God's new agreement is much greater than the old one
1We are not trying again to make you think good things about us. We do not need letters, either to you or from you, that say good things about us. Some other people need letters like that, but we do not need them. 2You yourselves are our letter, that God has written deep inside us. Everybody can know and can read this letter. 3It is clear that you are a letter from Christ. And he has given this letter to us to deliver. Nobody wrote this letter with a pen. Instead, the Spirit of God, who is alive, wrote it deep inside us. He did not write it on flat pieces of stone. Instead, he wrote it deep inside us. #3:3 Moses wrote God's rules for Israel's people on flat pieces of stone. See Exodus 34:27-28.
4We say these things only because, by Christ, we are sure about our work. We are sure that God makes us able to do it. 5We are not able by ourselves even to think that we could do this work. No, but it is God who makes us able to do it. 6God has made us able to be his servants, who tell people about his new agreement. This new agreement is not only rules. Rules tell people what to do. But this new agreement is not like that. No, instead it is something that happens by God's Spirit. Rules like that kill. But the Spirit causes us to live. #3:6 This does not mean that God's rules themselves caused Israel's people to die. The rules caused the people to see what they themselves were really like. They were not good enough to obey those rules completely. The people could not, by themselves, really make God happy. They needed God to save them.
7Moses wrote down on stones the words of the old agreement, that caused people to die. But that agreement was still great and good, because it came from God. And Moses' face shone so brightly with God's light that Israel's people could not continue to look at it. The light on his face was becoming less bright, but still Israel's people could not look at it. That old agreement came by words that someone wrote on stones. 8So certainly, the new agreement, which comes by God's Spirit, will be even greater and better. 9As a result of the old agreement, God had to punish people. But still, that agreement was great and good. So, how very much greater and better must the new agreement be, that makes people right with God!
10The old agreement was great and good once. But the new agreement is so very, very much greater and better than the old one. So, as a result, the old agreement does not seem to be anything now. 11The old agreement, that had to come to an end, was great and good. So, how much greater and better must the new agreement be, that will continue always!
12So, because we hope certainly for such great things, we speak bravely. 13We are not like Moses. He covered his face with a cloth because the light from God was becoming less bright. So then Israel's people could not see that the light was coming to an end. 14But those people could not understand anyway. Even until this day, they cannot understand the old agreement when they read it. They are like people who have a cloth over their minds. The cloth is still there because only Christ can remove it. He removes it when a person is united with him. 15Even today, when they read Moses' rules, a cloth still covers their minds. 16But when a person turns to the Lord, then the Lord takes the cloth away.
17The Lord is the Spirit. And where the Lord's Spirit is, there people are free. 18But all of us are like people who have no cloth over our faces. Like mirrors, we shine with God's bright light. And he is changing us so that we become more and more like him. We become brighter and brighter as the Lord's Spirit changes us. #3:18 See Exodus 34:29-35.