A Living Letter
1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? We don’t need letters of recommendation to you or from you as some other people do, do we?#tn The Greek construction anticipates a negative reply (“No, we do not”) which is indicated in the translation by the ‘tag’ at the end, “do we?” 2 You yourselves are our letter,#tn That is, “letter of recommendation.” written on our hearts, known and read by everyone, 3 revealing#tn Or “making plain.” that you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us,#tn Grk “cared for by us,” an expression that could refer either to the writing or the delivery of the letter (BDAG 229 s.v. διακονέω 1). Since the following phrase refers to the writing of the letter, and since the previous verse speaks of this “letter” being “written on our [Paul’s and his companions’] hearts” it is more probable that the phrase “cared for by us” refers to the delivery of the letter (in the person of Paul and his companions). written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets#sn An allusion to Exod 24:12; 31:18; 34:1; Deut 9:10-11. but on tablets of human hearts.
4 Now we have such confidence in God through Christ. 5 Not that we are adequate#tn Or “competent.” in ourselves to consider anything as if it were coming from ourselves, but our adequacy#tn Or “competence.” is from God, 6 who made us adequate#tn Or “competent.” to be servants of a new covenant#sn This new covenant is promised in Jer 31:31-34; 32:40. not based on the letter but on the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
The Greater Glory of the Spirit’s Ministry
7 But if the ministry that produced death – carved in letters on stone tablets#tn Grk “on stones”; but since this is clearly an allusion to the tablets of the Decalogue (see 2 Cor 3:3) the word “tablets” was supplied in the translation to make the connection clear. – came with glory, so that the Israelites#tn Grk “so that the sons of Israel.” could not keep their eyes fixed on the face of Moses because of the glory of his face#sn The glory of his face. When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the tablets of the Decalogue, the people were afraid to approach him because his face was so radiant (Exod 34:29-30). (a glory#tn The words “a glory” are not in the Greek text, but the reference to “glory” has been repeated from the previous clause for clarity. which was made ineffective),#tn Or “which was transitory.” Traditionally this phrase is translated as “which was fading away.” The verb καταργέω in the corpus Paulinum uniformly has the meaning “to render inoperative, ineffective”; the same nuance is appropriate here. The glory of Moses’ face was rendered ineffective by the veil Moses wore. For discussion of the meaning of this verb in this context, see S. J. Hafemann, Paul, Moses, and the History of Israel (WUNT 81), 301-13. A similar translation has been adopted in the two other occurrences of the verb in this paragraph in vv. 11 and 13. 8 how much more glorious will the ministry of the Spirit be?#tn Grk “how will not rather the ministry of the Spirit be with glory?” 9 For if there was glory in the ministry that produced condemnation,#tn Grk “the ministry of condemnation”; translated as an objective genitive, “the ministry that produced condemnation.” how much more does the ministry that produces righteousness#tn Grk “the ministry of righteousness”; translated as an objective genitive, “the ministry that produces righteousness.” excel#tn Traditionally, “abound.” in glory! 10 For indeed, what had been glorious now#tn Grk “in this case.” has no glory because of the tremendously greater glory of what replaced it.#tn The words “of what replaced it” are not in the Greek text, but have been supplied to clarify the meaning. 11 For if what was made ineffective#tn Or “what was fading away.” See note on “which was made ineffective” in v. 7. came with#tn Or “through” (διά, dia). glory, how much more has what remains#tn Or “what is permanent.” come in glory! 12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we behave with great boldness,#tn Or “we employ great openness of speech.” 13 and not like Moses who used to put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites#tn Grk “the sons of Israel.” from staring#tn Or “from gazing intently.” at the result#tn Or “end.” The word τέλος (telos) can mean both “a point of time marking the end of a duration, end, termination, cessation” and “the goal toward which a movement is being directed, end, goal, outcome” (see BDAG 998-999 s.v.). The translation accepts the interpretation that Moses covered the glory of his face with the veil to prevent Israel from being judged by the glory of God (see S. J. Hafemann, Paul, Moses, and the History of Israel [WUNT 81], 347-62); in this case the latter meaning for τέλος is more appropriate. of the glory that was made ineffective.#tn Or “was fading away”; Grk “on the result of what was made ineffective.” The referent (glory) has been specified in the translation for clarity. See note on “which was made ineffective” in v. 7. 14 But their minds were closed.#tn Grk “their minds were hardened.” For to this very day, the same veil remains when they hear the old covenant read.#tn Grk “the same veil remains at the reading of the old covenant”; the phrase “they hear” has been introduced (“when they hear the old covenant read”) to make the link with the “Israelites” (v. 13) whose minds were closed (v. 14a) more obvious to the reader. It has not been removed because only in Christ is it taken away.#tn Or “only in Christ is it eliminated.” 15 But until this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds,#tn Grk “their heart.” 16 but when one#tn Or perhaps “when(ever) he turns,” referring to Moses. turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.#sn An allusion to Exod 34:34. The entire verse may refer to Moses, viewing him as a type portraying the Jewish convert to Christianity in Paul’s day. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is present,#tn Grk “where the Spirit of the Lord is”; the word “present” is supplied to specify that the presence of the Lord’s Spirit is emphasized rather than the mere existence of the Lord’s Spirit. there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord,#tn Or “we all with unveiled faces beholding the glory of the Lord as in a mirror.” are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another,#tn Grk “from glory to glory.” which is from#tn Grk “just as from.” the Lord, who is the Spirit.#tn Grk “from the Lord, the Spirit”; the genitive πνεύματος (pneumato") has been translated as a genitive of apposition.