- Verses 1-3 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
The first two questions are asked with a sense of sarcasm. Paul did not expect the church to answer yes. He goes on to explain that the salvation of the people he is ministering to is the proof that the Spirit of God is behind all that he does. He doesn't need a letter proving what he is doing- the changed lives of the people is the testimony. Instead of letters bring written by ink on a tablet, the testimonies are written with the Holy Spirit in the persons' heart.
- Verses 4-6 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit.
Paul claims that he ministry they serve, isn't supported or done by them alone, but by God. They know that the work of salvation in those that choose to believe in Jesus is only by the work of the Holy Spirit and not of their own hands. The "new covenant" is in Jesus saving those who believe in His death, burial and resurrection.
- Verses 7-8 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?
The Lord spoke the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai and carved them on tablets of stone. (Exodus 20) After Moses had written the commandments on two new tablets (because Moses smashed the first two in anger toward the Israelites- Exodus 32), and after he came down from talking with God on Mount Sinai his face shone with glory (Exodus 34:29-35).
Paul's determines to advise the people that the law came to an end when Jesus died and rose again. If Moses was honored as he was by the people, Jesus should then be given more honor. The old testament law was temporary- in place until Jesus came and saved the world by his death and resurrection.
- Verse 12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold...
Do we not have the same hope as Paul? Why then are we so afraid to be bold?
In verses 13-18 Paul explains that when people stop living out the religious laws in the old testament, and believe in Jesus, those laws and traditions become meaningless. Once our faces are unveiled to see Jesus, we are transformed to be more like Him.
- Verse 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
If you are a believer, this is a great verse to remember. Do you remember when you accepted Jesus, how much freedom came into your life? There was no freedom for those under the law, because the law bound them to man's laws and traditions. Through Christ, those laws are no longer necessary. We are freed not only from them, but also from the bondage of sin.