“Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.
Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
Unlike the ministry of Moses, which was limited, impermanent, veiled, and lacking transformative power, Paul’s new covenant ministry is characterized by an all-surpassing, permanent, unveiled, transformative glory that is mediated by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:10–11, 16–18). Moses had a remarkable encounter with the presence of God (Ex. 34:29–35), but the new covenant believer’s access is even more astoundingly complete. While Israel could not even look at Moses’ face without the aid of a veil (Ex. 34:33), Christians can now behold the glory of the Lord with an unveiled face. This experience is ours “through Christ” (2 Cor. 3:14). He himself is the answer to the question, how can we behold the glory of God? Jesus, the new temple, has given us full access to the presence of God “through his flesh” (Heb. 10:20), literally tearing the temple curtain that formerly acted as a barrier between a holy God and a sinful people (Matt. 27:51; Ex. 26:31–33).
The implications of this are profound. First, we have unlimited access to the very presence of God (2 Cor. 3:18). Second, in Christ we are given an unashamed boldness to enjoy our free and limitless access to God (2 Cor. 3:12). Third, this bold beholding of God’s glory is the very means that the Spirit uses to bring about our utter transformation into the image of God’s glory (2 Cor. 3:18). From start to finish, the believer is being transformed by God’s glory, for God’s glory, and into the image of God’s glory.
This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit GospelTransformationBible.org.