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. Chapter 3.

Ministers of the New Covenant

1 ARE WE BEGINNING all over again to produce our credentials? Do we, like some people, need letters of introduction to you, or from you? 2 No, you are all the letter we need, a letter written on our heart; any man can see it for what it is and read it for himself. 3 And as for you, it is plain that you are a letter that has come from Christ, given to us to deliver: a letter written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, written not on stone tablets but on the pages of the human heart.

4 It is in full reliance upon God, through Christ, that we make such claims. 5 There is no question of our being qualified in ourselves: we cannot claim anything as our own. The qualification we have comes from God; 6 it is he who has qualified us to dispense his new covenant—a covenant expressed not in a written document, but in a spiritual bond; for the written law condemns to death, but the Spirit gives life.

7 The law, then, engraved letter by letter upon stone, dispensed death, and yet it was inaugurated with divine splendour. That splendour, though it was soon to fade, made the face of Moses so bright that the Israelites could not gaze steadily at him. 8 But if so, must not even greater splendour rest upon the divine dispensation of the Spirit? 9 If splendour accompanied the dispensation under which we are condemned, how much richer in splendour must that one be under which we are acquitted! 10 Indeed, the splendour that once was is now no splendour at all; it is outshone by a splendour greater still. 11 For if that which was soon to fade had its moment of splendour, how much greater is the splendour of that which endures!

12 With such a hope as this we speak out boldly; 13 it is not for us to do as Moses did: he put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing on that fading splendour until it was gone. 14 But in any case their minds had been made insensitive, for that same veil is there to this very day when the lesson is read from the old covenant; and it is never lifted, because only in Christ is the old covenant abrogated. [Or: in Christ is it abolished.] 15 But to this very day, every time the Law of Moses is read, a veil lies over the minds of the hearers. 16 However, as Scripture says of Moses, 'whenever he turns to the Lord the veil is removed'. [Or: as Scripture says, when one turns to the Lord the veil is removed.] 17 Now the Lord of whom this passage speaks is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 And because for us there is no veil over the face, we all reflect as in a mirror the splendour of the Lord; thus we are transfigured into his likeness, from splendour to splendour; such is the influence of the Lord who is Spirit.

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