4 Such trust have we in God - That is, we trust in God that
this is so.
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves - So much as to think one
good thought; much less, to convert sinners.
6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new covenant - Of the
new, evangelical dispensation. Not of the law, fitly called the letter,
from God's literally writing it on the two tables. But of the Spirit -
Of the gospel dispensation, which is written on the tables of our hearts
by the Spirit. For the letter - The law, the Mosaic dispensation. Killeth
- Seals in death those who still cleave to it. But the Spirit - The gospel,
conveying the Spirit to those who receive it. Giveth life - Both spiritual
and eternal: yea, if we adhere to the literal sense even of the moral law,
if we regard only the precept and the sanction as they stand in themselves,
not as they lead us to Christ, they are doubtless a killing ordinance,
and bind us down under the sentence of death.
7 And if the ministration of death - That is, the Mosaic dispensation,
which proves such to those who prefer it to the gospel, the most considerable
part of which was engraven on those two stones, was attended with so great
8 The ministration of the Spirit - That is, the Christian dispensation.
9 The ministration of condemnation - Such the Mosaic dispensation proved
to all the Jews who rejected the gospel whereas through the gospel (hence
called the ministration of righteousness) God both imputed and imparted
righteousness to all believers. But how can the moral law (which alone
was engraven on stone) be the ministration of condemnation, if it requires
no more than a sincere obedience, such as is proportioned to our infirm
state? If this is sufficient to justify us, then the law ceases to be a
ministration of condemnation. It becomes (flatly contrary to the apostle's
doctrine) the ministration of righteousness.