2 Corinthians 3:17–18 (ESV)
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
No matter how much or how long I gather around this text, I still can’t get over it. If there were a banner verse (and there could be many) for what we call the second half of the gospel, it would be 2 Corinthians 3:18.
I am not a Greek scholar, and when it comes to the work of translation I am a bit of a hacker. I don’t let that stop me though. I want to offer you what I’m calling the J. D. Walt Super Amplified version of 2 Corinthians 3:18.
And we, who with unveiled faces, all beholding the glory of the Lord—as in a mirror—are being transformed into his image, essence, and likeness; with ever-increasing, all-surpassing glory, indeed from one degree of glory to the next. And this is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
How do you like them apples?! Yes, it is pure second half of the gospel. In fact, we see the essence of the first half of the gospel just earlier in v.16:
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (2 Corinthians 3:16)
The first half of the gospel is turning to the Lord. It is believing and beginning. This is the process and crisis of coming face-to-face with Jesus, receiving grace, and entering into relationship with Jesus. The second half of the gospel is beholding and becoming. This is the crisis and process of living in face-to-face fellowship with Jesus in the community of his friends, receiving grace, and being transformed into his image, essence, and likeness.
The Bible has a word for all of this grace-infused crisis and process, (cue the Braveheart soundtrack): Freedom. Salvation. Life everlasting.
I know—that’s three words.
So bringing it down to one word: doxa.
English translation: glory.
We were made for glory. He has made us a little lower than the angels and crowned us with glory and honor. (see Psalm 8:5)
It’s time to board the buses. We’ve got a day’s drive ahead of us. If we are going to grasp the significance of this now super-amplified text we must set our hearts on pilgrimage. First stop: Mt. Sinai.
This is the way of glory—from glory to glory.
Abba Father, freedom, salvation, life everlasting, yes glory. We will not pray show us your glory, for he now appears in full form—our risen and ascended Lord, Jesus Christ. We pray with the psalmist, “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage” (Ps. 84:5). I set my heart now on pilgrimage. And we sing with the hymn writer, “Lead on O King eternal; we follow, not with fears, for gladness breaks like morning wherever your face appears. Your cross is lifted over us, we journey in its light; the crown awaits the conquest; lead on, O God of might.” Praying (and singing now) in Jesus’ name, amen.
What does the word “glory” evoke in you?
For the Awakening,