Observe here, 1. The different titles given to the law, and to the gospel; the former is called the ministration of condemnation, because it condemns men eternally for the violation of it; the latter is called the ministration of righteousness or justification, because it discovers to us the only way for a sinner's justification before God; namely, by the righteousness of the Mediator.
Observe, 2. That the apostle, comparing the law and the gospel together, acknowledges that there was a surpassing glory in the latter above and beyond the former. Indeed, God's institution stampt an excellency upon the Jewish worship, and the law given them had both an intrinsic glory in it, as it was a revelation of the will of God; and also an accidental and adventitious glory, as it was attended with the solemnity of thunder and lightning, fire and smoke, and a voice like the sound of a trumpet, at the promulgation of it: yet, says the apostle, compared with the gospel, the glory of the law, or Jewish worship, had no glory in it at all, by reason of the glory that doth excel; as the moon compared with the sun, is so outshined by it, that its brightness is little taken notice of. True, indeed, the law was a revelation of God's will, as well as the gospel; but with this happy advantage on the gospel's side. The law was a revelation of God's will, as to duty and as to condemnation, in case of non-performance of that duty; but the gospel is a revelation of God's will, as to grace and mercy, as to remission of sin and eternal life.
Observe, 3. Another argument produced here by the apostle to prove the ministration of the gospel, to be much more glorious than that of the law; namely, because it is much more durable and abiding, 2Co_3:11. If that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.
The force of the argument lies thus: That which is durable and permanent, is far more excellent than that which is temporary and transient. Now the law, or Jewish dispensation is vanished; its ministration is ceased, and all the legal ordinances are abolished; but the gospel-state remaineth to the end of the world. It is called a kingdom that cannot be moved, Heb_12:28, therefore the gospel-ministration, which is eternal, fixed, and abiding, must needs be more excellent and more glorious than the legal dispensation, which was temporary, transient, and vanishing.