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II Corinthians 3:7-18

One thing I love about God's Word is the richness and depth of it.  Every time I read it, I glean new things from it.  It's impossible for me to plumb its depths in my lifetime!  At the same time, there are passages that are like an old friend, that I return to over and over again for comfort or encouragement.

This passage today is one that I think that there is so much depth to it, I'm not sure if I'll ever fully understand it.

The word "glory" or "glorious" appears 12 times in these 12 verses, so something tells me this word is pretty important.  But how in the world do you define glory or glorious?  To me it's a pretty difficult term to define or wrap my head around.  The dictionary tells me that it is very great honor, distinction, or praise; a source of honor, praise, admiration; adoring praise or worshipful thanksgiving; resplendent beauty or magnificence; a state of great splendor, magnificence or prosperity; the splendor and bliss of heaven; heaven.  

Research on the etymology of the word tells me:

c. 1200, gloire "the splendor of God or Christ; praise offered to God, worship," from Old French glorie "glory (of God); worldly honor, renown; splendor, magnificence, pomp" (11c., Modern French gloire), from Latin gloria "fame, renown, great praise or honor," a word of uncertain origin.

The word in the Greek is doxe from which we get the word "doxology".  Our most common use of the word is the Doxology:  Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise Him all creatures here below.  Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts; praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Since the word "glory" is so important in this passage, what does Paul want us to know?  

  • The law that was written on tablets of stone came with glory.
  • Moses' face shone with glory when he received the tablets.
  • The Israelites hardened their hearts and could not receive this glory.
  • The ministry of the Spirit is even more glorious than that of the law.
  • The gospel brings a glory that will last.
  • Since we have this hope, we can be bold in proclaiming the glory, the gospel, the new covenant.
  • Many are still like the Israelites.  Their hearts are hard and they cannot experience the glory.
  • The Spirit brings freedom.  This is not freedom to do whatever you want, but freedom from the law; freedom to do what is right without all the regulations.  It is also freedom from sin, from guilt, from darkness.
  • Believers should be reflecting God's glory.
I think that in the passage from II Corinthians 2:12 - II Corinthians 3:18, Paul is defending his ministry.  There have been other more flashy apostles who have come in with eloquent speech and the Corinthians seem to be doubting that Paul is really an apostle.  He doesn't speak fluently and he is just an ordinary guy.  Paul gives three word pictures here to show that he is indeed, without doubt, an apostle:
1.  He has the "odor" of an apostle.  He emanates the fragrance of Jesus.
2.  He is a letter written on their hearts.  If you look at their lives, you'll know Paul has been genuine.
3.  He reflects God's glory just as Moses did when he received the law on tablets of stone.

I think all Christians should be doing the same, even though we are not apostles. We ARE Christ's ambassadors. I should ask myself:  "Do I emanate the fragrance of Jesus?"  "Do others' lives reflect that I've had an impact on them?" and "Do I reflect God's glory?"