Online Bible Commentary
2 Corinthians 3:12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech-- 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (NKJV)
On his third missionary journey, after ministering in Ephesus for two years and three months, the Apostle Paul left for Macedonia in May, A.D. 56. In Macedonia he visited churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea.
Paul was in Macedonia from June to November of A.D. 56. It was there that he wrote the letter of 2nd Corinthians, likely in September and October of A.D. 56.
This letter was written to the church at Corinth, Greece, in response to events happening in the church there. While Paul was in Macedonia Titus came to him from Corinth with news from the church.
Titus reported that the church in Corinth was beset by false teachers. These false teachers were undermining Paul’s teachings and questioning his apostolic authority, and so Paul responded with this letter.
These false teachers were Judaizers. They falsely taught that salvation comes from a mixture of Old Testament works and New Testament grace.
The truth is that the Gospel of the New Testament teaches that we are saved by God’s grace alone, through our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. When we are saved the Holy Spirit indwells us and, when we allow the Holy Spirit to live through us, we will produce good works.
In the preceding passage Paul taught that the glory of the Gospel, the New Testament, far exceeds the glory of the Old Testament. The glory of the Old Testament is passing away, but the Old Testament is still useful because “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Therefore, since we Christians have the glory of the Gospel, we “have such hope, (that) we use great boldness of speech” (v. 12) We can be certain of what we believe and should never be hesitant to proclaim the Gospel.
Moses had no such hope. His face shined with the glory of the old Covenant when he descended Mount Sinai and presented the Ten Commandments to the Israelites.
However, Moses then “put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away” (v. 13) (Exodus 34:29-35). The Old Covenant, the Old Testament, was given by God with a planned obsolescence. It would pass away with the coming of the New Testament, the Gospel.
The minds of the Israelites were “blinded” (v. 14a). The veil blinded them from seeing that the glory of Moses face was passing, just as the glory of the Old Testament would pass.
To this day, the veil “remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament” (v. 14b). It is only through becoming a Christian that “the veil is taken away” (v. 14c). It is only then that we can understand the true meaning of the Old Testament, as it points to the coming of Christ, the Messiah.
“Even to this day” when Jews read the Old Testament “a veil lies on their heart” (v. 15). Their hearts are hardened to the Gospel of the New Testament, hardened to the good news that their Messiah has come, and He is Jesus Christ.
“Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (v. 16). When one becomes a Christian he is able to truly understand the Old Testament, and the Bible itself.
“The Lord is the Spirit” (v. 17a). The Holy Spirit, who indwells every Christian, is the Spirit of our Lord Jesus.
“And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (v. 17b). The Holy Spirit liberates us from the veil. We are able to see things clearly, as God intended.
We Christians, with an “unveiled face, (see) as in a mirror the glory of the Lord” (v. 18a). Now, we see the glory of the Lord in a mirror, the Gospel, but one day we will see the glory of the Lord face to face, as did Moses.
We Christians “are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (v. 18b). The Holy Spirit is changing us daily into the image of God as we allow Him to live through us.
We are being transformed into the image of God, because the veil has been lifted. .