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II Cor. 3:3 - The Holy Spirit was given in place of the law?

Cor 3:3 "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."


What does this text mean?
  • Christ gives the Holy Spirit, who takes the place of the 10 Commnandments.


  • Christ gives the Holy Spirit, who writes the 10 Commandments on my heart.


2 Cor 3:3 "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."

The ministry of Paul and others was powered by the Spirit, which Christ poured out on the day of Pentecost. In the old Covenant, when the law was pronounced on Mt. Sinai, the people promised to keep all the words of the Covenant. However, in the New Covenant, God makes the promise. He promises to write the law in the heart, not on tables of stone.

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."

The 10 Commandment law is not what changes. The method of empowerment for keeping the law changes from self, to the Spirit.

II Cor 3:6 "Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament [covenant]; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."

Under the new covenant, it is also important not to follow just the letter, such as baptism, the cup of wine, unleaven bread, etc. One has to follow in the spirit to know what they mean and to believe.

II Cor 3:7 "But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:"

The ministration of death on stone (the 10 Commandments point out sin and sin points to death) was glorious and was not to be done away. The glory on the face of Moses was to be done away.

II Cor 3:8 "How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?"

All can agree that the ministration of the Spirit would be more glorious than the ministration of Moses with all the sacrifices and offerings.

II Cor 3:9 "For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory"

The ministration of condemnation, which comes by recognizing sin that is pointed out by the law, is glory. But sin condemns. The promise of the ministration of righteousness by Christ is much better. Only through Christ is there forgivness of sin. The ministration of Moses and the priests of the old covenant was in place until Christ. But now we have the ministration of Christ who is our high priest in heaven!

II Cor 3:10-11 "For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious."

It is interesting to note that what is done away was the type of ministration. The ministration of Moses was being done away and the ministration of Christ was taking its place exceeding in glory.

Heb 10:8-9 "Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second."

Sacrifices of animals for sin are not part of the 10 Commandments. These cerimonial laws of Moses were done away by what Christ did on the cross. Hebrews tells us that Christ took the first away and established the second ministration in heaven.

Examples of Commandments in New Testament

Rev 12:17 "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."

Through the pages of the new testament we find the commandments of God being mentioned. If Corinthians did away with them the Bible would agree that it is so, but it does not. Following are additional examples.

Rev 14:12 "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."

1 John 5:2-3 "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous."

Rom 13:9 "For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." NKJV

This last verse sounds like the 10 commandments. All of the above verses support the ongoing validity of the 10 Commandments.

II Cor 3:14-16 "But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament [covenant]; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away."

Only by knowing the Lord can we see Christ in the old covenant. What a blessing when the vail is lifted and we see the symbols and types and prophecies of Christ in the books of the old testament. On the road to Emmaus the diciples had the vail lifted.

Luke 24:25-27 "Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself."

The vail was lifted by Christ resulting in these words "Did not our heart burn within us" (Lk. 24:32). The disciples now understood the ministration of Jesus and how he was revealed in the Old Testament through the ministration of Moses and the prophets.


Moses was a minister of the old covenant. He gave the people God's instructions on how to keep the 10 Commandments law [detailed requirements on what to do] and what to do when it was broken [priests & sacrifices]. This glorious system of ministration was done away with, not the 10 Commandments.

Christ ministers the new covenant. He gives people the Spirit who gives people instructions on how to keep the law [think it, not just do it] and what to do if it is broken [repent and trust in Christ to cover sin]. Under the new covenant the law is written in the heart.

Yes, the ministration of Christ through the Holy Spirit was given in place of the ministration of Moses through sacrifices and priests. The Holy Spirit does not replace the 10 Commandments; rather, he writes the law on our hearts.