As you know, if you have been following my blog recently, I have joined the online community of His Kingdom Come. So far, the first two weeks featured verses and themes I have been already exploring. When I read the third week’s verse, 2 Corinthians 3:18 I thought, “That sounds good, although hard to grasp, and not quite what I am focusing on right now.” The past week, I’ve been focusing on two verses and themes. One theme that keeps coming up is Freedom, with the verse that says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” What does that mean? I have a hard time remembering the reference of verses, so I looked up the phrase. You know what I found? It is the verse directly above the verse for week 3 in His Kingdom Come “Going Deeper.” Really! Verse 18 starts with “And” so it is important to look above and see what the “And” is adding.
2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV
It is also good to look at the context of the verse, so I have decided to go deeper into the whole chapter of 2 Corinthians 3, focusing on verses 17-18. I looked up the verses in various translations of the Bible using Bible Gateway. One resource I am using is a book, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, which defines the original Greek or Hebrew word used in the text. I’ve also used various online dictionaries. Freedom means freedom, liberty (Strong’s Concordance). Veil means covering. I also look for repeated words. The word “Spirit”, referring to the Spirit of the Lord, is found three times and is the source of freedom, transformation, and glory.
In the Strong’s Concordance of the Bible (4151), the word Spirit is Pneuma, from a current of air, breath, blast, or breeze. The term is used to refer to a human spirit, a superhuman such as angel or demon, or as in this case, the divine who is God, Christ’s Spirit and the Holy Spirit-ghost, life, spirit, mind.
I like doing word studies where the word, designed or illuminated is at the top of the page and then the definitions and sources are listed below. It gives me a good reference and the doodling/lettering part allows for pondering and meditation of the meaning of the word.
One of the word/s was different in the various translations, so it caught my attention in verse 18: contemplate, beholding, and reflect are all used as our interaction with the Spirit of the Lord.
I have been taught that the word contemplate means to study and meditate on. That is true, but that is too narrow a definition. It is so much more, extending to the mind, and reaching beyond to the heart of the spirit, and into life itself! Contemplate, behold, reflect are verbs, actions to participate in. Dictionaries help clarify and broaden my understanding of the word/s. The Strong’s Concordance defines the term in 2 Corinthians 3:18 “beholding,” in the King James version, as to mirror oneself; to see reflected.
Contemplate: to look thoughtfully for a long time at, to think profoundly, deeply, at length, meditate on, to view or consider with continued attention, to ponder
Behold: to gaze upon, observe, perceive through sight, to hold, to mirror oneself, to see reflected. Behold has the idea of gazing at someone or something extraordinarily good, such as a marvel, inspiration, miracle…
Reflect: to give back or show an image of; mirror, to reproduce; show, to throw or cast back; to give back or exhibit as an image, likeness such as the pulse reflects the condition of the heart, or the masterpiece reflects the artist’s vision. To reflect means to give evidence of the character or quality of something. Reflecting can mean seeing something original in another form or image. It means to be bright by reflecting or casting light.
Clearly, contemplating, beholding, and reflecting mean more than studying. We study to know, and we know to experience. Studying is like reading the guidebook for an anticipated destination. It is very helpful to inform and help direct where to go and what to look for. But it is not the trip or adventure itself. That is found in the experience. In this case, in beholding the glory of the Lord. How do I behold the glory of the Lord?
The New Living Translation of 2 Corinthians 3:18 is easier for me to understand when talking about God’s glory. It says,
The Strong’s Concordance says this word glory has a wide application. It means dignity, honour, praise, and worship. In the dictionaries I referenced, glory means magnificence, great beauty, honor won by notable achievements, a state of high honor, brilliant, and radiant light. By all of these definitions, and in light of 2 Corinthians 3:18, I am to come into the presence of the Lord with wonder and in awe of God’s magnificence, light, and beauty of the Spirit of the Lord. In His presence, face to face, is where He changes me, my mind, my heart, my being and behavior, to be more and more like Him. I can’t, He can.
What does this look like for me in real life now? The text suggests to me that I am to be with God to the extent that I see myself reflected in His eyes. This also has to extend to other people. It has made me aware that I have a hard time loving some people. I ask God what I should do, knowing I can’t muster up the love needed. The Holy Spirit has to give it to me and I have to experience God’s great love for me. The thought came, look for Jesus in each person. The next time, in the situation I was frustrated with, I was quiet and looked for Jesus in the person I was having a hard time with. I saw Him there. Peace. The Spirit of the Lord giving me the freedom to love.