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2 Corinthians 3:3

    2 Corinthians 3:3 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    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.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    For as much as you are manifestly declared to be the letter 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.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    being made manifest that ye are an 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 tables that are hearts of flesh.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    For you are clearly a letter of Christ, the fruit of our work, recorded not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in stone, but in hearts of flesh.

    Webster's Revision

    being made manifest that ye are an 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 tables that are hearts of flesh.

    World English Bible

    being revealed that you are a letter of Christ, served by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tablets of stone, but in tablets that are hearts of flesh.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    being made manifest that ye are an 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 tables that are hearts of flesh.

    Definitions for 2 Corinthians 3:3

    Epistle - A Hebrew measurement.

    Clarke's Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:3

    Manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ - Ye are in our hearts, and Christ has written you there; but yourselves are the epistle of Christ; the change produced in your hearts and lives, and the salvation which you have received, are as truly the work of Christ as a letter dictated and written by a man in his work.

    Ministered by us - Ye are the writing, but Christ used me as the pen; Christ dictated, and I wrote; and the Divine characters are not made with ink, but by the Spirit of the living God; for the gifts and graces that constitute the mind that was in Christ are produced in you by the Holy Ghost.

    Not in tables of stone - Where men engrave contracts, or record events; but in fleshly tables of the heart - the work of salvation taking place in all your affections, appetites, and desires; working that change within that is so signally manifested without. See the parts of this figurative speech:

    1. Jesus Christ dictates.

    2. The apostle writes.

    3. The hearts of the Corinthians are the substance on which the writing is made. And,

    4. The Holy Spirit produces that influence by which the traces are made, and the mark becomes evident.

    Here is not only an allusion to making inscriptions on stones, where one dictates the matter, and another cuts the letters; (and probably there were certain cases where some colouring matter was used to make the inscription the more legible; and when the stone was engraved, it was set up in some public place, as monuments, inscriptions, and contracts were, that they might be seen, known, and read of all men); but the apostle may here refer to the ten commandments, written by the finger of God upon two tables of stone; which writing was an evidence of the Divine mission of Moses, as the conversion of the Corinthians was an evidence of the mission of St. Paul. But it may be as well to take the words in a general sense, as the expression is not unfrequent either in the Old Testament, or in the rabbinical writers. See Schoettgen.

    Barnes' Notes on 2 Corinthians 3:3

    Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared - You are made manifest as the epistle of Christ; or you, being made manifest, are the epistle, etc. They had been made manifest to be such by their conversion. The sense is, it is plain, or evident, that ye are the epistle of Christ.

    To be the epistle of Christ - That which Christ has sent to be our testimonial. He has given this letter of recommendation. He has converted you by our ministry, and that is the best evidence which we can have that we have been sent by him, and that our labor is accepted by him. Your conversion is his work, and it is his public attestation to our fidelity in his cause.

    Ministered by us - The idea here is, that Christ had employed their ministry in accomplishing this. They were Christ's letter, but it had been prepared by the instrumentality of the apostles. It had not been prepared by him independently of their labors, but in connection with, and as the result of those labors. Christ, in writing this epistle, so to speak, has used our aid; or employed us as amanuenses (copyists).

    Written not with ink - Paul continues and varies the image in regard to this "epistle," so that he may make the testimony borne to his fidelity and success more striking and emphatic. He says, therefore, that that it was not written as letters of introduction are, with ink - by traces drawn on a lifeless substance, and in lines that easily fade, or that may become easily illegible, or that can be read only by a few, or that may be soon destroyed.

    But with the Spirit of the living God - In strong contrast thus with letters written with ink. By the Spirit of God moving on the heart, and producing that variety of graces which constitute so striking and so beautiful an evidence of your conversion. If written by the Spirit of the living God, it was far more valuable, and precious, and permanent than any record which could be made by ink. Every trace of the Spirit's influences on the heart was an undoubted proof that God had sent the apostles; and was a proof which they would much more sensibly and tenderly feel than they could any letter of recommendation written in ink.

    Not in tables of stone - It is generally admitted that Paul here refers to the evidences of the divine mission of Moses which was given by the Law engraved on tablets of stone, compare 2 Corinthians 3:7. Probably those who were false teachers among the Corinthians were Jews, and had insisted much on the divine origin and permanency of the Mosaic institutions. The Law had been engraved on stone by the hand of God himself; and had thus the strongest proofs of divine origin, and the divine attestation to its pure and holy nature. To this fact the friends of the Law, and the advocates for the permanency of the Jewish institutions, would appeal. Paul says, on the other hand, that the testimonials of the divine favor through him were not on tablets of stone. They were frail, and easily broken. There was no life in them (compare 2 Corinthians 3:6 and 2 Corinthians 3:7); and valuable and important as they were, yet they could not be compared with the testimonials which God had given to those who successfully preached the gospel.

    But in fleshly tables of the heart - In truths engraved on the heart. This testimonial was of more value than an inscription on stone, because:

    (1) No hand but that of God could reach the heart, and inscribe these truths there.

    (2) because it would be attended with a life-giving and living influence. It was not a mere dead letter.

    (3) because it would be permanent. Stones, even where laws were engraved by the finger of God, would moulder and decay, and the inscription made there would be destroyed. But not so with that which was made on the heart. It would live forever. It would abide in other worlds. It would send its influence into all the relations of life; into all future scenes in this world; and that influence would be seen and felt in the world that shall never end. By all these considerations, therefore, the testimonials which Paul had of the divine approbation were more valuable than any mere letters of introduction, or human commendation could have been; and more valuable even than the attestation which was given to the divine mission of Moses himself.

    Wesley's Notes on 2 Corinthians 3:3

    3:3 Manifestly declared to be the letter of Christ - Which he has formed and published to the world. Ministered by us - Whom he has used herein as his instruments, therefore ye are our letter also. Written not in tables of stone - Like the ten commandments. But in the tender, living tables of their hearts - God having taken away the hearts of stone and given them hearts of flesh.