It became instantly clear to me on a fresh read of 2 Corinthians 3, that Paul is not formulating theology. He is raging and crying and singing out in joy; pouring out his heart in a letter—just as you might had you been so completely transformed by Christ; trying to express the change in himself that occurred long ago and still occurs. If he is raging against the Israelites, it is because he is raging against himself before the road to Damascus. Paul, who is, must remember the Saul he was: “How could I have been so dull and blind! How could I have turned out that way! Are we really going to start doing letters of recommendation again?! Really?! Man’s opinions?! Man’s letters of what a Godly man is?! No! I had those letters on that road to persecuting Jesus! I will not be him again! That way lies death and condemnation! Competency in letters—which is the competent intellect’s ministry—kills! Whereas competency in Spirit—which is the competent soul’s ministry—gives life! Creates living, breathing letters of Christ! Faces perpetually unveiled revealing the Glory of God!”
I get the sense Paul riffed that passage in one go. And his scribe said, “Whoah, Paul! That was so good. Do you want to go over it and correct anything in it?”
And Paul said, “No. It is what it is. It came from my heart and that is enough.”
Paul is not trying to make an equation! As if: glory-veil=Christ’s glorification, sanctification=x-salvation + the square root of adoption, face+Moses-mind=Israelite apostasy, justification by faith=32% works + 68% predestination….!
Paul is trying to make people come alive! As he came alive!
He is not ever contradictory yet (and because) also is he not writing an equation where all terms must be consistently terminal. He is painting a picture. Certainly, and by necessity, with many opposing and complementing colors, shapes and forms—but still definitely one picture. A picture of glory unto glory where the observer says, “Whoah! Right on, Paul. Hey guys, keep this one.”