Monday, 13 July 2015
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. 2 Corinthians 3:18
In verse 16, Paul said that “…when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” As a word to those who are in Christ, he shows that this is already true. For us there is no veil – “But we all, with unveiled face…” Instead of a veil, we are “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord.” It seems rather difficult to scholars exactly how to translate this. Some say “contemplate the Lord’s glory,” “can see and reflect the glory,” “beholding as in a glass the glory,” “reflecting like bright mirrors the glory,” and so on.
However, the Bible should always be interpreted with the Bible. In doing so, the difficulty will clear up. The word for “beholding” here is katoptrizó. It means “beholding as in a mirror.” It is used only this once in the New Testament and therefore Paul has specific intent on choosing this word instead of a word comparable to, say, 1 Corinthians 13:12. By going back to the account of Moses, we can determine what the intent is. In Exodus 33, we read this exchange between Moses and the Lord –
“And he said, ‘Please, show me Your glory.’
19 Then He said, ‘I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.’ 20 But He said, ‘You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.'” Exodus 33:18-20
In this, we are told that man “cannot see” the face of the Lord and live. However, in Jesus we are told that He is “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3). Putting the thoughts together then, Paul has been contrasting the Law of Moses with the new covenant. Therefore, he is saying that when we see the gospel message, we are as if “looking into a mirror” which reflects the glory of God. In Christ we behold His glory. We cannot say we are looking directly at the Lord because He is not present with us at this time. Therefore, it is the truth of Christ that we are beholding in the message of Christ.
Therefore, the translation of the NKJV is correct. At this time, we are “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord” each time we contemplate the gospel or (now because it is written) search out the New Testament Scriptures. And, in the searching out of Christ in this way, Paul says that we “are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.”
Just as Moses’ face reflected the glory of God when he came before the Israelites, so we are being transformed. It is not a physical transformation, but a spiritual one. As we conform to the prescriptions of the New Testament, and as we follow as disciples of Christ, we are being spiritually transformed into that same image; the image of Christ, thus, “from glory to glory.” We behold the glory and it transforms us to that glory.
Paul finishes this thought and the chapter with the words, “just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” It is the Spirit who calls, it is the Spirit who seals, and it is the Spirit who sanctifies. As we pursue Christ from glory to glory, the Spirit is accomplishing His role in the process to conform us to the image of God in Christ.
Life application: To know God, you must know Jesus Christ. To know Jesus Christ, you must know your Bible. If you claim Jesus while circumventing the Bible, then how do you know you’re not following a false Christ? Read your Bible.
Heavenly Father, how often I see people claim Jesus as “Savior” and yet they don’t acknowledge what they are being “saved” from. Being saved implies having been in peril. Your wrath is as evident in the pages of the Bible as is Your love. But the world wants to circumvent the wrath and focus only on the love. They have made a god in the image they want and have not called out to You in true hope of being saved from the wrath You feel at our sin. Help eyes to be opened to the truth of who You are. Amen.