Servants of the New Covenant
3 Are we beginning to sound like those who speak highly of themselves? Do you really need letters of recommendation to validate our ministry, like others do?[a] Do we really need your letter of endorsement? Of course not! 2 For your very lives are our “letters of recommendation,” permanently engraved on our hearts, recognized and read by everybody. 3 As a result of our ministry, you are living letters written by Christ, not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God—not carved onto stone tablets[b] but on the tablets of tender hearts. 4 We carry this confidence in our hearts because of our union with Christ before God. 5 Yet we don’t see ourselves as capable enough to do anything in our own strength, for our true competence flows from God’s empowering presence. 6 He alone makes us adequate ministers who are focused on an entirely new covenant. Our ministry is not based on the letter of the law but through the power of the Spirit. The letter of the law kills, but the Spirit pours out life.[c]
The Glorious Ministry of the Spirit
7 Even the ministry that was characterized by chiseled letters on stone tablets came with a dazzling measure of glory, though it produced death. The Israelites couldn’t bear to gaze on the glowing face of Moses[d] because of the radiant splendor shining from his countenance—a glory destined to fade away.
8 Yet how much more radiant is this new and glorious ministry of the Spirit that shines from us! 9 For if the former ministry of condemnation was ushered in with a measure of glory, how much more does the ministry that imparts righteousness far excel in glory.[e] 10 What once was glorious no longer holds any glory because of the increasingly[f] greater glory that has replaced it. 11 The fading ministry came with a portion of glory, but now we embrace the unfading ministry of a permanent impartation of glory. 12 So then, with this amazing hope living in us, we step out in freedom and boldness to speak the truth.
13 We are not like Moses, who used a veil to hide the glory to keep the Israelites from staring at him as it faded away.[g] 14 Their minds were closed and hardened, for even to this day that same veil comes over their minds when they hear the words of the former covenant. The veil has not yet been lifted from them, for it is only eliminated when one is joined to the Messiah. 15 So until now, whenever the Old Testament[h] is being read, the same blinding comes over their hearts. 16 But the moment one turns to the Lord[i] with an open heart, the veil is lifted and they see.[j] 17 Now, the “Lord” I’m referring to is the Holy Spirit,[k] and wherever he is Lord, there is freedom.
18 We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus.[l] We are being transfigured[m] into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another.[n] And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.[o]