4 “Who is Fit for These Things?” (2 Cor 2:14–3:6)

in Moses in Corinth
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Paul begins his apologia with the image of himself being “led in triumph” by the deity as a prisoner of war would be led in in triumph by a conquering general. Paul then suddenly switches metaphors, referring to himself as the “scent” of God’s γνῶσις (“knowledge”). The apostle then turns to the subject of his own “fitness” (2:16; 3:5-6). In the midst of that discussion, Paul raises the topic of letters of recommendation (3:1-3). He claims to need no such letters; the Corinthian ἐκκλησία itself represents his commendatory letter. Curiously, in his explication of this point, the apostle points allusively to the Torah (3:3). The section concludes with the claim that first, Paul has been commissioned as a διάκονος of a new covenant—a διακονία of Spirit rather than letter—and second, that the letter kills while the Spirit brings life (3:6). In this chapter, I tie all of these seemingly disparate elements together. Ultimately, I conclude that these first ten verses of the letter have as their focus both the Corinthians’ ability to correctly perceive Paul as a διάκονος of the deity and their ability to perceive their own transformation as resulting from the apostle’s διακονία.

Moses in Corinth

The Apologetic Context of 2 Corinthians 3