2 Corinthians 3:1-11 God Makes Us Sufficient

by | Apr 5, 2023 | 2 Corinthians, New Testament

I. Paul’s Proof Of Ministry Vs.1-6a

A. History- Letters Of Recommendation V. 1

1. Letters of recommendation were common in the first century.

2. Many apostles/evangelists/teachers were itinerant, traveling from region to region.

3. It was normal for local churches to offer financial support, but imposters took advantage.

4. Churches would expect letters of recommendation from such men.

5. NOTE – Remember that Paul was being criticized by the Corinthians.

6. He had defended himself in 2:17, but here, did not want to seem like he was bragging.

7. He was their spiritual father; did he need to bring them letters to prove his ministry?

B. The Corinthians Were Paul’s Letter/Proof Vs. 2, 3

1. Paul was the spiritual father of the Corinthians. He had first preached the Gospel to them

a. Acts 18:8-11 8 Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized. 9 Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” 11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

b. 1 Corinthians 4:15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

2. V. 2, 3a – Proof of God’s call upon Paul was seen in the changed lives of the Corinthians

3. V. 2 – written in our hearts, known and read by all men…

a. Paul carried the Corinthians with him in his heart.

b. Outwardly, the changed lives of the Corinthians were visible to all.

4. V. 3b – Paul shows both sides of the work of God among the Corinthians.

a. ministered by us – Paul was the man called, equipped, willing, and used by God.

b. written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God – Work of God the Holy Spirit

c. not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh – Outward vs. inward. External/internal

C. Paul’s Confidence About His Calling Vs. 4-6a

1. V. 4- Phillips – “We dare to say such things because of the confidence we have in God through Christ”.

2. Vs. 5, 6a – Paul recognized that apart from Jesus, he wasn’t capable of changing anyone.

3. V. 5 – Sufficient- competent, able, worthy.

4. Because of the cross, Jesus makes us sufficient.

II. The New Covenant Vs. 6-11

A. Old Covenant Vs. New Covenant

1. V. 6 – Paul said that he was a minister of the new covenant.

2. Covenant- Moulton and Milligan- “An ‘arrangement’ made by one party with plenary (absolute) power, which the other party may accept or reject, but cannot alter . . . A covenant offered by God to man was no ‘compact’ between two parties coming together on equal terms.”

a. Guzik on “covenant”– Not a negotiated settlement, but a divine decree.

4. The “Old Covenant” was the Laws of God given to the Jews.

5. Israel was established as a theocracy: a nation whose national government and religion were combined. Israel’s civic laws and religious practices were dictated to them by God.

6. God gave His laws to Israel through Moses on Mt. Sinai, written on stone.

a. Obedience brought blessing, and disobedience brought discipline and punishment.

b. God’s laws were (are) holy, but they don’t empower us to keep them.

B. Letter Vs. Spirit V. 6

1. The Old Testament prophets predicted God’s plan for a new covenant.

a. Jeremiah 31:31-33 31 “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah– 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

b. Ezekiel 36:26-27 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

2. the letter kills…the Spirit gives life- The written law was holy, but not heart changing.

a. The New Covenant touches and affects the heart, the seat of desire. (Luke 22:14-20)

b. The Law alone mandates & penalizes, but the New Covenant transforms us internally.

3. Luke 22:14-20 When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. 15 Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

C. The Superiority Of The New Covenant Vs. 7-11

1. V. 7 – When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, his face glowed for a long time.

2. His encounter with God changed his appearance.

3. The receiving of the Law, (which can’t change our hearts), was, nevertheless amazing.

4. V. 8 – If the receiving of the law was so amazing, isn’t the New Covenant (which can touch our hearts), even more amazing?

5. V. 9 – Ministry of condemnation-The law was (is) holy and good, but rules do not transform us regarding desire and ability to live holy lives.

6. V. 10 – If you compare the two covenants, the New Covenant is far more glorious.

a. Glorious – to cause the dignity/worth of something to be manifest & acknowledged.

7. V. 11 – Passing away- The face of Moses shined so brightly after Mt. Sinai, that he had to put a veil over his face, but eventually, that shine began to fade.

a. That fading glory illustrates the fading glory of the Law without the work of the Spirit

b. The Law is holy, just and good, but it doesn’t equip us to be holy, it just tells us to be holy and then punishes us when we fail.

8. The Law – Similar to religious rules we place on ourselves and others.

9. We don’t need more rules, we need our hearts to be changed.

10. When we fail, we tend to make more rules for ourselves.

11. The rules might be well intentioned, but they are not heart changing.

D. Applications For Us

1. Paul previously practiced his Jewish religion by his own might and strength.

2. After becoming a Christian, he considered religion by works as rubbish. Philippians 3:4-9

3. As a Jew, Paul sought to justify himself by performance. Humanly speaking, he excelled.

4. He sought to qualify to serve God. He served with violence & arrogance. 1 Timothy 1:13

5. Paul approved of himself until he met the risen Jesus. Acts 9:1-9

6. Previously, Paul approved of himself to serve in a religion that was fading away.

7. Now Paul knew that his sufficiency was from God, in a religion that will never fade away.