Are we starting to recommend ourselves again? Or do we, like some, need letters of recommendation either to you or from you?
You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.
You make it clear that you are a letter from the Messiah placed in our care, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on human hearts.
Such is the confidence we have through the Messiah toward God.
It is not that we are competent in ourselves to count anything as having come from us; on the contrary, our competence is from God.
He has even made us competent to be workers serving a New Covenant, the essence of which is not a written text but the Spirit. For the written text brings death, but the Spirit gives life.
Now if that which worked death, by means of a written text engraved on stone tablets, came with glory - such glory that the people of Isra'el could not stand to look at Moshe's face because of its brightness, even though that brightness was already fading away -
won't the working of the Spirit be accompanied by even greater glory?
For if there was glory in what worked to declare people guilty, how much more must the glory abound in what works to declare people innocent!
In fact, by comparison with this greater glory, what was made glorious before has no glory now.
For if there was glory in what faded away, how much more glory must there be in what lasts.
Therefore, with a hope like this, we are very open -
unlike Moshe, who put a veil over his face, so that the people of Isra'el would not see the fading brightness come to an end.
What is more, their minds were made stonelike; for to this day the same veil remains over them when they read the Old Covenant; it has not been unveiled, because only by the Messiah is the veil taken away.
Yes, till today, whenever Moshe is read, a veil lies over their heart.
"But," says the Torah, "whenever someone turns to ADONAI, the veil is taken away."a
Now, "ADONAI" in this text means the Spirit. And where the Spirit of ADONAI is, there is freedom.
So all of us, with faces unveiled, see as in a mirror the glory of the Lord; and we are being changed into his very image, from one degree of glory to the next, by ADONAI the Spirit.