2 Cor 3:7 : Law done away?

(The follwing article is adapted from the site Adventist Defense League with the permission of the author Edwin M. Cotto. You can click here to see the original article. All verses quoted below are from the New World Translation)

2 Corinthians 3:7 If the code which administers death and which was engraved in letters in stones, came about in a glory, so that the sons of Israel could not gaze intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, a glory that was to be done away with.

There are a couple of things we should note about this verse.

-First, towards the very end, the word “glory” is not in the original greek. This becomes important with the next two points.

-Second, Paul says that the ministration of death, which we’ll soon see is the Ten Commandments, was glorious.

-Third, Moses’ face was also glorious.

We know this because the verse reads, “… the sons of Israel could not gaze intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face.

Paul speaks of “two” things which was glorious, the law and Moses’ face. Which one of these did he then say was “done away with?”

By adding the word “glory” at the end of the verse, people find it hard to figure out which glory was done away with. However, remove that word which does not belong there, and it becomes evident that Paul was saying that it was the glory of Moses’ face that was done away with.

Let’s take a look at that historical account of which Paul was speaking of:

Exodus 34:32,35 When Moses would finish speaking with them, he would put a veil over his face. And the sons of Israel saw Moses’ face, and Moses put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with him.

Moses face was made glorious, and the children of Israel “could not gaze intently at the face of Moses ” because he “put a veil over his face.” It was the glory of Moses that was taken out of the way. Paul further proves this in the following verse:

2 Corinthians 3:13-14 And not doing as when Moses, which put a veil upon his face, that the sons of Israel might not gaze intently at the end of that which was to be done away with

It says the children of Israel might not gaze intently something. And that was to be “done away with”. Yet in Exodus 34, we see that they did behold the tablets of stone in Moses’ hands.

What then was it that they “could not gaze intently?”. It was the glory of the “face” of Moses which was done away.

Exodus 34:35 And the sons of Israel saw Moses’ face, and Moses put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with him.

Because they could not behold his face, for “skin of Moses’ face emitted rays” –verse 35, Moses had to cover his face with a veil until he went back in to speak with God.

Notice in 2 Corinthians 3:14-18 14 For to this present day the same veil remains unlifted at the reading of the old covenant, because it is done away with by means of Christ. 15 In fact, down till today whenever Moses is read, a veil lies upon their hearts. 16 But when there is a turning to Jehovah, the veil is taken away. 17 Now Jehovah is the Spirit; and where the spirit of Jehovah is, there is freedom. 18 And all of us, while we with unveiled faces reflect like mirrors the glory of Jehovah, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, exactly as done by Jehovah [the] Spirit. .

Notice that while reading the old testament, the vail of Moses’ glory was still upon their hearts. They could not see that Moses’ glory was replaced by "the glory of Jesus Christ who is Jehovah."

Paul later says:

Hebrews 3:3 For the latter [Jesus] is counted more worthy than glory of Moses

When the Jew comes to Jesus, “the vail shall be taken away,” because in Jesus is the true glory of God, which is Jesus the Son of God. Now that the believer has Jesus he is, says Paul, "with unveiled faces" behodling"like mirrors the glory of Jehovah (Jesus)". We now, rather than beholding the face of Moses', we behold the glory of the face of Jesus, the glory of God:

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God is he who said: “Let the light shine out of darkness,” and he has shone on our hearts to illuminate [them] with the glorious knowledge of God by the face of Christ.

The words of Paul in verse 14 still apply for today. The Jews, upon reading the old testament, still can’t see the glory of Jesus, for they still have that vail covering the heart.Was it therefore the law of God that Paul says was abolished?

It simply can not be, because Paul says they could not gaze intently at something, but they certainly beheld the tablets of stone in his hands. It was the face of Moses that they, in Exodus 35, could not gaze intently, and it was the face of the glory of Jesus that has abolished the glory of Moses.

Let us however suppose for a moment that Paul was here teaching that the Law was abolished. What would Paul have done with the following verse:

Isaiah 66:22-23 “For just as the new heavens and the new earth that I am making are standing before me,” and from sabbath to sabbath all flesh will come in to bow down before me,” Jehovah has said. (The Sabbath, we know, is part of the Ten Commandments. Since Isaiah says it will bind forever, that even in the new Earth we will observe it, was Paul therefore contradicting this ancient prophet?)

Paul himself kept the Sabbath. Would Paul in one place teach that the Sabbath along with the rest of the law is abolished, but then in another place observe the Sabbath? Some argue that he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath only to reach to the Jews. However, Paul was a minister of the gentiles (Rom. 15:16, Eph. 3:1) not of the Jews. 3) We also read of Paul observing the Sabbath by a river side, were there was preaching and baptism (Acts 16:13-15). And when Paul attended the synagogue on the Sabbath in Acts 13:15-16, there is no evidence that he went there specifically to preach to the Jews. He only spoke when the teachers invited the people to speak. And if you argue that he was there because he was still a Jew, consider the fact that when the followers of Jesus were first called Christians in Acts 11:26, Paul was present (Acts 11:30). He had already experienced the vision that convicted him he needed Jesus (Acts 9).

If Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:7-11 was teaching that the 10 Commandments were abolished, how is it then that he exhorts his students to observe the 5th commandment (Eph. 6:1-3)? And in light of the following verse, did Paul after-words in his 2nd epistle to the Corinthians change his mind about the law?

1 Corinthians 7:19 Circumcision does not mean a thing, and uncircumcision means not a thing, but observance of God’s commandments [does].

If the honest student reads Paul’s words in context, along with the rest of his writings, that student will see that out of the two glories he mentions in 2 Corinthians 3:7, one of them (the glory of Moses) was the one which was abolished. The other, being the very character of God in written form, abides for ever and ever, as long as God lives!