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2 Corinthians 3:5-6 meaning...

In 2 Corinthians 3:5-6, the Apostle Paul delves into the nature of Christian ministry, emphasizing the sufficiency that comes from God and the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. These verses provide valuable insights into the source of our confidence and effectiveness as ministers of the Gospel. 

Verse 5 states, "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God." Here, Paul humbly acknowledges that he and his fellow ministers are not self-sufficient in their ministry efforts. They do not derive their ability to preach, teach, or minister from their own strength or wisdom. Instead, their sufficiency and competence come from God alone.

Applying this verse to our lives, we recognize that in our Christian journey and ministry, we are entirely reliant on God's grace and empowerment. Our human efforts and abilities are insufficient to accomplish anything of eternal significance. Our competence and effectiveness as servants of God originate from God's divine enablement through the Holy Spirit.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul similarly expresses this dependence on God, stating, "Not that I have already obtained or am already made perfect, but I press on, that I may take hold of that for which also I was taken hold of by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:12). Paul understood that his life's purpose and ministry were rooted in Christ's calling and the empowering grace of God.


Verse 6 continues, "who also made us sufficient as servants of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." In this verse, Paul highlights the contrast between the old covenant of the Law, represented by the letter, and the new covenant of the Spirit. Under the old covenant, adherence to the letter of the Law led to condemnation and death, as no one could perfectly keep the Law's demands. However, through the new covenant established by Christ's sacrifice, the Spirit imparts life and righteousness to believers.

Applying this verse to our lives, we understand that as servants of the new covenant, our ministry is not one of legalism and outward conformity but of the Spirit and inner transformation. The Holy Spirit writes God's law on our hearts, enabling us to live out the principles of love, grace, and obedience. The Spirit empowers us to understand and apply God's Word, leading to spiritual growth and sanctification.

The new covenant in Christ is described in Jeremiah 31:33-34, where God promises, "I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people...for they shall all know me, from their least to their greatest." This promise of intimacy with God through the indwelling Holy Spirit is fulfilled in the new covenant established by Christ's sacrifice.

The transformative power of the Holy Spirit is further described in Galatians 5:22-23, which enumerates the fruit of the Spirit: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." These virtues exemplify the life-giving work of the Spirit in believers, transforming them into Christ-like reflections.


In the following verses, 2 Corinthians 3:7-18, Paul contrasts the glory of the old covenant, which faded away, with the surpassing glory of the new covenant in Christ, which brings righteousness and permanent transformation. The veil that once covered the hearts and minds of people under the old covenant is removed through faith in Christ, allowing believers to behold the glory of God.

Applying this to our lives, we recognize that through the Spirit, we are continually being transformed into the image of Christ. As Paul writes in Romans 12:2, "Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God." This transformation occurs as we yield to the Spirit's work within us and allow Him to shape our thoughts, attitudes, and actions to align with God's will.

In conclusion, 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 emphasizes the insufficiency of human effort in ministry and the sufficiency that comes from God alone. As servants of the new covenant, we are dependent on the Holy Spirit's empowering grace to fulfill our calling and ministry. The Spirit enables us to live out the principles of the new covenant, bringing life and transformation to our hearts and minds. We are not bound by the letter of the Law, but we are led by the Spirit to walk in righteousness and obedience. Through the Spirit's work within us, we are continually being transformed into the image of Christ, reflecting His love and character to the world. May we humbly rely on God's sufficiency, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us in our Christian journey and ministry.


2 Corinthians 3:5-6. Our sufficiency is from God; who also made us sufficient as servants of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.