2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV) … “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.”
Paul closed this section with a description of the new life of freedom that all believers enjoy in Christ. He declared that we … with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory. By “we” Paul identified himself and those who ministered the new covenant with him, just as Moses ministered the old covenant. Of course, the same is also true for every minister of the new covenant. Ministers of the gospel of Christ all reflect the Lord’s glory. By this Paul did not detract from his statement that all believers (not just ministers) have the veils removed from their hearts. He simply returned to his main issue: defending his own ministry and actions.
With the phrase “reflect the Lord’s glory,” the NIV translation becomes problematic. This phrase may also be translated as “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord” (NASB). Both translations fit because they conform to the analogy set up between Moses and the ministers of the new covenant. Moses both beheld and reflected the glory of God. Like Moses, the ministers of Christ are being transformed into his likeness as they are sanctified by the Spirit of God. But the transformation that takes place in followers of Christ has ever-increasing glory, unlike Moses’ fading glory. This expanding glory comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Once again, the language that describes the connection between the Lord and the Spirit is difficult to interpret. Literally, the Greek text reads, “the Lord Spirit.” Various translations have taken different approaches to this statement, such as “the Lord, the Spirit” (NRSV) and “the Spirit of the Lord” (NKJV). Grammatically, all of these options are viable. However, their meanings are ultimately the same. We receive glory from Christ, who has sent us his Spirit.
Main Idea: Paul began to discuss more details of his ministry experiences, then turned aside to talk about how wonderfully God had provided for him. Praising God led the apostle into a lengthy explanation that he was not promoting himself, but the grace of God in Christ.
In this passage Paul left the path of his main story to speak about the nature of his ministry.
He first affirmed the wonderful blessings God had provided him as he traveled, preaching the gospel. To defend against the accusation of self-aggrandizement, he reminded the Corinthians of the superiority of ministers of the new covenant over even Moses. The glory of the former far exceeds the glory of the latter.