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How do we rightly distinguish the instructions of Jesus under the Old Covenant and his instructions that are under the New Covenant?

(for example, on this page https://ebible.com/questions/5676-does-the-pastor-of-the-church-receive-all-the-tithes, Matthew 23:23 was explained as being rooted in the law)

2 Corinthians 3:6

ESV - 6 Who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Clarify Share Report Asked August 16 2018 Passport photograph Barka Piyinkir Ndahi

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Mini Aurel Gheorghe
In this text Paul is only alluding to the law - in fact, the term law cannot be found in 2 Corinthians 3. Paul uses the expression "carved in letters on stone" (2 Cor 3:7) suggesting the Decalogue as the covenant law. 

His primary interest in 2 Corinthians 3 is to defend his ministry of the new covenant against the attacks of false teachers who have entered the Corinthian church (2 Cor 2:14-17). As part of his defense Paul contrasts his new covenant ministry with the ministry of the old covenant.

Paul does not consider the ministry of the old covenant to be a bad thing – he describes its origin as a glorious one: It "came with such glory" (2 Cor 3:7). The reference is to the glory of God manifested throughout the events leading to the covenant between God and Israel, and to the glory on Moses’ face. The two covenants are placed in contrast - the old ministry is glorious, but the new one is more glorious.

He is saying that the ministry of the old covenant was inferior to the new covenant: the glory of the old was as temporary as God's glory reflected on Moses' face; implying that the old covenant was intended to come to an end. The implication is that God had something more glorious in store for His people: The glory of Christ (2 Cor 3:14-18).

The other inferiority is that the old covenant is "letter," a letter that kills – thus a ministry of death (2 Cor 3:6). Paul explains that the ministry of the old covenant, (the law engraved in letters on stone), condemns humans to death (2 Cor 3:6-9). He is describing not the nature of the law, but the function of the law apart from Christ. The old covenant became deadly when separated from Messiah - the Jews needed to read the old covenant and the covenant law only through Christ (2 Cor 3:14-16).

The law as "letter" is contrasted with the Spirit. The law is totally unable to give life: “For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." (2 Cor 3:6). "The Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Cor 3:17) means that only Jesus can give life and transform us into His likeness (2 Cor 3:18; Gal 3:20). The law as "letter" is the law apart from Christ, but the Spirit gives power to obey the law (Rom 8:3, 4). Only the Spirit can put the law in our hearts; without the Spirit there is no power to obey (Rom. 2:27).

Finally, Paul uses two arguments to argue the superiority of his ministry. First, the ministry of the new covenant is more glorious because it reflects the glory of Christ - it’s a permanent glory (2 Cor. 3:11) shared by Christ with all who turn to Him, and has the power to transform (2 Cor 3:18). 

Second, the ministry of the new covenant is not of the "letter" but of the Spirit, and through Him believers are united in Christ. The result of this ministry is not death but righteousness (2 Cor 3:9).

August 18 2018 1 response Vote Up Share Report


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