“Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?”2 Corinthians 3:1
This passage in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church begins with a discussion about why a credible individual such as the apostle to the Gentiles himself would need a letter of commendation in order to be made welcome to preach and teach in their congregations.
The surprising fallout from Paul’s response
By the time he closes off his comments Paul had accomplished the following.
- Established the distinction between letter and SPIRIT religion being death and life respectively
- Identified the tables of stone (the Sinai Covenant) as a death service
- Put the glory of Moses’ face in the fading category
- Identified the SPIRIT’s ministry as producting righteousness
- Contrasted Moses’ veiled face with the believer’s unveiled face
- Contrasted the believer’s hope, their bold and plain speech with the hidden (veiled) hearts of Moses’ disciples
Believers, like these Corinthians, can dabble in second guessing their own veracity. Paul says that they themselves were his letter of commendation (2 Corinthians 3:3). John reminded his disciples “We are now God’s children” (‘1 John 3:2). The Corinthians were proof of Paul’s ministry. Their request for credentials was off the wall. They were under a spell like the bewitched Galatians. Of all the credentials to which we access the name child of God outstrips the others, first for bring certified by the gift of the Spirit to each individual believed. Any other requirement to corroborate our adoption is a tempest in a teapot; a useless credential commotion.