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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 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Profile pic Mark Vestal Proud of nothing of myself. Freed by Christ who did it all!
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah (Jer 31:31, Heb 8:8). Note that the new covenant is for the house of Israel, and the house of Judah, not you or I.

Biblical Israel's new covenant will be established when Christ returns for His millennial reign on Earth (Rev 20:4-6). We today live under God's dispensation of grace (Eph 3:2), not covenant. Believers today will be "caught up" with Christ in Heaven prior to His earthly return (1 Thes 4:17). Many confuse the Bible's "New Testament" as being the new covenant, but God's new covenant remains prophetic as it has not yet been established or even meant for believers today, who are members of the church, the body of Christ (Col 1:24, Eph 5:23). God now sees Christ in us, and not who we see when we look in the mirror!

We have something much greater than a covenant as we are not under law, we live under God's grace (Rom 6:14). Our salvation simply requires faith in what Jesus Christ completed on the cross on our behalf (Rom 3:28, 1 Cor 1:23). Christ paid for all of our sins (Rom 3:28, 1 Cor 15:3, Gal 2:20, Col 2:13, 2 Cor 5:19), was buried, but rose again for our justification (2 Cor 1:9, Rom 4:25). It is the free gift of God made possible by His grace (Rom 5:18), and our belief is acceptance of His free gift (Eph 2:8. Eph 1:13).

Rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15), the gospel of our salvation (Eph 1:13), means to separate the gospel given to Paul from the gospel given to biblical Israel when studying the bible. Jesus' message while living, and that of the 12 apostles were to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, not us (Mat 10:5-6, Mat 15:24). Our doctrine is found in the 13 epistles of Paul, Romans through Philemon (Rom 3:21).

Biblical Israel was required to do works under God's covenant with them in 'times past' (Rom 11:6, James 2:24). Works today, with the belief that it is to obtain or maintain salvation, actually puts us into debt with God, as this shows lack of faith in what Christ's death, burial, and resurrection means for us (Rom 4:4). Believers do not work in order to be saved, they work because they are saved (Eph 2:10, Eph 4:12). They desire to work for God once they realize what Christ completed for them.

When you’re a passenger in a vehicle, you have faith that the driver will safely get you to your destination. Jesus Christ is our ‘spiritual driver’ (Rom 5:10, Rom 8:32), and the holy Spirit, our 'spiritual seat-belt' (Eph 4:30), that seals our souls until the day of redemption at the moment of belief (Eph 1:13)! We can’t lose our salvation, but living as we should as Christians can still be difficult at times (Rom 7:23). We will certainly fail on occasion while Satan reigns in this present evil world (Gal 1:4, 2 Cor 4:4, Rom 7:24-25), but our resolve should never waver (2 Cor 7:1), as God’s love for us becomes more evident in our daily walk (2 Cor 13:14).

January 15 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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