2 Corinthians 3:16-18
Transformed from Glory to Glory
Every believer in Jesus
Christ is an open letter, a walking living
advertisement, for Christ. It is an awesome
responsibility because the world is watching and
judging Christianity by our attitudes and actions.
You may ask who is
adequate for such a responsibility? The apostle Paul
declared, "It is He who is all–sufficient who has
made me sufficient for this task." He always thought
of God as making him adequate to live and minister
the Christian life. Only the Holy Spirit can change
our human nature, therefore God calls us to an
intimate relationship with Himself. The new covenant
we have with Christ produces in us a greater
splendor that will never fade. He calls us to an
ever-growing intimate love relationship with Himself
that never fades away.
The Christian looks upon
the unveiled, the unhidden glories of the Lord, and
are transformed into the same image from glory to
glory. It is through faith that we look upon Him and
are changed y the Holy Spirit.
Where do we get our
vision of Him? It is as we are occupied with Him in
His Word. As we study the Bible we understand and
comprehend what He is like.
Who are those individuals
in the Bible who have seen the glory of the Lord and
GLORY OF GOD IN THE
Seeing God in the Old
Testament was a serious matter. The angel of the
Lord often mediates him. Those who saw the angel of
the Lord understood the sight as practically the
same as to seeing God. The message is clear, "No one
can see Me and live." One old saint said with a pure
heart, "Then let me see Him and die."
Glory of God like a
Moses is unique in the
Old Testament. In Exodus 24:15-17 we are told Moses
went up to the mountain and the cloud of glory
covered the mountain. "The glory of the LORD rested
on Mount Sinai . . . and He called to Moses from the
midst of the cloud. And to the eyes of the sons of
Israel the appearance of the glory of the LORD was
like a consuming fire on the mountain top."
God met Israel on the
mercy seat in the holy of holies (25:21-22). It was
there a holy and righteous God came down to where
man was for fellowship.
Moses longed to be
in the presence of God
Moses enjoyed deeply
personal communion with Yahweh. "Thus the LORD used
to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks
to his friend" (Exodus 33:11). There is universal
agreement among scholars that Moses is expressing
intimacy with God and not literally in His face. He
is preparing his readers for the deeply personal
conversation that follows. In Exodus 33:18-23 Moses
makes it very clear that sinful man cannot see the
glory of God and live. "You cannot see My face, for
no man can see Me and live" (v. 20, cf. v. 23). It
is not a contradiction, but a clarification. What
happens when Moses came into the presence of God is
Moses reflected the
presence of the glory of God in his face
In Exodus 34:29-35 we are
told that after Moses fasted on the mountain forty
days and nights that "Moses did not know that the
skin of his face shone because of his speaking with
Him" (v. 29). "The skin of his face shone" and the
people were afraid to come near him (v. 30). His
face had a general irradiation and illumination
about it. His whole face was irradiated in a strange
and wonderful way, unusual manner in which those
familiar with him had never seen it irradiated
before. Moses face was transfigured. The word is
used in Hebrew for a sunrise. This was new spiritual
illumination for Moses, so mighty, so powerful that
it irradiated his countenance. His spirit was in a
new fellowship with God. His whole person being was
mastered, captured, and illuminated by fellowship
with God. Moses had a supreme consciousness of God.
It would be needed for the job before him.
He called the people
together and communicated to them what God told Him
on the mountaintop. "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 replace the veil
over his face until he went in to speak with Him"
Did you notice what
happened when the glory faded? While Moses spoke to
the people they saw the glory shining from his
uncovered face. However, as soon as he had finished
speaking, he covered his face with a veil. When he
went into the holy of holies to speak with the Lord
he again removed the veil (Ex. 34:34). It would
appear from Paul's language that this was Moses
customary procedure. "Moses used to place a veil
over his face" (2 Corinthians 3:13). The glory was
interrupted; it wasn't permanent.
It is suggested that "the
veiling of Moses' face was a condemnation of the
people" because of their rebellious hearts. For
Moses and the people the glory of the Lord was
renewed each time he went in the holy of holies.
Moses veiled his face so that the people could not
see the slowly fading of the glory that once was
there. It was an intermittent glory. What a contrast
is the revelation that came in the person of Jesus
Christ who is full and final. There is no change, no
fading of glory with Christ. He is eternal; He
changes not. The one is a footprint to glory; the
other is the pinnacle of glory. Moses enjoyed a
"fading glory" (2 Cor. 3:7). That does not imply
that it was not a true experience, but it was
temporal. It had to be renewed daily.
It spoke in type of what
would one day become a permanent abiding presence of
God in the life of His people.
THE GLORY OF GOD IN
THE LIFE OF JESUS
A permanent glory
of God in His life
The apostle Paul tells us
that Jesus "is the image of the invisible God"
(Colossians 1:15). In 2 Corinthians 4:4 he
said the God of this world has blinded the minds of
unbelieving men so they cannot see the "light of the
gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of
God." Indeed, He existed in the very "form of God"
(Phil. 2:6). He is the very essence of God which
cannot be changed. Jesus is essentially and
A glimpse of His
It was at the Mount of
Transfiguration that we see a quick glimpse of the
permanent indwelling glory in God in Christ.
According to Matthew 17:2-8 this is where Jesus
manifested His glory before Peter, James and John.
Years later the apostle Peter told about that
experience when "they saw His glory" (Lk. 9:32; cf.
2 Peter 1:16-17). The apostle John refers to the
same experience in John 1:14, 18.
"Moses and Elijah
appeared with Christ, but it was Christ alone who
was transfigured with heavenly radiance before the
eyes of Peter, James and John. It was His face that
shone as the sun and His garments that became white
and dazzling. It was Him alone that the voice from
the cloud said, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I
am well pleased; hear ye Him.' And thereafter the
disciples saw no one, save Jesus only. It is He who
abides. The glory in which Moses and Elijah appeared
was not their own but Christ's glory––the glory
which He had with the Father before the world was
(Jn. 17:5). Just as in the wilderness the glory,
which shone from Moses’ face, was the reflected
glory of Yahweh, so too on the mount of
transfiguration the glory with which he was
surrounded was the glory of the same Yahweh.
Christ's alone is the full, the abiding, the
evangelical glory. To turn to Him is to turn to the
Light of the world. To follow Him is not to walk in
darkness, but to have the light of life (Jn. 8:12)"
(Hughes, NIC Commentary on Corinthians, pp.
Jesus is the light that
shines out of darkness, "the one who has shone in
our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the
glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Corinthians
Our future is full
of His glory
First John 3:1-2 tells us
that "when He appears we will be like Him," and "we
will see Him just as He is." Philippians 3:20-21
reminds us of that glorious day when Jesus appears
and He "will transform the body of our humble state
into conformity with the body of His glory, by the
exertion of the power that He has even to subject
all things to Himself."
In 2 Thessalonians 1:10,
12 we have a fore taste of that glorious day.
THE GLORY OF GOD IN
THE CHRISTIAN BELIEVER
the glory of God in his face
Acts 6:3, 5, 8, 15 tells
us one of the first deacons in the early church was
a Spirit-filled believer. Stephen stood before the
Jewish Sanhedrin and confronted false witnesses
against him and Luke tells us he had the "face like
the face of an angel" (v. 15). It was not that he
had a child's or feminine appearance, but he was a
believer under the control of the Holy Spirit who
radiated the presence of Christ in his face. These
demonic filled men who were radiating the opposite
kind of spirit "were unable to cope with the wisdom
and the Spirit with which he was speaking" (v. 10).
When they could not with integrity win their
argument they resorted to satanic means to condemn
him (vv. 11-15). This Spirit-filled man preached to
this "stiff-necked," proud, stubborn, unspiritual
"Being full of the Holy
Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the
glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand
of God; and he said, 'Behold, I see the heavens
opened up and the son of Man standing at the right
hand of God'" (Acts 7:55-56). They could stand it no
longer so they "cried out with a loud voice, and
covered their ears, and they rushed upon him with
one impulse. And when they had driven him out of the
city, they began stoning him" until he was dead.
(Vv. 57-60). In his death Stephen reflected that
same attitude as Jesus (Acts 7:51-60).
This Spirit-filled man
saw the same person Moses saw. Stephen looked away
from everything else in order to focus his gaze on
the one thing that mattered. He neglected everything
else to focus his attention on one thing.
What would we have seen
in the face of Stephen if we had been there? Barclay
says it is, "A look of astonishment and amazement, a
look of scrutiny ending in recognition, a look of
wonder, a look of expectation and hope, a look of
sheer, piercing authority."
Stephen was no odd ball.
He was no supra Christian. He was a normal
Spirit-filled believer in Jesus Christ. He was what
every one of us ought to be every day of our lives.
In 2 Corinthians 3:18
Weymouth translates, "We mirror the glory of the
Lord." With unveiled faces we looking as in a
mirror, catch the light and reflect the glory of the
Lord. We reflect as a mirror does and we do it with
unveiled faces. As believers we have a clear view of
our Savior with an open face. Paul says, "I have a
clear view of God as He has revealed Himself to my
heart in Jesus Christ, and what have I myself seen?
I saw in Him the glory of a life in total
abandonment to the sovereign will of His Father in
I love the way Allan
Redpath words a clear explanation of this glory the
apostle Paul is trying to communicate to believers:
"I have a clear view of
Jesus. I have seen Him, felt Him, and I have known
Him in a far deeper way than simply by the outward
physical appearance; I have felt the reality of His
life begin to burn in my heart. I have seen in
Christ the glory of a life that is totally submitted
to the sovereignty of God. That glory has begun to
take hold of me, and I have begun to see that this
is the one life that God expects of any man He made
in His own image. I have seen the marks of the cross
upon Him, and by His grace the marks of the cross
have been put upon me and I am no longer my own; I
am bought with a price, redeemed by His precious
blood. Yes, I have seen Him--not in the outward
physical sense only, but in the inward sense of a
deep spiritual reality. I have had a clear view of
Jesus and my life will never be the same again" (Blessings
Out of Buffetings, p. 44).
Paul reminds us the
message of the Old Covenant was hidden in the
shadows, and types. Its truth was always veiled.
"Their minds were hardened" (2 Cor. 314-15). It was
a veil of rebellion. Charles Hodge reminds us,
"The veil which hid the meaning of the Old Testament
remained unremoved, because it is done away in
Christ, whom the Jews rejected. The Old Testament
Scriptures are intelligible only when understood as
predicting and prefiguring Christ . . . The
knowledge of Christ . . . removes the veil from the
Moses wore a veil to
conceal what "was fading away" (v. 13; Exodus
34:34). That does not mean, however, that the glory
on Moses' face wasn't real. It was temporary, though
real, and passed away. It is "a type of the dimming
of the glory of the old dispensation by the
brightness of the new," writes A. T. Robertson. It
is the surpassing glory in Christ. He is the "Sun of
Righteousness" who throws a shade on Moses. It is
the difference between the Son and the servant.
Why did Moses keep the
veil over his face after the glory had faded away?
Moses was afraid the Israelites would see the glory
had faded. He knew the brightness was caused
by his time with Jehovah, and would fade away when
he was absent from His presence. He did not
want the people to know the fact. He hid his faded
glory with a veil. He wore a façade, a mask. He
wouldn't let people see what was actually going on.
It was a veil of pride.
Lest we be too quick to
condemn Moses, what kind of veils do we wear to
cover our unbelief? Have we not used pride,
hypocrisy, double-entry spiritual bookkeeping
(double standards), self-righteousness, sensitivity
or touchiness, selfishness, impatience, hostility,
denominational bigotry and politics?
Christ removes the
How do we remove the
veil? "It is removed in Christ" (v. 14,
Verse 16 is very
significant because the unmistakable implication
that the Lord (Yahweh, LXX Kurios)
before whom Moses went in Exodus 34:34 is one and
the same Lord (Christ) to whom the people are
invited to trust. Christ is the only Mediator
between God and man in both the Old and the New
Testament. Philip Hughes notes, "Israel must
turn to the Lord, the same Lord to whom Moses turned
in the tabernacle and in whose presence the veil was
removed from his face so that he beheld with
unimpeded vision the divine glory."
On verse sixteen Charles
Hodge says, "By Lord here, as the context shows, we
are to understand Christ. He is the Lord whom Moses
saw face to face on Mount Sinai, and to whom the
Jews and all others must turn if they would enjoy
the light of salvation." He continues, "It is plain
that the Lord here means Christ" in verse seventeen.
"This is clear not only because the word Lord, as a
general rule, in the New Testament, refers to
Christ, but also because the context in this case
demands that reference. In v. 14 it is said that the
veil is done away in Christ, and in v. 16 that it is
removed when the heart turns to the Lord, and here
that the Lord is the spirit. The main idea of the
whole context is, that the recognition of Jesus
Christ as Lord, or Jehovah, is the key to the Old
Testament. It opens all its mysteries, or . . . it
removes the veil which hid from the Jews the true
meaning of their own Scriptures. As soon as they
turn to the Lord, i.e. as soon as they recognize
Jesus Christ as their Jehovah, then everything
becomes bright and clear. It is plain, therefore,
that the Lord spoken of is Christ."
The Holy Spirit is
interchangeably called in the New Testament the
"Spirit of God" and the "Spirit of Christ" (Romans
8:9f). Christ dwells in us by the Holy Spirit. We
don't have to use a veil; we have free access to God
through the indwelling Spirit of Christ.
If Christ is present in
the Mosaic Law, it is living and life-giving;
however, if He is absent from it, it is dead and
death dispensing. "Christ is therefore that spirit
which animates the law or institutions of Moses, and
when this is recognized, the veil which hides their
meaning is removed" (Hodge).
transformation of all believers
When we allow Christ to
remove the veil something beautiful takes place.
"But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a
mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed
into the same image from glory to glory, just as
from the Lord, the Spirit" (v. 18).
"By turning unto Christ
we become partakers of the Holy Spirit, the living
and life-giving, because He and the Spirit are one,
and Christ dwells in His people, redeeming them from
the law and making them the children of God, by His
"We all," says Paul. "We
all," in whom the indwelling Spirit of the Lord has
set free. Moses alone reflected the glory in the
Old. By contrast every believer reflects the glory
of God in the New. He uses the perfect tense,
"We all with unveiled faces which remain unveiled."
Apart from Christ, Moses was a minister of
condemnation. The bear Law itself declared all men
guilty and condemned. "The wages of sin is death."
However, "Where the Holy Spirit is sovereign, there
is liberty." It is the Holy Spirit's work to apply
Christ to the believing heart.
The prospect before us is
for "all" believers. "We all" signifies all
believers without exception. This experience is
common to all born again believers. It is referring
to every sinner saved by grace––the weakest,
poorest, most sinful, most defiled. You cannot argue
with a changed life. As we humble ourselves before
Him we see the glory of God in the face of Jesus
Christ. Moses was the only man in the old
dispensation to gaze with unveiled face on the glory
of God. However, this is now the privilege of all
who belong to Christ. The unbeliever, including the
unbelieving Jewish person, remains in darkness. To
everyone who has turned in faith to Christ the veil,
which shuts off the glory from his apprehension, has
been removed forever.
"You see," writes
Redpath, "we all, with open face––the veil removed,
rent in two by His cross––draw near in full
assurance of faith, and we see Him."
What a privilege is ours
in this glory of abiding, without intermission. We
enter into His presence and behold that glory
uninterrupted. "The unveiled face" is a perfect
participle indicating the veil, once lifted, remains
lifted. On the other hand, "beholding as in a
mirror" is present participle showing that the
beholding is continuous and free from interruption.
"The point that Paul is
making," says A. T. Robertson, "is that we shall not
lose the glory as Moses did. But that is true if we
keep on beholding or keep on reflecting (present
tense)." We are being transformed "into the likeness
of God in Christ (1 Cor. 15:48-53; Rom. 8:17, 29;
Col. 3:4; 1 John 3:2)." This is the effect of the
turning to the Lord. We are transformed into the
image of the Lord by beholding it.
Have you looked into His
lovely face and seen a clear view of Jesus? Paul is
not referring to a passing momentary glance. He is
talking about gazing upon Him.
The word "beholding" is
in the present tense meaning a continuous beholding
that is free from interruptions. The Christian
steadfastly looks into the face of Jesus and
reflects the glory of His face like a mirror
reflecting light, and at the same time is
continuously being transformed into the same image
of Christ. We are being conformed to the image of
Christ as we contemplate the glory of God on the
face of Jesus. It is the process of
sanctification. A mirror reflects only what it sees.
"The object which we
behold is the glory of the Lord, i.e. as the context
evidently demands, of Christ. The glory of Christ is
His divine excellence. The believer is enabled to
see that Jesus is the Son of God, or God manifested
in the flesh. This is conversion. Whoever shall
confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in
him, and he in God. 1 John 4:15. The turning unto
the Lord mentioned in the preceding verse is
recognizing Christ as Jehovah . . . It is the
highest state of the human soul. It is eternal life.
17:3. Hence our Lord prays that His disciples may
behold His glory, as the consummation of their
blessedness. John 17:24. And as the apostle John
says of all who receive Christ, that they beheld
‘His glory as of the only begotten of the Father,’
John 1:14" (Hodge, 2 Corinthians, p. 77).
The process of
transforming us into the image of Christ is nothing
less than the restoration of the image of God which
was marred through the fall of man in Genesis three.
When we look into the
face of Jesus Christ we are permitted to see the
true image of man without the effects of depravity,
and the radiance of God’s glory in the same person.
What wondrous grace that see the true man and true
God in one.
Even more wondrous is the
reality that we are now being transformed into the
new person as creatures in God's image. The seal of
the Spirit is the "image of Christ."
The design of the gospel
says Calvin, is "the image of God, which had been
defaced by sin, may be repaired within us." "The
progress of this restoration is continuous through
the whole of life, because it is little by little
that God causes His glory to shine forth in us."
Philip Hughes writes: "In
justification, through faith into Christ the sinner
is accepted in Christ (cf. 5:17) who Himself is the
pure and perfect Image of God, and that divine image
is freely imputed to the believer. In
sanctification, through the operation of the Holy
Spirit who enables the believer constantly to behold
the glory of the Lord, that image is increasingly
imparted to the Christian. In glorification,
justification and sanctification become complete in
one, for that image is then finally impressed upon
the redeemed in unobscured fullness, to the glory of
God throughout eternity" (Second Corinthians,
We can paraphrase v. 18:
"We are all with unveiled face beholding as in a
mirror the glory of the Lord, are transfigured to
the same image, from glory to glory, even as from
the Lord by the operation of the Holy Spirit."
This is the way we become like Him. The measure in
which we are filled with the Spirit is the measure
in which we are thus occupied with Christ.
"We, all of us, with
unveiled faces, mirror the glory of the Lord. You
see, in the life of a man who has seen Christ––the
glory of God in the life, death and resurrection of
our Lord, the glory of God in a life submitted to
the sovereignty of His Father––inevitably truth
begins to dominate character, and life of Jesus
Christ begins to be reproduced in and through him."
Redpath continues, "that which you see becomes a
very part of your life and character––' . . .
reflecting as does a mirror.'"
If the light is not
getting through your focus is not on Him. As you
behold Him he will transform you into His likeness.
"You do the beholding––He does the transforming.
There is no short–cut to holiness." This is a
lifelong journey that will not be completed until we
are one day in heaven. In the meantime He imparts to
your life the sweetness and loveliness of His
Weymouth translates, "But
all of us as with unveiled faces we mirror the glory
of the Lord are transformed into the same likeness,
from glory to glory, even as derived from the Lord,
It is "from glory to
glory." It doesn't fade. It is not superficial. It
penetrates to the spiritual nature of the inner man.
It passes from this world to the next. It is glory
added to more glory, glory upon glory.
It is the Lord Christ
Himself who is the transforming power," says Alfred
Plummer." There are three conditions operating.
"There is the turning to the Lord; every veil that
might hide Him must be removed; and it is His glory
and no other that is reflected. When these three
things are secured, by continual reflection of the
Lord's glory Christians are transfigured into the
very image of Him whose glory they have caught and
retained, and step by step the likeness become more
and more complete––'unto the full measure of the
maturity of the fullness of Christ' (Ephesians
Beholding His glory we
are changed into the same image. We shall be like
Christ, because we shall see Him as He is (1 John
3:2). The conformity to the image of Christ begins
here and it continues from beholding His glory. It
is the vision of that glory which has this
transforming power. Since the present vision is
imperfect, so the transformation is imperfect; but
when the vision is perfect, the conformity will be
perfect (Rom. 8:29; 1 John 3:2).
Hodge says with
conviction, "Only they are Christians, who are like
Christ." The transformation of the believer is
carried forward without intermission, from the first
scarce discernible resemblance, to full conformity
to the image of Christ when we meet Him at His
The glory is "the glory
of the Lord" and we behold it "as in a mirror." "To
gaze by faith into the gospel is to behold Christ"
who is "the image of God" (4:4). In Col. 1:15 He is
"the image of the invisible God." In Heb. 1:3 He is
"the effulgence of the Father's glory and the
impress of His substance." When we see the Jesus we
see the Father. To behold the glory of the Father is
to behold the glory as the only begotten from the
Father (Jn. 14:9; 1:14).
Hughes explains, "To
contemplate Him who is the Father's image is
progressively to be transformed into that image. The
effect of continuous beholding is that we are
continuously being transformed 'into the same
image', that is, into the likeness of Christ––and
The transformation is
"from glory to glory." There is no prospect of this
glory fading or diminishing. So as we gaze upon
Christ it increases more and more until the coming
in person of the Lord of glory Himself. When Christ
comes the glory will be revealed to us in all its
fullness (Rom. 8:18). However, until Christ comes,
we behold it by faith "as in a mirror" (cf. 1 Cor.
13:12). The apostle John reminds us that when Christ
appears, we shall behold Him face to face and our
transformation into His image will be complete.
"Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not
appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when
He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see
Him just as He is" (1 John 3:2).
I keep being asked what
the secret to living the Christian life is. There is
no secret. Shout it from the house top. When we who
mirror the glory of God as we reflect on Christ who
is the Father's image we become more and more like
that image. We become like Christ.
Moses reflected in a
temporarily manner the glory of the LORD which he
had seen, so we constantly reflect in our faces the
radiance of Christ. That glory has only just begun;
it will continue throughout eternity!
Clement of Rome thought,
"Through Him (Christ) we behold as in a mirror His
faultless and most excellent visage; through Him the
eyes of our hearts were opened; through Him our
foolish and darkened mind springs up unto His
The main emphasis Paul is
making is the transformation in the Christian as he
contemplates the glory of God on the face of Jesus
Christ. It is by beholding the image of Christ,
rather than by reflecting upon it, that the
Christian becomes changed into it. The glory seen in
Christ creates a similar glory in the Christian.
Therefore, the Christian advances from one stage of
glory to another. That which makes this glorious
transformation possible is "the Spirit of the Lord."
This transformation is effected daily in the lives
of those who have no veil between them and the Lord.
The Christian life is a life of contemplating and
reminds us, "the only veil which really dims God to
us––the veil of sin, the one separating
principle––is done away in Christ, for all who love
Him; so as that he who has not seen and yet has
believed, has but the perfecting of his present
vision to expect, when flesh drops away and the
apocalypse of the heavens comes. True, in one view,
'We see through a glass darkly'; but also true, 'We
all, with unveiled face, behold and reflect the
glory of the Lord' . . . It is that His heart and
ours should beat in full accord, as with one pulse,
and possessing one life. Whenever there is the
beginning of that oneness and likeness of spirit,
all the rest will come in due time."
This life of
contemplation is therefore a life of gradual
transformation. Do I write to someone who is
impatient? You want it now! Our transformation
in Christ comes gradually. "We are changed" is a
continuous operation. "From glory to glory" is a
well-marked course of transitions and degrees. Don't
be impatient, but yield in submission to Christ.
We all reflect as in a
mirror. . . What are we reflecting?
Are there any veils getting in the way?
Corinthians 3:16-18 Transformed from Glory to