3Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf? Surely not!2The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you.3Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.4We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ.5It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God.6He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.
The Glory of the New Covenant
7The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away.8Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life?9If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God!10In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way.11So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!12Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold.13We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away.14But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ.15Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.16But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.17For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.18So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.