“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
The Greek word in our text verse, which the KJV translates as “liberty,” is “eleuqeria” or “eleutheria”; it may be translated “freedom.” To see the background of why the Holy Spirit had Paul to pen this verse, please read verses 1-16.
Paul told the church at Corinth that the people in this church were Paul’s Epistle; as a witness that Paul was an Apostle of Christ, sent by God to the Gentiles. The proof of this was found in the people of the church at Corinth. Paul said (verse 1), I don’t need epistles of recommendation to you, or letters of commendation from you. He continues:
“Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3)
Paul went on to say that Christ had made him an able minister of the New Testament (or the New Covenant), not of the letter (or by the law of the Old Testament; for it killeth), but by the Spirit who quickens, or makes alive (verse 6).
Paul related to the church that the Law (written on stones, the ministration of death) was glorious. Then in verse 8, Paul said, “How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?”
Paul said in verse 11, “For if that which is done away (the law; all types and shadows of the Levitical worship of God; the temple, sacrifices, etc.) was glorious, much more that which remaineth (or the New Testament, the New Covenant; see Hebrews 8, 9, 10) is glorious.”
“And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face (Exodus 34:29-35), that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day (until Paul’s day) remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 3:13-14)
Paul said that this vail (or covering) would be upon Israel until they return unto the Lord (see Romans 11:26-32), at Christ’s Second Coming; then “the vail (or their blinded eyes to Him as King and to His Kingdom; see Matthew 13:17) shall be taken away” (2 Corinthians 3:15-16).
Then we come to our text verse, “Now (right now) the Lord (the Resurrected Christ, the Lord of Glory) is that Spirit…” See John 14:1-31, especially verses 16-20, which pointed to the Day of Pentecost and the Coming of Christ as that Spirit upon the Church (Acts 1:8; 2:1-47). See Ephesians 1:12-14, a seal unto the redemption of the body, which was to be at His Second Coming.
Our text verse continues, “…and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (or freedom)…” (2 Corinthians 3:17b). Where was the Spirit of the Lord? From the Day of Pentecost on, He was in the Church. The Church is His dwelling place (1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:19-22; 3:21); which means that He is dwelling in each member of His Body (1 Corinthians 12:13).
If you have been regenerated by the Spirit of God; or called; born from above; given the New Birth; received the Spirit, “…not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). Then you are part of His Temple; His dwelling place. See Romans 8:1-16, especially verse 11a, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you…” (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21-22; 3:21) “… Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). (See also Galatians 4:1-7; 2 Timothy 1:8-10.)
The key words in 2 Corinthians 3:17 are “now” and “liberty,” or freedom. Paul said, “Now” all of you in the Body of Christ have had the vail taken away. Now you have the New Covenant; you have the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ; even the Glory of God is dwelling in you. Therefore, you are not blind, but you can see spiritually. (See 1 Corinthians 2:9-16.) You have the “mind of Christ” now. He lives in you. Therefore, you are free.