The word of the day is “glory.” The root of the Greek word “glorious” involves opinion and estimation (Strong’s #1391, 71-21). Thus, what is glorious is esteemed to be exceptionally honorable and worthy of a good opinion. What is “glorious” to us today? The Grand Canyon in Arizona? Niagara Falls in New York and Ontario? The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C.? Or is it Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (Constantinople)? St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome? Or the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem?
Most Glorious in All History
When we gaze at the beauty of any of these, we cannot help but be overtaken with a sense of awe, admiration, and wonder. Yet in today’s reading of 2 Corinthians 3:4-11, we can multiply that sense of splendor many times over. St. Paul writes that what is most glorious in all history is the giving of the Law of Moses and the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ. In both, the Glory of God surpasses every other glory in heaven or earth because they are God’s own self-manifestation. The Law and the Gospel are the Almighty’s revelation of Himself and His will and ways. Thus, today we read of a new order of values. What this world holds as glorious in honor, esteem, and admiration is nothing compared to the majesty of the Word of God and those who proclaim it.
The Giving of the Old Covenant Cannot Compare with the Proclamation of the New
Paul notes that the bestowing of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai was so glorious that the Children of Israel could not look on Moses’ face because it shone with such dazzling brilliance (vs. 7). But, as St. Paul teaches, this Glory of the giving of the “Old Covenant” cannot compare with the magnificence of the delivery of the “New Covenant” in Christ (vs. 7-8). The apostle writes, “But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones was glorious… how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious” (vs. 7-8)?
Note that Paul calls himself and his co-workers in the Gospel “ministers of a new covenant” (OSB vs. 6). The apostle and his partners labor for the new accord between God and the “New Israel” as a “diaconos.” We use that word in the church for our “deacons.” But initially, it referred to a servant who runs errands for or who waits on a king (Strong’s #149, 65). Because it serves the glorious covenant of Christ, the service of St. Paul and his co-workers shares its divine Glory.
The Law Brought Death, the Gospel Brings Life
Paul writes that his service to the Gospel cannot compare to the service of Moses to the Law for two reasons (vs. 7 & 11). First, the Law brought condemnation to all who tried to keep it. Its purpose was to lead the Chosen People in the ways of life. Instead, it brought “death” (vs. 7), for no one could keep its righteous demands. On the other hand, the ministry of the Spirit, the Life-giver, brings life to all who believe it (vs. 6). Second, the Glory of the Law of the Old Covenant is a fading glory. But the Gospel of Christ is eternal, and those who serve it take part in its never-ending splendor (vs. 11).
In the light of today’s reading, what honor should we give to the glories of this world? And what higher worship, praise, and respect should we give to the Lord Jesus Christ, to His Word, and to those who serve us in the ministry of the Gospel?
The greatest good in heaven and earth is God (Mark 10:18). The greatest goal in life is to be a “partaker of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). The greatest joy is to “enter into the joy of the Master” (Matthew 25:23). The greatest peace is the peace in Christ Jesus that “passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). The greatest glory we can ever see is the Glory that the Father has given His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:24).