Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Verse 3 (2 Corinthians 3:3)

Manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ - Ye are in our hearts, and Christ has written you there; but yourselves are the epistle of Christ; the change produced in your hearts and lives, and the salvation which you have received, are as truly the work of Christ as a letter dictated and written by a man in his work.

Ministered by us - Ye are the writing, but Christ used me as the pen; Christ dictated, and I wrote; and the Divine characters are not made with ink, but by the Spirit of the living God; for the gifts and graces that constitute the mind that was in Christ are produced in you by the Holy Ghost.

Not in tables of stone - Where men engrave contracts, or record events; but in fleshly tables of the heart - the work of salvation taking place in all your affections, appetites, and desires; working that change within that is so signally manifested without. See the parts of this figurative speech:

  1. Jesus Christ dictates.
  • The apostle writes.
  • The hearts of the Corinthians are the substance on which the writing is made. And,
  • The Holy Spirit produces that influence by which the traces are made, and the mark becomes evident.
  • Here is not only an allusion to making inscriptions on stones, where one dictates the matter, and another cuts the letters; (and probably there were certain cases where some colouring matter was used to make the inscription the more legible; and when the stone was engraved, it was set up in some public place, as monuments, inscriptions, and contracts were, that they might be seen, known, and read of all men); but the apostle may here refer to the ten commandments, written by the finger of God upon two tables of stone; which writing was an evidence of the Divine mission of Moses, as the conversion of the Corinthians was an evidence of the mission of St. Paul. But it may be as well to take the words in a general sense, as the expression is not unfrequent either in the Old Testament, or in the rabbinical writers. See Schoettgen.

    - Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible