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2 Corinthians

Personal religion and the ministry



APOSTLE of Christ Jesus by God's will, and our colleague Timothy,
to the congregation of God's people at Corinth, together with all who are dedicated to him throughout the whole of Achaia.

2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul's Thanksgiving after Affliction

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the all-merciful Father, the God whose consolation never fails us! 4He comforts us in all our troubles, so that we in turn may be able to comfort others in any trouble of theirs and to share with them 5the consolation we ourselves receive from God. As Christ's cup of suffering overflows, and we suffer with him, so also through Christ our consolation overflows. 6If distress be our lot, it is the price we pay for your consolation, for your salvation; if our lot be consolation, it is to help us to bring you comfort, and strength to face with fortitude the same sufferings we now endure. 7And our hope for you is firmly grounded; [Some witnesses give these clauses: If distress ... firmly grounded. — in different sequence.] for we know that if you have part in the suffering, you have part also in the divine consolation.

8In saying this, we should like you to know, dear friends, how serious was the trouble that came upon us in the province of Asia. The burden of it was far too heavy for us to bear, so heavy that we even despaired of life. Indeed, we felt in our hearts that we had received a death-sentence. 9This was meant to teach us not to place reliance on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead. 10From such mortal peril God delivered us; and he will deliver us again, [Some witnesses read: and he still delivers us.] he on whom our hope is fixed. Yes, he will continue to deliver us, if you will co-operate by praying for us. 11Then, with so many people praying for our deliverance, there will be many to give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favour God has shown towards us.

Postponement of Paul's Visit

12There is one thing we are proud of: our conscience assures us that in our dealings with our fellow-men, and above all in our dealings with you, our conduct has been governed by a devout and godly sincerity, [Some witnesses read: by sincere and godly singleness of mind.] by the grace of God and not by worldly wisdom. 13There is nothing in our letters to you but what you can read for yourselves, and understand too. 14Partial as your present knowledge of us is, you will I hope come to understand fully that you have as much reason to be proud of us, as we of you, on the Day of our Lord Jesus.

15It was because I felt so confident about all this that I had intended to come first of all to you [Or: had originally intended to come to you ...] and give you the benefit of a double visit: 16I meant to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and after leaving Macedonia, to return to you, and you would then send me on my way to Judaea. 17That was my intention; did I lightly change my mind? [Or: In forming the intention, did I act irresponsibly?] Or do I, when I frame my plans, frame them as a worldly man might, so that it should rest with me to say 'yes' and 'yes', or 'no' and 'no'? 18As God is true, the language in which we address you is not an ambiguous blend of Yes and No. 19The Son of God, Christ Jesus, proclaimed among you by us (by Silvanus and Timothy, I mean, as well as myself), was never a blend of Yes and No. With him it was, and is, Yes. 20He is the Yes pronounced upon God's promises, every one of them. That is why, when we give glory to God, it is through Christ Jesus that we say 'Amen'. 21And if you and we belong to Christ, guaranteed as his and anointed, it is all God's doing; 22it is God also who has set his seal upon us, and as a pledge of what is to come has given the Spirit to dwell in our hearts.

23I appeal to God to witness what I am going to say; I stake my life upon it: it was out of consideration for you that I did not after all come to Corinth. 24Do not think we are dictating the terms of your faith; your hold on the faith is secure enough. We are working with you for your own happiness. 1So I made up my mind that my next visit to you must not be another painful one. 2If I cause pain to you, who is left to cheer me up, except you, whom I have offended? 3This is precisely the point I made in my letter: I did not want, I said, to come and be made miserable by the very people who ought to have made me happy; and I had sufficient confidence in you all to know that for me to be happy is for all of you to be happy. 4That letter I sent you came out of great distress and anxiety; how many tears I shed as I wrote it! But I never meant to cause you pain; I wanted you rather to know the love, the more than ordinary love, that I have for you.

Forgiveness for the Offender

5Any injury that has been done, has not been done to me; to some extent, not to labour the point, it has been done to you all. 6The penalty on which the general meeting has agreed has met the offence well enough. 7Something very different is called for now: you must forgive the offender and put heart into him; the man's sorrow must not be made so severe as to overwhelm him. 8I urge you therefore to assure him of your love for him by a formal act. 9I wrote, I may say, to see how you stood the test, whether you fully accepted my authority. 10But anyone who has your forgiveness has mine too; and when I speak of forgiving (so far as there is anything for me to forgive), I mean that as the representative of Christ I have forgiven him for your sake. [Or: that I have forgiven him for your sake, in the presence of Christ.] 11For Satan must not be allowed to get the better of us; we know his wiles all too well.

Paul's Anxiety and Relief

12Then when I came to Troas, where I was to preach the gospel of Christ, and where an opening awaited me for the Lord's work, 13I still found no relief of mind, for my colleague Titus was not there to meet me; so I took leave of the people there and went off to Macedonia. 14But thanks be to God, who continually leads us about, captives in Christ's triumphal procession, and everywhere uses us to reveal and spread abroad the fragrance of the knowledge of himself! 15We are indeed the incense offered by Christ to God, both for those who are on the way to salvation, and for those who are on the way to perdition: 16to the latter it is a deadly fume that kills, to the former a vital fragrance that brings life. Who is equal to such a calling? 17At least we do not go hawking the word of God about, as so many do; when we declare the word we do it in sincerity, as from God and in God's sight, as members of Christ.


Ministers of the New Covenant

1ARE WE BEGINNING all over again to produce our credentials? Do we, like some people, need letters of introduction to you, or from you? 2No, you are all the letter we need, a letter written on our heart; any man can see it for what it is and read it for himself. 3And as for you, it is plain that you are a letter that has come from Christ, given to us to deliver: a letter written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, written not on stone tablets but on the pages of the human heart.

4It is in full reliance upon God, through Christ, that we make such claims. 5There is no question of our being qualified in ourselves: we cannot claim anything as our own. The qualification we have comes from God; 6it is he who has qualified us to dispense his new covenant—a covenant expressed not in a written document, but in a spiritual bond; for the written law condemns to death, but the Spirit gives life.

7The law, then, engraved letter by letter upon stone, dispensed death, and yet it was inaugurated with divine splendour. That splendour, though it was soon to fade, made the face of Moses so bright that the Israelites could not gaze steadily at him. 8But if so, must not even greater splendour rest upon the divine dispensation of the Spirit? 9If splendour accompanied the dispensation under which we are condemned, how much richer in splendour must that one be under which we are acquitted! 10Indeed, the splendour that once was is now no splendour at all; it is outshone by a splendour greater still. 11For if that which was soon to fade had its moment of splendour, how much greater is the splendour of that which endures!

12With such a hope as this we speak out boldly; 13it is not for us to do as Moses did: he put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing on that fading splendour until it was gone. 14But in any case their minds had been made insensitive, for that same veil is there to this very day when the lesson is read from the old covenant; and it is never lifted, because only in Christ is the old covenant abrogated. [Or: in Christ is it abolished.] 15But to this very day, every time the Law of Moses is read, a veil lies over the minds of the hearers. 16However, as Scripture says of Moses, 'whenever he turns to the Lord the veil is removed'. [Or: as Scripture says, when one turns to the Lord the veil is removed.] 17Now the Lord of whom this passage speaks is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18And because for us there is no veil over the face, we all reflect as in a mirror the splendour of the Lord; thus we are transfigured into his likeness, from splendour to splendour; such is the influence of the Lord who is Spirit.


Treasure in Earthen Vessels

1SEEING THEN THAT we have been entrusted with this commission, which we owe entirely to God's mercy, we never lose heart. 2We have renounced the deeds that men hide for very shame; we neither practise cunning nor distort the word of God; only by declaring the truth openly do we recommend ourselves, and then it is to the common conscience of our fellow-men and in the sight of God. 3And if indeed our gospel be found veiled, the only people who find it so are those on the way to perdition. 4Their unbelieving minds are so blinded by the god of this passing age, that the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the very image of God, cannot dawn upon them and bring them light. 5It is not ourselves that we proclaim; we proclaim Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants, for Jesus' sake. 6For the same God who said, 'Out of darkness let light shine', has caused his light to shine within us, to give the light of revelation—the revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

7We are no better than pots of earthenware to contain this treasure, and this proves that such transcendent power does not come from us, but is God's alone. 8Hard-pressed on every side, we are never hemmed in; bewildered, we are never at our wits' end; 9hunted, we are never abandoned to our fate; struck down, we are not left to die. 10Wherever we go we carry death with us in our body, the death that Jesus died, that in this body also life may reveal itself, the life that Jesus lives. 11For continually, while still alive, we are being surrendered into the hands of death, for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be revealed in this mortal body of ours. 12Thus death is at work in us, and life in you.

13But Scripture says, 'I believed, and therefore I spoke out', and we too, in the same spirit of faith, believe and therefore speak out; 14for we know that he who raised the Lord Jesus to life will with Jesus raise us too, and bring us to his presence, and you with us. 15Indeed, it is for your sake that all things are ordered, so that, as the abounding grace of God is shared by more and more, the greater may be the chorus of thanksgiving that ascends to the glory of God.

Living by Faith

16No wonder we do not lose heart! Though our outward humanity is in decay, yet day by day we are inwardly renewed. 17Our troubles are slight and shortlived; and their outcome an eternal glory which outweighs them far. 18Meanwhile our eyes are fixed, not on the things that are seen, but on the things that are unseen: for what is seen passes away; what is unseen is eternal. 1For we know that if the earthly frame that houses us today should be demolished, we possess a building which God has provided—a house not made by human hands, eternal, and in heaven. 2In this present body we do indeed groan; we yearn to have our heavenly habitation put on over this one— 3in the hope that, being thus clothed, we shall not find ourselves naked. 4We groan indeed, we who are enclosed within this earthly frame; we are oppressed because we do not want to have the old body stripped off. 5Rather our desire is to have the new body put on over it, so that our mortal part may be absorbed into life immortal. God himself has shaped us for this very end, and as a pledge of it he has given us the Spirit.

6Therefore we never cease to be confident. We know that so long as we are at home in the body we are exiles from the Lord; 7faith is our guide, we do not see him. [Or: faith is our guide and not the things we see.] 8We are confident, I repeat, and would rather leave our home in the body and go to live with the Lord. 9We therefore make it our ambition, wherever we are, here or there, to be acceptable to him. 10For we must all have our lives laid open before the tribunal of Christ, where each must receive what is due to him for his conduct in the body, good or bad.

The Ministry of Reconciliation

11WITH THIS FEAR of the Lord before our eyes we address our appeal to men. To God our lives lie open, as I hope they also lie open to you in your heart of hearts. 12This is not another attempt to recommend ourselves to you: we are rather giving you a chance to show yourselves proud of us; then you will have something to say to those whose pride is all in outward show and not in inward worth. 13It may be we are beside ourselves, but it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14For the love of Christ leaves us no choice, when once we have reached the conclusion that one man died for all and therefore all mankind has died. 15His purpose in dying for all was that men, while still in life, should cease to live for themselves, and should live for him who for their sake died and was raised to life. 16With us therefore worldly standards have ceased to count in our estimate of any man; even if once they counted in our understanding of Christ, they do so now no longer. 17When anyone is united to Christ, there is a new world; [Or: a new act of creation.] the old order has gone, and a new order has already begun. [Or: When anyone is united to Christ he is a new creature: his old life is over; a new life has already begun.]

18From first to last this has been the work of God. He has reconciled us men to himself through Christ, and he has enlisted us in this service of reconciliation. 19What I mean is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, no longer holding men's misdeeds against them, and that he has entrusted us with the message of reconciliation. 20We come therefore as Christ's ambassadors. It is as if God were appealing to you through us: in Christ's name, we implore you, be reconciled to God! 21Christ was innocent of sin, and yet for our sake God made him one with the sinfulness of men, so that in him we might be made one with the goodness of God himself. 1Sharing in God's work, we urge this appeal upon you: you have received the grace of God; do not let it go for nothing. 2 [ Is.49.8. ] God's own words are:

The hour of favour has now come; now, I say, has the day of deliverance dawned.

3In order that our service may not be brought into discredit, we avoid giving offence in anything. 4As God's servants, we try to recommend ourselves in all circumstances by our steadfast endurance: in distress, hardships and dire straits; 5flogged, imprisoned, mobbed; overworked, sleepless, starving. 6We recommend ourselves by the innocence of our behaviour, our grasp of truth, our patience and kindliness; by gifts of the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, 7by declaring the truth, by the power of God. We wield the weapons of righteousness in right hand and left. 8Honour and dishonour, praise and blame, are alike our lot: we are the impostors who speak the truth, 9the unknown men whom all men know; dying we still live on; disciplined by suffering, we are not done to death; 10in our sorrows we have always cause for joy; poor ourselves, we bring wealth to many; penniless, we own the world.

11Men of Corinth, we have spoken very frankly to you; we have opened our heart wide to you all. 12On our part there is no constraint; any constraint there may be is in yourselves. 13In fair exchange then (may a father speak so to his children?) open wide your hearts to us.

Problems of church life and discipline

The Temple of the Living God

14DO NOT UNITE yourselves with unbelievers; they are no fit mates for you. What has righteousness to do with wickedness? Can light consort with darkness? 15Can Christ agree with Belial, or a believer join hands with an unbeliever? 16 [ Lv.26.12, Jr.32.38, Eze.37.27. ] Can there be a compact between the temple of God and the idols of the heathen? And the temple of the living God is what we are. God's own words are: 'I will live and move about among them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.' 17 [ Is.52.11, Eze.20.34. ] And therefore, 'come away and leave them, separate yourselves, says the Lord; touch nothing unclean. 18 [ 2Sm.7.8-14, Is.43.6, Jr.31.9. ] Then I will accept you, says the Lord, the Ruler of all being; I will be a father is to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters.' 1Such are the promises that have been made to us, dear friends. Let us therefore cleanse ourselves from all that can defile flesh or spirit, and in the fear of God complete our consecration.

Paul's Joy at the Church's Repentence

2DO MAKE A PLACE for us in your hearts! We have wronged no one, ruined no one, taken advantage of no one. 3I do not want to blame you. Why, as I have told you before, the place you have in our heart is such that, come death, come life, we meet it together. 4I am perfectly frank with you. I have great pride in you. In all our many troubles my cup is full of consolation, and overflows with joy.

5Even when we reached Macedonia there was still no relief for this poor body of ours: instead, there was trouble at every turn, quarrels all round us, forebodings in our heart. 6But God, who brings comfort to the downcast, has comforted us by the arrival of Titus, 7and not merely by his arrival, but by his being so greatly comforted about you. He has told us how you long for me, how sorry you are, and how eager to take my side; and that has made me happier still.

8Even if I did wound you by the letter I sent, I do not now regret it. I may have been sorry for it when I saw that the letter had caused you pain, even if only for a time; 9but now I am happy, not that your feelings were wounded but that the wound led to a change of heart. You bore the smart as God would have you bear it, and so you are no losers by what we did. 10For the wound which is borne in God's way brings a change of heart too salutary to regret; but the hurt which is borne in the world's way brings death. 11You bore your hurt in God's way, and see what its results have been! It made you take the matter seriously and vindicate yourselves. How angered you were, how apprehensive! How your longing for me awoke, yes, and your devotion and your eagerness to see justice done! At every point you have cleared yourselves of blame in this trouble. 12And so, although I did send you that letter, it was not the offender or his victim that most concerned me. My aim in writing was to help to make plain to you, in the sight of God, how truly you are devoted to us. 13That is why we have been so encouraged.

But besides being encouraged ourselves we have also been delighted beyond everything by seeing how happy Titus is: you have all helped to set his mind completely at rest. 14Anything I may have said to him to show my pride in you has been justified. Every word we ever addressed to you bore the mark of truth; and the same holds of the proud boast we made in the presence of Titus: that also has proved true. 15His heart warms all the more to you as he recalls how ready you all were to do what he asked, meeting him as you did in fear and trembling. 16How happy I am now to have complete confidence in you!


Liberal Giving

1WE MUST TELL YOU, friends, about the grace of generosity which God has imparted to [Or: how gracious God has been to ...] our congregations in Macedonia. 2The troubles they have been through have tried them hard, yet in all this they have been so exuberantly happy that from the depths of their poverty they have shown themselves lavishly open-handed. 3Going to the limit of their resources, as I can testify, and even beyond that limit, 4they begged us most insistently, and on their own initiative, to be allowed to share in this generous service to their fellow-Christians. 5And their giving surpassed our expectations; for they gave their very selves, offering them in the first instance to the Lord, but also, under God, to us. 6The upshot is that we have asked Titus, who began it all, to visit you and bring this work of generosity also to completion. 7You are so rich in everything?in faith, speech, knowledge, and zeal of every kind, as well as in the loving regard you have for us [Some witnesses read: the love we have for you; Or: the love which we have kindled in your hearts.] ?surely you should show yourselves equally lavish in this generous service! 8This is not meant as an order; by telling you how keen others are I am putting your love to the test. 9For you know how generous our Lord Jesus Christ has been: he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that through his poverty you might become rich.

10Here is my considered opinion on the matter. What I ask you to do is in your own interests. You made a good beginning last year both in the work you did and in your willingness to undertake it. 11Now I want you to go on and finish it: be as eager to complete the scheme as you were to adopt it, and give according to your means. 12Provided there is an eager desire to give, God accepts what a man has; he does not ask for what he has not. 13There is no question of relieving others at the cost of hardship to yourselves; 14it is a question of equality. At the moment your surplus meets their need, but one day your need may be met from their surplus. 15 [ Ex.16.18. ] The aim is equality; as Scripture has it, 'The man who got much had no more than enough, and the man who got little did not go short.'

Titus and His Companions

16I thank God that he has made Titus as keen on your behalf as we are! 17For Titus not only welcomed our request; he is so eager that by his own desire he is now leaving to come to you. 18With him we are sending one of our company whose reputation is high among our congregations everywhere for his services to the Gospel. 19Moreover they have duly appointed him to travel with us and help in this beneficent work, by which we do honour to the Lord himself and show our own eagerness to serve. 20We want to guard against any criticism of our handling of this generous gift; 21 [ Pr.3.4. ] for our aims are entirely honourable, not only in the Lord's eyes, but also in the eyes of men.

22With these men we are sending another of our company whose enthusiasm we have had many opportunities of testing, and who is now all the more earnest because of the great confidence he has in you. 23If there is any question about Titus, he is my partner and my associate in dealings with you; as for the others, they are delegates of our congregations, an honour to Christ. [Or: they are ... congregations; they reflect Christ.] 24Then give them clear expression of your love and justify our pride in you; justify it to them, and through them to the congregations.


The Offering for the Saints

1About the provision of aid for God's people, it is superfluous for me to write to you. 2I know how eager you are to help; I speak of it with pride to the Macedonians: I tell them that Achaia had everything ready last year; and most of them have been fired by your zeal. 3My purpose in sending these friends is to ensure that what we have said about you in this matter should not prove to be an empty boast. By that I mean, I want you to be prepared, as I told them you were; 4for if I bring with me men from Macedonia and they find you are not prepared, what a disgrace it will be to us, let alone to you, after all the confidence we have shown! 5I have accordingly thought it necessary to ask these friends to go on ahead to Corinth, to see that your promised bounty is in order before I come; it will then be awaiting me as a bounty indeed, and not as an extortion.

6Remember: sparse sowing, sparse reaping; sow bountifully, and you will reap bountifully. 7 [ Pr.22.8. ] Each person should give as he has decided for himself; there should be no reluctance, no sense of compulsion; God loves a cheerful giver. 8And it is in God's power to provide you richly with every good gift; thus you will have ample means in yourselves to meet each and every situation, with enough and to spare for every good cause. 9 [ Ps.112.9. ] Scripture says of such a man: 'He has lavished his gifts on the needy, his benevolence stands fast for ever.' 10Now he who provides seed for sowing and bread for food will provide the seed for you to sow; he will multiply it and swell the harvest of your benevolence, 11and you will always be rich enough to be generous. Through our action such generosity will issue in thanksgiving to God, 12for as a piece of willing service this is not only a contribution towards the needs of God's people; more than that, it overflows in a flood of thanksgiving to God. 13For through the proof which this affords, many will give honour to God when they see how humbly you obey him and how faithfully you confess the gospel of Christ; and will thank him for your liberal contribution to their need and to the general good. 14And as they join in prayer on your behalf, their hearts will go out to you because of the richness of the grace which God has imparted to you. 15Thanks be to God for his gift beyond words!

Trials of a Christian missionary


Paul Defends His Ministry early 56ce (Corinth)

1BUT I, PAUL, appeal to you by the gentleness and magnanimity of Christ—I, so feeble (you say) when I am face to face with you, so brave when I am away. 2Spare me, I beg you, the necessity of such bravery when I come, for I reckon I could put on as bold a face as you please against those who charge us with moral weakness. 3Weak men we may be, but it is not as such that we fight our battles. 4The weapons we wield are not merely human, [Or: charge us with worldly standards. We live, no doubt, in the world; but it is not on that level that we fight our battles. The weapons we wield are not those of the world ... ] but divinely potent to demolish strongholds; 5we demolish sophistries and all that rears its proud head against the knowledge of God; we compel every human thought to surrender in obedience to Christ; 6and we are prepared to punish all rebellion when once you have put yourselves in our hands.

7Look facts in the face. [Or: You are looking only at what catches the eye.] Someone is convinced, is he, that he belongs to Christ? Let him think again, and reflect that we belong to Christ as much as he does. 8Indeed, if I am somewhat over-boastful about our authority-an authority given by the Lord to build you up, not pull you down-I shall make my boast good. 9So you must not think of me as one who scares you by the letters he writes. 10'His letters', so it is said, 'are weighty and powerful; but when he appears he has no presence, and as a speaker he is beneath contempt.' 11People who talk in that way should reckon with this: when I come, my actions will show the same man as my letters showed in my absence.

12We should not dare to class ourselves or compare ourselves with any of those who put forward their own claims. What fools they are to measure themselves by themselves, to find in themselves their own standard of comparison! [Some witnesses read: On the contrary we measure ourselves by ourselves, by our own standards of comparison.] 13With us there will be no attempt to boast beyond our proper sphere; and our sphere is determined by the limit God laid down for us, which permitted us to come as far as Corinth. 14We are not overstretching our commission, as we should be if it did not extend to you, for we were the first to reach Corinth in preaching the gospel of Christ. 15And we do not boast of work done where others have laboured, work beyond our proper sphere. Our hope is rather that, as your faith grows, we may attain a position among you greater than ever before, but still within the limits of our sphere. 16Then we can carry the Gospel to lands that lie beyond you, never priding ourselves on work already done in another man's sphere. 17 [ Jr.9.24. ] If a man must boast, let him boast of the Lord. 18Not the man who recommends himself, but the man whom the Lord recommends—he and he alone is to be accepted.


Paul and the False Apostles

1I wish you would bear with me in a little of my folly; please do bear with me. 2I am jealous for you, with a divine jealousy; for I betrothed you to Christ, thinking to present you as a chaste virgin to her true and only husband. 3But as the serpent in his cunning seduced Eve, I am afraid that your thoughts may be corrupted and you may lose your [Some witnesses insert: purity and ...] single-hearted devotion to Christ. 4For if someone comes who proclaims another Jesus, not the Jesus whom we proclaimed, or if you then receive a spirit different from the Spirit already given to you, or a gospel different from the gospel you have already accepted, you manage to put up with that well enough. 5Have I in any way come short of those superlative apostles? I think not. 6I may be no speaker, but knowledge I have; at all times we have made known to you the full truth.

7Or was this my offence, that I made no charge for preaching the gospel of God, lowering myself to help in raising you? 8It is true that I took toll of other congregations, accepting [Or: Did I take toll of other congregations by accepting ... ?] support from them to serve you. 9Then, while I was with you, if I ran short I sponged on no one; anything I needed was fully met by our friends who came from Macedonia; I made it a rule, as I always shall, never to be a burden to you. 10As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, I will preserve my pride in this matter throughout Achaia, and nothing shall stop me. 11Why? Is it that I do not love you? God knows I do.

12And I shall go on doing as I am doing now, to cut the ground from under those who would seize any chance to put their vaunted apostleship on the same level as ours. 13Such men are sham-apostles, crooked in all their practices, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14There is nothing surprising about that; Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15It is therefore a simple thing for his agents to masquerade as agents of good. But they will meet the end their deeds deserve.

Paul's Sufferings as an Apostle

16I repeat: let no one take me for a fool; but if you must, then give me the privilege of a fool, and let me have my little boast like others. 17I am not speaking here as a Christian, but like a fool, if it comes to is bragging. 18So many people brag of their earthly distinctions that I shall do so too. 19How gladly you bear with fools, being yourselves so wise! 20If a man tyrannizes over you, exploits you, gets you in his clutches, puts on airs, and hits you in the face, you put up with it. 21And we, you say, have been weak! I admit the reproach.

But if there is to be bravado (and here I speak as a fool), I can indulge in it too. 22Are they Hebrews? So am I. Israelites? So am I. Abraham's descendants? So am I. 23Are they servants of Christ? I am mad to speak like this, but I can outdo them. More overworked than they, scourged more severely, more often imprisoned, many a time face to face with death. 24Five times the Jews have given me the thirty-nine strokes; 25three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I have been shipwrecked, and for twenty-four hours I was adrift on the open sea. 26I have been constantly on the road; I have met dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my fellow-countrymen, dangers from foreigners, dangers in towns, dangers in the country, dangers at sea, dangers from false friends. 27I have toiled and drudged, I have often gone without sleep; hungry and thirsty, I have often gone fasting; and I have suffered from cold and exposure.

28Apart from these external things, [Or: Apart from things which I omit.] there is the responsibility that weighs on me every day, my anxious concern for all our congregations. 29If anyone is weak, do I not share his weakness? If anyone is made to stumble, does my heart not blaze with indignation? 30If boasting there must be, I will boast of the things that show up my weakness. 31The God and Father of the Lord Jesus (blessed be his name for ever!) knows that what I say is true. 32When I was in Damascus, the commissioner of King Aretas kept the city under observation so as to have me arrested; 33and I was let down in a basket, through a window in the wall, and so escaped his clutches.


Visions and Revelations

1I AM OBLIGED TO BOAST. It does no good; but I shall go on to tell of visions and revelations granted by the Lord. 2I know a Christian man who fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of it, I do not know- God knows) was caught up as far as the third heaven. 3And I know that this same man (whether in the body or out of it, I do not know—God knows) 4was caught up into paradise, and heard words so secret that human lips may not repeat them. 5About such a man as that I am ready to boast; but I will not boast on my own account, except of my weaknesses. 6If I should choose to boast, it would not be the boast of a fool, for I should be speaking the truth. But I refrain, because I should not like anyone to form an estimate of me which goes beyond the evidence of his own eyes and ears. 7And so, to keep me from being unduly elated by the magnificence of such revelations, I was given [Some witnesses read: ... ears, and because of the magnificence of the revelations themselves. Therefore to keep you from being unduly elated I was given ...] a sharp physical pain [Or: a painful wound to my pride (literally: a stake; Or: thorn, for the flesh).] which came as Satan's messenger to bruise me; this was to save me from being unduly elated. 8Three times I begged the Lord to rid me of it, 9but his answer was: 'My grace is all you need; power comes to its full strength in weakness.' I shall therefore prefer to find my joy and pride in the very things that are my weakness; and then the power of Christ will come and rest upon me. 10Hence I am well content, for Christ's sake, with weakness, contempt, persecution, hardship, and frustration; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul's Concern for the Corinthian Church

11I AM BEING VERY FOOLISH, but it was you who drove me to it; my credentials should have come from you. In no respect did I fall short of these superlative apostles, even if I am a nobody. 12The marks of a true apostle were there, in the work I did among you, which called for such constant fortitude, and was attended by signs, marvels, and miracles. 13Is there anything in which you were treated worse than the other congregations-except this, that I never sponged upon you? How unfair of me! I crave forgiveness.

14Here am I preparing to pay you a third visit; and I am not going to sponge upon you. It is you I want, not your money; parents should make provision for their children, not children for their parents. 15As for me, I will gladly spend what I have for you—yes, and spend myself to the limit. If I love you overmuch, am I to be loved the less? 16But, granted that I did not prove a burden to you, still I was unscrupulous enough, you say, to use a trick to catch you. 17Who, of the men I have sent to you, was used by me to defraud you? 18I begged Titus to visit you, and I sent our friend is with him. Did Titus defraud you? Have we not both been guided by the same Spirit, and followed the same course?

19Perhaps you think that all this time we have been addressing our defence to you. No; we are speaking in God's sight, and as Christian men. Our whole aim, my own dear people, is to build you up. 20I fear that when I come I may perhaps find you different from what I wish you to be, and that you may find me also different from what you wish. I fear I may find quarrelling and jealousy, angry tempers and personal rivalries, backbiting and gossip, arrogance and general disorder. 21I am afraid that, when I come again, my God may humiliate me in your presence, that I may have tears to shed over many of those who have sinned in the past and have not repented of their unclean lives, their fornication and sensuality.


Final Warnings and Greetings

1This will be my third visit to you; and all facts must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 2To those who have sinned in the past, and to everyone else, I repeat the warning I gave before; I gave it in person on my second visit, and I give it now in absence. It is that when I come this time, I will show no leniency. 3Then you will have the proof you seek of the Christ who speaks through me, the Christ who, far from being weak with you, makes his power felt among you. 4True, he died on the cross in weakness, but he lives by the power of God; and we who share his weakness shall by the power of God live with him in your service.

5Examine yourselves: are you living the life of faith? Put yourselves to the test. Surely you recognize that Jesus Christ is among you?—unless of course you prove unequal to the test. 6I hope you will come to see that we are not unequal to it. 7Our prayer to God is that you may do no wrong; we are not concerned to be vindicated ourselves; we want you to do what is right, even if we should seem to be discredited. 8For we have no power to act against the truth, but only for it. 9We are well content to be weak at any time if only you are strong. Indeed, my whole prayer is that all may be put right with you. 10My purpose in writing this letter before I come, is to spare myself, when I come, any sharp exercise of authority—authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for pulling down.

11And now, my friends, farewell. Mend your ways; take our appeal to heart; agree with one another; live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12Greet one another with the kiss of peace. 13All God's people send you greetings.

14The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and fellowship in the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

Notes: This webpage enables you to select-a-version from the Bible versions held on the katapi bible database.
This page displays the New English Bible as flowing text.
The katapi New Study Bible reference section has been incorporated into the page as follows: Links to parallel passages show below passage headings. Links to Old Testament quotations in New Testament verses show after the verse number.
Quotations of OT passages by NT authors can in most cases be viewed within their context of the OT passage as a whole, with the quoted text displayed, against a subdued background.
Any mismatches, truncated verses, other mistakes ? Please e-mail me. © this page layout: Paul Ingram 2012.