2 Corinthians 3:16 – But whenever one turns to [Jehovah], the veil is taken away.
2 Corinthians 3:17 – Now [Jehovah] is the spirit and where the spirit of [Jehovah] is, there is liberty.
2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of [Jehovah], are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from [Jehovah], the spirit. — Our own rendering with the Holy Name supplied..
Many believe that “the Lord” [as in most translations] in this verse refers to Jesus. While this is possible, from the context it appears more likely that in the Greek KURIOS [Lord] has been used to replace the holy name. God’s holy name in English is often rendered as “Jehovah” or “Yahweh.” Likewise, the usage of Kurios without the definite article in the Greek [“Lord” rather than “the Lord;” the definite article “the” is supplied by translators] seems to indicate that Kurios is being used as a personal name, and thus that Kurios has been used here to replace the Holy Name, making the Holy Name appear to be Kurios rather than Jehovah/Jehovah.
Many trinitarians agree that Kurios in these verses speaks of Yahweh/Jehovah of the Old Testament. However, to get this scripture to conform to their idea of a triune God, they would have to claim that “the spirit” here refers to the holy spirit and thus in some way that Jehovah is thus said to be the holy spirit. Since it is their claim that Jehovah is three persons, then their imagination steps in so as to further assume, add to, and read into, what is said here that “Lord” here does not mean three persons, but rather that is being used unipersonally of only one their alleged three persons of their triune Jehovah, that is, the alleged third person that they claim is the holy spirit. But does not fit continuously, since 2 Corinthians 3:17 does not just say that “Lord is the spirit,” it then speaks of the spirit of “Lord”. Thus, they would have further imagine, assume, and add to the scripture, that in the phrase “spirit of Lord,” that “Lord” [Kurios] in this instance does not refer to all three persons of their triune God, nor would it refer to the unipersonally to their assumed third person of the assumed trinity, but usually think of “Lord” to whom the spirit belongs as being unipersonally the first person of the alleged triune God. So they would end of applying the first instance of Kurios in 2 Corinthians 3:17 to their alleged third person of the assume trinity, but the second instance would be applied to their alleged first person of the assumed trinity. This is not what the scripture actually says, but this is what a trinitarian might imagine, assume, add to and read into the verse.
From the oneness perspective, the oneness believer does indeed claim that Jehovah is is the holy spirit, since they believe that Jehovah, the son of the Most High, and the holy spirit of Jehovah, are all one person who are all Jehovah. They would thus claim that the holy spirit that belongs to Jehovah is Jehovah to whom the holy spirit belongs. In effect, this would make the phrase “spirit of Jehovah” nonsensical, since Jehovah is being claimed to be the holy spirit.
In context, however, we find that it more likely that Lord in 2 Corinthians 3:15-18 refers unipersonally to the God and Father of Jesus, as is true all through the New Testament where forms of Kurios are used to replace the holy name (in effect, this replacement changes the holy name to Kurios, something which is not authorized anywhere in the Bible).
What we need to do is first, identify who is being spoken of as Kurios, and, and since the word “spirit” can mean other things than just the holy spirit, we need to identify what is meant by “spirit” in the phrase, “Jehovah [“the Lord” in most translations] is the spirit.” But before we do that, we wish to note that in all the verses preceding 2 Corinthians 3:16, the word “God” (rendered from forms of the Greek “Theos”) does not refer to three persons, but is used unipersonally of the God and Father of Jesus. In the World English (and many other translations) of 1 Corinthians 1:3, “God” is spoken of as one person, that is, “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus.” “God” is continously spoken of as one person throughout all of the verses leading up to the verse in question. This should be kept in mind as we next examine the word “spirit” (Greek transliteration, pneuma).
1 Corinthians 1:18 — But as God is faithful, our word toward you was not “Yes and no.”
1 Corinthians 1:19 — For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, by me, Silvanus, and Timothy, was not “Yes and no,” but in him is “Yes.”
Here “God” is identified unipersonally, and Jesus is identified as “Son” of that unipersonal God.
1 Corinthians 1:20 For however many are the promises of God [Jehovah], in him is the “Yes.” Therefore also through him is the “Amen,” to the glory of God through us.
1 Corinthians 1:21 Now he who establishes us with you in Christ, and anointed us, is God [Jehovah];
1 Corinthians 1:22 who also sealed us, and gave us the down payment of the Spirit in our hearts.
The Greek word for God in the Greek is anarthrous both in verses 20 and 21; it is possible that forms of theos were used to replace the Holy Name in these verses. For our purposes, however, we wish to note that “God” in both verses is being unipersonally and as distinguished “Christ,” which is right and proper, since it is Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who anointed Jesus, making him “Christ,” and who also anoints the believer, making them also in union as a body with Jesus as “the Christ,” head and body. (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12,27) Thus, the believer is not just outside of the Christ, the Anointed, but they all make up the Anointed of Jehovah as the body of the Anointed One, and they receive their anointing from the same unipersonal God as did Jesus. Prophetically, the Messiah says, “Jehovah has anointed me.” (Isaiah 61:1) In Acts 10:38 we read that “God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power.” And we read that “God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36) This unipersonal “God” is the same unipersonal “God” who anoints all of the believers “into the Christ.”
The word spirit is referred to in 2 Corinthians 1:22, where it refers to the unipersonal God and Father of Jesus ( “God” in 2 Corinthians 1:23 is distinguished from Christ) as the One who has given the spirit (as form of the Greek, pneuma) as a token, a down payment, in the hearts of the believer. Since the spirit is given as token down payment, this shows that what believer receives of the spirit of the unipersonal God being spoken of in this age is not the full payment, that it is a representation of the full payment that is to follow at a later date; that later date is indicated in Hebrews 6:5 as the “age to come”. Since this gets into another discussion not especially related to our topic, we will leave that for another time, Jehovah willing.
1 Corinthians 2:12 Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ, and when a door was opened to me in the Lord. — World English.
Here we find the expression “the Lord” (anarthrous in the Greek) is again used. Its being used without the definite article in Greek again may indicate that the Greek word “Kurios” is being used as a personal name, rather than speaking of Jesus as the Lord or Master of the church, and therefore that Kurios in this verse is being used to replace the Holy Name. The Greek word “en” before Kurios indicates instrumentality, that Jehovah was instrumental in the opening of the figurative “door” that Paul wrote of.
2 Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and reveals through us the sweet aroma of his knowledge in every place.
2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are a sweet aroma of Christ to God, in those who are saved, and in those who perish;
2 Corinthians 2:16 to the one a stench from death to death; to the other a sweet aroma from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?
2 Corinthians 2:17 For we are not as so many, peddling the word of God. But as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, we speak in Christ.
Again, notice the usage of the word “God” in the verses above. It is continously being used of one person, that is, the unipersonal God and Father of Jesus, as distinguished from “Christ.”
2 Corinthians 3:3 being revealed that you are a letter of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tablets of stone, but in tablets that are hearts of flesh. — World English
Here we have a reference to the “the Spirit of the living God,” which parallels “spirit of the Lord” or “spirit of Jehovah” in 2 Corinthians 3:17. “God” is used in 2 Corinthians 3:3 to continue to identify, not a “triune God,” but rather one person, the God and Father of Jesus. The expression “living God” parallels scriptures such as Deuteronomy 5:6; Joshua 3:10; Psalm 42:2; 84:2; Isaiah 37:4,17; Jeremiah 10:10; Hosea 1:10. In the New Testament, the expression “living God” is unipersonally of the God of Jesus in Matthew 16:16 and John 6:69. However, as the “spirit” is used in 2 Corinthians 3:3 as belonging to the unipersonal living God, likewise, the same in 2 Corinthians 3:17, where the spirit is identified as the spirit of the Lord, that is, the spirit of Jehovah.
2 Corinthians 3:4 Such confidence we have through Christ toward God;
2 Corinthians 3:5 not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God;
2 Corinthians 3:6 who also made us sufficient as servants of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Verse 6 in the World English begins with “who,” referring back to “God” in the verse before. This “God,” as we have shown, is not three persons, but refers unipersonally to the God and Father of Jesus, and thus “God” in these verse does not include Jesus.
The reference is the new covenant, versus “the letter”, referring to the law covenant through Moses. It is the blood of the new covenant, the sacrificial blood of Jesus, that gives freedom, and the application of that blood is activated for for justification of believer in this age and to sanctification (consecration) by means of God’s holy spirit. — Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 6:11; Hebrews 6:5; 10:29; 12:24.
The law, although it was made for the sinner (1 Timothy 1:9), and could have provided life for the sinner had the sinner fully obeyed that law (Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:12), was shown to be weak due to the sinful flesh, the corrupt, crooked condition, that mankind came to be in as result of the disobedience of Adam, so that no one was freed from the condemnation in Adam, nor were they freed from the curse of the law, by means of works of the law. Freedom could only come in the spirit of the new covenant though application of the blood of Christ. — Ecclesiastes 1:15; 7:13; Romans 3:20-28; 5:12-19; 8:23; Galatians 2:16; 3:10,13,21.
The New Covenant is thus highly related to God’s holy spirit, but since this topic may end up ssidtracking what we are addressing here, we will leave that for another discussion at another time; suffice it to say that it is God’s spirit as related to the new covenant that is given to believer as a token down payment, an earnest, of the age to come, constituting the believer as a new creation free from the condemnation both by means of Adam, as well as freedom from the curse of the Law for the Jew under the Law. — 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5,17; Hebrews 6:5; Revelation 21:1-5.
This is the spirit of freedom being spoken of in the verse were are discussing.
2 Corinthians 3:7 — But if the service of death, written engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly on the face of Moses for the glory of his face; which was passing away:
2 Corinthians 3:8 — won’t service of the Spirit be with much more glory?
The Old Law Covenant, was engraved upon stones, was a righteous, perfect law, and the law itself did not fall short of the glory of Jehovah, but those under than law, due to their inability straighten themselves, justified themselves, by observing that Law, continued to fall short of the glory of that Law, for none are “justified [made straight, not crooked] by the works of the law.” — Romans 3:23; 7:12; Galatians 2:15.
2 Corinthiians 3:11 — For if that which passes away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.
The Law Covenant continues to be active for the Jew under that Law Covenant. Jesus said, “until heaven and earth pass away, not even one smallest letter or one tiny pen stroke shall in any way pass away from the law, until all things are accomplished.” (Matthew 5:18) Thus, the Law Covenant is still binding upon the unregenerated Jew, and will continue to be binding until the present heaven and earth passes away, and the age to come arrives, the new heavens and new earth, which will not be under the Law Covenant, but under the New Covenant. — 2 Peter 3:13;
Hebrews 6:5; Revelation 21:1-5.
However, for the individual Jew who believes in Jesus, that Jew becomes dead to the Law Covenant (Romans 7:4-6) so that the old is reckoned before God as having passed away, and there is a new creation, freed, not only from the condemnation in Adam, but for the Jew, also from the Law, so that for the Jewish believer, the Law has passed away. — Romans 8:2; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 2:14.
2 Corinthians 3:12 – Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness of speech,
2 Corinthians 3:13 – and not as Moses, who put a veil on his face, that the children of Israel wouldn’t look steadfastly on the end of that which was passing away.
2 Corinthians 3:14 But their minds were hardened, for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains, because in Christ it passes away.
2 Corinthians 3:15 But to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.
Paul here likens the Law Covenant through Moses as to the veil that Moses put on his face (Exodus 34:33-35) that would hide the glory of Jehovah that shone in his face due his seeing glory of Jehovah while in the mountain obtaining the ten commandments. So with those who would try to justify themselves, so as not fall short of the glory of Jehovah, by works of the Law have a veil on their heart which fails to permit them to obtain that which they seek by that law. “In Christ,” by means of Christ’s sacrifice, that old covenant passes away, but only to the Jew who becomes dead to the Law through faith in Jesus’ blood; for the rest of the Jews, to this day, the veil of that old covenant remains, and the curse of the covenant remains upon them.
2 Corinthians 3:16 – But whenever one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
It is because of this verse that many believe “Lord” refers to Jesus, because in verse 14, we are told “in Christ passes away.” The expression in verse 14, however, uses the instrumental “en” in the Greek, which can mean “by means of.” Christ is the instrument used by Jehovah, and no one can turn to Jehovah except through Christ and his blood. Thus it is Jehovah (the God and Father of Jesus), that one turns to, and one can only turn to Jehovah through Jesus. — John 14:6.
2 Corinthians 3:17 – Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
The beginning phrase is often transliterated as “ho de kurios to pneuma estin.” This verse is vaguely constructed and even most trinitarian scholars disagree on its meaning. If the trinitarian argues, however, that Kurios means Christ, and that the word Spirit refers to the holy spirit, this would end saying that the alleged second person of the assumed triune God is the alleged third person of the triune God. Thus those who would claim that Kurios means Jesus may state that “spirit” here does not mean the “holy spirit,” but simply substance, that is that Jesus is a spirit being. If so, the identity of the holy spirit as the alleged third person of the assumed trinity is lost to this verse.
However, many trinitarians will say that Kurios does indeed refer to Jehovah of Exodus 34:33-35. In this case, as we have shown in the context, the God of the Old Testament has been consistently used of one person, the God and Father of Jesus, in the verses leading up to the present verse. In the phrase “spirit of the Lord”, corresponding to the earlier “spirit of the living God,” does indeed identify “Lord” with the unipersonal usage of “living God” in verse 3, which would end up making the first phrase saying that the alleged first person of the assumed triune God is the alleged third person of the triune God, or else a lot more assumptions have to be added to split the usage of “Lord” as applied to two different persons of the assumed triune God.
However, we admit that the Greek application, as we now have it, is vague, but we also believe that to try to apply the trinitarian dogma to the verse so as to have it relate to the holy spirit as an alleged third person of the trinity would call for a lot to imagined, assumed, added to, and read into what is said, and still it would end up be in contradiction to the trinity dogma.
Of course, Jehovah is the spirit in the sense that Jehovah’s holy spirit is a part of Him. The holy spirit is figuratively spoken of as His finger, His voice and His mouth. Thus, one cannot separate Jehovah’s spirit from Jehovah Himself, so that, in this sense, Jehovah is His spirit, but like saying God is love, as it would not be proper to turn this around and say “Love is God,” so it would not be proper to say “The holy spirit is Jehovah.”Click here for reuse options!
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