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2 Corinthians 3 New Testament for Everyone (NTE)

The Letter and the Spirit

So: we’re starting to ‘recommend ourselves’ again, are we? Or perhaps we need – as some do – official references to give to you? Or perhaps even to get from you? You are our official reference! It’s written on our hearts! Everybody can know it and read it! It’s quite plain that you are a letter from the Messiah, with us as the messengers – a letter not written with ink but with the spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on the tablets of beating hearts.

That’s the kind of confidence we have towards God, through the Messiah. It isn’t as though we are qualified in ourselves to reckon that we have anything to offer on our own account. Our qualification comes from God: God has qualified us to be stewards of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the spirit. The letter kills, you see, but the spirit gives life.

Death and Glory

But just think about it: when death was being distributed, carved in letters of stone, it was a glorious thing, so glorious in fact that the children of Israel couldn’t look at Moses’s face because of the glory of his face – a glory that was to be abolished. But in that case, when the spirit is being distributed, won’t that be glorious too? If distributing condemnation is glorious, you see, how much more glorious is it to distribute vindication! 10 In fact, what used to be glorious has come in this respect to have no glory at all, because of the new glory which goes so far beyond it. 11 For if the thing which was to be abolished came with glory, how much more glory will there be for the thing that lasts.

The Veil and the Glory

12 So, because that’s the kind of hope we have, we speak with great freedom. 13 We aren’t like Moses: he put a veil over his face, to stop the children of Israel from gazing at the end of what was being abolished. 14 The difference is that their minds were hardened. You see, the same veil lies over the reading of the old covenant right up to this very day. It isn’t taken away, because it’s in the Messiah that it is abolished.

15 Yes, even to this day, whenever Moses is read, the veil lies upon their hearts; 16 but ‘whenever he turns back to the Lord, the veil is removed’. 17 Now ‘the Lord’ here means the spirit; and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And all of us, without any veil on our faces, gaze at the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, and so are being changed into the same image, from glory to glory, just as you’d expect from the Lord, the spirit.

New Testament for Everyone (NTE)

Scripture quotations from The New Testament for Everyone are copyright © Nicholas Thomas Wright 2011.

2 Corinthians 3 New International Version (NIV)

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 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, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

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

The Greater Glory of the New Covenant

Now if the ministry that brought death, 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, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 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, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. 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, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.


  1. 2 Corinthians 3:18 Or reflect
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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