Does it sound like we’re boasting again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? Certainly not! Our only letter of recommendation is you yourselves – and that is written on our hearts, seen and read by everyone. You demonstrate that you’re a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God – not carved on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.
This is the confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are qualified to claim anything for ourselves, but our qualification comes from God. It is he who has qualified us to be ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter of the law, but of the Holy Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
If the ministry which brought death – the one which was etched on tablets of stone – came with so much glory that the people of Israel couldn’t bear to look at Moses’ glowing face, even though the brightness was temporary, won’t the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? For if the old ministry, which only brought condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that puts us right with God! In fact, that earlier glory was nothing when compared with this new, surpassing glory. And if what was temporary came with glory, how much greater is the glory which will last!
Therefore, since we have a hope like this, we are very bold. We’re not like Moses, who had to veil his face so the people of Israel wouldn’t see a brightness which was actually fading away. But the people’s minds were dull, and even now their hearts are covered by that same veil when the old covenant is read. It hasn’t been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Yes, even today when they read what Moses has written, they find that their hearts are veiled.
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all with unveiled faces reflect the glory of the Lord. Thus we are being transformed into his image, from glory to glory. And all this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.