2 Corinthians 3:1-6
2 Cor 3:1 (KJB)
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?
Commend - To represent as worthy
Commendation - To recommend as something worthy or a letter of introduction
Paul is asking the question to these Corinthians if he needs to begin again in representing himself as worthy and as being true to his teachings? There were some in the Corinthian church who began to seriously question Paulís verity. Paul was asking them if before he can minister to them in truth and try to help them, if he needs a letter of recommendation from someone to the Corinthians? He than asks if he needs a letter of recommendation from them for his next ministry assignment. He does not condemn the practice of letters of recommendation because he himself has used them and we can see this in the book of Philemon. The point Paul is trying to get across is that these people know him and still they do not trust him. So he wants to know if he should come to them on the recommendation of someone else or if his record and actions still stand with them so they can believe that he is very sincere about the concerns he has for the Corinthian church.
2 Cor 3:2 (KJB)
Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
Paulís recommendation of the Corinthians was not written on a piece of parchment but was written in their lives as redeemed Christians. The relationship that Paul had with the Corinthian church was well-known throughout the province and probably beyond. This would stem from the fact that Corinth was a very sinful place and for there to be many converted to the true Gospel and for a church to emerge would have been known throughout the region. It is a great testimony to the saving power of the Gospel when a place of sinful reputation becomes a place where the true gospel goes out from.
2 Cor 3:3 (KJB)
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 fleshly tables of the heart.
Manifestly declared - Show, reveal, or disclose
The Corinthian church was openly revealed as a living epistle of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as ink would convey words to a parchment, the Holy Spirit has written the word of God in them, on their hearts. This made the Corinthians walking testimonies for the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul compares the written words of ink to the words written on the hearts of the Corinthians and proves the latter is best. (Ezek 36:26-27 KJV) A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. {27} And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. The conversion of the Corinthians fulfills the prophecy of Ezekiel 36:26-27, just as it does with all true believers. The greatest testimony of the gospel is the lives that it has transformed.
2 Cor 3:4 (KJB)
And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:
Trust - Confidence
Paul had great confidence or trust in God, how by His Spirit, had written the Corinthians as the living epistles or letters. This was also a commendation of the ministry of Paul by God Himself. If you have a ministry which is sending forth the true Gospel, and people are becoming saved, then you too have the commendation of God on your ministry. God does not save through false gospels. He can save one in a false gospel by getting the true Gospel to them. When we witness to someone in a cult or a false church, and they become saved, then we know they are one of Godís Elect. Therefore we need to get the Gospel to all people, not knowing who the Elect of God are.
2 Cor 3:5 (KJB)
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
Sufficient - Adequate or competent
To think - Reckon
Sufficiency - Capability or qualification
Paul here lays down a great principle that should humble those who have attached spiritual pride to themselves. Paul is stating that as he sees the spiritual growth of the Corinthians and acknowledges their conversion from heathenism to Christianity, he admits the fact properly that it is not that they were sufficient in themselves to bring about this great Christian growth in Corinth. They could not commend it to themselves because Paulís, as well as the qualifications of every true believer, comes from God. It is He who saves these people and sustains them. If we lead someone to the Lord by means of sending a tract overseas, we are unable to help keep them on the narrow way simply because we probably will never meet them till we get to glory. God is the one who saves and sustains His people. (1 Pet 1:5 KJV) Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
2 Cor 3:6 (KJB)
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
Able - Qualified or Authorized
Letter - The law under the old testament
Now Paul does tell us that the Christian does have a part in the bringing of the gospel. God is the one who has qualified us to go forth with the true Gospel. We have been made ministers of the new covenant, that is, we have been qualified to teach that justification and salvation is by grace and not in the keeping of the law. The letter of the law leads to death but the Spirit gives life unto all those whom God saves by it. This is why no true believer can ever seriously teach that the law is the way to salvation, simply because God did not qualify any of His children to teach this false way of salvation. When someone comes to you and states you must keep the law along with grace to attain salvation, then you know that you have encountered a false teacher. The true believer teaches grace alone.