2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
Ministers of the New Covenant; 3:1-6 Paul views himself as a minister of the long promised new covenant. Evidence of his ministry is found in the lives of those he has touched with the gospel, for transformed Christians are letters from God, written by the Spirit not on stone tablets but on the human heart.
1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
4 Such confidence we have through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
The Glory of the New Covenant; 3:7-18. Paul contrasts the glory of the old and new covenant. When Moses returned from Mount Sinai with the tablets of stone, his face shown with a brilliant radiance. But the glory faded. Moses his his face with a veil to mask that deterioration from his people. Paul says that Christians, “not like Moses,” can remove the veils that hide us from others. We do so because we know that God’s Spirit is at work within us, and “we are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing splendor, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (18).
7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
The point is that transparency, an honest sharing of our lives with others, is the best way to “reflect the Lord’s glory” (18) Others will not see Jesus in our facades of perfection. It is the process of transformation that witnesses to the Lord. How comforting this must have been to the blemished believers in Corinth. And how comforting to us to know that, with all our faults, we can glorify our Lord.