But if the ministry of death, written and engraved in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:
Read Chapter 3
Cornelius a Lapide
If the ministration of death . . . was glorious. If the ministration and promulgation of the old law, which threatened and brought death and condemnation, were glorious, i.e, accompanied by thundering and the sound of the heavenly trumpet, by an earth-quake and the splendour of Moses" countenance: if the old law, engraven on tables of stone, was so gloriously promulgated, how much more glorious is the Gospel?
Paul here calls the old law the attendant and lictor of death, because it could indeed slay them that broke it but not give life to them that kept it. From this we may gather that S. Paul is writing against the false apostles, and that they were Jews who were endeavouring to blend the old and the new law. He therefore silences the Jews by depreciating the old law as the law of condemnation, and by extolling himself and his fellow-apostles as the ministers of the evangelical law of righteousness and the life of the Spirit. Cf. in this connection chaps. x. and xi. ...
Now if the ministration of death: he meaneth the former law, which by giving them a greater knowledge, and not giving graces of itself to fulfil those precepts, occasioned death, was notwithstanding glorious, accompanied with miracles on Mount Sinai, and so that the Israelites, when Moses came down from the mountain, could not bear the glory of his countenance, which he was forced to cover with a veil, when he spoke to them. Shall not the ministration of the Spirit in the new law, which worketh our sanctification and salvation, abound with much greater glory? especially since the old law was to be made void, and pass away.
Neither was that glorified, or to be esteemed glorious, in comparison of the new law, the blessings of the new so far surpassing those of the old law. (Witham)
If the law of Moses, written on tables of stone, which was only able to cause death, inasmuch as it gave us light sufficient to know what was right, though it did not give us strength or graces to comply wit...
But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly upon the face of Moses, for the glory of his face; which glory was passing away: how shall not rather the ministration of the Spirit be with glory?
He said that the tables of Moses were of stone, as [also] they were written with letters; and that these were of flesh, I mean the hearts of the Apostles, and had been written on by the Spirit; and that the letter indeed kills, but the Spirit gives life. There was yet wanting to this comparison the addition of a further and not trifling particular, that of the glory of Moses; such as in the case of the New Covenant none saw with the eyes of the body. And even for this cause it appeared a great thing in that the glory was perceived by the senses; (for it was seen by the bodily eyes, even though it might not be approached;) but that of the New Covenant is perceived by the understanding. For to the wea...
The law served death but was not its cause. What caused death was sin, but the law brought in punishment and showed the sin up for what it was—it did not cause it. The law did not minister to the existence of sin or death but to the suffering of retribution by the sinner, so that in this way it was even more destructive of sin. ...
He alludes to Moses' veil, covered with which "his face could not be stedfastly seen by the children of Israel.".
Since he did this to maintain the superiority of the glory of the New Testament, which is permanent in its glory, over that of the Old, "which was to be done away"