Paul contrasts his ministry with that of Moses. In 3:3, he says that his readers, supported and enabled by the Holy Spirit, are “a letter of Christ”, prepared by him and his colleagues: a letter written on “tablets of human hearts”, not on “tablets of stone”. This is the “confidence that we have through Christ”. The dead letter of the Law has been replaced by the living letter of the Spirit.
Paul interprets the “veil” in Exodus as signifying the limited duration of the old covenant. The new covenant in Christ sets aside the old. The thinking of Israelites was frozen in time (“hardened”), and it still is: when they hear the Law read, they only see God’s plan for saving people dimly, i.e. through a “veil”, but when one is converted (“turns to the Lord”), one sees the plan clearly. In Judaism and Christianity, the motive force is the spirit, but for us Christ and the Holy Spirit are one (“the Lord is the Spirit”), and in Christ we have “freedom” from the Law: as we become more and more Christ-like, we are more and more able to render to God the honour he is due, with the Spirit’s help.
Jesus and the inner circle of disciples ascend “the mountain”. In Luke, Jesus always prays before an important event. In Jewish tradition, both “Moses and Elijah” were taken into heaven without dying. Jesus’ agenda is in accord with the Law and the prophets; he is doing God’s will. “Two men” also appear at the resurrection and at the ascension. Jesus’ “departure” (exodos in Greek) is his journey to Jerusalem and his passage from this world.