1 Are we starting to speak well of ourselves again? Or do we need to have some letter of recommendation for you, or from you, as some people do?
2 You are our letter, written in our experience with you, that everybody reads and knows about.
3 You demonstrate that you are a letter from Christ, delivered by us; not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God; not written on stone slabs but in our living experience as human beings.
4 We have total confidence before God through Christ.
5 Not that we would consider ourselves able to do this on our own—it's God who gives us this capacity!
6 He also gave us the ability to be ministers of a new agreement, based not on the letter of the law, but on the spirit. The letter of the law kills, but the spirit gives life.
7 However, the old way of relating to God, written in letters carved in stone, ended in death, even though it came with God's glory—so much so that the Israelites couldn't even bear to look at Moses' face because it shone so brightly, even though the glory was fading.
8 If that was so, shouldn't the new way of relating to God in the Spirit come with even greater glory?
9 If the old way that condemns us has glory, the new way that makes us right with God has so much more glory!
10 For the old that was once glorious has no glory at all in comparison with the incredible glory of the new.
11 If the old that is fading away had glory, the new that continues has so much more glory.
12 Since we have such a confident hope, we are truly bold!
13 We don't have to be like Moses, who had to put on a veil to cover his face so the Israelites wouldn't be dazzled by the glory, even though it was fading away.
14 In spite of that, they had a hard, stubborn attitude. For right up until today when the old agreement is read, the same “veil” remains. Only through Christ can it be removed.
15 Even today, whenever the books of Moses are read, a veil covers their minds.
16 But when they turn and accept the Lord, the veil is removed.
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there's freedom.
18 So all of us, with our faces unveiled, see and reflect the glory of the Lord as in a mirror. We are being transformed into the same mirror image, whose glory grows brighter and brighter. This is what the Lord the Spirit does.