1I do not make use of letters of commendation to you from the churches, nor do I ask any such testimonials from you to recommend me on my way. Perhaps that is why I have so often to commend myself? 2But I regard you yourselves as my testimonial and written commendation and character, written on the heart, and read and known by all men. 3For it is most abundantly evident and clear that in you is the handwriting of the Christ to be discerned, his sign and seal, ministered by me but divinely manifested, written not with a pen and the aid of ink and parchment, but by the spirit of the living God — yes, not written on tables of stone, but on tables of the heart and of flesh.
4Such, then, is the only sufficiency I have to put before the world. 5What have I to recommend me but you, — you who are my work? But even this allows me no power of counting anything to myself, it is simply the fact that God has made me the minister of His new covenant. My only sufficiency is the irresistible power of this fact.
The old covenant of the law
6Now the old covenant defined and elaborated the doom of sin, and showed the inevitableness of death as its penalty. That was its truth, and hence its glory. And we read that the man appointed to serve this absolute covenant of sin's reward was yet invested with divine glory. That doom was engraven, we read, in letters on stone tables, and it slew. 7That is the function of the letter of the law, it dooms to death whatever is not in exact accordance with its demands. Yet in receiving and administering to the people this covenant, a glory appeared on Moses' face. How much more glorious then is the ministry of that word which brings life! 8For the spirit gives life. 9The glory on Moses' face died away after a while. It could not continue in the presence of the people. 10That was the reason, as is commonly interpreted, of the veil which Moses placed on his face. 11-14The children of Israel, because of that veil, never saw the light of the old covenant fade out and vanish into nothing. Had not the veil been there, they would have looked right on to the end of this covenant of finiteness and death, and so discerned its spiritual sense, but that veil represents the hardening of their hearts and the dimness of their eyes, whereby they cannot discern the spiritual sense of the scriptures. 15When Moses is read in their synagogues, the veil is on their hearts still. 16For the real meaning of that ministry is a spiritual one. As the light of the old covenant which defines the doom of sin fades and dwindles and at last dies away to nothing, the dawn of the new covenant rises and broadens.
The new covenant of the Spirit
17-18For the glory of the new (of righteousness) far exceeds the old (of death). It is that glory which we behold when we look beyond the end of the finite and transitory and behold the eternal splendour of that which abides and never passes away. Then, like Moses, who in the divine presence removed the veil again which he had worn in the presence of the people, so we behold the glory of the Lord; and, looking, are changed — changed from the perishable and mortal — into the image of His glory, ever deepening and broadening from glory to glory, the image that is to say of the eternal Spirit. For when the Bible says “When Moses went in to the Lord, he took off the veil,” (Exo xxxiv. 34) the Lord there means the Spirit — the Spirit which has reached us, the Spirit which has freed us from the law of sin and death.