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2 Corinthians 3:9-11

The Glory of Righteousness

9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.


"The ministration of condemnation" is not a phrase that we hear used very often, even within Christian circles. It refers to the Law of Moses. The ministration of the law had never been seen as a ministry of condemnation, but one of glory. John Gill wrote, "So the Jews call the law, for they say, 'there is no glory but the law.'" Perhaps there was no more glorious event in history before the advent of Christ than the giving of the law and the confirmation of the covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai. There was no more glorious office in Israel's history than to be someone who ministered under the law.

However, the law condemned all men. The law makes no provision for pardon or mercy. "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." (1 John 3:4) All have sinned and the penalty for sin is death. There are no exceptions written into the law... no escape clauses. All men are equal under the law and all are guilty under it and condemned by it. The ministration of the law, as glorious as it may be, is therefore the ministration of condemnation.

And, says Paul, the ministration of righteousness must, by definition, exceed in glory. This is not about the righteousness of men, for they have none. It is the righteousness of Christ that is ministered under this new covenant. Through His suffering and death, justice has been satisfied. He was without sin but suffered the condemnation of the law in order to satisfy its demand for justice. The debt is paid for each of us who have faith in what He did. He has removed our guilt. He has covered us in His righteousness and has saved us from the condemnation of the law. Righteousness is much more glorious than condemnation.

"For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth." The Law was glorious. It had a divine origin, having been written by the very finger of the Almighty. It declared His will and presented the precepts by which He expected all men to live. Its perfection was beyond debate.

However, the gospel also proceeded from God. It provided justice plus everything that the law lacked... i.e. mercy and grace. It was not written on stone tablets, but on the hearts of men with the precious blood of God's only begotten Son. How much more glorious it is to be under the gospel of grace rather than under the law of condemnation! There is no comparison.

"For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious." Part of the law, particularly the ten commandments, had a moral basis, while the greater portion of it was ceremonial. Jesus was the fulfillment of all the ceremonial laws. These are explained in Hebrews 10:1, "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect." The ceremonial laws were all centered around types, or shadows, of Christ, but never the very image of Him. The moral laws. on the other hand, continue to reign in the heart of the Christian.

But the law no longer has a grip on the Christian who is under the gospel of grace. Since it can no longer condemn, is has been done away, and the Christian is free. Only the ministration of righteousness remains and, therefore, Paul declares that it must be the more glorious of the two.

Before The Throne:

This week we will celebrate Thanksgiving. Can there be anything more worthy of our thanks than Christ's sacrifice to obtain our freedom from the condemnation of the law? Thank Him for allowing you to have a role in the ministration of righteousness. Pray for the opportunity to share what you have learned about the gospel and what you have experienced by your conversion.

For Further Study:

(v.9)
** the ministration of condemnation. Exod 19:12-19; Exod 20:18-19; Rom 1:18; Rom 8:3-4; Gal 3:10; Heb 12:18-21; ** the ministration of righteousness. 2Cor 5:21; Isa 46:13; Jer 23:6; Rom 1:17; Rom 3:21-22; Rom 4:11; Rom 5:15-21; Rom 10:3-10; 1Cor 1:30; Gal 5:4-5; Phil 3:9; 2Pet 1:1; ** exceed. 1Cor 15:41; Heb 3:5; Heb 3:6;

(v.10) ** had. Job 25:5; Isa 24:23; Hag 2:3, 7-9; Acts 26:13; Phil 3:7-8; 2Pet 1:17; Rev 21:23-24; Rev 22:5;

(v.11) ** if. Rom 5:20-21; Heb 7:21-25; Heb 8:13; Heb 12:25-29; ** much. 2Cor 4:1;

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