2 Cor 2:14-3:6
Introduction to the Discourse
14 Thanks be to God, who is always leading us in triumphal procession in Christ, making manifest through us in every place the fragrance that is the knowledge of him. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of the messianic sacrifice among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the stench of the advance of death, but to the other we are the fragrance of the advance of life. Who is equal to such a task? 17 We are not like so many, who peddle the word of God in the market place; rather, we speak from God as those who stand in God’s presence in Christ, as those whose hearts are pure. 3 Are we beginning all over again to produce our credentials? Or do we, like some people, have need of letters of recommendation, whether to you or from you? Surely not! 2 For you yourselves are our letter, a letter written in our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 It is becoming known that you are a letter from Christ, drawn up by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets that are hearts of flesh. 4 Such confidence we have through Christ before God. 5 Not that in ourselves we are competent to reckon anything as deriving from ourselves; rather, our competency is from God, 6 who has indeed made us competent as mediators of the new covenant, a covenant not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit makes alive.
Following the opening thanksgiving, the thought of the passage, which introduces the major subunit 2:14-7:4, develops in a concentric ring pattern:
Thanksgiving for the apostle’s ministry of making known the saving power and presence of the crucified and risen Christ. (2:14)
A: The apostle is to God the pleasing aroma of the messianic sacrifice; he is experienced by ‘those who are perishing’ as ‘the odour of the advance of death (ν ὀσμὴ ἐκ θανάτου εἰς θάνατον)’, but 'by those who are being saved’ as ‘the odour of the advance of life (ὀσμὴ ἐκ ζωῆς εἰς ζωήν)’ (2:15-16a)
B: Like Moses, but unlike his opponents, Paul is competent (ἱκανός) for his ministry; in Christ he stands and speaks in God’s presence (2:16b-17)
C: Unlike his opponents, Paul’s ministry as the Messiah's envoy needs no other validation than the life of the Spirit-filled community in Corinth. (3:1-3)
B/: Paul’s competence (ἱκανός, ἱκανότςη, ἱκανόω) as a minister of the new covenant is not from himself but from God (3:4-6a)
A/: He mediates, not the Mosaic Law, but the Spirit, for the Law kills, but the Spirit makes alive (ζῳοποιέω) (3:6bc)
As Van Kooten points out, in the central element, 3:1-3, Paul criticizes 'the sophistic practice of letters of recommendation by which sophists are introduced to new cities and audiences',  and 'the sophistic atmosphere of appraisal, repute and self-commendation'.  In addition to several OT texts, Paul draws upon two passages from the Letter of Tears.
τῷ δὲ θεῷ χάρις τῷ πάντοτε θριαμβεύοντι ἡμᾶς ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ καὶ τὴν ὀσμὴν τῆς γνώσεως αὐτοῦ φανεροῦντι δι' ἡμῶν ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ.
Paul now comes to the theological heart of his letter, an account of his apostolic ministry, and in particular of his mediation of the presence and saving power of the crucified and risen Christ. He begins with a thanksgiving to God, who always (πάντοτε) and in every place leads him (as his prisoner of war) in triumphal procession (θριαμβεύοντι ἡμᾶς) in Christ.  The Roman triumphal procession (pompa triumphalis) was a long victory parade in honour of a victorious general, returning to Rome with his troops. In the procession prisoners of war were paraded, often to their deaths in the arena, and plunder was displayed.  By the time of the early Empire the ritual had become associated with the myth of the Triumph of Bacchus,  and Bacchus (Dionysus) was associated both by Jews and Greeks with the God of Israel.  The victorious general would ride in a quadriga, a two-wheeled chariot drawn by four horses,  an image familiar throughout the Empire through Roman coinage, which often portrayed the Emperor riding on a quadriga.  Scott argues convincingly that in 2 Cor 2:14 Paul portrays God as riding on a quadriga, evoking Ezekiel’s vision of the Merkabah, God’s throne-chariot, drawn by the four ‘living creatures’ (Ezek 1:4-28).  Furthermore, in light of Paul’s allusion to Psa 110:1 in 1 Cor 15:25, Christ the Risen Lord is to be understood as seated beside God on the Merkabah (cf. Rom 8:34; Phil 2:9).  Paul did not hesitate to use language and imagery that challenged directly the Imperial Cult.
Paul’s addressees in the Roman colony of Corinth would not have missed the image of the apostle as God’s prisoner, being led to his death. This image will have been rhetorically effective, for there was agreement between his addressees and himself as to the fact that in the recent crisis he had experienced divine judgment and mortal danger; but there was a difference in their interpretations of this fact (1:8-9, 17). The next clause (v. 14b) begins to develop the imagery: ‘through us making known in every place the fragrance which is the knowledge of him’. Since Paul’s function in the procession is to spread sweet fragrance along the route, the accepted sign of the presence of a deity, his role would appear to be that of an incense bearer;  but these participants walked immediately in front of the general’s chariot,  a position of great honour.  This would fit with Paul’s claim to be Christ’s envoy, of course (cf. κατέναντι θεοῦ, v. 17); but incense bearers were certainly not captured enemies being led to their deaths.  Typically, they were members of the general’s family. The triumphal procession is a tensive metaphor: it functions like a riddle whose purpose is to leave the mind ‘in sufficient doubt about the precise application to tease it into active thought'. 
The image of a procession that spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of a deity might suggest not so much a Roman triumphal procession as a Greco-Roman epiphany procession  – in this case, perhaps, a Dionysiac procession. In the Hellenistic period, religious processions became extremely popular and the dominant type in this period was the epiphany procession, a ceremony that featured the epiphany of the deity.  In the Greco-Roman world an epiphany procession was often portrayed metaphorically as a triumphal procession,  and Duff points out that the verb φανερόω (2:14b) ‘accurately describes the primary function of the epiphany procession … [which] presented to onlookers the manifestation of the deity in one form or another’.  Duff rightly maintains that Paul is here taking advantage of the tensive nature of his θριαμβεύω metaphor:
[Paul] juxtaposes the image of himself as the vehicle for the manifestation of ‘the scent of [God's] knowledge’ with the figure of this same God who ‘leads him in triumph.’ By means of the proximate placement of these two images in identical structural settings, Paul urges the reader/hearer to interpret one image in terms of the other. 
Danker rightly comments,
Filled with recollection of the relief he felt when at last he met up with Titus in Macedonia (see 7:13-16), Paul ponders once more the beneficence of God. Gratitude for benefits is as natural to a Greek as the eating of olives, and for a Jew it is unthinkable that one would ignore God’s generosity … God’s victory over stubborn Paul (cf. 1 Cor. 15:8-9) was part of God’s plan to overcome unbelief in the Greco-Roman world. 
ὄτι χριστοῦ εὐωδία ἐσμὲν τῷ θεῷ ἐν τοῖς σῳζομένοις καὶ ἐν τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις, οἷς μὲν ὀσμὴ ἐκ a θανάτου εἰς θάνατον, οἷς δὲ ὀσμὴ ἐκ b ζωῆς εἰς ζωήν.
a, b ἐκ is omitted in both clauses by D F G K L Ψ 365(*).c 1241 1505 2464 Majority Text latt sy; it is read in both clauses by p46 א A B C 0243 33 81 104 630 1175 1739 (1881) Clement of Alexandria. 
‘For  we are to God  the pleasing aroma  of the messianic sacrifice among those who are being saved  and among those who are perishing.  To the one we are the stench of the advance of death,  but to the other we are the fragrance of the advance of life.‘ 
The continuity of the imagery in 2:14-16a is indicated by ὅτι: 'the fragrance of the knowledge of him' is the aroma (εὐωδία) of Christ. More specifically, it is the fragrance of the presence of the crucified and risen Christ, made manifest through his suffering apostle. In the LXX the term εὐωδία is most often (in about 50 of 59 instances) found in the phrase ὀσμὴ εὐωδίας, and in most instances the sense is the sweet savour of the burnt offering.  When combined with the dative τῷ θεῷ or τῷ κυρίῳ, whether used individually or in combination, the terms (ὀσμή and εὐωδία) always refer to the aroma of sacrifice,  implying its acceptability to God. In Phil 4:18, Paul describes the gift that the church has sent him as ‘a pleasing aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God’ (ὀσμὴ εὐωδίας, θυσίαν δεκτήν, εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ).  As Christ’s envoy, therefore, Paul presents the bodily presence of the crucified Christ: he is ‘the pleasing aroma of the messianic sacrifice, acceptable to God’ (Χριστοῦ εὐωδία τῷ θεῷ).  Here Paul alludes again to his recent sufferings: by maintaining his solidarity with the church, he was able successfully to intercede for them, presenting to God the pleasing aroma of the sacrifice of his son, through which atonement has been made, once for all, for the sins of the Corinthians and for the sins of the whole world.
The aroma of the Christ-sacrifice is also experienced by all those who encounter Paul; wherever he goes (ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ, 2:14) the epiphany of the crucified Christ in the person and ministry of the apostle is experienced by believers (‘those who are being saved’, to whom the message of the Cross is 'the power of God', 1 Cor 1:18) as the sweet fragrance of a (risen and) life-giving deity; but by unbelievers (‘those who are perishing’, for whom the message of the Cross is 'foolishness'), the coming of the apostle is experienced as the stench of death.
καὶ πρὸς ταῦτα τίς ἱκανός; 17 οὐ γάρ ἐσμεν ὡς οἱ πολλοὶ a καπηλεύοντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ, ἀλλ' ὡς ἐξ εἰλικρινείας, ἀλλ' ὡς ἐκ θεοῦ κατέναντι b θεοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ λαλοῦμεν.
a λοιποί is read by p46 D F G L 6 326 614s 630 945 1505 sy; πολλοί is read by א A B C K P Ψ 0243 81 104 365 1175 1241 1739 1881 2464 Majority Text lat co ar Irenaeus Ambrosiaster Didymus the Blind. As Metzger rightly comments, it seems unlikely that Paul would have said οἱ λοιποί ('the rest'). 
b κατενώπιον tou is read by א2 D1 F G K L Ψ 104 1241 Majority Text, κατενώπιον for κατέναντι may well be a conscious alteration, as in early Christian literature κατενώπιον is used exclusively with reference to God.  κατέναντι is attested by p46 א* A B C 0243 33 81 630 1175 1739 1881 2464. (D* 1505 read κατενώπιον; P 365 read κατέναντι τοῦ).
‘Who is competent  for these things? For we are not like so many, who peddle  the word of God; rather, we speak in Christ in the sight of God,  as  those from  God, as those whose hearts are pure.’
At 2:16c Paul interrupts his exposition with a rhetorical question, ‘Who is sufficient for these things?’, or better, ‘Who is equal to such a task?’ (NJB). The question follows naturally enough from 2:16a; ταῦτα (‘these things’) clearly refers to Paul’s extraordinary ministry, a ministry of making manifest in his own person the presence of the crucified Christ. As one reads on, it becomes clear that Paul is not expecting the response, ‘No one!’, as modesty and even common sense might seem to demand, but rather an acknowledgment that he is in fact equal to this task.  His language in 2:16c clearly echoes Moses’ response to his own call to ministry, Exod 4:10 LXX: ‘Please Lord, I am not equal to the task (οὐκ εἰμι ἱκανός)!’ Yahweh replies that Moses will be given all he needs to carry out his mission. The language of 2:16b is then picked up in 3:5, ‘our competence (ἱκανότης) is from God’; and in 3:6, again using a cognate of ἱκανός, Paul contrasts his own new covenant ministry with the old covenant [Mosaic] ministry: God has made him competent (ἱκανόω) as a minister of the new covenant.
Rhetorical questions depend for their effect on the ability of the readers to supply the correct answer.  Quite suddenly, therefore, Paul not only compares his own ministry with that of Moses, but also expects his readers to be able to supply the thought, ‘Just as God made Moses competent, so also Paul’.  This expectation was reasonable because the apostle had already compared himself explicitly with Moses in the Letter of Tears.
Verse 17 is linked to the preceding rhetorical question by the conjunction γάρ, which introduces grounds for the expected answer. But Paul’s purpose is not so much apologetic as polemic: he now subtly attacks his opponents. They are among ‘the many’ who ‘peddle the word of God in the market place’ (καπηλεύω). The verb belongs to the language of anti-sophistic rhetoric;  indeed, as Van Kooten points out, 'This contrast between knowledge and sincerity, on the one hand, and mercenary sophism on the other, is drawn from Plato's Protagoras'.  Socrates urges Hippocrates,
We must see that the sophist, in commending his wares does not deceive us. Like the wholesaler and the retailer who deal in food for the body ... So too those who take the various subjects of knowledge from city to city, and sell them by retail (καπηλεύοντες) to whoever wants them, commend everything they have for sale. (Plato, Protagoras 313d-e) 
Paul’s allusion to his opponents’ practice of 'peddling' the word of God brings to mind his own practice of preaching the Gospel free of charge (1 Cor 9:12-15; cf. 2 Cor 11:7-12). In fact, Paul’s refusal of financial support from the church in Corinth caused him considerable hardship (1 Cor 4:11-12; 2 Cor 6:4-5; 11:26-27).  However, as Fee points out, ‘in offering the “free” gospel “free of charge” his own ministry becomes a living paradigm of the gospel itself’.  His competence for his apostolic ministry is seen in the purity of his motivation (cf. 1:12). 
The specific nuance which Paul would attach to οἱ πολλοὶ καπηλεύοντες (‘the many who peddle’) is spelled out in the contrasts he draws between his own ministry and that of his opponents: he speaks ‘as one whose heart is pure’ as one from (sent by) God, who speaks in Christ, in God’s presence.  These qualities or qualifications distinguish Paul from his opponents: he begins to insinuate that his opponents, who ‘peddle the word of God’, are insincere, have not been sent by God, do not speak with God’s authority, and are not even ‘in Christ’  – they are, in fact, ἀπολλυμένοι (v. 15), unbelievers, on the road to destruction (cf. 4:2-4; 6:14f). He insinuates, in short, that they are false prophets. Paul’s own ministry, on the other hand, is patterned after that of Moses (2:16b); he is a true prophet/apostle.  For echoes of Jer 23:9-40 here, and in 4:2 and 5:12, see OT Paradigms: Jeremiah.
Ἀρχόμεθα πάλιν ἑαυτοὺς συνιστάνειν; ἢ a μὴ χρῄζομεν ὥς τινες συστατικῶν ἐπιστολῶν πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἢ ἐξ ὑμῶν b; 2 ἡ ἐπιστολὴ ἡμῶν ὑμεῖς ἐστε, ἐγγεγραμμένη ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν, c γινωσκομένη καὶ ἀναγινωσκομένη ὑπὸ πάντων ἀνθρώπων, 3 φανερούμενοι ὅτι ἐστὲ ἐπιστολὴ Χριστοῦ διακονηθεῖσα ὑφ' ἡμῶν, d ἐγγεγραμμένη οὐ μέλανι ἀλλὰ πνεύματι θεοῦ ζῶντος, οὐκ ἐν πλαξὶν λιθίναις ἀλλ' ἐν πλαξὶν καρδίαις σαρκίναις. e
a A K L P Ψ 33 365 630 1241 2464 Majority Text read εἰ for ἢ, perhaps by itacism.
b D K L P 104 1241 1505 Majority Text b (sy) add συστατικῶν; F G add συστατικῶν ἐπιστολῶν.
c א 33 1175 1881 read ὑμῶν for ἡμῶν, probably a dictation error. ἡμῶν is certainly the more difficult reading. 
d καί is added by p46 B 0243 630 1175 1739 1881 f vg.
e F Ψ 629 945 1505 latt (syp) Irenaeus (Latin) Eusebius read πλαξὶν καρδίας σαρκίναις; 0243 630 1739 read πλαξὶν σαρκίναις.
‘Surely we are not  beginning to commend  ourselves again, are we? Or  do we, like some people, have need of  letters of recommendation,  either to you or from you? Surely not!  For you yourselves  are our letter, a letter inscribed  on our hearts,  known  and read  by everyone. For it is becoming known that  you are a letter from Christ, drawn up by us,  written not with ink  but with the Spirit of the living  God, engraved not on tablets  of stone  but in tablets that are fleshly  hearts.’ 
In an attempt to supplant him, Paul’s opponents have questioned his apostolic credentials, claiming their own superiority. In response, Paul has denounced them as charlatans and has identified himself as a Moses-like figure who walks before God’s throne-chariot, serving as a herald and incense bearer, spreading the aroma of the messianic sacrifice and proclaiming the gospel as a true apostle (2:14-17). Now Paul does not want to be misunderstood. He had already commended himself to them as a true messenger of God when he founded the church;  he is not now seeking to introduce himself, as though he were a stranger. He does not need of letters of recommendation, such as they seem to have presented, for the Corinthians themselves are his letter of recommendation; they commend him wherever he goes. As he develops this imagery, Paul alludes powerfully to the Letter of Tears.
V. 1 The central element of the chiasmus 2:15-3:6, 3:1-3, begins with another rhetorical question: ‘Surely we are not beginning to commend ourselves all over again (πάλιν), are we?’ P. Marshall has demonstrated that self-commendation was a widespread custom in Graeco-Roman society,  and it seems likely that in 3:1a πάλιν refers to an act of self-commendation by which Paul committed himself into a relationship of trust with his first converts in Corinth.  Thus, ‘Are we beginning all over again to produce our credentials?’ (NEB). A negative response is expected.  Clearly that relationship had recently been stretched to the limit; nevertheless, Paul insists that he is not attempting to make a fresh start with the church by commending himself to them again. In 1 Cor 2:1-4 he describes his arrival in Corinth: he did not come to them as a sophist would, with impressive bodily presence and eloquent speech; rather, he established his gospel ‘with the demonstration of the Holy Spirit and of power’. 
In a second rhetorical question, which also expects a negative response (μή), Paul asks whether, like his opponents, he needs letters of recommendation,  either to them or from them (3:1b). The thought is patently absurd: they know him intimately: he is their spiritual father (1 Cor 3:10; 4:15; 9:1-2).
Vv. 2-3. Paul now develops what Hooker describes as a brilliant metaphor: brilliant, because ‘since they owe their Christian faith to Paul, they cannot deny his apostleship without denying their own Christian standing’.  The Corinthians themselves are his letter of recommendation. He begins with the assertion, ἡ ἐπιστολὴ ἡμῶν ὑμεῖς ἐστε - ‘You yourselves are our letter’. In the remainder of v. 2 he elaborates the imagery by expanding the predicate nominative ἐπιστολή (‘letter’): his letter is written on ‘our hearts’,  and is ‘known and read by everyone’. It was the custom in the ancient world for the one recommended to carry with him his letter of recommendation;  hence in v. 2, the Corinthians are portrayed as a letter written on Paul’s heart (ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν), and carried with him wherever he goes. Evidently Paul is making the Corinthians known everywhere he goes, commending himself proudly as the apostle who founded the church in Corinth (cf. 1 Cor 9:2; 1 Thess 1:8). In the expanded predicate of 3:2, therefore, Paul’s love for and pride in the church in Corinth is in focus.  With the words ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν he evokes a passage of the Letter of Tears, which he later quotes (7:3b), and which expressed his solidarity with the rebellious church even in the face of divine judgment. If they were to be punished, he said, he would endure it with them: ‘You are in my heart, to die together and to live together’.
In v. 3 Paul elaborates the letter imagery in a different direction, now expanding the subject nominative of v. 2, identifying the author of his letter as none other than Christ himself: ὑμεῖς (‘you yourselves’), φανερούμενοι ὅτι ἐστε ἐπιστολή Χριστοῦ, 'You are being made known, that you are a letter from Christ'. They are a letter διακονηθεῖσα ὑφ' ἡμῶν, 'drawn up by us'; Paul is Christ's amanuensis. Finally, taking up the key terms of 3:2 in the same order, he adds a participle and a climactic pair of antitheses: they are a letter from Christ ἐγγεγραμμένη οὐ μέλανι ἀλλὰ πνεύματι θεοῦ ζῶντος, οὐκ ἐν πλαξὶν λιθίναις ἀλλ' ἐν πλαξὶν καρδίαις σαρκίναις, 'written not with ink but the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets that are fleshly hearts'.
Paul’s letter of recommendation is being read by everyone everywhere (v. 2): it is being made known that (φανερούμενοι ὅτι) the Corinthians are an ἐπιστολή Χριστοῦ. The genitive Χριστοῦ must have the sense, ‘from Christ’, for it is to be expected that Christ composed his own envoy’s letter of recommendation. The church in Corinth is the work of Christ, carried out through the mediatory agency of his envoy Paul. The letter, which Paul carries in his heart, has been ‘drawn up by us’ (διακονηθεῖσα ὑφ' ἡμῶν)’:  The verb διακονέω often refers to the action of a go-between, ‘an action done in the name of another’.  The διακον- word group is used widely to describe acts of mediation between the gods and humanity, and hence of the work of prophets, priests and diviners (cf. 3:7, 8, 9).  Paul identifies himself here as Christ’s amanuensis, an image of his work in founding the church (cf. 1 Cor 3:10a). 
His letter is not written with ink, unlike (presumably) his opponents’ letters, but 'with the Spirit of the living God’ - the expression may insinuate that his opponents’ letters were in some sense associated with dead idols; cf. 11:14-15; 1 Cor 10:14-22).  The metaphor portrays the fulfilment of the promise of Ezek 36:26-27, 'A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances' (NRSV; cf. 11:19-20). Paul’s letter is written, not on stone tablets, but on ‘tablets that are fleshly hearts’; he no longer has in view his own heart, as in v. 2, but the hearts of the Corinthians;  through his mediatory agency, they have received the indwelling Holy Spirit. The life of the Spirit of Christ manifest in their ‘fleshly hearts’ (ἐν … καρδίαις σαρκίναις) commends Paul’s ministry to everyone.
The phrase καρδία σαρκίνη (‘fleshly heart’) occurs in the LXX only in the parallel new covenant traditions of Ezek 11:19 and 36:26. Both texts promise the gift of the indwelling Spirit, and in both the LXX reads, Καὶ ἐσπάσω τὴν καρδίαν τὴν λιθίνην ἐκ τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτῶν καὶ δώσω αὐτοῖς καρδίαν σαρκίνην (‘and I will remove the stone heart from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh’). However, the language of inscribing on hearts may also bring to mind Jer 17:1 (absent from the LXX): ‘Judah's sin is engraved with an iron tool, inscribed with a flint point, on the tablets of their hearts and on the horns of their altars’ (NIV). Paul is contrasting the Spirit-filled, fleshly hearts of the Corinthians with the stony heart of unregenerate Israel – and by implication, therefore, with the stony, evil hearts of his Jewish opponents (cf. 4:3-4; 6:14-7:1). Furthermore, the antitheses produce an echo of Jer 31(38):31-34,  for the contrast, ‘tablets of stone’ vs. ‘tablets that are hearts of flesh’, evokes a contrast of the old and new covenants. According to Jer 31:31-34, under the new covenant the Law is to be written, not on stone tablets, but on human (fleshly) hearts. 
Paul may well have perceived Exod 31:18; Ezek 11:19-20; 36:26-27 and Jer 31(38):31-34 to be linked by gezerah shewah.  The passages are linked thematically by the contrast of the old and new covenants, a contrast that the apostle develops further in 3:6-18. They are also linked verbally: Exod 31:18 and Ezek 11:19; 36:26 are linked by אבו / λίθινος (‘made of stone’); Ezek 11:19; 36:26 and Jer 31(38):33 by לב / καρδία (‘heart’). 
Paul’s apostolic ministry is commended, he therefore implies, by the existence of the Spirit-filled, godly Christian community in Corinth – a point his addressees can hardly deny (cf. 1 Cor 9:2). But the power of Paul’s ‘brilliant metaphor’ does not end here, for the final antithesis recalls a passage from the Letter of Tears: ‘When Moses returned to the camp he broke the stone tablets of the covenant, but if I were to come to Corinth now I would break my own heart.’ Through this evocation, Paul creates a startling ambiguity, reactivating the echo of the Letter of Tears in v. 2, and thereby returning attention to his ‘Affliction in Asia’ and the love of his own ‘fleshly’ heart (cf. 2:4), which is contrasted with the total self-interest of the stony hearts of his opponents. Their relationship with the Corinthians is essentially a financial one (2:17). The apostle, by contrast, is bound to them in love, even at the cost of his life (cf. 6:11-13; 7:2, 3).
Πεποιθήσιν δὲ τοιαύτην ἔχομεν διὰ τοῦ χριστοῦ πρὸς τὸν θεόν.΅ οὐχ ὅτι ἀφ' ἑαυτῶν ἱκανοί ἐσμεν λογίσασθαί a τι b ὡς ἐξ ἑαυτῶν, c ἀλλ' ἡ ἱκανότης ἡμῶν ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ, ὃς καὶ ἱκάνωσεν ἡμᾶς διακόνους καινῆς διαθήκης, οὐ γράμματος ἀλλὰ πνεύματος·
a C D F G 629 read λογίσεσθαί.
b p46 B omit τι.
c B F G read αὑτῶν in place of ἑαυτῶν, a fairly common contraction.
‘This is the self-confidence  we have through Christ toward God. Not that in ourselves we are competent  to reckon  anything as deriving from ourselves; rather, our competence is from God, who has indeed made us competent as mediators  of a new covenant,’ 
V. 4 Paul has begun to describe a ministry filled with divine power: to those who are perishing, he is the stench of the advance of death, but to those who are being saved he is the fragrance of the advance of life. He speaks the word of God in Christ, with sincerity; his words are from God, and he speaks in God’s presence (2:17). He has such confidence in the outcome of his work in Corinth that he boasts of the church to everyone (3:2). Through his ministry as Christ’s envoy they have received renewed hearts indwelt by the Holy Spirit and capable of fulfilling the Law (3:3). As he has already explained in the Letter of Tears, during the recent crisis he staked everything, even his own life, on their standing as believers, confident that they would respond to that letter with true repentance. 'This confidence before God’, he now says, ‘is ours through Christ’. It was as Christ’s envoy that Paul founded the church in Corinth; the church is ‘a letter from Christ, drawn up by us’ (3:3). In view of the allusions to the Letter of Tears in 3:2-3, there is a clearly audible echo of Paul’s confidence expression in 1:15, that the Corinthians will be his boast, just as he will be theirs, on the eschatological ‘Day of the Lord’.
Paul’s strategy in the crisis depended crucially upon his confidence that his labors in Corinth had been successful, that the church he had planted in Corinth really was a community of true believers, indwelt by the Spirit. In this confidence the apostle composed 1 Corinthians (1 Cor 1:1-9, 30-31; 4:14-16; 6:11; 9:2),  and in the ensuing crisis he continued to act upon it.
Vv. 5-6a Once more Paul guards against misunderstanding: ‘Not that in ourselves we are competent to reckon anything as deriving from ourselves, but our competence is from God’ (3:5a). He has just claimed that he speaks the word of God as a true apostle (2:16b-17) and he implies, therefore, that he is competent to make this judgment concerning the Corinthians. But he is not competent (ἱκανός), he says, to reckon this triumph as if it were his own achievement. ‘Rather, our competency (ἱκανότης) is from God, who has indeed made us competent (ἱκανόω) servants (διακόνοι) of a new covenant’ (3:5b-6a). The term διάκονος is often used of servants of the gods, and carries the connotation of being sent on a mission; it is cognate to the verb διακονέω and picks up the thought of 3:3, διακονηθεῖσα ὑφ' ἡμῶν.  Paul’s threefold use of ἱκανός and its cognates recalls his allusion to the call of Moses in 2:16b. Just as Moses, though he was in himself inadequate for the task, was made competent by God and sent by him as a servant of the old covenant, so Paul, though in himself inadequate to his task, has been made competent by God and sent by him as a servant of the new covenant.
The expression ‘new covenant’ (καινὴ διαθηκή) occurs just once in the LXX, in Jer 38(31):31, to which Paul has just alluded in v.3; the expression occurs elsewhere in Paul only in the Jesus tradition of 1 Cor 11:25. Jeremiah prophesied that a new covenant, which would be associated with the eschatological return from exile of the remnant of Israel (Jer 31:1-25), would supersede the Sinai covenant; Paul evidently believed that the Second Exodus was brought about by the sacrifice of Christ, the Paschal Lamb (1 Cor 5:7), and that the new covenant was ratified by Christ’s blood (1 Cor 11:25).
οὐ γράμματος ἀλλὰ πνεύματος· τὸ γὰρ γράμμα ἀποκτέννει a τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ζῳοποιεῖ.
a p46* A C D L 81 365 630 1175 1241 1505 1881 2464 Majority Text read αποκτενει, which could be either the future, ἀποκτενῶ, or a variant spelling of the present, ἀποκτένει. ἀποκτέννει / ἀποκτείνει is attested by p46c א B F G K P Ψ 0243 6 33 104 326 614s 945 1739 co.
‘[a covenant] not of the letter,  but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit makes alive.’
As is clear from 3:3, Paul read Jer 31:31-34 and Ezek 36:25-28 as mutually interpreting texts. Those who enter the new covenant are given a new heart of flesh, indwelt by the Spirit; the Law is written in their hearts; they are enabled to turn from sin and live in obedience. The new covenant is a covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit (v. 6b). As a servant of the new covenant, Paul is tasked with mediating, not the Law (γράμμα; ‘letter’, is clearly a metonymy of the Law, written on stone tablets), but the Spirit (πνεῦμα) who writes the Law on tablets that are fleshly (as opposed to stony) hearts (v. 3).
V. 6c The apostle's confidence (in his competence) is grounded in the fact that (γάρ) ‘the letter kills, but the Spirit makes alive’. ‘The letter’ kills because the old covenant makes no provision for the hardness of the covenant people’s hearts; lacking the empowerment of the indwelling Spirit, they disobey the Law and bring upon themselves condemnation and death. As Paul has pointed out in an earlier letter, due to persistent sin almost the entire Exodus generation failed to reach Canaan; they died in the wilderness (1 Cor 10:1-13). And having taken possession of the Land, the people continued in disobedience, and under the curse sanctions of the old covenant they were finally driven into exile - the Temple was destroyed, the land laid waste. The letter kills. It is against this background that the new covenant promises of Ezek 36:25-28 were given (cf. 36:1-21). The prophet goes on to portray exiled Israel and Judah as skeletons lying in the ground: the eschatological Return is portrayed as an act of (re)creation, in which the dry bones are covered with flesh; and the bodies are then brought to life:
Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath (רוּחַ /πνεῦμα); prophesy, son of man, and say to it, "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath (רוּחַ /πνεῦμα), and breathe into these slain, that they may live." So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath (רוּחַ /πνεῦμα) entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet--a vast army. (Ezek 37:9-10 NIV)
The imagery recalls the creation of Adam: ‘the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,  and the man became a living being. (Gen 2:7, NIV). As Ezek 37:11-14 makes clear, however, in the new creation of Ezekiel’s vision the ‘breath’ entering the newly created corpses of the remnant of Israel is a pictorial representation of the new covenant promise of 36:27-28, ‘‘And I will put my Spirit (רוח /πνεῦμα) in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God’ (NIV). For Paul, in response to the Exile and in accordance with OT prophesy, Jesus Christ himself has assumed the role of the seed of Abraham, the true Israel, the Last Adam who inherits the blessing lost by the primeval Adam in the Fall; and believers, having been raised to life and united with him by his Spirit, are co-heirs with Christ, members of the true Adamic humanity. 
The preceding narrative of 1:8-2:13 and the echoes of the Letter of Tears in 3:2-3 bring into view the repentance of the church during the recent crisis, and indeed the repentance of the offender himself, as a vivid demonstration that ‘the Spirit makes alive’. Knowing that, through his mediatory agency (διακονία), the Corinthians had received the Spirit (cf. 1:22), and were therefore spiritually alive and among ‘those who are being saved’ (οἱ σῳζομένοι, 2:16a), Paul acted with confidence in the recent crisis: he stood with them before the judgment of God, as Christ’s envoy and their representative. He faced certain death, and yet was wonderfully delivered by ‘God who raises the dead’ (1:8-10), dramatically re-enacting the gospel in the knowledge that, for those who are being saved, the gospel is ‘the power of God’ (1 Cor 1:18). The apostle made himself present to them by means of the Letter of Tears and his own envoy Titus, knowing that, for those who are being saved his presence, an epiphany of the crucified and risen Christ, is ‘the fragrance of the advance of life’ (2:14-16a).
 'For philosophical opposition to letters of recommendation, see Epictetus, Diss. 2.3, quoting Diogenes.
 The verb θριαμβεύω can also mean ‘triumph over’ (BDAG s.v. 4); ‘expose to shame’ (s.v. 5); ‘display, publicize, make known’ (s.v. 6; Danker also lists other meanings that have been proposed by scholars, but which are not attested in the ancient sources, for example, the KJV’s ‘who causeth us to triumph’). However, the travel and suffering motifs of 2:12-13, together with the sacrificial imagery of v. 15, require the sense ‘lead in triumphal procession’.
 Josephus gives a detailed eye-witness account of the triumphal procession of Vespasian and Titus in AD 71 (J.W. 7.118-57), and there is a triumphator relief on the Arch of Titus in Rome; Scott, Triumph of God in 2 Cor 2:14 261-62.
 The ancient myth of the Triumph of Bacchus, the story of his military campaign in India and triumphant return to Greece, in a chariot pulled by elephants (Beard, Roman Triumph 17, 315-18), ‘amidst a band of satyrs, maenads and assorted drunks’ (315), underwent considerable elaboration after the conquests of Alexander the Great: ‘[…] there are numerous traces in the Hellenistic Greek world of this newly elaborated “Return of Bacchus” from India. These include one of the main floats in the third-century procession of Ptolemy Philadelphus in Alexandria, which supposedly carried a tableau of Dionysus’ return – including, so Callixeinos would have us believe, an eighteen-foot statue of the god, followed by his Bacchic troops and Indian prisoners …by the first century BCE the “Return of Dionysus” from the East (as Callixeinos puts it) had been translated into the “Triumph of Dionysus/ Bacchus” and repackaged in explicitly Roman triumphal terms. Even if the conventional title for the myth, at any period, is now “The Triumph of Bacchus,” the god’s return could not have been thought of as a “triumph” in a technical sense until the Romans had seen in it the founding moment of their own triumphal ceremony […].’ (Beard, Roman Triumph 316).
 2 Macc 10:7; Judith 15:12; Plutarch Quaest. Conviv. 4.6; cited by T. L. Marquis, Apostolic Travels as ‘Carrying around the Death of Jesus’ in 2 Corinthians 4:10, SBLSP 2010.
 Pompey, in his first triumph ca. 80-81 BC, attempted to use a team of four African elephants to draw his triumphal chariot, but was forced to replace them by horses as they were too large for one of the gates as he approached Rome. Beard comments, ‘Very likely he was reformulating the ceremony in light of the return of Dionysus. But whether that was Pompey’s intention or not, Roman observers and commentators saw it in that way … In other words, the story of triumphal origins becomes acted out (or, at least, it seems to be acted out) in a significantly new form of triumph.’ (Beard, Roman Triumph 317-18)
 The verb θριαμβεύω can also mean ‘triumph over’ (BDAG s.v. 4); ‘expose to shame’ (s.v. 5); ‘display, publicize, make known’ (s.v. 6; BDAG also lists other meanings that have been proposed by scholars, but which are not attested in the ancient sources, for example, the KJV’s ‘who causeth us to triumph’). However, the travel and suffering motifs of 2:12-13, together with the sacrificial imagery of v. 15, require the sense ‘lead in triumphal procession’.
 Carr, Angels and Principalities 63; Talbert, Reading Corinthians 141. For the use of incense in triumphal processions see Breytenbach, C., Paul’s Proclamation and God’s “Thriambos”: Notes on 2 Corinthians 2:14-16b. Neotestamentica 24/2 (1990) 257-71, pages 266-68, who cites Appian Lib 292; Dionysius of Hilacarnassus AntRom 7.72.13; Ovid Fasti 3.731, and various depictions of triumphal processions in ancient art. Talbert cites Horace Odes 4.2.50-51; Appian Punic Wars 66.
 Here I am following Duff, Mind of the Redactor 167; the quote is from C. H. Dodd. Cf. Patte, D., 'A Structural Exegesis of 2 Corinthians 2:14-7:4 with Special Attention on 2:14-3:6 and 6:11-7:4', in SBLSP 26 (1987) 23-49, 31.
 McDonald notes that ‘the Greek mind would associate incense much more readily with religious processions in general than Roman triumphs in particular’. (McDonald, Paul and the Preaching Ministry 39; quoted by Duff, Metaphor, Motif and Meaning 88 n 39). For the association of sweet fragrances with the presence of the divine, see also Thrall, Second epistle to the Corinthians I 197-98, with the notes.
 Duff (The Transformation of the Spectator: Power, Perception and the Day of Salvation, SBL.SP 26 (1987), 233-243:235) cites Bömer, who has hypothesised that a traveller in Greece ‘would have been able to participate in a cultic procession practically every day!’
 Duff defines an epiphany procession as 'a procession whose function was to manifest the presence of the deity by means of a representation of the deity, a sacred object, or even, in some cases, scenes from the life of the deity'; Mind of the Redactor 170.
 Duff, Metaphor, Motif and Meaning 83; see:83-86. The evidence is from ancient art, and Duff does not cite a literary metaphor involving the verb θριαμβεύειν. However, Paul’s literary metaphor would certainly have been clear enough in Roman Corinth.
 The Isis Ship Procession, described by Apuleius, Metamorphoses 11, is another example of an epiphany procession that would have been familiar to the Corinthians; Duff Metaphor, Motif and Meaning 90, citing Plutarch Isis et Osiris 357F; 365B; Apuleius Met. 11.15.
 Duff, Metaphor, Motif and Meaning 90. Vv. 14a and 14b ‘each has the same subject, in each case the participles describe the action of God, and in each case the apostle has a functional role in God’s action’.
 BDAG s.v. θάνατος 2. For the ἐκ A εἰς A idiom, with an imperfective verb, see Benware, W. A., Romans 1:17 and Cognitive Grammar, TBT 51.3 (2000) 330-340; Second Corinthians 3.18 and Cognitive Grammar: apo doxēs eis doxan. TBT 57.1 (2006) 44-57; J. W. Taylor, From Faith to Faith 343. Whereas Benware argues that, in the case of non-telic verbs, the idiom encodes ‘the iteration of a bounded event’ (Romans 1:17 and Cognitive Grammar 336), though it is unclear why this should be, Taylor maintains that in the special case of abstract nouns the idiom has the sense of 'increase, progression or movement from a lower to higher state'. Though both studies make helpful contributions, neither seems to satisfactorily account for every instance of the idiom, particularly when one takes into account also the apparently equivalent expressions ἀπὸ A εἰς A (see on 3:18). Nevertheless I have adopted Taylor's glosses of 'the advance of life / of the advance of death', noting that they appear compatible with both analyses.
 In the only other occurrence of the term εὐωδία in the NT, Eph 5:2, the sacrifice of Christ as described as θυσίαν τῷ θεῷ εἰς ὀσμὴν εὐωδίας.
 Webb, Returning Home 77-78 n.; Barrett, Second Epistle to the Corinthians 99; Hafemann, Suffering and the Spirit 41-45; cf. D. Patte, 'A Structural Exegesis of 2 Corinthians 2:14-7:4 with Special Attention on 2:14-3:6 and 6:11-7:4', in SBLSP 26 (1987) 23-49, 49. For other views of 2:15a see Webb, loc. cit.; Thrall, Second epistle to the Corinthians I 202-7. Thrall’s own view, that the imagery derives from the identification of Wisdom with Torah, and takes motifs from each of these backgrounds (206-8), is not convincing. Wisdom is said to provide the ὀσμή imagery, while Torah, according to certain rabbinic traditions, brings life to some, but death to others. Thrall claims that Wisdom and Torah motifs predominate throughout 2:14-16a, and describes the ’triumphal procession’ motif as ‘subsidiary’ (207). Following Duff I maintain that, on the contrary, the motif of the triumphal procession, understood as an epiphany procession, dominates 2:14-16b, whereas Wisdom traditions do not seem to play a role.
 ἐξ εἰλικρινείας, cf. note on 1:12.
 The opposing arguments have been refuted by Hafemann, ibid.
 Patte, D., 'A Structural Exegesis of 2 Corinthians 2:14-7:4 with Special Attention on 2:14-3:6 and 6:11-7:4', in SBLSP 26 (1987), 23-49, 45.
 Hafemann comments, ‘even when the question is seen to be a natural response to Paul's description of his apostolic ministry in 2:14-16a and to imply a positive answer on the basis of 2:17, 3:1 and 3:4-5, one is still left exegetically troubled by the form of argumentation itself. The fact that Paul introduces the theme of his adequacy for the apostolic ministry in the form of an indefinite question which is never directly answered, but whose answer is intended to be so unmistakably clear that Paul can later assume it in his argument (cf. 3:5!) raises not just the question of what Paul said, but also forces us to ask why he said it in the particular way he did'. Hafemann, Suffering and the Spirit 95.
 Hafemann, Suffering and the Spirit 109-24. The connotation of ‘adulterating’ (e.g. NJB) or ‘watering down’ (e.g. Barrett, Second Epistle to the Corinthians 92) what is sold is not carried by the verb itself .
 Noted in this connection by, e.g., noted by Martin, 2 Corinthians 50; Winter, Philo and Paul Among the Sophists 168; Van Kooten, Paul's Anthropology in Context 317-318. Cf. Plato, Apol. 19d-e, 31b-c, 33a-b; Xenophon, Men. 1.2.6-7, 61; 6.1-5, 11-14; Apol. 16, 26; Diogenes Laertius, 2.27; Hock, The Social Context of Paul's Ministry 53.
 As Sandnes has demonstrated, Paul - One of the Prophets? Paul sees his apostolic vocation as prophetic in nature, and a true prophet must stand in the presence of God in order to receive the revelation that he then communicates. Similarly, in 12:19 (κατέναντι θεοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ λαλοῦμεν), Paul emphasises that he has been speaking as a prophet, a messenger of the covenant; for (γάρ), when he comes, he may have to take disciplinary action against continuing offenders (12:20-13:10); see Lane, Covenant: The Key to Paul's Conflict with Corinth.
 Heiny, S. B., '2 Corinthians 2:14-4:6: The Motive for Metaphor'; in SBL: SP 26 (1987) 1-21, 6.
 Indeed, despite its poor attestation, the ὑμῶν variant is preferred on contextual grounds by many commentators (e.g. Barrett, Second Epistle to the Corinthians 96, 107, Bruce, First and Second Corinthians 189; Martin, 2 Corinthians 51; Thrall, Second Epistle to the Corinthians I 222, 223f), and by the translators of the RSV.
 A negative response is expected, for 3:1a is linked by ἤ to a second rhetorical question, 3:1b, and which is marked as requiring a negative response (μή) (Thrall, Second epistle to the Corinthians I 217 n 210).
 ἢ. Cf. note on 1:17.
 ὑμεῖς is emphatic.
 ἀναγινώσκω, cf. 1:13.
 Taking φανερούμενοι to be causal, and passive (BDAG s.v. φανερόω 2bβ). The participle is dependent on ὑμεῖς, v. 2, hence, ‘you are becoming known that’; but English sentence structure requires, ‘it is becoming known that’.
 Cf. NRSV, ‘prepared by us’. The verb διακονέω often refers to the action of a go-between, ‘an action done in the name of another’ (J. N. Collins, Diakonia 194; BDAG s.v. διακονέω 1, 2.). The word group is used widely to describe acts of mediation between the gods and humanity, and hence of the work of prophets, priests and diviners (J. N. Collins, The Mediatorial Aspect of Paul's Role As DIAKONOS, ABR 40  34-44). Danker himself suggests, ‘delivered by us’, following Baird.
 3:1a is linked by ἤ to a second rhetorical question, 3:1b (see BDAG s.v. ἤ 1db), which requires a negative answer; therefore 3:1a also requires a negative answer (Thrall Second epistle to the Corinthians I 217 n 210).
 συστατική ἐπιστολή is a technical term for a definite letter type in the ancient manuals on letter writing (Thrall, Second Epistle to the Corinthians I 218; C. W. Keyes, The Greek Letter of Introduction, AJP 56 (1935) 28-44; C.-H. Kim, Form and Structure of the Familiar Greek Letter). The term συστατικός is an NT hapax.
 ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν is a literary plural, referring to Paul's heart.
 Paul does not need letters of recommendation, for, ‘All he has to say is, “Have you heard about the Christians at Corinth?’” And people will respond, “You mean to say that they are your converts? Why, everyone has heard of them!”.’ (Danker, II Corinthians 50-51).
 Cf. 7:3, ‘you are in my heart ..’.
 There is support for the sense ‘about Christ’: Christ is the content or subject matter of the letter (e.g. Schröter Der versöhnte Versöhner: Paulus als unentbehrlicher Mittler im Heilsvorgang zwischen Gott und Gemeinde nach 2 Kor 2,14-7,4 66; Kuschnerus Die Gemeinde als Brief Christi 162-3.); but the primary purpose of a letter of recommendation was to commend the bearer, rather than to give information about someone else. A third view is that the letter of recommendation imagery is dropped in v. 3; rather, ἐπιστολὴ Χριστοῦ now images the community as a letter ‘belonging to Christ’, i.e. as a Christian community (H. W. Hollander, 'A Letter Written on Tablets of Human Hearts', in H. J. de Jonge and J. Tromp (eds.), The Book of Ezekiel and its Influence 103-121, 109-110) is built upon the thought, ‘you are our letter (of recommendation)’, and the repetition in v. 3 of the key terms ἐπιρστολή, καρδία and ἐγράφω suggests a fundamental unity of the imagery.
 BDAG s.v. διακονέω 1); aorist passive, referring to a reference to a completed, past event. This makes better sense than ‘delivered by us’ (RSV), since Paul still carries the letter with him, presenting it wherever he goes; cf. ‘prepared by us’, NRSV.
 J. N. Collins, 194.
 J. N. Collins, The Mediatorial Aspect of Paul's Role As DIAKONOS, ABR 40 (1992) 34-44.
 Many scholars prefer to render διακονηθεῖσα ὑφ' ἡμῶν, 'delivered by us'. However, διακονηθεῖσα is an aorist participle, whereas Paul's letter of recommendation, which he carries in his heart, is delivered to the one(s) to whom it is addressed, i.e., to everyone he meets, an ongoing process of delivery which would require a present participle.
 The expression is commonly used in the OT, Jewish and early Christian literature to stress the salvific power of God as opposed to the impotence of idols; de Oliveira, Die Diakonie der Gerechtigkeit und der Versöhnung in der Apologie des 2. Korintherbriefes 143 and n 311; Hollander, H. W. Hollander, A Letter Written on Tablets of Human Hearts, in H. J. de Jonge and J. Tromp (eds.), The Book of Ezekiel and Its Influence 103-21, 110 n 24.
 The shift in the καρδία imagery is made possible by the separate development of the (feminine) predicate ἐπιστολή in v. 2 and the (masculine) subject ὑμεῖς in v. 3; indeed, Hafemann, Paul, Moses and the History of Israel 185, argues that this syntactical structure actually signals the shift.
 The linguistic link between Jer 31 and 2 Cor 3:2-3 is admittedly a little tenuous (Räisänen, Paul and the Law 244 n 87); however, as Räisänen concedes, an allusion to Jer 31 becomes quite probable on the assumption that 'Ezek 11:19 (36:26) and Jer 31:31ff belonged, in Paul's mind inseparably together, so that the "fleshly heart" (Ezek) without further ado brought to his mind the "Law written on hearts" of Jeremiah as well' (Paul and the Law 244). This assumption is almost certainly correct. Moreover, the return to the ἱκανός motif of 2:16b in 3:4-5 suggests that already Paul has in mind his competence as a minister of the new covenant (cf. Thrall, Second Epistle to the Corinthians I 226 n 265, against Hafemann).
 The tablets of the Law were engraved on stone tablets ‘by the finger of God’ (Exod 31:18; cf. Deut 9:10-11); while the Law was to be engraved in human hearts by the Holy Spirit. It is interesting to note that Luke seems to have altered a source by replacing ‘Spirit of God’ with ‘finger of God’ (Luke 11:20; cf. Matt 12:28; Nolland, Luke 9:21-18:34 639-40). Perhaps ‘the finger of God’ and ‘the Spirit of God’ were interchangeable in the thought of the apostle and of his readers. Then the parallel between the writing of the law on stone tablets and on ‘tablets of hearts of flesh’ is especially striking.
 Gezerah shewah is an exegetical technique in which passages of Scripture were regarded as mutually interpreting on the basis of verbal and thematic connections. See Grooke 1985:8-17; Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul 13.
 Exod 31:18; Jer 31(38):33 by כבת / γράφω (‘write’).
 ἱκανός, cf. 2:16b.
 For a helpful discussion of the (assumed) spiritual status of Paul’s addressees in 1 Corinthians see K. Krell, Temporal Judgment and the Church: Paul's Remedial Agenda in 1 Corinthians. PhD dissertation, University of Bristol 2011, 30-58.
 The διακον- word group is comparatively rare (see J. N. Collins, The Mediatorial Aspect of Paul's Role As DIAKONOS, ABR 40  34-44, 36-37), but it occurs eight times in 2 Cor 2:14-7:4, and three times in 2 Cor 10-13. Collins believes that Paul chose this language because, ‘They were words of acknowledged quality and character, capable of expressing subtleties of the kind his encounter with revelation evoked, at the same time as breathing a nobility engendered by a long association with language about gods and their messengers to earth’ (43). For a discussion of the term διάκονος in 3:6 see Hafemann, Paul, Moses and the History of Israel 110-19.
 The LXX has πνοὴν ζωῆς.