2 Corinthians 3: A veiled heart?
2Cor 3:1 (NKJV) Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? 2 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 clearly you are an epistle of the Messiah, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living Elohim, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.
As a backdrop, Paul's point here is that they do not need to commend or recommend themselves. They do not need some letter of recommendation from them or anyone because the Corinthians themselves are an epistle or 'letter' of the Messiah which is written and read by all. They are the only 'letter' he needs. They do not need any commendation from man. Later in the epistle, he writes:
2Cor 10:18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom Yahweh commends.
This is also true of any believer in Yahushua. It is Yahushua the Messiah who commends us before all and before Yahweh. Let's not forget he is writing to Corinthians. In reality it is Yahushua the Messiah who founded the assembly (though through Paul) at Corinth in Acts 18.
4 And we have such trust through the Messiah toward Yahweh. 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from Yahweh,
So Paul recognizes that they themselves did not establish them, but in reality Yahushua in them established them and it is Yahweh that they are trusting in, through Messiah. Paul rightly gives glory to Yahweh.
6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
They are of ministers of the new covenant. Yahushua is the mediator of that covenant. Moshe's ministry was bringing the commandments. Yahushua's ministry is bringing righteousness.
It is true that the law condemns us, because we have not always kept it. In this sense, the letter (without the Spirit) only kills. We need justification through the righteousness of Yahweh in Yahushua the Messiah. Of course, now that we have been justified in Yahushua we ought not say it is acceptable to break the law again. It is for this reason Yahushua had to die for us in the first place.
7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away,
The ministry of Moshe had a certain glory. This glory (the ministry of condemnation) would pass away in favor of a greater glory, the ministry of righteousness through Yahushua.
8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels.
11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.
Something that remains/endures (Yahushua's ministry of righteousness) is going to have more glory than something that passes away (Moshe's ministry of condemnation). Please note that it is THE GLORY that is passing away (the ministry of death/condemnation), not Yahweh's standard of righteousness! The condemnation is passing away because we are made righteous in Yahushua, not because Yahweh took away the standard He expects us to live by.
The whole of Moshe's ministry was the giving of Yahweh's commandments. It is Yahweh's standard of righteousness, one that we have not lived up to. Therefore, just knowing His standard of righteousness does not justify us, but only condemns/kills us. But the ministry of Yahushua is one of SALVATION through Yahweh's righteousness. The ministry of salvation and His righteousness has much greater glory than the one that condemned us with the sentence of death.
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.
Notice carefully in the above verse, Moshe kept the children of Israel from looking at "the end of what was passing away". What is called "the end of what was passing away"? What were the children of Israel looking at? Moshe's face, that had the lesser glory of Yahweh on it. This lesser glory was the 'end' (result) of what was passing away (Moshe's ministry of condemnation). See also verse 7 where this is first mentioned to confirm this.
Again, what is passing away is Moshe's ministry of condemnation with its glory, not Yahweh's standard of righteousness. It was the veil that prevented the children of Israel from seeing the full glory of Moshe's ministry (the ministry of condemnation which passes away in Messiah), which to us is outshone by the glory of Yahushua's ministry.
So the purpose of the veil that Moshe wore was: so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of the former and lesser glory (which was condemnation).
Unlike Moses who needed to put a veil on his face when giving Yahweh's commandments (His face shone), we need to let the greater glory (from the ministry of salvation through Yahushua the Messiah) shine when proclaiming Yahushua's ministry. Therefore, we can use "great boldness of speech".
14 But their minds were blinded.
A more correct translation here would be "hardened" (not blinded, see #4456). Why were the minds of that generation (the generation in the desert, not Ezra's generation) hardened? As a whole, that generation of the children of Israel did not believe and did not want to hear Moshe's words. Paul parallels that with the generation he was living in:
14 But their minds were blinded (hardened). For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in the Messiah.15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.
This same veil remains on the hardened hearts of those who read the Torah without accepting Yahushua. It should not remain, for the condemnation would cease and the veil could be removed if they would soften their hard hearts and believe in Yahushua. The present veil is evidence of their hardened heart because in Yahushua that veil is removed. I don't find scriptural evidence that the veil was an evil thing originally, otherwise Moshe sinned in putting on the veil. It seems to indicate that the veil was necessary, for Yahushua had not come yet. But if the veil is there now, it is evidence of one's hardened heart and rejection of Yahweh's Messiah.
16 Nevertheless when one turns to Yahweh, the veil is taken away.
If a person will truly turn to Yahweh from their heart, they will have that veil taken away. The law is just too holy, spiritual and righteous when we read it unless we have Yahweh's righteousness in us through His Messiah. But for those of us who have Yahushua, we can read the Torah and not expect condemnation.
17 Now Yahweh is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of Yahweh is, there is liberty.
Not liberty to sin again but liberty to come unto Yahweh without fear of condemnation if we have sinned.
18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of Yahweh, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of Yahweh.
The reason that we with an "unveiled face" are looking in a mirror at the glory of Yahweh is that the fullness of the Messiah's glory / righteousness is in us. When we look at the full glory of Yahweh, we see:
1. The lesser glory of Yahweh in the ministry of condemnation which was the 'light', the 'word', showing us our sin.
2. The greater glory of Yahweh in the righteousness of Yahushua the Messiah. (Which if we choose can be in us!)
As we grow in the Spirit, we see as in a mirror the full glory of Yahweh. In that mirror we see the light/the torah/the standard for righteousness, and therefore our sins. The light/the word (Yahushua) is what convicts us of our sins (but without death/condemnation). This is the lesser glory.
But also in that mirror we also see the righteousness of Yahushua in us, this is the greater glory! Therefore "as by the Spirit of Yahweh" we grow in His knowledge and become more and more obedient to His will, we are being transformed from "glory to glory" or from one glory to another by the Spirit of Yahweh.