2 Corinthians 3

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2 Corinthians 3
A folio of Papyrus 46 (written ca. AD 200), containing 2 Corinthians 11:33–12:9. This manuscript contains almost complete parts of the whole Pauline epistles.
BookSecond Epistle to the Corinthians
CategoryPauline epistles
Christian Bible partNew Testament
Order in the Christian part8

2 Corinthians 3 is the third chapter of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It is authored by Paul the Apostle and Timothy (2 Corinthians 1:1) in Macedonia in 55–56 CE.[1] Biblical commentator Heinrich Meyer emphasises that the use of the plural 'we' in 2 Corinthians 3:2 ("in our hearts") and 2 Corinthians 3:6 ([we are] "ministers of the new covenant") includes Timothy in the writing of the letter.[2]


The original text was written in Koine Greek. This chapter is divided into 18 verses.

Textual witnesses[edit]

Some early manuscripts containing the text of this chapter are:

Verse 2[edit]

You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men;[4]
  • "Epistle written in our hearts": Paul (and Timothy) call the readers their "epistle" in a similar sense to Paul's earlier description of them as his "work in the Lord, and the seal of his apostleship", in 1 Corinthians 9:1–2.[5]

Verse 3[edit]

New King James Version

Clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.[6]

King James Version

Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.[7]
  • "The epistle of Christ ministered by us": The apostles and ministers of the Word were only "amanuenses", whereas Christ was the "author and dictator" (i.e., who dictates the Word).[8]
  • "Written... with the Spirit of the living God": the believers become the "living epistles of Christ" as a "living disposition of the soul in likeness to Him."[8]
  • "Tables of stone": on Mount Sinai the primary (Mosaic) law was written on tables of stone. They were made twice: the first by God Himself, the latter were hewed by Moses, at the command of God, Exodus 32:16; Exodus 34:1). The former are said to be "miraculously made, and not by the means and artifice of men", [9] which, the Jewish writers say, were made of sapphire,[10] but they were broken by Moses when he came down from the mount. Both the former and the latter were of two stones of an equal size,[11] in the form of small tables, such as for children to learn to write,[12] each with the dimensions of six hands long, six hands broad and three hands thick,[13] weighing forty "seahs" (a miracle that Moses should be able to carry them).[14] On these stones were written the "Ten Commandments", that five were written on one table, and five on the other, as noted by Josephus,[15] Philo,[16] and the Talmudic writers,[17] and were written on both sides (Exodus 32:15).[8]
  • "Fleshly tables of the heart" alluding to Ezekiel 36:26, not "carnal hearts", but the one "made soft and tender by the Spirit of God". The phrase "table of the heart" is found in the books of the Old Testament (Proverbs 3:3; Proverbs 7:3; Jeremiah 17:1) and very frequently in the writings of the Jews.[8][18]

Verse 6[edit]

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.[19]
  • "Made us sufficient as ministers": This is an answer to the question in (2 Corinthians 2:16: who is sufficient for these things?) that 'our sufficiency' is of God, for he had enabled Paul and his co-workers to be "sufficient ministers", which is totally God's making.[20]

Verse 17[edit]

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.[21]
  • "Liberty": this means freedom from the law (cf. Galatians 5:18) and the transformation of believers.[22]

Verse 18[edit]

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.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ MacDonald 2007, p. 1134.
  2. ^ Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer (1880). Commentary on the New Testament. Translation by Peter Christie from Meyer's sixth edition. At 2 Corinthians 3.
  3. ^ Aland, Kurt; Aland, Barbara (1995). The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism. Erroll F. Rhodes (trans.). Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. pp. 107, 109. ISBN 978-0-8028-4098-1.
  4. ^ 2 Corinthians 3:2: NKJV
  5. ^ John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, 2 Corinthians 3:2
  6. ^ 2 Corinthians 3:3 NKJV
  7. ^ 2 Corinthians 3:3 KJV
  8. ^ a b c d John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, 2 Corinthians 3:3
  9. ^ R. Levi ben Gersom in Pentateuch, fol. 113. 2. Even said that "they were made before the creation of the world" in "Zohar in Exod". fol. 35. 1.
  10. ^ See Gill on 2 Corinthians 3:7
  11. ^ Jarchi. Perush in Exod. xxxi. 18.
  12. ^ Abarbinel, in Pentateuch, fol. 209. 2. & 211. 3.
  13. ^ T. Hieres Shekalim, fol. 49. 4. Shemot Rabba, c. 47. fol. 143. 2. Bartenora in Misn. Pirke Abot, c. 5. sect. 6.
  14. ^ Targum Jon. in Exod. xxxi. 18. & in Deut. xxxiv. 12.
  15. ^ Josephus. Antiquitates. l. 3. c. 5. sect. 8.
  16. ^ Philo. De Decalogo, p. 761, 768.
  17. ^ T. Hieros. Shekalim, fol. 49. 4. Shemot Rabba, sect. 47. fol. 143. 2. Zohar in Exod. fol. 35. 1.
  18. ^ Vid. Targum Jon. in Dent. vi. 5, & in Cant. iv. 9. apud Gill, 2 Corinthians 3:3
  19. ^ 2 Corinthians 3:6 NKJV
  20. ^ John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, 2 Corinthians 3:6
  21. ^ 2 Corinthians 3:17 NKJV
  22. ^ a b MacDonald 2007, p. 1138.
  23. ^ 2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV
  24. ^ Notes [a] on 2 Corinthians 3:18 in NKJV


External links[edit]