Καταργέω and the People of the Shining Face (2 Corinthians 3:7-18)1

In his book To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, sociologist James Davison Hunter is concerned that the Church of the West now finds itself mired in a media-driven culture.

Reality becomes constituted by the ephemera of image, representation, and simulation. Pseudo-intimacy with well-known personalities provides the primary form and style of communication for a population hungry for significance.2

While not buying into his whole program (indeed, I do not recognize myself, nor Union University where I teach, in his description of evangelicals and their lack of emphasis on vocation), I think Hunter has an important point. In our celebrity driven culture, media drives celebrity and celebrity drive media. While media offers amazing means of communication for the sake of the Kingdom—I benefit greatly from well-done blogs that put me in touch with important trends, books, audios, and movements—if we are not careful, our ministries can get inordinately fixated on the power of a uniquely “glowing face,” those persons who seem to be touched by God for broad impact. Personally, we may get so caught up in our public and publicized ministries, along with our associated “images” and carefully-crafted public platforms that we actually begin to disintegrate in terms more biblical forms of Christian life and ministry. Speaking of celebrity, Hunter notes that biblical leadership is

… the antithesis of celebrity, a model of leadership that many Christians in prominent positions have a very difficult time resisting. Celebrity is, in effect, based on an inflated brilliance, accomplishment, or spirituality generated and perpetuated by publicity. It is an artifice and, therefore, a type of fraud.3

In 2 Corinthians Paul in part deals with a form of celebrity culture, and for his antidote he presents a crystal-clear picture of authentic ministry, embodied in his own pattern of life and mission. His opponents, teachers with a “christian” veneer, seem to carry out their ministries under the influence of first-century, sophist values.4 Paul says, for all their “skills” in public speaking (10:10; 11:6) and their claims to be ministers of Christ (11:23), they actually are preaching a different Jesus and a different gospel, and they are ministering by a different spirit (11:4). Although 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 should not be considered primarily a polemic against the interlopers of Corinth, it is possible that the apostle presents this “allusive homily”5 as a biblical word picture of true ministry “glory,” which provides a compelling alternative to the false teachers’ culturally-conditioned understanding of leadership “glory.”6

Three Introductory Thoughts

We begin our investigation of the passage with three introductory thoughts meant to provide a framework, or orientation, for the study. First, the passage falls nicely into two main sub-movements: 2 Corinthians 3:7-11 and 3:12-18. The first focuses on the theme of “glory,” a motif appropriated from LXX Exodus 34:29-35 with its use of the verb δοξάζω (doxazō). Employing an “argument from lesser to greater,” Paul vies for the greater glory of the new covenant. Constituting a second sub-movement, 2 Corinthians 3:12-187 deals with “Veiled and Unveiled People,”8 the apostle playing off of the veiling of Moses in LXX Exodus 34:29-35 and underscoring the implications of “veiling/unveiling” imagery for ministry. Paul treats “the veil” as a barrier standing between people and the glory of God, pointing out two sets of contrasts, one having to do with the practice of ministry and the other having to do with the effects of ministry. As to the former, at 3:12-13a he contrasts the repeated veiling of Moses with Paul’s “unveiled” ministry. As to the latter, in 3:14-16 the apostle sets those who have spiritually-veiled hearts over against those whose hearts are unveiled by Christ. These two sub-movements combine in a way that the whole of 3:7-18 moves from a focus on the glory on Moses’ face, to the superabundant glory on the faces of all those under the new covenant.

Second, and in line with the first point, 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 focuses on a contrast of ministries, rather than the abrogation of the old covenant per se. Paul offers his reflections in the passage as one significant step in the commendation of his own ministry to the Corinthians. Accordingly, his statements in the broader context of 2:14-4:6, his vocabulary in this passage, and the logic of the passage itself, all suggest that our passage is primarily about a contrast of approaches to ministry.9 Note especially in the span running from 2:14-4:6 the apostle’s repeated references to ministry.10 Particularly, in 3:6-13 we have a number of contrasts between old covenant ministry and that of the new covenant:

Old Covenant Ministry                            New Covenant Ministry

•  ministry of the letter that kills (3:6,7)    •  ministry of the Spirit who gives life (3:6, 8)
•  ministry of condemnation (3:9)            •  ministry of righteousness (3:9)
•  a veiled ministry (3:13)                         •  ministry conducted with openness (3:12)

Thus 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 is not primarily about the doing away with the old covenant, although the demise of that institution is inherent in Paul’s words. But Paul focuses on the superiority of his new covenant form of ministry, specifically in the proclamation of the Word of God under the power of the Spirit of God.

Third, a key interpretive issue in the 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 concerns our understanding of the verb καταργέω (katargeō), which occurs four times in the passage (2 Cor 3:7, 11, 13–14), twice in the first sub-movement of the passage, supporting the theme of the greater glory of new covenant ministry (3:7-11), and twice in the second sub-movement, supporting the topic of the greater confidence of new covenant ministry (3:12-18). In the first sub-movement the apostle employs the term when dealing with what happened to the glory on Moses’ face (3:7, 11). In the second, he addresses what happened to the Israelites whose minds were hardened (3:13-14), as well as what happens to the “veiled hearted” person (3:14-15) who “turns to the Lord” (3:17).11 This controversial term, therefore, stands at the heart of one’s interpretation of the passage and, therefore, one’s understanding of the implications of the passage for Christian ministry.

Our specific goal for this article is to explore the meaning of the term καταργέω as it is used in context and to demonstrate the impact of a particular reading of the word in clarifying the apostle’s intention for this passage. The hope is that as the apostle’s intentions become clearer, the implications of the text for contemporary Christian life and ministry will also be clarified. My rendering of 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 is as follows.12

7Now if the ministry of death, engraved in letters on stones, was attended by glory—with the result that the children of Israel were not able to continue looking at the face of Moses, because the glory of his face was being made inoperative—8how could the ministry of the Spirit not be attended by glory to a greater degree?  9For if in the ministry characterized by condemnation there was glory, to a much greater degree the ministry characterized by righteousness overflows with glory. 10For really, in this situation, what had been glorified, now has no glory at all because of the glory that outshines it. 11For if that which was being made inoperative was through glory, to a much greater extent the ministry that remains is attended by glory. 12Therefore, since we have this kind of hope, we conduct our ministry with a great deal of openness, 13in contradistinction to Moses.  He kept putting a veil over his face with the result that the children of Israel did not look with sustained attention unto the completion of what was being made inoperative. 14Rather, their minds were hardened. For, until this very day, when the old covenant is read, that same veil remains unmoved, because it can only be made inoperative in Christ. 15Indeed, right up to the present time, when Moses is read, a veil drapes their hearts; 16but when a person turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17Now “the Lord” is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18All of us, with unveiled faces observing the Lord’s glory as in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord who is the Spirit.

The Greater Glory of New Covenant Ministry (3:7-11)

“Glory” in Paul’s Contexts

In secular Greek usage, the term δόξα (doxa) speaks of a sentiment, opinion, or thought (e.g., Plato, Pol. 260; Philostratus, Gymn. 17). When held in relation to a person, the word connotes one’s fame or reputation, normally used in a positive sense (Demosthenes, 2 Olynth. 2.15), and often in inscriptions or the papyri it means “esteem” or “honor.”13 Similarly, at 1 Corinthians 4:10 Paul contrasts the Corinthians as “glorious” (the cognate adjective ἔνδοξοι, endoxoi) with his ministry as “dishonored” (ἄτιμοι, atimoi). At 2 Corinthians 6:8 “dishonor” (ἀτιμίας, atimias) is contrasted with “glory” or “honor” (δόξης, doxēs). Thus Paul is aware of and uses language of “glory” as more commonly understood in his broader culture. It may be suggested, therefore, that the ideal of δόξα or gloria (Latin) in the Greco-Roman world has been undervalued as one possible cultural backdrop for our passage,14 standing over against Paul’s biblical reflections on Exodus 34.

The old republican celebration of glory in the Roman imperial cult during the first Christian century would have made personal glory and the glory of family, city, and empire a high value in Corinthian culture. Cicero notes that the best leaders possess the noble virtue of gloria and are led and nurtured by it (Arch. 26; Rep. 5.7.9). E. A. Judge adds,

By New Testament times the predominant Stoic school of philosophy had raised the estimate [of the value of glory] to a very high level, apparently in response to the cult of glory among the Roman nobility … It therefore became a prime and admired objective of public figures to enshrine themselves, by actually defining their own glory, … Self-magnification thus became a feature of Hellenic higher education.15

In 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 Paul does not engage directly the concept of glory as reflected in the broader Greco-Roman culture. Rather, his statements clearly constitute reflections on new covenant ministry that are offered in light of the biblical text. Nevertheless, his focus on new covenant ministry, along with the “until this very day” of verse 14, and the “right up to the present time” of verse 15, clearly show that the apostle marshals his reflections to make a statement about competing approaches to ministry in his own day. We may suggest, therefore, that Paul offers his biblical-theological reflections on glory as a counter-cultural alternative that democratizes the attainment of glory as for all people of the new covenant (3:17-18), not just for “glorified” leaders. If this is accurate, the apostle addresses a cultural value, inappropriately embraced by the Corinthian interlopers and their followers, by offering a biblical-theological treatment of the concept of new covenant glory. To do this the apostle uses as his launch point the glory on the face of a prominent biblical leader, Moses.

There has been good work done on the biblical concept of glory in recent years. For example, Chris Morgan, in a chapter entitled “Toward a Theology of the Glory of God,”16 does a nice job of lining out the “enormous” challenge of defining the glory of God. He suggests the following categories concerning how glory functions in the biblical narrative:

1. glory is used as a designation for God himself
2. glory sometimes refers to an internal characteristic, an attribute, or a summary of attributes of God
3. glory as God’s visible and active presence
4. glory as the display of God’s attributes, perfections, or person
5. glory as the ultimate goal of the display of God’s attributes, perfections, or person (that is, God’s name, his renown)
6. glory sometimes connotes heaven, the heavenly, or the eschatological consummation of the full experience of the presence of God
7. giving glory to God may also refer to appropriate response to God in the form of worship, exaltation, or exultation
Morgan goes on to suggest that these multiple uses are distinct but related. He summarizes in this way:

The triune God who is glorious displays his glory, largely through his creation, image-bearers, providence, and redemptive acts. God’s people respond by glorifying him. God receives glory and, through uniting his people to Christ, shares his glory with them—all to his glory.17

Thus Morgan proposes that the nuances of glory in the biblical story, all central to that story, may be summarized as glory possessed, glory purposed, glory displayed, glory ascribed, glory received, and glory shared. Our passage certainly expresses the last of these categories, as God shares his glory with new covenant believers, through new covenant ministers, manifesting his presence on the faces of his image-bearers18 through the redemption won by Christ.

Paul’s Argument from Lesser to Greater

Where, then, should we begin with narrowing the scope of our investigation in 2 Corinthians 3:7-18? First, we begin by noting that in our passage Paul is profoundly oriented to the text of Exodus 34, and here we find particular references to a specific manifestation of God’s glory. In fact, Paul uses the passage to build his argument for the greater glory found in new covenant ministry. Particularly, in 3:7-11 we find an “argument from lesser to greater” with “glory” as the main theme. An a fortiori argument19 went like this: if something is true in a lesser situation, it certainly is true in a greater situation and has greater implications.” At this point, the apostle builds his argument from lesser to greater on the back of LXX Exodus 34:29-35, which reads in part,

 29And as Moyses was descending from the mountain, the two tablets also were in Moyses’ hands. Now as he was descending from the mountain, Moyses did not know that the appearance of the skin of his face was charged with glory (δεδόξασται, dedoxastai) while he was speaking to him. 30And Aaron and all the elders of Israel saw Moyses, and the appearance of the skin of his face was charged with glory (ἦν δεδοξασμένη, ēn dedoxasmenē), and they were afraid to come near to him … 33And when he stopped speaking to them, he placed a covering over his face. 34But whenever Moyses would enter in before the Lord to speak with him, he would remove the covering until coming out. And when he came out, he would tell all the sons of Israel what the Lord commanded him. 35And the sons of Israel saw the face of Moyses that it was charged with glory (δεδόξασται), and Moyses put a covering over his face until he went in to converse with him (Exod 34:29–35; NETS).

Note especially the three uses of δοξάζω, the first and last are perfect passive indicative forms (indicating a state resulting from a past event) and the second a periphrastic construction combining a 3rd singular imperfect active indicative of εἰμί with a feminine singular nominative perfect passive participle. The form of this participle, and its referent, will be significant as we try to discern Paul’s referents in his argument.

In 2 Corinthians 3:7-11 the comparisons in Paul’s argument run as follows:

The Lesser
(Old Covenant Ministry)
attended by glory (ἐν δόξῃ, v. 7)
[glory of Moses’ face made inoperative] (διὰ τὴν δόξαν τοῦ προσώπου αὐτοῦ τὴν καταργουμένην, v. 7)
glory was in the ministry of condemnation (δόξα, v. 9)
the thing having been glorified has no glory (οὐ δεδόζασται, v. 10)
the thing being made inoperative [came] through glory (διὰ δόξης, v. 11)
The Greater
(New Covenant Ministry)
attended by glory to a greater degree (ἐν δόξῃ, v. 8)
overflows with glory (δόξῃ, v. 9)
glory outshines old covenant glory (τῆς ὑπερβαλλούσης δόξης, v. 10)
to a much greater extent that which remains is attended by glory (ἐν δόξῃ, v. 11)
Thus, on every hand, Paul perceives the new covenant ministry to be “greater,” that is superior, to the old covenant ministry. The glory manifested in new covenant ministry is much greater that the glory on Moses’ face in terms of degree or extent. It overflows and outshines that glory that shone in old covenant ministry.

Second, consider the apostle’s specific referent when speaking of that which had been glorified. In verse 7 this is clear enough, for Paul mentions that he has “the glory of Moses’ face” in mind, and this accords with what follows. In verse 10 Paul speaks specifically of “the thing having been glorified that now has no glory.” Here too he speaks of Moses’ face, as can be seen from the Greek OT and the form of the participle in 2 Corinthians 3:10. At Exodus 34:29b we read:

καταβαίνοντος δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐκ τοῦ ὄρους Μωυσῆς οὐκ ᾔδει ὅτι δεδόξασται ἡ ὄψις τοῦ χρώματος τοῦ προσώπου αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ λαλεῖν αὐτὸν αὐτῷ. (Exod 34:29 LXX)

Now as he was descending from the mountain, Moyses did not know that the appearance of the skin of his face was charged with glory while he was speaking to him.  (Exod 34:29 NETS)

… καὶ ἦν δεδοξασμένη ἡ ὄψις τοῦ χρώματος τοῦ προσώπου αὐτοῦ, (Exod 34:30 LXX)

… and the appearance of the skin of his face was charged with glory, (Exod 34:30 NETS)

καὶ εἶδον οἱ υἱοὶ Ισραηλ τὸ πρόσωπον Μωυσῆ ὅτι δεδόξασται, καὶ περιέθηκεν Μωυσῆς κάλυμμα ἐπὶ τὸ πρόσωπον ἑαυτοῦ, ἕως ἂν εἰσέλθῃ συλλαλεῖν αὐτῷ.  (Exod 34:35 LXX)

And the sons of Israel saw the face of Moyses that it was charged with glory, and Moyses put a covering over his face until he went in to converse with him.  (Exod 34:35 NETS)

In these verses it was Moses’ face that was “glorified,” and the perfect passive form of the verb δοξάζω is used in verses 29 and 35. In verse 29 it is “the appearance of the complexion of his face” (ἡ ὄψις τοῦ χρώματος τοῦ προσώπου αὐτοῦ, hē opsis tou chrōmatos tou prosōpou autou) that is glorified. In verse 35 it is simply “the face of Moses” (τὸ πρόσωπον Μωυσῆ, to prosōpon Mōusē) that is charged with glory. Note that the perfect passive participle used in 34:30 is in the feminine form because its referent is ἡ ὄψις, the appearance of the complexion (τοῦ χρώματος) of his face, ἡ ὄψις being feminine in form.

Back in our passage at 3:10, however, the perfect passive participle serves as the subject of the sentence and is neuter in form. Why is the participle neuter here? Because it has a specific referent in context (the gender agreeing with the word to which it refers). It is not “the ministry” which had been glorified, for that word is feminine in form. It is not “the covenant” (3:6) that had been glorified, for that word too is feminine. Paul refers to the same referent as in Exodus 34, for “the thing having been glorified that now has no glory by comparison” is Moses’ face. Notice the double use to the neuter noun πρόσωπον in 2 Corinthians 3:7, employed specifically in conjunction with “glory.” Note also that in 3:10 the form of the verb, δεδόξασται is exactly the same as in LXX Exodus 34:29, 35, only at 2 Corinthians 3:10 Paul asserts Moses’ face no longer is glorious. The “state” of glory on his face has been negated.

Why, then, did Moses’ face no longer have glory? Two reasons. First, in terms of the Exodus narrative, the glory was snuffed out by the veil. Second, however—and this is the apostle’s main point—it was because the glory of the new covenant ministry now far outshines the glory on Moses’ face, and it outshines that lesser glory both in extent and therefore by degree. In terms of extent, the glory of Moses’ face was limited to one person. The new covenant ministry is “to a much greater degree,” it “overflows,” and it “far outshines [the glory of Moses],” because “we all with unveiled faces … are being transformed from glory to glory,” as Paul says in verse 18. So naturally, the constantly shining faces of multitudes of new covenant ministers and those to whom they minister far outshine the face of Moses.

Rendering καταργέω in 2 Corinthians 3:7, 11

But this brings us to our important and debated term καταργέω (katargeō), found in our first sub-movement in participial form in verse 7 and again in verse 11. Let’s begin with verse 7. Clearly the participle in this case, τὴν καταργουμένην (tēn katargoumenēn), delimits the noun τὴν δόξαν (tēn doxan). In the history of interpretation, a popular rendering of the participle is as a “fading” glory:
because of the glory from his face—a fading glory— (2 Cor 3:7 HCSB)
because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, (2 Cor 3:7 NAS95)
even though the brightness was already fading away. (2 Cor 3:7 NLT-SE)
because of its glory, transitory though it was, (2 Cor 3:7 NIV11)
The translation is also followed by commentators such as Harris, Linda Belleville, and others.20

Yet, as scholars have shown, the word means no such thing in the ancient world.21 As BDAG (525-26) notes, there are several possible meanings in the NT:

1.  to cause someth. to be unproductive, that is, to neutralize it
2.  to cause someth. to lose its power or effectiveness, invalidate, make powerless, to nullify (most common in Paul; often in legal contexts)
3.  to cause someth. to come to an end or to be no longer in existence, abolish, wipe out, set aside
4.  to cause the release of someone from an obligation (one has nothing more to do with it), be discharged, be released.

Paul uses the word four times in our passage and does so consistently in terms of the word’s intended meaning. At each place the word speaks of something being made inoperative, or ineffective, that is of something being neutralized.

At 3:7 the term is used to describe what happened to the “glory” of Moses’ face, and a straight-forward reading of Exodus 34:29-35 tells us what happened to the glory on Moses’ face. That glory was made “inoperative” by the veil placed over his face.22 I therefore translate 3:7, “… the sons of Israel were not able to continue looking at the face of Moses, because the glory of his face was made inoperative.” In other words, the glory got snuffed out by the veil, and according to the narrative, this happened over and over. Moses would remove the veil when he was in the presence of the Lord “until coming out” (ἕως τοῦ ἐκπορεύεσθαι; Exod 34:34) from the Lord’s presence. He put it back on when he was in the presence of the people.

At 3:11 we find a second use of the term. Here it is employed in the form of a substantival participle: “For if that which was being made inoperative (τὸ καταργούμενον) was through glory, to a much greater extent the ministry that is here to stay is attended by glory.” Notice that the gender of the passive participle is neuter, so it has a neuter referent. In its gender, voice, and number it parallels the participle in the previous verse (τὸ δεδοξασμένον), which parallels the tense and voice of the same term in the LXX text and clearly refers to Moses’ face. What then does Paul mean that Moses’ face was being made inoperative or neutralized? Again Exodus 34:35:

And the sons of Israel saw the face of Moyses that it was charged with glory, and Moyses put a covering over his face until he went in to converse with him (Exod 34:35; NETS).

So the veil nullified Moses’ glowing face. By contrast, when in 3:11 Paul says that Moses’ face was “through glory,” he means that Moses’ experience of the Lord’s glory rendered him glorious (διά with the genitive serves as a marker of instrumentality or circumstance whereby something is accomplished or effected). Thus it was “through glory” that Moses’ face was made to reflect glory—a thought that parallels what Paul will say about new covenant believers in 3:18. Beholding the glory of the Lord makes one glorious. Yet, in Moses’ case, that glory was snuffed out by the veil placed over his face.

“The Greater Confidence of the New Covenant Ministry”

Paul marshals the final two uses of καταργέω in 3:12-18 arguing for the greater confidence inherent in new covenant ministry. As he begins this sub-movement, the apostle now turns from focusing on the different degrees of glory in the two ministries (3:7-11) to how each ministry relates to a veil. Thus he contrasts the two ministries but this time magnifies the differences between the veiling of Moses’ (and those who hear his words with veiled hearts) and the “unveiled faces” of Paul and new covenant believers (3:12, 18). At verse 12 we read, “Therefore, since we have this kind of hope, we conduct our minstry with a great deal of openness, …” (Ἔχοντες οὖν τοιαύτην ἐλπίδα πολλῇ παρρησίᾳ χρώμεθα, Echontes oun toiautēn elpida pollē parrēsia chrōmetha). The “openness” of which Paul speaks, has to do with the fact that his ministry is not “veiled” as Moses’ ministry was.23 In 3:13—a highly debated verse—the apostle goes on to explain, and here we find our third use of the verb καταργέω:

in contradistinction to Moses. He kept putting a veil over his face with the result [or for the purpose] that the children of Israel were not able to keep looking unto the completion of what was being made inoperative (τοῦ καταργουμένου).

Again the present participle is neuter and the thing being made inoperative is the neuter word “face” (τὸ πρόσωπον) just a few words earlier in the verse. Accordingly, it was Moses’ face that was “being made inoperative.” This reflects more directly LXX Exod 34:35, which concerns Moses putting the veil on his face. The verse reads, “And the sons of Israel saw the face of Moyses that it was charged with glory, and Moyses put a covering over his face” (NETS).

Yet, the meaning and significance of the term τέλος in 2 Corinthians 3:13 is highly debated. Numerous suggestions have been made. Harris helpfully delineates these for us in two primary categories,24 those reflecting a teleological sense (goal, purpose, significance), and those reflecting a temporal sense (end, termination, cessation). My own view aligns more with the teleological interpretations, but I want to suggest that we take a bit different course and consider the phrase εἰς τὸ τέλος as a whole, which only occurs here in this exact form in the NT. This phrase is only found three times in ancient Greco-Roman literature and once in the Pseudepigrapha (Sibyl. 12:140).  Apart from the fifty-six times the phrase occurs in the preamble of the psalms (which the NETS translates as “Regarding Completion”), it is only occurs twice in the LXX, at Joshua 3:16 and in an alternate reading of Daniel 11:13. Thus, the phrase is rare in our literatures of the era. In every case, however, it seems clear that εἰς τὸ τέλος has to do with the “completion” of something. For example, in Plutarch’s work on Morals he speaks positively of the work of the Deity as he uses birds to give people direction through soothsaying:

…by means of some of these stopping short, by the means of others directing to completion (εἰς τὸ τέλος) the actions and impetuous impulses of men (Plut., Soll. an. 1.22).25

Thus εἰς τὸ τέλος stands in contrast to “stopping short.” In LXX Joshua 3:16 we read of the cutting off of the waters of the Jordan as the Israelites crossed that river:

The waters flowing down from above stood still, a single solid heap stood apart very, very far off, as far as part of Kariathiarim, and that which came down came down to the sea of Araba, the salt sea, until it completely ceased (ἕως εἰς τὸ τέλος ἐξέλιπεν). And the people stood opposite Iericho (Josh 3:16; NETS).

So, again the idea seems to have to do with the completion of something. In the alternate reading of Daniel 11:13 we are told that the king of the north “will return and will lead a crowd, larger than the former, and at the finish of (εἰς τὸ τέλος, or “at the completion of”) the times of years he will attack the entrance with a great army and many supplies” (NETS2). Here the phrase can be read as reflecting the completion of a period of time.

Therefore, I suggest that at 2 Corinthians 3:13 we translate the phrase as having to do with something done “unto completion,” specifically “the completion,” or in this case, “the intended outcome” of Moses’ glorified face. What might it mean that Paul ministers “in contradistinction to Moses. He [Moses] kept putting a veil over his face with the result that the children of Israel were not able to keep looking unto the “completion” of what was being made inoperative”?

Earlier in the Exodus narrative, at 33:16, we find the answer. In Exodus 33 we read of God’s judgment on the golden calf incident, specifically that he himself would not go with the Israelites to the land of promise but would send his angel before them (see Exod 33:1-3). In response, at 33:12-13 Moses cries out to God, and God relents, saying that he will go up with Moses and the people to the land. In 33:15 Moses responds to this new information with, “If you yourself do not go, do not lead me up from here.” He then reflects on the importance of God going with the children of Israel to the promised land in 33:16-17:

And how shall it be truly known that I have found favor with you, both I and your people, other than if you go along with us? And we shall be glorified, both I and your people (καὶ ἐνδοξασθήσομαι26 ἐγώ τε καὶ ὁ λαός σου; straightforwardly: “I will be glorified and also your people”), above all the nations that are on the earth.” 17Then the Lord said to Moyses, “Even this word that you have spoken, I will do for you. For you have found favor before me, and I know you above all others (Exod 33:16–17 NETS).

Thus Moses cries out to God, reasoning that if God goes with them he and God’s people will be glorified. It may be suggested that as Paul read his Greek text of Exodus, this passage struck him, for in 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 he is concerned with the glorification of all of God’s people. At 2 Corinthians 3:13 Paul asserts that this intended outcome, the glorification of the Israelites generally, was never brought to completion, due to the hardness of the hearts of the people: “Rather, their minds were hardened,” a veil, the veil of Moses, standing between them and the glory of God. The veil then becomes symbolic of a dull heart that does not grasp God’s purposes and thus fails to embrace the fullness of the “glorified” relationship God desires with his people. Paul believes this was the case in Moses’ day, and he believes this is still the case in his own day: People have veiled hearts and need the veil dealt with in order to experience the glory of God that shines in the face of Christ (2 Cor 4:4). This was not accomplished under the old covenant form of ministry. What is needed is something to change the hearts of people; they need a new covenant form of ministry that can deal with the condition of the heart and bring glorification to the lives of people.

This brings us then to the fourth and final use of the verb καταργέω in our passage. In a very nice turn, at 3:14 the veil that made Moses’ glorified face inoperative, now, in a figurative sense, lies over the hearts of those reading the old covenant apart from a relationship with the Spirit, in Christ: “For, until this very day, when the old covenant is read, that same veil remains unmoved, …” But then comes the solution to this problem: “… because it can only be made inoperative (καταργεῖται) by Christ.” Here the veil, that which in Paul’s argument thus far has made the glory on Moses’ face inoperative, itself gets made inoperative, the nullifier now nullified by Christ!

This of course relates directly to the superiority of new covenant ministry (3:7-11), which by its nature facilitates a superabundance of glory when compared to the ministry of Moses, as stated clearly in the final two verses of the passage:

16but when a person turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17Now “the Lord” is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18All of us, with unveiled faces observing the Lord’s glory as in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord who is the Spirit.

This new covenant, transformational process parallels Moses’ experience in Exodus 34, for when Paul says, “the Lord is the Spirit” he means that “the Lord” referred to in the OT text is the Holy Spirit. When a person turns to believe the gospel of Christ, under the illumination of the Spirit, the heart is transformed and the person enters the presence of the Lord, personally experiencing the glory of God. This is exactly what Paul notes in 4:6:

Because God, the one having said, “Light will shine out of darkness!,” has shone in our hearts the light, which is the the personal comprehension of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

So our passage concludes in 3:18:

All of us, with unveiled faces observing the Lord’s glory as in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Conclusion

There are other exegetical details here we do not have space to pursue, but let me summarize what I think is Paul’s point. To be a minister living under the grace of new covenant ministry means that we have an open, “unveiled” relationship with the Lord and people, but we confidently proclaim that others can have this relationship as well. They can know the presence of the living God and be transformed on the basis of the gospel, which communicates to us God in all of his glorious goodnessIn that wonderful passage, Exodus 34:6-7 we read of Moses’ encounter with God on the Mountain, an encounter in which God revealed his glory and “glorified” Moses’ face:

6And the Lord passed by before his face, and he called, “The Lord, the Lord God is compassionate and merciful, patient and very merciful and truthful 7and preserving righteousness and doing mercy for thousands, taking away acts of lawlessness and of injustice and sins (Exod 34:6–7 NETS).

Do you not hear the gospel echoed in these words? This encounter with God is not limited to the special “leaders of the glowing face,” celebrity figures who have some special access to God. No. Paul says, as we contemplate (gaze at) the Lord’s glory all new covenant believers “are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.” In other words, we fulfill the original intention missed by the Wilderness generation. We are transformed “from glory” (ἀπὸ δόξης, ἀπό being the source, from the Lord’s own glory) “to glory” (εἰς δόξαν, that is, to the glory we display). As we live in the presence of our glorious God, beholding his glory, it changes us in an ongoing way. By living in his presence, his communicable attributes are more and more reflected in our lives: his peace, mercy, wisdom, freedom, righteousness, beauty, truthfulness, knowledge, goodness come to characterize us as new covenant believers. As we share in God’s glory in this way, because of our union and walk with our Lord Christ, we are transformed. As Michael Horton writes, “What happens for us [in the gospel] is the basis for what happens to us and in us.”27 And Sinclair Ferguson states,

In Scripture, image and glory are interrelated ideas. As the image of God, man was created to reflect, express and participate in the glory of God, in miniature, creaturely form. Retoration to this is effected through the Spirit’s work of sanctification, in which he takes those who have distorted God’s image in the shame of sin, and transforms them into those who bear that image in glory … The mark we were created to reach, but have missed, was glory. We have sinned and failed to attain that destiny. Against this background, the task of the Spirit may be stated simply: to bring us to glory, to create glory within us, and to glorify us together with Christ.28

What then is authentic, new covenant ministry? It is the ministry of the gospel, carried out by the life-giving, veil nullifying, Spirit of Christ, who not only illumines the heart but transforms in glory the life, both of authentic Christian ministers and those to whom they minister. May we ever be glorious!
  1. This article is adapted from a presentation by the same title at the 2014 national meeting of The Evangelical Theological Society and the fuller commentary treatment of the passage in George H. Guthrie, 2 Corinthians (BECNT; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015), 203-232. (↩)
  2. James Davison Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 222-223. (↩)
  3. Ibid., 260 (emphasis added). (↩)
  4. See especially Bruce W. Winter, After Paul Left Corinth: The Influence of Secular Ethics and Social Change (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001); idem., Philo and Paul Among the Sophists: Alexandrian and Corinthian Responses to a Julio-Claudian Movement (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002). (↩)
  5. Richard B. Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), 132. (↩)
  6. As David E. Garland and others point out, the suggestion that Paul addresses directly the false teachers here, to a certain degree, rests on speculation, for nowhere in the passage does the apostle make this polemic overt.  Paul’s “adequacy” for ministry (3:5) and the “openness” with which he conducts his ministry (3:12) seem to be the primary emphases of this section. Nevertheless, the concerns in our broader context almost certainly mean that Paul at least has the false teachers in mind (e.g., 2:17-3:1). We can agree that the emphasis here seems to be on Paul’s rigorous defense of his conduct of ministry, rather than an outright attack on his opponents, but he is contrasting competing visions of ministry. Thus, we should see Paul’s description of authentic ministry as foregrounded in this passage, with hints of polemic against the false teachers Victor Paul Furnish, II Corinthians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (The Anchor Bible xx; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1984), 242-243. Garland, 2 Corinthians (NAC; Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1999), 99, wisely notes, “Since this text is not an overtly polemical section which castigates opponents, the best procedure for understanding it is to try to grasp its internal logic within its own context. Interpreting what Paul says against some contrived, hypothetical scenario regarding a prior background for the exegesis of Exodus 34 or the reconstruction of the teaching of imagined opponents will only lead us far afield.” Accordingly, we offer no hypothetical scenario, nor a reconstruction of the opponents’ teaching, but rather suggest that Paul offers a homily on the superiority of new covenant ministry. In the argument from lesser to greater in 3:7-11 Moses’ ministry is not denigrated but built upon. Thus, Paul fights the inferior ministry of the opponents, not by attacking them directly but by giving the Corinthians a clear view of authentic, new covenant ministry, a ministry that is “glorious” in its broad impact on the people of God. (↩)
  7. This second unit includes more personal language. See Frank J. Matera, II Corinthians: A Commentary (NTL; Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2003), 85. (↩)
  8. Murray J. Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text (NIGTC; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005), 276. (↩)
  9. Paul Brooks Duff, “Glory in the Ministry of Death: Gentile Condemnation and Letters of Recommendation in 2 Cor 3:6-18,” NovT 46 (2004): 318 notes, “when Paul speaks of ‘glory’ (δόξα) in connection with his own as well as the Mosaic ministry, he refers to the presence of God as mediated through each of these διακονίαι.” Jan Lambrecht has pointed out that 3:7-18 is bracketed by 2:14-3:6, on the one hand, and 4:1-6 on the other, the whole being crafted around conceptual parallels and contrasts regarding various visions of ministry. See R. Bieringer and Jan Lambrecht, Studies on 2 Corinthians (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 112; Louvain, Belgium: Leuven University Press: Uitgeverij Peeters, 1994), 257-294.

    A   Christian Ministry:  2:14-3:6
                   a 2:14-17: Ministers
                   b 3:1-3: Corinthian Community
                   a’ 3:4-6: Ministers
    B   The Two Ministries:  3:7-18
                    1.  3:7-11: Old and New Ministries
                         a 7a-9b a minori ad maius reasoning
                         b 10 statement
                         a’ 11 a minori ad maius reasoning
                    2.  3:12-18:Moses and Paul, Israelites and Christians
                         a 12-13a (13b) We  (Ministers)
                         b 14a-16 (17) They (Israelites)
                         a’ 18 We (Christians)
    A’ Christian Ministry: 4:1-6
                         a 4:1-2: We  (Ministers)
                         b 4:3-4: They (Israelites)
                         c 4:5-6: We (Ministers)
    Lambrecht has been followed by numerous commentators, often with slight modifications (e.g., Garland, 2 Corinthians, 137-139; Harris, Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 241; Margaret E. Thrall, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians [ICC; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1994], 189-190). For alternatives on this reading of the structure see Furnish, II Corinthians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, 185-186; Linda L. Belleville, Reflections of Glory: Paul’s Polemical Use of the Moses-Doxa Tradition in 2 Corinthians 3.1-18 (Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement series 52; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991), 177-179. (↩)
  10. In 4:1-6 Paul concludes his treatment of the dynamics that mark a ministry as authentic (2:14-4:6) by echoing numerous themes from 2:14-3:6. These echoes include references to “ministry” (3:6, 4:1), “the word of God” (2:17, 4:2), a posture “before God” ( 2:17, 4:2), manifestation of the truth (2:14, 4:2), the abuse of God’s word (2:17, 4:2), “commending ourselves” (3:1, 4:2), “people” (ἀνθρώπων, anthrōpōn) before whom ministry is accomplished (3:2, 4:2), those who are being destroyed (2:15, 4:3), speaking or preaching the gospel (2:17, 4:5), “Christ” (2:15, 4:5), “ourselves” (3:1, 4:5), “in our hearts” (3:2, 4:6), and “knowledge” of God (2:14, 4:6). (↩)
  11. Scholars have spilled a great deal of ink in treating our passage.  For example, see Anthony T. Hanson, “The Midrash in 2 Corinthians 3: A Reconsideration,” JSNT 9 (1980): 2-28; Belleville, Reflections of Glory: Paul’s Polemical Use of the Moses-Doxa Tradition in 2 Corinthians 3.1-18; Carol Kern Stockhausen, Moses’ Veil and the Glory of the New Covenant: the Exegetical Substructure of II Cor. 3,1-4,6 (Analecta Biblica: Investigationes Scientificae in Res Biblicas 116; Roma: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1989); D. Abernathy, “Exegetical Problems in 2 Corinthians 3,” Notes on Translation 14 (2000): 44-56; D. Starnitzke, “Der Dienst des Paulus: Zur Interpretation von Ex 34 in 2 Kor 3,” WD 25 (1999): 193-207; Duff, “Glory in the Ministry of Death: Gentile Condemnation and Letters of Recommendation in 2 Cor 3:6-18”; E. Wong, “The Lord Is the Spirit (2 Cor 3,17a),” ETL 61 (1985): 48-72; Ekkehard W. Stegemann, “Der Neue Bund im Alten: zum Schriftverständnis des Paulus im 2 Kor 3,” TZ 42 (1986): 97-114; H. Kayama, “The Doxa of Moses and Jesus (2 Cor. 3: 7-18 and Luke 9: 28-32),” Bulletin of the Christian Research Institute Meiji Gakuin University 23 (1990): 23-48; Herbert Ulonska, “Die Doxa des Mose: Zum Problem des Alten Testaments in 2 Kor 3:1-16,” EvT 26 (1966): 378-388; I. Nayak, “The Meaning of Katoptrizomenoi in 2 Cor 3, 18,” Euntes Docete 55 (2002): 33-44; Jacques Dupont, “Le chrétien : miroir de la gloire divine d’après 2 Cor 3:18,” RB 56): 293-411; James D G. Dunn, “2 Corinthians 3:17: The Lord is the Spirit.,” JTS 21 (1970): 309-320; Jan Lambrecht, “Transformation in 2 Cor 3:18,” Bib 64 (1983): 243-254; Joseph A. Fitzmyer, “Glory Reflected on the Face of Christ (2 Cor 3:7-4:6) and a Palestinian Jewish Motif,” TS 42): 630-644; Martin Hasitschka, “”Diener eines neuen Bundes” : Skizze zum Selbstverständnis des Paulus in 2 Kor 3,4-4,6,” ZKT 121 (1999): 291-299; R. B. Sloan, “2 Corinthians 2:14—4:6 and ‘New Covenant Hermeneutics’—A Response to Richard Hays,” Bulletin for Biblical Research 5 (1995): 129-154; R. Randrianarimalala, “‘The Lord is the Spirit,’ 2 Cor 3:17a,” Hekima Review 15 (1996): 29-36; S. Grindheim, “The Law Kills but the Gospel Gives Life: The Letter-Spirit Dualism in 2 Corinthians 3.5-18,” JSNT 84 (2001): 97-115; S. J. Hafemann, “The Glory and Veil of Moses in 2 Cor 3:7-14: An Example of Paul’s Contextual Exegesis of the OT – A Proposal,” HBT 14 (1992): 31-49; Scott J. Hafemann, Paul, Moses, and the History of Israel: the Letter/Spirit Contrast and the Argument from Scripture in 2 Corinthians 3 (WUNT 81; Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1995); W. J. Dalton, “Is the Old Covenant Abrogated (2 Cor 3.14)?,” AusBR 35 (1987): 88-94; W. R. Baker, “Did the Glory of Moses’ Face Fade? A Reexamination of katargeo in 2 Corinthians 3:7-18,” Bulletin for Biblical Research 10 (2000): 1-15; Willem Cornelis van Unnik, “With Unveiled Face: an Exegesis of 2 Corinthians 3:12-18.,” Novum Testamentum 6 (1963): 153-169; William J. Dumbrell, “The Newness of the New Covenant: the Logic of the Argument in 2 Corinthians 3,” Reformed Theological Review 61 (2002): 61-84. (↩)
  12. Note that several times in our translation we render present verbs or participles as reflecting past time (e.g., δύνασθαι and καταργουμένην in 3:7). The reason for this is that Paul uses the present tense at points to reflect an imperfective aspect in what might be called “text time” or the timeframe embodied in the text’s narrative. As a language Greek is aspect prominent, rather than using its “tense” forms primarily to reflect time. At places in our passage, the apostle uses present tense forms while speaking of past events reflected in the narrative of Exod 34. (↩)
  13. E.g., δόξa is associated with honor at Plut. Rom. Q. 1.13; Mulier. virt. 16; Cor. 4.3. The concept of δόξα is widespread in the writings of Plutarch, who, when Paul wrote 2 Corinthians, was a child growing up in a wealthy family in Chaeronea, a town about 50 miles north of Corinth. (↩)
  14. See especially James Harrison, who states, “It is a curiosity of Romans scholarship that the Roman context of glory has been overlooked in discussions of Paul’s use of δόξα and its cognates,” noting that the focus normally and understandably has been on the Jewish background of the word. See James R. Harrison, “Paul and the Roman Ideal of Glory in the Epistle to the Romans” in The Letter to the Romans (Udo Schnelle; Leuvena: Peeters, 2009), 329. (↩)
  15. E. A. Judge, “The Conflict of Educational Aims in New Testament Thought,” Journal of Christian Education 9 (1966): 38-39. (↩)
  16. Christopher W. Morgan, “Toward a Theology of the Glory of God” in The Glory of God (ed., Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson; Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010). (↩)
  17. Ibid., 159. (↩)
  18. In the Qumran literature the glory of God on the face of Moses serves as a manifestation of God’s presence, but it also parallels Adam being fashioned in the image of God’s glory (4Q504). The parallel between Adam and Moses may also be seen in rabbinic texts such as Deuteronomy Rabbah 11.3 and Midrash Tadshe 4. See Andrei A. Orlov, Vested with Adam’s Glory: Moses as the Luminous Counterpart of Adam in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the Macarian Homilies (http://www.marquette.edu/maqom/moses1.html). At points in Second Temple Judaism, the hope was that humanity would be restored to the likeness of God’s glory as reflected in Adam. See Crispin H. T. Fletcher-Louis, All the Glory of Adam: Liturgical Anthropology in the Dead Sea Scrolls (STDJ 42; Leiden: Brill, 2002), 91-97. (↩)
  19. Referred to as qal wāḥômer (“the light and the heavy”), a fortiori (“to the greater”), or a minore ad maius (“from the lesser to the greater”). (↩)
  20. Belleville, Reflections of Glory: Paul’s Polemical Use of the Moses-Doxa Tradition in 2 Corinthians 3.1-18, 204-205; Harris, Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 284; Linda L Belleville, 2 Corinthians (IVP New Testament commentary series ; 8; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 99. (↩)
  21. See especially Duane A. Garrett, “Veiled Hearts: the Translation and Interpretation of 2 Corinthians 3,” JETS 53 (2010): 729-772; and Hafemann, Paul, Moses, and the History of Israel, 301-309. Hafemann notes that of the 1300 occurrences of the verb in a range from the 4th Cent. BC to 4h Cent. AD, “only 16 are found in literature outside the NT and its circle of influence.” See also e.g., Baker, “Did the Glory of Moses’ Face Fade? A Reexamination of katargeo in 2 Corinthians 3:7-18,” 3-15; Hafemann, “The Glory and Veil of Moses in 2 Cor 3:7-14: An Example of Paul’s Contextual Exegesis of the OT – A Proposal,” 37-40; Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul, 133-135; Scott J. Hafemann, 2 Corinthians (NIV Application Commentary; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 147-148. (↩)
  22. A great deal of creative scholarly attention has been given to addressing why Moses put on the veil. The straight-forward answer from the narrative (though not stated overtly) is that Moses put on the veil to cover the glory on his face. The point of the passage is not that they were dazzled by the sight (though see Philo, Life of Moses 2.70, who states that the Israelites could not look at the brightness of Moses’ face, which shone like the sun), nor that the veil was put in place because they were afraid (contra Garland, 2 Corinthians, 170), although they were afraid of him initially (34:30).  Nor was the veil placed over the face of Moses to protect the people from being consumed by God’s judgment, an interpretation based on the broad context of Exod. 32-34 but not noted in the immediate passage Hafemann, Paul, Moses, and the History of Israel, 278-286. See the article on Moses’ Shining Face by Joshua Philpot, “Exodus 34:29-35 and Moses’ Shining Face,” Bulletin for Biblical Research 23.1 (2013): 1-11, who makes the case that Moses’ shining face functions to show the goodness and grace of God to the Israelites, to remind them of God’s presence, to distinguish Moses in terms of status, and to facilitate a transition from the rebellion narrative found in Exod. 32-34 (p. 11); the purpose of the veil, according to Philpot, was simply to cover Moses’ face (p. 9). As Francis Watson points out, no explanation is given in the OT text concerning why Moses veiled his face. Exodus 34:30-32 seems to suggest that the fear of the Israelites was overcome prior to the veil being put over Moses’ face. Later, in verse 35, Moses veils himself but with no reference to fear on the part of the Israelites. The OT text simply places emphasis on the continued process of Moses veiling and unveiling his face. Watson goes on to suggest that “the veil serves to conceal Moses’ face only at those times when he is not fulfilling his role as mediator of God’s commandments.” See Francis Watson, Paul And The Hermeneutics Of Faith (Edinburgh: T&T Clark Publishers, 2004), 292. The NETS version of the LXX text reads,  “And when he came out, he would tell all the sons of Israel what the Lord commanded him. And the sons of Israel saw the face of Moyses that it was charged with glory, and Moyses put a covering over his face until he went in to converse with him” (Exod 34:34b-35). (↩)
  23. For a fuller discussion see Guthrie, 2 Corinthians, 218. (↩)
  24. Harris, Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 299. (↩)
  25. The other two occurrences in the Greco-Roman literature are found in Aristotle (Aristot., Pol. 1301b.20–24; 1331b.35–39), where the meaning is similar. In the first passage, evil is the “outcome” of some forms of government. The latter can be translated as referring to, “the goal and the deeds leading to the accomplishment of the goal.” (↩)
  26. The term is a cognate with δοξάζω (used at 34:29, 35), and overlaps with it semantically. In 33:16-17 it renders the Hebrew term וּנִילֵפְִנִוְ (wᵉnip̱lênû), a nif. perf. of הלפ, which means “to be treated as distinct or excellent, or to be wonderful.” ἐνδοξάζομαι means “to be honored, held in high esteem, or be glorified.” It may be that the LXX translators, under the influence of δοξάζω at 34:29, 35, rendered the Hebrew to reflect the overarching theme of glorification in the broader context. Wevers suggests that the LXX Exodus translators have taken MT’s וּנילֵפְנִוְ as וּנאלֵפְנִוְ and points out that the Vulgate reads “glorificemur” at this point. See John William Wevers, Notes on the Greek text of Exodus (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1990), 550. Interestingly one version of the Targum on the verse also reflects the tradition of glorification. A translation of that Targum on the verse reads, “But by what shall it be known now that I have found grace and mercy before you, I and your people? Is it not when the glory of your Shekhinah leads with us, and signs and wonders are done with us, me and for your people, more than all the people on the face of the earth.”  (Exod 33:16 TARG2-E). (↩)
  27. Michael S. Horton, People and Place: a Covenant Ecclesiology (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008), 307. (↩)
  28. Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Holy Spirit (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 139-140. (↩)
About the Authors

George H. Guthrie serves as the Benjamin W. Perry Professor of Bible and Senior Fellow in the Ryan Center for Biblical Studies at Union University in Jackson, TN. He earned his M.Div. and Ph.D. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Th.M. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Dr. Guthrie is the author or editor of thirteen books, including The Structure of Hebrews: A Text-linguistic Analysis in Supplements to Novum Testamentum (E. J. Brill, 1994), the NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews (Zondervan, 1998), the “Hebrews” section in the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, edited by Gregory Beale and D. A. Carson (Baker Academic, 2007), and 2 Corinthians in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Baker Academic, 2015).