2 Corinthians 3:17 Meaning of Where the Spirit of the Lord Is, There Is Freedom

2 Corinthians 3:17
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

Explanation and Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:17

You will have spiritual freedom when the Holy Spirit indwells in you.

Paul was contrasting followers of Jesus who lived according to the law of Jesus with those who lived under Mosaic law. He was not, as some commentators have said, granting a license to Christians to do as they please. Rather he was contrasting how people lived in fear under the codes of the Mosaic law but were free from this and so much more under the life-giving gospels.

The passage from 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 contrasts the plain English used by ministers of the new covenant with the unclear messages used by teachers of the Mosaic law. It contrasts the happy condition of the hearts of believers of the gospels because they have spiritual liberty, as opposed to that of those people who remained in Judaism (following Mosaic law). Those who remained in Judaism when they had heard the new covenant had hearts that were hardened and were ignorant of the truth.

Breaking Down the Key Parts of 2 Corinthians 3:17

#1: “Now the Lord is the Spirit…”
Some commentators think this part of the verse is referring to Jesus, the second person of the Holy Trinity, on the one hand, and the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity, on the other hand. (God is the first person of the Holy Trinity.) They think it means that the Lord and the Spirit are separate, but work closely together and share a practical identity.

While this is true, in the context of the broader passage, the better interpretation is that the “Spirit” should be a lower-cased “spirit” as it refers to the gospels. The gospels are life-giving and are the end of the obligation to abide by Mosaic law for Christians.

#2: “…and where the Spirit of the Lord is…”
In contrast to the preceding part of the verse, here, the common interpretation is that the “Spirit” refers to the actual Holy Spirit. The meaning is “when the Holy Spirit indwells within Christians.”

#3: “…there is freedom.”
Christians have spiritual liberty, meaning freedom from Mosaic law (as the law of Jesus is superior) (Acts 15:10-11), freedom from the fear of death (as we have everlasting life in Heaven) (Romans 8:2), freedom from the guilt and penalty of sin (as Jesus died for our sins) (Romans 6:18), freedom from fear (Isaiah 43:1) and freedom from corruption (Romans 8:21).

Bible Study on 2 Corinthians 3:17

Expert Overview of 2 Corinthians

Biblical Translations of 2 Corinthians 3:17

NIV
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

NLT
For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

ESV
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

KJV
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

NKJV
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

2 Corinthians 3:17 Meaning and Commentary

Author Bio
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.