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You yourselves are the proof of our ministry

1-3 Is this going to be more self-advertisement in your eyes? Do we need, as some apparently do, to exchange testimonials before we can be friends? You yourselves are our testimonial, written in our hearts and yet open for anyone to inspect and read. You are an open letter about Christ which we ourselves have written, not with pen and ink but with the Spirit of the living God. Our message has been engraved not in stone, but in living men and women.

4-6 We dare to say such things because of the confidence we have in God through Christ, and not because we are confident of our own powers. It is God who makes us competent administrators of the new agreement, and we deal not in the letter but in the Spirit. The letter of the Law leads to the death of the soul; the spirit of God alone can give life to the soul.

The splendour of our ministry outshines that of Moses

7-11 The administration of the Law which was engraved in stone (and which led in fact to spiritual death) was so magnificent that the Israelites were unable to look unflinchingly at Moses’ face, for it was alight with heavenly splendour. Now if the old administration held such heavenly, even though transitory, splendour, can we not see what a much more glorious thing is the new administration of the Spirit of life? If to administer a system which is to end in condemning men was a splendid task, how infinitely more splendid is it to administer a system which ends in making men good! And while it is true that the former temporary glory has been completely eclipsed by the latter, we do well to remember that is eclipsed simply because the present permanent plan is such a very much more glorious thing than the old.

Our ministry is an open and splendid thing

12-17 With this hope in our hearts we are quite frank and open in our ministry. We are not like Moses, who veiled his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing its fading glory. But it was their minds really which were blinded, for even today when the old agreement is read to them there is still a veil over their minds—though the veil has actually been lifted by Christ. Yes, alas, even to this day there is still a veil over their hearts when the writings of Moses are read. Yet if they “turned to the Lord” the veil would disappear. For the Lord to whom they could turn is the spirit of the new agreement, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, men’s souls are set free.

18 But all of us who are Christians have no veils on our faces, but reflect like mirrors the glory of the Lord. We are transfigured by the Spirit of the Lord in ever-increasing splendour into his own image.

Are we beginning to commend ourselves(A) again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation(B) to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.(C) You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God,(D) not on tablets of stone(E) but on tablets of human hearts.(F)

Such confidence(G) we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves(H) to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.(I) He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant(J)—not of the letter(K) but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.(L)

The Greater Glory of the New Covenant

Now if the ministry that brought death,(M) which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory,(N) transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation(O) was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!(P) 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

12 Therefore, since we have such a hope,(Q) we are very bold.(R) 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face(S) to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull,(T) for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant(U) is read.(V) It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord,(W) the veil is taken away.(X) 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit,(Y) and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.(Z) 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a](AA) the Lord’s glory,(AB) are being transformed into his image(AC) with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 3:18 Or reflect

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