31Does this sound as if we were again boasting about ourselves? Could it be that, like some other people, we need letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2You yourselves are the letter we have, written on our hearts for everyone to know and read. 3
It is clear that Christ himself wrote this letter and sent it by us. It is written, not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, and not on stone tablets but on human hearts.
4We say this because we have confidence in God through Christ. 5There is nothing in us that allows us to claim that we are capable of doing this work. The capacity we have comes from God; 6
it is he who made us capable of serving the new covenant, which consists not of a written law but of the Spirit. The written law brings death, but the Spirit gives life.
The Law was carved in letters on stone tablets, and God's glory appeared when it was given. Even though the brightness on Moses' face was fading, it was so strong that the people of Israel could not keep their eyes fixed on him. If the Law, which brings death when it is in force, came with such glory, 8how much greater is the glory that belongs to the activity of the Spirit! 9The system which brings condemnation was glorious; how much more glorious is the activity which brings salvation! 10We may say that because of the far brighter glory now the glory that was so bright in the past is gone. 11For if there was glory in that which lasted for a while, how much more glory is there in that which lasts for ever!
12Because we have this hope, we are very bold. 13
We are not like Moses, who had to put a veil over his face so that the people of Israel would not see the brightness fade and disappear. 14Their minds, indeed, were closed; and to this very day their minds are covered with the same veil as they read the books of the old covenant. The veil is removed only when a person is joined to Christ. 15Even today, whenever they read the Law of Moses, the veil still covers their minds. 16
But it can be removed, as the scripture says about Moses: “His veil was removed when he turned to the Lord.”3.16 Verse 16 may be translated: But the veil is removed whenever someone turns to the Lord. 17Now, “the Lord” in this passage is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom. 18All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us into his likeness in an ever greater degree of glory.
41God in his mercy has given us this work to do, and so we are not discouraged. 2We put aside all secret and shameful deeds; we do not act with deceit, nor do we falsify the word of God. In the full light of truth we live in God's sight and try to commend ourselves to everyone's good conscience. 3For if the gospel we preach is hidden, it is hidden only from those who are being lost. 4They do not believe, because their minds have been kept in the dark by the evil god of this world. He keeps them from seeing the light shining on them, the light that comes from the Good News about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. 5For it is not ourselves that we preach; we preach Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6
The God who said, “Out of darkness the light shall shine!” is the same God who made his light shine in our hearts, to bring us the knowledge of God's glory shining in the face of Christ.
7Yet we who have this spiritual treasure are like common clay pots, in order to show that the supreme power belongs to God, not to us. 8We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; 9there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed. 10At all times we carry in our mortal bodies the death of Jesus, so that his life also may be seen in our bodies. 11Throughout our lives we are always in danger of death for Jesus' sake, in order that his life may be seen in this mortal body of ours. 12This means that death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
The scripture says, “I spoke because I believed.” In the same spirit of faith, we also speak because we believe. 14We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus to life, will also raise us up with Jesus and take us, together with you, into his presence. 15All this is for your sake; and as God's grace reaches more and more people, they will offer to the glory of God more prayers of thanksgiving.
16For this reason we never become discouraged. Even though our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day. 17And this small and temporary trouble we suffer will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory, much greater than the trouble. 18For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen. What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts for ever.
51For we know that when this tent we live in — our body here on earth — is torn down, God will have a house in heaven for us to live in, a home he himself has made, which will last for ever. 2And now we sigh, so great is our desire that our home which comes from heaven should be put on over us; 3by being clothed with it we shall not be without a body. 4While we live in this earthly tent, we groan with a feeling of oppression; it is not that we want to get rid of our earthly body, but that we want to have the heavenly one put on over us, so that what is mortal will be transformed by life. 5God is the one who has prepared us for this change, and he gave us his Spirit as the guarantee of all that he has in store for us.
6So we are always full of courage. We know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord's home. 7For our life is a matter of faith, not of sight. 8We are full of courage and would much prefer to leave our home in the body and be at home with the Lord. 9More than anything else, however, we want to please him, whether in our home here or there. 10
For all of us must appear before Christ, to be judged by him. We will each receive what we deserve, according to everything we have done, good or bad, in our bodily life.
11We know what it means to fear the Lord, and so we try to persuade others. God knows us completely, and I hope that in your hearts you know me as well. 12We are not trying again to recommend ourselves to you; rather, we are trying to give you a good reason to be proud of us, so that you will be able to answer those who boast about people's appearance and not about their character. 13Are we really insane? It is for God's sake. Or are we sane? Then it is for your sake. 14We are ruled by the love of Christ, now that we recognize that one man died for everyone, which means that all share in his death. 15He died for all, so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but only for him who died and was raised to life for their sake.
16No longer, then, do we judge anyone by human standards. Even if at one time we judged Christ according to human standards, we no longer do so. 17Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. 18All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also. 19Our message is that God was making the whole human race his friends through Christ.5.19 God was making the whole human race his friends through Christ; or God was in Christ making the whole human race his friends. God did not keep an account of their sins, and he has given us the message which tells how he makes them his friends.
20Here we are, then, speaking for Christ, as though God himself were making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ's behalf: let God change you from enemies into his friends! 21Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with him we might share the righteousness of God.