And it came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him (cf. Is 42:21–“The LORD was pleased for His righteousness’ sake to make the law great and glorious”). So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers in the congregation returned to him; and Moses spoke to them. And afterward all the sons of Israel came near, and he commanded them to do everything that the LORD had spoken to him on Mount Sinai. When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. (Moses used to put a veil over his face that the sons of Israel might not look intently at the end of that which is abolished, 2 Cor 3:13. The veil was a type of the spiritual covering that prevented the sons of Israel from seeing the end of the law, which is Christ. Notice that a veil is a covering that hides one’s glory.) But whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he would take off the veil until he came out (cf. 1 Cor 11:4); and whenever he came out and spoke to the sons of Israel what he had been commanded, the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with Him (that the sons of Israel might not look intently at the end of that which is abolished).
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in (or perhaps the Grk. “en” is used instrumentally to mean “with” or “by means of”) our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone (as was the law of the old covenant), but on tablets of human hearts (as is the law of the new covenant, cf. Jer 31:33). And such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter (written on stone tablets), but of the Spirit (written on hearts of flesh); for the letter kills (for the law of the old covenant only points out our sin without making any provision of deliverance from it), but the Spirit gives life (for it is the Spirit who delivers us from our sin). But if the ministry of death (the law of the old covenant), in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was (“the glory of the law in the face of Moses”; literally, it is a glory that is done away with, that is abolished), how shall the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory (“the glory of the gospel in the face of Christ”)? For if the ministry of condemnation (again, the law of the old covenant was a ministry of death and condemnation) has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness (notice that the ministry of the Spirit is a ministry of righteousness) abound in glory. For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory on account of the glory that surpasses it. For if that which fades away (or “is done away”) was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.
Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, and are not as Moses, who used to put a veil over his face that the sons of Israel might not look intently at the end of what was fading away (or “abolished”, i.e., Paul didn’t want to obscure the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes, Rom 10:4. Certainly the law is great and glorious, Is 42:21, but in comparison to the gospel it has no glory. The veil Moses put on prevented the sons of Israel from seeing that the glory of the law in the face of Moses was fading away, i.e., that there was a greater glory to come that would make the glory of the law pale in comparison. Only when one turns to Christ is the veil removed so that one can see that the glory of the law has faded away in the light of the surpassing glory of the gospel of Christ, who is the very image of God). But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed (lit. done away with or abolished) in Christ (as is the law of the old covenant, cf. Eph 2:15). But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart (so that they cannot see that the glory of the law has faded away in the light of the surpassing glory of the gospel); but whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (from the law of commandments contained in the ordinances of the old covenant, cf. Rom 7:3, 8:21, Gal 2:4, 5:13; for if we are led by the Spirit we are not under the law, cf. Gal 5:22-23, Rom 8:1-17). But we all (who are in Christ), with unveiled face (because in Christ the veil of the old covenant has been lifted) beholding as in a mirror (in which we see ourselves) the glory of the Lord (for the Spirit of God dwells within those who are in Christ), are being transformed into the same image (of the Lord’s righteousness and holiness) from glory to glory (just like Moses when he removed the veil to enter into the presence of God to speak with Him face to face and thus beheld the glory of God and came to reflect that glory), just as from the Lord, the Spirit (for it is to be emphasized that the Spirit who indwells us is the Lord Himself).
Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden (i.e., everything about the gospel ministry is uncovered and laid bare–there are no veils anywhere that remain) because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God (making it say something other than what God intended it to say, as some were doing), but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled (to some so that they cannot see its glory), it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves (as some were, and still are, doing) but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (which light Paul wishes to reflect without veiling its glory as Moses did).
2 Corinthians 3:1-4:6