey its commands, to give life to its observers, or either to sanctify or justify any who are under it, or of the works of it; it is a mere letter, as observed by an unregenerate man, who only regards the externals of it, being unacquainted with its spirituality. The Gospel is "the spirit"; see John 6:63 it contains spiritual things, and not things merely natural, moral, and civil, as does the law, but spiritual blessings and promises; it penetrates into the spirit and soul of man, and comes from, and is attended with the Spirit of God. The law is
the letter that
killeth, by irritating and provoking to sin, the cause of death, which though not the design and natural tendency of the law, and therefore not to be blamed, yet so it is, through the corruption of human nature; and by convincing of sin when the sinner is killed, and it dead in his own apprehension; and by not only threatening with death, but by cursing, condemning, and punishing with it:
but the Gospel is
the spirit, which
giveth life; it is a means in the hand of the Spirit of God, of quickening dead sinners, of healing the deadly wounds of sin, of showing the way of life by Christ, and of working faith in the soul, to look to him, and live upon him; it affords food for the support of the spiritual life, and revives souls under the most drooping circumstances. The apostle may allude to a distinction among the Jews, between the body and soul of the law; the words, they say, are , "the body of the law"; and the book of the law is the clothing; and besides these, there is , "the soul of the law"; which wise men look into (w).
(w) Zohar in Numb. fol. 63. 2.
written and engraven in stones; as that was by the finger of God himself: rightly does the apostle say, that it was both "written" and "engraven"; for the two tables of the law are expressly said to be written with the finger of God, Exodus 31:18 meaning either the Spirit of God, who is sometimes so called, Luke 11:20 compared with Matthew 12:28 or the power of God, which at once caused this writing to exist; and it is in so many words affirmed, that "the writing" was "the writing of God"; and not of man, nor of any creature, no not of an angel, Exodus 32:16 yea, even the two tables which were hewn out by Moses, after the first were broken, were written upon by the Lord himself, and not Moses, Exodus 34:1. So that as the work of the tables was the work of God, and wonderfully made, the form of the letters, as Abarbinel (x) observes, were miraculously made by him; for this law was, , "in letters", as the apostle here says; and as it was written in the Hebrew language, very likely it was in the same form of letters now in use with the Jews; though some have thought that the Samaritan letters are the original ones: moreover, the law was not only written, but "engraved"; for so it is said, that the writing was graven upon the tables, Exodus 32:16 and though the word so rendered is no where else used but there, it is rightly rendered graven, as appears by the apostle in this place; and which may lie confirmed by the Targumist on that, who renders it by "engraven"; and by the Septuagint which signifies the same; and so in the book of Zohar (y), the letters are said to be "engraven" on the tables: and that the tables were tables of stone, it is certain; they are often so called, Exodus 24:12 wherefore the apostle very properly says, that the law was engraven "in stones"; but what stones these tables were made of cannot be said; the Jews, who affect to know everything, will have them to be precious stones, but what they were they are not agreed in; for though they generally say (z) they were made of the sapphire stone, and sometimes say (a) they were hewed out of the sapphire of the glorious throne of God; yet at other times they call them marble tables (b); and Aben Ezra (c) was of opinion, that the tables which Moses hewed were not of any precious stone, for he asks where should a precious stone of such size be found? though others pretend to say (d), that Moses in a miraculous manner was shown a sapphire quarry in the midst of his tent, out of which he cut and hewed the stones; but very likely they were common ones; however, certain it is, that the tables of stone, as written and engraven by the Lord himself, were made, as the apostle here says, "in glory", ; and so Jarchi on Exodus 32:16 "and the tables were the work of God", says, this is to be understood literally "and in" or "for his glory"; or by his glorious power he made them: now this law, though thus written and engraven, and glorious, it was "the ministration of death"; and is so called, because it threatened and punished the transgressors of it with a corporeal death; they that sinned against it died without mercy upon proper evidence and witnesses; every precept of it had this penalty annexed to it, in ease of disobedience; as the having any other goals but one, making of graven images, taking the name of God in vain, the violation of the sabbath, dishonouring of parents, murder, adultery, theft, and covetousness; instances there are of each of these being punishable by this law with a bodily death: and besides, it is the ministration of eternal death, the wages of sin the transgression of the law; which is that wrath of God, a sense of which it is said to work; the curse it threatens with and the second death or lake of fire it casts into: and may be said to be the "ministration" of it; as it shows persons they are deserving of it, pronounces the sentence of it on them, and will execute it upon them, if grace prevent not; now though it was the ministration of death, yet it
was glorious. There were many things which made it so; but what the apostle here particularly takes notice of is the glory that was upon the face of Moses, when he received it and brought it from the Lord, which was very great;
so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance, which glory was to be done away. The history of this may be read in Exodus 34:29 it was a real visible glory that was upon the skin of his face, so that it shone again; it is said, "the skin of his face shone"; and this shining of his face the apostle very properly calls "the glory of his countenance": agreeably to the Septuagint version, which renders it, "the appearance of the skin, or colour of his face, was glorified"; and still nearer to the paraphrase of Onkelos, which is, "the splendour of the glory of his countenance was great"; and to the Targum of Jonathan, which also assigns the reason of it, and which seems to be the true one, "the splendour of the form of his countenance was glorious, because of the splendour of the glory of the majesty of God, at the time he talked with him". The Vulgate Latin version has led many wrong, to paint Moses with two horns, rendering it, "his face was horned", the Hebrew word having the signification of an horn in its derivative; because glory darted from him like horns, as rays of light do from the sun; see Habakkuk 3:4 and this brightness and glory were so very great, and so dazzling, that Aaron and the people of Israel were afraid to come nigh; which Jarchi, a Jewish writer, imputed to their sin, and shame, and fear, having worshipped the calf; but our apostle ascribes it to the lustre of his countenance, which was such that they could not steadfastly look upon it; they saw it indeed, as it is said in Exodus 34:35 yet they could not look wistly at it, nor bear the splendour of it; though this was only a glory, which was to continue but a while; according to the opinion of Ambrose (e), this glory continued on Moses's countenance as long as he lived; but be it so, it at last was done away: now this glory was put there to bear a testimony to the divine authority of the law, that it came from God, and was to be received at the hands of Moses, with awful reverence as from God, and to make them afraid of violating a law which came with such majesty and glory; and also to command awe and respect from the Israelites to Moses, whom they were inclined at every turn to treat with contempt, and to let them see that he had communion with God, which this was the effect of: now this was a circumstance which rendered the law glorious, and was expressive of a real glory in it; which, though as this on Moses's face, "was to be done away"; wherefore the apostle argues;
(x) In loc. (y) In Exod. fol. 35. 1.((z) Zohar ib. Targum Jon. in Dent. xxxiv. 12. (a) Targum in Cant. 1. 11. Targum Jon. in Exodus 31.18. (b) Targum Jon. in Deut. ix. 9, 10. (c) In Exodus 32.15. (d) Jarchi in Exodus 34.1. Pirke Eliezer, c. 46. (e) Comment. in Psal. cxix. 135.
the ministration of righteousness; not of a legal one, or a man's own, but of the righteousness of Christ, by which the law is honoured, justice is satisfied, and God's elect justified from all sin and condemnation; this being perfect, pure, and spotless, and for ever: the Gospel is "the ministration" of it, as it is a means of stripping a man of his own righteousness, of revealing Christ's to him, and of working faith in him, and encouraging him to lay hold upon it for himself; and thus it is not to righteous persons, but sinners, to all believers, to all the second Adam's posterity; now as
much more as righteousness exceeds condemnation, and a justified state a condemned one, so "much more" does the Gospel
exceed the law
(f) Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Lev. fol. 33. 4.
had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. There is such an excelling glory in the Gospel, that the other is swallowed up and lost in it; it excels it in those things in which it was so glorious: in the author of it, which, though the same, yet with this difference; the law was given by God as a judge, the Gospel by him as a Father, as the Father of Christ, and of his people in him; the law is the birth of his holiness and righteousness, the Gospel of his wisdom, grace, and love; the law declares his will with respect to duty, the Gospel with respect to salvation; the authority of God is stamped on the law, but the Gospel is the image of Christ; the law was written by the finger of God, but the Gospel was hid in his heart, and came from thence: in the promulgation of it, through the long train of patriarchs and prophets, that went before it to usher it in; it was published by Christ, the Son of God himself, confirmed by the gifts and miracles of the Holy Ghost, and in it is a greater display of the glory of God; it was attended with angels too, and a voice from heaven delightful and not terrible; and there was a glory on Christ's countenance, far exceeding that of Moses's: in the matter of it; which is the love, grace, and mercy of God; the Lord Jesus Christ, in all the glories and fulness of his person and offices; salvation by him, spiritual blessings, exceeding great and precious promises; neither of which are to be observed in the law: the ordinances of it vastly exceed the legal ones; and it has greatly the advantage of it in its effects on the souls of men, when accompanied by the Spirit of God.
we use great plainness of speech; plain and intelligible words, not ambiguous ones: or "boldness"; we are not afraid of men nor devils; we are not terrified by menaces, stripes, imprisonment, and death itself: or "freedom of speech"; we speak out all our mind, which is the mind of Christ; we declare the whole counsel of God, hide and conceal nothing that may be profitable to the churches; we are not to be awed by the terror, or drawn by the flatteries of men to cover the truth; we speak it out plainly, clearly, with all evidence and perspicuity. The apostle from hence passes on to observe another difference between the law and the Gospel, namely, the obscurity of the one, and the clearness of the other.
that the children of Israel, the Jews, as in the times of Moses, so in the times of Christ and his apostles,
could not steadfastly look to; not upon the face of Moses, whose face was veiled; not that they might not look, but because they could not bear to look upon him; but they could not look
to the end of that which is abolished; that is, to Christ, who is the end of the law, which is abrogated by him: to him they could not look, nor could they see him to be the fulfilling end of the law for righteousness; which being fulfilled, is done away by him; and this because of the blindness of their hearts, of which blindness the veil on Moses' face was typical: though the Alexandrian copy and the Vulgate Latin version read, "to the face of him which is abolished".
For until this day, to this very time,
remaineth the same veil untaken away; not the selfsame veil that was on Moses's face, but the veil of blindness, darkness, and ignorance, upon the hearts of the Jews:
in the reading of the Old Testament; the books of the Old Testament, which were used to be read in their synagogues every sabbath day; the true spiritual meaning of which, as they respect Christ and the Gospel dispensation, they understood not; of which darkness, the veil on the face of Moses was a type and emblem:
which veil is done away in Christ; can only be removed by Christ, by his Spirit and grace, and through the light of the Gospel of Christ, shining into the heart; and so dispel that blindness and ignorance which is in the understanding; whereby the books of the Old Testament are understood, and appear to agree exactly with the Gospel of Christ, in the books of the New Testament.
the veil upon their heart; that is, the veil of blindness, ignorance of Christ, and the Gospel; of the prophecies of the Old Testament, and even of the law itself, its nature, use, and end; preferring the traditions of their fathers, before the written law of Moses.
the veil shall be taken away; the veil of blindness and ignorance, respecting themselves, case, state, and condition, and the way of salvation by Christ; the veil of unbelief, with regard to his person, offices, and grace, and of error in points of the greatest moment and importance; then all the darkness and obscurity that is upon the books of Moses and the prophets, and which is now upon their hearts in reading them, will be gone. The prophecies of the Old Testament will be seen in their proper light, and to be evidently fulfilled in Christ; the true nature, use, and end of the law, will be discovered; and both they and that will be freed from all darkness that now attends them. The Jews themselves acknowledge, that though the law is light, yet there is an obscurity in it, by reason of the several ways of interpreting it; and therefore,
"he that studies in it, has need to remove, , "veil after veil", which is upon the face of it, in order to come at the light of it (g):''
and intimate, that the veil on Moses's face was an emblem of this obscurity, which agrees with what the apostle hints in this context; and also own, that there is now upon them a veil of ignorance; and, say they (h), God has promised to remove, , perhaps it should be "the veil of folly off of our understanding", referring, as is thought, to Isaiah 25:7.
(g) R. Abraham Seba in Tzeror Hammor, fol. 90. 2.((h) Chobat Halebabot, par. 1. c. 3. apud L. Capell. in loc.
And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty; which may be understood of the third person in the Godhead; where he is as a spirit of illumination, there is freedom from former blindness and darkness; where he is as a spirit of regeneration and sanctification, there is freedom from the bondage of sin, and captivity of Satan; where he is as a comforter, there is freedom from the fear of hell, wrath, and damnation: where he is as a spirit of adoption, there is the freedom of children with a father; where he is as a spirit of prayer and supplication, there is liberty of access to God with boldness, Though rather the Gospel as attended with the Spirit of God, in opposition to the law, is here designed; and which points out another difference between the law and the Gospel; where the law is, there is bondage, it genders to it; it has a natural tendency to it: quite contrary is this to what the Jews (i) say, who call the law, "liberty": and say,
"that he that studies in the law, hath , "freedom from everything":''
whereas it gives freedom in nothing, but leads into, and brings on persons a spirit of bondage; it exacts rigorous obedience, where there is no strength to perform; it holds men guilty, curses and condemns for non-obedience; so that such as are under it, and of the works of it, are always under a spirit of bondage; they obey not from love, but fear, as servants or slaves for wages, and derive all their peace and comfort from their obedience: but where the Gospel takes place under the influence of the Spirit of God, there is liberty; not to sin, which is contrary to the Gospel, to the Spirit of God in believers, and to the principle of grace wrought in their souls; but a liberty from the bondage and servitude of it: a liberty from the law's rigorous exaction, curse, and condemnation, and from the veil of former blindness and ignorance.
(i) Zohar in Gen. fol. 90. 1. & in Exod. fol. 72. 1. & in Numb. fol. 73. 3.