Letter and Spirit Martin Luther

The Letter And The Spirit - 2 Corinthians 3

Not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 2 Corinthians 3:6

2 Corinthians Chapter 3

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 Cor 3:1

Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 2 Cor 3:2

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 fleshy tables of the heart. 2 Cor 3:3

And such trust have we through Christ to Godward: 2 Cor 3:4

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 2 Cor 3:5

Who also hath made us able ministers

(not of the Old Testament)
(but) of the new testament;
not of the letter,
but of the spirit:
for the letter killeth,
but the spirit giveth life. 2 Cor 3:6
However, Paul knew that Jesus said:
What and if ye shall see the Son of man
ascend up where he was before? John 6:62
It is the spirit that quickeneth;
the flesh profiteth nothing:
the words that I speak unto you,
they are Spirit, and they are Life. John 6:63

Clement of Alexandria in Stromata notes:

But there is that species of knowledge which is characteristic of the herald, and that which is, as it were, characteristic of a messenger,

and it is serviceable in whatever way it operates, both by the hand and tongue.

"For he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well-doing."

The sower soweth the word. Mk.4:14

On him who by Divine Providence meets in with it, it confers the very highest advantages,-

the beginning of faith, readiness for adopting a right mode of life, the impulse towards the truth, a movement of inquiry, a trace of knowledge;

in a word, it gives the means of salvation. And those who have been rightly reared in the words of truth, and received provision for eternal life, wing their way to heaven.

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 2 Peter 1:19

The ministration of death is the LAW OF MOSES imposed because of the transgression of musical idolatry at Mount Sinai:

But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:2 Cor 3:7

How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 2 Cor 3:8

For if the ministration of condemnation be glory,

much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 2 Cor 3:9

The ministration of condemnation or death was effective for the preservation of the human flesh but the ministration of the Spirit is effective for changing the mind or heart. This ministration of righteousness or spirit is not a little person but it is the same "Spirit" which rested on Jesus so that He repeated only what the Father as THE Spirit spoke to Him.

AND there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: Isaiah 11:1

And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; Isaiah 11:2

And shall make him of quick understanding (spiritual) in the fear of the Lord:

This "spirit" is not related to the body or flesh because:

and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: Isaiah 11:3

Jesus said MY WORD are SPIRIT and LIFE.

Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: Proverbs 1:20

She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, Proverbs 1:21

How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Proverbs 1:22

Turn you at my reproof: behold,

I will pour out my spirit unto you,
I will make known my words unto you. Proverbs 1:23
"Spirit" is received by hearing the truth of the Words of Christ. Why? Because Jesus said:
It is the spirit that quickeneth;
the flesh profiteth nothing:
the words that I speak unto you,
they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63

For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. Jn. 12:49

And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. Jn 12:50
And Because He is the Spirit:
Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify,
when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 1 Peter 1:11
And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren
that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God:
for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Revelation 19:10
Now the Lord is that Spirit:
and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Cor 3:17
To support this Paul repeated the message:
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you,
that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes
Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? Galatians 3:1
This only would I learn of you,
Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law,
or by the hearing of faith? Galatians 3: 2
Spirit is RECEIVED by HEARING of FAITH. And this impacts OUR spirit rather than OUR flesh.
Are ye so foolish?
having begun in the Spirit,
are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Galatians 3: 3
Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. Galatians 3: 4
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear;
but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.Ro.8:15
Paul MINISTERED the Spirit by preaching.
He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you,
doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Galatians 3:5
The Spirit PROMISE is RECEIVED by the hearing of faith.
That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ;
that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Gal 3:14
When we hear the promises which the Spirit made to Abraham and we have faith in it then we have the gift which the Spirit promised and gave.
Becoming faithful to God's commands means that we love the Truth and we are not sent strong delusions through strong deluders.
The PROMISE of the SPIRIT is fulfilled at Baptism.
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:26
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Gal 3:27
The Gift of A holy spirit is received at Baptism.
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ
for the remission of sins,
and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38
The gift of A holy spirit is defined by Peter as A clear conscience. Our spirit and our conscience is OURS.
And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you-- not the removal of dirt from the flesh,
but an appeal to God for a good conscience-- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 3:21
A good or clear conscience is also a clear consciousness which gives us a co-perception and, by parallel with Acts 2:38, the gift of A holy spirit.
Suneidesis (g4893) soon-i'-day-sis; from a prol. form of 4894; co- perception, i.e. moral consciousness; - conscience.
Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) Ro.2:15
Suneido (g4894) soon-i'-do; from 4862 and 1492; to see completely; used (like its prim.) only in two past tenses, respectively mean. to understand or become aware, and to be conscious or (clandestinely) informed of: - consider, know, be privy, be ware of.
The Spirit of God lets us KNOW the things of God.
Now we have received,
not the spirit of the world,
but the spirit which is of God;
that we might know the things
that are freely given to us of God. 1 Cor. 2:12
An Unholy Spirit: Which things also we speak, not in the words which mans wisdom teacheth,
A holy Spirit: but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 1 Cor 2:13
An Un-Holy Spirit of man cannot understand spiritual things.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit
of God:
for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Cor 2:14
Understanding SPIRIT requires the Mind of Christ.
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 1 Cor 2:15
For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Cor 2:16
Jesus, Spirit and Gospel speak of the Word of God.
For if he that cometh
preacheth another Jesus,
whom we have not preached,
or if ye receive another spirit,
which ye have not received,
or another gospel,
which ye have not accepted,
ye might well bear with him. 2 Cor.11:4

For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 2 Cor 3:10

For if that which is done away was glorious,

much more that which remaineth is glorious. 2 Cor 3:11

Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 2 Cor 3:12

Paul is saying that the Spirit is revealed through plain speech and reveals what Christ the Spirit revealed to him. He can do this because some of the Corinthians had a love for the truth:

And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel

could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:2 Cor 3:13

But their minds were blinded:for until this day remaineth the same vail

untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 2 Cor 3:14

In the Greek, the mind and spirit are equivalent.

Nous (g3563) nooce; prob. from the base of 1097; the intellect, i.e. mind (divine or human; in thought, feeling, or will); by impl. meaning: - mind, understanding. Comp. 5590.

Pneuma (g4141) pnyoo'-mah; from 4154; a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; by anal. or fig. a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by impl.) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, doemon, or (divine) God, Christ's spirit, the Holy Spirit: - ghost, life, spirit (-ual, -ually), mind. Comp. 5590.

The "quick understanding" as one of the "seven spirits of God relating solely to the operation of the human mind or spirit" which would rest upon Jesus was:

Ruwach (Ih7306) roo'-akh; a prim. root; prop. to blow, i. e. breathe; only (lit.) to smell or (by impl. perceive (fig. to anticipate, enjoy): - accept, smell, * touch, make of quick understanding.

But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 2 Cor 3:15

Nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. 2 Cor 3:16

Now the Lord is that Spirit:

and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Cor 3:17
But we all, with open face
beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,
are changed into the same image from glory to glory,
even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Cor 3:18

Second Corinthians Chapter 4

THEREFORE, seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; 2 Cor 4:1

But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness,

nor handling the word of God deceitfully;

but, by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every mans conscience in the sight of God. 2 Cor 4:2

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 2 Cor 4:3

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not,

lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 2 Cor 4:4

Jesus spoke to the unbelieving Jews in parables. When asked why He did that He said that from the foundation of the world God has spoken so that those who trust the letter or the outward forms of religion are blind and cannot understand. Isaiah 48 has God saying that He does that way to keep the "spirit" out of the hands of those who would repackage and sell God's message.

On the other hand, the apostles wanted to understand the Words of Christ and He revealed the "spirit" or the heart of the message.

At no time none but the designated prophets or apostles were allowed to receive the Words of God directly. And then they wrote them down on paper so that "we might have a remembrance" of what happened to Peter as an apostle.

If the "Spirit" spoke directly to each of us it would be foolish to write the message of Christ down and preserve it with the blood of many.

It is an absolute certainty that those who claim supernatural, Spirit guidance blaspheme God by repudiating His written message.

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus sake. 2 Cor 4:5

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness,

hath shined in our hearts,

to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Cor 4:6

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels,

that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 2 Cor 4:7

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 2 Cor 4:8

Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 2 Cor 4:9

Paul defines the signs of a Christ-appointed apostle: if you manifest the signs of the Spirit you will also manifest the life and suffering of Christ. This excludes any charismatic ritual which can be nothing else but "watch me as I not only don't suffer but bear in my body nothing like that manifest by Christ."

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus,

that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 2 Cor 4:10

For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus sake,

that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 2 Cor 4:11

Paul always clearly defines the "us" as the Christ-appointed and Christ-equipped Apostles. The "you" are the carnal people who do not have the gifts.

So then death worketh in us, but life in you. 2 Cor 4:12

We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written,
I believed, and therefore have I spoken;
we also believe, and therefore speak (to you); 2 Cor 4:13

Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus

shall raise up us also by Jesus,
and shall present us with you. 2 Cor 4:14

For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 2 Cor 4:15

For which cause we faint not;
but though our outward man perish,
yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 2 Cor 4:16

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 2 Cor 4:17

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen:for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Cor 4:18

The "seven spirits" given by God to mankind are all related to the internal or intellectual nature of man created with a spirit in order to be able to understand Spiritual things. Of Jesus

And shall make him of quick understanding (spiritual) in the fear of the Lord:

This "spirit" is not related to the body or flesh because:

and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: Isaiah 11:3

To be "quick of understanding" means to be Spiritual.

Summary: The Letter was related to the flesh or outward forms under the Law of Moses. Expecially under the Monarchy, most of what we see as authority for Christian worship, the Jews were living under legalism because of their transgresion at Mount Sinai. There, they "turned back" and restored their old Egyptian forms of worship. Even the "washings" was for ceremonial cleansing of the body and could not change the heart.

The New Covenant or the "spirit" can still be written down with ink on paper. However, "spirit" is related to the mind or the innermost being. Being a believer gives one the gift of the Spirit which is the writing of the laws of Christ on the human heart.

Thereafter, we do not look both ways for a cop before we run the red light. Rather, our "spirit" keeps us from running red lights because we do not want to kill someone.

Except for divinely selected and trained Apostle-Prophets, no one has a direct access to the Holy Spirit but through the Mind of Christ.

Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. 1 Corinthians 12:12

For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong. 1 Corinthians 12:13

Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 1 Corinthians 12:14

If the Corinthians needed any new information or correction either Paul or one of his evangelistic team members would personally come to them. None in Corinth had the Spirit in the sense of being able to fix the simplest error.


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