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2 Corinthians 3:13-18 (NIV)

We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Paul is speaking here about a "veil" that covers the hearts of people (probably the Israelites) which prevents them from seeing the glory of God when they read the Old Testament.

What exactly is this "veil" that Paul speaks of? What exactly does it conceal? Does it still cover the hearts of people? Is there any possibility that this "veil" still covers the hearts of some Christians today?

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2 Answers 2

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Moses, after speaking with God, had a shining face. When he came out from speaking with God he would give the people God's commands under the Law with the glory of a 'shining face' which they feared with trembling and fright. Before the glory faded, signifying the non lasting nature of the covenant under the law, Moses would put a veil over his face. He was hiding something, not God's glory but its fading. This means the nature of the law under the old covenant, especially its temporary aspect, was not revealed fully and openly to the people but hidden. Moses was not trying to deceive them, making them think that his face always shining but was simply doing whatever God required of him. Possibly it would made no sense to the the people to clearly see at that time in progressive revelation that the law was merely a 'fading glory' when first introduced. That would be counter-productive according to God's purpose of that stage of history.

Now Paul is grabbing this old fact about the veil and transferring the symbolism to the Jews, for although the gospel had come and superseded the law, Christ superseding Moses, yet they still clung on to the law thinking its glory will 'never fade'. Now the gospel is declared 'openly' with no hidden parts because it will never fade or need something in addition (not like Moses who put a veil over the temporary nature of the law). Yet the Jews were not seeing it. It must therefore be a veil upon the heart, i.e. a stubborn unbelief blinding their minds from seeing the truth of the gospel and the temporary nature of the law.

Sin blinds the mind and so even carnal Christians have a certain kind of veil making them unable to see the glory of the gospel. That is why Paul writes to the Ephesians:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength. (NIV, Ephesians 1:18-19)

For all unbelievers this veil is thick and damming, not just blurring the vision:

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (NIV, 2 Corinthians 4:4)

In conclusion the veil is the ignorance to spiritual truth by which sin blurs the mind of a believer or totally blinds the mind of a sinner under the bondage of the Devil. This covering of the eyes through ignorance is metaphorically called a veil.

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I do not wish to cause controversy, but I also cannot stay quiet about the subject. I will humbly reply.

@Mike I don't agree with a few things on your answer.

I don't believe Moses was hiding anything.

Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him; and Moses talked with them. Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them as commandments all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. But whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he would take the veil off until he came out; and he would come out and speak to the children of Israel whatever he had been commanded. And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone, then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.

Exodus 34:29-35

Christ is God's glory,

Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Hebrews 1:3

so God's Glory will never fade.

The Moral Law (10 Commandments), also does not fade as it is written in the hearts of the people of God under the New Covenant

"Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Jeremiah 31:31-34

The Moral Law has always and will always stand. Since the beginning it was there and in the end will be there, but it CANNOT cleanse us form our sins. It was not made for that purpose. Jesus is the ONLY One who can give grace and forgive us for our sins, as He is the One who paid for them. This is why it is called the ministry of death, because it shows us that we deserve death, but once we accept Christ and repent of our sinful ways, we are now in the ministry of righteousness.

As for the answer:

The Old Testament speaks of Jesus, but in a concealed manner. Just like with a veil, you can still see glimpses of Jesus in it. Jesus said:

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

John 5:39

And at that moment, the only part of the Scriptures written was the Old Testament. Jesus also showed that there were glimpses of Him there.

Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:25-27

The New Testament is Christ revealed, no veil. Those that do not believe in Christ are once again covering themselves with a veil, but one of unbelief.

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My humble refutations: [1] Paul simply meant that the shining face of Moses was not permanent and Moses would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away (verse 3) [2] Not all laws from 10 Commandments are Moral Laws, eg. Sabbath is not a moral law. Jesus did not quote the 10 Commandments and all Moral laws all over again. Jesus simply said "Love your God and love your neighbors". –  Mawia Sep 11 '13 at 15:42
    
Love God = First 4 Commandments; Love your neighbor = the other 6. Jesus, who gave the 10 Commandments and is Almighty God, does not change. He calls Himself Lord of the Sabbath. –  jlaverde Sep 11 '13 at 16:19

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