Ministers of the New Covenant
3 qAre we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, ras some do, sletters of recommendation to you, or from you? 2 tYou yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our1 hearts, to be known and read by all. 3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of uthe living God, not on vtablets of stone but on wtablets of xhuman hearts.2
4 ySuch is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 zNot that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but aour sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be bministers of ca new covenant, not of dthe letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but ethe Spirit gives life.
7 Now if fthe ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory gthat the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 For if there was glory in hthe ministry of condemnation, ithe ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.
12 Since we have such a hope, jwe are very bold, 13 not like Moses, kwho would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But ltheir minds were mhardened. For to this day, nwhen they read othe old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when pone3 turns to the Lord, qthe veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord4 is the Spirit, and where rthe Spirit of the Lord is, there is sfreedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, tbeholding uthe glory of the Lord,5 vare being transformed into the same image wfrom one degree of glory to another.6 For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
The Light of the Gospel
4 Therefore, having xthis ministry yby the mercy of God,1 we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced zdisgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice2 cunning or ato tamper with God’s word, but bby the open statement of the truth cwe would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even dif our gospel is veiled, eit is veiled to fthose who are perishing. 4 In their case gthe god of this world dhas blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing hthe light of ithe gospel of the glory of Christ, jwho is the image of God. 5 For what kwe proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with lourselves as your servants3 for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, m“Let light shine out of darkness,” nhas shone in our hearts to give othe light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Treasure in Jars of Clay
7 But we have this treasure in pjars of clay, qto show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are rafflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but snot forsaken; tstruck down, but not destroyed; 10 ualways carrying in the body the death of Jesus, vso that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So wdeath is at work in us, but life in you.
13 Since we have xthe same spirit of faith according to what has been written, y“I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that zhe who raised the Lord Jesus awill raise us also with Jesus and bbring us with you into his presence. 15 For cit is all for your sake, so that as dgrace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, eto the glory of God.
16 So we do not lose heart. fThough our outer self4 is wasting away, gour inner self his being renewed day by day. 17 For ithis light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 jas we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Our Heavenly Dwelling
5 For we know that if kthe tent that is lour earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, ma house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent nwe groan, longing to oput on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on1 we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal pmay be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, qwho has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6 So we are always of good courage. We know that rwhile we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for swe walk by faith, not tby sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we uwould rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to vplease him. 10 For wwe must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, xso that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
The Ministry of Reconciliation
11 Therefore, knowing ythe fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But zwhat we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 aWe are not commending ourselves to you again but bgiving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we care beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ dcontrols us, because we have concluded this: that eone has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, fthat those who live might no longer live for themselves but gfor him who for their sake died and was raised.
16 From now on, therefore, hwe regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is iin Christ, he is ja new creation.2 kThe old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, lwho through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us mthe ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling3 the world to himself, nnot counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us mthe message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, owe are ambassadors for Christ, pGod making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 qFor our sake he made him to be sin rwho knew no sin, so that in him we might become sthe righteousness of God.
6 tWorking together with him, then, uwe appeal to you vnot to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,
w“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, xnow is the yfavorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3 We zput no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but aas servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: bby great endurance, cin afflictions, dhardships, calamities, 5 ebeatings, imprisonments, friots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 gby purity, hknowledge, patience, kindness, ithe Holy Spirit, jgenuine love; 7 by ktruthful speech, and lthe power of God; with mthe weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, nthrough slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and oyet well known; pas dying, and behold, we live; qas punished, and yet not killed; 10 ras sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; sas poor, yet making many rich; tas having nothing, uyet possessing everything.
11 We have spoken freely to you,1 Corinthians; vour heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but wyou are restricted in your own affections. 13 xIn return (I speak yas to children) widen your hearts also.
The Temple of the Living God
14 zDo not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For awhat partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or bwhat fellowship has light with darkness? 15 cWhat accord has Christ with Belial?2 Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For dwe are the temple of the living God; as God said,
e“I will make my dwelling among them and fwalk among them,
and gI will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore hgo out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
18 iand I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”
7 Since we have these promises, beloved, jlet us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body1 and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
2 kMake room in your hearts2 for us. lWe have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. 3 I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that myou are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. 4 I am acting with ngreat boldness toward you; oI have great pride in you; pI am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.
5 For even qwhen we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—rfighting without and fear within. 6 But sGod, who comforts the downcast, tcomforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. 8 For ueven if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though vI did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. 9 As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but wbecause you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.
10 For xgodly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas yworldly grief produces death. 11 For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, zwhat zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. 12 So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the one awho did the wrong, nor for the sake of the one who suffered the wrong, but in order that your earnestness for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God. 13 Therefore bwe are comforted.
And besides our own comfort, we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his spirit chas been refreshed by you all. 14 For dwhatever boasts I made to him about you, I was not put to shame. But just as everything we said to you ewas true, so also our boasting before Titus has proved true. 15 And his affection for you is even greater, as he remembers fthe obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling. 16 I rejoice, because I have complete gconfidence in you.