Greeting

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth along with all the saints who are in all Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The God of All Comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the same comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also our comfort through Christ overflows. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective for the patient endurance of the same sufferings that we also suffer. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that just as you are partakers of our sufferings, so also you are partakers of our comfort.

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction that befell us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves, so that we might not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10 who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and who will deliver us. Yes, on him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, 11 as you also join together in prayer to help us, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor granted to us through the prayers of the many.

12 For this is our boast: the testimony of our conscience that with godly integrity1 and sincerity we conducted ourselves in the world, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, and all the more towards you. 13 For we are not writing you anything other than what you can read and understand. And I hope you will come to understand fully—14just as in part you already have understood us—that we are your boast, even as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Plans, Promises, Purposes

15 And in this confidence I planned to come to you first, so that you might receive a double benefit— 16 that is, to pass by way of you into Macedonia, then to come to you again from Macedonia, and then to be helped by you on my way to Judea. 17 Therefore, when I was planning this, did I do so frivolously? Or the things that I plan, do I plan them according to the flesh, so that I should say,2 “Yes, Yes,” and “No, No,”3 all at the same time? 18 But as God is faithful, our word to you is not “Yes and No.” 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not “Yes and No,”but in Him it has always been “Yes.” 20 For as many as the promises of God may be, in Him they are “Yes.” Therefore, through Him we also speak the “Amen” to God, for his glory. 21 Now the One who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, is God, 22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.4 23 Now I call upon God as a witness against my soul, that it was in order to spare you that I did not come again to Corinth. 24 Not that we have lordship over your faith, but we labor together with you for your joy, for by faith you stand.

Notes

  1. Many mss holiness
  2. Lit. so that with me there should be
  3. Or possibly “Yes,” “Yes and No,” and “No,” all at the same time
  4. Or pledge, down payment

 

2 So I made up my mind that I would not come to you again in sorrow. For if I make you sorrowful, who is left to make me glad, if not the very one whom I have made sorrowful? And I wrote to you this very thing, lest, when I came, I should experience sorrow over those who ought to be bringing me joy, having confidence in you all that my joy would be the joy of you all. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears, not that you should be made sorrowful, but that you might know the abundance of the love that I have for you.

But if anyone has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow, not so much to me, but—in a measure (not to put things too severely)—to all of you. Sufficient for such a one is the punishment that was agreed upon by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, lest somehow such a one be swallowed up by excessive grief. Therefore, I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. For I also wrote to you for this reason, that I might put you to the test, to see whether you are obedient in all things. 10 Now anyone whom you forgive, I forgive as well; for truly, what I have forgiven—if I have forgiven anything at all1I have forgiven for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

12 Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ, and a door was opened to me in2 the Lord, 13 I still had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find my brother Titus; and so3, taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia. 14 But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ, and who manifests through us the fragrance of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For to God we are a fragrance of Christ, both among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma of death leading to death; and to the other we are an aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For unlike so many, we are not peddling the word of God; but as men of pure motives—as men sent from God—we speak in Christ in the sight of God.

Notes

  1. Or possibly if there was anything to forgive
  2. Or by
  3. Lit. But

 

Living Epistles

3 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; you yourselves reveal that you are a letter of Christ, delivered1 by us, not written with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts, tablets of flesh. And such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to think of anything as coming from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

But if the ministry of death, engraved in letters upon stone, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not gaze steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance—a glory that was passing away—how shall the ministry of the Spirit not be with still more glory? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. 10 For in a sense, what once had glory had no glory at all, because of the glory that now surpasses it. 11 For if that which is passing away came with2 glory, how much more is that which remains with3 glory!

12 Therefore, having such a hope, we use great boldness of speech— 13 unlike Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel could not gaze steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were hardened. For until this very day the same veil remains unlifted at the reading of the Old Testament; because only in Christ is it removed4 once and for all15 Yes, to this very day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart; 16 but whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.5 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding6 as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.7

Notes

  1. Lit. ministered, cared for
  2. Lit. through
  3. Lit. in
  4. Lit. done away with, set aside, abolished, destroyed
  5. See Ex. 34:34
  6. Or possibly reflecting
  7. Lit. even as from the Lord, the Spirit

 

The Way of an Apostle

4 Therefore, since we have this ministry, just as we received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced shameful, underhanded ways,1 not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the display of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whom2 the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Light will shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body as well. 11 For we who live are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, in order that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then, death is working in us, but life in you.

13 Now it is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke.”3 Having the same spirit of faith, we also believe, and therefore also speak, 14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading through so many4 may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. For even if our outer man is subject to decay, still the inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look, not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Notes

  1. Lit. the hidden things of shame
  2. Or among whom, in whose case
  3. Ps. 116:10
  4. Lit. increasing through the many

 

The Hope of an Apostle

 5 For we know that if the earthly tent which serves as our house1 is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For truly, in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling-place from heaven, seeing that, having put it on, we shall not be found naked.2 Moreover, we who are in this tent groan as those who are burdened, not because we desire to be unclothed, but further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also gave us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing that which is to come.

Therefore, always being confident, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord (for we walk by faith, and not by sight), we are full of courage, well-pleased rather to be absent from the body and at home with the Lord. For this reason we also make it our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be well-pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive his due for the deeds done in3 the body, whether good or bad.

The Plea of an Apostle

11 Knowing, therefore, the fear of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I trust we are also well known in your consciences. 12 For we are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast on our behalf, so that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance only and not in heart. 13 For if we were beside ourselves, it was for God; if we are now of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ constrains us, having concluded this: If4 one died for all, then all died. 15 And He died for all, so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again for them.

16 Therefore, from now on we know no man according to the flesh. Even if we have known Christ according to the flesh, now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if any man is in Christ, there5 is a new creation: the old things have passed away, behold, new things have come to be! 18 And all things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and committing to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God Himself were pleading through us: We implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Notes

  1. Lit. our earthly house of the tent
  2. Or if indeed, having put it on, we shall not be found naked
  3. Lit. through
  4. Lit. that because, since
  5. Or he

 

The Credentials of an Apostle

6 Moreover, working together with Him, we also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says, “In a favorable time I heard you, and in a day of salvation I helped you.”1 Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation! We give no offense to anyone in anything, lest our ministry should be discredited. Rather, in every way we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much endurance, in tribulations, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger;2 in purity, in knowledge, in longsuffering, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in sincere love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness in the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, yet true; as unknown, yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as scourged, yet not executed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things.

11 O Corinthians! Our mouth has spoken freely to you,3 our heart is opened wide. 12 You are not restrained by4 us, but you are restrained in your own affections. 13 Now in a fair5 exchange (I speak as to children), you also should open wide to us! 14 Do not become unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness, and what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 And what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God.

As God has said:

“I will live in them
And I will walk among them.
And I will be their God,
And they will be My people.”6

17 Therefore, come out from among them
And be separate,” says the Lord.
“And do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”7
18 “And I will be a Father to you,
And you will be sons and daughters to Me,”
Says the Lord Almighty.8

Notes

  1. Is. 49:8
  2. Lit. fastings
  3. Lit. Our mouth is opened to you
  4. Or in
  5. Lit. like, similar
  6. Lev. 26:12;Jer. 32:38;Ezek. 37:27
  7. Is. 52:11;Ezek. 20:34, 41
  8. 2 Sam. 7:8, 14; Is. 43:6; Jer. 31:9

 

7 Therefore, beloved, having these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

The Corinthians Absolved and Commended

Make room for us in your hearts. We wronged no one, we corrupted no one, and we exploited no one. I am not saying this to condemn you, for I told you earlier that you are in our hearts, both to die together and to live together. Great is my confidence in you,1 great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am overflowing with joy in all our tribulation.

For truly,2 when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. There were conflicts without and fears within. Nevertheless, God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us with the coming of Titus, and not only with his coming, but also with the comfort with which he had been comforted by you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, and your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced all the more. For even if I saddened you with my letter, I do not regret it (though I did regret it), for I see that the letter did indeed sadden you (though only for a little while). But now I rejoice, not that you were saddened, but that you were saddened to the point of repentance; for you were saddened with a godly sorrow,3 in order that you might not suffer loss from us in anything. 10 For godly sorrow produces true repentance, leading to salvation and leaving no regret; but the sorrow of the world only produces death. 11 For look at what this very thing—this godly sorrow—has produced among4 you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what yearning, what zeal, what readiness to avenge all wrongs!5 In every way you have shown yourselves to be innocent in this matter. 12 Therefore, even though I wrote to you, it was neither for the sake of the offender, nor for the sake of the offended, but rather that your earnestness in our behalf should be revealed to you in the sight of God.

13 Through this we have been greatly comforted. And in addition to our own comfort, we rejoiced all the more at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14 For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I have not been put to shame; but just as we spoke all things to you in truth, so also our boasting about you before Titus has proven to be true. 15 And his affection for you is all the greater, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you welcomed him with fear and trembling. 16 I rejoice that in all things I have complete confidence in you.

Notes

  1. Or Great is my boldness in speaking to you
  2. Or For even
  3. Lit. with a sorrow according to God
  4. Or in
  5. Lit. what vengeance!

 

The Grace of Giving

8 Brothers, we also want you to know about the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia, that in a great test marked by severe affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the riches of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they gave freely, 4 beseeching us with many entreaties for the favor of participating in this ministry to the saints. And they did so, not as we had expected,1 but first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. So we urged Titus that just as he had begun this work of grace, so too he would bring it to completion for2 you.But just as you excel in all things—in faith, in utterance, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in the love we imparted to you3see that you excel in this grace as well.

I say this not by way of command, but rather as one who is testing the genuineness of your love through the diligence of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you, through His poverty, might become rich. 10 And in this matter I offer my judgment: This benefits you, who a year ago not only began to do this work, but also to desire it. 11 But now you must finish it as well, so that just as you eagerly desired to do it, so too you will actually complete it out of whatever you have. 12 For if the willingness is present, the gift is received according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have. 13 Now I say all this, not so that others should be eased and you burdened, 14 but rather as a matter of equity:4 At the present time your abundance will supply their lack, so that one day their abundance may likewise supply your lack—that there might be equity. 15 As it is written, “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.”5

16 But thanks be to God who has placed in the heart of Titus the same earnest care that I myself feel for you. 17 For not only did he receive our appeal, but being eager for the task himself, he has gone forth to you of his own free will. 18 And we have sent along with him the brother whose praise in the things of the gospel has spread throughout all the churches; 19 and not only that, the churches have chosen him to travel with us as we administer this gracious gift to the glory of the Lord Himself, and also to show our eagerness to be of help. 20 We have made these arrangements as a precaution,6 lest anyone should discredit us in our administration of this generous gift— 21 for we always keep in mind what is right, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. 22 And we have sent with them our brother whom we have often tested and found to be diligent in many matters, but now even more so because of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit; as for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches and an honor to Christ.7 24 Therefore, in the sight of all the churches, you must openly show them the depth of your love and why we are constantly8 boasting on your behalf.

Notes

  1. Lit. hoped
  2. Or possibly among
  3. Lit. the love from us in you; some mss, your love for us
  4. Or fairness
  5. Or had no lack; see Ex. 6:18
  6. Lit. avoiding this, that anyone should.
  7. Lit. a glory of Christ
  8. Lit. our

 

Wisdom in Giving

9 Now concerning this ministry to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you, for I know your eagerness, about which I boast to the Macedonians—namely, that you in Achaia have been ready to give since last year; and your zeal has stirred up the majority. Nevertheless, I have sent the brothers ahead so that in this matter our boasting over you will not be in vain; so that, as I said, you may be ready, lest, if some Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we (not to mention you!) should be put to shame in our having expressed this confidence. Therefore, I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go to you in advance, and to prepare ahead of time the generous gift you had previously promised, so that it might indeed be ready as a generous gift and not as a grudging obligation.1

The Glorious Fruits of Giving

But remember this word: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Let each one give just as he has purposed in his heart, neither grudgingly nor out of compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound towards you, so that having all sufficiency at all times in all things, you may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written, “He has scattered far and wide, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” 2 10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and will increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way3 for all generosity, which, through us, will result4 in thanksgiving to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also overflows into many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Through the proof that this ministry gives, they will glorify God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and all others. 14 Moreover, in their prayers on your behalf they will long for your welfare5 because of the surpassing grace of God at work within you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Notes

  1. Lit. and not as covetousness
  2. Ps. 112:9
  3. Or in all things
  4. Lit. produces, results in
  5. Lit. you

 

Paul Defends His Ministry

10 Now I myself, Paul, beseech you by the gentleness and forbearance1 of Christ—I who am lowly when with you face to face, but bold toward you when absent—2 I ask that when I am present I will not have to be bold with the confidence that I expect to display2 towards some of you who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty through God for the destruction of fortresses. We are pulling down arguments3 and every high thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity for obedience to Christ; and we are ready to punish all disobedience whenever your obedience is complete.

You are merely looking on the face of things.4 If anyone is confident within himself that he belongs to Christ, let him look again within himself and consider this,5 that just as he belongs to Christ, so too do we. For though I could boast still more about our authority—which the Lord gave us for building you up, not for tearing you down—I will not be put to shame by so doing, lest I should seem to be terrifying you by my letters. 10 “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and forceful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech beneath contempt.” 11 Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when absent, so we also will be in deeds when present.

12 For we would not dare to class ourselves or compare ourselves with any6 of those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves, are without understanding. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond our measure, but only within the limits of the sphere that God has assigned to us as a measure—a sphere that reaches all the way to you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves (as indeed we would be if we had not come to you), for we were the first to reach even as far as you with the gospel of Christ. 15 No, we are not boasting beyond our measure—that is, in other men’s labors—but we do have this hope, that as your faith grows, we shall be enlarged still more by you in our own sphere, 16 so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, rather than8 boast of work already done in another man’s field of labor.7 17 But as it is written, “He who boasts, let him boast in the Lord.”8 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

Notes

  1. Or leniency and clemency
  2. Lit. with which I expect I to be bold
  3. Or speculations, lines of reason
  4. Lit. let him consider this again within himself
  5. Or Look at things straight in the face!
  6. Or some
  7. Lit. sphere (of activity), province
  8. Lit. and not
  9. Jer. 9:24

 

True and False Apostles

11 I hope you will bear with me in a little foolishness (though in fact you already are bearing with me),1 for I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy, for I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I fear that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, so your minds will somehow be corrupted so as to wander away from the sincerity2 and purity of a proper devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached; or if you receive a different spirit which you did not originally receive, or a different gospel which you did not originally accept—you put up with it all too well! For I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these “super-apostles” in your midstAnd even if I am untrained in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way and in all things we have already made this perfectly clear to you.

Or was I committing a sin when I humbled myself so you could be exalted—that is, when3 I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you. And when I was present with you and in need, I was a burden to no one, for the brothers who came from Macedonia fully supplied my needs.4 Indeed, in everything I kept myself from becoming a burden to you, and I will continue to do so. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no one will stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia! 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows!

Compulsory Boasting

12 But what I am doing, I will certainly5 continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who seek an opportunity to be regarded as our equals in the matter of which they boast. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his servants also transform themselves into servants of righteousness—whose end will be according to their deeds.

16 I will say it again: Let no one think me a fool. But if you do, at least receive me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little.  17 (What I am about to speak in this boastful confidence, I do not speak according to the Lord, but rather as one who speaks foolishly.6) 18 Seeing that many boast according to the flesh, I will boast as well. 19 For you—wise as you are—gladly put up with fools! 20 For if someone brings you into bondage, if someone devours you, if someone takes advantage of you, if someone exalts himself, if someone strikes you in the face, you actually put up with it! 21 Though it be to our disgrace, I confess that we were too weak for that!

But whatever anyone else may dare to boast about (I am speaking like a fool7), I dare to boast of it as well. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am speaking like a madman!) I far more: in labors more abundant, in imprisonments more frequent, in stripes beyond measure, in deaths often. 24 Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 On my frequent journeys I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from robbers, in danger from my countrymen, in danger from the Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the wilderness, in danger at sea, and in danger among false brethren. 27 I have been in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often with no food at all, in cold and without proper clothing.8 28 Apart from still other things,9 there is that which comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is caused to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?

30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that speak of my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying: 32 In Damascus the governor under king Aretas was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, seeking to arrest me; 33 and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped from his hands.

Notes

  1. Or possibly and indeed, please do bear with me!
  2. Or simplicity
  3. Lit. because
  4. Or when the brothers came . . . they fully supplied
  5. Lit. also, even, indeed
  6. Lit. but as in foolishness
  7. Lit. I speak in foolishness
  8. Lit. in cold and nakedness
  9. Or Apart from these other things

 

Further Boasting

12 It is necessary to go on boasting. Though in truth it profits nothing, I come now to visions and revelations of the Lord.  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—4was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such a man I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, unless it concerns my weaknesses. For even if I did decide to boast, I would not be a fool; for I would be telling the truth. But I refrain from this, lest anyone’s idea of me should be based on more than what he actually sees in me or hears from me—7that is, upon the extraordinary character of these revelations. For this very reason, lest I should become haughty, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to buffet me, that I might not become haughty. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, rather than complain, I will gladly boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For this reason, I actually take pleasure in weaknesses, in insults, in distresses, in persecutions, and in difficulties for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

11 I have become a fool. You yourselves drove me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you, seeing that in no way whatsoever did I ever lag behind these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. 12 Indeed, the signs of an apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by means of signs and wonders and works of power. 13 In what respect were you inferior to the rest of the churches, except that I myself was not a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!

Crafty Love, Holy Fear

14 Take note: I am ready to come to you the third time. And I will not be a burden to you, for I do not seek what is yours, but you yourselves. For the children ought not to save up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15 And I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, will I be loved less? 16 Be that as it may, I did not burden you—though, crafty as I am, I did take you in by trickery! 17 Did I take advantage of you by any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go to you, and I sent our brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not walk in the same spirit? Did we not walk in the same steps?

19 Have you been thinking all this time that we are defending ourselves to you?1 Actually, we are speaking in Christ before God! And we are doing all things, beloved, for your edification. 20 For I am afraid that when I come to you I may not find you such as I wish, and that you may not find me such as you wish; that there may be strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes,2 backbiting, gossip, arrogance, and disturbances. 21 I am afraid that when I come to you again my God may humble me among you, and that I may grieve3 over many who have previously sinned, and who have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and licentiousness which they have been practicing.

Notes

  1. Or All this time you have been thinking
  2. Or selfish ambitions, factions
  3. Or mourn

 

“Test Yourselves Before I Come!”

13 This is the third time I am coming to visit you: “At the mouth of two or three witnesses let every matter be established.”1 I said it before when I was present with you the second time; and now, while absent, I say it again to those who sinned previously, and to all the rest who continue in sin: If I come again I will spare no one—since you are looking for proof of the Christ who speaks through2 me, and who is not weak towards you, but mighty among you. For He was indeed crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For in Him we too are weak, but we will live together with Him because of the power of God that was directed towards you.

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not know yourselves well enough to realize that Jesus Christ is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I hope you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test! Now we pray to God that you will do no wrong—not so that we ourselves may appear to have passed the test, but so that you may do what is right, even if we seem to have failed it. For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak and you are strong. And we also pray for this: your spiritual completeness.3 10 This is why I am writing these things to you while absent, so that when I am present I will not have to use severity according to the authority the Lord has given me for edification, and not for destruction.

Concluding Admonitions and Benediction

11 Finally, brothers, rejoice, become spiritually complete,4 encourage one another,5 be of the same mind, and live in peace—and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you. 14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship6 of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

Notes

  1. Lit. every matter will be established; Deut. 19:15
  2. Lit. in, by
  3. Or complete restoration, complete equipping
  4. Or Put yourselves in order, set things straight, aim for restoration
  5. Or accept (my) encouragement, listen to my appeal
  6. Or communion