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2 Corinthians 3:3-5

Written on Hearts

3 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. 4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;


The third verse is part of the sentence begun in the previous verse. It should read, "Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: being manifestly declared that ye are Christ's epistle, having been ministered by us, etc."

As the world around them became aware of the good work that God had done among them, it would be continuously revealed that they were Christ's letter to the rest of the world. Their conversion could only be attributed to the work of Christ.

"...ministered by us." Paul and his companions were only servants of Christ who served Him by bringing the gospel to Corinth. The resulting conversions were the evidence that Paul was the real thing, a servant of Christ and not a false teacher like his accusers. Paul claimed no credit for what happened in Corinth, only that Christ used him to do a great work there.

"...written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God;" Ink will fade with time or be smudged and made illegible by handling or by exposure to the elements. Words written in ink are just the meaningless words of men. "...yea, let God be true, but every man a liar;" The false teachers may have come to Corinth with letters written in ink, but what good did those commendations serve? Paul's commendation came in the form of an epistle written by the Holy Spirit whose work does not fade with time or suffer damage by men. This epistle is an eternal one.

"...not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart." Perhaps some of Paul's detractors were Jews who were insisting on the legalisms of the Mosaic law and the traditions. The law of Moses was, of course, inscribed on stone tablets by the hand of God. This was their proof of divine commendation for their teachings. Paul seems to have been comparing that to the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:33 "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people." Stone tablets can be broken or lost, but that which is written on the heart lasts forever.

It was in these facts that Paul had placed such confidence, or trust, through Christ, in God. It was through Christ that he was able to do anything at all. So he concludes the paragraph with, "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God." In other words, they had no ability of their own except what God would grant to them, and they did not claim to have any.

Before The Throne:

Is God working through you in a way similar to Paul? Paul was a tentmaker by trade. You might be a mechanic, a cashier, an accountant, a manager or of any other vocation. God can use you. Ask Him to write His epistle on your heart and to help you be the letter that others can read. Pray for Him to guide you as you begin a new life of service to Him.

For Further Study:

(v.3)
** the epistle. Exod 31:18; Rev 2:1, 8, 12; Rev 2:18; Rev 3:1, 7, 14, 22; ** ministered. 1Co 8:5-10; ** the living. 2Cor 6:16; Josh 3:10; 1Sam 17:26; Ps 42:2; Ps 84:2; Jer 10:10; Dan 6:26; Matt 16:16; 1Thess 1:9; Heb 9:14; ** not. Exod 24:12; Exod 34:1; ** but. Ps 40:8; Jer 31:33; Ezek 11:19; Ezek 36:25-27; Heb 8:10; Heb 10:16;

(v.4) ** such. 2Cor 2:14; Phil 1:6; ** God-ward. Exod 18:19; 1Thess 1:8

(v.5) ** that. 2Cor 2:16; 2Cor 4:7, 10; John 15:5; ** but. 2Cor 12:9; Exod 4:11-16; Jer 1:6-10; Matt 10:19-20; Luke 21:15; Luke 24:49; 1Cor 3:6, 10; 1Cor 15:10; Phil 2:13; Phil 4:13; Jas 1:17;

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