Let’s begin by reading 2 Corinthians 3:12-14, “Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 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: 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.”

Beginning in 2 Corinthians 3:3, Paul begins to compare the Old Covenant with the New Covenant.  He says of himself in verse 6, “(God) also hath made us able ministers of the NEW TESTAMENT; not of the letter (the Old Testament…the law), but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”  Under the OLD COVENANT, all the promises given to the people were dependent upon their obedience to the Lord.  Under the NEW COVENANT, God promises to bless man freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.  Therefore, the New Covenant can accomplish that which the Old Covenant could never do. 

In comparing the OLD and NEW covenants, Paul writes in verses 7-8, “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: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?”  There was a definite glory to the Old Covenant, but it was temporary.  The ‘ministration of the spirit’ (the New Covenant) was much more glorious and permanent.

The portion in 2 Corinthians 3:12-16 is in definite reference to Exodus 34:30-35, “So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to approach him. Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers in the congregation returned to him; and Moses spoke to them. Afterward all the sons of Israel came near, and he commanded them to do everything that the Lord had spoken to him on Mount Sinai. WHEN MOSES HAD FINISHED SPEAKING WITH THEM, HE PUT A VEIL OVER HIS FACE. But whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he would take off the veil until he came out; and whenever he came out and spoke to the sons of Israel what he had been commanded, the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with Him.” (NASB). When Moses met with the Lord in Mount Sinai, he did not realize that his face began to shine.  The shining of his face caused the Israelites to fear, but Moses beckoned them to come and listen to him.  After speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.  This prevented the Israelites from seeing that the glory on his face was fading.  This was a type of how the fading of the glory of the Law was already beginning…a glory that would one day give way to the glory of Christ and the presentation of the Gospel.  This shows us that the minister of the New Covenant (the Gospel) does not have to hide his face. The glory of the gospel will never grow dim or fade away.  It is a permanent glory!

Verse 14 of our portion tells us that “their minds were blinded.”  This blindness, or lack of understanding was a result of their refusal to recognize the truth of the Gospel, instead they clung to the fading glory of the Law. They willingly shut their eyes to the truth, so God has judiciously closed their eyes.  We read in Romans 10:2-4, “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, HAVE NOT SUBMITTED THEMSELVES UNTO THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” That veil is done away when our faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ.  In Him, we see clearly.  Indeed, the difficulty in understanding the Old Testament is done away with when we have our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as savior and Lord.

Sadly, that veil in still in place for the unbelieving Jews, but the Lord in His endless patience and mercy will still remove that veil if they simply believe in Him.  We read in verses 15-16, “But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.” We read in Romans 10:4, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”  (449.6)